The Days of Christmas

Christmas Season

It is upon us full swing! Are you enjoying the season?

Each family is different regarding what timeframe makes up the Christmas season. I know some people who start shopping in autumn and always put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Others wait for December, but we all know that commercial Christmas begins after Halloween when all the decorations and specials are in place in stores.

5B25A01F-A2AA-44FF-8C31-33E7D026545A

How did Christmas get to be about shopping and exchanging gifts? I bet the Wise Men had no idea what they were starting!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Many Christian families celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. Those twelve days begin on December 25th when Jesus’ birth is celebrated although no one knows the actual date of his birth. The eight day of Christmas is January 1st and is not associated with New Year’s Day, but with the circumcision of the baby Jesus. The twelfth day, January 6, commemorates the Maji which is the visit of the wise men who brought gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

And there it began.

231D3AB0-6567-4DA0-B25E-569D9E22BD79

 

Photos by Pixabay

“Mobituaries”

Book Review

My close friends, family and regular readers know I have a fascination with death which includes careful reading of obituaries. I don’t see it as morbid. I see it as a window into life, but be that as it may, it is no surprise that I received the book “Mobituaries” for Christmas this year. The book by Mo Rocca was just published and it is a delight to read. It really is not about obituaries, but about people and things that Rocca believes did not receive the sendoff they had coming. Some examples are dragons, Medieval science, Lawrence Welk and the station wagon.

I recommend this book for easy, fun reading. It is over three hundred pages of humor and history. I learned new information and was guided to look at old information in a different light. The book is well researched with all consulted works documented.

Mo Rocca is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and host of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. He is a frequent panelist on NPR and has done acting on Broadway and writing for TV including The Daily Show.

B6FFB65F-D1F3-41AB-BC68-7028AA0C3345

Carol

Carol of the Brown King by Langston Hughes

Of the three Wise Men 

Who came to the King,

One was a brown man, 

So they sing.

 

Of the three Wise Men

Who followed the Star,

One was a brown king

From afar.

 

They brought fine gifts

Of spices and gold

In jewel boxes

Of beauty untold.

 

Unto His humble

Manager they came 

And bowed their heads

In Jesus’ name.

 

Three Wise Men,

One dark like me —–

Part of His 

Nativity.

langston-hughes-1
Langston Hughes              Photo by Bing
Theme graphic by Pixabay

Happy Xmas

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

 

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

 

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

 

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let’s stop all the fight

 

A very Merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

 

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Happy Christmas

john-and-yoko-1087206_1280

 

Photo of Lennon & Ono by Pixabay

Angel Photo by Dianne Bynum

Letter from JFK

Letter to Michelle Rochon from John F. Kennedy – October 28, 1961

 

The White House

Dear Michelle:

I was glad to get your letter about trying to stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole and risking the life of Santa Claus.

I share your concern about the atmospheric testing of the Soviet Union, not only for the North Pole but for countries throughout the world; not only for Santa Claus but for people throughout the world.

However, you must not worry about Santa Claus. I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds this Christmas. 

Sincerely,

John Kennedy

 

jfk-1294966_1280

 

Photos by Pixabay

 

 

XMas Poetry

Poem by Sylvia Mattingly  

Untitled

This the night before Christmas and my house is a mess. Full of presents and Christmas fluff and dust, more or less. My socks are flung over the chair back with care in hopes that through pity, I’ll get a new pair.

I’m eventually nested all snug in my bed, After many a hot flash and my face looking red. With one fan beside me, and one fan up high, The flashes are subsiding and I know sleep is nigh.

But no, not to be, another to tame, And I cuss and I fume as I call it by name . . . Now hot flash, now heatwave, now hell’s breath of fire, Be gone with your torture I have got to retire!

I must get some winks, so when Santa Claus shows, I’ll be fast asleep and having no woes. Oh, who am I kidding, he’ll never get in Cause I’ve capped off the chimney and there’s insulation within. 

The door’s dead bolted and chained . . . I’ll undo all locks . . . If I hope for that chance at a new pair of socks. And maybe some peppermint and a nice box of tea, Just the simple things in life are all that I need.

Oh Santy Claus come, I’ll be waiting for you. For you and your reindeer to do what you do. Be careful out front and watch out for the TARC, and remember that here, you must parallel park.

Your reindeer should be quite safe from the crowd, Cause in the heart of the city, no hunting’s allowed. They can paw at the pavement and snort with full glee, While you’re in my house leaving presents for me. 

