and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
December #3

Hope, joy and a merry Christmas to all
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Christmas Eve tradition in my house is the visit from jolly Bob Katzen on his way to an annual party in Marblehead. You may remember Bob as one of the WRKO "Governors" with me and Jerry Williams, after Howie Carr left for his own show.

Bob had a question that came to him on his way over last year. Why, he asked, do some people insist on having a nativity scene on the town common but don't have one on their own lawns to go with the snowmen, Santas and reindeer?

Well, maybe he doesn't see any on his route from Boston. But in my hometown of St. Marys, Pa., the baby Jesus is usually tucked between Frosty and a bunch of elves.

I couldn't answer this question from another friend: Why do some of the same people who don't understand how gay marriage can affect the institution of marriage think that having a creche on the town common can threaten religious freedom?

Bet they don't know, as I didn't until this month, that the Massachusetts Constitution, authored by John Adams, begins, "We ... the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ..." My co-grandmother, Lola, e-mailed from Texas a list of the preambles to the state constitutions, all 50 of which begin with a reference to God.

One thing I won't be doing this season is watching "It's a Wonderful Life," which I've never liked. In the alternate world, George leaves to follow his dream, so Donna Reed becomes a bitter old maid. What is THAT all about?

Longtime readers of this column know I like to exchange Christmas newsletters with distant relatives and friends. My partner, Chip, otherwise uninterested in the 80-card project, designs them for me. This year's photos are of the grandtwins and me during their May visit and Chip's September sunrise on Cadillac Mountain.

I am happy to report, from the newsletter of my cousin Chuck's son's wife, that his teenage granddaughters, the two cats and Terry the tarantula are doing well. No mention this year of Chester the rat. I fear the worst.

The post office does such a good job with my cards and packages that I must apologize again for the gazillion catalogs it has to deliver. Finally, last month I took a few hours to call 800 numbers canceling most of them. Another once-wonderful enterprise that got greedy, with some companies selling names to a lot of others.

Didn't cancel them all though. Still must order poteca an eastern European walnut bread similar to the one my Croatian aunt made from the Vermont County Store, or spend hours grinding walnuts myself. Another catalog I like is Sundance, from Robert Redford's Western shop. Say what you will about liberal Hollywood actors, but his greeting on the inside cover sends all his customers a politically incorrect "Merry Christmas".

Two miracles last Saturday, Dec. 10 an amazing, cover-the-entire-sky sunset and a young man named Justin came to my door asking for a job shoveling my sidewalk. No one has done that in at least seven years.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the caroling party at the Peabody home of Bob and Peg Kelly. Bob, who also has a column in this newspaper, plays the organ and leads over 20 of his area friends in the singing of lyrics that he prints for us. Two of the men sing a solo each year.

I do not do solos, ever. But a highlight for me this year was singing "Silent Night" in harmony with Fran Page of Lynn, Jack Dowd of Salem, George Meehan of Danvers and Charlie Leo from Melrose. Nice to see Cathy, Mary, Emma and Al again, all the J's Jane, Jeanne, Janet and Jim. John "Dutchy" Smith of Lynnfield and Robert "Pic" Walsh of Wakefield were reunited this year, having not seen each other since high school!

Bob runs a tight ship. We get two breaks for cider, cheese and cookies, but then must halt all conversation when the organ starts again. Dorothy was scolded for talking to me during "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen."

At Christmas I still feel warmly toward my Catholic upbringing. Feel a little sad that my grandchildren are probably not learning "Away in a Manger" in school or making advent gifts for the baby Jesus. I remember the glow of heavenly happiness as we choir members sang "Gloria in excelsis Deo" at the end of Christmas Eve Mass.

No matter what anyone says, Christmas is a good thing, representing love and joy and hope for peace, somewhere, somehow, when all the bad guys have been vanquished and freedom rings throughout the world. Holiday thanks to all the troops who are working on this project.

I found a beautiful new song this year, from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas" CD. It begins, "As long as there's Christmas, I truly believe, that hope is the greatest of the gifts we'll receive." Hope and joy to you all.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.