Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Song for New Year’s Eve

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A Song for New Year’s Eve
William Cullen Bryant

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay—
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.
The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.
The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stands,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.
Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day’s rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.
Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.
Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.


The Sexuality of T.E. Lawrence

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Last night I watched “Lawrence of Arabia” on Turner Classic Movies. As usual with a historical movie, I began to read more about Thomas Edward Lawrence. I have a special interest in the First World War, so this is not the first time that I have researched Lawrence. As I was refreshing my memory last night, I remembered that there have been questions about Lawrence’s sexuality. Often in recent years, the life and achievements of Lawrence have been somewhat overshadowed by controversial claims published in posthumous biographies concerning his sexual orientation, accusations that he had been a closet or self-repressed homosexual.

The claim was first made by author Richard Aldington 20 years after his death, controversial at the time because none of Lawrence’s friends or family supported it. In the wake of his being immortalized in the 1962 David Lean classic “Lawrence of Arabia” a host of other biographers rode Aldington’s coat tails, making the titillating claim that he had been both homosexual and sadomasochistic. Claims seemingly given credence by newspaper interviews with privates of the Tank Corps who confessed to having had flogged Lawrence at his solicitation between 1925 to 1934, combined they set the seal on the alleged secret life of Lawrence of Arabia.

However those making these claims only told half the story, deliberately neglecting or downplaying the effect his having been raped had on his thoughts and actions. In both Seven Pillars of Wisdom and a 1919 letter to a military colleague, Lawrence described an episode on November 20, 1917, in which, while reconnoitering Dera’a in disguise, he was captured by the Ottoman military, subjected to humiliating beatings and sexual assault at the instigation of Governor, or Bey. The precise nature of the sexual contact is not specified. There have been allegations that the episode was an invention of Lawrence’s and that the injuries Lawrence claims to have suffered were exaggerated. Although there is no independent testimony, the multiple consistent reports, and the absence of evidence for outright invention in Lawrence’s works, make the account believable to his biographers. At least three of Lawrence’s biographers (Malcolm Brown, John E. Mack, and Jeremy Wilson) have argued this episode had strong psychological effects on Lawrence which may explain some of his unconventional behavior in later life.

Rape in time of war is age old, most people are aware of the suffering of woman and girls during hostilities; however since ancient times it has been a weapon of war used against men. The word itself is derived from the Latin rapere meaning to steal, seize or carry away. In the military context it was a means of stealing a man’s honor, a victorious soldier emasculating a vanquished foe in the belief that by forcibly penetrating him he lost his manhood. This indignity was more often inflicted on members of the officer class in the belief it robbed them of their authority as a leader of men, sometimes resulting in the victims suicide. Gang rape was also considered a means of punishment in some cultures, the Romans, Persians, Ottomans and other societies practiced it.

The Ottoman Turks were infamous for inflicting it throughout the Great War on captured enemy troops, beating and gang raping enemy officers often as a matter of due course. Prisons and garrisons often had personnel who specialized in this abuse, although there was nothing homosexual about it. The Turkish soldiers perpetrating this war crime certainly never considered themselves gay, like male rapists in prison the act has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the attacker or victim.

It was a remarkable manifestation of courage, perhaps cathartic release, that Lawrence detailed what happened to him in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom in 1926. Then as now the fear of being labelled homosexual as a result of such disclosure was a legitimate fear, society having the tendency of blaming the victim of sexual assault rather than the perpetrator. Homosexuality was a taboo subject at that time, same sex rape was even more taboo. The suspicion Lawrence was homosexual is likely to have been a natural by-product of his shocking disclosure, some readers finding a homoerotic undertone to his retelling of events. Then as now few understood the incident in its historic context, the consensus being only homosexuals are victims of same sex rape, that a man can protect himself and if he’s raped it’s because he wanted to be.

