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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Wednesday, December 31 2003

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Ghosts of Christmas past

As of Tuesday night, most of the packages I wrapped and put under the Christmas tree for this year are finally opened and their contents used or played with. That's because the two grandchildren, who were the recipients of the lion's share of my packages, finally arrived Tuesday night. Their Mom's car was broke down on Christmas and she never was able to get here from Manteca. So Grandma picked the little ones up a day or so after Christmas and, after having her turn hosting them, sent them on to my place for New Year's Eve and the eve of New Year's Eve. I'm to be host of the liveliest New Year's Party in town tonight, the three of us trying to stay up for the dropping of the storied ball on Times Square.

I've observed this year that not only did the grandchildren have three Christmases—the one in Manteca on December 25, one at grandma's on December 27, and one on my place on December 30—but there are three generally observed Christmases that play for their respective places in our perspectives. The first, in calendar terms, is Commercial Christmas. That gets launched when the first network Christmas show (usually a half-hour animated interpretation of a pop song like Frosty the Snowman) appears well before Thanksgiving or even, well before that, when the first Christmas signs and specialized merchandise appear in the stores, often these days right around Halloween.

The second, calendar-wise again, is the "spiritual Christmas." In the Protestant churches of my growing up in Blacklick Valley, this would be inaugurated with the church's "Christmas program," often the Sunday evening before December 25 and not rarely even earlier than that. As I recall, the only Protestant church in the valley to have an actual Christmas eve service was Nanty Glo's Methodist. St. Mary's Roman Catholic and, I presume, Twin Rock's St. Charles (now Sts. Timothy and Mark) had their "midnight mass" on Christmas eve. The more common Protestant practice accommodated the desire of families to be together in last-minute Christmas preparations on Christmas eve. But the Catholic practice, which the Orthodox that I know these days also follow, is that Christmas is, primarily, the feast of the nativity of Christ, the feast of the incarnation, so nothing about it is more important that worshipping at its appropriate time. My Orthodox parish holds the Christmas eve services at 7 and 8 p.m., and I understand St. Mary's had midnight mass at 10 p.m. this year (as I recall, it began at 11 p.m. when my friends were attending there, and it was "out" at about midnight).

The third Christmas is the family get-together, the highlight of which, in most households, is the gift exchange, opening, and first trying out. This, though hardly ever written about as a unique experience of Christmas vis a vis the other two, is what I've found is the one people generally talk about afterward, when someone asks, "Did you have a nice Christmas?" Unless you're on intimate terms and share some spiritual background with such persons, in most cases you wouldn't think of saying in reply something like, "the candlelight service Christmas eve was sublime," or anything comparable from any other religious way of worshipping on Christmas. You much more likely respond, "well, my daughter wasn't able to get here so some of our Christmas hasn't even happened yet," or, "was I surprised by the gift my wife gave me," or, "the surprise I gave my sister really seemed to make her Christmas."

Friday seems like a fitting time to wrap up the Christmas of the present, so I'll take up the remains of this topic in that session.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Bumperstickers

The first bumper stickers appeared in America in the 1950s. Originally, they weren't "stickers," but were attached by small wires twisted around bumpers (used for advertising). Here's what we think is the best collection of bumper sticker sentiments on the web (two daily, as long as they last).

Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz 

Thought for today

Blessed is he who has nothing to say and cannot be persuaded to say it.

— Selected

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