A Child’s Christmas In Wales

A Child's Christmas in WalesA Child’s Christmas In Wales was written by Dylan Thomas and published in 1955. It is an anecdotal sketch of the festive season which emerged from a piece originally written for radio. It is an exercise in storytelling and Thomas recreates the experience of Christmas as though it were a fairy tale.

He describes an old-fashioned picture book Christmas which is meant to be familiar to everyone. At one point, while the narrator is remembering festivities from the past the voice of a small child asks him “Were there Uncles like in our house?” He replies, “There are always Uncles at Christmas”, emphasizing that the experience of Christmas doesn’t change with time: it is a universal experience shared by everyone.
But Thomas is keen to emphasize that modern Christmases are not as good as the ones he remembers. In the past, “It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas”. This remembered snow was not the same as that which we have now: it was a “dumb, numb thunderstorm of white,” and far more exciting. Thomas recreates the nostalgic magic of a childhood Christmas when everything was brighter and better.

There are so many options for enjoying this rich literary classic. Read how he starts the story and see if you are not drawn in.

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen

Denholm Elliott in a wonderful movie adaptation of the story.

Kathryn DettwillerMy favorite version of the book was given to me as a Christmas present in 1978 by Kathryn Dettwiller, dear friend, artist and proponent of my writing from the earliest time.

There has not been a year since that time that I have not read this story at Christmas time at least once. Thank you, Kathryn!

 

A Child’s Christmas in Wales This compilation of mine includes a brief background, artwork, unabridged text, and a link to Dylan Thomas’s own recording of the story.

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Power of Family and Tradition Redux

Remember each day is just the sum of your experiences. Martin Daniel

Norman Rockwell WonderIn 2014 I started to tell an important reminiscence story of a Christmas Eve. A number of distractions interrupted my storytelling. Some of our stories are more important than others and need to be told. This is one of those stories. Power of Family and Tradition Redux is dedicated to my sisters, Carla Mills, Vicki Mills, and to Connie Heard Meyer in honor of our parents, Marge and Dave Mills, and Jean and Alex Heard.

For me and I hope for you this is a season of great joy, but we recognize that for many it is a time of great sorrow (be it brief and situational or extended and systemic). The story that follows a brief preamble is one of great joy.

A theme is evolving for me over these past few days and weeks ‘as the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.’ That theme broadly based is about duality. I remember how, over pitchers of beer at the Orange Bull tavern on the strip at the University of Texas in Austin, we would insert in one of our philosophic discussions, ‘Oh the dichotomy of life!’ Little did we know and yet much did we know. My over-riding Christmas wish for this year is that we continue to evolve more our thinking, speaking and doing more consciously to ‘and’ versus ‘or’ and that the heavier hand of duality can become the lighter touch of commonality and unity.

I would be joining Carla at a holiday party that had its origins on Lynwood Terrace in Nashville on Christmas Eve 1963. The Mills family had moved from Dallas in June that summer and the Heard family had moved the previous January from Chapel Hill. Carla Mills and Connie Heard, best friends today, were 8 years old when they brought the two families together and a tradition was born.

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For quite a few years it was just the Heard’s and Mills’s on Christmas Eve and those were rich and special times. For the first three years, the celebration took place at the Chancellor’s manse of Vanderbilt where the Heard’s resided. Our houses, on opposite sides of the street, were separated by five large rolling lawns on both sides with beautifully architected homes that were built in the 1910s and 1920s. All but the two that housed us were still in the hands of the original families.

In 1966 the Christmas Eve gathering was moved to Heard’s new residence at the relocated manse on Deer Park Lane a short drive away by car (or bicycle). The eleven of us were gathered around a blazing fire at one end of the drawing room off the entry foyer. The Heard family was Jean, Alex, and their children Stephen, Frank, Connie, and Christopher. The Mills family was Marge, Dave and their children Skip (David), Carla and Vicki.

