“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas.”

– Charles Dickens



K and I are spending the yuletide with about a third of our extended family – including our three boys, their spouses, our four grandkids, and various siblings and their children. Keeping one’s family intact for 40 years is a challenge – more so today than ever. But the ROI for all that effort is more than worth it.

It will be a madhouse in the morning – 20 people opening Christmas presents. Then there is our traditional family brunch, with various gastronomic treats that K cooks up just once a year. Then, around six, we’ll welcome a hundred or so of our friends to my “cigar club” for further celebration.

And then, sometime, I’m going to take a moment for myself and say my “prayer”:

Life is a continuum of moments…

Some will be annoying. Those I will ignore.

Some will be disappointing. Those I will accept.

Some will be dangerous. Those I will respect.

Some will be hurtful. Those I will forgive.

Some will be new. Those I will welcome.

Some will be challenging. Those I will embrace.

Most will be ordinary and thus invisible. Those I will see.

Continue Reading

Xmas (noun) 

Many people are offended when they see this shortened form of the word “Christmas” – but it actually comes from the Greek for Christ, which is Xristos. It became popular in Europe in the 1500s. These days, we mostly see it in ads.

Continue Reading

When the Three Wise Men gave the Christ child frankincense and myrrh, they were doing much more than giving him something that smelled good. They were giving him a gift of good health. Because in those days, these two aromatics were widely used as medicine. (And they are still used by herbalists.)

Frankincense, a natural antiseptic, sedative, and immune stimulant, was used as a treatment for respiratory problems, depression, infection, and tumors. Myrrh, a natural anti-inflammatory and astringent, was used as a tonic and as a cure for cancer, leprosy, and syphilis. Mixed with coriander and honey, it was also used to treat herpes.

Continue Reading

“Journey of the Magi” by T.S. Eliot

“A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.”

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.


Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.


Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.


All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

Continue Reading