Saturday, December 31, 2005

Presidential New Year's Message
New Year's Day, 2006

The New Year is a time of hope as we reflect on the past and prepare for the future.

The great strength of our Nation lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. This past year, Americans responded with an outpouring of compassion to help the people of the Gulf Coast region recover from one of the most devastating natural disasters in our Nation's history. We remember the victims of the past year's hurricanes and give thanks for the millions of people who opened their hearts, homes, and communities to those in need.

In the past year, we continued our work to spread freedom and peace. In 2005, Iraqis three times exercised their right to vote in free elections, and the Afghan people conducted successful parliamentary elections. In the coming year, America will continue to stand beside these young democracies and lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

We appreciate the brave men and women in uniform who protect our country and advance freedom around the world. We are grateful to their families for their support and sacrifice, and we pray for all those who have lost loved ones in freedom's cause. Our Nation will always remember the heroes who have given their lives to protect us all.

As we celebrate the New Year, we give thanks to God for His blessings and ask for His guidance. We look with hope to the year ahead and the many new opportunities the future will bring.

Laura and I send our best wishes for a happy New Year. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com HAPPY NEW YEAR! Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It's 2006. The last year went by soooo fast. My mother always said time would start to fly once I reached "a certain age". She never did tell me what that age was, but I think I passed it five or ten years ago.

2005 had it's good times and bad, more good than bad, I think. It could have ended on a better note. My Other Half had some disturbing medical news, but it's not as bad as it could be. And this is not the time to go into it.

For my readers, I hope that each and everyone of you have a wonderful 2006. I hope for good health, wealth, and a great year for each of you.
Unbelievable!

Just frickin' unbeliveable. Another tropical storm. Didn't Mother Nature get the memo that hurricane season is over? Not just over, but o-vah!

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The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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Six geese a-laying
Five gold rings
Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree
Camp Katrina

I'd like to introduce you to a new (to me) blog. Camp Katrina was started by Spc. Phil Van Treuren and his friends to highlight stories about the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. Military. After taking a look at CK, I was impressed. It's well-written, interesting, and fun. If you want to read about what's right with the military, here's a place to start. Use the link above or on the sidebar.

And, ladies...take a look at Spc. Van Treuren's pic. I can understand why he won the Cutest Blogger of 2005 award.
Coming Up Next

With the Christmas season all but over, my self-imposed moratorium on politics will end. So I will begin writing about the FairTax, immigration, and Social Security once again.

That being said, I rather enjoyed concentrating on a single theme and since the Olympics are coming up, I will devote most of my blogging time in February to the Olympics. As with Christmas, a good deal of what I post will not be original (to me) content, but I will give appropriate credit as I always try to do.

I'll have something to post for New Year's and Martin Luther King day in January.

In February, in addition to the Olympics, I'll be writing about the Day of Love and Romance, Valentine's Day. President's Day also falls in February, so you can expect to see something on George Washington and Abe Lincoln.

I hope you enjoyed the Christmas theme as much as I did and hope you will enjoy what I have to offer over the next couple of months.
A Few Rules to Live By

With the New Year looming ever closer, many of us make resolutions, most of which don't last a week. Here are a few suggestions I received in email that may make our lives better and really aren't that hard to achieve.

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you," mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams don't have much.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely. 10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives.
12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
16. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
17. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.
18. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
19. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
21. Spend some time alone.
A History of the New Year

The celebration of the new year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. The earliest recording of a new year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. and was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

Early Roman Calendar: March 1st Rings in the New Year

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for “seven,” octo is “eight,” novem is “nine,” and decem is “ten”).

January Joins the Calendar

The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New Year

In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. The Julian calendar decreed that the new year would occur with January 1, and within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the new year.

Middle Ages: January 1st Abolished

In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and unchristian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

Gregorian Calendar: January 1st Restored

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year's day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire—and their American colonies—still celebrated the new year in March.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Time's Man of the Year

Time kind of fooled me this year. I wasn't expecting three people to be named. Bill and Melinda Gates joined rocker Bono as the winners of this year's award. The Gates are notable philanthropists and Bono is known for his work in reducing world debt and improving world health.

