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How do you feel about Christmas?

MTed 16 Dec 99 - 11:34 AM
Patrish(inactive) 16 Dec 99 - 11:56 AM
Wesley S 16 Dec 99 - 12:09 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 12:10 PM
annamill 16 Dec 99 - 12:24 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Dec 99 - 12:25 PM
IceWolf 16 Dec 99 - 12:26 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 16 Dec 99 - 12:30 PM
MMario 16 Dec 99 - 12:37 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 12:39 PM
Sionnach 16 Dec 99 - 12:41 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 12:42 PM
Big Mick 16 Dec 99 - 12:43 PM
MMario 16 Dec 99 - 12:47 PM
Winters Wages 16 Dec 99 - 12:48 PM
16 Dec 99 - 01:27 PM
Jeri 16 Dec 99 - 01:36 PM
MTed 16 Dec 99 - 01:40 PM
Alice 16 Dec 99 - 02:05 PM
skarpi 16 Dec 99 - 02:17 PM
MMario 16 Dec 99 - 02:58 PM
Steve Latimer 16 Dec 99 - 03:26 PM
Barbara 16 Dec 99 - 03:28 PM
Banjoman_CO 16 Dec 99 - 03:30 PM
Little Neophyte 16 Dec 99 - 04:09 PM
Bert. 16 Dec 99 - 04:56 PM
Mudjack 16 Dec 99 - 05:21 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 05:36 PM
bunkerhill 16 Dec 99 - 05:37 PM
lamarca 16 Dec 99 - 06:09 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 06:21 PM
Caitrin 16 Dec 99 - 06:41 PM
sophocleese 16 Dec 99 - 06:43 PM
Mark Cohen 16 Dec 99 - 07:17 PM
MTed 16 Dec 99 - 07:20 PM
Terry Allan Hall 16 Dec 99 - 07:34 PM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 99 - 07:37 PM
Big Mick 16 Dec 99 - 07:48 PM
Musicman 16 Dec 99 - 08:18 PM
Little Neophyte 16 Dec 99 - 08:22 PM
kendall 16 Dec 99 - 08:29 PM
Guy Wolff 16 Dec 99 - 08:37 PM
Mbo 16 Dec 99 - 08:44 PM
16 Dec 99 - 08:46 PM
Dave 16 Dec 99 - 08:51 PM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 99 - 09:05 PM
Alice 16 Dec 99 - 09:25 PM
katlaughing 16 Dec 99 - 09:49 PM
bunkerhill 16 Dec 99 - 09:52 PM
Caitrin 16 Dec 99 - 10:29 PM
katlaughing 16 Dec 99 - 10:31 PM
katlaughing 16 Dec 99 - 10:47 PM
Willie-O 16 Dec 99 - 11:43 PM
MAG (inactive) 16 Dec 99 - 11:51 PM
SingsIrish Songs 17 Dec 99 - 04:49 AM
Len Wallace 17 Dec 99 - 05:54 AM
Roger the skiffler 17 Dec 99 - 07:00 AM
Neil Lowe 17 Dec 99 - 07:59 AM
Magpie 17 Dec 99 - 08:54 AM
kendall 17 Dec 99 - 09:31 AM
Wesley S 17 Dec 99 - 10:42 AM
17 Dec 99 - 11:18 AM
KathWestra 17 Dec 99 - 12:23 PM
kendall 17 Dec 99 - 02:07 PM
MAG (inactive) 17 Dec 99 - 02:32 PM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 99 - 04:13 PM
MAG (inactive) 17 Dec 99 - 04:26 PM
Caitrin 17 Dec 99 - 04:49 PM
kendall 17 Dec 99 - 05:45 PM
InOBU 18 Dec 99 - 10:24 AM
InOBU 18 Dec 99 - 10:26 AM
katlaughing 18 Dec 99 - 11:41 AM
Big Mick 18 Dec 99 - 11:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 99 - 03:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 99 - 03:13 PM
MAG 18 Dec 99 - 03:41 PM
DonMeixner 18 Dec 99 - 10:00 PM
Willie-O 19 Dec 99 - 12:17 AM
MTed 19 Dec 99 - 12:57 PM
Barbara Shaw 19 Dec 99 - 01:17 PM
bbc 19 Dec 99 - 09:09 PM
Willie-O 19 Dec 99 - 09:26 PM
Little Neophyte 19 Dec 99 - 10:46 PM
Big Mick 20 Dec 99 - 12:32 AM
MTed 20 Dec 99 - 12:37 AM
Liz the Squeak 20 Dec 99 - 10:23 AM
KingBrilliant 20 Dec 99 - 11:42 AM
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Subject: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MTed
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 11:34 AM

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am feeling old--and owing to the fact that it is December, I am reminded also of Christmas, which for me, has never been that good a holiday--

My family have always been decent--no drunken father setting fire to the Christmas tree stories, no stories about mother prostituting her self to buy pathetic little presents that melted when they got wet--but for some reason, the season has always been joyless and depressing for me--

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a cold, grey, midwestern factory town, where the sun rarely shined and when it did, you were depressed by what it was shining on--

perhaps it was because we lived in the fattest state in the union, and the idea of another fat man coming around was not that appealing, even if he was dressed in red--

On the other hand, it might have been because my mom tended to buy us broken toys because they were cheaper--I just don't know--

So tell me, am I alone?(even the Jewish kids I grew up with liked Christmas better than I did) Maybe some of you have uplifting Christmas recollections that will put me in my place as a Christmas Humbug--or maybe some others will tell me where they hide the Prozac so there will be some left after the presents are all opened on Christmas morning--

Gotta go now, I need to replace the battery in my "Grinch" watch--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Patrish(inactive)
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 11:56 AM

I am not keen on Christmas myself, but my kids love it. I have five children so all the rushing round buying gifts is quite a task. But every year my kids tell that this has been the best ever christmas.
I always feel over emotional - crying at adverts on the TV, it all becomes a bit too much for me. I'm a big softie ,BR> Patrish


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Wesley S
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:09 PM

I guess I'm luckier than most. What helps me get in the spirit is doing something for others. About a week ago I was able to play Santa for some kids from a local housing project. { Hey - if the suit fits - wear it } They always blow me away with their unselfish attitudes compared with the children of some of my more affluent friends. All of them asked for only one toy { Pokeman and Barbies}. One asked for a puppy, and one asked if she could move to Oklahoma so her father could come to visit her. And another girl said that all she wanted was for her whole family to have a good Christmas { "excuse me little girl - Santa has to go cry now" }. Most of the kids knew I was a chubby yuppie in a red velvet suit but about a dozen of them knew that I was the real Santa. And for and hour or so I was. Shades of Miracle on 34th Street.

If I was to be presumptuous enough to offer advice it would be that there are always people less fortunate than you and if you find and help them out in some way that you will feel better about yourself - if that's your goal.

I wish I could remember the name of the elderly african american lady who passed away recently. She gave most of her money away for scholarship funds. She was quoted as saying something like - If you want to have self esteem - do things you can be proud of.

The other thing I remind myself of when I get a case of the "gimmes" at Christmas was something I heard in a meeting "Expectations are just premeditated resentments"

I hope this hasn't sounded too preachy. This might not be what you are after. If all else fails watch "It's a Wonderful Life"

Merry Christmas - and if no one else today has told that they love you - I do {and I don't even know you}


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:10 PM

A fellow student in figure drawing class said "I hate Christmas!" and another student responded "Yeah, well Christmas hates you too!" Personally, I love Christmastime, but the end of the year is rather sad. I wish it was autumn and winter all year...

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: annamill
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:24 PM

Wow. This is going to open some doors.. I guess to some, Christmas is a very religious time and if that gives you the joy then it's wonderful I was religious once, but I always had my suspicions, so the joy in Christmas, for me, is not in religion. The joy of Christmas for me is in family and friends. Born in an Italian family, we always enjoyed large joyous celebrations with family we hadn't seen all year, sometimes, not for years. The woman would cook an overabundance of food. My Uncle would bring out this years stock of wine. My Aunt made anisette cookies. My Grandmother made Anisette ;-) We laughed and teased each other. My mother and father, no matter what financial or family problems we were having, always made sure we children (4 of us) had just about everything we had asked for. There were times when we had great pain in our family, but never at this time.