If the 28 year old Lawrence was a virgin at the time of his assault, as many biographers believe, the experience would have had a profoundly negative affect on his concept of self and sexuality. Alas in his lifetime there were no counseling services available to men who had suffered sexual assault, they were expected to get on with their lives with a stiff upper lip. The post traumatic effects of same sex rape often last a lifetime, T.E. Lawrence manifested all the classic symptoms: workaholism, depression, anger, increased sense of vulnerability, destructive self-image, emotional distancing.

In the wake of the Great War he had difficulties with intimacy, withdrew from relationships or carried them out via mail, had problems trusting people and a defunct sex drive. Not that he ever had much interest in sex at earlier stages of his life, there is no concrete evidence of him having had an intimate relationship with anyone male or female, and he seems to have willingly chosen celibacy as many academics of his class and generation did. His family and friends attested to his sense of horror with regards to sexual subject matter in the years following the war.

Many heterosexual rape survivors question their sexual orientation, “it’s not uncommon for a victim to blame himself for the rape, believing that he in some way gave permission to the rapist. Recollection of involuntary physiological responses, erections or ejaculations, etc, during the event often make them question whether they deserved or wanted to be assaulted. There are certainly aspects of this post traumatic introspection in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which many readers have mistaken as homo-erotic influences. In his description of the Dera’a beating, Lawrence wrote “a delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me.”

If he was homosexual, though most likely asexual, it wouldn’t add or subtract from his legacy, but in the interests of historical scholarship it’s important to view facts in their proper context. Although Lawrence lived in a period during which official opposition to homosexuality was strong, his writing on the subject was tolerant. In Seven Pillars, when discussing relationships between young male fighters in the war, he refers on one occasion to “the openness and honesty of perfect love” and on another to “friends quivering together in the yielding sand with intimate hot limbs in supreme embrace.” In a letter to Charlotte Shaw he wrote “I’ve seen lots of man-and-man loves: very lovely and fortunate some of them were.”

The fact is that no strong evidence one way or another has ever emerged about the sexuality of T.E. Lawrence. He left behind a tremendous legacy, one that was immortalized in the 1962 film, “Lawrence of Arabia.” It was also a legacy that he tried to escape. After the war Lawrence was so disillusioned that he refused medals about to be presented to him by the King, leaving the shocked George V (in his words) “holding the box in my hand.” He lived on the masochistic side of asceticism, denying himself the recognition he had earned. A many-sided genius whose accomplishments precluded the privacy he constantly sought, Lawrence became a mythic figure in his own lifetime even before he published his own version of his legend in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. By the manufacture of his myth, however solidly based, he created in his own person a characterization rivaling any in contemporary fiction.


Second Chances

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Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalms 103

As the new year approaches we often think back on the old. We attempt to think of resolutions to help us correct our flaws, and hopefully, give ourselves a second chance in the new year. We are blessed to have a God who grant second chances. In fact, He grants an infinite number of chances. This is good news because most of us mess up the second chance fairly quickly. One of the amazing facets of God’s character is His incredible patience with us. Psalm 86:15 says it well: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

How many times have any of us done something really stupid, and realize it right after, or right in the middle of it? Do you ever get to feeling like you can’t do anything right, wondering why you bother trying as your going to fail anyway? I’ve had instances when I really didn’t mean to hurt someone, yet I did, and I didn’t know how to set it right. I must admit, I’ve experienced this on more days than I want to admit. It just seems like no matter how hard I try, things just don’t seem to work out, or not that often anyway. Yet, in each instance I look to God for guidance, and he shows me the way.

Just as God is patient and forgiving, He wants His children to be patient with and forgiving of others. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). He gives us second chances, and we must give the same to others. Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive, saying that if we will not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If someone is truly repentant, then we are obligated to forgive. Matthew 18:21-22 says “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Forgiveness, however, is not the same thing as reconciliation. Many people struggle to find the balance between showing mercy and enabling a harmful person to continue harming. We should forgive everyone who wrongs us, just as Jesus forgives us. Forgiveness is between our heart and God’s, removing any barriers that non-forgiveness brings. When someone continues to unrepentantly violate another person’s boundaries, a wise person learns to set firmer boundaries.