I’ll leave out some cookies and coffee and such, So just take your time, no need to rush. Sit down in my rocker and get some good rest Take a slow look around and just be my guest.

I don’t have a lot as you can certainly see But in the eyes of a poor man I’m as rich as can be. And in my own heart, I’m richer than most Because I have all I need and I truly can boast. 

Maybe the stuff you were gonna leave here, Should bring some poor family a whole bunch of cheer, Take them a goose and some wine and warm bread And maybe a nice handmade quilt for their bed. 

Leave them these things because I’m sure they’ve been good Don’t leave any switches or coal chunks or wood, And all that I ask as you leave my front door is that you take all these hot flashes and bring me no more!!

And other than that there just one small request It’s that old pair of socks on the chair, I’ll be blessed Please leave me some new ones without any wear See I don’t ask for much, just comfort and care.

Cause that’s what Christmas is really about . . . It’s not all the bling or the holiday shout, It’s about giving to others and looking around At the many great treasures in life to be found. 

Our friends and our family, our life and our health Are just a few fine examples in our passel of wealth. Now Santy, there’s just one more thing you can do . . . Next year bring a Ford Mustang . . . in the color of blue!!!

santa-2563805_1280

“With many thanks to my inspirations, Clement C. Moore and Dr. Seuss.”           Sylvia Mattingly

Photos by Pixabay

Merry Xmas

Origin of Merry Xmas 

There was a time when I thought writing, “Merry Xmas” was just lazy. Some folks feel it is worse than lazy because to them it leaves Christ out of Christmas. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. 

The New Testament was written in Greek and the Greek word for Christ is Χριστος. Today we can cut and paste and print and therefore we don’t think much about what it must have like centuries ago when texts were being written and copied by hand.

According to Greg Carey, Professor of New Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary: “Early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament dating to the third and fourth centuries used “X” as an abbreviation for Christ…The abbreviation helped manuscript writers fit more words on a page, reducing the time and cost of producing the texts…” 

So, Merry Xmas is nothing new. It wasn’t started by non-believers. It is not a war on Christmas. Seminary students have been using the abbreviation “Xian” for “Christian” forever. 

See more at: http://www.patheos.com/…/formerlyfu…/keeping-the-x-in-xmas/…

IMG_8572
Needlework by my friend, Pat Weaver, many years ago.

 

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

Race in America

A Tough Subject 

racism | ˈrāˌsizəm | noun       prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior: a program to combat racism. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism.  Source: Webster’s Dictionary. 


White Privilege 

This is a subject I approach with much trepidation. I fear I will not state my opinions and thoughts clearly. Being misunderstood on such a sensitive topic is a real danger, but I feel this subject is important enough to take that chance. Reader opinions will vary just as our life experiences vary.

I, as a white person, know I have advantages and some I am not really cognizant of most of the time. The dominant race is always assured of unearned assets and privileges even though members may be poor or uneducated as was my early family.  This notwithstanding I know I am a recipient of white privilege and I desire to even the playing field when I can. It begins by acknowledging that advantage.   

Racism

KpL5pcSrTOu0SCEuSkYi%g
COVER

The sender of this Christmas card which I received as a child meant no harm but it clearly demonstrates racial prejudice as does the advertisement from an old catalog of the same era. I am aware each is offensive, but that is why I have included them, to demonstrate that racism is a part of our collective history. 

IMG_7581
INSIDE

I realize this delicate subject can bring about controversy but that is not my intent. I will talk about my own experiences and evolution and each reader can, and I hope will, examine their own feelings on this delicate, but vital, subject. 

Childhood

I was born into a rural white community. My first memory of encountering a person of color was when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was with my parents when they stopped at a small store in Harrisonville, KY. I had never been there before and I was shocked to see the dark-skinned proprietor. Mr. Buesey smiled at me and extended his hand offering me a cookie. I did not take it, because I thought surely the black had rubbed off on the cookie. Although I remember nothing else about this experience, to this day I regret my childish reaction knowing I must have hurt this kind man’s feelings. 

The next such memory I have must have been at around the same age because I still had a curiosity about the permanence of that black color. I was shopping with my Mother and Aunt in the big town of Frankfort, the capital of KY. When I saw a little black girl about my age I apparently had the courage to attempt to solve my question because I reached out and touched her arm. Again, I know I was rude and regret it. I definitely was not raised in an environment where I came into contact with other than white people on any regular basis. 

