Every year when it arrives we rush to put on our Christmas sweaters

Sit down in front of the fireplace and read their Holiday letter.


In this age of social media, when each day our senses are assailed…

It’s wonderful to slow our pace a little and read their letter received in the mail.


Their letter outlines the year they’ve had…there on the paper for us to see

The highs and lows, but mostly highs, of our good friends and their family.


In what ways were they blessed this year…what set their world aglow…

How their family has grown and what has changed from a mere 12 months ago.


The traveling they’ve done, the places they’ve seen, the what, how, why and who…

What their children have been doing…and, of course, their grandchildren too.


We love reading about their adventures…how their lives all intertwine…

But what we love most about their letter…is what we read between the lines.


The sentiment is lovely, and while reading, we are thoroughly engaged…

We wonder at how the words stay fixed upon the paper 

but the love flows off the page.


For part of the beauty of their letter is the beauty we cannot see…

How the love that went into the writing…floats out onto Deborah and me.


That’s why we can’t wait for their letter to arrive each year

because for a moment our lives are intertwined….

as we sit down in front of the fireplace…


and read between the lines.

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I was intrigued when I saw it on the internet…

as this holiday season neared

I thought, “Hey wouldn’t it be cool this year…

to put glitter in my beard.”


Bryan tried it in his beard this year…

and it worked just like a song

So I thought...a little glitter in my beard...

what could possibly go wrong?


We ordered something called beard oil…

and when it came in the mail we cheered…

It’s what we would use to guarantee

the glitter stayed upon my beard.


We chose to use silver glitter…

and every bottle in the house we commandeered 

safe in the knowledge that silver glitter 

would add a sparkle to my beard.


And it did…

for a while I had these wonderful sparkles throughout my mustache and my beard

But as the evening party wore on…

my sparkles disappeared.


Anyone I hugged or touched or walked by was besmeared

by little flakes of silver glitter 

that had escaped from off my beard.


People had it on their cheeks, their clothing…

in fact everywhere I peered

Sparkling in the sunlight…flecks of glitter from my beard.


Everywhere I sat or walked or breathed 

glitter sprinkled itself below

I even found it in places on my body…

it was never meant to go


Brushing, sweeping, showering…

my world turned eerie, strange and weird

As I tried desperately to remove the glitter 

that had fallen from my beard.


Alas, today no matter how hard I try 

it seems some of the glitter has adhered

to everything in the world I possess…

and yes there’s still some in by beard.


But I remain undeterred…

next year to make the glitter in my beard prolong…

I’ll attach it with hairspray or better yet Elmers glue…

I mean what could possibly go wrong?.

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There’s a little axiom called the Golden Rule 

that is impressive in it’s simplicity.

A basic human principle regarding reciprocity.


It’s often taught in families

handed down from our fathers and our mothers.

Every religion in the world embraces it…in one form or another.


Perhaps at this most religious time for many…

This Hanukah,…Christmas…Yule…

It would be a good time to reach into the shadows

and bring back the Golden Rule.


A rule that teaches us a simple truth

It has but one goal…one aim…

That you should treat me with kindness and respect…

and I should treat you the same.


So when…whatever God we believe in,

thinks about us when this holiday, or any day, is done…

he or she will have a reason…


to bless us every one.

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When families paint memories together…uniting from far and wide…

We realize something wonderful is happening…before the paint has dried…


We are born with paint and brush in hand and as we slowly find our way

we begin painting our own memories a little every day…


At first we’re painting on our own…then from our parents lap.

As we grow some paintings are ours and ours alone…sometimes they overlap

with people, other painters, we meet along the way 

and our colors become more vibrant…create a more beautiful array. 


We are happy to paint our portraits alone as we walk under the stars

and glad to add our paint to others and have them add their paint to ours…


Through the years we find with some people…that our colors blend so perfectly…

That what we paint together is so beautiful…

and we call them family.


Yesterday our family painted Christmas memories upon our canvas…

Some bright and distinctive…some more faint…

People laughing, running, playing, hugging…

brushes painting as fast as they could paint


And as we said goodbye to one another…

each treasuring our own memories

I thought how there is a wonder in Christmas that is shared by families.


