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People often ask me how it feels to celebrate the holidays in a place where the chances of a white Christmas are slim to none and Santa's sleigh might be pulled by camels instead of reindeer.

I sometimes refer the Christians who ask to the moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas, when young Linus explains "... what Christmas is all about," by reciting the following excerpt from the actual Bible:

And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the Angel said unto them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.' And suddenly, there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.'

No snow there. No decked halls or donning of "fun" apparel either -- remember, it's not "gay" apparel anymore. Didn't you get the memo from Hallmark?

In fact... didn't that whole scene take place is something remarkably like a desert?

Oh, snap!

This is not to say that the spirit of Christmas in Tucson is any closer to the Biblical basics. Nor is it any less "festive" than the commercialized version Charlie Brown was so upset about. It's just... different.

We can, and do, often go Christmas shopping in tees, shorts and flip flops. And while we do have Christmas trees, you're more likely to see our xeriscape plants and cacti festooned with lights.

It has snowed a few times during the holidays. In fact, it's sometimes possible to go skiing on Mount Lemmon, up on the highest of the mountain ranges surrounding the city, and then come home and swill spiked nog beside the pool.

So it is, to be sure, sometimes difficult to remember those "chilled to the bone" Christmases in Sweet Home Chicago about which I was somehow so excited as a child. Or to remember why I was once so moved by Linus' little recitation.

But last weekend, I spent almost three hours talking long distance with the widow of my Uncle John, a rakish bon vivant sorely missed by all, but more acutely, of course, by his widowed wife.

She's 90 years old and her health is rapidly failing. She has, in fact, had more operations and illnesses in the last three years than she had in all 87 years prior. But her mind is as sharp as her wit and insight.

The long call was prompted by a "kringle" I'd sent her. Kringles are rings of flaky pastry with fruit or pecan fillings and seem to be in all of the foodie gift catalogs this year -- I'm an avid online shopper. No "Black Friday" fist or gunfights for me.

And though I was a bit worried that it would not be exactly what the doctor ordered for her delicate digestive system, I couldn't resist.

I'm glad I threw caution to the wind. First, because she raved about it and told me exactly how she'd carefully cut it up into single serving pieces and put them in the freezer to make it last longer. But more importantly, she told me she'd been feeling very sad and alone until that little ring of gooey goodness arrived.

She's too frail to be comforted by those, "How not to feel lonely during the holidays" lists always offered at this time of year. She can't get to church to help assemble gift boxes for families in need. She can't serve dinner to the homeless on Christmas Day -- she can hardly serve herself. One of her illnesses makes her fingers go numb sometimes, so she can't even grasp a fork or spoon properly. And spine issues have made standing up for any amount of time almost impossible.

So, hearing the lilt in her voice as she described, in detail, the first taste of that kringle was absolutely precious. From there, we talked of Christmases and loved ones past, for hours.

She repeated herself a few times. And spent a great deal of time reliving the ups and downs of her marriage to my uncle, whose love of "the chase" had not ended when he slipped that ring on her finger. He was a hopeless philanderer, but she knew that. Almost enjoyed it.

Now that she's getting so close to what she's sure will be a heavenly reunion with him, it's almost all she thinks about. I didn't begrudge her that. I just listened.

And that is the real reason for this little tome. To remind you to do the same for someone. Yes, please do all those things I mentioned previously -- give generously, this holiday season, of money and time.

But then, please, also stop and think of someone who might be feeling sad and alone. A relation, an old friend, someone on the block who never seems to have any visitors -- it's your call.

But call them. Or call on them in person -- take a minute. Make some room at the inn, so to speak. For Linus. And that other little boy this is all supposed to be about.

Merry every day, all. I wish you that for this New Year.

Image credit: dbvirago / 123RF Stock Photo

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron's book of essays, The Keka Collection, can be purchased onAmazon.com.

Follow Cynthia Dagnal-Myron on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bioko

Views: 103

Comment by Lyle Elmgren on December 24, 2013 at 2:04pm

A fine suggestion. Best to you.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on December 24, 2013 at 2:39pm

"...it's not "gay" apparel anymore. Didn't you get the memo from Hallmark?..." Ms. 'Obin got one of those Hallmark tree ornaments a tiny ugly ceramic sweater with "Don we now our 'fun' apparel."

