Christmas-What Does it Mean to You?


Simple Beauty

I woke up this morning to a day which will be to me, very much like any other day at this stage of my life. Just me and the dogs hanging out as we do every day. The difference is, that to the rest of the Christian World, it is Christmas day, when according to the Bible, Jesus was born in a stable in a town called Bethlehem.

To many, this is a very sacred day celebrated in all kinds of different ways based on the particular brand of the religion and what country the celebrations are occuring. I live in the United States and before that grew up in England where I lived for thirty one years.

My English memories are what I like to believe, closer to the truth about the true meaning of Christmas at least to me and the family I had way back then, all of those years ago. We had gone through and were just recovering from the Second World War which in turn, had led to several inventions and modernizations to help make life better for the average family. Food, although still scarce was becoming more available. We did not eat turkey for Christmas Dinner because it was only for those that could afford it, what we referred to as the “Upper Class”. We killed a chicken from our yard and were very grateful for it, not so much for the chicken. We did not give each other expensive gifts but those that we had made ourselves and each was received with the graciousness they so richly deserved. As time went on, a lot of the old ways were disappearing and by the time we left to come to the States, material things were becoming important as the world began to become Americanized.

I am now almost eighty four years old and have spent fifty three years in this country and have watched as Christmas has turned into a celebration of gifts and possessions. Add to that the amount of food and drink that is consumed (and wasted) on this day and it would seem to me that instead of this being a simple celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, it has turned into an excuse to eat, drink and spend money on very expensive and many times, unwanted gifts.

If I sound a bit like an old Scrooge, that is maybe because in a way, I am. Giving expensive gifts does not necessarily make you a better person. Maybe, in your own mind, you are trying to make up for all of the things that you didn’t do through the year. Like you are appeasing your conscience and trying to make up for it with the gift.

I am not a particularly religious person although through my lifetime, I have dabbled with a couple of different kinds mainly to satisfy the person that I was married to at that time. I was raised as a Church of England Protestant and in my youth, actively practised religion. At one time, I dabbled in Catholicism again because my wife at that time was Catholic. But is was only a passing whim and when she quit going to Church, so did I.

Now, with no wives to push me in the right direction, I have chosen the route of non religion. I find it so hard to believe that with all of the suffering in the world, the general hate for persons of different religions and color, the wars, the famine’s and the natural disasters that there is a Divine Being that watches all of this going on and does not help to guide us in a different direction. If he or she, is waiting for mankind to save itself, then it will never happen. As a race, mankind is it’s own worst enemy and will not be satisfied until it has pushed the world to the point of extinction with global warming and only then, if it is not too late, will maybe change it’s ways and make the effort to save the world and the remaining inhabitants. Then, if I was around, would I begin to revive my faith and believe that maybe there is a God after all and that the Spirit of Christmas would rekindle mankind’s belief in himself.

I live in a Nation of greed and prejudice where the almighty dollar, to many, is the only religion. The top one percent own more than the combined assets of the remaining ninety nine percent and that is wrong. That coupled with a hate for Jews, Muslims and people of different ethnicity, race and color often times make it very hard to believe that there is a God and that any form of religion is going to change the way things have become. In all of my years on this earth for which I am very grateful, my best recollection of that time was when I was a young man living a simple life in England before the age of progress.

Alas, I can’t wind back the clock to those better and simpler times. Happy Holidays Everyone.

Written 12/25/2019 – Christmas Day.

That Time of Year Again


Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.

Thanksgiving has come and gone
and all that is left to carry on
with Christmas next on the list
when everyone is supposed to wish
Good Health and Happiness to one and all
and to the religious to heed the call
be nice to your neighbor and wish them well
and keep to yourself no secrets to tell
it matters not who sings the song
all that is left is to carry on.
go to the store and spoil the kids
and get them whatever  they wish
for kids they will not be for long
and before you know it big and strong
as people with their own family
inviting you to their Christmas Tree
and you will sit at their table of food
before long with grand kids to add to the brood
and then you will say “What a wonderful day”
as your life if finally slipping away
and old you will be as you look at the tree
and remember back at what you see
all those many years ago
when the kids were young and you put on a show
exactly like the one today
only fifty years later as you say
“Where did the time go I’m too old to play”
as you sit in the chair with your Grand Kids today
and remember those Christmases of years gone by
the time that has passed you understand why
it has nothing to do with the time of year
the Family together bringing good cheer
its the warmth and love that a family brings
to an old man and his wife the Mother of all things.

Written 11/25/2018




A Grumps View of Christmas 2018


That’s me…

This is December and Christmas is coming just as it does every year 
For some, it is a time of rejoicing and to celebrate the Birth of Christ.
For others it is family reunions and turkey and Christmas trees and presents, lots of presents.
It is that time when entire families will go into debt and then spend the rest of the year paying it off only to begin again with the following Christmas.
Presents are opened and in many cases, the contents are often put to one side and never used or are exchanged for something more “useful”.
There is no thought behind the giving and none on the receiving.
These are not presents of love but of necessity.
Shops are decorated to promote the Christmas festivities and Christmas music is everywhere.
Somewhere another Christmas tree dies as it is cut from its roots.
There is way too much Christmas music and the ultimate goal of promoting the Christmas Spirit is to get the unwary to spend their money.
Did I mention there is way too much Christmas music
Christmas is Big Business and can make or break any one of them.
Some people will respect the religious significance but those people go to Church every Sunday.
Others will get religion for a day.
Much food and drink will be consumed and wasted and the the homeless will go hungry.
To them, it is just another day in the fight to stay alive.
Old people with few resources will rely on others for a meal and others will oblige because it is Christmas.
Christmas can bring out the best and the worst of human nature.
Many will give while others will steal.
And so it goes year in and year out.
Such is Human Nature.