We can’t wait for them to arrive at our door…

to look them in the eye,

we cherish the memories we’re painting…

and we don’t want to say goodbye.


And isn’t that how life should be…

painting fleeting moments together…side by side…

and looking forward to the next moment…

before the paint has dried.








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“Merry Christmas!” the lady behind the counter said to me as I happily met her gaze,

while the clerk at another store said, “Happy Holidays”.


The person next to me in line…instead of taking a moment to rejoice,

replied, “I say Merry Christmas,” with anger in her voice. 


When I hear how Happy Holidays makes people upset I must admit I am amazed.

after all Happy Holidays comes from an Old English greeting meaning happy holy days.


Happy Holy Days…whatever religion…whether your a Republican or Democrat

means dedicating the season to your God…who could object to that?


I have heard Happy Hanukkah, Peace and Love from people I’ve been meeting

Some say have a wonderful day…others…Season’s Greetings…


I always smile at their kindness…that they thought to greet me in this way,

and I might respond, “the same to you, Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday.”


You see I don’t care what this day or that day or the next day may be called…

when it come to a person’s kindness…I will never be appalled….

at how they choose to greet me…in the winter, spring or fall

I’m just happy and feel privileged…they are greeting me at all.


When people get upset at Happy Holiday this season 

it might help if we remind them…

not react to the words people use to greet us…


but to the kindness that’s behind them.

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We were walking at an Old Time Christmas celebration…

I was wearing my Santa hat…

It was cold so I had on two coats and a sweater…

I guess I must have looked fat…


I smiled at a little boy walking with his family and when he smiled back he paused…

With his mouth agape he pointed up at me…

“Look Mom and Dad,” he said…”It’s…it’s Santa Claus!”


What is the wonder of Christmas I wonder?  Is it the lights on the Christmas tree?

Is houses lit up with colors, is it time together with family?


Is it decorations, wrapping gifts, the smell of Christmas cookies in the air?

Is it fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, stockings hung by the chimney with care?


Is it snow, singing Christmas carols, a cup of Christmas cheer?

Is it the stories we’ve heard a thousand times? 

Are these what we hold dear?


The truth is…it is all these things and more 

passed down from parents to daughters and sons…

The truth is the wonder of Christmas is a little different for everyone.


We all remember our Christmases when we were young…

we remember the times and the places… 

We remember the wonder we felt back then…

and we want to recreate that on our children’s faces.


That’s why trees are decorated, gifts are exchanged, 

cookies are baked and carols are sung…

To make Christmas as special for our children…

as it was when we were were young…  


Because the wonder of Christmas is in the faces of children…

it’s in their innocence as they anticipate…

The wonders from our childhood…the traditions we help recreate…


It’s the memories we all carry with us…it’s the memories we have sown

into the hearts and the minds of our children…

To be passed down to families of their own…


“I know you’ve been a good boy this year.” I smiled.

The little boy nodded…his eyes were big and round and blue.

“And you’re going to have a Merry Christmas.” I pattied him on the head,

“It was very nice meeting you.”


I winked at his parents as we walked away and turned around once to see

that little boy walking in the other direction…still staring back at me.


I hope he will remember the wonder of this day…

I hope his memory will be sweet…

and perhaps one day he will tell his children… 


of the night he ran into Santa Claus on the street.

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I love our Christmas traditions…perhaps the fact it comes but once a year

is what makes our traditions special…is why we hold them all so dear.


From our first Christmas together…as a family we agreed

We would always, always, always….have a live, green Christmas tree.


Every year we pull out our decorations and as I put the lights upon the tree

we remember past Christmases together…and watch Love Actually.


As we are filled with anticipation and excitement for the coming of Christmas Day

we decorate the house inside and out…while Christmas carols play.


Deborah gets the Christmas cards ready…it’s something she loves to do.

Then I take them to the mailbox…OK…sometimes she does that too.


We make our list of Christmas gifts…some days we go shopping at the break of dawn…

Other days we purchase our gifts…on-line from Amazon. 


