What is the true meaning of Christmas? Does anyone really know?

Image

It is around this time of the year that many of us start asking the question “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”  I am sure that for those who do ponder this question, your inquiry is no doubt prompted by an assortment of stimuli.  For example:  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, shop till you drop lists, Toys for Tots, Christmas countdowns, gift rages, children meltdowns, commercials, jingles and endless exhortations to buy that special gift that will truly show someone you love them.

I must be humble.  Many have tried to answer this question before me.  I am nowhere near the first nor do I assume the last who will ever tackle this issue.  Thus, I offer my opinion where no doubt many wiser than I have gone before me and many wiser will go after.  However, if I merely offer you some fresh insights into this age old question, I will have accomplished my goal.  Perhaps I may see things in a slightly different perspective than all the wise people who have already treaded on this question.

I am going to break the key question “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” into three parts or three sub-questions.

The first sub-question is “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”  The answer to this question is obvious.  A man named Jesus was born on or near this date in the time of the Roman occupation of Israel.  He is alternately revered as a great prophet, the son of God, the Messiah or a humble man with a simple but profound message.  Many who respect him honor his memory on December 25 each year.

The second sub-question is “What should we celebrate at Christmas?”  The most common means of celebrating the life of a great person is to remember what they stood for.  Jesus IMHO stood for two major ideas which were radical in his time.  The first major idea was to “Love Everyone.”  This meant that you needed to love your enemies as well as your friends.  Easy to love your friends said Jesus, much more difficult to love your enemies.  The second major idea was to “Forgive Everyone.”  Again, not just forgiveness for your friends and relatives but also for those you hate and your mortal enemies.  Thus, at Christmastime, Christians and those who wish to venerate Jesus of Nazareth should be celebrating both Love and Forgiveness.  We see many manifestations of the love at this time of the year but much less focus on forgiveness.  The truth of this will be more evident when we look at the third sub-question:  “How do we Celebrate Christmas?” 

“How do we celebrate Christmas?”   How do we take the two major ideas that Jesus stood for and remember them.  Each concept could be honored in a variety of ways.  The primary way that we seem to express the idea of Love is through the giving of gifts.  We can give gifts of the spirit or gifts of the world.  Gifts of the spirit express our love for others by giving some of ourselves.  We give some immaterial expression of love to others that we care about.  We might choose to spend time with a loved one or simply help them out with a project or task that needs doing.

We also give physical or material gifts.  These include toys, gadgets, technology, clothes, jewelry etc.  Material gifts express our love by transferring our money into presents for others based on their perceived wants and needs.  It is quite common to see gifts given based on wants but needs are less frequently factored into the gift giving equation.  One could posit a hierarchy of gift giving, going from easiest to give to most difficult.  I think it would look something like this:

  • Material gifts based on wants (easy)
  • Material gifts based on needs (more difficult)
  • Spiritual gifts based on wants (difficult)
  • Spiritual gifts based on needs (very difficult)

It is not always easy to distinguish between wants and needs, particularly when dealing with children who often confuse the two.  The good parent should be able to tell the difference, but all too often parents are more interested in simply satisfying their child’s wants rather than dealing with their child’s needs.  The Love of Jesus becomes a love focused on completing a shopping list of wants.  Little attention is spent on needs while even less time is spent on spiritual gifts.  It is easier to buy a gift card than to spend time with a friend or loved one.

How do we deal at Christmastime with the second major idea that Jesus promoted, the idea that we should Forgive others?  This idea does not seem to have seriously entered the panoply of displays that we see or that are observed at this time of the year.  Somehow, Forgiveness gets forgotten at Christmas time.  A cynic might wonder if it is not because this is the hardest idea to implement.  Can you imagine sending a beautiful gift of flowers or jewelry to someone you loath and detest?  Can you imagine spending time with someone you hate or giving some gift of the spirit to someone you dislike?   I suggest that such demonstrations of Forgiveness would be unusual for most Christians as well as non-Christians.