Congratulations to all. These endeavors can only help to make the world a better place for all.
Poll Is Now Closed

The poll question was "Which is your favorite Christmas/holiday special?" The choices were: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Frosty Returns, Rugrats Chanukah Special, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and other.

The results are in and Charlie Brown wins 4 to 1. Other received one vote. I wonder what that choice would be?

Maybe next year I'll have another poll that includes seasonal movies as well.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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Five gold rings
Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree
Happy New Year's Across the World

Language.................................................. Happy New Year!

Afrikaans...............................................Voorspoedige nuwe jaar
Arabic................................................... Kul 'am wa antum bikhair
Basque.................................................. Urte Berri on
Bengali ................................................. Shuvo noboborsho
Chinese (Cantonese).............................. Sun nien fai lok
Chinese (Mandarin)................................ Xin nian yu kuai
Czech.................................................... Stastny Novy Rok
Dutch.................................................... Gelukkig nieuwjaar
Esperanto.............................................. Bonan Novjaron
Finnish.................................................. Onnellista uutta vuotta
French................................................... Bonne année
German................................................. Ein glückliches neues Jahr
Greek.................................................... Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos
Hawaiian................................................ Hauoli Makahiki hou
Hebrew.................................................. Shana Tova
Hungarian.............................................. Boldog uj evet
Indonesian (Bahasa)............................... Selamat Tahun Baru
Italian..................................................... Felice Anno Nuovo or Buon anno
Japanese............................................... Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
Korean................................................... Sehe Bokmanee Bateuseyo
Laotian (Hmong)..................................... Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab
Latin....................................................... Felix sit annus novus
Nigerian (Hausa)..................................... Barka da sabuwar shekara
Norwegian.............................................. Godt Nytt År
Philippines (Tagalog)............................... Manigong Bagong Taon
Polish..................................................... Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Romanian................................................ La Multi Ani si Un An Nou Fericit
Samoan.................................................. Ia manuia le Tausaga Fou
Spanish.................................................. Feliz año nuevo
Swahili.....................................................Heri za Mwaka Mpya
Swedish................................................. Gott Nytt År
Vietnamese............................................ Chuc mung nam moi
Welsh.................................................... Blwyddyn Newydd Dda


Pronounciation is up to you!
Auld Lang Syne

You can amaze your friends and relatives when the New Year's Ball drops by singing Auld Lang Syne, and singing the actual words! Most of us know the the first verse and the chorus, but all too few of us know the rest of the song. So, here it is, as recorded by Robert Burns:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

CHORUS

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine,
But we've wander'd monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And there's a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o thine,
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

And please note, I didn't use spell-check here, it would have driven me completely around the corner. What you see is the spelling as is from Robbie Burns himself

Here is a bit of the history of Auld Lang Syne:

The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year's eve, "Auld Lang Syne" is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns's homeland.

It is often remarked that "Auld Lang Syne" is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. "Auld Lang Syne" literally translates as "old long since" and means "times gone by." The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, "For auld lang syne, we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet."

The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to "run about the braes, And pou'd the gowans fine" (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and "paidl'd in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine" (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—"seas between us braid hae roar'd" (broad seas have roared between us). Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and "tak a right guid-willie waught" (a good-will drink).

But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, and not Robert Burns, who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year's tradition. Lombardo first heard "Auld Lang Syne" in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants. When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year's eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born. After that, Lombardo's version of the song was played every New Year's eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria. In the first years it was broadcast on radio, and then on television. The song became such a New Year's tradition that "Life magazine wrote that if Lombardo failed to play 'Auld Lang Syne,' the American public would not believe that the new year had really arrived."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Third day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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Two Turtle Doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the Second day of Christmas my true love sent to me...