When our family finally comes together…

the night is filled with love and many surprises…

We open gifts, eat pizza, play some games…we even have door prizes…


Because in the end, though food and gifts are nice… I think our whole family agrees

what makes our Christmases special are our traditions…our memories…


But life has a way of slipping by…a family changes its face…

some of our traditions fall by the wayside…while new ones take their place…


Yes, this year we celebrated our old traditions…as we are want to do…

But for a change in 2017…we added something new…


This year T-Rex came into our lives…and before the year is gone

He’ll have cooked, and cleaned, and danced with us…why he’s even mowed our lawn! 


We are proud to welcome T-Rex into our happy family…

As proof, this year, we even asked him if he’d help to trim our tree…


I suggest you start a new Christmas tradition…

this year when not a creature us stirring…not even a mouse

why not do what we did…bring a T-Rex into your house…


Just remember…

when trimming the tree…don’t ask your T-Rex to put the angel on the top…

or you might hear him cry…

because…as tall as he is…his tiny arms…


won’t let him reach that high.

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From the city of No in the south of Japan…

came a flue bug…but it didn’t cause the flu in one man…

or one woman for that matter…No, the virus that year

only caused flu symptoms in Santa’s reindeer.


Two weeks before Christmas that bug went on a roll

and soared up the coast straight to the North Pole.

The reindeer’s eyes watered and their noses…they blew

for this was the year of the No Reindeer Flu.


“Santa!” Cried Mrs. Claus, “what are we to do?

All of our reindeer have come down with the flu.

Rudolph’s nose is all stuffy, it is not shining red,

he and the others are all sick in their beds.


They’re too ill to get up, and their fevers are high,

they’re cold and their achy…why, they’ll never fly.

They can’t help you on Christmas Eve…not his sickly old group.

They’ll be resting and drinking my hot chicken soup.


It’s a cinch you can’t pull the big sleigh by yourself.

So what will you do…my once jolly old elf?”

Santa thought for a moment, then said, “Send out the word

this year Santa’s looking for an entire new herd!”


“Tell all the world’s animals,” and Santa started to beam,

“tomorrow we pick a new sleigh pulling team.

Tell them we need help on this one Christmas Day.

Tell them the reindeer are sick…and to bring resumes.”


As the news spread all over the world on that day

many animals came…you could’t keep them away.

When they heard Santa’s in trouble, they all caught a ride

To the North Pole they came…from far…and from wide.


There were tigers from Burma and llamas from Peru

There were yaks from Nepal and goats and cows too.

They came by the hundreds. They came every which way

just for the chance to pulls Santa’s sleigh.


Santa interviewed every animal who came

no matter how big, how little…how wild or tame.

and after screening and searching the entire collection

Santa was ready to make his selection.


“The choice wasn’t easy…everyone was so great,

but as you all know…I can only pick eight.

So will the following animals please wander up here.

You’ll be subbing tonight for my ailing reindeer.


Salama from Africa…I’m proud to declare

you’re one elephant I can’t wait to see fly through the air.

And Erik the moose from the land of Norway

I believe you have some experience pulling a sleigh.


Barakah the polar bear from off in the distance

tonight of all nights I could use your assistance.

And Jake from Australia, that’s right, the red kangaroo

come on up, and by all means, bring your didgeridoo.


Isabella the rhea…now please don’t you cry

I just think it’s about time you learned how to fly.

Next, Buford, the buffalo, from out on the plains…

thank you for coming, we can sure use your brains.


And Priscilla, the penguin, you already know how to fly.

you soar under the ocean, now let’s try the sky.

Lu Si, the panda, from China…yes…you.

I’ve alerted the elves to find some bamboo.


There you have it my friends! I think we are through.

I have made my selection of Santa’s new crew.

Shout out the good news from every rooftop and basement…

Santa has found himself eight reindeer replacements.”


Then Santa turned to the crowd that had gathered around,

He raised up his hand…and they quieted down.

As the cold of the North wind showed up on his cheeks

He smiled and nodded…then started to speak.



He thanked them for coming…he shook every hoof

and when he was finished…he jumped on the roof.

“Thank you again,” he said as it started to snow.

“I will always be grateful…and now you must go.”


“For their isn’t much time…why I can’t believe

How can it already…be Christmas Eve?

There’s so little time and there’s so much to do

We’ve got eight animals to get ready…and toys to pack too.”


Then remembering the animals assembled about

He didn’t want them to feel bad…to be sad…or to pout.

