Just a quick message before retiring for the evening ...
Christmas shopping 2006 officially ended at 1:45 this afternoon in the parking lot of Patriot Square with the car trunk closing on yet another holiday buying season. I can almost hear the daily interest charges growing on my credit card - it sounds something like a balloon being inflated toward its bursting point.
In Great Britain, Dec 26 is known as Boxing Day. In the US, Dec 24 is Wrapping Day ... for that was the ongoing activity throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening hours here at "Santa's Workshop" (a/k/a the half-finished room located in our cellar). I ask you - How do you wrap a hockey stick to make it not look like a hockey stick? It's an impossible task given the parameters of wrapping paper physics.
Lucy, our inquisitive Boston Terrier, knows something is up. Somehow she has surmised that tonight is the big night when Santa arrives with squeaky toys and Milk Bones. How does she know? Must be some ancient inner clockwork that goes back to the days when cavemen wrapped up little treats for their wolf pets to open on the morning of the winter solstice. (Cavemen were Pagans of course, worshiping the sun, the stars, the planets, and any strange looking boulders they happened upon in their travels).
My own travels today took me to the dump, to church, and to the package store, in that order. At a local bookstore, picked up some last minute gifts - Flags of Our Fathers for my dad (a former Marine) and Founding Mothers for my mom (the wife of a former Marine).
It's approaching midnight, the gifts are all wrapped and under the tree (except for the wrapped hockey stick, which is leaning against the Christmas tree ... looking very much like a wrapped hockey stick leaning against a Christmas tree). The stockings are all stuffed, and Lucy's squeaky toys and Milk Bones are strategically hidden. The classical station is playing soothing treatments of the traditional holiday fare - What Child is This?, Good King Wencesles, Silent Night, etc. Did you know Good King Wenceslas was brutally murdered by his not-so-good Bavarian brother? Families and holidays - sometimes a bad combination!
A final trip outside with Lucy finds the stars shimmering above in neatly arranged constellations - Orion, Pleiades, Taurus. I allow myself to imagine Sirius as the Star of Bethlehem, its brilliance holding me in a momentary state of wonderment. It is indeed a silent night, a bit chilly but silent and peaceful just the same with a faint breeze tickling the pine needles above.
And then I image a US Marine or other serviceman on patrol this evening in the cradle of civilization, thousands of miles removed from his family on this Christmas Eve. Yet not far removed from the very spot where Christianity was born.