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And a partridge in a pear tree

Security System

Now that Christmas is over, and you've opened all those really great gifts, especially those ... (cough)... expensive gifts, you might want to consider installing a security system.

Well, if you are like most people, you shot your wad on Christmas gifts and don't have a lot of money for a security system. Here's your answer...the Poor Man's Security System, presented here complete with instructions.

How To install a poor-man's security system:

Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's used work boots (a really big pair). Put them outside your front door on top of a pile of Guns and Ammo magazines. Put a dog dish beside it; a BIG dog dish. Leave a note on your front door that says something like,

Bubba, Big Mike and I have gone to get more ammunition.
Be back in a 1/2 hour.
Don't disturb the Pit bulls; they've just been wormed.

Heck, it would keep me away!

Update: Reader Charlie on the PA Turnpike offers this from his George Carlin page-a-day calendar:

I have a very inexpensive security system. If someone breaks into my house, I run next door and throw a brick through my neighbor's window. That sets off his alarm, and when the police arrive I driect them to my house.

And I like that idea even better!

Thanks Charlie!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Paul Harvey and Prayer

Paul Harvey says: I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome...

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.

What about them?

Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us.

And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard ... that the vast majority don't care what they want.

It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right. But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back. And we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all .. especially those who denounce Him.

God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men and women who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.

(this is obviously from last year, but I believe the sentiment is the same - ed.)
Presidential Christmas Eve Radio Address

Good morning. On this Christmas Eve, Laura and I send our best wishes to families across America as you gather in your homes to celebrate the holiday. Christmas is a time of joy and peace, and we hope the holiday season brings all of you happy reunions with families and friends, and time to rest and reflect as you look forward to a new year.

At Christmas, we give thanks for the gift of the birth of Christ, and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. In this great and prosperous land, we have so much to be thankful for, and Christmas reminds us of our obligation to share these blessings with others. There are many among us who are hurting and require a helping hand. In the new year, I hope Americans will look for ways to volunteer your time and talents where they are needed most. By reaching out to a neighbor in need, we make our nation a more just and compassionate place.

This Christmas, we remember our fellow citizens who suffered from the hurricanes and other disasters that struck our nation this past year. We pray for their strength as they continue to recover and rebuild their lives and their communities.

During the holiday season and throughout the year, we think with pride of the men and women of our Armed Forces, who are keeping our nation safe and defending freedom around the world. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, they are protecting our liberty by spreading liberty to others, and all Americans are grateful to our troops for their courage and commitment.

We're also grateful to their families. Staying behind when a family member goes to war is a heavy burden -- and it's particularly hard at Christmas. We pray for our military families; we ask Almighty God to bestow His protection and care on their loved ones as they protect our nation from grave dangers.

We also remember the heroic men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's freedom. We pray that God will comfort the loved ones they left behind. The sacrifices of these brave troops have rescued millions from lives of tyranny and sorrow, and made America more secure. We will always cherish the memory of each of our fallen servicemen and women, and count it a privilege to be citizens of the country they served.

The times we live in have brought many challenges to our country. And at such times, the story of Christmas brings special comfort and confidence. Christmas reminds us that we can trust in God's promise of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. On a night more than 2,000 years ago, an angel of the Lord brought good tidings of great joy: the God of Heaven had come to Earth, and He would be with us always.

Thank you for listening, and Merry Christmas.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Image hosted by Photobucket.com

GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE!!
Dear Lord,

I've been asked, nay commanded, to thank Thee for the Christmas turkey before us... a turkey which was no doubt a lively, intelligent bird... a social being... capable of actual affection... nuzzling its young with almost human- like compassion.

Anyway, it's dead and we're gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family...

- - - Berke Breathed
If you see a fat man...
Who's jolly and cute
wearing a beard
and a red flannel suit
and if he is chuckling
and laughing away
while flying around
in a miniature sleigh
with eight tiny reindeer
to pull him along
then, friend, let's face it...
Your eggnog's too strong!
~author unknown~
Image hosted by Photobucket.com REMEMBER THIS AT CHRISTMAS TIME...

