Home News Archives December 10, 2014


My Two Cents

by Stephen Scalf

A Well-Deserved Boot

Christmas means different things to different folks.
I get that. Just because Christmas is a religious holiday for Christians doesn't necessarily mean that it absolutely has to mean the same thing to everyone.
But here's a little bit of something to think about:
First, bible scholars are pretty much unanimous in stating that Jesus was NOT born on Dec. 25. That date was selected to celebrate Jesus' birthday for symbolic reasons. Note that the shortest day of the year comes just before Dec. 25, and the festival we now know as Christmas actually started with pagan traditions celebrating the "coming" of the sun back into the world, in the form of longer days with the promise of longer days and warmer weather.
It doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how the hope of new life and light can be considered symbols of Jesus and His mission. So in this sense, especially because the Bible doesn't really give us any real clues as to what time of year Jesus was born, it makes good sense to use Dec. 25 as an appropriate time to celebrate Christmas.
I can imagine that back in 366 A.D. a few Christians grumbled about celebrating Jesus' birthday in conjunction with the Roman's Saturnalia, or the Pagan celebration of Yule.
Nearly 2,000 years later, we're still grumbling about forgetting the real "reason for the season."
But let me get back to my original idea - that Christmas means different things to different people. For many, there is no religious aspect to the holiday, at all. It's all about Santa Claus coming down the chimney to fill stockings with goodies and to leave presents under the tree.
Think of all the songs that go along with this theme:
Here comes Santa Claus
Santa Claus is coming to town
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Up on the Rooftop

The list goes on and on.
But think about the other songs we associate with Christmas, that take Santa out of the equation, too.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Sleigh Ride
Let it Snow
Baby it's Cold Outside
My Favorite Things (mention of "brown paper packages tied up with string" does not equate to Christmas presents!)
Jingle Bells
Frosty the Snowman

Most of these are songs about cold and snow, and make no mention of Christmas or Santa Claus, at all!
I have heard some Christians talk about how "Santa" is actually an anagram for another person who supposedly runs around in a red suit and deceives people about the real meaning of Christmas - "Satan." But isn't ironic that these other songs we love to sing (or at least listen to) at Christmas time are not just "taking Christ out of Christmas," they are taking Santa Claus out of Christmas, as well!
Someday will we see people protesting about how we are starting to lose sight of the "fake" meaning of Christmas?
Come on, people! If we don't start standing up for commercialism, like Black Thursday, and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and all the holiday shopping that goes hand-in-hand with "what do you want for Christmas?" and the buying of all those presents, with all these songs about winter and it being cold and snowy, Christmas might end up being nothing more than a winter solstice celebration.
But come to think about it, isn't that the way the Dec. 25 holiday started out in the first place, anyway?
Although I said earlier that I really don't mind if some people choose to ignore the religious aspect of Christmas, if that is the way they choose to celebrate Christmas, that's their business. However, I think people who choose to ignore the religious aspect of the holiday would leave those of us alone who choose to celebrate the Christ in Christmas.
When we lived in Hawaii, the City of Honolulu got rid of all their religious Christmas decorations, but during the Gulf War put up a sign that said, "Peace on Earth."
The city was sued and had to remove the sign because it was ruled that since "Peace on Earth," was the message from the angel announcing Jesus' birth, it is still religious, and therefore violates the constitutional rights of those who choose to not be religious.
I am all for being tolerant and allowing people of all creeds to practice their religion without the state dictating what they can and cannot do, but who in their right mind could possibly object to the message of "Peace on Earth."
Perhaps we can (and should) get all up in arms about silly court rulings like this, but the point I would like to make is that it doesn't really matter what other people do or say, and how they choose to celebrate (or not to celebrate) Christmas.
The true Spirit of Christmas is something we can carry in our hearts throughout the entire year.
It doesn't really matter on what day Jesus was born; what matters is that He WAS born - and the gift of salvation that comes to us as a result.
It doesn't really matter that songs like:
Deck the Halls
Carol of the Bells
Here We Come a Wassailing
and similar traditional songs that we associate with Christmas really don't have anything to do with Christ. If they help us to be glad of heart and to welcome the joy of the season, we can still keep the true meaning of Christmas alive and well in our hearts.

And that's my two cents,
Steve Scalf

Sharing a Smile

by Tom Metcalfe

Bah! Hambug!