So “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”  After dicing and slicing this question what are we left with?  A short summary of the main points that I have made to address this question might help:

  • We celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a great prophet, teacher and to some God
  • Jesus’s mission and purpose was to teach us Love and Forgiveness
  • We attempt to celebrate his concept of Love during the time we think he was born
  • We substitute gift giving for more substantive displays of Love or more difficult expressions of the concept
  • We leave out or neglect Jesus’s concept of Forgiveness

Perhaps this Christmas, we can all try to GIVE more Forgiveness.  If there is a “True Meaning of Christmas”, if Jesus were alive today, I am sure he would be most pleased if we all spent more time trying to love our enemies as well as our friends and to forgive those who “Trespass against us.”  

Time for Questions:

What is your “meaning” for Christmas?  How do you celebrate the birth of Jesus?  What could you do more of this year to truly celebrate his message?  What can we do to help make Forgiveness part of the Christmas message?

Life is just beginning.

“How many observe Christ’s birthday!  How few, His precepts!” ― Benjamin Franklin

“And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Persico Annual Holiday Letter for 2022

                        

20221211_192518

Dear Friends and Relatives,    

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

John:  This year if you are reading our annual Holiday Letter, please be advised that you will be billed $6.00 for an Opportunity Charge.  If you are a frequent reader of my blog at agingcapriciously.com, I am also billing six dollars to read each weekly blog.  I have decided that if Elon Musk can charge six dollars for Tweeting on Twitter, I should be able to follow his lead.  For this small charge, I promise to provide the same fine insights into the world, great ideas on improving your life, and musings on happenings in the political sphere that you have come to expect.  (I stole this last line from NPR.)  With the financial bit out of the way, I will now turn to the good news from the Persicos. 

Best of all, we are still alive, quite healthy and manage to get out of bed most days.  At our annual medical visit, our doctor was quite complimentary.  After taking our blood pressure and vitals, he said that neither Karen nor I looked a day over 80.  When we informed him that Karen was 78 and I was 76, he apologized and said that he must have picked up some old persons’ charts. 

Message_1665866332006Moving on from the medical stuff, we sold our Wisconsin house.  We are now year-round residents in the state where my brother-in-law said, “People go to die.”  Can you guess where this is?  Hint, it is not Florida, although it would be a close second.  Karen and I were not offended by his claim since we have known many people who seemed to die around here.  Last year, we started a Holiday Tradition of remembering departed friends and relatives on New Year’s Eve while singing “Old Auld Lang Syne” and talking about what we missed or did not miss about each of them.  We hope they were listening to the good points that Karen mentioned and not their weak points that I am more prone to point out. 

Now for the bad news. We know that you will be disappointed, but I have decided to skip all the shots, boosters, more boosters, aches, and pains that we had this year as it would take up too much of this letter.  Sadly, another year passed, and we still have not been invited to any State dinners or High Society affairs.  We are hoping that in two years when Biden kicks Trumps butt again, we will get invited to his Inaugural Ball.  That is assuming Biden and Trump do not become part of our New Year’s Holiday Tradition.  Well, that’s all the bad news for now.  If you want more, turn on the daily news or pick up your local newspaper.  Time to go back to my Tequila and let Karen finish this letter.  She likes to provide the family updates.  She posed with Santa earlier this year at a Home Depot Store.  

20221006_160423

Karen:  I am thankful for many things this year.  We remain healthy (and vaccinated and boosted) and still able to do our exercise regimes.  John runs trails in the Casa Grande mountains and I get to the Casa Grande Community Center 4 times a week for Senior Fit and Zumba.  It was a relief to have the home in Frederic sold.  Maintaining two homes cost too much money and too much work.  It was fun when we were younger and had more income.   