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a female.

We should've known... Only women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

From email...Merry Christmas!!
from the film Meet Me In St. Louis
Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane 1943

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more.

Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me...
A partridge in a pear tree

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O Little Town of Bethlehem
by Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary;
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth;
And praises sing to God, the King.
And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.
The Story of Christmas

Here is the way it is told by Saint Luke:

And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them,

"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.

Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

We want some figgy pudding
We want some figgy pudding
We want some figgy pudding
Please bring it right here!

Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
We won't go until we get some
So bring it out here!

Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.

Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa Watch

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For those of you who need to know just where Santa is, here's how to find out:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Hanukkah Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Shalom aleichem shalom!

While Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ, our Jewish friends and neighbors celebrate Hanukkah, which begins this year on December 25th. I didn't want to simply ignore Hanukkah, but since it's not "my" holiday, I forget how important it is to much of the world. So, to my Jewish friends and readers, I wish you a Happy Hannukkah.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The letters pour in from children around the world, telling two magical far-off figures their holiday wishes.

These missives aren't sent to Santa Claus. They come from Jewish boys and girls who, for so long, had no one to write each December. They're for an ageless Kansas City couple known simply by Yiddish derivatives for grandmother and grandfather, Bubbie and Zadie.

The story was created in 1981 by Danny Bloom, then a thirtysomething public relations professional at an Alaskan community college who wanted to pen a holiday narrative for Jewish children.

"I remember as a Jewish kid myself growing up in Massachusetts every winter reading the newspaper and seeing the TV shows about Santa Claus. Jewish kids couldn't participate," he said.

The story told of a diminutive grandma and grandpa, bundled up for the cold, who are able to fly through the skies on the first night of Hanukkah. Bubbie and Zadie once lived in Alaska but later moved to Kansas City to run a tailor shop. They visit children everywhere, bringing them stories and songs instead of gifts.

In 1985, his story was published as "Bubbie and Zadie Come to My House." It wasn't a huge sell but publicity surrounding its release kept children's letters coming by the thousands. Bloom answered them all with handwritten notes.

The popularity of Bubbie and Zadie has risen and fallen through the years, as Bloom moved to Japan and now, to Chiayi City, Taiwan, where he is a freelance writer.

He is 56, single, and rents a fifth-floor studio apartment. He rides a bicycle and motor scooter because he has no car and sends e-mails from an Internet cafe because he doesn't have a computer.

With his book out of print, many of Bloom's young writers have found it at a library, come across it on the Internet, or have parents who as children read the Bubbie and Zadie story themselves.

Using an address posted online, most children send letters the traditional way, though Bubbie and Zadie have also received e-mail.

Some of the letters amount to Jewish children's wish lists, but most are exactly what Bloom hoped for - messages of innocence and simplicity.

"Your Hanukkah story in the book is so beautiful and I enjoyed having Grammy read it to me," wrote a 7-year-old Kansas City girl.

"I was so happy to get your letter in the mail because here in Idaho there are not many Jewish people," said an 11-year-old girl from Boise. An 8-year-old boy from Teaneck, N.J, wrote: "My older sister says you might be fake! Are you?"

When responding, Bloom says, he tries to put himself in his own grandmother's frame of mind, not preaching about religion, just being a friendly older presence who treats children as his equals. He signs all his notes "Bubbie and Zadie."

Bloom calls the Bubbie and Zadie project his hobby. But with no synagogue to be found and Judaism virtually nonexistent in Taiwan, it may serve a larger purpose, too.

"This program connects me back to my own culture," he said. "These letters fill up my life with something I don't have."

Bloom's program is now in its 25th year, and he hopes that it might someday inspire a cartoon or film.

"It's my big dream that writing to Bubbie and Zadie would become a part of American Jewish culture," he said.