Alex, the consummate host and regaled in his red vest and Christmas tie would take each person’s drink request personally (one at a time) recede from the room and return for its presentation and then to repeat the process with the next guest, ladies first. For the recipient, it was captivating and endearing attention. I watched him do this for decades to come and always marveled. This particular year, Christmas break of my sophomore year, Alex asked me if I would accompany him in helping with each of those presentations. I was the oldest of the children and the only one yet to have arrived at the legal age. The bar at Deer Park was out from the drawing room, across the entrance foyer, and into Alex’s library and office near the front of the house. On the way, he queried me about school and what things were like on campus. College campuses were in a state of foreboding change. The drinks were delivered first to Marge, and then to Jean, and then to my dad, and then to each of the children with the same decorum and respect. As you can guess the combination of the distance between the fireplace and the library and the number of trips, left a considerable time for Alex and I to be alone. Never had I been so thoughtfully interviewed and made to feel so important. Unmistakable was his genuine curiosity. In those days, for us, Santa’s visit was still to come. It was the night before Christmas and the parents had their helper’s chores to be done. Slipping into bed later that night, having just turned nineteen at Thanksgiving time, something in me had changed.

Marge and DaveMarge (1921-2000) went on to become an accomplished interior designer in Nashville with ASID awards and she and Alex shared their very special love for all thing Christmas and Santa Claus to the end of their days. Dad (1920-2005) went on to become one of ten Regional Counsel for the IRS before retiring in Naples, Florida.

Jean and Alex HeardJean (1924-2011), an accomplished musician, became regarded as First Lady of Vanderbilt and its libraries are named in her honor along with Alex. Alex (1917-2009) became Chairman of the Ford Foundation and served as an adviser to President’s Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Each of the children has distinguished themselves in their lives and careers.

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Fifty-four years of relationship establish no lack of takeaways. This brief vignette reflects three of the blessings I have received from the power of this family tradition and tried to capture here.

First is education. Education is beyond formal curricula and the acknowledgments of others, no matter how highly regarded. Second is respect. Respect is a personal intention and knows no discrimination. The third is practice. Practice is the daily heartbeat of living one’s personal intention. The three are inseparable and by that, I mean that any one of the three cannot exist without the other two for very long. The duality mentioned earlier will diminish in this light.

I hope that this remembrance and the thoughts that go with it have rekindled some of your own Christmas past and pave the way for a new Merry Christmas in the morning.

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A Christmas Anthology

Stocking Stuffers and Last Minute Gifts

Some of us by nature procrastinate and others I know have the gift giving arranged and wrapped months ahead. Whether you are one or the other that last minute invasion of the Christmas spirit can compel.

Here is an anthology that is sure to delight. Pick and choose or send the entire list.

 

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843

 I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me.  May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C. D. December, 1843

The Life of Our LordThe Life of Our Lord, Charles Dickens, Written for his children 1846 – 1849, Published 1934

My Dear Children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as He was.

Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore, 1823

The poem, “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American”,[was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York, Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Moore, and was reprinted frequently thereafter. The poem was first attributed in print to Moore in 1837. Moore himself acknowledged authorship when he included it in the 1844 anthology of his works Poems, at the insistence of his children, for whom he had originally written the piece. Moore had not wished at first to be connected with the unscholarly verse, given his public reputation as an erudite professor. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship.

Papa Panov's Special ChristmasPapa Panov’s Special Christmas, Leo Tolstoy, 1890?

It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

The Elves and the ShoemakerThe Elves and The Shoemaker, Brothers Grimm, 1812

A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep.

A Childs Christmas in WalesA Child’s Christmas In Wales, Dylan Thomas, 1955

Some years ago a dear friend knowing my interest in literature, writing, and all things Christmas gave me a special gift that continues to give and go beyond. My friend Kathryn’s gift was Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. I have read it more than once every Christmas season since with more appreciation and delight.

Plotsky Black Birds 002Plotsky, David Mills, 1995

Old man Plotsky, it seems, got very, very mad at the world sometime back and never got over it. Christmastime did not make circumstances any better.

