We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Christmas at Bastogne- Seventy years ago, American heroes spent the day halting Hitler’s advance in Belgium. A now-elderly friend of ours was there, in the medical corp. At age 16. He lied to get in, and so did his mom. I've seen his letters home because his mom saved them all. Carried lots of stretchers of bleeding through snow during artillery barrages. What are our 16 year-olds doing? Went on to go to medical school later.
Christ, and the new Jewish-based religion which followed his death, changed the world, turned it upside-down and inside-out. That turned out to be the most radical event in human history.
All humans on earth - believers, cultural Christians, atheists, other-believers, etc - are the beneficiaries of the Christian tradition of individual dignity, justice, and of worship in all of its forms from the intellectual to the artistic to the civilizational.
I am heading up to western MA to be with family and for our Christmas Mass, thence to Stowe with friends to ski, drink beer, chase girls, and get away from the intertunnels and all of the insane news about the protesting retards.
A special Christmas thanks to all American law enforcement. Cheers to you guys and gals. I'd be scared witless to do your jobs.
Clement Moore (1779-1863) inherited his grandfather's estate, named Chelsea, which now constitutes NYC's wonderful neighborhood of Chelsea where the gays walk their mini dogs, the moms push their strollers, the hipsters do their hipster thing, the Pearl Theater produces lots of cool dance concerts and other good things, the old Chelsea Hotel which sheltered so many artistic and musical luminaries like Bob Dylan - and where Dylan Thomas died - is still there, and everybody in that neighborhood has a fine youthful, ambitious, capitalist time. Ha - including one of my artistic and literary daughters - and one fierce capitalist daughter who did live there in the past.
Wonderful city. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Moore led a movement to block the running of 9th Ave. through the middle of his rural estate, but NYC progress could not be stopped. He hated Jefferson for his apostasy. His summer house was in Newport, RI. He was buried in the Trinity Church graveyard.
His dad was a bishop and president of King's College, now Columbia University.
Writing The Night Before Christmas was the least of his academic and cultural accomplishments and generosities, but it did end up inventing an American version of Santa Claus which has endured until now. He's the guy who made Santa fat and jolly.
An email from a daughter:
I've walked by that park a million times. The blocks on either side of 9th avenue on 22nd are some of the prettiest in the whole city in my opinion - I think 22nd between 8th and 9th is actually the most beautiful block in Manhattan. 24th between 9th and 10th is really nice, too (until you hit Gristedes and see diapers in the window). I miss living there! :(
You know the words of his delightful doggerel, so I do not need to print them out. Like people such as Conan Doyle or Lewis Carroll, inventive people never know what they will be remembered for.
Moore's house in Chelsea -
Moore founded St. Peter's Church in 1838 on his estate. It is still there, on W. 20th St. I've been there for performances of the Chelsea Opera. Lovely old Anglican church, now sort-of Episcopalian.
In the back woods of the Northeast, most local people drive crappy little old RWD rusty GM sedans and zoom around nicely with snow tires while the skiers from the cities slip and slide their Subarus and 4-WD Suburbans, Range Rovers, and Escalades all over the roads and into the ditches.
... it bears repeating that a large reason trans fats used to be so prevalent in our diets was due to the activism of the food nannies at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The left-wing food scolds, most famous for its reports on “calorie bomb” food entrees, pushed restaurants and food companies to switch to trans fats in the 1980s and 1990s.
We changed our Christmas Day menu. Our neighborhood butcher is making us a crown roast of pork with 18 chops - and each chop 2 inches thick. I'll stuff the roasts with sausage-apple stuffing, and we'll make some applesauce. Few winter foods are more succulent and delicious.
America has more laws, rules, and regulations than anybody could learn in a lifetime - or could obey without a large team of lawyers on hand at all times. I'm in favor of a ten-year moratorium on new laws, giving time to roll back old laws.
I tip my garbage men, the mailman who is kind enuf to deliver stuff to my front porch, and a much bigger tip than normal to the early morning Dunkin gals. I'm not sure who else I have to Christmas tip these days.
Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the U.S. Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.
Santa (who is clearly an obese white male in this accurate photo) is well-known to prefer Coke to Pepsi, but in our family he preferred brandy, Scotch, or Irish Coffee. Why Pepsi in this photo of him?Somebody must have paid him off.