Above story By MATT SEDENSKY

find out more about Bubbie and Zadie at: http://bubbieandzadiefiles.blogspot.com

Letters to Bubbie and Zadie can be sent to Bubbie and Zadie's Tailor Shoppe, Offshore Global Maildrop, Post Office Box 1000, Chiayi City, 600-99, Taiwan.
Festivus For the Rest of Us

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - The celebration of Festivus is alive and well in northwestern Pennsylvania, nearly a decade after the bizarre "holiday" garnered pop culture notoriety on "Seinfeld."

Residents were preparing to celebrate "the festivus for the rest of us" Friday with a night of airing grievances, feats of strength and, of course, the aluminum Festivus pole.

"It's all in good fun," said Jeff Boam, 36, a math teacher from Millcreek Township and longtime "Seinfeld" fan.

"More than anything else, it's a great excuse to get together with friends and have outrageous fun," said George Klapsinos, 38, a senior technical service specialist for Lord Corp.

Many people learned of Festivus through "Seinfeld," but its roots actually go back several decades, when writer Daniel O'Keefe's father started it. He was looking for something more from the holidays, something that wasn't political or religious.

O'Keefe wrote "The Real Festivus: The True Story Behind America's Favorite Made-Up Holiday" and co-wrote the "Seinfeld" episode.

In the episode, Frank Costanza, played by actor Jerry Stiller, comes up with the idea for a new holiday after struggling in a tug-of-war for a doll at a toy store.

Festivus'"traditions" differ from those of Christmas.

Instead of a tree, Festivus followers celebrate around a metal pole. Boam's Festivus pole is 6 feet tall and rooted in bucket of cement.

"No tinsel, no ornaments. Nothing should go on it. It should be bare," Boam said.

Guests also grab the pole and fume about how others have disappointed them in the past year.

"One year, we had a blizzard on the night of the party," Klapsinos said. "So we grieved about everyone who said they were going to show up but didn't. I mean, we made it, right?"

Finally, the festival features feats of strength.

"This usually means wrestling," said Jack Munch, a real-estate broker. "I've seen parties where it deteriorates into five people wrestling in the snow in the backyard. The whole thing is a blast. You never know what's going to happen on Festivus."
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid
And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
(reindeer)
Had a very shiny nose
(like a light bulb)
And if you ever saw it
(saw it)
You would even say it glows
(like a flash light)

All of the other reindeer
(reindeer)
Used to laugh and call him names
(like Pinochio)
They never let poor Rudolph
(Rudolph)
Play in any reindeer games
(like Monopoly)

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
(Ho Ho Ho)
Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

Then all the reindeer loved him
(loved him)
And they shouted out with glee
(yippee)
"Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
(reindeer)
You'll go down in history!"
(like Columbus)
A Visit From St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas', when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that ST. NICHOLAS soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT."
Christmas Customs

Many Christmas customs are based on the birth of Christ. Such as giving presents because of the Wise Men, who brought presents to the baby Jesus. Christmas carols based on Christ's birth and scenes of the birth with figures of shepherds, the Wise Men, and animals surrounding the baby Jesus.

But some of the ways people celebrate Christmas have nothing to do with Christ's birthday. Many bits of older holidays have crept into Christmas!

It wasn't until about 200 years after Christ's death that Christians even thought about celebrating his birth. No one knows the exact date of his birth. It is believed that December the 25th was chosen to turn people away from celebrating other holidays in this time of the year.

Saturnalia, was the Romans holiday that they celebrated in December. It was a time of feasting and parties. Also, in northern Europe there was a holiday known as Yule. They celebrated this holiday by making great fires. They then would dance around the fires, yelling for the winter to end.

In time, Christmas took the place of these holidays. But people kept some of the old customs -- such as burning a Yule log and having feasts and parties. The word Yule is still used as a name for the Christmas season.

As time went on, new customs crept into Christmas. One was the Christmas tree, which was started in Germany. As the Germans settled in new lands they brought with them this tradition.

Last but not least is Saint Nick. A long time ago, a bishop named Nicholas lived in what is now the country of Turkey. No one knows much about him. There are stories that he often helped children in need. Many years after his death, Nicholas was made a saint. In time, he became the patron saint of children.