 

 

Gift of the MagiThe Gift of the Magi, O. Henry, 1905

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.  

Amahl and the Night VisitorsAmahl and the Night Visitors, Gian Carlo Menotti, 1951 NYC

This is an opera for children because it tries to recapture my own childhood. You see, when I was a child I lived in Italy, and in Italy we have no Santa Claus. I suppose that Santa Claus is much too busy with American children to be able to handle Italian children as well. Our gifts were brought to us by the Three Kings, instead.

The Polar ExpressThe Polar Express (Film), Robert Zemeckis, 2004

On Christmas Eve of the late 1950s, a young boy living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, questions his belief in Santa Claus. While sleeping, he magically discovers a steam-powered passenger train named “The Polar Express”. The conductor (Tom Hanks) tells him that the train is headed to the North Pole. At first the boy refuses, he boards the train while it leaves.

The Little Drummer BoyThe Little Drummer Boy (TV Special), Rankin/Bass, 1968

The song was adapted into an animated television special by Rankin/Bass. The Vienna Boys Choir sang the title song in this version, which was narrated by Greer Garson, with Jose Ferrer providing the voice of Ben Haramed, the evil caravan driver.

Letter from Santa ClauseA Letter from Santa Claus, Mark Twain,

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), well known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. Twain is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which has been called “the Great American Novel”, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. His elder daughter, Suzy Clemens, was born in Elmira, New York, and lived a short life, dying at the age of 23 from meningitis. In childhood, Suzy often had poor health, similar to her mother. At 13, she wrote a biography of her father, which was included as part of Twain’s Chapters From My Autobiography. Mark Twain wrote a letter to his daughter, which he sent from Santa Claus, during one of her childhood illnesses.

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Giving and Receiving

The capacity to give cannot be greater than the gifts one has received; and, a gift given is incomplete until it is truly received.

The Way We WereWe have all probably played a version of the game ‘Best’ at some point in time whether intentionally of it just happened spontaneously as part of a gathering of friends. There is a touching scene in the movie The Way We Were. A group of longtime friends gathered in the moments soon after the United States had declared war on Germany. The future was uncertain at best and to salve their pain and anxiety they began to reminisce about their times together – not the worst of times, but the best of times. Isn’t that what we do in the angst of facing some daunting task or future event? Abandon the moment and run for some perceived safety in the warm fuzzy feelings of the past. So they went on the best movie, best afternoon, best year, best week, best party and on and on. Their spirits were lightened and the feeling of love and connectivity was unmistakable.

If we stop to ponder both the secular and sacred gifts we encounter the list is quickly recognized as inexhaustible. If we focus for any time on the contents of that list we will probably experience that most of our pains have been pushed down or away. Miraculous in a way, wouldn’t you say? Grievances and gratitude do not coexist in a moment in time.

Packages wrapped to glitter and glow, some in brown paper, some not wrapped at all. A loving touch, the shake of a hand, a shared umbrella on a rainy day. A handkerchief to wipe a tear away. The earnest question seeking new understanding. The silence of listening, the glory of hearing. Music to raise the spirits or steady the soul. The gift of employment – so taken for granted. Those times of peace when nothing else mattered. Shelter from the cold as numbness set in, a smile from a stranger. Kittens being born, puppies, mother’s suckled milk faded from memory. The sun going down, seeing the glow all around, children laughing, people singing, the man in the moon. Squirrels gymnastics, a slow steady rain, a sunny autumn day, the first season’s snow. Waves at the beach, a story well told. Love in all its forms, food with all their tastes, wine from the grape, oil from the olive, water from the well. Ducks on a pond, flowers in a vase, the scent of perfume, blindness to race. As you can see the list goes on in an endless parade past the inkwell dry.

So now we can pause to reflect which gift for us was the very best.

And how well was it received?