Written 12/8/2018

Christmas 2017


Awesome-Colourful-Happy-Holiday-

I am writing this September 29 almost three full months until Christmas Day and have deliberately posted on this Special Day. I think that for the past several years, I have written something about Christmas although never three months before the actual event.

Usually, my writing has been about the commercialization of this time of the year when the significance of Christmas is lost in the chase for the almighty dollar which sadly still reigns supreme for most of the country.

This is the end of September and the first signs of this dollar madness is already showing with ads for Christmas shopping already beginning to appear. The big box stores are already selling Christmas decorations and they are only waiting for Thanksgiving to be over before decorating those stores.  A lot of families who have been paying off their last years Christmas debt are hoping to have enough space on the same credit cards to repeat the process for this year. As for the kids, this is America so get them what they want. They deserve it as they are only young once. Never mind that the family is in debt to pay for the expensive goodies but if their buddy or closest friend has one, then they must have one, whatever it is.

Well, you know what, I refuse to rant and rave about it this year as I have in previous years. This is a time of reflection, of taking a good long look within yourself to see just how you as an individual, measure up. It’s not about the expensive gifts and toys that are forgotten immediately the celebrations are over or about the one upmanship that sadly intrudes upon our lives. This is all about loving thy neighbor, the guy across the street or the homeless man on the street corner who can always use a helping hand. This is a season of giving if no more than a word of thanks.

Lets celebrate Christmas the way it should be by sharing a part of us with those not so fortunate and I can guarantee that not only will each and everyone of us feel just a little bit better but that the world is a little better place.

Happy Holidays to one and all.

Written 9/27/2017

Christmas and growing up.


allsaintsstrichardsce

The Round School, Old Heathfield, England

When I was a young boy, many, many years ago growing up in England under the very difficult times of World War 11, Christmas had a whole different meaning than it does now.

My family was not particularly religious and never actively practised any faith as a family and for me, any contact that I had with religion was through my school and that was not very much. Sometimes, the whole school of probably not more than 50 kids of all ages, would visit the local protestant Church of England for a special services for this or that but that was the sum extent of my religious training. Although I have dabbled with several different religions over the years, I do not consider myself a very religious man.

ALL Saits Church

All Saints Church, Old Heathfield, England

Because of the shortages brought about by the War in Europe and also because traditionally, turkey was a real luxury, most English people would kill and cook a chicken from those that nearly every country household had. There would always be much preparation in the way of baking and cooking and mince pies and Christmas pudding were the order of the day. The Christmas pudding would contain silver sixpences so you had to be carefully not to bite down hard or you would risk losing or cracking a tooth, that is if you’re serving happened to have a sixpence. We made our own christmas decorations and went out to pick holly which we hung up indoors. If we were lucky enough to find mistletoe, it would be hung in the house and any unwary person would be subject to being kissed under the mistletoe, or maybe it was planned…

The same could be said about gifts nearly all of which would be handmade. A pair of knitted gloves or maybe a knitted scarf. Handmade wooden toys for the boys in the family and rag dolls for the girls. A really big item which my family did splurge on, were the christmas crackers that contained a novelty toy and a paper hat and these would be pulled at the Christmas Dinner. Everyone would wear their paper hats and blow the whistles and sing Christmas carols, or swap their toy for someone else’s and would create an atmosphere of fun and joviality.

pullingacracker

Pulling crackers

The point is that no one expected anything expensive in the way of gifts. Families would come together just to sit down and have a meal on Christmas Day. The adults would drink sherry or maybe a beer and everyone would revel in the company of the others around them. The war would be forgotten for a little while. There was no television to hamper the proceedings and no other diversions other than that what we made for ourselves. It was not a bit unusual for some of the male adults to take a nap in one of the more comfortable chairs following the meal while the women of the family would clean up and wash the dishes. The kids kept themselves busy with their new gifts or played games of hide and seek and other youthful activities.

Life was much simpler back then and even though the war was going on all around us, Christmas Day was still a very special day. It wasn’t about how many or how expensive were the toys or how sumptuous the meal or the decor and the lights. There was no one upmanship and there was no outside lighting decorating the house in an attempt to outdo the neighbors. We were just grateful to be together as a family or with neighbors and friends and at least for this period in time, the war was forgotten.

Now, 80 years later when I look back on life back then and think how simple it really was as compared to today, there is much to be said for living in an uncomplicated world. Even with the advances that mankind has made in technology, health and a general way of life, I wonder if I am any better off than back in those war torn years when life was so very uncomplicated.

I guess I shall never know the answer to that question.

mistletoe

Mistletoe

Boxing Day


I wrote this last year and decided to re-publish it.

As an ex-pat from England, I will spend tomorrow celebrating the day after Christmas as most British people do and that is to sit back and relax and spend the entire day feasting on left overs, drinking beer and watching game after game of football (with a round ball) on the English Premier League.  I am an ardent Man U fan.

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in the UK to most and Saint Stephen’s Day to the religious. Most Brits think of it as another day off to recover from overeating and drinking on Christmas Day and of course, the opportunity to watch football. For those of you that want to know more about this holiday, read the article below from Wikipedia.
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Etymology
The exact etymology of the term “boxing” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.[1] The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to theMiddle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,[2] which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.[3] This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.[4] This custom is linked to an older English tradition: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

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Thoughts…


Blue Rose

Blue Rose

The sun shines on a cold winters day
and New Years is not far away
another year is ready to start
and each of us will play our part
acting out this game of life
in a world full of strife.

What will a New Year bring to this world
who will live and who will die
how many fortunes will be won
or lost as fate dictates.

What will it take for us to see
how many lifetimes of which we have one
for us to make a better world
that with each other we all agree.