We could not leave Frederic entirely as we have made many friends there over the years.  We will go back to Frederic for the summer (for fewer months than before).  We already have an RV site reserved in Clam Falls.  We have been busy updating this house, getting our stuff from Frederic integrated, getting a new AC unit and new flooring.  So far, we have found room for the things we brought here.  Unfortunately, there are still a bunch of boxes in WI in a storage unit, so more will need to come back next year.  My weeks are full of uke group, Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble, church choir and starting my first quilt.  I am using a pattern with John’s old ties which he cheerfully donated to me. 

Megan (Youngest Daughter) caravanned back to MN this year with us, and is settled in a lovely apartment one half mile from the White Bear house she grew up in.  Her little min-pin, Bambi, is quite confused about this white stuff outside, but Megan is very happy to be back in MN and connecting with her siblings and cousins while working remotely as a real estate software trainer.  Kevin (Son) moved to his WI vacation home during COVID and is still there, working remotely with LinkedIn and remodeling his home.  Susan (Second Oldest Daughter) works remotely with Premier, a large medical purchasing organization.  Her boys are no longer home, and her rescue dog, Bart, keeps her company.  She and her youngest, Sam, just returned from a trip to Korea to visit her birth mom and family.  Juli (Oldest Child) has weathered a second brain surgery for tumors resulting from her childhood leukemia treatment.  Rob (Juli Spouse) manages all her follow up appointments along with continuing to teach in Prescott.  Juli has been able to resume some of her sewing projects despite failing vision in her left eye.  Our grandchildren (Six in total) are all in their 20s and one turned 30 this year.  Where did the time go?  No great grandchildren yet, which is OK as our young folks take their time to find themselves in this challenging world. 

Wishing you all peace, health, and happiness in the upcoming year.

20220828_164714

 

20220619_133128

Karen and John  karen.persico@gmail.com     612-384-6120        persico.john@gmail.com    612-310-3803

Was Jesus a Failure?

Dec27th-SHOPSHOPSHOP1

It’s Christmas time again and everywhere we look we see violence and mayhem, greed and avarice, poverty and hunger.  Mankind’s inhumanity to others and a total disregard for the welfare of the earth dominate the news every day.  Watching the hearings concerning Trumps impeachment has been the low point of the year for me.  Rhetoric, obfuscation, innuendos and fabrications dominate instead of truth, logic and evidence.  Christmas is a cruel joke only made worse by the amount of crass commercialism that is exhorted in the name of Jesus Christ.

3650584-satan-editorial

Satan sat on his throne listening to my above missive and thinking “Ha, Christ was a failure and I have won another soul.  Do you hear me God?  You sent Moses with a message.  You sent Noah with a message.  You sent dozens of your prophets with a message.  You sent your only son to carry the same message and no one really gives a dam.  There is not one Christian on earth who loves everyone.  Every single Christian hates someone else.  Catholics hate Jews.  Protestants hate Catholics.  Evangelicals hate non-evangelicals.  The right wing hates the left.  The left hates the right.  Rural Americans despise urban Americans.  The rich hate the poor and the poor hate the rich.”

God heard Satan and simply said to him “You are wrong.  There is much love and compassion for others in the human race.”

“Yes”, said Satan, “for members of their own tribes.  For people who look like them, talk like them, live like them, think like them, but for others there is only hate.  I challenge you to find ten Christians who do not hate someone else.”

God replied: “Will you leave humans alone this Christmas if I can find ten good Christians?”

Satan_before_the_Lord

Satan confidently answered, “Of course, but only if you agree on a limit of ten days to find your ten good Christians.  That way, I will still have time to ruin Christmas for as many families as I can if you do not find them.”

“Agreed” said God

Two days went by and God could not find ten good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  Satan laughed, “I told you so.”  God then requested that he be allowed to find only five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  So confident was Satan that he readily agreed to this change.

Two more days went by and God could not find five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  God was getting desperate.  “What” he asked Satan, “if I could find just one good Christian who did not hate anyone else?  Would you concede that Jesus was not a failure?”

