Editorial: Merry Christmas (and the reason behind it)

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and to all a good night. And good morning.

Whether we are at home or traveling, few days of the year carry a stronger sense of place than Christmas.

In Colleen Monroe's "A Wish to be a Christmas tree" a "tall lonely tree" sees the other pines and firs chosen for Christmas trees, but he cries, " I'll never be taken home."

His friends tell him, "Do not fear, to us you are dear."

"Your branches keep us safe and warm, you are our shelter from the storm," says the squirrel, who rallies the birds, the mice, and the rabbits, saying, "Everyone should bring a treasure so our giant friend can measure, the love for him that our hearts hold, the feelings that we've never told."

As the tree sleeps,

"His woodland friends decorated him

With special things hanging from every limb," acorns, icicles, berries, even the birds themselves.

As "the first morning sun brought a wondrous sight, the birds were singing so soft and clear,

Their most beautiful songs for the pine tree to hear.

The big tree stirred and opened his eyes,

And what he saw was such a surprise.

'You have made me beautiful for all to see,

and now I am a Christmas tree.'

"You are more than just a Christmas tree,"

they said to him, "Why can't you see?

You are special to us every day of the year,

Through winter and spring, summer and fall,

You are always here to help us all."

And the tree sees that "it wasn't as important to be a Christmas tree,

But to always be the best friend you could be."

The tree and the gifts it gives is part of what Patricia Gorman wrote about in "Love Was Born on Christmas":

"I was born to the world on Christmas, but I have existed since the beginning.

I am the simple gift of God.

I was gift-wrapped with a soft, tender body of a baby.

My ribbons were streams of divine light.

I was placed under the Tree of Truth, and opened through the seeking of it.

I am given and received.

I am the spirit of Christmas.

I am not the Christmas carol, but the urge to sing it.

I am not the present, but the act of giving it.

I am not the town of Bethlehem, but the creation of it.

I am not the world, but the reason behind it.

I am not your natural state of being.

I am here.

I am love."

Peace, and peace of mind, to all, wherever you may be this Christmas.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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