paris-snow
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Paris with the snow falling. Paris with the big charcoal braziers outside the cafes, glowing red. At the cafe tables, men huddled, their coat collars turned up, while they finger glasses of grog Americain and the newsboys shout the evening papers.
     The buses rumble like green juggernauts through the snow that sifts down in the dusk. White house wall rise through the dusky snow. Snow is never more beautiful than in the city. It is wonderful in Paris to stand on a bridge across the Seine looking up through the softly curtaining snow past the grey bulk of the Louvre, up the river spanned by many bridges and bordered by the grey houses of old Paris to where Notre Dame squats in the dusk.
     It is very beautiful in Paris and very lonely at Christmas time.”
Ernest Hemingway

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Christmas. The Beauty and the Beast.

Merry Christmas. I mean that.

I’m a Godless atheist. But…

I look forward to Christmastime… perhaps more for the coming of Winter Solstice than the coming of a Jesus child.

Maybe that’s not true.

I loved Christmas as a kid when I awoke and dashed out to the living room and found Santa presents like electric car-racer sets and Slinky’s and ukuleles, and Mom sat, wearily exhausted on the couch from all the Christmas preparations but smiling through half-closed eyes, enjoying the excited sounds of her family gathered ’round a Scotch Pine tree in the living room.

I watch old 8 mm. home movies now and twinkle inside at the filmy dream of my family that shared warm cheer 50 years ago.

I love Christmas for the food. The ribbon salad and warm sage-scented stuffing. Chocolate and shortbread everywhere, gooey sweet rum caramel-sauce-laden Christmas pudding.

I love Christmas for the all-is-calm solemnity of a belief system that involves majestic pageantry and the echoing sounds of beautiful harmonious carol singing inside a high-arched church or cathedral.

I love Christmas for the little lights strung everywhere and the soothing warmth of a crackling fire.

I love Christmas because once, soldiers set down their killing weapons and stopped fighting; cold, worn-out men from both sides ventured into No Man’s land on Christmas Day to mingle, play football, and exchange food and souvenirs.

I love Christmas for the sappy movies and shows- Bing and Rosemary in White Christmas, Jimmy and Donna in It’s A Wonderful Life, Charlie and Lucy in Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who.

bing-and-rosemary

I love Christmas for the positive feelings shared by the people I encounter in my life passages. “Merry Christmas“, we call out to anyone and everyone. It’s about the togetherness of people; Christmas makes people ruminate about love and doing nice things for others. A mild Chinook Yule-breeze changes peoples’ attitudes at Christmas.

Like a laboratory centrifuge (forgive me, old lab tech talk!), Christmas concentrates the emotions, the glad and the sad.

Joyous tears. Melancholy tears.

Christmas brings me a soul-seeping inner sadness and pain because I know others, who either by choice or by chance, have no connection to the spirit of togetherness on Christmas. Family either doesn’t exist or is estranged. I want everyone to feel good on Christmas Day and I can’t make it happen. I’m impotent in a way that no Viagra can resurrect.

My soup kitchen experiences have brought me into contact with dozens who have no place and no one to bring them warmth. Many – the dejected and lonely, even many of the volunteers – gather for lunch at the soup kitchen on Christmas day so they feel a connectedness to something and someone. Family.

I struggle with the bittersweetness of it all.

We invest so much of our lives in one day… one day that reminds us of the best and the worst in our lives.

skating

But, bear with my warped mind here… maybe a way – one strange way- to celebrate Christmas is to get naked like old-style pagans and pay tribute to the wonder of our own birth… how we began our lives as a billion to one long-shot chance on a blind date between an egg and a sperm (despite definitely knowing that OUR Mom and Dad never did that dirty horizontal dance!).

A 9-month prenatal courtship followed by that violent jettison from a wet and warm den down a slippery hallway. Surrounded by tired, sore and smiling parents. Our first words were cries, our first meal the rich milk of our mother. Swaddling clothes but no manger. Definitely no sheep or oxen.

A small elf [us] was unleashed on the world.

A new birth… the poetry and wonder of a life unwritten. It’s a Bach cantata, a Beethoven Moonlight Sonata written one harmonious note, one bar at a time.

Our own personal Christmas story… a rebirth, a new page turned in the next chapter, the next few bars in our grand symphony.

Christmas and Solstice are a Dickensian-like recall of spirits from our past, misty connections and ephemeral moments that slipped past but live on and breathe in our interior world.

May your days be merry and bright….

………………………………..

Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.”

santa resting.jpg

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