19 December 2010

Mail Boxes and Old Barns — Sunday Open Forum

By: Emma

My father included this Christmas thought in a letter to my mother which was dated December 15, 1925, as they were anticipating their 1926 marriage:

“Now we are nearing the beautiful Christmas time when we shall pause and see our Christ as the little child who came to save us. May we be as children and accept Him in our hearts, to dwell there through the years that may come for us. Christmas always means more to children than to grownups, so I guess we should all be children again for a day or two in order to receive the true Christmas gift.”

I remembered that letter as I was preparing to share the text of another letter also sent at Christmastime, 65 years later, from me (the youngest of seven) to our mother, 85 years old in 1990, who had been a widow since 1962.

Dear Mom,


Snowy roads that raise the question, “Can we still get to the church tomorrow?” with the usual answer being, “Yes, I think so. We may have to go the long way ‘round, though.”

Turkey and all the trimmings making the house smell so good on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Waiting for Dad and older brother to finish chores early, since we knew nothing special could happen until the chores were finished and they got cleaned up)

The arrival of the first relatives’ cars. Waiting impatiently for the arrival of the last relative’s car, so we could get down to business!

Candles lit on the dining room table. The endless meal with all of the visiting and chatter—hoping that dessert would be left “until after the presents” (it usually wasn’t)

Singing the carols, listening to Dad read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and waiting anxiously for that last line, “and the shepherds went on their way, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.”

Singing the last carol, “Silent Night,” and opening the wonderful presents. “Wonderful” never meant expensive or huge—they were wonderful because they represented family, tradition, provision, love, predictability (and how many families are there where nothing is predictable—there’s security in that predictability) and very often, the packages included a new pair of flannel pajamas. In a way, the pajamas were my favorite present, because I could literally wrap myself in a Christmas present when I went to bed that night.

Even when we didn’t have company, Christmas Eve was like this—always very special whether there were four of us or 16 of us.

Christmas also meant that Dad got the corner tree (by the transformer pole) strung with electric lights, and ran the thick extension cord in through the coal window.

Christmas Day afternoon, wherever we were, often included sliding and tobogganing until we were about frozen stiff and in desperate need of that wonderful “made from scratch” real cocoa (the kind nobody knows how to make any more) full of melting marshmallows, best enjoyed with a slice of homemade bread with home-churned butter on it, to dip in the cocoa.

I praise God for the fact of Christmas—the gift of a Redeemer—and I thank Him for the fact that you and Dad took time to give us the memories of Christmas. I hope we do half as well for our families.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what
to give an elderly parent for Christmas.
I wanted her to know that her efforts
over the years made an impact……

I wanted her to know that I remembered.

70 Responses to Mail Boxes and Old Barns — Sunday Open Forum

  1. Pat P says:

    Thank you for this beautiful word picture.

  2. Menagerie says:

    I hoped you would share a Christmas memory Emma. Thanks for a wonderful start to my day.

  3. JRD says:

    Merry Christmas…without the ‘X’

    “But the atheist/humanist has no such moral center…no fixed point of reference. Such people may talk at length about the need to be “good,” but in the final analysis, their presuppositions fundamentally reject any concrete basis for morality.
    Civilizations torn free from the moorings of moral authority are not the kind anyone would want to live in…not even a fervent atheist.”

    In Lenin’s 1920 speech before the All-Russia Congress of the Russian Young Communist League he said, “We repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interest of class war. Everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old exploiting order and for uniting the proletariat.”

    Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, “Because the progressives ideology is without a God it is without our idea of morality. It means anything goes. If they have to resort to lying or stealing or cheating or even murder if it furthers the cause that’s okay.”
    Doesn’t that perfectly describe Obama, Pelosi, Reid, academia, the lame stream media, and Hollyweird? This is what makes the battle we are in against the progressives so difficult. It is not a level field of play. If you have morals, values, and ethics you cannot even conceive the demonic ideas the left can devise.

    Emma, I sincerely believe you should have a book published. Your stories provide much comfort in remembering the benefits of wholesomeness when having morals was important for the success of a nation. And how individual families and not the collective are the source of that goodness.

    • Bijou says:

      ‘The book’ is a wonderful idea, JRD. Emma, I second this motion!

    • emmajeri1010 says:

      “…remembering the benefits of wholesomeness when having morals was important for the success of a nation. And how individual families and not the collective are the source of that goodness.” Your comment reminds of a great phrase that has been distorted and made fun of….which we should perhaps reclaim and begin to use again, “The good old days…..” How often have we seen or sensed the portrayals of the old geezer who “won’t shut up” talking about “the good old days” and, it seems to me, over the decades that phrase has dwindled away and is seldom used to actually refer to very good things that used to be common, and are now just distant memories.

      • says, yes it is very important to document memories that are cherished. I know first hand the many benefits of extended family, but my children do not. I know firts hand the warmth and security offered by a ‘neighborhood’ but my children do not. I remember so well the ‘stories’ that the elders would tell about their memories from long ago, but my children will not. I remember the good old days, but my children may not. It is important, so please do document your memories in written form.

