Note: below is the Christmas newsletter I sent to family and friends this year. Yes, this newsletter broke the rule about keeping it all on one page. But in my defense, this is not your typical newsletter that brags about family doings. Also, I sent this as an enewsletter to save postage. Yes, I'm cheap.
Here is installment #2, in my continuing quest to send you, my kith and kin, a different kind of Chrithmath newthletter...
It must be Christmas --- because one neighbor has gone all Clark Griswold in decorating his house, while another just threw a string of lights on the nearest bush and called it a day.
It must be Christmas --- because Pinterest (motto: See the same picture pinned 2,857 times!) is chock-a-block with holiday decorating and craft ideas that 1) I have no time for, and 2) I can't manage anyway, because my own thumbs oppose me every chance they get. Besides, they really aren't kidding when they call it HOT glue.
It must be Christmas --- because the Salvation Army bell ringers and their little red kettles are out en masse. For the record, I believe the Salvation Army with their tagline of "Doing the Most Good" is one of the best charities around. So, in a fit of holiday generosity, but mostly because it was a bitterly cold day and I felt sorry for the bell ringer having to stand for hours with his eyes frozen open, I dropped a very generous amount into his kettle. I felt really, really good about my act of human kindness, thinking of all the warm fuzzies my money was going to give to some truly needy person, until I walked up to the next store and there's another bell ringer and another little red kettle. People were going out of their way to drop coins and bills into the red monster's maw, but I had, as they say, given at the office. I had just donated a bunch of money, but this bell ringer didn't know that, and those people didn't know that, and the guilt was overwhelming. To the Salvation Army: please consider giving your donors stickers that say:
...so those of us who already gave can wear them and smugly pass by your kettles, and everyone knows we're really one of the good guys, and not Scrooges who hate little kids and kittens and snicker when Old Yeller gets it. You know, like they do on Election Day with "I Voted" stickers, so that those of us who failed to vote will know it's our fault when everything goes wrong for the next four years.
It must be Christmas --- because I just made a loaf of scrapple. Unlike normal families who sit around singing carols 'neath the tree, and sipping mugs of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top, my family's holiday tradition consists of making pork mush. On Christmas morning in Washington state, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, we think of each other as we fry up the cement-like slabs in bacon grease. My cousins actually have contests to see whose tastes the best. Bless their little hearts.
It must be Christmas --- because our granddog is visiting from Lubbock. This creates tremendous problems for our two cats. Penny, convinced that "out of sight, out of mind" is the best policy, burrows under the bed covers and adopts a slug-like existence; which, come to think of it, is not all that different from her usual daily routine. (As Garrison Keillor once noted, "Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.") Phoebe has a more aggressive approach that utilizes hissing, snarling, swatting and shooting laser beams from her eyes.
It must be Christmas --- because I spent 45 minutes waiting in line at the post office the other afternoon. I would have used the automated mail kiosk, except mailing overseas requires customs forms, lots of official looking stamps in red ink, and fielding questions like, "Are there any obscene materials?" To which I reply, "I'm his MOTHER!" Anyway, there wasn't much else to do while waiting except to retreat into my own head --- always a scary proposition --- and for some reason, I got to remembering the Mad Magazine parodies of Christmas songs that I enjoyed as a kid. Perhaps it was the tottering tower of packages shoved to the right of the service counter that made me think of this little ditty, sung to the tune of Deck the Halls:
Hear the postal worker singing!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
As your package he is flinging!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
See it crumpled in the bin there!
Falala, lalala, la, la, la!
Aren't you sorry you walked in there!
Falalalala, lala, la, la!
It must be Christmas --- because when the panic has set in and I'm convinced it'll never get done, I wonder why we can't just convert to Judaism for the whole month. I mean, this year's once-in-approximately-900-lifetimes confluence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah!) was pretty cool. Get two major holidays out of the way at the same time, and the rest of the year is devoted to bowl games and no interruptions. Besides, placing nine lights on a menorah is certainly easier and faster, than stringing 1200 lights on an eight foot tall tree by hand.
It must be Christmas --- because I said hello to dozens of dear friends I see for only a short time each year. Many of these friends I've known my whole life; others are silver among the gold. Each one has a story to tell me, or a memory to share, and the past becomes a fond present. I delight in welcoming each one, and I never tire of hearing what they have to say:
It must be Christmas --- because no other season has the power to bring us together, each and every one. The days have more sparkle, our cares seem smaller. We are more forgiving, more understanding, more patient, more kind, more tolerant. Daily, we are reminded that we are a part of something bigger and grander, and that a message of love and peace and goodwill resonates just as much today, as it did 2,000 years ago.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...
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