Giving someone a second chance means we give him another chance to earn our trust. But that does not mean we instantly forget what experience has taught us. Trust must be earned over time, and we are foolish if we give trust prematurely. We can have a loving and forgiving heart that also practices wise guardianship over our lives.

When we have wronged someone, we have no right to demand another chance. But we should work to earn another chance by continued demonstration of repentance and change.

God does everything possible to draw us to repentance, offering forgiveness and second chances (2 Peter 3:9). But if we continue to reject Him, the offer is withdrawn and, at death, there are no more chances (Hebrews 9:27). God’s grace is our model. We can offer second chances to others until a healthy relationship is no longer possible.

In this new year, we should try to emulate God more. Just as he gives us second chances, give others a second chance as well. Maybe that someone deserves even more than a single second chance, then offer them more chances as long as they are attempting to do what is right. However, if that person is continuously hurting you, then forgive them and walk away. Just because someone has hurt you, it does not mean that it was intentional. Give them that second chance, just as God would give you a second chance. Yet, when it is intentional hurting, sometimes it is best to just cut ties. It is often difficult to do so, but it is occasionally what is best for both. Sometimes, it’s easy to just cut ties, but evaluate the situation. Could you help that person more by giving them a second chance? If so, then that is what god asks us to do.

Let God give you a second chance in the new year, and resolve to be a better person. Also, try to give someone in your life a second chance, maybe they truly deserve it. I hope each of you has a blessed and happy 2014!


Moment of Zen: Cuddle Time

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Y’all know how much I love HRH. She stayed groggy from the medication much longer than I expected, but she seems to be doing better. Now I just have to get her to eat. One of our favorite things is our cuddle time together. I found this picture particularly perfect since it was a cute guy with a cat and an ohm symbol tattoo (very zen!).

I’ve always said that I’d get an ohm tattoo if I ever got one. I just don’t know where it would be.


HRH Update

I just got HRH back from the vet. She is still sedated, and sleeping peacefully. She has a urinary tract infection. The veterinarian gave her some fluids, an antibiotic injection, and some medicine for her to take for seven days. I was told she should be feeling much better in about two or three days. I will have to take her back next week for a check up. In all, my poor sick girl will cost me about $200, but for the love and companionship I have received from her over the last 15 years (and hopefully, many years to come), it is absolutely worth it.

The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself. Of course he wants care and shelter. You don’t buy love for nothing.

William S. Burroughs


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I really can’t stay
– But baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away
– But baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been
– Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice
– I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice
My mother will start to worry
– Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
My father will be pacing the floor
– Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I’d better scurry
– Beautiful, please don’t hurry
Well maybe just a half a drink more
– Put some records on while I pour

The neighbors might think
– Baby, it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink?
– No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how
– Your eyes are like starlight
To break the spell
– I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir
– Mind if I move in closer?
At least I’m gonna say that I tried
– What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can’t stay
– Baby don’t hold out
Oh, but it’s cold outside

I simply must go
– But, baby, it’s cold outside.
The answer is no
– But, baby, it’s cold outside.
This welcome has been
– How lucky that you dropped in.
So nice and warm
– Look out the window at that storm.
My sister will be suspicious
– Gosh, your lips look delicious.
My brother will be there at the door
– Waves upon a tropical storm.
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious
– Oh, your lips are delicious.
Maybe just a cigarette more
– Never such a blizzard before.