When I grew and had my own family, I made sure we had the same joy in our home. Friends were always inviteed over and my childrens friends were always invited to our house. Even when our family split and it was a sad time, I always encouraged my children to enjoy the time with their father.

As I grew even older and my children grew up and away, we still come together to enjoy this time. I make sure my house is filled with abundance, joy, laughter, and love. The challange (and it isn't always easy) is to try to maintain some of that during the rest of the year. I guess this is my religion, and it is what I mean when I say I enjoy life.

Let me take this opportunity to wish this abundance, joy, and love to everyone one of you during these holidays, no matter what they mean to you.

Love, annap


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:25 PM

Those infernal keepers of statistics agree with you Ted. The holidays in general are EXTREMELY difficult for many folks. Since we're coming up to 2000 (a totally man-invented number) it's been ten times worse for a lot of folks who have fallen into apocalyptic theology. I've seen plenty of good folks trying to fend off (perceived) isolation lately. I sure don't have the answers (I'm better at questions anyway) but for a lot of years I would take the guitar and banjo and head off to the Harbourlight mission, Sunnybrook Hospital (lots of war vets) and any other place where some tunes might help.
Every Dec. 25 Heather and I have a gang of 12 or so folks over to share Christmas with us. It's pretty secular, cause we're agnostic, and half the group is Jewish, but there's no question that we feel very thankful to have a modest roof over our heads, and good folks to share it. Lots don't, and lots of them lost their homes through nothing more than bad luck.
One of the good things for me has been the discovery of Mudcat, and even though I've been too busy lately to do my usual hour per day, I know that it abounds with kind folks.
By the way, one of those new friends, Jeri, is coming ALL the way from New England to share Christmas with us. Now THAT'S neat!
Rick


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Subject: Humbug!
From: IceWolf
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:26 PM

I'm reminded of Tom Lehrer's Christmas song at this time every year. Glitter, glitz, and commercialism have taken over the season to the detriment of anything else.

My kids (I'm a non-custodial parent) sent me lists of all the things they want for Christmas this year. Grand total: $400.00 or so each. Will they send me a thank-you note? Not bloody likely. Instead I'll get a phone-call whining about what they didn't get.

Bah! Humbug!

--IceWolf (who celebrates the Solstice rather than Christmas anyway)


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:30 PM

At this dark time of the year Christmas can bring out the best and worst in us. When I remember the ultimate message of peace on earth, goodwill to all, and like Wesley look for ways to help others, Christmas joy burns brightly. But when I get caught up in the desperate search for the right present for Uncle So-and-so, and find myself worrying about when am I ever going to get this or that task accomplished- then Christmas becomes a chore. The lights in the darkness and the chance to perform beautiful music that is only heard at this time of year bring me back, and the joy my kids still have as we do each ritual act, from setting up the tree and the creche to baking the Christmas cookies, teaching the recipe to my daughter that I got from my mother's mother's mother- then I have to admit that really, I'm crazy about Christmas!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MMario
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:37 PM

it's not Christmas I mind, it's the three (or more) months of crazy commercialism that lead up to it! I'm sorry, but there were christmas displays going up in some area stores the week of Labor Day this year!!!!! That's almost 4 full months prior to the day itself!

Our family tradition was always to have a minimum of fuss prior to Christmas. Decorations went up on Christmas Eve (my in-laws did it AFTER kids went to bed!) and stayed up until Epiphany.

I've mentioned before that Christmas carols and music were (and still are) forbidden in the household until after Thanksgiving...

I think a lot of the problem with Christmas these days is that after 16 weeks of media blitz, it can't help but be anti-climactic


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:39 PM

All this commercialism is ruining Christmas for me, and it continues to get worse every year. Now it's not "Merry Christmas" or even "Merry Xmas," but "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays." Season's Greetings could mean any season--I could say it in summer! Some people now are even going down to just "Greetings." It's like Jackson Browne says "They've turned the nature that I worship in from a temple to a robber's den." No one on TV is allowed to say anything about religion anymore, and if they do, they are cut off or laughed at. Everyone's so bloody busy worried about not offending anyone that we're losing our heritage. Did you know that Christians are the most persecuted religion group nowadays? So in closing, like the rock band Queen says "Thank God for Christmas!"

--Mbo (from my Italo-German heritage that still believes in the real meaning of Christmas, to all you other 'Catters, Merry Christmas and HAPPY HANNUKAH!)


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Sionnach
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:41 PM

My attitude has ranged from "Okay, everyone, let's decorate a tree and all get in the holiday spirit" to "Maybe there's something good on TV." So this year, I and a bunch of fellow pagans are heading off to nursing homes to sing Christmas carols. I think maybe that if you want the holiday season (whichever holiday -- Solstice, Christmas, Yule, Kwaanza) to be about giving, then you have to make it so.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:42 PM

And what other time of the year can the family all get together and bake Grandma Vincenza's cookies and listen to classic Ray Conniff Christmas records?


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Big Mick
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:43 PM

Yes, I have heard all of this before.......and I have fallen into both sides of the trap. I have spoken loudly about it being too commercial, and have been depressed at the strain it puts on the wallet........and despaired at my kids not having it all. I have fervently attended mass, and I have questioned the existence of Himself. But finally, in the fullness of the days, it dawned on me that all of that really doesn't really matter. In the end result, it is about celebrating the birth of a man who wished peace on earth and goodwill toward men. You may or may not believe that he was the Son of God, you may or may not believe that he died for the sins of man, you may or may not even believe that he lived at all. But the message of this man, is justice. It is peace for all of the children of this world. It is about a pretty good set of rules to live by. It is about challenging society to care about the least among us. It is about Love that is freely given. When I look around, clear away all the commercialism, and peer through the trees.........I see people, whole groups of people, trying to help out during this time. When I shut out the din, and listen to the voices of the children, then I know it is a special time, and it honors a very special life...........

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MMario
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:47 PM

I'm reminded of a Christmas party I went to a couple years ago, which included a group sitting around the fireplace and singing Christmas carols. Mostly we were singing pretty Christian-oriented religious ones. After about an hour, someone joined us and started preaching about how we shouldn't be singing such overtly Christian carols as it might be offensive to the non-christian people at the party. *grin* the beauty of it was, the person complaining and I were the only christians present at the fireplace!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Winters Wages
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 12:48 PM

Rick..I agree with you..The Mudcat has been my friend lately..I too have taken my guitar and squeeze box and gone to the hospitals and the like..I enjoy doing that I gives you a visual and reflection on many things we think going bad for us..then you look at other people in less better circumstances/ A week or so there was a threat on the sad songs. I neglected (perhaps on purpose) not to mention Stan Rodgers' "First Christmas" I was feeling up and doing ok Last Sunday..then came that song. I don't need to tell you how I felt. It is the exact scenario of my Dad (who passed away Christmas eve) Well, I fumbled around most of the day..then for the first time I turned on to an old Mudcat Radio..your show was so easy to listen to..I felt great...then came a message I saw was posted to me from Kat (as in laughing). It felt so great knowing that some people care and listen to one another. Well I felt a little better...I can say one thing..where I work..let me say I think we probably all have it pretty good. HAPPY HOLIDAYS ONE AND ALL ! Winters Wages


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From:
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 01:27 PM

Wesley, You did just what I asked--and I appreciate it-- am not opposed to helping people, and, when I have had the chance to, I have done it, but I will tell you that the most depressing, and I mean the most depressing Holiday memories I have, come from the years that I delivered food baskets and turkeys to the "less fortunate", I saw things that would have stunned Michael Harrington--I originally did it because I was flattered that as a first time food bank volunteer, I was given what seemed like the best job--delivering the food--after that, I did it because no one else wanted to--

My favorite "client" was the surly fat woman in a Pink Muu Muu who was sitting on a dessicated naugahyde couch,smoking a cigarette and sipping a bottle of EB beer (which could be had in those days for about $2.99 a case) and watching TV when we came to the door--

She did not get up(it was not a formal visit) and, as we cowered near the door, she said, "If you think I'm gonna to kiss your asses for giving me a shitty turkey and some canned crap, you got another thing comin'"

We left quickly, and my partner, Bambi, began crying--I ended up finishing the deliveries alone--

Her spirit remained with me, perhaps on an unconscious level, through my personal most depressing Christmas, which was the year that I officially became disabled--

I had been unable to work since May, my unemployment had run out, and my social security claim had just been declined--my ten year old daughter had found a $20 dollar bill in the gutter, and it was the only money that we had for food--

The supermarket was full of holiday foods, baked goods, candy, and I was on the verge of tears, not so much because we couldn't afford it, but because holiday food is for entertaining, and I knew that no one was going to be calling on us--

A funny thing happened while I was picking out the cheapest foods I could find (dried beans, potatoes, bulk apples, yeast and flour, etc) I started to get a little smug--"The Hell with everybody!! We don't need any of that stuff, you can shove it in our faces all you want--we'll get by without it"

Of course, we did...and I can still fix a decent dinner for two for a dollar and a half (two dollars, makes it a dinner for three, and you get dessert)...