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West End United Methodist ChurchMore than a few years ago I received a call asking that I be a youth Sunday school teacher – specifically, the eighth grade. I had only recently been what could be considered a regular attendee at West End United Methodist Church and I puzzled at the request. I was in my mid-forties, had no children, possessed no foundational knowledge of the Bible, and the thought of the regimen of the commitment and the responsibility to the youth, their families, and the church frightened me. Other than that I was very comfortable with the whole proposition. Why I said I would think about it was beyond me. I remember doing the math. Eighth grade. You start school when you are either five or six so in September when you start the eighth grade you are either twelve or thirteen. True I didn’t have children and wasn’t in any regular contact with children, but I was one, I thought. True, I didn’t know much about the bible, but I wanted to learn. Every Sunday morning? No sleeping in? No rolling over and acting on not being in the mood? Fast forward. I said yes and it began one of the more profound and enriching experiences of my life.

The Little Drummer BoyA few years later I was preparing a two-part lesson plan for the senior high class which I was leading at that time. Advent was approaching and I had this idea to have a discussion about ‘giving’ and ‘receiving.’ A favorite Christmas story from my own youth had been The Little Drummer Boy and its message had resonated more deeply than I was really aware all through these years. One beauty of those Sunday mornings that had evolved over the previous couple of years was discovering that so many of these youth were more well connected and centered spiritually than the majority of adults I encountered. The general formats for our classes were roundtable discussion based as opposed to lecturing lessons. Jeff Hoffman and I were in our second year of teaching together at the time. We would explore with the class engaging questions, examine old and new testament related references to the topic, and attempt to understand how those issues and insights were playing out in their lives at school and at home.

It was Thanksgiving and the season was about to be upon us and four advent candles later we would be celebrating the birth of our Savior, the quality of Santa Claus’ efforts, or both. This time of year has always been special to me for many reasons, not the least of which is the general outpouring of generosity, love, and goodwill that marches to the forefront of human interaction. Questions were ablaze in me. Were we conscious of our daily interactions with one another? Did we realize that all we did every waking hour was give and receive to and from others – and ourselves? Had we truly received God’s grace and love in the gifts of Christ and the Holy Spirit? Were we all on some cosmic induced automatic pilot that had put to sleep our consciousness? These and a few other light-hearted questions drove my thinking during the lesson planning.

A short digression. At the inception of my acceptance to become involved with the youth, I discovered a great teaching aid. I needed more than a Bible and less than a library to help frame my own learning and study and to lead the discussions with the youth and be prepared with some on the spot answers to questions that I knew were far beyond my grasp. I found a great reference bible and it was not at all unusual for me to read the footnotes in class as we were exploring various passages. Several years later in a Discipleship Bible Study, unrelated to the youth, it became commonplace for the members of the weekly class to ask me to read the footnotes in my Bible.

Well, it was Saturday morning, my usual time for preparing the lesson plan and situated at my desk with coffee, Bible, and notepad at the ready I began the process. I first looked in the index for passages related to ‘giving’ and finding some thirty-five or so I settled in to read them all. Before finishing it came to me to keep the focus of the scripture passages on God’s greatest gift to mankind, Christ. To describe the wonder and the love that I felt in reading those passages from the ancient prophetic texts, through the gospels and the birth stories, and finally to Paul’s writings was then and is beyond my grasp of language and words to describe. But if ever preparing a lesson plan was a chore, this was no chore it was pure delight.

When I had finished making the selection of giving passages and quite excited about the whole idea for this discussion I refreshed my coffee and returned to my desk and looked up receiving. The word was not to be found and I sat there stunned. My poor brain was awash in thoughts of amazement and bits of confusion. Questions drilled through me. If the fundamental law of all things under the sun is cause and effect, then how can one acknowledge the need to refer to giving without receiving. Is a gift even possible without a recipient? What purpose would there be in giving if there were not a corresponding need or want. The questions did not stop there but continued like an avalanche through not only the morning but the rest of that day. My lesson plan had taken a decidedly different turn. I kept going back to the index, sure that I must have overlooked the word. Have you ever misplaced your keys or some other common object and then searched all the regular places with no luck, only to go back and look in the same places again. I always feel silly when I do that but must admit that it has happened on many occasions. Or what about those times when the electricity is knocked out by a storm and you go into another room and reach for the light switch and actually flip it thinking something is going to happen. Rainbow, reason, rebuke, receptiveness was there with one reference of Joseph to God in Matthew, recreation, redemption, relatives, reliability, and relief.  All there but no receiving.

