The Christmas cards are in production. Description on the back is about Tuck's "America" model pictured on the front, but what to say inside? Some say "Merry Christmas" is de rigueur. Others, like ourselves, might prefer a more understated reference to the birth of Christ as in our last year's message from Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people." Prototype of this year's card can be seen just behind Baby's right ear above.
"Even a nonbeliever can perceive something special, transcendent and intimate that speaks to the heart," Pope Benedict XVI told visitors and clergy during his weekly audience last week, calling to mind an ur-quotation of our blog, the late Oriana Fallaci's timeless "If an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true." Papa Ratzi's latest words:
Perhaps the world crisis that is affecting so many families and all of humanity could be the stimulus for rediscovering the warmth, simplicity, amity and solidarity which are the very values of Christmas.
Stripped of its materialistic and consumer trappings, Christmas offers a chance to welcome as a personal gift the message of hope that emanates from the mystery of Christ's birth.
Our own little household started trimming expenses midsummer when we noticed the grocery bills soaring, thinking about prices in terms of the downstream effects of both corn used for fuel vs feeding livestock and soaring gasoline prices. Then came the financial apocalypse. We're still reeling and don't understand why this particular business cycle seems so much worse than most others. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could depend upon economic journalists to enlighten us? Where is Maggie Thatcher when we need her?
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Times, not only Oriana Fallaci, but Wal-Mart agrees with the Pope, "judging by its new motto, 'Save money. Live better.' And at least one therapist vouches for thrift as the new global virtue":
"Forced frugality will give folks the chance to really examine their priorities and reconsider the role and meaning of gifts and holiday expenses. With less comes more appreciation and gratitude for what you have and what you´re given," said Kit Yarrow, a psychologist with Golden Gate University.
Is that the excuse we'll be giving this year for our first-time-ever failure to buy any Christmas presents whatever? We do have a family Xmas lottery and will be giving a monetary gift (his preference) to the person we drew, but we used to be the Queen of Xmas Gifts. Now it is all about feeding. We have cooked up a groaning board of comestibles for family and friends. Is that the new "true meaning of Christmas"? Raymond MacDonald Alden's Why the chimes rang comes to mind.
Update: The true meaning of cuteness is explored in depth at Carnival of the Cats #249: Christmas Edition, brought to you by the handsome tabby Nikita of Musings of a Mad Macedonian.