Growing Up

All this changed when I moved to the small town of Taylorsville. While black children went to a separate school, I did see people of color around town and began to feel more comfortable. I hope I was also more polite. I was in High School before black students were allowed to integrate our “white” schools.

As an adult, I recall the busing era of the seventies when my own children were in school. I remember the demonstrations, the marches and the shouts at buses filled with black children being brought into the suburbs to integrate schools. I am ashamed to say when one of my daughters entering the ninth grade was assigned to an inner city High School we moved to another county. We were a part of white flight even though it was not the integration that concerned me but the fact that my child was being taken into an unknown community many miles from home. Regardless, I was part of the problem, not the solution. 

IMG_7578

Change

So much has changed in my lifetime and especially in my own mind and heart. I wish my journey had been different. I wish I had been brought up in an integrated community and that it had not been necessary to work to overcome a racial bias I did not even realize I had until later in adulthood. 

Our country has a long way to go to overcome racism and even further to achieve racial equality. This is my opinion.  

“It’s the people who don’t recognize the racism within themselves that can be the most damaging because they don’t see it.” Sterling K. Brown


Recommended reading about racism in America: the distant past “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriett Beecher Stowe and a contemporary account “White Rage” by Carol Anderson. 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Pope Lick Again

I sometimes wonder if we see what we look for. I realize that statement needs a lot of clarification. What I’m thinking about is my most recent walk at Pope Lick Park. I don’t take the same trails each day. I’m not in the same mood each day, although my mood always improves during my walks. 

Today Floyd’s Fork was high and muddy and I enjoyed it in the morning mist. Even though it was quite early, I was not alone. Bikers, walkers, runners and even one person on inline skates were out there with me. I add this for one of my readers who worries about my safety. I am one of many enjoying the Parklands and being truly alone is rare. 

IMG_7599

Usually when I am in nature I think of little else. Today was no exception, however there were no deer, squirrels or even birds to hold my attention. One of the first things I noticed was my least favorite living creature. You guessed it, spiders or at least their homes. https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/21/one-fear-explained/ Right away I noticed a dew covered web on the ground that reminded me of “angel hair” we used to decorate trees with at Christmas when I was a kid. The matted looking web had a hole that lead to a tunnel. The photos are not as clear as I’d like, but perhaps you can see what I’m talking about. As I walked there were many more such structures mingled in the grass. I cannot help but wonder what other sights I might have missed because I was looking for these spider homes. 

 

With the editing feature on my camera, I was able to crop one photo with the resident builder at home. I assure you that I did not get that close! I hope you can see him here. 

fullsizeoutput_18ad

It was a day for spider exploration, but a good day for a walk nevertheless. They were minding their own business and I was very careful to avoid interrupting their day. 

One more photo, but from a different type home above in the trees. 

IMG_7606

The next time you see a spider web, please, pause and look a little closer. You’ll be seeing one of the most high-performance materials known to man. Cheryl Hayashi

December

Trees

0tyu%rp9QSS%hj+7vHQFzQ

The beautiful autumn leaves are gone and the deciduous trees look a bit like skeletons against the sky. 

For many of us, our thoughts turn to indoor evergreens burdened with red and green or multi-colored lights and ornaments.

fullsizeoutput_117b

Decorations in your home may be blue, white and silver for Hanukkah or they may reflect a different tradition such as the celebration of first fruits which is Kwanzaa. Many European countries celebrate Boxing Day and each in a slightly different way. Ōmisoka is celebrated on the last day of December by the Japanese as the prelude or bridge to the New Year. Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, may occur in December but will not again until 2030.  

Holidays

Celebrations are very personal depending on one’s country of origin, religious tradition or cultural preferences. We usually call such days “Holidays” whether or not they are official holidays in a particular country. The best way we can demonstrate love, show respect for others and be open to enlightenment is to not only share our values and beliefs but to try to understand those of others.

525160_383475075077567_1793281517_n

 Greetings and Best Wishes

I feel good whether I’m wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. The fact that someone is wishing me well is what is important. To me, the only appropriate response it to wish them well with any words that they have used. It isn’t the word that matters most, it is the thought, the wish, the greeting. When unsure what tradition another person celebrates it does not seem to me that an all-inclusive greeting (Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) diminishes my personal tradition, which is Christmas. 

So to the ninety-two followers of “Crooked Creek”  and readers from thirty-five countries other than the United States, please allow me to wish you Happy Holidays filled with love and hope for a kind and peaceful world. 