So he winked at the elves and his beard he did stroke…

Then he turned to the animals and once again spoke.


“To thank you for coming, the lease we can do

Is to make your trip home…fun and easy for you.”

Then the snow began sparkling as it fell from the sky

And all of the animals started to fly.


“Thank you my friends.” He said to the hovering pack.

To show you my gratefulness…you may all now fly back.

You came from as far off as China and Rome

the least I can do is to help you fly home.”


The animals cheered and they laughed and they cried.

They soared and they dove…and some learned how to glide.

The sky at the North Pole came alive on that day

as thousands of animals all flew away.


Everyone waved, watching the animals depart

Then the head elf, named Ava, turned with a start.

“Santa,” she said in a voice frightened and loud,

“But who’ll light the way through the fog and the clouds?”


“Rudolph’s so sick, and his nose light is low…

Just then the sky around Santa’s head started to glow.

“Meet Sparky the firefly.” Santa said with a grin.

“And if his light’s not bright enough…he brought all his kin!”


“Santa,” Ava asked as they both turned around

and looked at their team and the sleigh on the ground.

“Do you think they can do it? How will the sleigh run?

In the history of Christmas…it has never been done!”



Santa thought for a moment then looked over his brood

“It’s time to get ready, better get them some food.

And Ava, don’t worry, you have nothing to fear

I was once asked the same question about eight tiny reindeer.”


“We’ll put Erik and Salama at the front of the squad,

followed by Buford and Jake.” Santa said with a nod.

“Lu Si and Barakah will be next on the tether.

with the last spots reserved for our two birds of a feather.


“We may not look normal; we may look bizarre…

as we head off to the heavens and fly through the stars.

Why I’m not even sure the whole thing will fly

but I know that when night falls I can’t wait to try.


“So let’s get to work. There is no time to lose.

These animals all need to be ready…to cruise.

There’s so much to do and the time’s getting tight

I’ll meet you all back here at the first sign of night.”


The elves took the animals to the VIP stables

Where they ate and were pampered…Hey! They even had cable!

They were measured and brushed and dressed all in red.

They were readied for Santa and led to his sled.


They walked tall to their harnesses and as they were connected

they all stood at attention as Santa inspected.

He touched each animal’s face and patted their heads,

“I can’t thank you enough.” was all that he said.


Then he entered his sleigh as the wind started to blow

and he lifted the reins and asked, “Are we ready to go?”

Each animal nodded without looking back.

Santa ran through his checklist and rechecked his sack.


As snowflakes again sparkled down in the dark

Santa unlocked the brake and nudged the sleigh out of park.

The sleigh started shaking as it moved up and down

and in no time at all was ten feet off the ground.


Then Santa remembered as he squinted to see

he’d brought along Sparky and his whole family.

As the fireflies flew around each animals head.

“Light ‘em up Sparky!” Santa smiled and said.



In an instant the fireflies started to glow

And with the checklist complete they were ready to go.

For the first time in history on that Christmas Eve night

Santa’s sleigh was equipped with eight tiny headlights.


“Merry Christmas to all!” He yelled from his sleigh

As they soared to the stars and were well on their way.

“We’ll see you at first light with the dawn of the sun

When our sack is all empty and our mission is done.


So this Christmas Eve if you see high in the sky

A moose or a penguin and a sleigh that can fly

with a polar bear, panda and a kangaroo too

It means all of the reindeer have come down with the flu.


Just be thankful for animals…Oh…and for jolly Saint Nick…

who will still bring you Christmas…even when the reindeer are sick.





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Merry Christmas...P.S. Do Not Forget The Poor

He found the letter in his chimney
in an envelope yellowed with age
It was addressed simply to Santa Claus...
hand written...just one page...

She asked Santa to bring her brother a wagon
and as for her request...
‘something nice for me,’ she wrote,
‘whatever you think is best.’

She signed it:
From your loving Friend, Mary
then she thought and added more...
Her final appeal to Santa...
P.S. Do not forget the poor.

The letter was dated 1907
it had been in the chimney for a hundred years
the script is a little weathered
but the message still endears.

He keeps the letter in a frame
to remind him of her generosity...
and every year...a present for Mary
sits wrapped...neath his Christmas tree.


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