Dear Santa, I Have One Special Request This Year.

 

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It has been over fifty years since I last wrote to you. At that time, life was extremely uncomplicated and my thoughts and dreams filled with the innocent anticipation of Christmas day, even though there was no fireplace for your convenient arrival. As I am sure you remember, I am one of five children who lived in a typical American middle class neighborhood. My friends were my neighbors and my neighbors filled my days with childhood play. Remember that igloo we all built as a playhouse and the steep hill in my backyard where everyone gathered to go sledding? What a winter picture that was; flying saucers, card board boxes, shovels and anything else we could conjure up that would hold a heavily padded snowsuit that seemed to have a child inside. Everyone brought their dogs, who usually ran loose in neighborhood packs, so they all got along too! Barking dogs, bursts of laughter and screams of delight that a recently completed slide down the hill yielded the longest run of the day, all contributed to the backyard mayhem. Just about the time my wool mittens would begin freezing up with tiny cubes of ice, my mother would peek out a slightly cracked open back door and yell “Who would like some hot chocolate?” Her bright red Christmas apron, covered in flour, was an indicator that she had spent the afternoon baking her weekly two loaves of bread and everyone pushed and shoved to get to the kitchen first to be the first in line for a bite of her warm, thickly sliced white bread smothered in a melted slick of yellow butter.

For extra money, my mother ran ceramic classes in our basement. At Christmas, the shelves would be lined with plain white singing cherubs, old fashioned carolers, Santa boots, and beautiful Nativity figures and animals. Once painted, they went into a kiln where they were fired and then re-introduced the next week to an appreciative audience of happy mother’s who could not wait to box up their homemade creations and give them to a delighted family on Christmas day. One year my mother painted me a piggy bank and it was by far my favorite gift. My little white pig had happy pink eyes, nose, ears and smile and as I cuddled on my Grandfathers large lap on Christmas day, bank in hand, an endless stream of change from his suit pocket began to fill my pig. Clink, clink, clink….went the pennies, with every beat of my excited little heart. When there were no more coins, my grandfather peered over his Santa-like spectacles and with a twinkle in his light blue eyes, a look reserved just for me at that treasured fleeting moment, he shook my almost full bank and promised to come back and finish filling it another day. I smiled contentedly, for my beloved Grandfather always kept his promise.

Once the gifts had been opened, it was time to focus on the turkey and stuffing smells wafting from the tiny but productive kitchen. Being the eldest daughter, my chore was to stir the gravy, a big responsibility because it was the one side dish that seemed to bring the entire meal together. Pools of gravy covered not only the turkey and stuffing, but the corn, carrots, beans and sweet potatoes, making the food filled plates take on a homogenous look of brown gravy delight. I made sure not to fill my plate too full though because I was privy to the desserts that my mother had been preparing the last couple of days. My Grandmother’s Plum pudding with scrumptious brandy sauce, pecan pie, apple pie, iced sugar cookies, and a cake that looked like Santa would soon grace our large oval dining room table. Once filled to the brim with food, the day would finally come to a close. It was time for my siblings and myself to put on our new matching flannel pajamas and go upstairs to bed. For me, it was time to cuddle my new baby doll and fall fast asleep with sweet dreams of a day filled with happy memories.

Santa, that is why I am writing to you after all these years. My request this year is much more complicated than simply asking you for two front teeth or a baby doll. With the advent of electronics, internet, and cell phones, there is very little quiet time. The daily urgency of a life fraught with instant messaging and planned activities seems to dictate rather than aid. Modern day conveniences have shoved the simple things in life aside, making them seem outdated and unimportant. I worry Santa, that we as a society are setting aside the best life has to offer, the truly important things that are right at the end of our noses, but that we cannot see. A conversation with a friend without interruption from a quick text, an evening spent listening to Christmas music while putting together an elaborate puzzle, an unexpected visit to church to bask in the quiet of God’s love.

Christmas 1956 was the year Bing Crosby sang his popular version of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Even though introduced many years ago, its lyrics are even more poignant today.

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Santa, this year I ask that old familiar carols play, peace prevail and ringing belfries of all Christendom peal their bells more loud and deeply, for God is not dead nor does he sleep. I wish everyone a meaningful, old-fashioned Christmas full of God’s light and goodness. Santa, please dig deep into your sack of unfulfilled wishes and grant me this one special request; future generations of children will be forever grateful.

