I wasn't sure at the end of the last column whether I would be writing again before Christmas, but there are some things to mention, and I'm making the time. I have already disobeyed my own dictum about always sending handwritten Christmas cards; I had to resort to email in some cases of time and distance. Simply a matter of bad priorities. There are a lot of friends who will get their cards after Christmas-but they'll get them, and that's what counts.
Two Christmas cacti are in full bloom on the enclosed deck. One is a sort of coral color; the other, a bright fuchsia pink. Neither they nor the full-blooming orange hibiscus are exactly Christmas colors, but they are so cheerful on gray days, who cares? There are still sasanqua camellias, roses, flowering maples, and green bulb foliage to admire, and birds and squirrels are still demanding cafeteria service daily. Nature may pause on Christmas Eve but not at any other time.
The New York Times Book Review lists some really great books for gifting. The ones that caught my eye were a new one by P.D. James, involving some Jane Austen characters; another Isabel Dalhousie tale by Alexander McCAll Smith; and "Catherine the Great" by Robert Massie. He wrote the wonderful "Nicholas and Alexandra," another tale of Russian nobility, some years ago. There are a lot of other books, too; hit the book stores.
Someone told me of a book they were reading which presented a novel approach to penalties for criminals of various sorts. Instead of being shut up in cells, they were saturated with penetrating dyes, a different color for each kind of crime, applied in a way which would last for the length of the sentence to be served. Then they just went on living in their usual way, except everyone could tell that they were criminals, what their crimes were, and how long they were "serving." Saved the taxpayers a lot of money!
And while we're on about books, I am reading a very different one called "The Piano Tuner." Set in Burma in 1886, it's about a British piano tuner, an expert with one brand of instrument, sent to Burma to tune such an instrument belonging to an Army officer, who is himself a very special person. It is a first novel, and very well written
It was interesting to read about Leo Aftias opening a restaurant at the reopened and renamed Elkhorn Golf Club. This is his second eatery; he owns the popular Yasoo Yani on Main Street. This is of particular interest to me because I had Leo as a student at Lodi High. Every once in a while I come across a former student in reference or in person like Alison Meade, whom I met in Walgreen's. Can't happen too often for me. I like to keep in contact with people I knew when.
A laugh from the pages of the American Legion magazine: If swimming is good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
I was honored to be among those grading fifth and sixth grade essays recently for the Art Raab Memorial Essay Competition in connection with the Breakthrough Project. The cover sheet had this statement on it: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." — Edward Everett Hale. Not a bad reminder for all of us. Each of us doing one good thing to make someone else's life better in some way will add to a sum total that can turn the world around. And it does need turning, badly. Here's a good example: The ladies of the NorthWind Quilters Guild of Fairfield came to Lodi last Wednesday to present lap quilts to members and friends of the Okinawa Veterans group. The quilts were done all in red, white, and blue patterns, and each had a signed note tucked into a small pocket. Don Phillips, who started and hosts the group's monthly meeting, says it's now open to all kinds of veterans. Some have come from way out of town.
And so now we come to Christmas, each in our own way but still mindful of what the day really means. It will mean more if we have helped others who are in need in some way, and please let this help include all the creatures of this world. Remember what Christ said: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.