Sending merry thoughts to all
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
, December 24, 2015


“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 “The 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 living facility.

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 forever!

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.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a weekly columnist for the Salem News and Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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