An Updated Night Before Christmas

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T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.

Ma on her iPad, me on my Kindle, both patiently waiting for old Kris Kringle.
The grandkids were posting selfies with their iPods showing Santa that they were indeed being good.

When all of a sudden, there arouse a load noise and I jumped from my recliner not sure what to do. My wi-fi is down cried my grandchild one. Mine is down too cried grandchild two. What is wi-fi? Cried my wife in her moo-moo.

In a hurry I grabbed my laptop’s mouse and to my chagrin there was a red X where my wi-fi bars had been. Just then on my roof I heard the sound of a ladder. I opened the door and stepped outside to see what was the matter. I looked up and saw Ralph, Santa’s chief technical elf. He looked down at me and said with a smile “Don’t worry my friend, I’ll have things fixed in awhile. “It seems as though your router is broken. Overworked and overloaded.”

Then whistling Noel, techno Ralph went to work and in a thrice he got working each and every device. Now said my new friend “Each of you must now help yourself.” “Update IOS, your systems are a mess. Update, Java, Adobe and Google, and then all the rest.”

Before he left Ralph said “Remember that Christmas is not just about bandwidth received. But rather it’s about the breadth of your caring and love that you give.”

So loading his ladder he started to go. And I heard him proclaim as he went into the night. Log on to Apple, log on to Amazon; log on to Ebay and Overstock too. Happy online shopping to all and to all good night.





The Reason For The Season



T’is the season. But just what is the reason for the season?

Today I went out to purchase a couple of gifts for my grandchildren and my wife. As I wandered dazed and confused through the stores I began to wonder just why was I there among throngs of others all seemingly bent upon shopping til they drop. I thought to myself “do any of these shoppers really know why they are out spending all their money on gifts for others other than because it is the Christmas season“? Chances are they would all give the answer a friend of mine gave when I asked her why she was frantically buying gifts for family and friends. Her answer was – “because it’s Christmas“.

Because it’s Christmas? Just why do we run around mindlessly buying items for others that they most likely don’t need or even want? One reason put forth is that buying for others at Christmas is keeping with the spirit of giving. We give to others because we love them. Would my love for my wife, daughter, and grandchildren be any less if I didn’t buy them gifts at Christmas? We give to the less fortunate at Christmas. Giving to those who are less fortunate is certainly admirable, but why do most of us limit that giving to the Christmas season? What about peace on earth – goodwill towards men? Now there are good reasons for the season! But why limit your desire for peace and goodwill to the Christmas season? What a wonderful world it could be if we lived those thoughts throughout the year.

For most the Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving. Infamous Black Friday starts the buying frenzy; a frenzy which for many doesn’t end until Christmas Eve. Santa Clause makes his first official appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. From then on that fat old guy in a red suit is everywhere. My grandchildren had their first visit from Santa at a Christmas party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Between then and Christmas day those kids will sit on Santa’s knee five or more times before he finally makes his way down their chimney.

I am not a particularly religious person. Most of the time I am not sure there is a god. If there is a god somewhere up there I am not sure he would approve of our conduct during the Christmas season. In keeping with my doubts about god I am not sure that Jesus was the son of god any more than all of us are children of god, but coming from a time past I grew up to believe that Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I do recognize Jesus as a great teacher and philosopher and I am sure if he were alive now and could see what is going on during the Christmas season he would clear the malls of vendors much like he cleared the moneylenders from the temple. Years ago Jesus played a much more significant part of the Christmas season. Our local newspaper ran a daily strip telling the story of the nativity: that strip was discontinued many years ago. Nearly every Christmas tree had a ceramic nativity scene at its base: ours has been packed away for ten or more years. Today only the most religious among us see the Christmas season as a season of hope because of the birth of Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line Christmas got transformed from a religious holiday into a season of indulgence, gluttony, and gross materialism that is more that a little bewildering.

Now I am not saying that we should discontinue buying gifts for others or having Christmas parties. Nor would I banish Santa Claus. But, I would suggest that in between trips to the mall we each take a moment and ask ourselves just what is the reason for the season.


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At this time of year most children have a favorite toy that they want Santa to bring on Christmas Eve. Some of those toys will only be played with for a day or even just and hour or two and never see the light of day until being sold at mom and dad’s next garage sale. Other toys will become a cherished favorite to provide hours of pleasure and memories for years to come. As each child grows up one toy above all others will become their favorite. For some it may be a certain doll, a toy six gun and holster, or that first two-wheel bicycle. The memory of that favorite toy will stay with a person well into adulthood and provide many fond memories.

My favorite toy of all time wasn’t actually a toy at all. It was a humongous cardboard box that a neighbor’s new refrigerator came in. As a boy of seven growing up with few toys I was left to improvise for my own entertainment. That meant using my imagination and when I saw that gigantic box sitting outside my neighbor’s house I immediately saw many possibilities for it and knew I just had to have it and was delighted when my neighbor gave it to me.

That box was quite a lot bigger than me and as I struggled to drag it home I started forming plans for my great find. The fist thing I did was to turn it into a fort. A fort that I would defend against marauding pirates. Using my pocket knife I cut a flap in one side where I could fire salvos from my imaginary canon at those pesky pirates; no way they were going to conquer Ft. Ken. When the other kids in the neighborhood saw how much fun I was having in my fort it quickly became a clubhouse for all the neighbor kids. For awhile I was the most popular kid in the neighborhood. I was the club president naturally since it was my clubhouse. I would pass judgment on prospective members, no one was admitted without my say-so. I was also the keeper of the secret password which each member had to say before being admitted to the clubhouse.

But most of all this spacious brown mansion was my refuge and my sanctuary where I could get away from what at that time was not a pleasant world for me. When alone in the confines of my treasured abode I was at peace. Nothing in the outside world could bother me. Even though my sanctuary was made of compressed paper I was safe inside.

The power of a child’s imagination can turn the most ordinary things into things of pleasure. A simple stick becomes a sword to banish evil knights. A piece of clothes line becomes a lariat to herd little doggies. Sometimes less really does become more when our imaginations are set free to explore possibilities. Today’s toys with few exceptions offer children a much of a chance to use their imagination. They stare blankly into video screens oblivious to the world around them. Not using their imaginations to take them to wondrous places to explore or take them on exciting adventures.

I believe that the key to happiness and personal fulfillment comes from within and not from material objects. That is why I always tried to provide puzzles, books, arts and crafts for first my daughter and then my grandchildren. If I could I would give my grandchildren a similar box this Christmas but I am sure my family would have me committed. But, if my grandchildren would ever have a toy that wasn’t really a toy which gave them the chance to explore and expand their imaginations like I did; maybe, just maybe they too might look back some sixty years later and fondly remember their favorite toy that wasn’t really a toy at all.