“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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring
you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For
unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find
the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And
suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.
"That’s what Christmas is
all about, Charlie Brown.”
From “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” read by Linus Van Pelt.
My introduction, along
with being timely as we approach Christmas Eve, is in honor of the
W.R. Castle elementary school parents, in Johnson County, Kentucky,
who when the school district banned their children from reading it
during their “Charlie Brown Christmas” play after getting a single
complaint about a Bible reading in school, organized themselves to
loudly fill in the blanks during the student play this month.
Even politically correct
Grinches shouldn’t mess with the classics, at least in Kentucky.
My family watched “A
Charlie Brown Christmas” for decades, since its creation in 1965,
the year after my son was born. This year my family sent me the CD
of the original sound track recording of that CBS television
special; I’ve been playing it a background for my Christmas
preparations this year.
The background is the
rendition of many Christmas tunes, played by the Vince Guaraldi
Trio; funny how I never noticed it was jazz. The enclosed booklet
notes that this was the first introduction of many people to jazz;
we watched the show and got caught up in the sweet Peanuts plot
without noticing the rhythm was different than what we used in Glee
Club during our own Christmas pageants.
I’ve been opening my
Christmas gifts as they arrive this year; I’m getting old and what
if I die in my sleep before Christmas morning? I’ve eaten most of my
daughter-in-law’s pumpkin bread (slathered in cream cheese), the
heavenly Goblin chocolates from my cousin in hometown St. Marys,
Penn., where they are created, the Croatian walnut raisin bread that
is close to what my Aunt Katy made every year, now able to be
ordered from Strawberry Hill in Kansas.
My son also sent me the
fourth book in the Stieg Larsson series, despite the fact that
Larsson died after writing the third book, speaking of perhaps
unexpected mortality. I’m sure most of us who got caught up in the
Swedish Millennium novels, featuring Lisbeth Salander, are fine with
the fact that David Lagercrantz is following through for us. The
original book was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” This new one is
Girl In the Spider’ Web.” The new plot centers around
cybercrime, superhackers, the NSA -- very timely, if not exactly in
the holiday mood.
I wonder if my son
intended to send me the large-print paperback; I have to admit I
appreciate it, as my reading glasses seem to need adjustment again.
As long as I’m opening
gifts early, Chip and I gave each other “Cass
County,” the new CD by Don Henley, of our favorite group the
Eagles. Henley, who is almost my age, is writing and singing about
our generation: the best piece is “The Cost of Living.”
“Some folks don’t like
workin’ hard, some folks don’t like rain; Some folks like to tell
you all about their aches and pains. Me, I take the hand I’m dealt,
and play it as it lays; It’s the cost of living, and everyone pays.”
Isn’t that wonderful? The CD ends with another great Henley
creation, “Where I Am Now.” All of it sung with that
carbonated-eggnog Henley voice, and he’s joined in places by other
aging stars like Mick Jagger and Merle Haggard.
There, I’ve given
late-shoppers three ideas for excellent gifts.
Pause to remember that Don
Henley helped to save Walden Woods, which I as an aging
Thoreau-loving environmentalist much appreciate. Which, I might as
well mention here, in the spirit of the season, is not the same as
saving a piece of land off Pleasant Street in Marblehead for aging
Marbleheaders who want to continue living in town in an assisted
Merry Christmas to the
Marblehead community, which of course welcomes this new development
as the best use of this property. I have heard rumors of some
neighborhood resistance, so I’ll helpfully offer the suggestion I
always offer when anyone in town complains about development of any
kind: Get together with your resisting neighbors, pool your savings,
and buy the land yourselves. Then you can keep it just the way it is
I must also celebrate the
end of my volunteer activity this week as a member of the Glover
School Building Committee: the school was finished on budget with
none of the fiscal shenanigans that accompanied the updates to the
Village School. This is mostly due to the good-humored leadership of
Chairman Dick Nohelty, and also to the suggestions by taxpayer
activist Jack Buba, who slipped me suggestions for accountability
that our committee adopted, and which I’ve been told have been
adopted by the state School Building Assistance Authority too.
Probably my only real
achievement as a Marblehead citizen can be seen in the sign as you
turn right from Maple to Tedesco, which used to be incomprehensible
but was changed at my suggestion during school construction to make
it clear that there is no right turn on red when the school is in
session; otherwise, it’s OK. Thanks, selectmen and police and
highway departments for following through on my letter.
Have so enjoyed reading
the recent articles in this newspaper about all the good things
people do for others during the holidays, to be remembered
throughout the New Year as we read the less heart-warming side of
the news. Merry Christmas.