“Okay, I am so confident that there is not one good Christian on Earth who does not hate someone else that I will give you this last chance.  But on one condition” said Satan.  “My condition is that you will get two more days to find your good Christian but if you do, then I get four days to test your Christian to see if they really are a non-hater.”

God accepted Satan’s conditions and went in search of a single Christian somewhere on the face of the earth who did not hate someone else.  God had to expand his search beyond America but in less than two days, God thought he had found his loving non-hating Christian.  It was a young girl in India.  Her name was Aindrila.  Aindrila was eight years old.  She lived with her mother, father and her pet cat in a little village in Mizoram, India.

Every night when Aindrila went to bed she prayed for all the people in the world.  14159276-cute-little-indian-girl-in-a-greeting-pose-isolated-white-background

“Now I lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul will keep.  Please watch over my mother and father, all the people in India and all the people in the world.  Please help everyone who needs help and keep everyone safe.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul he will take.  Amen.”

God presented his good non-hating Christian to Satan, but Satan only laughed. “We will see.  I have four days to test if your so-called good Christian really is so good.”

The next day, Satan sent two young teenagers to Aindrila’s house to torture and kill her cat.  When Aindrila found the dead body of her cat, she cried for several hours.  That night when she went to bed, she prayed much as before except she added a verse:

“Please God watch over the boys who did this to my cat and help them to see the error of their ways.  Amen.”

Satan was somewhat chagrined, but he decided to up the ante.  The next day, he put a hole in the path of Aindrila as she walked to school.  Aindrila fell in the hole and broke her leg.  It was a very bad break and Aindrila was taken to the local hospital.  They fixed the break but told Aindrila that she might have to walk with a limp because of the injury.  Again, that night, Aindrila went to bed and added the following verse to her nightly prayers.

“God, thank you for sending me such good health care and bless the people who fixed my leg the best they could.  Please watch over them and take good care of them.  Amen.”

Now Satan was very angry.  “OK God, you asked for this fight and you are going to get it. We will see if your good Christian is really good or not.”

The next day, Aindrila’s parents were going to work on their usual bus ride.  Satan saw to it that a drunk driver smashed into the bus killing only Aindrila’s parents.  No one else on the bus was injured.  Satan laughed and laughed.  “This should do it”, he thought.

god and satan

Somewhat later that day, the local constable along with a social worker came to find Aindrila at home.  When Aindrila answered the door, they told her that both her parents had been killed by a drunk driver that morning.  They were very sorry for her loss, but she would have to come with them.  Because she had no other relatives, they were going to take her to live at the local orphanage.  She would have to stay there until she was eighteen or someone wanted to adopt her.  They thought this would be rather unlikely though.

Aindrila was relocated at the orphanage where she seemed sad and despondent.  Nothing the kindly Sisters of Charity could say to her seemed to shake her out of her melancholy.  She cried until she went to bed that night.  Unlike previous nights, she went to sleep without saying any prayers.

A few hours after Aindrila went to bed, she awoke with a start.  She did not know where she was.  It took her some time to orient to her new surroundings but once she did, she turned over to go back to sleep.  Suddenly, she thought “I have not said any prayers tonight.”  She climbed out of bed and made the following prayer:

“Dear God, thank you for the wonderful parents you gave me.  I know you took them away today, but I am sure that you had a good reason for doing so.  Thank you for finding a new home for me with these nice nuns.  Oh, and please help the man who killed my parents find a good life.   I forgive him for what he did and I hope you will too.  Amen.”

Satan listened to the little girl saying her prayers and conceded.  “Dam you God, you win.”

