I love the bright and festive colors of Christmas…of every holiday…

but I’m also aware of how they contrast against a backdrop painted gray. 


I was raised in the Catholic religion…where I was taught the difference between wrong and right…with the Bible and scriptures as our guide…everything was black or white.


Then growing up I began to witness the way black and white interplay…

how so much of the world we live in has blended into gray.


In the Catholic Church…priests taught us the 10 Commandments…they celebrated the communal feast…and we are left to wonder how so many innocent children could be molested by these priests.


Our leaders assure us every child is precious…we will protect them…they tell us…we have no reason to doubt it…but then we see our children gunned down in their schools…and our leaders do nothing about it.


You know if you are gay or transgender…you’ve known it all along…but then you’re told you need to be fixed…that who you are…is wrong.


We are all humans we are all connected but much to our Creator’s chagrin…we forget those same connections when we judge each other by the color of our skin.


In this country we’re all  immigrants…except, of course, the indigenous people who were here long before…but we watch when immigrants…say to other immigrants…

you’re not welcomed anymore.


In the written history of America…we are the greatest country in the world…where everyone is free we proclaim as we wave our flags…red, white and blue…but when we’re taught or read our actual history…we realize…that never has been true.


As we live from day to day…as we attempt to fulfill our hopes and wishes and dreams…

our initial world of right and wrong…is never as simple as it seems…


Which is why I wish for solutions to our problems every Christmas…

It’s why every day I pray..

because our holiday colors will never be as bright or as festive…

if we keep muting them with gray.

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Sometimes it’s the first one we pick up…sometimes it’s the fourth or fifth…but when we find it…we mutually agree…for we always know when we have found our perfect Christmas tree.


And though we know it is a symbol of what this season is meant to be…for us it is also a once a year representation of what has become…our family tree.


In the bottom of our tree stand…over the years we have amassed…needles from old Christmas trees that will link this one with the past.


As we string the lights and hang the ornaments we dance this beautiful ballet…and when our dance is over…we see our family on display.


The story of our life…a wonderful life the two of us agree…told in all the ornaments hanging on our tree.


We love to re-read the stories of the family we hold dear…as we add yet another chapter to our Christmas tree each year.


And when this Christmas season is over and the new year’s about to dawn…we’ll smile as we pack away our ornaments…knowing our family story will go on.


We will toast this years tree as we always do…with a celebratory quaff…knowing next year’s tree will pick up…where this year’s tree left off.


And we’ll wonder what new stories we will add to next year’s tree by hand…

Perhaps that’s why we always leave some needles in the bottom of our stand.

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One of my favorite parts of Christmas is not the joy and merriment we make…it’s not the presents…or the food…it’s the family photo that we take.


Our yearly Christmas photo, a gift that can’t be bought…shows the changes within our family another year has brought.


Change is subtle…occurring gradually throughout our days and nights…our Christmas photo, capturing a moment in time, brings our changes into the light.


Some changes are easy to see…they don’t involve a lot of thinking…like how our children and now grandchildren have grown taller…while Deborah and I are shrinking.


It is easy to see the changes we’ve all made physically…but each year our Christmas photo makes me think of the changes I cannot see.


What were our highs and lows this year…who had joys…who had heartaches along the way…who finished school, who changed jobs, who came home…who moved away.


But my favorite part as I view those who in this years photo are cast…is the moment I take this years photo and compare it with Christmas photos of the past…


Looking back…I can see all the changes in our lives that have taken place…but I still see the same smiles…the same love on every face.


I think that’s why I love our Christmas family photos so much…why they give ma such a thrill…because I can see the things about us that have changed…and the one thing that never will.

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When I was young there were many joys of Christmas and one of the biggest joys for me was opening up my presents I found underneath our Christmas tree.


I’d hold the present in my hand with a smile a mile wide, then rip the wrapping paper off to see what was inside.


When I grew a little older my focus shifted off of me and I found my joy in the presents for my family underneath our Christmas tree.


I’d see them hold their presents in their hands with smiles a mile wide then watch them rip the wrapping paper off to see what was inside.


When I grew a little older still…my focus underwent another shift for when it came to Christmas every year I wished for but one gift.


It wasn’t the presents I’d give my family or the presents they’d give to me…it was the presence of my family around our Christmas tree.


Children grow, they move away…that is what families do and it gets harder and harder every year for my one wish to come true.


But when it does you can see me all night with a smile a mile wide…having opened up my present to find my family inside.



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Dear Santa, 


(this little girl loved talking to Santa as she wrote but this year her voice quivered.). “Every year I’ve asked you for toys…and every year you have delivered.”


But this year is a little different (just this year…let me make that clear!) for I am old enough now to have been aware of what’s been happening this year.


Although school has been a combination of real and virtuality

I have learned a bunch of new words…like this one…humanity.


Which is why my first wish this year would be to please start intervening and help every person in the world to understand its meaning.


This year I wish you, Mrs. Claus and all your North Pole elves…could make people think a little more about each other…and a little less about themselves.


I wish you could make it easy to love one another…easy to forgive…and I wish you could help us take better care of this planet on which we live.


I wish everyone felt safe, secure…that no one had to live in fear…I wish no one ever felt oppressed (another word I learned this year).


I wish everybody could grow up kind and wise and strong…I wish there was no hatred…no wars…I wish everybody got along.


This year I also learned the word poverty…I’d like you to fix that if you could…(Hey Santa, with all these new words I learned this year…don’t you think my teacher’s pretty good!).


So teachers, doctors, nurses…all those essential workers…with great speed…this year, wait! make that every year…give them anything they need.


In conclusion Santa…this year if you could fill the world with Peace and Love and Joy…then next year you can get back to delivering all those toys.


