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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Friday, January 2 2003

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Remains of the season

In my early school years I also celebrated several Christmases, similiar in some ways to the three Christmases described here on Wednesday, and dissimilar in other ways. As a child I was not concerned about "commercial Christmas," as it is commonly called, but it was replaced by something as important to me, which could best be called "pre-Christmas." It was its own center of Christmas joy, but it preceded the real date of Christmas. It included making Santas in the classrooms, one year going out in a whole class from Belsano School to the woods to cut down and bring back to school a local hemlock, then decorate it with our class-made paper chains and paper snowflakes and other handmade ornaments; I think it had no actual lights and no glass balls, bells, or the more expensive store-bought ornaments more common in homes and stores. Pre-Christmas included Christmas parties in Sunday school or church youth group (or both), the 4H Club and any other clubs we were in, and even gatherings with extended-family members (cousins) whom we wouldn't be seeing right at Christmas. These parties always included exchange of $1 gifts, one person each, chosen by pulling names out of a hat or basket. Pre-Christmas in my then-Protestant experience included the children's Christmas program in church. If the church were also having an adult program (for example, a choir cantata) for Christmas, the children's one could be as early as December 15 or so,

Then there was the home Christmas. We usually didn't have any worship service connected with Christmas, as my present Orthodox church and my previous large Protestant churches here in the urban center have. The actual December 24 and 25 celebrations were family events. Prior to junior high school, we always trimmed the tree on Christmas eve, listened to the Christmas Carol or other Christmas programs on the radio, and possibly worked on last-minute Christmas treats with Mom, then went to bed early. Christmas morning was the real celebration, to see what Santa had left, empty our Christmas stockings, and exchange gifts with immediate family members. Later in the day we'd check up with our neighbor kids to see what Christmas had brought them.

Then in the early years, there was always one or more post-Christmases. I would put the Christmas tree up in an outside shed, out in the snow, and decorate it with the paper chains and cigarette package foil Japanese lanterns, Christmas cards, and other paper decorations similar to ones made in school. This was very private; everyone else in the neighborhood was well "over" Christmas by this time. But I had to rehearse it as though to "get it" right in my own reckoning.

Especially in my intermediate growing-up years when the "pretend-post-Christmas" was a thing of the past, I sometimes had another kind of post-Christmas. More than once, my brother Bob, who was then a long-distance truck driver, would arrive home a few days after Christmas rather than right on the day. His gifts were usually more expensive than most of the others I received...watches, for example, more than once, and my first electric shaver about a year before I started to shave. And we would all have gifts wrapped and waiting for him, too, and we would get him involved in playing that year's board or card games received, and it would be a celebration of Christmas all over again.

This year was like that in that the grandchildren (my daughter's daughter and son) arrived not until December 30 and they stayed until January 1. My sons and I had all wrapped presents for them, and their enjoyment of the gift exchange obliterated the earlier slight post-Christmas letdown. It was Christmas all over again, and I think we all felt it was just as good on December 30 as it would have been on December 25.

I've written several years back about the fact that I play nothing but Christmas music from just after Thanksgiving until the eve of Epiphany (January 5, the 12th day of Christmas), and I've argued earlier for beginning the celebration, the feast, on December 24-25 and keeping it through the 12 days, rather than discarding the whole blessed event as quickly as our ripped-off gift wrappings. Some neighbors have their Christmas trees out on the curb by December 26. The kind of delayed or segmenting of the family celebration we had this year helped put me in a prolonged Christmas mode of feeling, and I hope this New Years week set of articles have helped you in that way, too.

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).

I think the aliens forgot to remove your anal probe.

Don't you have to go feed your flying monkeys?

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz 

Thought for today

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind, As man's ingratitude.

— William Shakespeare

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