Annap--You sound like my wife, whose family apparently did have storybook Christmases, and who still tries to make them happen--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 01:36 PM

Christmas has never been what "they" try to make it, whoever "they" are - it's about what's in your heart.

People who only know my situation worry about me, if they care at all. People who know me don't worry that much. I have no siblings or children, and both of my parents are gone. The first Christmas after my Mom died, I spent in Korea. My Jewish boss had everyone over for Christmas dinner. I had a great time. Since then, I've usually spent Christmas with friends. One year, I served meals at a Salvation Army shelter in downtown Washington DC. The neatest thing that happened there was when a woman from the Salvation Army sat herself down at a piano and began to sing "Stand By Me" and many folks joined in. I have spent Christmases alone at home, sometimes feeling sorry for myself. At some point, I usually realize I'm making things worse by thinking about things I lost or will never have.

My advice, to be taken with a grain of salt is:

1) Christmas has never been about what "they" try to make it. "They" can be merchants, friends, family, or co-workers. For some, it's a religious holiday, for some a gathering of friends and/or family, and for some it's just another day.

2) Don't feel guilty for not being thrilled to pieces about it if you aren't.

3) Do something. If you're alone, cook yourself a great meal, go for a walk, call someone on the phone, rent a movie, go help at serving meals somewhere, play music at a hospital, nursing home, or shelter...etc

4) If someone invites you to spend the day with them - GO!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MTed
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 01:40 PM

Drat--that muu muu lady, $20 grocery money story was me, and I did put my name in, it just disappeared--when I started to write it, annap was the last post, by the time I posted, there had been a doxen more posts, and all wonderful, too!!!

There are a whole range of things that come into play, from commercialism to the loss of family members--this year is especially hard for us because we lost my wife's dad this year, and he was supposed to be moving in with us at the end of the year--it is painful to watch "White Christmas" without him--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 02:05 PM

RE: kids and thank you notes. We don't have alot of gifts at Christmas, but since the time my son could write, I have made a tradition of thank you letters that go along with receiving gifts. We sit together and alternate opening gifts and after each gift is revealed, the thank you note to the giver is written. We talk about the friends who sent us something and we take our time appreciating the thoughtfulness.

My birthday is near Christmas, also. My parents and family forgot my birthday when I was 16. I forgot it myself when I was 28, and several times since then. I've learned not to expect anything, and I appreciate whatever good I can experience. Singing helps. Anticipating the days getting longer helps, too. So does giving food and cheer to others.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: skarpi
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 02:17 PM

Hello all, I live In the darkness these day´s that is the day is getting shorter and shorter. Today I only have about five hour´s In daylight, and it´s getting shorter. But there is always light in the darkness. I call this christmas weekend together with all the family weekend, becouse I think this one of few weekends that they get to gether.Everyone has so little time for friends and family. My family will get together on the last day of the year, that´s it. So me and my family are gonna be alone over the christmas this year, but as I said there´s always a light In the dark.I will try to do so many think´s with my kids and my lovely wife and ofcourse no wine In my house over christmas.I know many people are alone over this weekend and I wish I could do something for them, but I am so far away from most of you, I send to you and all the rest of mudcatter´s my best whishes over the holydays. Light a candle everyone for those who are gonna be alone for the christmas time. My love to you all and may god be with you all. Skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MMario
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 02:58 PM

skarpi - you exemplify the spirit of christmas! May your days be long bright with song and friendship, though the sun's hours be short.

MMario


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 03:26 PM

I find the time surrounding Christmas to be terrible. I do not like being inundated with mass marketing, I hate it even more when the fad of the year is blasted in my children's faces every where they turn. I despise Christmas ads the day after Halloween, can't stand the 'my lights are bigger and brighter than your lights' mentality of a lot of people.

I do however love that once a year we can step back from our hectic schedules and get together with the people that are most important to us in a relaxed setting, have some laughs play a few tunes and celebrate family. Mine is wonderful and I don't get enough time to enjoy them in this setting. I do believe that this is what Christmas is about.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Barbara
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 03:28 PM

One of the things that used to confuse me about Christmas was how come I was such a Grinch and got depressed instead of enjoying all the activities, and singing and parties and presents and, and ...
And then I realized my moods change with the seasons, and my body feels, in the dark and cold of the year, like it is time to hang out in the back of the cave and introspect and sit in the dark.
When I started honoring that, in a solstice ritual with a few friends and a journey into the silent places in our hearts, the whole season started making more sense.
Mind you, this is not Pagan vs Christian; it has to do with going out or going in. My spirit craves a time of contemplation by the fire, not an all out assault on the senses that happens when I go shopping. No quiet anywhere, and lots of desperation.
Taking the silence and inner time I need makes the other parts of the holiday season work so much better.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Banjoman_CO
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 03:30 PM

Many different things are important to different people at Christmas time. For some, it is a religious time. For some it is family time. For others, it is a party time. For me, it is religious. Not so much the church activities, but thinking what the real meaning of Christmas is to ME. It is a time of giving, but not so much the giving of material things, but a giving of one's self to others. It is also fo me a family time. A time when my son comes home and we can hunt or fish for a few days. Or my daughter and her family are here. I know that many people are not religious, but I do know what God has done for me, an ex-drunk, my family, and my life. May all of the Mudcats have a very joyous holiday season and may the new millininum be a very Happy time for all. And to all, a good night. Fred.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 04:09 PM

Jeri has made some very helpful suggestions for those of you who feel alone this Christmas.
You can be in a gathering of family & friends and still feel lonely.
If Christmas is feeling painful it is important not to feel guilty about it. It is just the way it is.
Treat yourself kindly.
And always remember you are truly loved.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Bert.
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 04:56 PM

Good point BB "always remember you are truly loved." that applies to everyone here. We disagree a lot of times but really we're quite fond of each other. So if you're feeling down, at Christmas (or at any other time) just call or send a personal message to another Mudcatter. I'm usually pretty happy at Christmas time and I'm always pleased to hear the sound of my own voice;-) So I'll talk to you, even if no one else will.
SO! Love and best wishes to the whole damned lot of yer!

Bert.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mudjack
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 05:21 PM

A mass for Christ. Definetly a Christian time. My Christian soul yearns for the celebration for the birth of Jesus but my humanistic flesh throws me into a deep depression and maybe should do something about the "depression blues".It is the once a year time where music is not my favorite subject so I throw on a few instrumental XMAS CDs. Yes, I said XMAS and don't apologise for using the term.Our children are grown, married and getting married and I'm grateful for a lot in this world but have come to an age that family get togethers are essential to the celebration of the holidays. But living 1000 miles from siblings and our children are flashing in and out for the holidays really sparks the "dep" bug. Mrs. Mj's mom is revovering from a heart attack. We are having Christmas at our house this Saturday with our daughter and her husband. Of cousre I'm working that night.
Now are'nt you glad you asked, maybe some Mudfolks who think they have it bad can feel a little better about their season. These are my inner feelings and I know I can get well soon and perk back up when I give thought to the birth of Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas. Living in the N.W. where winter days are short and dreary is likely the real depressant.
I do wish all a very warm and HAPPY HOLIDAY Season. And Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ for those who share that reason for celebrating the holidays.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 05:36 PM

Amen, brother Mudjack! BTW the X in "Xmas" has religious connotations too...

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: bunkerhill
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 05:37 PM


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: lamarca
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 06:09 PM

We get so many rosy, fantasy images of what a "good" Christmas should be from the media, books and people around us, that reality has a hard time living up to the fantasy. The strain of trying to achieve a picture-book ideal of family togetherness, warmth and gaiety no matter what your actual life is like is a cause of depression and stress for lots of people.

