The Sinister Side of Christmas

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We work so hard each December at making Christmas merry, but the roots of our celebrations run deep and dark.

Within the past several days, I’ve attended performances of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on Cape Cod and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Two vastly different interpretations of the holiday, but they share a dark heritage.

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Letter from the Desert

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With Hanukkah under way and Christmas around the corner, this doesn’t seem a time to write about deserts. But when my wife of 50 years withdrew from this world last week, I found myself left in an abandoned place. 

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Remember

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My wife of fifty years died as dawn was breaking on December 1. I prepared this remembrance for her Mass of Christian Burial celebrated today.

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Thanksgiving, Again and Always

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I’m writing this blog post on Thanksgiving Day, at my wife’s bedside in Cape Cod Hospital, where she is recovering from a severe reaction to a new chemotherapy.

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Anniversaries

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A couple was celebratin’ their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a reception. They were standin’ in line greetin’ their friends and about halfway through, she hauled off and hit him. He looked surprised and said, “What was that for?” She said, “For fifty years of bad sex!” He thought about that a minute and then hauled off and hit her. Now it was her turn to look surprised and she said, “What was that for?” He answered, “For knowing the difference!” 

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Great Expectations

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I became a speechwriter for IBM instead of a college professor . . . while my friend Chet was laid off by IBM and became a college professor.

My second cousin, Dean, was working at a gym . . . where a chance conversation with a celebrity news anchor led to a career as a network TV producer.

At the age when most retire, the architect of my house found himself a hotelier . . . a new reason to keep building buildings.

Is it serendipity? Or our own openness to discern and exploit unexpected opportunity?

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The Right To Be Happy

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If life’s purpose lies in getting what we want, as our culture insists, then freedom becomes a very big deal. Freedom is what allows us to exercise our “inalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness.

With this view of freedom, it’s easy to feel threatened by constraint. Our instinct is to resist it with all our might, for it impedes our ability to live the life we want.

To maximize this kind of freedom requires that we minimize or even eliminate serious relationships. For the more we rely on others or others rely on us, the less free we are to go wherever we wish to go, pursue whatever we wish to pursue and do whatever we wish to do. 

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Why So Lonely?

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By 2020, an entire generation will have grown up in a primarily digital world. Computers, Internet, mobile phones, social media—all are second nature to them. Along with this comes their unquenchable need for constant contact with large networks of persons. Generation C, some are already calling it (for “connected”). Or should it be called The Lonely Generation?

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Want To Be Rich? Here’s How

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I first met Leon when I entered my freshman year at St Basil Prep. He was a newly ordained priest and also my English Lit teacher. A gifted writer himself, he put me on the path to a writing career.

He became a friend and mentor over the course of our separate lives, baptizing my daughters, officiating at their weddings and burying my son-in-law after he was killed by a drunk driver.

Today Monsignor Leon is confined to modest quarters at the Ukrainian seminary in Stamford, requires a visiting nurse to bathe him and a walker to move around. Weeks ago his failing eyes presented the ultimate insult, stripping him of his ability to read—after a life-long love affair with books.

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Running Late

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The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of

mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds.

Thomas Merton

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