Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

It's the first day of Christmas, and a beautiful, cold, clear, sunny day in Austin, Texas. After two overcast days, it seems as if "the weary world rejoices, as yonder breaks a new and glorious dawn", just like in the Christmas carol!

I have a big salmon filet on the smoker-grill, corn pudding (with jalapeno) in the oven, and pumpkin pie on the counter. We're going to have Christmas dinner in a few hours at our friends' house, where they will be providing the beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, green beans, and other goodies, plus wine and fellowship. We are so blessed to be here safe, in a warm house, able to worship and work and play as we choose, in our great country.

This morning I've been thinking of, and praying for all those serving our country, and the great debt of gratitude we owe them. Our family's "adopted" soldier should be leaving Iraq very soon, if all goes well, and I pray that she returns safely to Ft. Hood. I have never met her, but I love getting her emails, especially because she reminds me what wonderful people we have in our military services. She's so young, but brave and funny.

I've been thinking, also, of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", and can't decide exactly when they got lost. Most Americans will wake up tomorrow thinking Christmas is over, when the Christmas season is actually just starting today, and won't be over for twelve more days.

When I was a child, we didn't put our Christmas tree up until Christmas eve, and took it down after January 6th, which is Epiphany, the celebration which follows the twelve days of Christmas. Now, the Christmas trees are put up after Thanksgiving, and are a fire hazard by Christmas.

Not many people know of Epiphany these days, and the "Twelve Days of Christmas" have become "the six weeks of Christmas shopping". For centuries, Epiphany was celebrated with high significance, yet the only place I know of where it is still a "big deal" is in New Orleans, where it is celebrated more traditionally, with parties and King Cake, as the beginning of Carnival season. I guess there must be older Catholics, Episcopalian, and others who remember Epiphany, but I never hear any mention of it.

So, I just want to encourage you to celebrate the birth of Jesus a bit longer this year, because today is only the first day of Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!
(Mele Kalikimaka i na mea a pau!)

On my other blog, I posted some thoughts (and lots of links) on Hawaiian language (and Christmas) last night.