The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. (And I mean that sincerely)


    On Christmas Day, 1914, only four months into the brutality of World War I, a spontaneous miracle happened on the Western Front.  On that day German and British soldiers laid down their arms and gathered together in No Man's Land to share food and cigarettes, sing Christmas carols, and play a few games of football.

     On other battle lines along the front,  "Merry Christmas" signs were hastily constructed and held up to cheers from the other side. Without orders and in spite of  warnings from their superiors, the soldiers on both sides declared a truce for, at the very least, one magical day.  For some, the truce lasted for days into weeks, or until new troops replaced those who had been involved. There are reports that it happened the next year and the year after that and each year on Christmas Day until that terrible war ended.

    For generations, Christmas has held that kind of Good Will magic, and no matter who we are or where we are or how we got there, that holiday spirit endures.  For a few days out of the year millions of us do our best to take kindness to a whole new level.  We wake up with a song in our heart, feeling.good.  We want to do things.  Not to others but for others.  For a precious few days near the end of the year we like people.  We really, really like them!

    Unless we don't.  Unless we're those few  "It's Merry Christmas, Dammit!" people and someone nearby has the nerve to either ask for some life-changing help or to say "Happy Holidays!" out loud.

    "Happy Holidays!"  That simple phrase, known for what seems like forever throughout the world as a perfectly acceptable seasonal salutation (preferable in almost all circles to the truly lifeless "Season's Greetings"), turns out to be a secret code for declaring war on Christmas

    Did you ever in your life think the day would come when "War" and "Christmas" would share space in the same three-word phrase?  Neither did I. But it is the notorious 21st Century, and so far it's not a century noted for common decency, let alone common sense.

    I'm out of the woods and in the big city now, and I'm happy to report that "Merry Christmas" is everywhere.  So far nobody is showing signs of preparing for battle against Christmas. Our December has not suddenly turned gray.  Tanks are not on the move anywhere.  There are no soldiers in freezing, muddy trenches.  The War on Christmas is a lie. So who's making this up?  The Scrooges.  The Grinches.  Those nasty, wasty Grinches who don't have a clue about the true spirit of Christmas. That's who.

    The why of it is more elusive.  There are dozens of reasons, none of them good, but Fa La La and Fiddle-de-dee,  who cares? It's Christmas and 'tis the season!

    Still, I feel the need to say this plain:  I, a secular-liberal, love my Christmas.  Christmas is in my blood, pagan as my blood may be, and  I've been celebrating it for what seems like an eternity.  Through new births and great losses, through times thick and thin, this is the one Happy Holiday season that I wouldn't ever want to miss.

    I love Christmas carols as much as I love sweet secular Christmas songs and it's okay because it's Christmas.

    As much as I love the Chinese Restaurant scene in "The Christmas Story",  it's also possible to really, really look forward to interpretations of  Luke 2's nativity scene.

    I can accept that the White House Christmas card needn't be, and, all right, shouldn't be religious, but, at the same time, there is a sacred meaning to Christmas.  Churches across the country celebrate the birth of Christ, each in their own way.  It is as it should be. 

    The White House Christmas Card, 2011

    So when I say I want to wish you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas, you'll just have to trust that I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)


    Well, my Xmas tree this year is a rosemary bush, much like the one pictured, so I can sincerely write, Seasonings Greetings!

    lol.  It's not even in the same ballpark.  It's as Mark Twain said:  "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug,"

    One has zing, the other zap.  Truly.  Sincerely.

    Merry Christmas Mona.

    Merry Christmas, Teri.  And Happy Holidays, too.

    I recently came across the Christmas Day Truce during WWI when searching for some information.  Steven Kreis writes:

    The horrors of the trench -- rotting horseflesh, mud, poor food, weapons that would not fire, poison gas and the sheer terror of waiting for death -- these were the images and experience of the Great War. It was the Big Lie. There was no tangible enemy, except the one the popular press could fashion. The soldier looked across the parapet and saw himself. The insanity of it all! This partially explains the Christmas truce.

    When we experience the Christmas or Holiday Spirit, we are simply touching upon our deep and innate sense of empathy.  What is sad is that so often throughout the calendar year, we let other things, other priorities, other concerns and impulses distract us from that feeling of shared humanity (it would be nice if we could expand that to our living beings, but one step at a time).  It is what allows us to objectify and dehumanize others, whether it is throw them out of work in order to help the bottom line or to declare some kind of socio-political war on them.

    So Merry Christmas.  May the we find our Bodhisattvas this holiday season.  Lord knows we need them.

    (The artist who created the sculpture writes of this Jizo Bodhisattva: Jizo embodies the qualities of courage, unflagging optimism, and benevolence, and the bodhisattva vow to free all beings from suffering.  That seems to me to be the embodiment of the season.)


    What is sad is that so often throughout the calendar year, we let other things, other priorities, other concerns and impulses distract us from that feeling of shared humanity (it would be nice if we could expand that to our living beings, but one step at a time).

    Who amongst us has not done something while driving in our cocoon of a car that we would never do if we were outside that cocoon? (OK, maybe Ramona.)

    Similarly, the more we become isolated from our fellow person, the less likely we are to empathize with him/her. The super-rich, in their gated mansions with servants who do their shopping for them, are an exemplar of this, but many of us are guilty in lesser ways.

    I know that I definitely belong among those who is guilty of living in my own cocoon.  Sometimes it is simply our own inner demons that turn us inward towards a deep destructive self-absorption.  Our addictions, whatever they may be, can consume us.  We can only hope we can recognize them as such and commit to let them go.  (Of course, during this time of year, we are inundated with materialism and consumerism - which only feeds our cravings).

    Our addictions isolate us - physically, geographically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The gates we hide behind become simply symbols of our disconnection with one another.  

    At least we do have a time of the year when we at least try, collectively, to re-connect, to throw off the cocoons, so to speak.  That others try to create and perpetuate confrontation and disconnection through their silly "wars" means we need to struggle harder to to open the gates and welcome everyone in.

    Hey!  I resemble that remark!



    This is a mashup of a Thousand Hand Bodhisattva by a deaf dance troupe and the Steely Dan song of the same name:

    Awesome dancers.  Wonder what kind of response one of the major networks would get if they added the Thousand Hand Dancers Holiday Special to the Christmas special slate.

    I love Christmas and Merry Christmas to Ramona!

    Good cheer, Richard. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

    Maybe some people just need a war to be happy. Merry Secular Liberal Christmas, Mona!

    I was up at 6 AM (just like when I was a kid waiting for Santa!), so I have a couple of hours to kill before the rest of the house begins to stir, and where am I drawn on a Christmas morning?  To dagblog, of course.  (I don't know if I'd call that fun or just pathetic...) 

    But next I'm going over to Twitter to see how Wolfie's party is going.  I KNEW he was a sheep in wolf's clothing.  I just KNEW it!

    Merry Christmas, Good Hanukkah (or is it Chanuka?), a very special Kwanzaa, a wicked Saturnalia, and Happy, Happy Holidays all around.  (I think that about covers it.)

    Hey, everybody!  Wolfie's #YourXmas made the Washington Post!  Here!  Right here!

    And a joyous Festivus.  How could I forget Festivus?

    And to all a Good Night!

    So does this mean it's over?  I've only just begun!

    Happy Holidays.

    Season greetings and Happy Holidays.

    And all of the above to you, trking.  Enjoy this day.

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