Christmas and many other seasonal holidays were centered around the Dark Times of the year because Winter is when people begin to feel the lack of warmth and light. Yes, Christmas has religious significance to Christians, but it's in December because that's when a holiday is needed both ritually and psychologically. It's ironic that the holiday itself is now a cause of depression rather than a comfort from it.

It is wonderful that some folks are able to give of themselves by working with the homeless or singing for the elderly, but for others, the season loads them up with "shoulds" until they feel like they have no more of themselves left to give. Suggesting they should add one more obligation to their list of "Holiday Things I Should Be Doing" is liable to cause another guilt trip, rather than helping them to feel the "right" spirit of the season.

I've solved some of my holiday anxiety and winter gloom by trying to simplify where I can. I have some fun seasonal rituals that I follow, but when they start becoming burdens rather than fun, I drop them (like an all-day baking session with a friend - we'll do it again when life is less crazy and it's a fun idea, rather than an obligation). I don't travel to my parents' home every year anymore, and it seems a lot more special when I do.

Realize that we're battling Nature in this season of Darkness as best we can, with light and song and food. Ignore the little voices that say "You HAVE to send out those 57 cards to people you don't correspond with any other time." Don't worry that your home isn't a Norman Rockwell painting - it's a fantasy. Find something warm and full of light that you enjoy doing, and do it - and if you can share it with someone else, whether friends, family or the community, so much the better. Kindle a Light within yourself, whether it comes from Jesus or some other belief or faith, and build up your own reserves against the rest of the Winter, which is now going away.

Wishing all a quiet peace, warmth and light for Christmas and the Solstice.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 06:21 PM

I'm not sure I understand this whole darkness with a capital D thing. It's usually an average of 55 degrees and sunny almost every day in the North Carolina wintertime. Spring here is usually lousy and overcast, quite capable of putting one in gloomy spirits. But I don't let the weather bother me that much. I have much more important things in my life than to stare out the window at the clouds and get depressed...is it Season Affect Disorder possibly?

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Caitrin
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 06:41 PM

I was babysitting at my church last weekend, and got dragged into the "Is there a Santa?" debate that 6-10 year olds tend to create every year. I fell firmly on the side of "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

I love Christmas and all the joy and excitement that I see in people in the time surrounding it. I love to see people's faces light up when my choral group goes Christmas caroling. It gives me a thrill to find "the perfect gift", a present that means something and will really excite its recipient. I love to make fudge and gingersnaps and give them to my friends and family. I love to serve on the altar for my church's Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Christmas for me is a time of love and joy, a time of contemplation of all the wonderful blessings I have. It is a time to simply enjoy life, without the worries that plague me every day. Rather than doing so much that holiday preparations become a bother, I do just what I can. With that, I'm off to make my first batch of Christmas fudge.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 06:43 PM

One of the best things I heard years ago about feeling blue and irritable on Christmas came in a Quaker meeting. Someone stood up and very simply said something along the lines of "As angels, animals, shepherds and wisemen all gathered around the infant Jesus, we should not be afraid to bring all of our feelings, good and bad, into the Christmas season." Trying to be happy or excited all the time, and the time is extended every year, is exhausting and can burn you out. I need quiet time and alone time or my family time disintegrates rapidly and badly.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 07:17 PM

When I was a freshman in college, one winter night I heard Christmas carols coming from Blair Arch, a big square plaza underneath a tower, at the top of a long flight of steps. My 4th floor room looked out over the courtyard and Blair Hall, and with the snow coming down and the choir's voices drifting outward, I felt a great surge of warmth and comfort and joy. (Interesting-- those words came out spontaneously in response to the memory of the scene, with no thought of the song) I had a sense, then, that what I was hearing and feeling was not so much the Christmas spirit, which is one I had not grown up with, but the winter spirit, the knowledge that, yes, it's dark and cold, but the days will lengthen again and we will make it through to another spring, and now is the time to gather together and to celebrate our lives and the earth and everything that has brought us thus far in it.

I'm Jewish, and when I was young I was always amazed at how quickly Christmas was over after all the fanfare leading up to it. My dad used to play Christmas songs on the radio on Christmas day, because he liked them. And one of my fondest memories was another December night at college, 1972, at a tree-trimming party, stringing popcorn and hanging ornaments and singing Christmas carols far into the night, feeling right at home with my friends even though I was a little Jewish kid from Northeast Philadelphia.

This year I've already had my tough holiday. This was the first Hanukkah I've spent without my kids, because my marriage is ending and my wife and five-year-old daughter and 11-year-old stepson are in Oregon and I'm in Hawaii. So I lit the candles every night, and called often, and cried a lot. But now even as I deal with the lawyers and the anger and all the crap I thought I'd never have to go through, I feel that old spirit rise in me and I know I have a good life, a beautiful daughter, a good career, friends and music I can now start to reconnect with, and I know how to love and live. Merry Christmas, everybody, and a very happy and healthy new year.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MTed
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 07:20 PM

Caitrin,

I am sure that you have some very fine qualities of character, and I will try to overlook this--I have to say that Norman Rockwell acknoledged that his work was fantasy and not real;-)--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 07:34 PM

Every year I have the honor of playing Santa for the unfortunates that my wife's church sponsors (our marriage is a religeously "mixed" one)...as was previously noted by Wesly W., poor kids are nowhere nearly as greedy as middle class and/or wealthy children.

Last year, a little girl of about 7 asked for only one thing...her grandmother had lost her eyesight, and all this little angel wanted was for her "Granny" to be able to see again.

One of our "Christmas traditions" is for my two youngest to help me deliver Christmas dinner to shut-ins...this is what Christmas was once about.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 07:37 PM

Well, I guess it's a mixed blessing. I love the music and traditions and many other things about this season, but I have an easier time with Easter and Passover. I suppose the bad things about Christmas are the unfulfilled expectations (things never seem to happen exactly the way we hope they will), the amplified loneliness of people who have nobody to celebrate the holidays with, the tacky commercialism, and the conflict between religions and secularism that seems to get amplified during this season.
I guess it's that last thing that bugs me most, as a Christian. It's a religious feast, dammit, and it's a crying shame when people try to cleanse it of its religious nature. It's not just a Christian feast, either - it's a coming together of holy days that are sacred to many different religious and ethnic traditions. This is a sacred, holy time, and if we are a world that believes in religious tolerance, we should study and repect all the many ways that people hold this time sacred. What's more, I think we should share all of those religious and ethnic traditions with each other and sing each other's songs loud and clear, and then maybe this would become the time of peace and good will and generosity that it's meant to be.
This season can be a time that makes wonderful memories - not of the things that we plan on, but of the spontaneous things that happen at gatherings of people who love each other.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Big Mick
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 07:48 PM

How I feel about Christmas was deeply affected by the story I told HERE


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Musicman
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:18 PM

Ouch....

I read through this thread looking at everybodys feelings about Christmas and ponder my own.....

I have not been looking forward to this Christmas for a while..... It will be the first Christmas my daughter (12) and I share without her mom, and we are coming up to the 1st anniversary of her death (jan 16)... Lately, over the past few years, I have been having a real hard time with the commercialism of Christmas. Yes, it started as a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but where has it gone and where is it going? I'm not going to profess my faith here (yes, Christian) but am saddened by the grip that the retail industry has over this 'event'. I HATE going into the shopping malls at this time of year, and avoid it as much as possible. I sometimes wish that we could hole up somewhere, celebrate with those who are dear to us, acknowledge those who have taken care of us throughout the year (THANKYOU MUDCATTERS!!) and give something to those people that it is in our hearts to do so.

Mick, I also have spent alot of time bring the music of the season to those in Hospital.... Actually, it's part of my job, but what a good job, to bring a smile to someone's face through music....

This year I have taken a medical leave from my work (Music Therapist in a local Hospital) because I am unable to perform my duties due to the mix of emotions that affect me this year.... I am taking time to play music (for me), get in shape (lose 30lbs) and most importantly, be there for my daughter, because it's going to be a tough one for us all this time round. Fortunately, my wife's family are all in the area (4 other siblings, 9 neices and nephews) so we will spend Christmas day with them as always.....

I do wish the best of this Christmas season on everyone here, and once again, our little community shines with it's forthrightness from it's members and the caring and compassion that is show by those who 'listen'.

