Back on the blog and Merry Christmas!!!

December 25, 2009

I’ve been off this blog for several weeks, well, actually months, because I got the proverbial day job, no actually day and night job, and on top of that, my computer crashed. Just got a new one — a wonderful and generous Christmas gift. It has taken me a couple of hours to figure out how to access my old blog site, but hopefully, as I key this in, I have figured out how to get back into this thing. This computer is different to the touch, and I am having problems typing (yes I began writing back when we still plugged away at typewriters, and right now this seems as difficult). I’ll get used to this new machine (yes you can tell I am of the pre-computer age by my use of the word “machine”.  I remember old folks, back before I was one of them, old folks, that is, referring to a car as “the machine”).

I’ll make this post short and sweet as I write this tonight, Christmas Eve, because I am tired beyond belief and excited at the same time that I am able to be back  in the blogosphere.

The devout Christians see Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Children everywhere, and adults just as much, see it as a chance to get some cool gifts or not so cool gifts, whatever.

Saw a letter to the editor in my local newspaper complaining that a public school had ruled out any reference to Jesus or traditional Christian religious songs in its Christmas program. This seems absurd to me. But then again, I have to wonder what folks would think, if say, the school allowed or put on a program with a Muslim or even Jewish theme.

I have never thought that the First Amendment prohibited children from praying or singing the praises of Jesus. The First Amendment is supposed to guarantee the right to practice religion — among other things. But of course, the government, or the public school, cannot support any one religion, so the only way the authorities can see to handle this is to prohibit any religious reference in programs altogether.

On a related matter, I am not aware of any school actually prohibiting individual children from quietly praying on their own, although, this may have happened somewhere. School personnel cannot be seen as sanctioning or promoting any one religion or interfering with one’s right not to be religious.

This post is kind of a ramble because I am tired and I am having a hard time navigating this keyboard.

But on this Christmas Eve 2009 I can only hope that we get something out of the teachings of Jesus and learn to enjoy the good earth and the blessings we have been given.

I do not know why we must fight wars, except in true self defense. But I do know from reading the Bible, which good Christians tout  everywhere, that war and terrible violence men inflict upon one another, not to mention the wrath of God, has been a fact of life since the dawn of man.

But Christmas is a time of hope. And I hope that we humans can change and learn to live in peace.

But life is a struggle over limited resources.

Nonetheless, Merry Christmas and a hope of peace for all mankind!

The best you can hope for at Christmas…

December 22, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

My first Christmas memories seem to be of riding around San Francisco in a car with my mom and seeing giant neon Santa head displays on the stores.

And then we moved to California’s Central Valley and I recall my brother and sister pulling out a string or should I say tangle of lights and ornaments from a box in the living room.

They strung the lights around the tree my folks had bought off a lot – I don’t ever recall chopping one down up in the woods. Problem was, back then in the early 50s if one light bulb went out on one of those light strings, they all went out. But each light was a lot bigger than the ones you see today.

I remember in one house we lived in my brother and I slept out on the back porch. Dad had attempted to close it in from the winter cold with some semi-transparent mesh stuff that would diffuse some of the outside light. At four or five I guess I still believed in Santa Claus or at least I felt it in my best interests to do so. Late at night on a Dec. 24 I thought I saw Santa and his sleigh and reindeer, a kind of illusion from the diffused light coming through that mesh added to some self-delusion.

Through the years of my childhood, even after I had accepted that Santa was just a pretend thing, I was always puzzled that a lot of my classmates at school opened presents with their families on Christmas eve, rather than Christmas day.

It seems like all of my grade school teachers were brought up back east somewhere in snow country and assured us all we just didn’t know what Christmas was. There should be snow and toboggans and one-horse open sleighs with bells a jingling.

From my dealings with snow in my adult life, I’d say keep your snow, I’ll just take the gifts, please.

As a child, for sure, I never went wanting at Christmas. It did seem, though, that many of my little friends had a lot more presents and more expensive ones bestowed upon them. At the same time, I have to think back now and realize that probably many of my classmates got very little. I think we had a good cross section of economic strata in my classes, from the wealthy to the extremely poor. The poor ones probably did not say much.

I learned early on that not everyone was as fortunate as I. I lived in a home where there was never a question of whether there would be a meal on the table or a roof over our heads or non hand-me-down clothes to wear, or presents under the tree (not saying my folks did not have to struggle with that problem).

But I was only in first grade when I found out not every kid lived in a safe and secure home. I happened to walk past my own home one day and go home with a friend of mind, at his invitation. We both had notes pinned on us – something about a PTA meeting, I imagine.

When we went into his house we were not so pleasantly greeted by a man and a woman. They seemed a little cross. My friend mentioned something about the note, and the man ripped it off his shirt and demanded: “what the heck is this!?” He read it and grunted something. I don’t recall what the woman said. I got out of there as quickly as possible. I had never experienced grownups acting that way.

I had another similar experience. A little girl wanted me to walk with her to her home. I was a little reluctant, but she was insistent. So I did. We got to the old apartment building where she lived up a flight of inside stairs. At the entrance to the stairwell was a ratty couch with a spring popping out, and I recall seeing a hoe leaning up against the wall. “I used to have a little puppy,” she said. “But my dad killed it with that hoe.”

I got of there as fast as I could.

These were just some thoughts on my mind a few days before Christmas. All I can figure is that I was thinking that as a little kid, or even as an adult, the best you can hope for or be thankful for at Christmas time is to have a safe and secure home and a family who loves you. Christmas gifts are nice too, but they’re optional.