 

 

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A Light is on in the Manger

 

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As I turned down the streets of my neighborhood, the cold air caught my breath and reminded me to consciously breathe in the frosty air and be grateful that I was alive. As the gently falling snow cooled my burning cheeks, I thought about how Christmas always brought out the best in me, those feelings of charity, the thankfulness that I had good friends and family, the infinite blessings that accompanied the birth of Jesus Christ.

As I walked, I did not miss a single Christmas wreath hung on a front door, an inflated Snowman waving in the soft breeze or a window whimsically stenciled with snowflakes and stockings. Sometimes, if I walked the same path in the early evening, I might even be able to catch a glimpse through a lamplit window of a family playfully trimming their Christmas tree. Everyday during the Christmas season I took the same route that led me to the village church a few miles away, its steeple always in view, virtuously presiding high over our small country town.  My walk was a ritual that was always filled with eager anticipation and emotional yearning. As I rounded the last corner of my journey, there it faithfully stood, a bright white church that gleamed against the crisp winter sky, its bell tower partially camouflaged against the snowy white clouds. As I approached the familiar front path, I paused to take in the magnitude of the precious panorama before me; it always made me gasp. There taking up the entire front lawn of the church was a Nativity scene so grand and realistically detailed that when I squinted my eyes, it would seem to come alive. When staring at the empty creche, I always felt relieved to know that after the midnight service on Christmas eve, baby Jesus would ceremoniously, once again, be placed into the waiting cradle and assume center stage.

I contemplated my own Christmas this year, empty of finances but rich with an over abundance of Gods good tidings and knew that there was not a gift in the world as precious as God’s presence in my life. Although it was disappointing to not be able to purchase presents for the family, I knew that the day would not be void of laughter and good cheer. Just a few ingredients in my scantily stocked pantry would yield grand results and turn my small home into a make-believe gingerbread world, full of gingerbread men chasing after dancing ballerina’s and running reindeer. The air would become intoxicating, each whiff of cinnamon and ginger offering the alluring comfort and anticipation of yet another Christmas filled with the aroma of pungent spices and flickering candlelight. Old puzzles, well worn games and books full of tales of old Saint Nicholas would be displayed on the oak sideboard, begging for family fun.

On this particular day, as the sky turned a brilliant pink and yellow at sunset, I made my familiar trek to once again feed my Christmas soul. The church was bathed in a deep amber hue that made it glow like a golden music box and when standing perfectly still, seemed to be chiming “Away In the Manger” to my longing ears. Thoughts of Christmas’s past with my four siblings began to surface, an unexpected nostalgic treat that seemed to offer me some well timed joy year after each year. It was a treasure trove of sweet memories; a mother and father who unselfishly doted on their family and made each Christmas special, even when times were tight. Homemade doll houses, trains, and knitted sweaters with snowflake motifs adorned the bottom of our tree, and as busy fingers tore open the brightly colored packages, bows flying in the air,  smiling faces and laughter outshone the silvery sparkling of the heavily tinseled tree. As the last gift was opened, the small wooden Nativity set that had been carefully tucked underneath the tree, once again became prominent, a reminder that the birth of Christ was the most lasting and valuable gift of them all! The true happiness of the day was entirely due to his unfailing grace, mercy and omnipresent blessings.

As my eyes once again scanned the life-sized Nativity in front of me, my worries for America and the unsettling attack on Christianity diminished as the star at the top of   the manger suddenly became brightly lit in the now darkened night. I knew that the light of Christ could never be extinguished by anyone, no matter how intrusive, unless I allowed that to happen. “Away in the Manger” still infused my senses and as I slowly walked away, I began to softly hum its tender words; “I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my side ‘til morning is nigh.”

 

Merry Christmas to all…and remember to always keep the light of Christ, shining bright.

 

 

 

 

The Naughty List Just Keeps on Growing….

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There are many government officials going on the naughty list this year. It is one thing to be a far left, country destroying progressive, but quite another to be an out and out liar. Washington D.C. now leads the nation for Santa’s “most naughty people in one place on the planet” and our nation’s capitol is now his least favorite stop on Christmas eve. The only saving grace is that the National Mall is a great grazing ground for Rudolph and the reindeer to rest and defecate because the air in D.C. is so “ripe” that no one seems to take much notice of their much needed bathroom break.

