Christmastime...past, present, forever

... how many changes shall we make ???

by Jackie Wattenberg

I never believed in Santa Claus. But I loved Christmas. My parents were labor activists and knew that Santa only visited people with money - Santa never took his sleigh of presents to poor children. So I told my little playmates there was no Santa Claus.

But Santa was more powerful than I was - they still believed in him. Their parents tried to keep them away from me at Christmastime so I couldn't threaten Santa Claus.

Isn't it too bad there isn't a real Santa Claus? There are so many problems in our world, even here in our democratic country where women can almost have rights equal to men ... almost. Look whom many are considering running for president - Hilary. She isn't the only woman coming to mind - Elizabeth Warren is to me more human, warm hearted.

As we see the many countries in the Middle East struggling, we can feel - well, almost lucky. No battling for power, except the Democrats confronting the stubborn Republicans who don't even want their own party members to have health insurance; while the major nations of the world have had health care for a hundred years, we have been behind the world in getting health care for everybody!

But we women and all of our citizens who have their own sexual identities, can almost feel equal to the rest of us - well, at least here in Massachusetts, still not equal in many other states. Wasn't it exciting when the new Pope Francis was asked his opinion on "same-sex marriage," and he replied; "Who am I to judge?" He's bringing many questioning Catholics back to their churches.

No member of my family has been involved in our recent wars, so I feel lucky. How terrible for Americans who have lost sons or daughters to needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ... there is something in our country that loves a war ... I've always wondered why. But President and Gen. Eisenhower had his own answer as he stated unequivocally - "I hate war ... it's brutality, futility and stupidity!"

He even said that for every bomb made, some child is hungry and has nothing to eat ... for every bomb made, some child has no home to live in. Not quite his exact quote, but his message ... and so true today when we are still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq is in ruins after our war for "WMDs."

Amazingly , just last spring, former President Bush was asked during a TV press conference. "Do you have any regrets about your presidency?" He replied immediately and softly, "I wish I had better information about the WMDs." He looked very sorry.

President Obama, who impressed us with his anti-war stance when a senator in Illinois, has allowed the undeclared Afghan War to continue into its 13th year - our longest war though Congress never approved - so unrelated to Christmas, the time of the Prince of Peace.

Here in little Melrose, we've had a beautiful Polymnia Choral Society performance and the annual Christmas Pops -two nights to accommodate the crowds. Our restaurants are busy with shopping citizens; our bakeries making pies
for the holidays; Coffee, Tea and Me, a new little place, is even making pies without gluten for those of us allergic to it and that big new store, Whole Foods, has a large section of non-gluten foods. Our little special gift shop, Hourglass, has been crowded up to the day before Christmas.

While cities across the land are still mourning those frequent gun deaths, here in Massachusetts we have safer gun laws and less crime. How lucky we are when we remember Newtown ... no other country allows such freedom with instruments of killing.

At this season many of us still miss the old Drug Center where Amici's is now, a place even for Christmas shopping and maybe the owners' beautiful paintings on display ... and then how about that wonderful old used book store right on Main Street, long gone but still remembered for its great collections and friendly owners ... time to get another book store started here.

Churches have been holding special celebrations, those lovely old carols that never are tiresome, but full of cheer and some with touching delicacy.

It looks on the weekend before Christmas, that the weather will be pretty nice, by now you have it. Better than that week before when the long established Beethoven Society had to cancel its concert because of that overwhelming ice storm that cut down shopping for a few days. Main Street sidewalks were unconquerable.

So we were luckier for kinder Christmas weather ... but winter is far from over. Still here in Melrose we have a friendly, musical environment, and peaceful ... isn't that related to our Prince of Peace? Our president should visit here to see that peace is possible ... maybe his friend, our Gov. Patrick, should bring him to this state and our friendly, peaceful little town to show that peace is better than war.

Christmas trees are perhaps the most beautiful thing about Christmas ... my daughter has a beauty of her own, but she bought me a charming little one that I decorated with jewelry ... a bit of nature while snows decorate the barren trees outside.

We can hope for a happy New Year, peaceable here in our pretty, peaceable little town.     

January 3, 2014

Reprinted with permission from the Melrose Free Press December 26, 2013..

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