And Rick, I to will be having a guest over the holidays, Night Owl is heading back to Vancouver (from Cape Cod!) to spend a fun-filled Irish New Year's with us....

Well, I think I have said my peace, feeling a bit better for sharing, thanks for listening, and Merry Christmas to all.....

Musicman


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:22 PM

M.Ted, I believe Caitrin wanted to share with us a picture of her Christmas.
A Christmas blessed with the spirit of joy and happiness.

BB


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: kendall
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:29 PM

I stopped loving Christmas the day I found out that I was Santa Claus. Seriously,Christmas is difficult if you are alone. 'course we all know that Christmas is run by a big Eastern syndicate.. (Lucy of Peanuts, another reason for sadness) The hard cold facts are..businesses make 30% of their annual profit at this time of the year, and, if they dont make it..they dont make it at all. I wish it would just go away.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:37 PM

I love it!!!!!! Can I be Santa ??? Anything that can help us be happy and giving and full of hope... I beleave in the true spirit of the thing. All my best to all, Guy


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Mbo
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:44 PM

Well, it everyone sure has different feelings about Christmas. For those who still enjoy and celebrate Christmas, I salute you. I also want to say that my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, or are alone, and get depressed by this wonderful season while others are happy. I wish I could come to all your houses and make Christmas special for you all again. As for the darkness and despair of winter, I leave you with a quote of hope from J.R.R. Tolkien:

"Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From:
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:46 PM

Today it snowed, and I saw a bunny while I was walking, and I get to go home in a few days, and I got a gingerbread house kit as a present, and I got a letter too. Christmas... it's pretty good, not neccessarily when you get big things, but when you _get_ the little things. Merriness to all!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Dave
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 08:51 PM

I spent many a Christmas away from home, in bad weather or good, at sea, or in foreign ports, but never felt that bad about it. My one main Christmas tradition is always to give to the Salvation Army; coins to the kettle with an attendant without uniform, paper money to those in uniform. Give toys to the needy. Watching "A Christmas Carol" with Allister Simm as Scrooge is another good way to remember the real spirit of Christmas. These simple things bring me and my family some pleasure. It's not the gifts, the tree, or the food; its about honouring a small child who changed the world. Visit your friends and hug them, speak kindly to one another, try to right a wrong; and remember there are those who are not afforded these simple luxuries on this planet. One day, soon enough, you will measure the quality of life not by what you owned, or the bad things you did, but by the good you did, and that you were a benefit to others along the way. If you can do that, you need not feel bad about Christmas day at all; it was just one day in your year, preserve it as the best if you can; to honour the child who died for you.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 09:05 PM

There are some really touching stories here, there really are; and I think I'm going to sit down and have a good cry for all the people, especially my friends, who are hurting this Christmas. Then I'm going to sing my heart out and try to be kind and gentle, and do my best to bring joy to people these next two weeks. I wish for warm hearts and happiness and hope and peace for all of us. I usually stick to the music threads, but I was really moved by several of the messages here.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 09:25 PM

I take care of and water the plants in our local hospital. It takes about six hours to go around the building from the cancer treatment center, to hospice, to offices, to the ER, to the reception areas and entry ways and lobbies. People stop me all the time and talk to me about how beautiful the plants are, they ask questions about plants they have at home, and they comment on how nice it makes the hospital to have all the healthy living plants there. It seems like the gentlest and most thoughtful people I meet are in the cancer treatment radiation center. These people are there with cancer or waiting for their loved one who is getting treatment. I know for myself, the times in my life when I looked death in the face, not knowing how long I had, or having lost a loved one, the simplest joys and appreciation for whatever peace and beauty can be found become a crystal-clear savoring of the moment. The people I meet in the oncology center are living in the moment, savoring every minute, like the lady today, who talked to me about how shiny green the leaves were on the peace lily. I feel lucky every day that I am still alive, no matter what grey clouds may come. So, I feel lucky to see another Christmas.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 09:49 PM

Like Musicman, we are celebrating a Christmas of firsts: our first without my mom, who died the day after MM lost his wife. It will seem strange as she loved Christmas and it was very imporant, for her, for us to be together, even when some of us didn't want to be. I felt a bit of distance about it all when I moved East and didn't share Christmas with her and the rest of my family for ten years, but coming back 6 years ago and spending about three of those with her, were lovely and reminded me of all the fun we used to have.

Curiously enough, I have more of the seasonl spirit this year than last, I think because I had a feeling last year would be her last Christmas with us and so it was sadder. It is also because my youngest daughter is finally my friend, again. As equal adults, she and I are enjoying one another's company and getting along, after I had despaired of her ever coming back into my life in such a way.

I feel a lot of the same things already stated about the commercialism. I REFUSE TO PARTICIPATE. I make almost all of my gifts and spend very little money. I may make Swedish tea rings this year for a few neighbours and friends, as I've always done in the past. I make them look like Christmas wreaths and it was always so much fun to wrap them up and surprise everyone with them. I will also continue to avoid the mall and stores. I will also find a quiet, dark time of everyday to keep my soul and spirit nourished in the quietness of this great spiritual time of year, esp on the Solstice, my favourite day.

I had an encounter the other day; a direct reminder of the good of the human spirit and the reason we have sacred seasons.

I went into my local bead store and there was an elderly woman sitting at the table with old rhinestone jewelry spread out on the table before her. Among the baubles which shone so brightly, she had a few very old, real cameos from Tibet, she said, from before WWII. She was hoping to sell any and all of it.

Her story was so sad and true. She is totally alone, her husband having died of emphysema in Orgeon where they went when the doctors told them he only had about two years left. After he died she came home to Casper. Using the $900 left from his life insurance, she bought herself a small camp trailer/caravan, no bathroom nor running water. After paying it off, she traded up and kept doing that until she finally had a decent, old mobile home to call her own.

She lives off of Social Security, a mere $325 per month. She gets no other benefits, I think because she is too proud to ask.

The day I met Lea, she had just pawned her wedding rings to pay some bills and she had $1.60 left for the rest of the month, including Christmas. She is 76 and in poor health herself. My friend and I were in no position to offer her what we knew her cameos were worth, so we gave her some names of trusted people who might be able to help.

Then my friend, the shop owner, came over and placed a $20 bill in Lea's hand, telling her she was just passing on what she'd received herself when in dire circumstances. Lea was so grateful and stunned, we all had tears running down our faces. Lea gave us each a hug and told us that she loved us. She kept calling us "good girls".

That moment was one of true goodness born of spontaniety, which I believe defines the best of humankind. The selfless giving of my friend, which I would have emulated had I had cash that day; the gratefullness and absolute surprise Lea felt when she gave her the money; the Presence of what I call the Cosmic; all made my heart swell with gratitude and sorrow at the same time for the way this woman was living.

I was effected so profoundly by this experience. It made me even more aware of how angry I've become with my brother, who thinks he has nothing and who does nothing to help hmself. If he wills it, he may be the one who does not survive the loss of mom. The contrast of this person who is so close and prevelant in my life and this stranger whom I had an instant rapport and empathy for was marked.

I made sure to exchange phone numbers with Lea and she gave me her address. This coming week, my daughter and I will take her some groceries for Christmas, as a surprise, and know that we have done a small part in passing on the Spirit of Good which is within us all.

May you all have a blessed and good season of your own choosing. And, thank you all for being such wonderful, caring friends.

I really do feel joyful this year and wish Peace to you all.

Love,

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: bunkerhill
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 09:52 PM

Oh, Ted, who started this thread, you make a grown man want to cry. Resolved, after reading thread: 1. On Dec. 24 I'll be in church, holding hands with a bunch of strangers and trying to figure out how to balance a lighted candle while singing "Silent Night" 2. I'll be checking in at the 'cat on friends I never knew I had, asking for a chorus of "I'm here to say the pleasure was all mine" (be a good 'catter and supply the correct title) or the Carl Williams song "It's A Pleasure to Know You" (ditto).


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Caitrin
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 10:29 PM

MTed, I guess I just have to excuse myself as a seventeen year old idealist. This is my last Christmas as a real kid...after this year, I'll be expected to move on into the "real world", despite the fact that I'll still be in school. Christmas has always been a happy time for me, and I guess I wanted to try to share some of that joy with others here. For those of you who are having difficult times, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
A happy celebration to you all.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 10:31 PM

Joe and Alice, sorry I was writing when you both posted. Joe, your first post was well-said and your second is wonderfully put. Thank you, friend. Alice, what a perfectly lovely and loving way to share. It is so important for people in places like hospitals and nursing homes to have living things around them.

