I took that opening picture last year at Christmas. The stockings on the back of the chair to the left have been in the family a long time (one of them for 63 years). I liked the way my Mom had things arranged, the lights in the vase. The picture of her and my Dad. The picture of my Dad in front of the flag he...
Let's leave that there. Six, almost seven years on and that wound is still raw. Some pain never goes away in this life.
You may notice the cat in the background, that's Spooky, one of my Mom's two cats. She's found a nice place in the window. Sometimes I like to do that, sit by the window and watch the birds, the clouds, the wind stirring the tall pines behind the house. It's peaceful.
It's also, I know, ephemeral. Nothing on this Earth lasts forever.
Not sure why I'm so maudlin tonight, perhaps it's due to the horrendous cold I came down with last night. Woke up feeling like Satan was dripping napalm down the back of my throat. So I'm a bit miserable today. (Friday to be precise, unless the cold goes away overnight, I'm sure that will be a true statement on Saturday when you read this.) When I'm ill I have too much time to think, and to remember. Expect a lot of stories of Christmases past this month. Memories can give comfort, they can bring pain. Christmas memories always comfort me.
A couple of readers shared some good stuff with me on Friday. Russ, who was my sergeant on Okinawa, and from whom I learned much, about the F-4 Phantom and about life, had the following in a comment. (In case you missed it.)
THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
The traditions of Christmas have changed much through the ages.
Not a bit like it was on the night of those three sages.
To find the Savior of Man, they had traveled so far,
To a village they were guided by that bright Eastern Star.
There they found him, The Child, in a crib filled with hay.
And the presents they brought we recall to this day;
Frankincense, and Gold, so precious, and Myrrh.
Were they gifts rare and of value? They certainly were.
The first Santa was St Nicholas who, as legends relate,
Knew three young pretty maidens who bewailed of their fate.
They all wished to be married, but of dowry had none.
To each he gave a golden ball; the weddings were soon done.
Now gifts are brought by Santa Claus; a fat, old, jolly soul.
Who, with elves and Mrs. Santa, lives way up at the North Pole.
On Christmas Eve, upon his sleigh, he loads a lot of toys.
And takes them 'round the world to good little girls and boys.
The giving of gifts still goes on to this day,
But we observe that tradition in a much different way.
Today it's clothing, or games, a tool set, a ring.
What can you get, for that someone, who has everything?
The right gift can be found: don't look far, don't look wide.
It can be in your heart if you'll just look inside.
Many good things are free: the moon and stars up above,
But the best gift of all is friendship and love.
Christmas is the happiest time of the year.
The world's full of laughter, full of hope, joy, and cheer.
So rejoice, but remember what this day was meant to be:
The day our Lord came down to earth to save both you and me.
Frank J. Montoya
Poet Laureate, City of Fountain
That's Fountain in Colorado BTW. Wow, they have their own Poet Laureate! Well, I've always had a soft spot for Colorado. The Missus Herself likes to tell people she's "from" Colorado. It's the first place we lived when we came home from Korea. Both daughters were born there and I went to college there. It's a lovely place with awesome people.
Another thing passed along to me by Mike aka Proof (whom I count as a friend who I hopefully will meet in person some day), was the following beautiful collection of music about my favorite month. It's long, give it a listen if you will, I wrote this post while this played in the background. It's really good, especially if you love December and Christmas. Which I most unashamedly do.
* Oh yes, that tune from the Dropkick Murphys will be featured here before the month is out. I guarantee!