This year, Santa’s manager at the North Pole has taken an inventory of all the toys needed for this years sleigh ride and noticed there were a few aberrations in the 2013 line up. A disgruntled rogue elf decided to add to Santa’s sack a politically correct baby doll created by Fisher- Price, called the “Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle and Coo” doll whose baby gibberish includes “Islam is the Light.” Santa is not happy, so he has ordered all those dolls to be shipped “special delivery” to Gitmo where the terrorists there can feel the love and “cuddle and coo” along with the Muslim baby dolls. The “Politically Correct Holiday Stories for an Enlightened Yuletide Season” have also been scrapped. Santa cannot figure out how Christmas can ever have Christ taken out of it for the sake of political correctness! In addition, the “Non-Violent, Politically Correct War Card Game” has also been removed from Santa’s inventory.  Santa in his wisdom knows that war can never be non-violent, therefore, he believes this game to be too deceiving for little children.

On the other hand, there are some toys that are perpetual hits and will remain on Santa’s popular toy list for a few more seasons. One of the most popular is the Hillary “nutcracker” a very colorful rendition of a pants wearing Hillary who enjoys cracking nuts between her legs, and the Bill Clinton 1998 “Fondle Me Bubba Talking Stuffed Doll.” Newer items that Santa feels will be added to his  “Most Popular Gifts”  this year will be the “Farting Pootin’ Tootin’ President Obama Doll, which when pulling his finger, lets out a “toot” while insulting his Republican adversaries. Also deemed to become popular is the Obama punching bag and, brand new from Santa’s own creative work shop, a jumbo sized umbrella imprinted with two stately Marines in full dress. Santa wants the general populace who watched our Commander-in-chief order two Marines to hold umbrella’s over him to shield him from misty conditions, to also be protected from big bad rain drops by a couple of stately Marines. Finally, U.S. flag t-shirts, even though banned from most public schools in America, are enjoying a resurgence as the hot new collectible from a bygone era when children could freely wear and show off their patriotic pride while saying the Pledge of Allegiance before beginning classes.

To add to Santa’s worries this year, Santa was especially dismayed to find out that East Point Academy elementary school in Cayce, South Carolina has been forced to cancel their charitable “Operation Christmas Child.” Under the program, students collect toys, pencils and other small items, pack them into shoe boxes and donate them to needy children. This project was stopped by the “American Humanist Association” whose principles include the separation of church and state and they point to the fact that the charity is part of “Samaritan’s Purse” an international Christian based organization led by Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist, Billy Graham. Although the school’s principle, Renee Mathews says that “There’s no religious literature tied with it, no speakers who come, not religious affiliation at all” the outside group has claimed victory in stopping the generous project. Santa is annoyed that the children who attend that school will get the wrong impression that Christ has no place in their charitable giving, even though their charitable acts are based on God’s principles and his Ten Commandments!

Meanwhile, over in Europe, Santa has another set of growing problems. German cities have adopted a ban on the use of Christian symbols in the public celebration of Christmas. In Berlin’s Kreuzberg, Christmas is only allowed in the home, so that the religious feelings of others are not injured. A Christmas tree may only be set up in a central location, allocated by the authorities in advance. Berlin’s traditional Christmas market this year only received approval after the event was renamed “Winterfest.” Santa feels that if it were a well intended, truly multicultural agenda, then all faith’s would be permitted to celebrate their religious holiday’s, with a priority given to the country’s predominant Judeo-Christian culture! “Bah Humbug in Berlin!” declares Santa!

Meanwhile, back in the States, homeowners in an Orange County, California neighborhood have been ordered to remove their outdoor Christmas lights because the decorations are an obstruction and violate county code ordinances. For the past five years neighbors have gone all-out for Christmas and their display draws visitors from across the entire region. Santa plans on giving the resident’s there an extra dose of Yuletide spirit to fight the County Grinch’s who are responsible for this colossal Christmas faux pas.

Fortunately for Santa, he recently received word that “The Tennessee Valley Authority” (TVA) will be closing eight, coal-fired power plants, one of the country’s five biggest users of coal for electricity, generating 3,300 megawatts of electricity. The plants set for closure include 6 in Alabama and 2 in Kentucky. The EPA, led by the Sierra Club was at the forefront of the battle to get these plants closed and means tons of readily available, excess coal for naughty stockings, which is obviously much needed this year. It is kind of bittersweet, however, because many workers will be laid off as a result of the plant closures and Santa will have to work that much harder to bring toys to the needy children in that area for Christmas.

Yes, the naughty list keeps expanding as bureaucrats continue to lie, cheat and steal,  causing the number of impoverished family’s to steadily rise and increasing Santa’s work load exponentially. As Santa prepares for his lengthy trip, he asks that some stops along the way replace that customary glass of milk, with a bourbon Manhattan on the rocks with a shiny red cherry on top. Santa says he will need it this year.