 

What began for me that morning was and continues to be, a rather profound sense of discovery, questioning, and observation. This is not a book of answers and strategies for living, but rather an unfolding of passages in time intending to help searching souls in understanding, perhaps from a child’s perspective, the nature of our being; and perhaps in the mystery of better discovering the true nature of giving and receiving.

I wrote at the time these words were first written and shared, ‘May this giving be blessed by your receiving and bless all your relationships.’

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Graham GreeneGraham Greene, the noted British novelist, and playwright, said once that there were only three great themes to be considered: sex, money and God. He is quoted in his 1943 book A Ministry of Fear,  “Behind the complicated details of the world stand the simplicities: God is good, the grown-up man or woman knows the answer to every question, there is such a thing as truth, and justice is as measured and faultless as a clock. Our heroes are simple: they are brave, they tell the truth, they are good swordsmen and they are never in the long run really defeated. That is why no later books satisfy us like those which were read to us in childhood—for those promised a world of great simplicity of which we knew the rules, but the later books are complicated and contradictory with experience; they are formed out of our own disappointing memories.”

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Eternal and Temporal Revisited

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de ChardinTeilhard de Chardin was a French philosopher, paleontologist, and Jesuit priest who thought deeply on the meaning our our existence and relationship with the Divine. What does it mean to be Spiritual Beings having a human experience and how does it relate to our everyday lives?

Love is the core nature of us all. We feel good when we give and receive love because this is the Spiritual thing to do. Read more

If we apply this filter to our contemplation of Jesus and Santa, the commonalities are overwhelming. Better for you to list as part of this contemplation. As referenced yesterday, Love Without End and The Bishop’s Wife can be a treasure trove of valuable and delightful things.

While our eternal being, soul, and spirit are difficult to impossible to intellectualize or articulate, they are not so difficult to experience. It requires our stillness and quiet. Perhaps that is why Jesus retreated to the garden and Santa resides at the North Pole.

How Did Santa Claus Begin? is a children’s sermon.

When did Santa Claus begin? We all know that only God is eternal. So how did this wonderful Christmas character who is so giving begin? We didn’t make him up. Saint Nicholas, whose name was changed over the years to Santa Claus, was a real person, a bishop in the church in the fourth century

Saint Nicholas 2Saint Nicholas was born in Patara (Asia Minor) and later moved to Myra (Demre in modern Turkey), where he was elected bishop. He died on Dec. 6 sometime between A. D. 326 and 341. Many stories have been told of his generosity.

. . . The stories of Saint Nicholas came to America through the Dutch settlers in the state of New York. He has changed through the years.

Originally, he was dressed in his traditional Bishop’s robes. It wasn’t until the 20th century that he began to be dressed in the red and white outfit in which he appears to us now in the persons of his many “helpers.” In fact, in 1874, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast drew him in a brown suit with brown fur trim.

Santa ClausDr. Clement C. Moore, a professor of Greek and Biblical Studies at General Theological Seminary of New York, wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (more commonly know as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) in 1822. Only eight reindeer pulled Santa’s sleigh until the song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was written.

Jesus, the Christ (the Messiah) is the most important person in the Advent/Christmas season. However, since Saint Nicholas conveys a spirit of generosity and love, we remember him and we too give gifts. Because Saint Nicholas gave us such a good example of helping the poor, Santa Claus may well be a healthy part of our celebrations. As Allan Hauck wrote in Calendar of Christianity, If Santa Claus has become too commercial, too secularized, perhaps it is “because we have forgotten his historical origin in the beloved Bishop of Myra who obeyed Christ’s command that we help all those who are in need.”

