Tag Archives: Christmas

Can’t make the good-stuff pledge

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The holiday season usually spurs me to make some sort of pledge to limit my commentary to just good stuff, positivity, to lay off the barbs, slings and arrows.

Not this year.

Yes, I am filled with sufficient Christmas spirit. My sons are nearby, along with my wife, our daughter-in-law, our granddaughter and her two brothers. We plan to have a quiet but still somewhat festive day to celebrate Christmas.

It will be more of a secular celebration of the holy day, although we certainly are cognizant of its spiritual meaning and the impact of Christmas on Christians. We honor the birth of Jesus Christ to be sure.

I cannot make the go-easy pledge for this blog. Not this year. We are in the midst of a horrible political transition, which is made that way by the conduct of the man who lost a presidential election. Donald Trump is erecting roadblocks to Joe Biden’s transition into the presidency. Why do that? Because Trump cannot stand the notion of being labeled a “loser.” Which he is. He lost the election, bigly.

So I intend to keep firing away at Donald Trump. I seek to keep a civil tongue — proverbially speaking, of course — as I criticize this individual’s conduct, but there are times when I am just unable to restrain myself.

I apologize in advance for any offense I might bring. Just understand that we are living in extraordinary times that require equally extraordinary analysis of what is occurring before our eyes.

It ain’t good. I intend to say so with all due vigor.

Yes, Virginia …

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am in the mood to share something here.

It is a classic editorial written by a legendary newspaper editor. It comes from Francis Pharcellus Church, editor of the New York Sun. He wrote the editorial in 1897 in response to a little girl’s question. You’ve seen it many times already, I am sure. I just want to share it here in this season of joy. This essay has withstood the test of time and will do so forever and ever.

DEAR EDITOR:

I am 8 years old.   Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.   Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’   Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Welcome to Season of Stress

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No one calls it this, but we are on the cusp of entering the Season of Stress in the United States of America.

Let me be crystal clear about this point. I vowed long ago to avoid getting sucked into the stress associated with the Thanksgiving-Christmas time of year. Think of the irony.

We celebrate Thanksgiving by, um, giving thanks for our plenty, for our loved ones, for our good health and all the things for which we should be giving thanks. Then many of us launch into the holiday buying season, scrambling at stores, plowing through the Internet for the deals of the century. Then we get bummed out when we cannot find the perfect gift to send to the special people in our lives.

It ain’t happening in our house. At least that’s my hope.

Now, what about the 2020 Season of Stress? We have this other thing hanging over us like a dark storm cloud.

It’s that pandemic. Right there we have a damn good reason to stress out.

Americans are dying daily. We set another “record” for deaths overnight. That record is likely to be broken, maybe today or tomorrow. Whenever.

The pandemic is inhibiting our gatherings. The nation’s health experts are warning us about the hazards of sitting on crowded airplanes or gathering around crowded dinner tables with extended family and friends. They tell us: Stay home; keep it quiet and simple; stay away from your loved ones; wear masks; practice appropriate distancing measures.

If that isn’t enough to cause stress in your life, I don’t know what will do it.

But … let us give thanks for this bit of potentially astonishing news: vaccines well might be on the way to a doctor or a pharmacy near you and me.

This is an extraordinary season in an equally extraordinary year. I will not shed a single tear as we say goodbye to 2020 in a few weeks. As for the stress, I am going to fight like the dickens to avoid it.

I am thankful.

That’s showing ‘respect,’ Mr. President?

Donald Trump must have been kidding when he issued that Christmas statement calling on Americans to treat each other with “respect” and “understanding.”

That’s all I can think when I read the Twitter rant he fired off about California and New York’s homeless problems and how the governors of those states should ask the federal government “politely” for help in dealing with the problem.

Trump said this, for instance: “If their governors can’t handle the situation, which they should be able to do very easily, they must call and ‘politely’ ask for help. Would be so easy with competence.”

That’s the Christmas spirit, Mr. President.

He called Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California “incompetent.” He said the homeless populations in both states are setting records. The president implied that the feds won’t lift a finger unless the governors show some manners in seeking help.

