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A Christmas Ditty

I’ll be sick for Christmas
You can count on that
With a runny nose and icy toes,
And lungs that feel quite flat.

Christmas Day will find me
Shivering, without a voice
Yes I’ll be sick for Christmas,
Please keep down the noise!

I’ll be sick for Christmas,
You can count on that,
Please bring me bourbon and tea
So I can nap with the cat.

Christmas Day will find me
Stoned on Nyquil and nog
Yes, I’ll be sick for Christmas
Walking around in a fog.

100 Years On – Stille Nacht

How much courage does it take to poke your head out of your trench in broad daylight, especially if a few days before, doing so meant getting shot or drawing artillery fire?  Now, imagine climbing out of that trench entirely and walking out into the no-man’s land between armies that had killed each other by the millions.  Imagine watching someone from the other trench get up and take those first few halting steps toward you, and you don’t shoot them, but rather, you join them. What could get you to do that?

At Christmas 1914, that event, that show of trust and courage, happened thousands of times on both the Eastern and Western Fronts.  Soldiers from all of the gathered armies got up out of their trenches, met in the middle, and exchanged Christmas greetings, sang songs, exchanged small gifts, and reportedly even played soccer together.  A few weeks or even days before, they had taken every opportunity to destroy each other, and in a few days they would return to it.  But for that one, small moment, they weren’t Germans, or French, or Russians, or Austrians, or British.  They were human beings, and they used the occasion of a holy day to remind both themselves and each other of that fact.

The Prince of Peace came for all of us, and even in the finely sifted hell that made up the trenches and battlefields of the First World War, good men remembered that.  If they could find a place in their hearts for their fellow men, then what excuse do we have when we do not?

Merry Christmas to all of you, and to our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who fought, suffered, and died in those trenches, yet still had it in them to remember what today is supposed to mean, thank you.

Today’s Earworm

Today’s Earworm

Thought For The Day

Yeah, its an advertisement, but you get the idea.

Today’s Earworm

Holiday Shopping Idea

It’s that time of year again, and a lot of us will be spending a lot of money doing on-line shopping.  Heck, to avoid the crowds, the noise, and the lines, having to wait a couple of days to get your turnip twaddler is not that big a deal.  I do a lot of my shopping at Amazon.  It’s the Sears Roebuck of the new millennium.  Where else can I order a book, accessories for my AR-15, and an ugly sweater, and have it shipped to my door?

If you’re going to shop at Amazon, there’s a way you can do more than buy a gift wrapped marmoset deboner at 3 AM in your pajamas.  Amazon has come up with a program called “Smile“.  Basically, if you got to smile.amazon.com, then set up a charity to receive your donation, a portion of your purchase will go to that charity.  Your prices don’t go up, so the cost to you is the few minutes it takes to select a charity and then all you have to do is remember to go to smile.amazon.com when you start shopping.

So, pick a charity, do your shopping, and do some good.

Note:  My only affiliation with Amazon is to publish my books through them.  I was not asked to write this article, nor was I compensated in any way for doing it.

Saint Joseph and the Donkey

As we sat down to our Christmas Eve feast tonight, it occurred to me that things are pretty good.  We’re all home, everyone is healthy, and it’s a pretty normal evening for us.  It could be a lot more difficult for us.

Imagine that you’re a simple tradesman, who’s been told to walk 80 miles to the city of your ancestors.  With you, you take your young, very pregnant wife.  Luckily, you have your trusty donkey, so she doesn’t have to walk the whole way.  Once you get there, there’s no place to stay, so you end up in someone’s stable.  Of course, after four or five days on the road, she goes into labor.

So now, you’re in a barn, with a young woman going through her first labor, and you’re alone.  Somehow, you get both her and the baby through the labor alive.  Then strangers start showing up, proclaiming the royalty and divinity of your son.  Then word gets to you that the king wants your son dead, and is willing to kill all the newborn male babies in Bethlehem to make that happen, so you gather up your family, load them on the donkey, and head for Egypt, leaving your carpentry business back in Nazareth behind for years.

And all you wanted was to go to Bethlehem, pay your taxes, fill out your census form, and go home.

So, as we celebrate the birth of Christ tonight, please remember Saint Joseph, the world’s most important step-dad.  Not all the heroes in the Bible killed thousands with the jawbone of an ass. 

A Christmas Visit

DaddyBear the Minivandian awoke with a start.  During his winter slumber, he had dreamed of peaceful mountain passes and glorious battles.  But that had been interrupted by the sound of a dog collar clinking and a low growl from the throat of his war hound, Walks in Shadow.  Retrieving Gnarlthing, his magical blade of disembowelment, he bolted to the hall of gathering.  As he passed through the portal to the chamber, he raised his sword to counter any blows and to strike at the intruder.

“Hold, Minivandian!  Put up your weapon, for you have no need of it.  ‘Tis I, Nicholas of the North!” said the ancient warrior who sat upon the floor, all three war hounds laying next to him.  His crimson coat was rimmed with the fur of a white wolf, and his peaked helm was wreathed with holly.  His beard, which had once been almost as red as his coat, was now a shock of white that ringed his almost perpetual smile.  DaddyBear remembered watching this man smile and laugh as he waded into many a fight.  At his side lay his bag of holding, along with the remains of the sweets that Irish Woman had laid out before retiring for the night.  My lord DaddyBear returned Gnarlthing to his scabbard, remembering that his blade would have no effect on the jolly old elf, and that with his preternatural knowledge of who was good or bad, Nicholas would know his intentions before even he did.

“Greetings, Nicholas.  It’s been too long.” rumbled the Minivandian.

