"If at age 20 you are a conservative then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are a liberal then you have no brains."
Sir Winston Churchill

Obama obviously knows very little about economics, specifically that "Society stagnates when independent productive achievers begin to be socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments." This dilemma fogs Obama's reality. To him, accepting this truth is a "false choice", his answer to things he doesn't understand. And by the way... where is John Galt?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Personal Note From Christmas Past

Since I was a little boy, Christmas has been my favorite holiday.  Perhaps it all started when I was two when my Father decided I wanted or needed a toy train set.  One of my earliest memories is playing happily inside the boxes the train set came in while my Dad put the set together and then played with it all day long.  Merry Christmas Dad!

Later after my two younger brothers came along, Christmas became a group conspiracy  with begging and pleading aimed at my sainted Mother who had to weather the annual assault of needs, desires and demands for various toys that held a heroin like hold on our imaginations. Merry Christmas guys!
I remember I always wanted a dog (this actually lasted well unto my adulthood) but we rented and the lease specifically stated "no pets".  If truth be told my Mother had a deathly fear of dogs, cats or any other creatures that she believed did not belong in a dwelling with people, so being a smart ass I would remind her that the baby Jesus was born in a manger with all sorts of animals.  This was called invoking the "big guy" and was clearly my version of the nuclear option.  My father then would say something profound like "The question is no!!!" followed by ..."and your not Jesus".  This from a man who started his working career as a Shepard while a boy in his native Sweden!  

My mother would always include clothes wrapped as gifts to inflate the 'haul" beneath the tree but my brothers and I learned to unwrap these with the same kind of reverence we held for toys and later baseball gloves, footballs, tennis rackets and basketballs.   It made my Mother feel better that while my parents could not give us everything we craved..they gave us things we liked.

We would usually go to my Aunt's house for Christmas dinner which would be a Norman Rockwell feast with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, fresh rolls,string beans and carrots and at least four kind of pies.  (My grandmother lived with us while I grew up and she had this fantastic habit of baking at least two pies a day).  Over time we developed a custom of holding some gifts aside to take to my Aunt's where the extended family and friends of my Aunt and Grandmother would join us.  One Christmas during my teen years, my Grandmother's oldest friend ...who was notoriously cheap and just as rich ...gave my Mother as a present, a box of yellowed waxed paper which clearly had been originally purchased immediately after the fall of Tobruk
I was confounded by two distinct  sensations...the need to suppress a tsunami wave of laughter that was about to consume me and an intense intellectual curiosity as to how my always polite and kind mother would respond to this unique gift from another era.  She did not disappoint.  In a response worthy of a seasoned diplomat she said " Thank you so much...you can always use waxed paper!"  That was my Mom!   Merry Christmas Mom!

I was raised as a Protestant...a Baptist if you will... largely due to the fact that one of my Aunts was a ferocious church lady who every Sunday would pick up my brothers and myself plus at least seven other urchins in danger of losing their immortal souls, for Sunday school where I dutifully learned about  Christianity and particularly the spiritual aspects of Christmas and Easter.  My Aunt was a formidable force of nature who would not take no for an answer when it came to issues of faith and the Bible.  My Father had been baptized a Lutheran and my mother like my Grandmother did not belong to an organized church, so this pretty much was a weekly abduction since no one ever asked my brothers and myself what we wanted. 

One Christmas Eve at my Aunts is particularly memorable due to the fact that my family was notoriously against the imbibing of spirits in any form.  This was hard on my Dad since he was Swedish and loved his beer.  Out of respect for my Grandmother who raised me while my Mom worked and who was known to pack up and flee if she smelled demon rum or any other variation of beer or liquor on someone's breath, he never ever brought a beer into our house when she lived with us.  Merry Christmas Grandma!

However he did come home in a jolly mood one Christmas Eve and fell into bed so hard,  while singing loudly in Swedish, that my poor Mother was catapulted out of a sound sleep on to their bedroom floor. 

But I digress... my Aunt the church lady  always pretended even to her best friends, that she was a non drinker.   Well it appeared that she had fooled all of us because on this occasion after her friends had left,  she ordered my Uncle to get her annual "Christmas medicine" in a yellow Dixie cup.  The medicine was Southern Comfort and she drank it like a truck driver at a "honky tonk" roadhouse.  Imagine the sound of an empty Dixie cup hitting the bar with a smack!   Merry Christmas  Aunt "Noni" and Uncle Vern.

Meanwhile, little did my family know save my Aunt "Rut",  that I had secretly begun a romance with the Roman Catholic Church that first began during grammar school when I would ride my bike over to the convent at St. Mary's each and every Saturday to ask the nuns if they had any errands for me to run.  Later my attraction to Catholicism would manifest itself at Christmas when I would go to Midnight Mass with friends or a girlfriend and be utterly entranced by the Latin, the candles, the music, the incense and the fact that if I went into any Catholic Church anywhere in the world, the mass save the homily would be comprehensible if you knew your Latin and your Catechism.  It was at Midnight Mass that I begin to take what I had learned at Sunday School and incorporate it into a spiritual journey that would end up lasting a lifetime centered around the real meaning of faith and especially Christmas.  My Aunt "Rut" was my only confidant.  Merry Christmas Aunt "Rut"!

I also as a teen became enchanted with the Christmas books of Charles Dickens and was especially fond of the Alastair Sim film version of "A Christmas Carol" which is now having it's 63rd anniversary.  I also came to love Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" which is having it's 67th  anniversary. I never miss these!.

Somehow over the years all of the above have combined to put Christmas for me,  in a rich and rewarding perspective that goes beyond the presents and the food and the music and the books and films and even the attendance at Mass, which I truly love.  In this age of disbelief...this age of vulgar appetites and cultural nihilism... Christmas is critical to and indeed responsible for putting the best attributes of humankind on display if even just for the brief season of Christmastide. 

Christmas is under attack by those who fear the best of us and who would be content to make it a secular event for commercial reasons thereby reducing it to a mere reason to shop.  But they will not win because the spirit of Christmas is too strong.  The presents of Christmas represents generosity and caring...the food of Christmas represents the family and friends that enrich and fulfill our lives...the  music of Christmas represents the surrender to the best emotions that we harbor within ourselves but often suppress...the books and films of Christmas represent our need to see these noble feelings manifested and vindicated...and the celebration of Christmas in a place of worship or simply in a place of prayer reminds us that the divine can enter our lives not just at Christmas but when ever we have the courage to summon it.  

Christmas makes us better people...Christmas makes the world a better place...Christmas makes us holy whether one believes in God or not... Christmas is an announcement that joy is our inheritance if we choose to believe that there is more to life than just us...Christmas beckons everyone who believes in the redemption and salvation of love...

To all my kids, family and friends ...here and on the other side.. Merry Christmas... and to my wife who is Christmas for me.. 365 days a year... 143.


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