To show the faith I have in you Santa…now that this year’s list is done…I’ve already begun my list of toys…for Christmas 2021.



Your friend


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When it came time to picking names for Christmas presents…their Dad was the name no one would vie for…because they all knew, when it came to presents, their dad was hard to buy for.


It didn’t matter who put their hand into the hat and drew out their dad’s name…when they asked him what he wanted…his answer was always the same.


“I’m surrounded by the beauty of nature and as long as we don’t destroy it…I’ve already been gifted with a number of ways in which I can enjoy it.


I can see sunrises and sunsets, hear the birds and smell the flowers too. I can taste the mushrooms from my garden and touch the morning dew.


I have a few aches and pains from growing older but I am lucky to be healthy…and though I don’t have a lot of money in the bank…in so many other ways…I’m wealthy.


I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food to eat and books to read.  I have the love of my wife, my family and friends…what more do I need?


Then he would smile, stare at whoever asked the question that year and say…”I think the best gift would be…if everyone in the world was as hard to buy for as me.”


Yes, his children had a hard time buying a present for their dad when it came to Christmas Day...but looking back on all their Christmases together...they wouldn't have had it any other way.



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My Grandma was a little different., Dad used to say it was in her chromosomes, 

For example at Christmas we didn’t make gingerbread houses, she called them Gingerbread homes.


“We’ll make a nice home for when a gingerbread man and a gingerbread woman wed.

“After all”, she’d say, “even gingerbread families need a nice roof over their heads.”


Grandma would say, ‘It’s my hope that long after I’m gone…long after I am dead 

You’ll remember the lessons you learned as we made homes out of gingerbread”.


And today as my wife and I make gingerbread homes with our grandchildren…as we watch them sprinkle on the snow I remember the lessons Grandma taught us…in her kitchen all those years ago.


She said, “have fun when you’re in the kitchen…don’t worry about making a mess.”

When we asked her to do something she’d say, “it’s easy to say no to your children…sometimes try saying yes.”


On days when our homes fell down and we didn’t think ourselves very good cooks Grandma would say, “a house made with love is never as bad as it looks!”.


It didn’t matter how our homes turned out Grandma was always thrilled…and if she saw we were dejected or crying…she’d help us to rebuild.


“This is another beauty of life and gingerbread homes,” she’d say, “for no matter how many times it takes…every time we rebuild or make a new home…we‘re learning from our mistakes”.


“Every time we make a gingerbread home .” She’d say, “as we make more and more and more…each new home turns out a little better than the home we made before”.


This year our grandchildren outdid themselves…the kitchen was a total mess

and when they asked if they can add more snow to their homes…remembering Grandma we enthusiastically told them YES!.


For its our hope they will remember this moment…these lessons long after their Grandma and I are dead…lesson they will pass on to their grandchildren as they make their homes out of gingerbread.

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A Florida Christmas EVE

We had just finished reading Twas the Night Before Christmas

“Good Night children.” Their mom and I said.

“Wait a minute Dad…something’s not right. We live in Florida.” Our eldest son said.


“It’s too warm down here for the reindeer.” (Our second son said sounding defeated). “How does Santa deliver the presents if all his reindeer become overheated?”


“There’s no snow, it’s not cold and we have no chimney.” (This statement was made by our daughter) “How does Santa deliver presents to those of us who live on the water.”


I looked at my wife and smiled…my hands thoughtfully covering my mouth.  “You mean we’ve never told you”, I said sitting down, “how Santa delivers presents to the south?"


“Santa’s reindeer love to fly…high across the winter sky they soar…but even they get tired so when Santa’s sleigh reaches our shore he gives his reindeer a break on the beach with some suntan lotion and a bale of hay…and hooks up nine Florida dolphins who take over guiding his sleigh.”


“Thank you for helping all my dolphin friends!” each year Santa happily exclaims.

Then one by one they smile and nod as Santa Claus calls them by name.


On Aqua, on Ocean, on Brooke, on Marina…Noelani are you ready for me?

On Splash, on Delta, on Raindrop…it's time to guide me out over the sea.”


“Over and under the sea we will swim…look smart, please stay in two rows…and when it gets too dark to see out there…on Coral…please light up your nose.


“You see Santa is very resourceful.” Dad said…”I hope you now understand…how he can deliver his presents on the water as easily as on the land.”


“Many children all over the world see Santa and his reindeer and instantly believe...but only the children in Florida see Santa and his dolphins on Christmas Eve.”


If you look out your window tonight you might see…on the water…in the moon light arise...a sleigh pulled by nine dolphins, Santa in short sleeves with sunglasses covering eyes.


And if you're lucky you even might hear him exclaim as he and his dolphin drive out of sight.

Happy Christmas to all the children in Florida…

and to all the children in Florida…

a good night.

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Dear Santa,


On the lines below you’ll find my Christmas wish is listed:

Simply: could you take us back to a time when we didn’t quarrel…when we all co-existed?


A time when all the Earth was one…when we followed nature’s order…back before we thought we owned the land and quarreled over our borders.


Back when we thought of every person in the world as family…everybody as our kin…before we quarreled about the way we look and the color of our skin.


Back to a time when we didn’t quarrel about how our world interconnects.

When we treated the Earth and all her animals with kindness and respect.


Back when we didn’t quarrel about our food…across the world it was evenly dispersed…back when no one died of hunger, poverty or thirst.


Back when we all cared about each other and when the day was done…we didn’t solve our quarrels with violence and guns.


Back to a time when the Earth, the sky and nature were all we needed to be awed…before churches and religions made us quarrel about our Gods.


What’s that Santa, you say in all your years this has never been the Earth you knew…

In that case Santa, 

this Christmas

could you make my wishes come true.

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