I don’t mean to suggest that I actually took Trump’s Christmas message all that seriously. He doesn’t exhibit any semblance of sincerity when he makes such proclamations. How can anyone believe he means those words when the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign against bullying ignores the president’s incessant bullying via his Twitter account?

He’s doing it again and again, this time aiming his ire at the governors of two of our United States.

I should point out that homelessness is not unique to those two states. Texas also has a big-time homeless problem. The difference? Texas is governed by a Republican; New York and California are governed by Democrats. Therefore, Democratic governors become fair game while Republican governors are protected by their party affiliation.

Perhaps we should just implore the president to dispense with the shallow holiday messages about “respect” and “understanding.” He doesn’t mean what he says, so … why bother?

How does POTUS find time to tweet like that … when he’s ‘working’?

Donald Trump visited on Christmas Day via laptop computer with troops overseas. He wished them a Merry Christmas and told ’em he was at Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns in Florida.

He said he spends his time there “working.” Hmm. It got me thinking just a bit.

How does the president of the United States find time to fire off dozens of Twitter messages each day when he’s busy making America great again? Or solving the myriad problems he found on his desk when he took office? Or dealing with trouble spots around the world? Or looking for ways to put America first?

How in the world … ?

I guess perhaps the president mighta been, um, lying to the service personnel with whom he spoke when he said he was busy “working” at the glitzy resort where he spends a lot of his time.

You’ll recall, I’m sure, how he said he wouldn’t have time for golf once he became president. That turned out to be a false statement, too. His golf outings at various Trump-owned properties have totaled something on the order of $118 million; the cost covers security, transportation to and from the locations and assorted ancillary expenses.

Trump’s time working hasn’t interfered with his golf fetish. Understand something: I don’t begrudge the president playing golf as he is always “on the clock.” What is maddening is how he insisted repeatedly that he wouldn’t do such a thing. It’s the lying about it that I find so troubling.

So now he’s telling the troops in harm’s way he’s busy working at Mar-a-Lago, all the while firing Twitter rants about “evil Nancy” Pelosi, Democrats, the House that impeached him and the “hoax” investigations that have put many key aides in prison.

Weird.

Trump seeks ‘deeper undertanding and respect’? Wow!

Donald Trump issued a Christmas statement in which he did something truly remarkable.

The man who bullies incessantly, who hurls epithets, insults and innuendo indiscriminately has called for a greater emphasis on understanding and respect.

To which I say: Holy moly, man!

Trump wrote:

“While the challenges that face our country are great, the bonds that unite us as Americans are much stronger. Together, we must strive to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect — traits that exemplify the teachings of Christ.”

Of course he is right. However, that it would come from someone whose tenure in the only public office he ever sought has been marked by incivility, disrespect and an abject lack of understanding is startling to the max.

Oh, my.

Merry Christmas, Mr. President

I had thought about going easy today on Donald J. Trump, given that it’s Christmas and all of that. I am having fun today with my family gathered around. We’re set to have a lot of laughs and good cheer.

Then the president opened his mouth about Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impeachment and how much his foes hate him. He said that after he spoke from Mar-a-Lago, Fla., to troops stationed overseas, in harm’s way, fighting to protect us against the evil forces that threaten us and the rest of the world.

OK, I won’t wade too deeply into the weeds with this post. I’ll continue to go easier on Donald Trump than I otherwise might be inclined to do.

I just wish the president could set all that partisan bickering nonsense aside for a day. He can’t do it.

I realize I have allowed myself to get sucked into that nastiness sausage grinder on occasion, even during holy holidays.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Today is a joyful day. I intend to keep a smile on my face all day. I might even keep smiling when the sun comes up in the morning.

Merry Christmas, everyone … and to you as well, Mr. President.

Christmas tinged with a touch of apprehension, but a lot of joy

We will awaken in a few hours to yet another Christmas. We won’t have snow on the ground here in North Texas; indeed, the weather forecasters are telling us we’ll have a warm Christmas this year.

That’s all right with me.

Our family is here. We will enjoy seeing them all. We’ll have plenty of laughs. We’ll unwrap some gifts. We’ll express gratitude in some fashion through the day for the reason we celebrate this particular holiday. It’s a holy time as well as a festive time. We’ll mix it all up into a hodge-podge celebration.

It also will deliver us partially from the tension that is building within the halls of power within our federal government. There is no total escape from what is transpiring in Washington, D.C., and at this moment in the states and congressional districts where our elected representatives have fanned out to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with their friends and loved ones.

They’re likely to get a gut full from their constituents before they return to work. That’s why we pay ’em the big bucks. It’s a big part of why they rake in 175 grand each year. We pay them to listen to our complaints.

And, yes … presidential impeachment is on many of our minds. Even now. Even while we celebrate holy holiday. Even while we should divorce ourselves from the tribulations that are bedeviling our government and the officials we elect to run it on our behalf.

As for my family and me, we’re going to kick back, chill out, enjoy the holiday, enjoy each other, get hugs from our granddaughter and laugh out loud at what we’re all going to say.

The rest of it will be waiting for us when the season passes. At this moment, late in the day prior to Christmas, I won’t be in any rush to let this joyful time pass.

Evangelical movement showing signs of splintering

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If the soon-to-be-former editor in chief of Christianity Today has accomplished anything with his scathing critique of Donald J. Trump, it is that he has revealed deep divisions within the evangelical movement and its love-loathe relationship with the president of the United States.

Mark Galli wrote an editorial condemning Trump, calling for his removal from office on the grounds that he is “profoundly immoral.” Galli, who is retiring soon from his post, calls the impeachment of Trump a deal-breaker, saying that the articles of impeachment suggest a president with no moral character.

Other evangelical leaders have rushed to Trump’s defense. One of them is Franklin Graham, the son of Christianity Today’s founder, the late Billy Graham. Others have joined in as well, condemning Galli for challenging Trump, who many say has done more for the issues friendly to evangelicals than any president in modern history.

The evangelical Christian movement, therefore, is having a serious debate within its ranks that, as I see it, mirrors what is occurring across the nation along more secular/political lines.

This is a healthy development within a key Trump constituency.

I credit Mark Galli for breaking this matter open, for exposing the divide for the rest of us to witness in real time.

And yes, there is a certain irony that this debate is occurring at this holy time, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth. It might be that was Galli’s intent all along, to publish the editorial, to provoke this discussion at this time of the year.

If that’s the case, then all I can add is this: well played, sir.

I want to share the editorial with you one more time. Take a look.

Merry Christmas.

The perfect antidote to all the craziness

I have discovered the perfect antidote — the remedy, if you will — to take one’s mind off the bizarre antics of those in power in Washington, D.C.

It is to take your granddaughter to a Christmas tree lighting in the community where you live — and then to watch your little pride and joy get asked to throw some fairy dust on the tree when Santa Claus arrives from the North Pole.

That’s what we did tonight. Emma had a blast. Grandma had more fun than she can stand, too. So … did I.

We drove the short distance to Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Princeton, Texas, a bit early. The activities began at 4 p.m.; we got there around 5. They wouldn’t light the three until 7:15. We had plenty of time to, um, waste.

We did. We walked around, visited with parents and grandparents of little ones enjoying the spirit of the season. Emma got to strap on some ice skates and “skate” her way around a rink that comprised a sort of plastic material that was interlocked like a puzzle. She only fell once, but got up and was just fine.

The sun set beautifully. Then a young woman who said she works for the city approached Emma and asked her if she wanted to throw some fairy dust on the tree when it the time arrived for the lighting. Emma, quite naturally, agreed. We called her Mommy and Daddy and she told them what she was about to do.

Then came the time. Santa arrived aboard a Princeton Fire Department truck, accompanied by an elf. Mayor John-Mark Caldwell wished us all a Merry Christmas and counted down. When he got to zero, Emma and four little acquaintances who also got recruited tossed the fairy dust on the tree. It lit up spectacularly. We all cheered.

Emma could not have been happier. Neither could her grandparents.

It was a moment of unfettered joy. It took my mind off the more serious matters about which I have been commenting on in this blog. I’ll get back to that in due course.

Tonight, though, I am filled with a child’s joy at welcoming Santa Claus to our community.

I will sleep well tonight.