Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Favorite Christmas Story…

Good old Garrison Keillor brought to mind my favorite Christmas story. Here it is:

“It was on this day in 1914 that the last known Christmas truce occurred, during World War I. German troops fighting in Belgium began decorating their trenches and singing Christmas carols. Their enemy, the British, soon joined in the caroling. The war was put on hold, and these soldiers greeted each other in “No Man’s Land,” exchanging gifts of whiskey and cigars. In many areas, the truce held until Christmas nigh


2 Great Weeks…

We studied our Google Calendar page this morning and realized that for the first two weeks in several months we have nothing coming up except our day to day activities that tend to repeat themselves as life goes on.

It is a wonderful feeling!

I can do some of the things that I’ve been eager to get done.

I have three novels on my Kindle that are hanging there, ready to challenge my mind and spirit. WAR AND PEACE, ANNA KARENINA AND LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL. Obviously, I’ll be fortunate to finish these three by June, but I’ve been too cluttlered to even begin.

We’re doing Chi Gung now and I’ve started researching the background, techniques and spirit of this fascinating discipline of
Chinese Healing Energy and “natural magick”, as L. V. Carnie puts it.

Today I will be throwing four tumblers for Jo Ann and after that hope to put together some personal vision pots to be wood fired at Northern Arizona University – if I can reconnect there. I am seldom as happy as when I’m forming clay on my wheel.

We’ve been trying to figure out how we might get onto some Android or IPhone “friends and family plan” to put together in two smartphone pieces all the high tech hardware we use in one little portable machine – to stimulate and stretch ourselves without going bankrupt! Thus far, it’s just something to think about. But the thinking and researching are fun to do together.

Our Christmas celebrations are wondrously simple, personal and traditional. We are together and fill our Christmas time with Church (I read the Scriptures on Christmas day), enjoying the Christmas concerts on Public Television, chatting on the phone with our kids and just being there for each other and our two happy pooches, Oliver and Amy. ‘Tis a lovely season!

Life for seniors can get pretty cluttered. Boomers have no exclusive rights to that. But the freedom to reclutter with things you really WANT to do? That is contentment.

40 years ago…

Here’s what Jo Ann and I looked like 40 years ago in Green Bay. Love is eternal as they say.

I took the photo.

Bono and Christmas…

Bono has an astonishingly deep view of Christmas. You really should check this out.

Belief in Santa?

I came upon this blog this morning from the Christian Century and thought it well worth sharing.

My daughter the Santa believer
Dec 14, 2010 by Julie Clawson
We tried to be those parents. We tried to tell our daughter that Santa Claus isn’t real.

We knew that this could get her in trouble at some point, that chaos would ensue if she destroyed the innocent faith of her kindergarten classmates with a declaration of Santa-atheism. Yet we did it anyway, perhaps to always tell her the truth about the world, perhaps to preserve the religious focus of the holiday. Whatever our reasons, the project didn’t work.

Early on she went along with our attempts. She even laughed at the silliness of Grandpa suggesting we put out milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. But as she matured to the more social age of four, everything changed. Her assertions to her Sunday school class and preschool that Santa isn’t real were met with uniform disagreement; she was outnumbered. Every single other child she knew believed in Santa, so the logical conclusion must be that her parents were wrong. She informed us without hesitation.

But around the same time, my daughter decided that the Christmas story–as in the whole Mary, Joseph, angels and baby Jesus tale–is just too far-fetched to be real. So I was stuck with a preschooler who believed in Santa but not in the Bible.

Strangely enough, I was okay with that. I didn’t care that the preschool constituency was against me; my daughter’s conversion woke me up to what it means to convey truth to her. I realized that our understandings of truth are communally created–the truths I want my daughter to understand have to make sense within the communal narrative of her world. The truth of the Christmas story is about more than historical veracity. And the Santa story provides space for meaning as well.

There will be time to explore the complexities of the historical Christmas story, but for now I am content to work within my daughter’s understanding of the world to kindle faith and encourage a love of meaningful truths.
Tags: belief christmas meaning santa santa claus
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Santa belief new
Posted by Anonymous on Dec 14, 2010 – 05:57 pm.
I’m so glad to read that your experience with your daughter has caused you to reconsider the communal “truth” of Santa. My husband and I have found that the “Santa” story provides a child-size picture of the Gospel of Grace, whereas the Biblical Christmas story is difficult to grasp even for grown-ups. In Santa, children have unmerited favor (I know, I know, there’s the whole “naughty or nice” thing, but how many parents actually withhold gifts for behavior problems?), realized in gifts freely given and accompanied by hope, anticipation and joy. Sounds like good news to me…..

We’ve always tied Santa Claus closely to the historical St. Nicholas and Who he served, and only allowed our children to ask “Santa” for three gifts (the Magi), reminding them of Jesus’s first birthday gifts. As they have developed spiritually, it has been a natural transition for them from Santa to Emmanuel. After all, if you can’t believe in the unbelievable grace of Santa Claus as a child, the ground may prove unfertile for the unfathomable Grace of God as a grown-up.

Props and Maturity…

Emily Dickinson had some wonderful insights. I’ve been studying Helen Vendler’s penetrating new book DICKINSON: SELECTED POEMS AND COMMENTARIES. It’s one of those books that are as refreshing as the first nice snow of winter or the smell of the freshness that comes with it.

Here’s one of her poems.

The Props Assist the House

by Emily Dickinson

The Props assist the House
Until the House is built
And then the Props withdraw
And adequate, erect,
The House support itself
And cease to recollect
The Augur and the Carpenter –
Just such a retrospect
Hath the perfected Life –
A Past of Plank and Nail
And slowness – then the scaffolds drop
Affirming it a Soul –

“The Props assist the House” by Emily Dickinson. Public domain.