    • AFinch says:

      “Because the progressives ideology is without a God it is without our idea of morality. It means anything goes. If they have to resort to lying or stealing or cheating or even murder if it furthers the cause that’s okay.”

      Doesn’t this also describe a certain religion with which we are all familiar?

  4. Bijou says:

    Just beautiful, Emma.

    I’m sure that letter was one of your Mother’s best Christmas presents ever.
    Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  5. emmajeri1010 says:

    ….thanks to Sundance for the graphics that frame the memories….

    God bless you all today. May you know some real peace; may you receive strength for hard things you may be facing and perhaps have an unexpected joy before sundown. Thank you for your encouragement and comments…..

  6. integrity1st says:

    Moving this from yesterday’s post because it was posted after 1 am and me thinks Sundance won’t find it:

    Sundance, I thought this whole discussion started because there was a poll where Cain was a head of Sara?

    Also, can we do a thread like this on West? I’m racist.


    Separately, I shall come back later and read Emma’s and everyone else’s wonderful comments, but I wanted to throw this out there as timely:
    Could we do a thread, with the intention of sending it to DeMint, where we talk about all his noble efforts and accomplishments in being our voice, and standing up against these miscreants? I think it must be incredibly difficult and lonely to stand up, even against your own party, to do what’s right and he deserves our praise and thanks.

    What thinks you?

  7. JRD says:

    Monarchist Liberals Fear the Mob
    Liberalism is not intellectual, it’s organizational. It creates and expands organizations that are meant to help the public, but end up taking power out of their hands.

    The difference between an intellectual and an idiot, is that the former can recognize when he’s wrong. That makes liberalism, the sad ideology of idiots who are never wrong, they’re just not “messaging” correctly.

    “The mob”, a dangerously unreasoning mass stirred up by the enemies of the revolution, who somehow always seem to outsmart the Leftectuals even though they’re completely beneath them.


    Leftectuals, I like that one!

  8. Ting says:

    Emma, I just loved this. Your account of your father’s reading from Luke 2 reminds me of the annual reading done by my husband and his brothers on Christmas Eve. Even when they were grown men they stumbled over the pronunciation of “Quirinius” and now long after his parents are gone our young adult children still stumble over this word. It is an annual source of amusement.

    There is one Christmas sermon that has stayed with me for many years and I thought I might share the gist of it with you dear Honeys. Our parson was a colleague of Frederick Buechner at Exeter, and he recounted a particular morning chapel, just before the Christmas holiday. He related how the 700 or so young men came to chapel, which could only last about 10 minutes, in a fog of inattention, and almost contempt. The faculty always sat up on the stage, looking down at them and were variously assigned the duty of delivering a homily to students who did not want to be there, who they suspected might never end up in a church willingly again. This particular day Buechner chose to dramatize the journey of the 3 wise men, and related how they made the journey, met with Herod, saw the Child, offered their gifts, and then left by another route, so as not to alert Herod of the Child’s location. But then he went on to “act” as if he were one of the wise men, relating the experience. The wise man said something like this: “What we saw on the face of the newborn child was his death. A fool could have seen it – it was on his head like a crown, this death he would die. And we saw as sure as there is earth beneath our feet that to stay with him would be to share that death, and that is why we left – giving only our gifts, withholding the rest. Now I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows that I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him is the only life?”

    Our parson watched the change come over the faces of the boys as they listened and saw an epiphany of sorts, maybe fleeting, in the sudden quiet in the room, the sense of urgency, and the spontaneous, and unheard of, applause that left everyone wondering.

    • emmajeri1010 says:

      I’d like to copy/paste/forward your summary of that chapel sermon?

      Those of us who grew up listening to and reading the Christmas story all had our Quirinius issues, I think. That is so funny.

      • Ting says:

        Yes, you may. I wish that I had taken more time to write it better, but I was rushing to get to church. Why don’t you polish it up?

  9. WeeWeed says:

    Y’all know anybody that needs a job?


  10. Amsterdam Expat says:

    The new C4P site is up and running (I had to register again in order to comment, but it’s as easy a procedure as the time before).

    • AFinch says:

      Thanks. Missile defense is key–and as the article points out not just what the Obama people say the treaty says on that but what the Russians think it says. I asked Lugar when I saw him last weekend whether he had seen the negotiating record. He said no, but that they never see it. True? I wish I would have asked if there are always disagreements between the parties about what the treaty says before it is even ratified.

      Did you see the update that they have agreed to a CR through March. Any idea what’s in it?

    • TXMom says:

      It’s still up in the air and I am very concerned. Praying!!! Harry Reid said just now he could file for cloture on New START tonight. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) cautions, in an interview with NRO, that Senate Democrats believe they are “very close” to getting the nine GOP votes they need on New START.