And God said “If there is only one person on earth who is not a hater then it was worth sending my son Jesus and Jesus was not a failure.

jesus

“Be the reason someone smiles.  Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”  ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Joy to the World

joy-to-the-world

Tis the season to be jolly, but for many people there might seem little to be jolly about.  In one of the most famous holiday stories of all time, the central character Ebenezer Scrooge gave what has become an iconic line about the holiday season.  Scrooge said:

“What’s Christmas but a time for finding yourself a year older and not a day richer?  There’s nothing merry in that.  If I could work my will, nephew, every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Not exactly a fan of Christmas, Scrooge may have echoed sentiments that lie dormant in many of us.  Over the years, it seems the holiday season starts earlier and earlier.  There is more pressure than ever to buy the right gifts and to spend increased amounts of hard earned money on presents for friends and loved ones.  The airwaves and pulpits bemoan the crass commercialism that accompanies so much of the holiday season while at the same time making sure that all commercial breaks are properly inserted between the “holiday messages.”

Our churches are full of giving trees, toy drives and Christmas shoes boxes.  Perhaps giving more at Christmas to some mysteriously perceived needy children in dire need of more toys will make us feel better about ourselves for ignoring the poor and needy for the rest of the year.  Even at church, the message that Jesus meant for us gets diluted with the drive to fill the toy box.  Do we even know any more what message Jesus wanted us to hear?

the-gospelJesus talked about the three classes of good people.  The first class hears his message but has little time to do anything about it.  The second class hears the message and when convenient they try to help others and spread the message of Jesus.  The third class commits their body and soul to sharing Jesus’s message.  The third class of men/women make a commitment to doing this year round and 24/7.  For the third class, it is not a onetime thing or something to be done when they have time or are not busy.  It is a lifetime commitment to share his message with the world.

“The title, Three Classes of Men, stands for three kinds of persons in any walk of life. They might be three classes of religious or priests, husbands or wives, workers or professional men.  However, classified, they represent three levels of volitional disposition to sacrifice whatever is less than God and stands in the way of His more perfect service and love.  Viewed from another aspect, they are three states of spiritual detachment which in ascending degree dispose a man for the reception of divine grace.  Implicit in the meditation is the belief that no matter how entangled in secular pursuits and impeded in the way of perfection, a person can rise above this condition if he takes the trouble to recognize these impediments and is humble enough to pray for help to overcome them.” — Three Classes of Men by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Most of us will watch at least a few moving holiday stories before December 25th.  From Miracle on 34 Street to the story of the Christmas Truce during the fighting of WWI, we will hear many heartwarming tales of kindness and love.  Most of these stories are similar in theme to the Christmas Carol.  An individual who has utter contempt or callousness for the Christmas message somehow finds redemption through the love and compassion of others.

quote-the-life-of-jesus-christ-is-a-message-of-hope-a-message-of-mercy-a-message-of-life-in-max-lucado-90-79-19The Joy of Christmas is a state of fulfillment, contentment and gratitude.  Through the love of others who give selflessly of themselves, we can all be free to experience a Joy that cannot be bought or traded.  It is one of the reasons that giving and not receiving is said to be the true path to happiness.  During the holidays, we are excited about the chance to give to others.  And nowhere is that feeling of giving more delightful than in watching the face of a young child receive something that we know they really wanted.  However, Joy to the World should mean more than just giving toys to tots.  There are physical gifts which we can give but there are also emotional and spiritual gifts as well.

thank-you-fatherI am frequently critical of all the toy drives that I see going on at Christmastime.  Not just because I think most kids in America have more toys than they know what to do with, but because of the message that this sends.  Why not I ask, have a “books for tots” drive?  Why not give books for a present?  Why is it always about toys?  We become so narrowly focused that we lose sight of the larger picture.

Christmas is about Joy.  But Joy does not just come from toys.  Joy comes from learning.  Joy comes from sharing.  Joy comes from helping others.  Joy comes from being present when needed by others.  Joy is not just a physical phenomenon; it is a spiritual and emotional phenomenon.  The Message of Joy that Jesus wanted to bring into the world was a message about peace and love.