And, MTed? Nobody's said it yet, so I will, early, regardless of how you feel about it HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! and I promise not to send you any broken toys!**BG**

luvya'llKatwhoisfgrateFULLforeveryday,butwishesheroneandahalfyearoldgrandsonswerehere!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 10:47 PM

Well, I missed yours, too, Caitrin. Nevermind the humbuggery *bg*, you just keep up that Spirit and have fun, oh, and the real world? Forget about it, refuse to grow up and join the rest of us, darlin'!

luvyaKat


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Willie-O
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 11:43 PM

What Kat says goes double for me Caitrin. And what the world needs is more articulate seventeen year old idealists! (More in numbers I mean...)

As for me I have not gotten much holiday spirit yet...just looked up at the calendar and got quite a shock...

Bill C


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 16 Dec 99 - 11:51 PM

I've been calling the people I really wanna talk to, like today my 80 year old aunt; sending out a very few solstice cards; practicing a piece for the annual solstice party here; and luxuriating in the thought of a four day weekend to pull out my dusty kena and maybe my bodhran and pretend I still know how to play them. And play Christmas Revels (Langstaff version) and an album of christmas stuff put out awhile ago by an ad hoc chicago group.

The Mannheim Steamroller/Vince Guaraldi fan is long out of my life and I unplugged the christmas machine many many years ago. I have pretty lights, but haven't gotten them up this year and probably won't. When I do, cool.

Last Sunday the new pastor was ordained in my UU church; now THAT was a party!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: SingsIrish Songs
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 04:49 AM

I haven't had time to read thoroughly all the current posts to this thread, but I'm saving it to read later offline....

I love Christmas time. Love the story of the first Christmas--the birthday of the Christ Child. Love the (religious) Christmas songs, the secular ones as well...Love decorating...

The shopping, if I am smart, I start well in advance so it doesn't take too much away from the real meaning of this time of year. Bargains, sales events, etc. have gotten too much a focus for the world in general and we lose track on the REAL meaning of GIVING...

I love the memories from years past. The fun of my childhood Christmases complete with letters to and from Santa (that my Dad made photocopies of for my sister and myself to read through)...

How many of you know that Rudolph loves radishes???? And one year, before the willow tree was cut down in my parent's back yard, Dasher came in a bit too low and clipped the top of it and Santa almost lost his hat! There were a few branches in the yard that morning to prove it!!!!!

I love remembering when my Grandfather would come stay over a few nights during Christmas...and I always seemed to sit on his hat when coming back from Communion at Christmas Eve Mass....Then in the evenings the harmonicas and ukulele and tape recorder and songbooks would come out and we'd have a singalong in the kitchen. Sometimes my Mom would play the organ and we'd sing in the livingroom. And listening Christmas morning for "Pop" as we called him, to make his way downstairs and my sister and I would soon follow. We'd bypass the presents (obviously we were a little bit older) and have cookies and milk (coffee for Pop)!

Then there are the memories of gift opening in the morning. Lot's of fun!

In the last several years--say about 10 or so, the Christmas season has become a sentimental time--often bringing tears to my eyes. Happy memories of loved ones who have passed away flood my mind...but despite missing these people, it is a very happy time!

And now that I have a little boy of my own, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning. He is two this year and is really interested in the tree, manger, Santa. So this will prove to be an exciting Christmas!

I've got new tapes for the video camera! More memories to capture and have for years to come...

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!

Mary


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Len Wallace
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 05:54 AM

My fondest memories of Xmas as a kid was the morning when my father would wake my sister and myself up with his Russian accented impression of Santa Claus - "Ho Ho Ho! Santa Claus eez com and brink presentz!"

Sharing gifts, getting the house ready for family friends to come for dinner. My dad would inevitably get tipsy, my mom would be in a constant fuss and I'd be forced to drag out the accordion, my mom grabbing the mandolin. Then everyone singing Xmas carols followed by Russian revolutionary songs!

Now, much older and wiser and poorer, I love the idea of Xmas, still put up a tree and wear a button onmy lapel that says "Xmas is a Capitalist Plot!"


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 07:00 AM

One thing that keeps us going through the festive season is our informal prize for the most nauseous newsletter received within the family from people we've almost forgotten telling us news about people we've never met! Usually their children discover a cure for cancer at 3, play ten musical instruments to conservetoire standard by 4, graduate PhD with honours by 6, make their first million at 7...you get the picture.
Why do none of them tell of glue-sniffing,bed-wetting, shoplifting, school exclusion or something really interesting?!
Roger the Cynic.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 07:59 AM

What's supposed to be a joyous and festive celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Christian's model for human behavior, salvation and spiritualness....has become a stressful and frustrating battle for parking spaces and the last Tickle Me Elmo doll on the shelf. Traffic is horrendous, the malls are jammed....my inclination is to go into seclusion a day or two after Thanksgiving and emerge sometime in mid-January.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Magpie
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 08:54 AM

I love it! To me it's got nothing to do with religion, but I find it a perfect time for a celebration! The days are getting longer, there's nice, clean snow covering up all the muck of autumn, my son comes home from school CLEAN, not muddy, and it's just plain nice!

I also find it a perfect time for nice indoor activities. It's too cold and dark to spend too much time outdoors, so why not spend the coldest, longest and darkest days making it nice for your friends and family?

I actually enjoy buying Christmas presents. I enjoy the frantic bustle of busy shops, Christmas decorations, lights and carols. I enjoy the anticipation of seeing my loved ones opening their gifts, not to mention opening my own. Mind you, I'm not rich or anything, and it's sometimes a bit of a burden financially, but what the heck, I like it!

I know a lot of people find it a nightmare. They dread the crazed spending of money, the demands for bigger and more expecive gifts. If they hate it that much, why do they go along with it then?!? Their kids won't love them anymore just because of expencive gifts! Kids won't learn to respect their parents just because they give them whatever they want. In my opinion, kids who get what they want are taught that their demanding ways are accepted. Parents with spoiled kids can blame themselves! They made them that way.

I refuse to let these people get to me. I LIKE Christmas. I like buying and receiving gifts, I enjoy decorating the house, eating wonderful food, and spending time with my son, watching the anticipation in his eyes.

To all the people I meet who try to convince me that Christmas is horrible, I have one thing to say: Let me keep my (childish) enthusiasm for the season! It won't harm them if I enjoy Christmas! But it would harm me if I were to dread it as much as they do!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Magpie


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 09:31 AM

JOE OFFER FOR KING..LETS HEAR IT..

Markf that chorus goes..
Thank you for the honor of your company
The music was as sweet as the good red wine
Thanks for the company, thanks for the harmony
I'm here to say the honor was all mine.

Thanks to Tom Paxton


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Wesley S
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 10:42 AM

Another thought I had -

I wonder about the over commercialization of Christmas. Why is it that we spend all the money we have and then max out our credit cards to celibrate the birth of someone { whether you believe in him or not } who lived his life in vertual poverty. I'm no scholar but I can't find a mention of Christ owning any possesions at all except for the clothes on his back. As usual I can come up with questions and no answers.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From:
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 11:18 AM

Wesley,

We are celebrating those Zoroastrians Magi who were following a star in the East, never mind the fact that Bethlehem and environs are West of Persia, and brought gifts--this story, as dramatic as it is, never was very clear to me until I found out that, when the religious leader in a society that believes in reincarnation dies, they select some wisemen to go out and find the new reincarnation of their leader--

Zoroastrians believed in the division of the world between gods of light and darkness, who, I think, were Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, and that there was a toatlity that transcended them both--

I mention this because our Christmas tradition, complete with the holiday date, were taken from the Roman cult of Mithras, which was their adaptation of the Zoroastrianism--

The holiday was called "Natalis Invictis Solis"(Birth of the Invincible Sun)--

I mention this all because this holiday seems to bring out both the darkest and the brightist sides of the human experience--I am really overwhelmed by the stories here, both dark and light--

Kat--thanks for the birthday wishes!!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: KathWestra
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 12:23 PM

Well, after lurking here for a few days, I feel the need to add my voice -- one of some ambivalence about the season.