Christmas became a federal holiday in the US in 1870. When people talk about the secularization and the material and food and booze indulgence of Christmas, I laugh because it was ever thus even though, in my family tradition, it's a pleasant if hectic blend of religious - with goodies and parties with friends, friendly acquaintances, and family.
We've been thinking about all of the charming pagan Saturnalian, and especially the pre-Christian Germanic, aspects of modern American Christmastime. A fine history of the modern Christmas here. Lots of interesting details.
Celebration of birthdays — even including that of Christ — was rejected as a pagan tradition by most Christians during the first three hundred years of Christianity, but the matter became increasingly controversial. Partly in reaction to the claims by Gnostics that Jesus had not been mortal, Christians began to emphasize the Nativity. The Incarnate God as a lovable infant born to a holy mother evoked powerful instinctive emotions. The third century Christian writer Tertullian supported observance of Christ's birthday, but condemned the inclusion of Saturnalia customs such as exchanging of gifts and decorating homes with evergreens. Chapter 10 of the Book of Jeremiah begins by condemning the heathen practice of cutting a tree from the forest to "deck it with silver and gold".
The Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe was associated with a profound rejection of the Roman Church and a return to scripture as the ultimate source of spiritual authority. There was no scriptural support to be found for celebration of Christmas, no commandment that Christ's birthday be observed and no date of birth had been given that could be used for the celebration. Martin Luther called Rome a modern "Babylon" — parallels could be drawn with the mother-goddess worship of the ancient Babylon. The birthday of Mithras and the festivals of Saturnalia for the celebration of Christ would be symptoms of the paganism upon which the Romans had built the Catholic Church.
In 1583 the Presbyterian Church suppressed the observation of Christmas in Scotland because there are no biblical references to Christmas celebrations nor any biblical commandments to celebrate the birthday of Christ. The Church of Scotland continued to discourage the celebration of Christmas, which remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958. Hogmanay(December 31) was the main day of Scottish celebration.
English Puritanism was probably the most extreme manifestation of the Protestant reaction against the Roman Church. Exodus 20:4 could be taken to indicate that God does not want to be worshiped the way pagans worship their gods — with idolatry such as Christmas trees and Nativity Scenes (much less revelry, drinking and gluttony). Oliver Cromwell campaigned against the heathen practices of feasting, decorating and singing, which he felt desecrated the spirit of Christ. Christmas was called such names as "the Papist's Massing Day" and "Old Heathen Feasting Day". Cromwell's government abolished English Christmas celebration by an act of Parliament in 1647, and the ban was not lifted until Cromwell lost power in 1660. But the tradition of caroling at Christmastime did not resume again in England until the 1800s.
Although Christmas was not widely celebrated in New England until 1852, it was popular in the American South beginning with the Anglican settlement of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The Virginian colonists were the first to establish eggnog as a holiday beverage. ("Nog" may come from the word grog, meaning any drink made with rum.) Dutch influence in the settlement of New York City (New Amsterdam) helped make New York a mostly pro-Christmas state, although there was still an anti-Christmas New England influence. In 1836 Alabama became the first State to recognize Christmas, which finally became a federal holiday in 1870.
My conclusion at the moment is that it's an ancient winter solstice Pagan holiday - with the baby Jesus added to the mix as Roman marketing. I have seriously-Jewish friends who do Christmas. Heck, even atheists love Christmas. My atheist Dad loved it: his entire life was about giving to others and more so than almost any Christian - or anyone of any religion - I know.
Every culture needs party seasons too, festivals. The real Christian holy day is Easter. I never heard of an Easter Party, and Easter parades are only in the movies.
No, I am not a Grinch. I love Christmas, especially Christmas Eve in church during which I shed tears every year. Advent is important to me, but far less so than Lent. I like all the parties, too, to catch up with my million best friends. Just one more, tonight, with carols. Yesterday was family pre-Christmas brunch to accommodate those who would be away, and last night's jolly party had carols too, with a neighboring pastor on the pianny and great and abundant food and drink - Champagne and wines, multiple turkeys and hams, all sorts of cakes and pies and cheeses, huge rounds of Stilton with Port. Good, memorable fun for the whole family, ages 1 to 90. Christmas balloons, lots of little kids underfoot, crazy reindeer hats and Santa hats, etc. And, finally, the carols to end it up.
In 2013, both of my parents died. That puts a damper on family things and leaves a large hole in family get-togethers, but Christmas goes on with times of its holy meaning and times of its secular delights: