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As tradition goes (12/19/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Can one still hear that little drummer boy, when the festive house is aglow and peacefully still? Bing Crosby's White Christmas seems to lack the luster of snow around these parts. As I write today, December 12, the horrendous, bitter winds whip Christmas displays with unsettling gusto.

My granddaughter once asked me if everyone drove around in horse and buggy when I was young. As I snickered, I felt a sudden longing for a more simplistic life. The rhythm of the dishwasher's swishing, the teakettle's whistle, and the startling clothes dryer buzzer brought me back to reality.

The time is bound to arrive when the younger family members do the celebration honors. I know the rules. It's taboo to comment, "Well dear, you know we always did it this way." Thanksgiving went very well without my help. A guest in my own home, I was grateful that the gals did all the work.

I paged through the beautifully illustrated "Golden Books Treasury of Christmas Joy," a nostalgic fix for me, which I had bought for the grandkids. They can't be ridiculed for swiftly losing interest in it, the TV blasting forth with a most colorful "Grinch" movie, and all the dazzling, trendy playthings.

Now we have Poppin' Fresh cookie dough in a tube. Just cut and bake. No time on a blustery night for roasting chestnuts on an open fire? Hey, we got Jiffy Pop popcorn, Hot Pockets, and nachos and cheese. I recall how Mom took the leftover pie crust dough and made a delectable treat, baking flat bread, then sprinkling it with sugar and cinnamon right from the oven.

No more Auntie's stick-to-the-ribs fruitcake. Just tune in Emeril, on the food channel, "kicking it up a notch," mixing up a delectable fruitcake, with no clumps of candied fruit or rancid nutmeats. Give me a good old "Elvis Christmas." Right! The new kids in the limelight have taken center stage.."Fa la la la la," with Toby Keith, Hillary Duff, Garth, and the Dixie Chicks. "Oh, artificial Christmas Tree..."

Letters to Santa are likely to be transmitted to the North Pole's website. Mom and step-dad are frantically attempting to reach Dr. Phil on the Internet for help - because they spoiled the kids, who seem to have taken over planet "home."

It was far less complicated back in leaner times. Our grade school exchange gifts were usually bought at Woolworth's or Kresges, "down to Winona." It was a pretty sure bet that several would give one of those lifesaver books. All female elementary teachers then, linen and lace hankies were the rage. Can you feel the love?

Trends, times, tastes, and tactics are fickle. Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas" is not your granny's Christmas anymore. Hark! Tearing gift paper and screeching kids drown out the Herald Angel's song.

One positive thing, as shopping has become America's #1 pastime, Bah! Humbug! seems to have been squeezed out by cheerful giving. It's heartwarming to take a child shopping for gifts for the "Toys for Tots" drive, by cutting back on frivolous spending.

Don't be a stick in the snowbank; adults, show your lighthearted side. Arrange for the children to take part in holiday preparations, which can be a time of sharing stories and laughter. It's wasted energy to sweat the details or to expect perfection. Why couldn't a Yule cookie be shaped like a mouse or a kitty!

This morning's church service featured the children's Christmas program. Our granddaughter looked her part, as did all of the winged and halo-bedecked cherubs. Beaming, adoring faces dotted church pews with the essence of Advent through a child's eyes...a sentiment far too brief.

Is it Godly prophecy that all today's traditional carols of the season originated back in the eighteenth century? The Christmas story itself is venerable. Nothing that has survived for such a long time could be anything but the real thing.

A real and blessed Christmas to all! 


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