On the one hand -- the one that sometimes just wishes Christmas would go away -- are all the things people have talked about in earlier posts to this thread: the loss of my mom, who loved Christmas and whose joy at making it special for me and others was contagious, and whose absence leaves a big hole; the fact that I am alone, when I wish there were someone special with whom I could share my life -- my aloneness thrown into high relief by the fact that my closest friends are married, as I once was, with families. Just finding someone to do things with (like bake cookies) is hard when everyone is swallowed up by their own "to do" lists. The commercialism. The "entitled" approach to gift-giving and -getting. The fact that people don't bother to say thank-you and sometimes don't even seem to notice that you've gone to a lot of trouble to find them a really neat gift.

But, on the other hand, as Tevye would say...

There are abundant signs of true goodness that give me great hope that the true spirit of the season -- of a Light stronger than the encroaching darkness -- is alive and well. Read the story in Kat's post, and Mick's link to his own Christmas story. Mick's post was one of the first things I read on the 'Cat, and one of the reasons I knew I'd found a very special community here. I have a warm home -- and even own a teensy part of it. I have a good job that pays me well. I am healthy. I have love for my friends, and friends who love me. My dad is still alive, relatively healthy, and coming to see me next Wednesday. Centuries of Christmases have been the inspiration for some of the most glorious music there is. I will listen with great joy to Bach's Christmas cantatas, to the familiar carols, and to the Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols from King's College in Cambridge. I will play Maddy Prior's "Tapestry of Carols" many times, to hear her soaring voice sing my favorite version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." And I will sing along, giving thanks that I have ears to hear and a voice to sing.

Wishing all of you the gifts that really matter: love, health, music, friends, a sense of belonging, and eyes to see a world of goodness, hope, and possibility.

With love, Kathy


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 02:07 PM

One who is loved is never really alone...hear? and you are loved Kathy W.
This thing about seeing his star in the east, I always thought that meant that THEY were in the east when they saw the star??


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 02:32 PM

EDverybody knows all that stuff in the Gospels was grafted on long after the historical Jesus died, right? Being born in Bethlehem to retroactively make him fit the prophecies and all? The Wise Men? The virgin birth? all this Hellenistic stuff?

Me, the one thing we know is that the sun turns around and the days start getting longer. The light grows. Whatever it has come to mean for you, cool. The extreme fundies are actually right when they refuse to celebrate xmas because it is "pagan" derived. gotta go.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 04:13 PM

Well, you may be correct, but your explanation misses all the nuances, MAG. I think I'd prefer to say that it's a wonderful story that has given wonder and inspiration to people for generations upon generations. You can call it myth, and that would be correct - but mythology is is something of infinite value, the way we humans approach an understanding of things we cannot understand. I've got a degree in Theology and what I think is a pretty realistic view about the origin of the Scriptures - and I guess I wouldn't argue with you about the so-called "facts." Nonetheless, although I doubt it happened exactly at that location and in exactly the way the Scriptures describe it, I still found it quite inspiring last month when I went into the cave under the basilica in Bethlehem, singing Christmas carols with my friends.
Rather than tearing myth apart for the purpose of refuting it and winning an empty victory against those who hold it sacred, it may be valuable to look at the meaning behind the myth and the way the myth has inspired people.
Whatever we believe, I wish peace and good will for all of us. I think that's the meaning behind the story.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 04:26 PM

Let's agree to disagree, Gentleman Joe. I don't think we fundamentally disagree on finding the meaning for yourself and going with it, and bag what you don't.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Caitrin
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 04:49 PM

Thanks, kat and Bill.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Dec 99 - 05:45 PM

Lets cut to the chase.. dump all that dogma and get down to the brass tacks. The most powerful force in the universe is love. It is less of an emotion and more of an energy, like light or magnetism. It is the force that created the universe, and the one that holds it together. Relegion aside, Jesus taught that the way back to the creator is love. For the creator is love.
I dont buy all that organized relegion stuff, but, to look around you and check out the wonders of this world, and say there is no god, is like getting up from a banquet, and saying, there is no cook.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: InOBU
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 10:24 AM

I read most of these and it does not present a great picture of what Christmas has come to be. Let me share with you guys a little recipie for feeling good during this time of year, especially if you live in a cold place with a lot of homeless people.
I have always taken a little time to sit and get to know the folks who live on my doorstep, and have no other place to go. Many have become long time treasued friends wiether or not they get off the street. Several native brothers and sisters have taught me everything thing from snatches of native language to how to make native archery tackle! One, who got off the streets led me into my work in Federal Indian law. Some years back, I began taking whatever christmas bonus I got, and bought thermal underwear, a real life saver for those on the streets, and my wife and I would spend about a week around Christmas seeking out folks who needed them. If it was a warm winter we would wait a while, so the guys wouldnt sell the undies for anything they wanted more but needed less. When I was in law school, I organised this through student clubs and we were able to do this on a bigger scale. We always get the goods down at seconds shops on Delancy Street. Now, seconds, for those not in the know, are not second hand, but new packaged stuff, that might have a small flaw, like a dropped thread. I have never been able to find a flaw in them, and they are often less than half price, so much more warmth for the buck.
It makes for a very rewarding time, lots of real fun, and you feel much better about yourself than you have a right to do. One memory I always treasure is of Tommy, a golden golves boxer in the sixties, who fried his brains on some drug or another, and has trouble making coherant sentences. One cold day, near the end of the winter, Tommy staggered up the street to me and screamed one silable at a time, with a look of agony, trying to get the message out. THHHH AAANNK YY YY YYOU PROFESSOR (the guys always called me that cause i was always in school for years). He was pulling the sleave of his thermal underwear out from under his coat to show me that he had kept warm in them through the winter and still had them. It was the only full sentence I had heard from him in decades.
Forget Pok e man, give where it is needed and feel great
Larry


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: InOBU
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 10:26 AM

PS My priest would say, do the above in the spirit of Christ. I think Christ would say, to hell with that, do it because it feels so good to do...
Pax
Larry


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 11:41 AM

Oh, Larry, you are a gem. Goodonya and thanks for telling us about that. Just goes to show there's heart in the big apple, too!

luvyaKat


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Big Mick
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 11:51 AM

Like I said a while ago in this thread, it doesn't matter if you believe any of it, as long as you act in the spirit of it. Peace on Earth, goodwill to all. As you do to the least of ye, so you do to me. Suffer unto me the little children..... Judge not, lest ye be judged. I can go with that.

KathWestra, there is this huge man in Michigan that loves you to pieces..........but I guess you know that already. Merry Christmas, my dear friend.

Big Mick


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 03:10 PM

Anne, who's been married to me for 35 years, came up and read this thread, and said now she understood why I was spending so much time with this Mudcat.

The thing about Christmas is that at the same thing it is a wonderful time and a terrible time. It brings everything to a head.

Christmas is about a good time coming in the middle of a hard time. "In the bleak midwinter". "See amid the winter snow." "To save us all from Satan's power, when we were gone astray."

That's the same quality that you get in the secular stories that have become attached to Christmas, such as "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life". Or a book I always try to read a bit of before Chrustmas, "The Dean's Watch" by Elizabeth Goudge.

I think I'm going to put this thread in the same place I keep those.

Here's a Christmas song I wrote:

Paper Chains


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 03:13 PM

That clicky thing again - here's the URL in clear

http://www.macgrath.freeserve.co.uk/Songlists/man%20with%20a%20mandolin.htm#Paper chains.

And here is another effort to link it properly:

Paper Chains


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MAG
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 03:41 PM

I just heard some Noel Sing We Clear stuff on the local folk show (Dan Maher). Roberts and Barrand and some others. wonderful stuff.

(I'm a storyteller; I love myth.)

MAG, whoe hard drive got yanked out for an upgrade suddenly yesterday and is posting from off list)


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 18 Dec 99 - 10:00 PM

I am finishing the best year I have ever had in the Silver jewelry business. I can stop making pieces right now and the total of not yet picked up orders is greater than the reciepts to date. For a craft business that is part time that is pretty OK turn around for my time.

