Monday, December 25, 2023

'Tis Christmas


Last night ‘Twas the night before Christmas and there was much scurrying, for we were celebrating with one daughter and grandson, and tonight we will celebrate with another daughter, grandson, and son-in-law.

This morning I took a break from the house, grabbed a coffee, and am now in my Wayback office for a friendly visit with my computer and hopefully you. (Maybe with you after Christmas.)

Yesterday, I had the poem’ Twas the Night Before Christmas, same as A Visit from St Nicolas, cycling through my brain. My ten-year-old nephew from the night before sparked my thinking of it, for he didn’t know the poem.

That poem is a moment of history from the man who named the reindeer and described St Nicolas is a right jolly old elf who was “dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.”

Ad writers from the Coco Cola Company came along and cleaned up St Nicolas. They changed his name to Santa Claus, made him into a regular-sized person, and dressed him in fur clothing, red and white. They kept Moore’s jolly person with a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. 

I like the story I heard as a child: Moore was a village doctor. Wanting a special gift for his children, for he was, after all, called away on Christmas Eve, he trusted his horse to take him home, and as he jostled along in his buggy, he wrote a poem for them titled, A Visit from St Nicolas.

Well, he wrote the poem for his children, true, but according to my checking, he wasn’t a physician but a professor with a buggy driver after whom he patterned the elf. The two reindeer named “Donner and Blitzen” meant “Thunder and Lightning.”

Moore wrote the poem in 1837. One of his children had it published anonymously, for initially, Moore wouldn’t take credit for it because it wasn’t “scholarly.”

Finally, in 1844, when it was published with a group of other poems, he, at the insistence of his children, publicly admitted writing it.

I still remember the racket on the lawn, and the writer who had just settled down for a long winter’s night when out of the lawn he heard such a clatter, he sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.

From his window, he saw the snow’s luster like midday, a miniature sled, and eight tiny reindeer.

He described St Nicolas his cheeks like roses, his nose like a cherry—a right jolly old elf, and he watched as St Nicolas filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk, and laying a finger beside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

 ‘Er, he drove out of sight he called, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.”

It’s fascinating how stories evolve, and images change. Yet, they sprang from a moment when someone displayed their genius and lived on long after they, the writer, was gone.

“Moore received a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College as valedictorian of the class of 1798 and earned his Master’s Degree there in 1801.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Wham! Life Hits Us.


“La de da da,” we come into this lifetime joyful, smiling, squirming bundles of possibilities. Oh, what fun. We will run and play and bask in the love of adoring parents. This is a vacation, playtime on earth—this beautiful planet with its colors and trees to climb and animals to play with, and…


Wham! Something hits us. What was that? I can’t go into the water because I can’t swim?


“Oh, okay, I’ll learn to swim.”


“La de da da. I’m a dolphin. Mom look at me. See how I glide through the water.”


“Mom, why are you crying?”


“What’s happening?”


“Daddy’s leaving? That can’t be. He’s supposed to stay here, live with us. You’re getting a what? A divorce? That can’t be, parents are supposed to live with each other. They are supposed to be here for me, for us, together.”


There are many others in the naked City, country, or hovel.


The point is we have created beliefs about how life is, but we go on building a life for ourselves. We go to school—well, that’s another story—the point is, though, that with those hits, we develop a view of how life is, and thus we develop a view of ourselves.


We see how people leave us, how we feel unloved, or how hard it was to maneuver the school playground, the lunchroom, the taunts or teasing. We might excel at interpersonal relationships, but there is usually something. We might think we are better than most—that’s an injury, too.


We have taken hits, and since they are emotionally charged, they impact us more than the gentle, happy ones. We were raised by parents who sustained hits of their own and, chances are, had no clue about raising kids. They had their own problems. However, together we muddled through. Maybe we had a best friend that filled in some of the holes in our psyche. Perhaps we had many friends, which further influenced our view of life.


The bottom line is that through all this, we developed beliefs.


I thought I had nothing to discuss today until I remembered yesterday’s email. A friend sent me a quote from Vincent Genna. It was, “Thoughts do not create, beliefs do.”


“Yes!” I yelled. “That’s the missing piece of the Law of Attraction puzzle.” We create through our beliefs, not from our thoughts. And most of those beliefs are held and exercised unconsciously.


Wow, this business of life is tricky.


But we’re adults now, and we can look back and throw those beliefs onto the wall to see if they stick. Are they true? Are they important to keep? Can we replace that belief with a more healthy, pertinent one? Perhaps they are absolutely not true. You did nothing to affect your parent’s personal problems. They were theirs, not yours. Maybe you can forgive them now.


I mentioned in a blog earlier that I was writing a memoir. Whenever I say it seems ostentatious to write one, think of it this way: I believe everybody should write one. Thus, my title Come On, I Dare You. Like, hey, don’t leave me alone in this. Every writer knows that a piece of writing affects the one writing it more than the one reading it.


From going over my life, I wonder now what my mother thought and felt when she discovered, at 16, that she was pregnant with me. I know she took her best friend with her when she went to tell my father. (I found out that later from her best friend.) She and my father got married and about four years later divorced, but that’s really all I know. She obviously felt she “Had to get married. It was shameful in those days to be an unwed mother. (Although it regularly occurred.) And she tried to hide it from me her entire life.


Once in the night, I heard her tell my stepdad, “I hope Joyce never finds out.” However, I knew. Kids know many things their parents try to keep from them. They also know that they shouldn’t know, so they stay quiet. I didn’t know, though, how much she suffered over finding that she was pregnant. And I don‘t know how much I shared her emotions since at the time, we were both sharing the same body.


That “trauma” could have contributed to some of my beliefs.