Friday, December 23, 2005

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

From my house to yours
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!!!

Shake the snowglobe and see what happens...


We consider Christmas as the encounter, the great encounter, the historical encounter, the decisive encounter, between God and mankind. He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice.

- - - Pope Paul VI "Christmas address 23 Dec 65"
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus?Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Eddie Pola, George Wyle 1963

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
With the kids jingle belling,
and everyone telling you,
"Be of good cheer,"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

There'll be parties for hosting,
marshmallows for toasting and
caroling out in the snow.
there'll be scary ghost stories and
tales of the glories of Christmases
long, long ago.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.
There'll be much mistletoeing
and hearts will be glowing,
when loved ones are near.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
I played Santa Claus many times, and if you don't believe it, check out the divorce settlements awarded my wives.

- - - Groucho Marx "The Groucho Phile"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sleigh Ride
Mitchell Parish, Leroy Anderson 1948

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you,
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "Yoo hoo,"
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
let's go, Let's look at the show,
We're riding in a wonderland of snow.
Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
it's grand, Just holding your hand,
We're gliding along with a song
of a wintry fairy land.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together
like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us
and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

There's a birthday party
at the home of Farmer Gray
It'll be the perfect ending a perfect day
We'll be singing the songs
we love to sing without a single stop,
At the fireplace while we watch
the chestnuts pop. Pop! pop! pop!

There's a happy feeling
nothing in the world can buy,
When they pass around the chocolate
and the pumpkin pie
It'll nearly be like a picture print
by Currier and Ives
These wonderful things are the things
we remember all through our lives!

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,
ring ting tingling too
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you,
Outside the snow is falling
and friends are calling "Yoo hoo,"
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.

Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
let's go, Let's look at the show,
We're riding in a wonderland of snow.
Giddy yap, giddy yap, giddy yap,
it's grand, Just holding your hand,
We're gliding along with a song
of a wintry fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together
like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take that road before us
and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather
for a sleigh ride together with you.
SADIE'S CHRISTMAS ANGEL
by Kathleene S. Baker

(another heartwarming dog story-ed.)

I sat alone in Bill Miller's BBQ eating lunch and double-checking my shopping list.

As always, Bill's was jam packed and buzzing with bits and pieces of conversation. Dishes were clanging and banging, while Christmas carols played in the background. Jovial waitresses were decked out in Santa hats -- holiday cheer abounded!

Suddenly a rather scrubby, poorly dressed fellow entered and approach the young clerk at the cash register. From what I could gather, he was asking for a handout of some sort. The clerk seemed anxious and unsure of how to handle the situation. While speaking, the man glanced out the front window several times, which caused me to do the same.

Evidently he wasn't alone.

He had two companions outside -- one being a terribly thin dog that appeared to be a medium-sized, mixed breed. The sight of the devoted and underweight canine friend was all it took. My appetite vanished right along with my warm fuzzy feelings of the holiday season.

"Oh, I can't handle this," grumbled a man at the table next to me. He pushed his plate away, got up, and walked to the cash register.

"I want several big broiled chicken breasts for that poor dog out there." His voice was coarse and he had a look of true anguish on his face.

"Can you bag up a couple of to-go meals for the dog's owners too?"

The clerk's nervous expression was instantly replaced with a huge smile.

"Yes, sir! Oh thank you so much."

The chicken was ready before the meals, and the generous stranger high-tailed it out the door.

Being curious, I hustled outside and lingered by my car. Passing by the dog's owner, I had noticed the smell of alcohol.

But the aroma of chicken had the dog's tail wagging to beat the band. In fact, her entire body wagged. Her newfound-friend offered small bites while stroking her lackluster, drab, reddish coat and speaking in a calm, loving voice.

"Her name is Sadie," said the man. "She's a real good dog. We found her roaming the streets about four months ago. She just kind of took to us and hasn't left our side since. My name is Ed. That guy inside is my brother, Charles."