More on the St. Nicholas Center

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Eternal and Temporal

The Lamb and the Lion

The Lamb and the Lion, Glenda Green

For almost two thousand years devoted believers, mystics, innocents, and even non-believers have reported to have near-to-life, fully perceptual, visitations with Jesus Christ. In 1992 He appeared to Glenda Green and spoke with her daily for almost four months. The expressed purpose of their visit was to paint His portrait, but nothing in the history of her career as an artist or university professor had prepared her for the life transformation that was about to take place. During this time, they spoke as friends do, of many wonderful things both miraculous and practical. Nothing would ever be the same. Her penetrating report of this experience is sincere, unbiased, and free of religious contrivance. In many ways her perceptions provide a bridge to the new millennium.

Never before has language or a state of consciousness been present to examine the nature of such a miraculous occurrence as well as to develop the profound implications of it. Here is a brilliant glimpse of eternity, rich with practical applications to life. These messages are sparkling and direct with great contemporary relevance, Imparting in every way the impact of Divinity in communion with a thoughtful and well educated woman of our generation. Amazing answers are given to more than 300 penetrating questions. Goodreads

If in this Christmas season or beyond, you would like a completely new experience of Jesus, I cannot recommend this book more highly.

Certain concepts strain the mind beyond the capacity of most. Eternity, like infinity, is one of those. Eternity is a state to which time has no application; timelessness. Temporal, on the other hand, relates to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular. We get this one because the whole of our physical existence has occurred on this plane.

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What about a Christmas movie?  It is had to say you have a favorite Christmas movie. There are so many great ones and many more good ones. The Bishop’s Wife is my favorite. And we haven’t left our theme of eternal and temporal.

The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop’s Wife, 1947

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven), troubled with funding the building of a new cathedral, prays for divine guidance. His plea is seemingly answered by a suave angel named Dudley (Cary Grant), who reveals his identity only to the clergyman.

However, Dudley’s mission is not to help construct a cathedral but to spiritually guide Henry and the people around him. Henry has become obsessed with raising funds, to the detriment of his family life. His relationships with wife Julia (Loretta Young) and their young daughter are strained by his focus on the cathedral.

This 1947 film is exquisite in every detail.

Santa, didn’t mean to leave you out in the cold on this one but we’ll be back tomorrow with more about the mysteries and magic of time and space. How are the presents coming?

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Recruitment and Delegation

More is known about the disciples (Apostles) of Jesus than about Santa’s elves.

Jesus and ApostlesThe 12 Apostles are fairly well described in the books of the New Testament of the Bible. These descriptions include the nature of their recruitment and how they shared their communal tasks.

Santa’s elves were first introduced in literature by Louisa May Alcott in 1856. The Santa Claus character is much older, emerging in US folklore in the early 17th century from the historical figure St. Nicholas of Myra with attributes of various European Christmas traditions, especially from English Father Christmas and Dutch Sinterklaas. The association of Christmas presents with elves has precedents in the first half of the 19th century with the Tomte in Sweden and Nisse in Denmark, and St Nicholas himself is called an elf in A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823).

Polar ExpressEverything I could find in my Santa’s elves searches came up with either delightful or draconian fantasy. What most of us know is that Santa’s elves are often said to make the toys in Santa’s workshop and take care of his reindeer, among other tasks. Polar Express, based on the 1985 children’s book, is one of the most creative and enchanting movies ever made and showcases the elves at their tasks.

Jesus and DisciplesIt is these tasks that get us to the subject matter at hand, which is recruitment and delegation. Since there is significant detail about Jesus, his disciples, and their work; and nothing to hang our hat on regarding Santa and his elves, to draw a comparison about their recruitment and delegation would be futile. What we can do is focus on the recruitment and delegation of Jesus.

First, and worth noting, there can be no delegation without recruitment. Jesus was a master of recruitment and delegation. When you read those stories contemplate this particular lens and you will see his mastery in an entirely new level.

How about another Christmas movie? The Greatest Story Ever Told

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