I’ve got to go home
– But, baby, you’ll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat
– It’s up to your knees out there
You’ve really been grand
– I’m thrilled when you touch my hand
But don’t you see
– How can you do this thing to me?
ByThere’s bound to be talk tomorrow
– Think of my life long sorrow
At least there will be plenty implied
– If you caught pneumonia and died
I really can’t stay
– Get over that hold out
Ohhh, baby it’s cold outside

The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, marked as “mouse” and “wolf” on the printed score; they have returned to the “wolf’s” home after a date, and the “mouse” decides it’s time to go home, but the “wolf” flirtatiously invites her to stay as it is late and “it’s cold outside.” Every line in the song features a statement from the “mouse” followed by a response from the “wolf”. Usually the “wolf” part is sung by a male and the “mouse” by a female.

Criticisms of the song stem from a reading of the lyrics not as the “mouse” wanting to stay and only putting up a token protest for the sake of appearance as supported by lyrics such as “The neighbors might think…”, “My father will be pacing the floor”, but instead as the “mouse” genuinely wanting to leave but being stopped by the “wolf” being coercive in his pleading with the mouse. Examples of questionable lyrics in this regard include, “I simply must go”, “The answer is no”, “I’ve got to go home”. There is also the line “Hey, what’s in this drink”, which with current interpretation could be taken to sound suspiciously like the “mouse” has been drugged. Many movies, at the time the song was written, used a similar line to refer to someone behaving in a different manner than they expected and blaming it on the alcohol.

P.S. The veterinarian’s office was closed yesterday, so as soon as I can take HRH to the vet today, I will give a short post on what I find out. She’s still not acting like she feels well, so hopefully the vet can tell me what’s wrong with my lovely little 15 year old feline friend.


Post-Christmas Post

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Christmas is over; Santa has hung up his suit; and I am heading home. We always end up spending Christmas Night at my parents’ house, mainly because we eat so much at Christmas dinner that no one wants to drive home. In years past, we spend time with each other on the day after Christmas, but today, we won’t be doing that. My parents will head to the hospital to check on my mother’s sister, who is in critical condition with H1N1 (swine flu) and ARDS in ICU (the doctors have seen improvement in the last few days, but it’s a slow process). My sisters family has plans of their own. I am rushing home to check on HRH.

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HRH has been acting sickly lately. I think she has a cold, and a cat with a cold is no fun. She’s been coughing and sneezing and occasionally vomiting mucus (she’s part Siamese so vomiting is a regular occurrence with this breed, so that’s not that unusual). However, she’s just not acting herself. I am going to take her to the vet this morning as soon as I can get home. HRH is 15 years old, so I know she is quite elderly for a cat. However, she’s a wonderful companion, even if I’m one of the few living creatures this world that she loves. HRH can be quite cranky with other animals and humans, but since she’s been ill, she hasn’t even bothered the other cats. She’s always here when I need her, and I am quite worried about her.

So on this day after Christmas, I ask for your prayers for my aunt to recover from her illness, my sister (who is 3 mos. pregnant) to continue to have a healthy pregnancy, and HRH to be feeling much better soon and to return to her cranky old lady status.


Merry Christmas! Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

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The gospels of Luke and Matthew both describe Jesus as born in Bethlehem in Judea, to a virgin mother. In the Gospel of Luke account, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger. Angels proclaim him a savior for all people, and shepherds come to adore him. In the Matthew account, astronomers follow a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the King of the Jews. King Herod orders the massacre of all the boys less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and later settles in Nazareth.

Luke’s story takes place mostly before the birth of Jesus and centers on Mary, while Matthew’s story takes place mostly after the birth of Jesus and centers on Joseph. The two other gospels, the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John, begin their narratives of Jesus’s life in his adulthood; both mention him coming out of Galilee and John mentions the name of Jesus’ father, but neither John nor Mark gives any other details of his life prior to adulthood.

Of the two accounts below, I have always been partial to the Gospel of Luke. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy reading Matthew’s account, and I have always found the wise men from the east fascinating. Luke’s account just seems much more poetic than that of Matthew.