As I studied Sadie more closely it was apparent she had been, or was possibly still, nursing a litter of pups. She was definitely in need of the chicken she was savoring. Her big, beautiful, brown eyes spoke volumes as she devoured each bite with all the manners of a true lady. I wondered how long it had been since she'd had the satisfaction of a full tummy. What a shame, as it was obvious she was a kind, loyal, and gentle soul.

When finished, she gave her new friend a quick kiss on the cheek, then walked over, sat at the feet of her owner, and continued to lick her chops.

A complete stranger had given her a gift beyond description, and I wondered who this man might be.

Then out walked Charles with the to-go meals and both brothers expressed sincere thanks. Ed offered up an added comment.

"God bless you, Mister, and Merry Christmas."

The generous stranger looked both men in the eye. "You know this loyal companion of yours would feed you first, any day of the week. Even if she had a drinking problem -- she'd meet your needs before buying another bottle. In fact, she would lay down her life for you." The brothers hung their heads in shame.

"Sir, we love Sadie. She's all we have," stammered Charles. "I promise you right now, we'll do the best we can for her. But I want you to know she always has fresh water from the faucet at the gas station over yonder. And we're awfully careful when we find food in dumpsters. Nothing has ever made any of us sick."

Ed interrupted nervously. "We took her pups to the Animal Shelter hoping they'd find good homes. They said Sadie was older and wasn't likely to be adopted. We couldn't stand to think they might put her down, so we kept her. We're a family."

The stranger spoke again with his deep, gruff voice. "I'll make a deal with you. When you can't feed Sadie she will have a running tab at this cafe, but one of the employees will always watch to be sure she is fed every single bite. The food is for her -- I hope you understand what I'm saying. I've known the owner of this place for years. All you need to do is ask for the boss, and tell him Sadie needs chicken breasts -- he'll take care of it."

Tears welled up in the eyes of both men. Ed knelt down and wrapped his arms around the dog's neck.

"Did you hear that Sadie? You'll never have to fall asleep with your stomach growling again."

Both men began to offer thanks once more, but the gentleman turned away as tears began to trickle down his face. He crouched down and spoke directly to Sadie.

"If your owners take care of you, I'll see to it that they get an occasional meal too. I'll be getting reports on your condition from the folks that work here. They'll be watching for you, sweet girl."

I climbed into my car and dried my eyes as I watched Sadie's benefactor walk back inside.

Through the plate glass window I could see him speaking with the owner who was nodding his head in approval, while shaking hands with Sadie's Christmas Angel. -

- Kathleene S. Baker
Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, He must be a communist. And a beard and long hair, Must be a pacifist. What's in that pipe that he's smoking?

- - - Arlo Guthrie

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Merry Christmas! Around the World

Afrikaner [Afrikaans]
"Geseënde Kersfees"


Amharic
"Enkwan laberhana ledat abaqqawot" OR "Melkam amat ba`al yehunellachihu"

Arabic
"Milad Majid" OR "Milad Saeed"


Argentine
"Feliz Navidad"

Armenian
"Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand"


Bohemian
"Vesele Vanoce"

Brazilian Portuguese
"Feliz Natal"


Briton
"Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat"


Bulgarian
"Tchestita Koleda" OR "Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo"


Cambodian
"Soursdey Noel"


Chinese [Mandarin]
"Sheng Dankuai Le"

Chinese [Cantonese]
"Sing Daan Faai Lok"

Cornish
"Nadelik Lowen"

Croatian
"Sretan Bozic"

Czech
"Velike Vanoce"

Danish
"Glædelig Jul"

Dutch
"Vrolijk Kerstfeest"

English [American]
"Merry Christmas"

English [Australian]
"'Ave a bonza Chrissy, Mate"

English [UK]
"Happy Christmas"

Esperanto
"Gojan Kristnaskon"

Estonian
"Roomsaid Joulu Puhi"

Farsi
"Christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad"

