On Christmas and coming in out of the cold | SierraSun.com
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On Christmas and coming in out of the cold

Bob Sweigert
Grasshopper Soup

My first Christmas card of the season came on Monday. On the front of the card was a very colorful drawing of 13 wool gloves and mittens hanging from five different clothes lines in a snow storm. There were no matching pairs. They were all different sizes. I just had to wonder why the darn things weren’t hanging inside by the fire.

The greeting in the card read, “Warm hands, Warm hearts, Happy Holidays,” so maybe it wasn’t officially a Christmas card. It’s confusing these days.

There are different kinds of cards in our politically correct times. As far as I can tell there are at least seven ” Holiday cards, Christmas cards, funny cards, Tarot cards, wild cards, Hanukkah cards and real cards.

The friend who sent me the gloves and mittens is a real card, and he’ll say the same about me. That’s what friends are for.

There’s something very special about the first card of the season, no matter what kind it is, even if it is three weeks early. It’s like getting a personal letter in the mail any other time of year. It’s becoming such a rare event because of the convenience of e-mail that receiving a good old fashioned, handwritten letter is like coming in out of the cold and sitting by a warm fire. Everybody loves sitting by a warm fire to share with a friend.

The sheer simplicity of my first card reminded me of the child-like beauty of Christmas. Whatever your beliefs, the attraction of Christmas is compelling.

Some people believe in reincarnation, astral projection, witchcraft, elves and fairies, elephant gods and monkey gods, even eternal blackness. Of all the extraordinary beliefs in the world, and in spite of the demand to embrace diversity, a little baby born with love in his heart for all mankind is just a little too far-fetched for some to appreciate.

Some are actually repelled by it. They may as well look at a mountain meadow full of green grass, every color of wildflower and birds singing and react with a nasty “Yuck!” Even if the story of the Christ child is superstition, you have to admit it’s a beautiful and colorful idea.

You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Christmas. The message of Christmas is for everyone: A child is born, visions and dreams make it possible, a star leads wise men to the birth of innocence, hope and love live in the most desperate circumstances, life has no beginning and no end, we are all family and ” cities are so crowded this time of year you’ll be lucky if you can find a room.

Christmas is not about finding the perfect gift at the mall, it’s about giving the perfect gift of service to others, completely forgetting oneself. It is not about money and things, it is about discovering the riches that live within the human heart.

The most powerful thing in the world is not money, success or personal ambition. It is meaningful interaction and communication with others.

That is what warms the heart and makes life feel so good ” not a trip to Hawaii or a big job promotion and a raise.

My brother says that in Los Angeles suicides occur in the mansions of the wealthiest neighborhoods, like Beverly Hills, and rarely, if ever, on skid row. I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to that.

Like wool gloves and mittens left hung out to dry in the snow, perhaps homeless people can handle hunger and suffering better than most “successful” people can handle being inside where it’s nice and warm, where, it appears, they have everything.

Even if all you get for Christmas is 13 unmatched wool mittens on a card, it’s better than nothing. Or is it? Maybe nothing is the best thing we can get, anytime of year.

Maybe we would all be better off with nothing. We’d certainly find out how much we are capable of handling, and how much warmth is within our power to give.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.


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