Matthew 1:18-2:12

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn 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 round 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 you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 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. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


A Visit From St. Nicholas

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I have to admit, that Christmas Eve in my household growing up was never an especially fun time. The reason for Christmas Eve not being especially fun was because we had to go to my maternal grandparent’s house for Christmas Eve, and then as soon as we opened gifts we had to go to my paternal grandmother’s family Christmas party. My father was always ill-tempered because we would always arrive late to the second party and he blamed it all on my mother. This made for a really uncomfortable ride between the two parties. My father hates being late, and sees another Christmas party as not a good excuse. My father could be a real jackass at times, and every Christmas Eve we had to hear him bitch and complain. Then as soon as we got home from the second party, it was off to bed, so that “Santa Claus” could come. I always hated trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Even on a good night, I have never been one to simply lay my head down and go to sleep, and with the anticipation of Christmas morning, Christmas Eve night was never an easy night to go to sleep, but I always did, and never once heard my parents (yes, contrary to yesterday’s post, I knew it was them) putting the presents under the tree.

However, there was one thing that I loved about Christmas Eve. It was the night that Santa Claus would be coming to visit. I have always loved Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and so I wanted to share it with you for my Christmas Eve post.

A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clark 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 our brains 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 lustre 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 head, 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 pedler 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 bowlful 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,
And 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, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

By the way, did you know that “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was not the only poem that Moore wrote about Santa Claus. He wrote another one, that I had never read until recently called “Old Santeclaus.” I hope that you enjoy it as well.

Old Santeclaus
by Clement Clark Moore

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’er chimney-tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

Where e’er I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart.

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of God
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.


Christmas Tradition

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Today I’d my first weekday off in my sixteen day vacation. Of course, being the drama club advisor, I don’t really get the holiday off since we will be rehearsing for our play in January. I have to go in at 9 am and we will practice until about noon.

For most people, December 23rd is just another day. It’s not yet Christmas Eve; it’s not Christmas Day; nor is it the day for the after Christmas sales. However, through all of my years growing up, this was the night of my immediate family’s Christmas. The dinner on the 23rd was the most special of the year. We got out the fine china and silverwear and set the table just as etiquette describes. My mother was a believer in knowing what silverwear to use when. We would have a candlelight dinner usually of what we considered fancy foods in my house: shrimp cockatiels, followed by Cornish game hens, mashed potatoes with gravy (my personal favorite), broccoli in cheese sauce, and homemade yeast rolls. We would also have sparkling cider or grape juice to drink while my parents had champagne. Dessert would always be a cheesecake that my mother made. At the beginning of dinner either my sister or I would read Luke Chapter 2 before the blessing was said for the food.

After we had eaten, we would then open presents. By the way, there was a different set of presents from Santa Claus on Christmas morning when my father would make breakfast and our grandparents would come to see what we got from Santa. Then we would open presents from them. But December 23rd was our special day as a family. After presents were opened on the 23rd, my mother would read us two stories: “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” and “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The tradition began to change a little as we got older. We didn’t read the stories after dinner anymore. But the tradition continued mostly intact until my sister got married. Her in-laws did not have traditions like we did, and were jealous. They liked to schedule their Christmas on December 23rd to mess with ours. When we tried to move it, they did the same. This juggling of dates went on for the first five years of my sister’s marriage. Finally, my mother changed ours permanently to Christmas Night, and she stood firm about it. My sister’s in-laws finally acquiesced, and our family Christmas has been on Christmas Night for the past 10 years. It’s not the same as it used to be. We have most of the same foods, but now we have a ham, turkey, and dressing in addition to all of the others except the Cornish hens. Also, I usually do the cooking these days instead of my mother. We have real wine and champagne to drink. We also don’t use the fine china anymore, but generally Christmas china that doesn’t have to be hand washed, like the real china. We also have three more people than we used to have: my single aunt, my brother-in-law, and my wonderful niece.

It’s one of the few times we all get together as just us with no other family, so it is still very special, even if it’s not the tradition we used to have.

Did you or does your family have any special traditions that you’d like to share in the comments?


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