Faroese
"Gleðilig Jól"

Filipino
"Maligayang Pasko"

Finnish
"Hauskaa Joulua"

French
"Joyeux Noël"

Frisian
"Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier"

Gaelic
"Nollaig Shona Dhuit"

German
"Froehliche Weihnachten"

Greek
"Kala Christouyenna"

Hawaiian
"Mele Kalikimaka"

Hebrew
"Mo'adim Lesimkha. Chena tova"

Hindi
"Shub Badadin"

Hungarian
"Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket"

Icelandic
"Gledileg Jol"

India
"Tamil Nadu - Christmas Vaazthukkal "

Indonesian
"Selamat Hari Natal"

Iraqi
"Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah"

Irish
"Nollaig Shona Duit"

Italian
"Buon Natale"

Japanese
"Meri Kurisumasu"

Klingon
"QISmaS Quch Daghajjaj"

Korean
"Sung Tan Jul Chuk Ha"

Latvian
"Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu"

Lithuanian
"Linksmu Kaledu"

Malay
"Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru"

Maltese
"Il-Milied it-tajjeb"

Maori
"Meri Kirihimete"

Navajo
"Merry Kashmis"

New Guinea Pidgin
"Meri Christmas"

New Zealand
"Happy Christmas"

Norwegian
"Gledelig Jul"

Pennsylvania German
"En frehlicher Grischtdaag"

Peru
"Felices Fiestas" OR "Feliz Navidad"

Polish
"Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia"

Portuguese
"Feliz Natal"

Punjabi
"Hacahi Ke Eide"

Rumanian
"Sarbatori Fericite"

Russian
"S Rozhdestvom Kristovym"

Serbian
"Hristos se rodi"

Slovakian
"Sretan Bozic" OR "Vesele vianoce"

Samoan
"Manuea le Karisimasi"

Scots Gaelic
"Nollaig chridheil huibh"

Slovak
"Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok"

Slovene
"Srecen Bozic"

Spanish
"Feliz Navidad"

Swahili
"Heri ya Krismasi"

Swedish
"God Jul"

Tagalog [Philippines]
"Maligayang Pasko"

Tahitian
"Ia ora'na no te noere"

Telugu
"Santhasa Krismas"

Thai
"Suksan Christmas"

Turkish
"Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun"

Ukrainian
"Z Rizdvom Krystovym" OR "Veselogo Rizdva""

Urdu [Pakistan]
"Shadae Christmas"

Uzbek
"Yangi Yiligiz Mubarak Bolsun"

Vietnamese
"Chuc Mung Giang Sinh"

Welsh
"Nadolig Llawen"
I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white man would be coming into my neighborhood after dark.

- - - Dick Gregory

Monday, December 19, 2005


Grandma got run over by a reindeer.
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and grandpa we believe.

She'd been drinking too much eggnog,
and we begged her not to go.
But she forgot her medication, and she
staggered out the door into the snow.

When we found her Christmas morning,
at the scene of the attack,
she had hoof-prints on her forehead,
and incriminating Claus marks on her back.

Now we're all so proud of grandpa,
He's been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
drinking root beer and
playing cards with Cousin Mel.

It's not Christmas without Grandma,
All the family's dressed in black
and we just can't help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts,
or send them back?
Send them back!!

Now the goose is on the table
and the pudding made of fig
and the blue and silver candles
that would just have matched
the hair on grandma's wig.

I've warned all my
friends and neighbors
better watch out for yourselves,
they should never give a license
to a man who drives a sleigh
and plays with elves.
And Still They Come

How is a cat on the beach like Christmas?
He's got Sandy Paws.

What did the guest sing at Eskimo's Christmas party? .
..Freeze a jolly good fellow.

What do you call a polar bear wearing ear muffs?
Anything you want. He can't hear you!

What do reindeer have that no other animals on earth have?
Baby reindeer.

What do you call a chicken at the North Pole?
Lost.
The Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church,it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow.

An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it.The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.

The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.