Apparently the backlash from customers caused Hallmark to pull that line from the product line... beware the perils of screwing around with tradition to avoid controversy cause that can blow up in your face...

... There's a difference between alone and lonely, and while I've spent a few holidays "alone" by choice or circumstance, I've also banged into a couple of "lonely" ones as well. Amazing what a phone call or an invitation can do to lift that mood.

R&R and Happy Holidays to you and yours. ;-)

Comment by Arthur James on December 24, 2013 at 11:19pm

`

I Listened to some of the ` Festival of Nine Lesson in Carols...

Lights . . . From Cambridge, England. The Scriptures were Read.

Then, a Cantor would sat with a NO strident Voice` Thanks Be to God.

Some bookish folk are afraid ` Old Zeus may strike down Good notions.

`

Then ` On Being

Interviewed ` Walter Bruggerman.

He Believes ` Psalms ate Poems.

Folk lose ` Perspective with ` isms.

Individual loses ` Transformation.

`

I had never heard his voice. 

NPR has nice Miss Tippett.

We think we the only

One in 21st cen

and can be 

indignant.

I am always irked by so-called

know it all` as if they king big

honcho. They disrespect the

ancestry we have come

from.

A strident voice causes

subtle strife. It spreads

societal illness in naive

folk. We need to respect.

`

I go on tangents. Thanks.

If I get lonely I hug Pillow.

I have 5- soft bed Pillows.

`

Comment by Arthur James on December 24, 2013 at 11:24pm

`

gosh

typo

not Psalms ate Poems

but Psalms are Poems

no smell like cheeses.

no smoke Pall Mall.

Eat blue cheese.

No smell camel.

Camel is stinky.

Cheese is good.

Comment by Arthur James on December 25, 2013 at 9:45am

`

Jan Sand.I was in the woods for hours.

I remembered Elder Frank Racic and

Maria (Little Flower) Frank died at

ninety two doing what he loved.

He helped me make a 55 - gallon

barrel of ` Honey Wine ` Mead.

Frank was 'racking' off ` Mead.

He wore white socks, and

boxer shorts. Franc was

cupbearer at my eldest

Son's 9-11 (after 2001)

wedding. He wooed his

Maria from the nunnery

in ` Nuremberg, Germany.

Maria was a former Nun.

`

Maybe more later . . .

`

Franc had a book:

`

How To Fix Anything.

`

He helped/volunteered

to teach espanol, gizmos,

and IF You two spoke 

You'd be Sparks of Light.

As in ` Proverbs ` Sharpen

Each Other's ` Mental Wits.

I miss those Two. Memory...

I go to eat more good grub.

Comment by Keka on December 25, 2013 at 10:35pm

Art...wow. Yeah, it sounds really dumb next to the wondrous words you always offer, but...I can't compete. I can only marvel. And go eat more good grub, too. JMac, Jan, and Lyle...you're on the same wavelength fo' sho'. And the Pogo song...priceless! Today I heard a song called "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear," sung to the tune of "Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland." I almost shot Christmas wine out of my nose, I swear!

Comment by Keka on December 25, 2013 at 10:40pm

OH--and Art, I hug pillows, too. Two wonderful ones that comfort me the way my baby blankets did back when. And psalms...do eat poems in a way. I think they are more beautiful than any poems, and I'm not actually Christian, but...they are beautiful to me. I read them quite often. And I'm rather fond of that young man who wasn't actually born on Christmas but was probably a heck of a guy like the Good Book says. If any of the words attributed to him are really his words, he'd make a great TED talk video, right? (Just teasing...sort of)

Comment by Arthur James on December 25, 2013 at 10:44pm

`

I wish I was There . . .

I swear. IF I become a 

Jewish convert some day?

I May . . . Play ` Hava 

Nagilla on ` Bagpipes?

I'd take You ` etcetera?

for a ride in my` pickup?

I swear we'd have a ` ball.

I sure get so confused` @

open & our Salon. I serious.

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