My family and I will enjoy a good Christmas morning this year just as we did last year. The goodness that this income buys me and my family is balanced against the goodness it allows me to give to others with it. The little kid who wants a ring or a bracelet for Mom or Sis and hasn't quite the money for both will as likely find a 2 for 1 sale going on when the crowd around the table is small. I give away as many earrings as I sell it seems and the smiles on little girls faces some how balance the books.

$10.00 buys a couple cans of soup and sauce at the grocery for the food pantry at church, but $10.00 buys a case of soup or sauce at Syracuse Damaged Frieght. If I spend it right the money my business makes allows me to, at last, do some thing for others aswell as for myself.

There was a time some few years ago when the boatyard went bellie up and I was injured and couldn't work. Cases of food and some clothes found the way to our front door that December from an unseen hand. The clothes fit and the food was enough for a month. Christmas would have been small indeed where it not for the Food Pantry at the Church and a large family around us that helped with what it could. Now I can finally return the favors and gladly so because of the commercial Christmas season.

I make more than 30% of my annual profit at this time of year but its that profit that allows me to be giving to the extent that I am. I would give more if I could and some of my fiends say we give too much. But then they have never been on the needing side of things so I don't guess they fully understand the giving side as yet.

If there seems an edge to this message its because there is. We can't lump everyone in to a group anymore. Its not fair to say that Christmas is too commercial and aim it at every merchant that is in business. Every Wal-mart is still run by one manager who may or may not have giving or sharing soul. But we do a disservice to the ones that have by lumping them in with the ones that haven't. The greatest good is done by individual acts of kindness and this I truly believe. Because somebody was good me and my family a few years back has shone me the importance of sharing that kindness, and passing it on. I'll continue to do so.

Don


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 12:17 AM

This thread has so many ups and downs in it, I don't know what I think any more. I'm too broke to enjoy it being Christmas, since I just blew off a whole fall's work via an arm injury. (Now I'm working again, ironically, so I don't have time to make presents! I'll pay a couple of bills this week, but my daughter sure isn't going to get her camcorder...I don't know what bothers me more, that they won't be getting fancy presents or that they know not to ask...)

And at the risk of offending all my Christian friends here, Jesus is not "the reason for the season", not for me and not for most of the world. The season doesn't need a reason. You can celebrate whatever you like, but it's sure interesting that so many different faiths and belief systems place significance on this time of year.

Good will among all folk would be a good place to start, I guess. Price is right too.

Bill C


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MTed
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 12:57 PM

I have yet another thought--you have really hit home hard, Willie-O, because you bring up something that no one else really has--and that is not the obsession to get presents, or the great commercialization of Christmas--it is our need to give--

I didn't notice one person on this list who talked about the material things that they wanted, everyone talked about giving--

We are obsessed with giving--the business world just plays into it--the kids just play into it--

I have an old book somewhere, a book called "The Real Diary of a Real Boy" by Harry Shute--it was written before the turn of the century, in a small town in Hew Hampshire--he talks about Christmas and how he got a pocket knife and an orange and a new pair of socks, or something, he felt like he had done real well.

The expectations have increased because we all have fostered them by giving compusively--encouraging kids and others to have increased expectations, and then killing ourselves trying to fullfill them--

Even those of you who are doing charitable things our living out the urge to give--do your homeless need only at christmas? Do the shut-ins and institutionalixed need songs and stories only at Christmas?---I venture not, but you, like me, feel a strong need to give of yourself at this time--

Willie-O, I am disabled, I received a traumatic brain injury in a peculiar accident, about twelve years ago, and suffered some permanent neurological damage--I can still do work, but not on the kind of schedule that jobs demand--I can still play my instrument, but I have some motor and cognitive impairments that create unexpecte obstacles, so I don't play out much anymore--

The thing is that, like you, I feel a need inside of me to give--though no one is asking me for anything--and, since I can no longer play the role, I feel very much like Checkov's "Extraneous Man"--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 01:17 PM

In the other thread about last minute Christmas gift ideas, I mentioned that my favorite gift was an "invitational." My husband invited a circle of musicians over for an evening of music, and it was a treat for all of us. I love to give, but this was also a great thing to get.

I wasn't going to post to this thread because my feelings about Christmas time are so complex, but I do love the season. The giving and getting, the decorations, the music, the crowds in the malls, the frantic pace, special foods, everything except the nostalgia for Christmases past when folks were together that are no longer here.


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: bbc
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 09:09 PM

Willie-O,

I'm not a bit offended by your statement, but, for me--a Christian--Jesus *is* the reason. I have laughed & cried through this thread. I remember the anticipation & magic of Christmas when I was a child & I remember the joy of helping create that magic for my sons. I also remember feeling disgusted & discouraged, many years, at the ads & decorations & a gimme-gimme attitude in those same kids. There have been years when we were healthy & financially solvent. There have also been years when I was unemployed & divorced & things just didn't match up to the Hallmark ideal. Through it all, though, there has been a constant that has kept me on course--we have been in church (as we are, regularly, throughout the year) to celebrate the birth of our Savior & the gift of His life. Good times or bad times, that has been the gift that really counts. So often, we get swept away by our emotions, when what we really need to do is use our minds & remember the things that are important.

This happens to be a good year. I am employed in a fairly good job; my kids are home & healthy; I am loved. I am thankful for those things & am trying to pass on that plenty to ease the lives of some who are *not* in such a good place. If we think, though, we *all* have something for which to give thanks.

wishing you all a meaningful holiday season & your best year ever in 2000,

love,

Barbara


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 09:26 PM

MTed, well, I don't know what to say. Thought I was just complaining.

Not familiar with Chekov, but I've been getting an idea what its like to feel "extraneous", I think. But for me, I feel like people in my family--my kids and my parents, as it happens--need stuff (I use the term loosely) from me that I am not in a position to provide. It is kind of overwhelming at this time. But this too will pass.

Still, we have a paid-for roof over our heads, vehicles, computers, instruments and all that. It's a source of real puzzlement to me, intellectually--why do we need more things? We have tons of things.

Bill (paid up my ISP bill for a year in advance, just in case...)


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 19 Dec 99 - 10:46 PM

Neil, if I placed some hot apple cider and home-made chocolate chip cookies out on the front porch of your home, I bet you would come out and have a yummy snack in good cheer.

BB


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 12:32 AM

DonM, that was a great post. This is one of the most thought provoking threads we have had in a long time. Thanks to all for the contributions. In my world, God Bless You is the best I can offer. Please accept that it is meant to convey my best wishes to each of you.

Big Mick


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: MTed
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 12:37 AM

I looked at my post, and may have gotten carried away--as you say, Bill, we all have plenty of things--the roof over the head is important, but there is so much extra stuff under the roof that I can't even remember what all is here unless I am looking right at it--

BB--If you put apple cider and cookies on my front porch, my cat, Felix would eat them before I even knew they were there--he carried off a CC cookie today, in fact--on Thanksgiving, he jumped up on the counter grabbed a turkey drumstick and ran out the back door with it--


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 10:23 AM

I bought the big tin of chocolates for the holidays today, and when I got it home, I opened it, just to make sure they weren't poisoned or anything, and on the top, just sitting there was a big 200g bar of chocolate, no promotion on the tin, price tag orlabels or anything. Just an extra big bar of chocolate in on top of an already stuffed tin of chocolates. Little things like that make my Christmas, the small, unexpected and unsolicited things, that bring pleasure to people. I know that I have done things for others this year, without want or need of recognition, I've given money I can ill afford, and time I could have had to myself, on others. I've lost an awful lot this year, with little hope of recompense. A bar of chocolate can't make up for a missed family holiday, or the loss of my job, but it made me feel better. Thank you Cadbury Chocolate.

LTS who is now going to eat herself sick with chocolate!


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Subject: RE: How do you feel about Christmas?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 20 Dec 99 - 11:42 AM

My favourite thing about christmas is trying to find a gifts that I think people will like. Unfortunately it seems that on my husband's side of the family the children all expect to get money. It just seems really wrong to me. I know that it ensures that they get what they want as they can choose it themselves, but its just too clinical for me. It also means that you can't fluctuate the value of what you give according to good & bad years financially, and you're obliged to match what everyone else is giving them. Takes all the fun out of giving...

Apart from that I love christmas, as its a nice time to get together with family & lark about. On the other hand, my dad has always disliked christmas - and that's fair enough, it doesn't make him a miserable person overall. Sometimes christmas just has bad associations.

Kris


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