I see a lot of talk these days about putting the Ten Commandments up on scrolls and even billboards.  Here in Arizona City, they have erected a billboard with the Ten Commandments printed on it.  To the best of my knowledge, Jesus said

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:17-20

acts-kindness-inspiremoreThus, Jesus did not come to replace the commandments but he did come to go beyond the commandments.  God brought the commandments to Moses but the message that Jesus brought to us is in addition to the commandments.  Jesus extended the Ten Commandments with a list that has come to be known as the Eight Beatitudes.   A beatitude is something that gives one both happiness and blessedness.  Jesus gave these Eight during his famous Sermon on the Mount:

THE EIGHT BEATITUDES OF JESUS

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

message-to-the-worldI am continually surprised by so-called Christians who seem to revel in the Ten Commandments but treat the Eight Beatitudes as though they were bastard children of Satan.  When was the last time you heard anyone wanting to put up a statue or sculpture or sign with the Eight Beatitudes on it?  The Message of Christmas is the Eight Beatitudes.  The Joy that Jesus wanted to bring to the world can only come by following the Eight Beatitudes.  If you call yourself a Christian but you do not practice these in you daily life, then you are not spreading the Gospel of Jesus.

In this present climate of fear, bigotry and uncertainty engendered by the recent US Presidential race and outcome, the message of Jesus needs to be repeated and spread as never before.  If there was no Joy in Muddville when Casey struck out, there certainly will not be any Joy in the World until all of us, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Baha’i  and others start believing in and following the Eight Beatitudes.  I am not saying this to try to convince anyone to be a Christian.  The kindness-quotes1words of the Beatitudes go beyond any one religion.  They speak to a way of being in the world and a way of treating other human beings.  Just as I have found valuable teachings in other religions, I think more Christians should be willing to share the Message of Jesus in the Eight Beatitudes.  Keep in mind though, that sharing this message will never work unless you also live by the message.  You must be the change you want to see in others.  Do you know what the famous Indian Chief Sitting Bull said when asked what he thought of Christianity?  Chief Sitting Bull replied: “I have read your Bible and the religion seems good but I do not see many White people practicing it.”

Time for Questions: 

  • When we denigrate people on welfare and refuse to support the poor and needy what Beatitude are we ignoring?
  • When we want to wage war on other countries to support our lifestyle, what Beatitude are we breaking?
  • When we have no time for immigrants and refuse to shelter those needing respite from tyranny and injustice, what Beatitude speaks to this?
  • When we practice racism and discrimination towards those who are different from us in thoughts, words or deeds, what Beatitude are we not following?
  • When we fail to speak out against bigotry and hatred, what Beatitude would challenge our behavior?
  • When we fail to treat others with honesty and integrity, what Beatitude are we disdaining?
  • When we fail to give compassion and comfort to those in need, what Beatitude should we be thinking more of?
  • When we practice narcissism and think we are better than others, what Beatitude would Jesus tell us to look at more closely?
  • Which “Class” of people do you belong to?

Life is just beginning.

“The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness.  It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.” — Thomas S. Monson
happyholidaysbanner1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends, Family and Loved Ones,

Benjii our sheepThe year is 2015.  It is the Year of the Sheep.  Sheep are gentle and calm and we love their wool.  We bought a sheep this year and named him Benjie.  He lives in the living room and keeps us company.  He is very low maintenance.  It is hard to believe that the end of 2015 is only a few days away.   My blog this week will be our annual Holiday letter that Karen and I both write and send out through a variety of media including snail mail, emails, hand delivery and my blog.  Each year, we use this letter to sum up our lives and the events or people that have had an impact on us during the year.  Probably not very exciting but this was 2015 for us.