“Aye, it has.  Greetings to you and yours on the day we celebrate the birth of the God, DaddyBear.  When last we met, you were not yet the Minivandian.  You have changed much, my friend.”

“Yes, life has gone on in the years since my youth.”

“So I can see,” said Nicholas, his eyes twinkling as he eyed the liquor cabinet.

DaddyBear sprang to his feet, and threw back the door to the cabinet. From the top shelf, he brought down his most prized bottle of corn liquor, aged in oak casks by the monks of Loretto.  Grabbing two crystal drinking vessels, he poured a generous libation into both.  Handing one to the saintly warrior, he raised his own in a toast.

“To good days gone by, and to better days to come”.

After returning the toast, Nicholas took a deep draught of the amber liquor.  Sighing appreciatively, he looked down at Water of Fire, who was sleeping contentedly with his head on Nicholas’s knee.

“Nice pony,” he remarked, “although I am surprised that the Lady of Eire will allow such livestock in the house.”  A wry smile came across his face.

“Ahh, but he is still young.  The mage of animal healing thinks that he will more than double in size before he is through.”

“Well, then, I am glad that we became friends while he is still small.  Even so, it took almost an entire plate of sweets and a glass of milk to calm him.

“I believe that I have something here for you all.” said Nicholas, reaching into his bag of holding.

“For the Young Prince, I have a “My First Magical Combat” kit.  Please pass on my condolences to him that I could not provide the powdered claws of a red dragon.  Such things are not for the young, no matter how talented.  For Listens to Stories, I have a new bow carved from the wood of the Tree of the Letti.  It weights almost nothing, but in skilled hands, can put an arrow through the eye of a needle at 100 yards.  I have also included a quiver of silver tipped arrows.  I understand that she has begun accompanying you on your forays against the undead.  These will come in handy.”

DaddyBear smiled at that.  Such a gift fit his daughter perfectly.  But he knew he would have to watch her very  closely as she trained with it, almost as closely as he would be watching his son.  He didn’t know what qualified as “Magical Combat” for young princelings, but he could imagine that it would be something that would have to be done out-of-doors and away from his mother.

“For the Lady of Eire, I bring a ring, wrought of the finest dragons gold, with the fire of a dragon captured in the stone we have set in it.  That is powerful, but there is still room for magic she can place in it if she so wishes.  As for you, my good warrior… I am sorry.  I received your missive, but even I cannot find a bolt carrier group and match grade trigger now.  I wish you luck in finding them.  If you are successful, please send word to me as to where they are to be found.  I have three builds myself that sit idle, waiting for parts. No, instead, I have this for you.”

Nicholas drew forth from his bag of holding a small, rectangular wooden box.  Handing it to the Minivandian, he smiled as it was opened.

“This is Kolmet, a dagger wrought by the same smith that created your blade, Gnarlthing.  It is sharp enough to cut flame from candle, yet light and balanced enough to be spun on its point with not a wobble.  I believe it will serve you well.”

DaddyBear looked into the box, and beheld Kolmet, the brother of his sword.  As he gripped him, he could feel the two blades sing to one another, and knew that he would enjoy the first time he took both of them into combat.

Just then, a soft tapping was heard on the ceiling above them.  Looking up and sighing, Nicholas got to his feet.

“Well, my lord Minivandian, I must be going.  There are many more families that I must visit this night, though I doubt many will be as pleasant a visit as this.  A Merry Christmas and Yuletide to you, my lord.”

“And to you, Nicholas of the North.  May your paths be easy, your ride be pleasant, and your sleep be deep.”  answered the Minivandian.

With that, Nicholas turned toward the fireplace, where the roaring fire had bedded down to coals.  With a wink to the hounds, who had roused from their slumber just in time to thump their tails at him as he left, he disappeared.  DaddyBear could hear the pawing of hooves upon the roof now, followed by the swishing of a sleigh as it was pulled up and off of the house.

My lord DaddyBear then placed Kolmet onto the mantel above the fire, patted the war hounds upon their heads, and returned to his bed chamber.  The next morning, his children were delighted with the gifts that Nicholas had left, and many warnings about using them in the house, skewering a sibling on a cloth-yard shift, or turning a sibling into a toad were given.  The Lady of Eire did indeed place a spell of protection into the fiery stone of her ring, while DaddyBear took Kolmet out and practiced with him for several hours.

Thus did the clan of DaddyBear spend their Christmas.  An old friend, a happy warrior, visited them, many gifts were bestowed, and their feast of that day was legendary.  The Lady of Eire outdid herself in preparation and hospitality, and he, he himself, DaddyBear carved the roast beast, which the Young Prince had brought down with a magic missile just the week before.

Now, let me tell you tales of high adventure and deep snow….

Christmas Thought

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. — The Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 2, Versus 8 through 20

Christ was not born in a palace.  His birth was not announced in the temple.  He came not just for the wealthy, the powerful, or the royal, but for the lowest of the low as much as He came for the highest of the high.  Shepherds keeping a night watch in the wild country, not the priests in Jerusalem, were the first to be told of His birth, and they, not the Three Kings, were the first to come and revere Him.

It shouldn’t take a host of angels for us to see the beauty of the world and the promise that it holds for us.  The wonder of the Lord’s love is evident all around us, and we could see it if we were to only open our eyes.  In every kind word, every unseen act of charity, every person doing what needs doing without expectation of thanks shows it to us.  I don’t require a chorus to hear the symphony of creation.  All it takes is a few quiet moments for me to remember how beautiful this life can be.

I wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas.  No matter your faith, I wish you all the blessings of life.

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