Thoughts about CHRISTMAS —— December 25

One of the things that make a Christmas party so delightful is that it is everybody’s party.

Most other parties are in honor of some friend, relative, or colleague. We celebrate and salute the guest of honor’s great new achievement or anniversary. We come together to congratulate a particular individual for a notable accomplishment. But Christmas is something else.

Christmas, of course, is a birthday party, but it is an idea, a symbol and above all a spirit of fellowships. At the same time, a Christmas party has another unique attribute we cannot ignore. Christmas is a giftgiving occasion and gift-giving and gift-receiving are times when most of us have more reason than elsewhere in the year to feel happy, to feel friendly toward our companions, perhaps even to be wallowing in the milk of human kindness.

A great many of the things we accept, as ancient Christmas customs are a lot younger than we think. It was little more than a hundred years ago that Americans began sending each other Christmas cards.

The night before Christmas was a fine time for the kids long before Clement Moore wrote a poem about it in 1822. The Christmas tree, however, is a good deal older, and so is the Christmas party. George Washington won a great victory over the British in the American Revolution when he surprised Hessian troops who were sleeping off their Christmas revelry.

I think it is only fitting to remember that Saint Nicholas, who is more celebrated at this time of year as Santa Claus, is not only the patron saint of children and of sailors but also of pawnbrokers, suggesting that it is all right to go into hock at Christmas time, but prudence argues as strongly against that course as against overestimating one’s capacity for spiked eggnog. Think before you drink and take stock before you hock.


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