Christmas..... the very name evokes memories of family, good times, and magic in the air. I need to step away from all of the politics of this time that we live in. All the strident arguments about wars on the holiday, and what we should use as a greeting, and get down to what I feel about the holiday itself. 
 I think that it is a magical time for families that celebrate it, especially children. It has become both a religious holiday, and a children's holiday over the last couple of centuries. For a child, the thought of the Santa Claus coming to bring all good children gifts is nothing short of magic. Oh, they will sing the Christmas Carols, and think of the Christ child in the manger, but on the eve and the morning of that special day, it's all about the wonder and the magic of the children's Christmas. I remember being so excited that I could not sleep. Just the thought of that jolly gentleman coming to bring me toys and other gifts was enough to render me an insomniac. Even though I knew that I had not been good all year, like the song said that I should be, somehow I knew that Santa would forgive me and bring me gifts of toys (And.... sadly.... clothes!) and that we would have a magnificent feast. Oh, I used to push my brother through the missing pane in the French door that separated us from the bounty under that beautiful tree, laden with tinsel and expensive glass ornaments. I remember the joy that I felt, unwrapping each gift in a frenzy, hoping against hope, that I would get what I really wanted. It was a joy being a child. Afterwards, my thoughts turned to the baby Jesus and his family, and wondering what is was, exactly, that a baby would do with frankincense and myrrh.
 I remember the look of satisfaction on my mother and father's faces, after all the presents were finally unwrapped. They knew that, despite the fact that living day to day was a struggle for them, they had done good. My Aunts and Uncles and my father's cousins would all 'Make The Rounds', and come and have a drink. It was just a wonderful time of year for all concerned. I remember our bountiful Christmas feast: Turkey, with all the trimmings, and the wonderful pies and cookies that went along with it. No one to tell us that enjoying ourselves was bad for us. My father would usually drink a bit too much, but that just made him more lovable, even if it made my mom a little (just a little...) angry.  What we didn't have, thank goodness, was all of the controversy that we have today.
  I remember when our children were very small, how we scrimped and saved and put together all the money that we could to make a big Christmas for them. We were a blended family that many said would fail: Sheryl is Jewish, as were my step daughters, I was a lapsed Catholic, forced to be that way because I followed my heart, and my boys were baptized as well. We threw everything we had into Christmas. I remember our daughter, Alaina, being so excited that she shook. I remember the joy on all of their faces when they saw that tree and all the wonderful things that were under it. To me, that's what Christmas is all about. It's about the children, and the joy that it brings to them. I understand, and respect, the fact that it's about the birth of Jesus; but I think that he would love the joy that his holiday brings all of the children of the world.
  Now, I am a grandfather, living on a small pension and Social Security. We do what we can to make our grandchildren happy. I still enjoy that part of the holiday. I want to insulate them from all of the silly controversy that has come to symbolize what once was a season of joy. So, I will say to all of you who celebrate this joyous time of year:
 Merry Christmas! May the spirit of the season follow you throughout the year. Peace On Earth, and Good Will To All!
 John Zaffino December 20, 2013
Carmel, New York


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