About Michael’s Annual Christmas Messages
I started writing Michael’s Annual Christmas Messages in 1959 and just kept doing it for 54 years. It has been quite a ride over that time. The idea was to tell people a little about our lives and to provide some political satire to make them laugh. The Messages became a tradition in our home and, I’m told, in a few others. We kept copies in albums along with other remembrances of each of the years. It was a joy to write and reread them. What they have always contained is an evolution of thought, a history of our family and proof that our most important gifts are those that are already unwrapped – the treasures of family experiences, our caring for one another – and our health. I decided to post summaries of some of the more memorable messages on this blog as a convenience for me to visit what I thought about way back when and perhaps more recently than that.
Looking Back – Christmas 2017
In previous Christmas messages I always looked back on the previous 12 months. This Christmas I’m a little nostalgic and will look back on more of my life than just 2017.
Over halfway thru my 86th year I know who I am and conclude that I’ve had a pretty good run at life. So it feels safe to look back. I grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better, not worse. But time seems to be moving faster now and I’m becoming more aware of the passing years.
There are a few things I want this Christmas – none of which money can buy.
- Time with my grandparents. Only one was alive when I was a kid and he didn’t speak English.
- To meet the gang at the St. Ambrose churchyard for sandlot football or trace a baseball diamond on an empty lot and chose up sides for a game.
- To participate in my grade school graduation. There were 99 of us in the Class of 1946, and to my recollection, no one stood out and no one was excluded. I look back on those years as the ones that formed my character and how grateful I am to all of my classmates, priests and nuns with whom I shared those times.
- To sling my clubs on my shoulder and hitchhike with Tom, Jack and Sheldon to Durand Eastman for 36, and sometimes more, holes. We bought clubs one-by-one from a barrel in a sports store. Our golf balls were used ones we bought for nickels or found. That began a lifelong passion for the game that continues today.
- To leave home in the morning and play outside all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. On our own. No little league. No Pop Warner, or other parental supervision. If you showed up late, you might not get to play. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
- To see Sylvia for the first time. Across the room at a Monroe Y ski club meeting so many decades ago. OH MY!
- To sit next to our tree and read “The Night before Christmas”. First to our four, well into their teen years, and later to the grandkids.
- To cheer at a victory parade in 1945.
- To go to a Saturday double feature with cartoons and a Flash Gordon serial – for a dime.
- To see Frank Sinatra in a live performance. It only happened once.
- To go to a parish dance on Friday night.
- To confess to sins that only Catholics could commit. Like eating meat on Friday or missing Sunday Mass.
- One more winter party at Colgate with a Dixieland band playing in the basement bar.Maybe without the hangover.
- A warm place for the homeless this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Christmas 2016
Just a few thoughts at the close of 2016. Some big changes in the world and here at home. First, the election campaign. We did the best we could to avoid any information about what was going on. We avoided TV news, newspaper coverage and discussions with others and we didn’t watch election night coverage. We didn’t support either candidate and so had no stake in the outcome. The way I get it is that it was a contest between Sleazy and Grumpy and Grumpy won. We have no emotion about that.
We have great compassion for those of you who are devastated by the result. We truly do. But we don’t applaud those who riot and attack lawful authority because they didn’t get their way, calling it protest. In my day, when we didn’t get our way, we went to a silent place and wept – like we did four years ago.
As for expectations under the new administration, we have none. The reaction of many – encouraged by the press – convinces me that, as stated in Groesch’s Law, “Things can get worse, indefinitely”. Our politicians will continue to avoid solving our many serious ills and instead put their effort on advancing their political ideology – whether it is liberal or conservative – and put most of their energy into getting reelected.
A serious problem is that Washington has become an extension of the university with its political correctness and identity politics emphasis. PC is so rampant that the words “adults only” have been banned from descriptions of movies because it may offend school children (and people like me). And we are forced to say that on December 25th we will be celebrating the birth of “the holiday infant”.
In other news a new earthquake fault was discovered in CA and the President was quick to give it a name: “George Bush’s Fault.” Donald Trump rants about illegal immigration, but that works both ways with the discovery of an American who snuck into Mexico and was found working as an undocumented CEO.
There were also big changes for Sylvia and me. We sold our home of 45 years and moved to a retirement community. Downsizing means letting some things go. It was tough.
For us, everyone in the family is healthy and had a good year although there were employment disruptions. Sylvia and I continue to enjoy our golf and travel.
At 84 I am as happy as I’ve ever been. Perhaps one must wait until the last few holes to see how splendid the round (life) has been.