Last week, we started the month of December with two lists of someone’s top ten Christmas movies. Like me, you probably had a difference of opinion regarding these lists. I think we might all agree that the classic tale, “A Christmas Carol” written by Charles Dickens is one of the best Christmas stories. Outside of the story of the first Christmas, any portrayal of this wonderful story continues to be among the greatest Christmas movies. You know of course, that this was written as a ghost story. Dickens stated, “I have endeavoured [sic] in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour [sic] with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
Bonnie, my wife, says that I have 20 different versions of this movie. Actually, I don’t, but I do have several. I watch each of them, starting in November, leading up to Christmas day, every year. I have watched them so much that I can speak the scripted parts, as they do on the screen. For example: When the ghost of Marley appears, Scrooge reasons that rather than being a ghost that the apparition is “a slight disorder of the stomach … You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!'' (I particularly like that grave and gravy part.)
When we think of this novella, we remember the main characters, Jacob Marley’s ghost, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and of course Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge, of course is a miserly skinflint who is greatly lacking in the Christmas spirit. While others around him are celebrating, he refuses any part with those immortal words, “Bah, humbug!”
Several different actors have portrayed the part of Scrooge.. Maybe you can remember a particular portrayal of the old guy that is your favorite.
I found the longest list on the Wikipedia web site. Some of the movies were animated. Some of the actors are female. Some have been renamed, but none the less a Scrooge-type of person. Below are some of the 62 on the list:

Lionel Barrymore
John Barrymore
Orson Wells
Bill Murray
Buddy Hackett
Reginald Owen
John Carradine
Yosemite Sam
Scrooge McDuck
James Earl Jones
Cicely Tyson
Vanessa Williams
Albert Finney
George C. Scott
Alastair Sim
Kelsey Grammer
Jim Carrey
Mr. Magoo
My favorite actor in the role as Scrooge is Alastair Sim. The movie was first released in England as “Scrooge” in 1951. It was released in The United States as “A Christmas Carol”. If you haven’t seen that version, you really ought to. Some say it is closer to the script as written by Dickens.

In last week’s paper, “Tuba Boy” Ross Haney challenged me to a friendly war. Well here goes: Sorry Haney!….. Star Kist doesn’t want tuba with good taste….. Star Kist wants tuba that sounds good.

Last week’s trivia question: In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, who played the part of George Bailey? (Too easy? Ok, who played the .layed by Henry Travers.

This week’s trivia question: Who was Scrooge’s partner and how did Dickens describe him in the beginning of the story?

And On That Note...

by Ross Haney

Pretzel Days

“I wake up every morning in a bed that’s too small, drive my daughter to a school that’s too expensive, and then I go to work to a job for which I get paid too little. But on Pretzel Day? Well, I like Pretzel Day…”
Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker), The Office
On the comedic sitcom, The Office, which I have recently become addicted to watching, Stanley Hudson, the character most would describe as the “office grouch,” only enjoys one day at work: Pretzel Day.
Once a year, the cafeteria at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company offers a free soft pretzel to all of the employees in the office building. And although Stanley isn’t too content with his job, Pretzel Day is what makes it all worth it – at least for him, anyway.
I think we all have a Pretzel Day. I mean, we may enjoy our jobs and our lives, but everyone enjoys something a little out of the ordinary every now-and-again – something that pops out to us out of everything else.
I’ve been trying to think of my Pretzel Day, but I’m having a little trouble. There are a lot of days that I establish as my favorite. I mean, do we have to have only one Pretzel Day?
If I had to choose, I’d say that every Wednesday is my Pretzel Day. Tuesday is usually a rush to get the paper done, and the rest of the days of the week are usually busy with other mundane tasks (Don’t get me started on doing the Deeds and Marriages). But when the paper comes out on Wednesday, we get to look back and see a job well done. And on Wednesdays, I try to get all my easy tasks done, as kind of a break.
Other Pretzel Days for me would probably include Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, marching band finals day, and many other awesome days that should be counted as Pretzel Days.
Although I’m sure this column has only come off as me rambling – or trying to fill my word count – what I’m trying to get at is that we need more Pretzel Days. We need days to look forward to that stick out from all the rest. Even if we have to schedule them or make them happen, they’re still Pretzel Days in my book.
In fact, with all this talk of pretzels, I think The Courier office is going to need a real Pretzel Day soon!

And on that note, I’ll leave you!

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