Karen and John

Karen and John

It is 5 days before Christmas as I write this.  We celebrate the holidays each year rather traditionally.  Karen loves to bake Swedish cookies that she learned from her grandmother and also make a ton of lefse, much of what she gives away to a coterie of fans who swoon over it.  Myself, I would rather have fruitcake which I now buy each year from Costco.  I have many fewer fans for my fruitcake.  Less presents under the tree each year and gift cards now seem to be the order of the day.  We spend evenings watching old Christmas specials on Netflix which help get me in the mood for the holidays.  Christmas was never a really big deal for me like it is for Karen.  One message that seems to keep emerging from most of these movies:  Christmas is really not about presents, travels, accomplishments or awards.  Its real meaning is the love of the people we care about.  In this respect, 2015 was a good year.

Xibo and Dan DanKaren and I made a trip in January to see some very good friends in San Francisco and Karen’s son, Kevin.  Karen juggled her time to be able to spend some good time with Kevin and even get a glimpse of his new job at LinkedIn.  When we came back to Wisconsin, Karen was able to get some time in with her daughters Julie and Susan.  Karen and Susan went out together to visit my sister Jeanine in Rhode Island for the 4th of July and had a grand time.  Alas, the grandkids seem to have mostly flown the nest (Is there an empty next for Grandparents?) and it is hard to tag or catch up with them.  Nevertheless, Logan, Garrick (now engaged to Kat), Sam and Zach all seem to be pursuing the typical life of most young people today.  They are either in school or working and trying to really figure out what they will be when they get old like us.  We see them occasionally like ships passing in the night. I suppose our snow birding between Arizona and Wisconsin also complicates the matter.

megan and karenKaren and Megan now have a good thing going and each year around this time they get together for several days of baking.  It becomes a mother and daughter day to schlep flour and sugar all other each other’s kitchen since they alternate houses to flour.  This year we will finally get to meet Megan’s new friend Dave.  After cookie baking this Saturday, we plan to go to one of his gigs and listen to his band.  Dave is a guitarist and singer with a popular cover band named Furious George in Phoenix.

Curves Group

Karen and her friends at Curves 

If relationship wise, we were doing a balance sheet for 2015, on the whole it would be very positive.  However, it was not without its losses.  Both Karen and I lost some good friends this year.  Death seems to be something that becomes almost omnipresent these days both on a personal level (with more and more loved ones aging) and on a social level with the media constantly showering us with episodes of violence and mayhem.  Perhaps, something I should not bring up at Christmas time, but as Jesus was about bringing love into world, maybe it is something to reflect on.  I have to admit, my blogs (see www.agingcapricously.com) have been more and more about the evils and vices that I believe it is our personal responsibility to confront.  As I age, I wonder how I can do more in this respect or if I am even doing enough.  Am I making a difference or just annoying people?  I try to balance a certain amount of negativity in my blogs with a decent dose of let’s say “positivity” if there is such a word.  One of my most popular blogs was on the subject of gratitude.  I am certainly grateful for the good health that has blessed Karen and me this year.

Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and I are both working part-time.  I continue to teach both residentially and on-line.  Karen passed her certification test on the new ICD-10 coding procedures in September as well as doing some home health consulting.  I am envious that at 71 years of age, she has more job prospects than I had when I was 22.  She has so much work in her queue that I have to keep reminding her to have fun and enjoy her retirement.  In actuality both of us would go crazy without some regular work to keep us focused.  I guess neither of us has ever learned how to play well.

On the other hand, after years of practice, music camps and many music jams in Minnesota, Arkansas, Kentucky and now Arizona,  Karen has become an excellent dulcimer player and enjoys playing with dulcimer friends in WI and just south of here with the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble.   In the last two weeks, she has played at a fund raiser for the local library, a Red Hat women’s group and an Episcopal Church bazaar.  We don’t have to worry about taxes though as these are all free gigs.  I keep encouraging her to keep it up though as someday there might be a talent scout out there and she could be the next Lady Gaga.  Carnegie Hall here we come.  I can pick out her outfits.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.  My God bless you and keep you with good health and much happiness.

John and Karen

%d bloggers like this: