Saturday, December 24, 2005

Good Health and Happiness, and Cocktails for All
It's comin' on Christmas, as Joni Mitchell sang so many years ago. (James Taylor's singing it this year, in case you're a fan.) The weather outside, at least in Wisconsin, is anything but frightful--the cold wave that's lasted all month broke yesterday, with temperatures in the mid 40s melting a lot of the deepest Christmas snow cover we've had in five years. Today's a bit cooler and it's foggy, damp, and gray, but that's OK.

I went out to run an errand or two just before noontime. A surprising number of people appeared to be finishing their Christmas shopping at Walgreens. I'm not criticizing them, though, because I've done that. After all, if you're not supposed to wait until the last minute, why are the stores open on Christmas Eve?

At Walgreen's, I spotted the Chicago Tribune in the newspaper rack--they headlined the New York Times story I mentioned earlier today in memorable fashion: "Nation's Phones Tapped." That ought to simplify it for people: Hey, America, your perception of yourselves as law-abiding citizens who therefore have nothing to worry about will not protect you anymore. This is not the country it used to be, and you need to start doing something about it.

But there will be time enough to worry about that in a couple of days. For now, things are quiet in my little world. I brought the last few Christmas cards in from the mailbox (none of them were this one, thank goodness). As is usual for The Mrs. and I on Christmas Eve, a fire is burning in the fireplace, bread is baking, and the Jack Daniels is flowing. This year, I'm also making time to watch football, since the NFL is playing most of its weekend's games today. The Packers and Bears play tomorrow. Despite the Packers' miserable season, thousands of Wisconsin families will make time in their holiday celebrations to watch. It's what we do.

Something else I do every Christmas is to reread E.B. White's famous 1952 Christmas greeting. If you're a writer, you probably know E. B. White for his famous book The Elements of Style. If you're not, you may know him as the author of Charlotte's Web. White's greeting is both a wonderful word-painting of the way Christmas used to be, and timeless. I put a bit of it at the top of this blog, but if you'd like to read the whole thing, it's here.

If you didn't read Wil Wheaton's painful account of his family Christmas at Salon yesterday, you missed his translation of what he means when he says "Merry Christmas," or "Season's Greetings," or "Happy Holidays" this time of year: "I'm not religious, but I hope you have joy and love in your life, good health and happiness." If you've read this far this year--and I know you're out there, in Iceland and Australia and New York and Pennsylvania and Iowa and Arizona and lots of places in between--I hope you do, too.

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