How to Keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the year

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And so I say to you: God bless us everyone and every loving memory of yore. They make us what we are and remind us, lovingly, of where we have been and the people who have helped us along the way in so very many ways. Merry Christmas!

Text of How to Keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the year

How to Keep Christmas well in your heart throughoutthe year

Preface / Introduction

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And so I say to you: God bless us everyone and every loving memory of yore. They make us whatwe are and remind us, lovingly, of where we have been and the people who have helped us along theway in so very many ways.

Merry Christmas!

Table of Contents

1. How to keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the year 2. The moans, groans, complaints and pontifications have begun as the Christmas marketing seasonof 2011 commences. Which side are you on? 3. On the getting and giving of Christmas presents.

How to keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the yearby Dr. Jeffrey Lant

"and it was always said of Ebenezer Scrooge, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any manalive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Timobserved, God bless Us, Every One!"

The words, of course, are from Charles Dickens' masterful "A Christmas Carol" published in 1843, apresent the world gratefully rediscovers each and every year. They remind us that Christmas, to beChristmas, must be about magic and memories, remembering both those who are with us and(especially) those who are not.. Christmas this year, as every year, began for me by unpacking mylittle electrified tree. It is battered now and bears its many bruises proudly if carefully.

All at once, I give way to memories insistent, vivid, one tumbling over another. The box opens andrecollections of one year of my life after another pour out. First, I remember the day mygrandmother gave me this marvelous present and how she solemnly told me to take good care of it,as she had done.

I agreed to do so, little knowing the significance or the power of what I promised. Now I know, forthis year I am older than she was when she gave it to me... and I now ponder who, in due course, Imust present this tree to and who will keep the faith of generations with me. You see, I have arrivedat the stage of life when Christmas is far more about who I shall give to... rather than who will giveto me.

It cheers

My little tree (circa 1935), just 16 inches tall, literally bubbles with colorful cheer. It is called abubbler because its bulbs not only light up and glow... but one after another they bubble, except(some days) the one at the very top which, eccentrically,often fails to bubble at all. Moreover, whenone bulb goes out.... they all go out which means a patient review of all. However, I wouldn't have itany other way. Age means appreciating even flaws, for they, too, are a part of the whole.

Because I am an historian and like many such have a tendency to collect and keep for a lifetime, Ihave been designated by my extended family as the "keeper", the one it is safe to leave with themementoes we all agree are important, but which no one but me wants to take care of. Once thebubbler tree is set up, other boxes must be opened... and they can only be opened when there issufficient time to pause, remember, reflect, and again and again be seized by their heart-tuggingmemories. One cannot rush this process for the memories will not be denied. They are foreverbittersweet... featuring as they do those loved and gone before. Yes, one must have sufficient timefor them for the memories that cascade at this time of the year are always vivid, poignant, rich... withnew meanings that come as I age.

I smile, for instance, at a styrofoam bell given to me (as to all class members) by Mrs. Eigenbraugh,my third grade teacher. This ornament, a liberty bell, features my teacher in a stately formal pose.She looks at me as the dedicated prairie teacher she was. The autograph reads simply "Mrs.Eigenbraugh, 1955."

I am older now than Mrs. Eigenbraugh was then... and I clearly see her at her desk dutifully,carefully signing each gift in her copperplate hand. She no doubt paid for these herself... and gavethem as a small memento of her and the season... little thinking that I, a half century later, should beso moved at her gift... or her conscientious generosity. Do teachers give as much today?

Just one left Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 4 of 12

How to Keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the year

I was born in 1947 to young parents who had, in those post war years, few dollars and sky-highaspirations, with days and energy to spare. Like everyone else in the neighborhood they had a youngchild, part of that baby boomer wave. For him, they bought a box of colored glass ornaments which Ibroke one by one by getting in my petal powered red car, pushing it backwards across the livingroom... then running car into Christmas tree... full speed ahead. No one seemed to mind. We wereyoung, and we all had time and youth to spend without care.

Now I hold that glass ball in my hand, of faded purple hue. It, along with my father and I, are thesurvivors of this tale. And now this glass ornament, once so little valued that we all laughed everytime I, with my running feet and determined glint, scored a direct hit... now this glass, I say, isprecious and deeply valued as a memento of youth, both my parents and my own, and of thebeautiful dark-haired woman whose carefree laughter and love are as clear in this ornament as if itwere a crystal ball. She told me to take good care of this for there could never be another... I haveand I will. And in time I shall ask of another what she asked of me: to remember.... and to take goodcare. For I am entitled to that as well., having well and truly kept the promise.

Remember and reconnect

Each year about this time, I set out to reconnect with someone from my past with whom I have losttouch, the way one does. Sometimes I succeed in this task; sometimes I don't. When I do... I make apoint of writing them a memorable letter... about how important they are to me... and how well andwhat I remember. Such letters in a lifetime are rare to write and rarer still to receive. I am pleased tosay they always stimulate a similar letter in response. That letter is always amongst my bestChristmas presents. As such I place it carefully among my other treasured gifts and mementos andsavor them as, each year, I take them out and let memory hold sway. Thus, with the help of mydearly beloved, I keep Christmas in my heart all year long, like the better, reformed, wiser EbenezerScrooge.

And so I say to you: God bless us everyone and every loving memory of yore. They make us whatwe are and remind us, lovingly, of where we have been and the people who have helped us along theway in so very many ways.

Merry Christmas! Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 5 of 12

How to Keep Christmas well in your heart throughout the year

The moans, groans, complaints and pontifications havebegun as the Christmas marketing season of 2011commences. Which side are you on? By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author's program note. Every year, it seems, the opening date for Christmas marketing creepsforward, adding days, not just hours, to the already lengthy selling season. This year my cadre ofChristmas watchers reported seasonal catalog and store sightings as early as Labor Day, September8 . But you can count on this: as people worldwide read this article, they will surely report evenearlier sightings. This happens every year... and as it does one of the interminable debates of ourtimes reignites: when is this much too much Christmas?

Ask this query in a crowded room and, hey presto, there will be pandemonium, mayhem, andstrident calls for the public lynching of the people who so tamper with and wantonly extend the mostimportant and revered holiday of the year. Christmas creep is here... and you have an opinion on thismatter; I'm sure of that. Everybody does.

Christmas is the promised land -- for merchants everywhere. That's the problem.

Christmas purists, and their number is legion, never tire of beating up the merchants who are, theyaver, at the bottom of Christmas creep. From this moment of the year forward, a large percentage ofAmericans will get up on any soap box to hand and excoriate, insult, belittle and besmirch peoplewho earlier in the year they knew and attested to be good, hard-working, service-providing,tax-paying citizens. But where Christmas creep is the issue, truth and justice are early casualties.

People will creep... it's as American as apple pie.

Know any folks from California? Or Oklahoma? I do. They are some of the nicest people you'll evermeet. They are also the descendants of creepers.

Take California for instance. There a grand gentleman named John Augustus Sutter was peacefullyminding his own business when James W. Marshall on January 24, 1848 discovered gold on Sutter'sland, at Sutter's Mill, near Sacramento. The nation didn't say, "Good for you, Mr. Sutter." No way.Instead they took to creeping on to old man Sutter's land, a little bit here, a little bit there... until thecreepers had everything and Mr. Sutter had nothing but lawsuits and a footnote in history. A little bitof gold in them thar hills and a whole lot of creeping got us the State of California, and that's a fact.

Or consider the folks in Oklahoma. They're not called Sooners for nothing. In 1889, the federalgovernment organized the great land rush, whereby folks who wanted land could get it free byracing f