 

 

 

November

Winding Down

November was not a favorite month for many years, but I have learned to appreciate it more. In the past, I thought of it as rather colorless and simply a time to be traversed to reach December’s cold, snow and Christmas. 

This year somehow I have learned to appreciate this bridge month between autumn and winter. The neighborhood trees have been beautiful and one especially has brightened each of my days. I see it, perfectly framed, through my office windows subtly changing colors day by day. Only over the past 48 hours has it lost its bright glow as seen below, as the leaves have dried and withered, many falling to the ground.

fullsizeoutput_10ae

After a several week hiatus, today I returned to one of my favorite places, Pope Lick Park. As I walked listening to the rustle of crisp leaves blowing along the way, I realized that I would miss this month, November. It has been generous with its nature, colors and warm sunshine. It has been much more than I could have anticipated or earned, filled with love and affirmation. 

There were a few birds along the trail today including a noisy flock of crows fussing as I passed. Yes, I know the proper term is “murder” of crows, but they didn’t seem mad enough to warrant using that word! I saw one squirrel who I hoped found the nuts I had strategically placed under some trees. With most of the leaves now carpeting the ground the trees looked stark, especially the sycomores reaching their chalky limbs up to the sky. 

 

So, in a few days, we say, “Goodbye November.” You have been a good month and I look forward to your return in following years. 

fullsizeoutput_10aa

 

Holidays

Several things are on my mind to write about in 2017. One subject is grief, which I hope to treat extensively. It is a topic many find difficult, but few people escape life without experiencing it, usually more than once. Since this is true it seems it would be helpful to give some time to exploring what it is like, what we can do to help others through it and how we can prepare for it personally.

As readers of Crooked Creek, I’d like to ask you to consider participation as we go forward into new year. I would love to have your thoughts on my posts. I’m not asking for a “like” as on Facebook or a compliment on the writing (although I admit I do enjoy that). On any subject, I really would appreciate your sharing your thoughts, personal experiences or disagreement. I want this blog to be not a pulpit, but rather a forum.

religious-clipart-christian-free-religious-clip-art-image

We can start now by sharing our childhood experiences for this time of year. While I’m sure there are many holiday similarities, I have no doubt there are also great differences. For one thing, we don’t all celebrate the same holidays. Some are made of legend, some are cultural or ethnic, others a mixture of fantasy and religion while still others are High Holy Days. My tradition is celebrating Christmas. I’ll go first and look forward to hearing from you about some of your early holiday memories (in the Comment space).


 

Christmas Memories

From my preschool years I have few memories. I have heard very intelligent people have memories from a young age, so I suppose that lets me out of the Mensa crowd. My memories before going to first grade are fragmentary and I am sometime unsure whether they are true memories, tales told to me over the years or perhaps just what I think I remember, because of old photographs. I will share two Christmas memories I have from this early childhood period.

🌟   The Star

When it was time to put up a Christmas tree my Dad and older brother would take an ax and go out to find a suitable cedar. While they were scouting the tree and nailing cross boards on the bottom to make it stand, Mom and I would drag out an old cardboard box filled with decorations. The only object I can remember lifting from the box was a star my brother had, some previous year, cut out and covered with tinfoil. I thought it was so beautiful and couldn’t wait for it to be in place on top signifying the tree was complete and ready for Santa Claus.

jingle-bells-clipart-clipart-best-j8isoi-clipart The Bells

The one other memory from that time was a regular Christmas celebration at our small country church, Mt. Vernon Baptist. It was usually at night and sometimes there was a play with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. At other times a rather suspicious Santa would show up confusing kids who didn’t quite grasp where he fit in with the shepherds and Wise Men. Regardless of whether he made it, there would always be a paper bag filled with hard candy for each child. I liked the candy, because we didn’t often have it around our house, especially with the war going on and sugar being scarce. The year I clearly remember coming home from the church program it happened to be Christmas Eve. Maybe because I was full of sugar, or more likely as Mammy said, I had “spunk,” I wasn’t interested in getting into bed as I was instructed. I ran around our little house in my coat, hat and mittens trying my mother’s patience until suddenly I heard bells ringing out in the yard! I ran screaming to my bed and covered up, coat and all, waiting to see if the ringing would stop or if the sleigh would go away, on down Crooked Creek Road without stopping.

images

It was many years before I was told about Mom sending Daddy outside to ring those bells.

Theme photo and graphics by Pixabay