      Rumors have been flying on the Hill that if Reid goes for cloture today, McCain will oppose it, in a major blow to the push for ratification. McCain told me a few minutes ago, “I have certainly not made a decision.” On what happens if Reid rushes a cloture vote, he said only, “Let’s see what happens if he files today.”
      A little earlier, outside the Senate chamber, Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) warned that if Reid files cloture today, opposition to the measure will “harden,” especially in Republican ranks.
      “The way [Democrats] have played this agenda the last few days, trying to jam the treaty, has made people who might otherwise be inclined to support it become inclined to not support it,” Thune told me.

    • emmajeri1010 says:

      Russia’s relationship with Iran is problematic and threatening, both short term and long range. Perhaps someone else could summarize it better than I could right now. Russia’s freedom to do what they want without consequence at the moment is being made use of to our detriment. Is it correct to suggest that whoever the driving force (from our side) is on this START treaty are about 25 years late and a brain short? It seems they’re attempting to answer questions that are no longer being asked, and in the process compromising what weaponry we have. And in the meantime, while they’re trumpeting this pointless (from the point of view of our interests) little sideshow, Russia and Iran are building their relationship and creating technology and weaponry flows that will threaten world stability and our security for years to come.

  11. Pat P says:

    Happy anniversary to honeytrail! Established November 18, 2010.

  12. NeeNee says:

    Little bit of humor for Sunday afternoon:


    • Ad rem says:

      Wow….if only my husband had that thirty years ago! ;-)

    • Bijou says:

      NeeNee, that was great!
      The golfing guy at the beginning looked like such a goof, I thought she would say something about his ridiculous faux=hawk.
      It kinda looks like a taser…maybe for extreme cases. LOL!

  13. Thomas Hooker says:

    Quoting from a Newsmax update:

    “Senators’ War Chests Hint at 2012 Plans

    Of the 33 senators up for re-election in two years, many have not yet stated their intention to run again. But the size of their campaign accounts may offer an early indication of who is and who isn’t preparing for 2012.

    “Though fundraising usually grows more intensive as Election Day approaches, large financial resources early on can signal a candidate getting primed for another election fight, whereas low totals may indicate an incumbent less interested in re-election,” notes U.S. News & World Report.

    Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown tops the list of Senate incumbents with large war chests, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. He had just over $6 million on hand after he won Ted Kennedy’s seat in January’s special election.

    Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California ($3,740,159) and Bill Nelson of Florida ($2,909,074) also have sizable war chests they could use for the 2012 election.

    Indiana Republican Richard Lugar, who reportedly might face a primary battle from the right, has $2,376,679 in his campaign account.

    Other senators with accounts topping $2 million are Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah ($2,323,407) and Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey ($2,270,508).

    Senators with a $1 million-plus war chest include only two Republicans:

    Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., $1,955,217
    Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., $1,617,163
    Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, $1,423,427
    Kent Conrad, D-N.D., $1,414,464

    Ben Nelson, D-Neb., $1,403,644
    Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., $1,349,788
    Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., $1,279,816
    Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, $1,206,314
    Bob Corker, R-Tenn., $1,001,651
    At the bottom of the list are Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with $111,311; Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii ($75,838); Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas ($52,054); and Herb Kohl, D-Wis. ($26,725).”

    • sundancecracker says:

      Interesting… Indeed Brown carried major money from Tea Party support after his win in Jan. He raised about $10 mill in January alone. Would love to see D’s Menendez (NJ), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NB) trounced along with other Democrats. Then again, there’s a handful of R’s that need to be squished in the primary too.

      • Thomas Hooker says:

        This shows the kind of money challengers need to be looking at. Someone starting early enough can get a lot done in less expensive ways. But Colorado demonstrated that throwing a lot of money in at the last minute on negative ads was effective. Walking three precincts, I repeatedly heard voters express disgust at the negative advertising without realizing that they were being influenced by it. As long as voters are sucked in, they will get more of the same. We need to break that cycle.

      • Amsterdam Expat says:

        Menendez stands out as an especially loathesome Critter.

    • Auntie Lib says:

      Our Montana senator, Jon Tester, has somewhere in excess of $600,000 in his campaign coffers. That’s a huge amount for a state of this size. There are rumors that our lone House member, Denny Rehberg (R) is considering a run against Tester. That would be an unholy disaster!!! (If you’re interested in the details, I have new post that explains why that is such a nightmare – http://www.2HelenaHandbaskets.com)

      On another – and much brighter note! – the Carroll College Fighting Saints won their SIXTH national championship yesterday. Wahoo!!! What was especially impressive to me is that, even though the plane didn’t get back home until after 3 a.m. this morning, every member of the squad turned out at noon at the Mall to sign autographs. Without exception, they were all polite, friendly, and most of all, each of them thanked the fans for supporting them. What fine role models for the hundreds of kids who came out to see these football heroes. Class acts!!!

      Now to get ready to attend the Helena Chamber Singers’ Christmas concert. Number 1 son has the tenor solo in the Mozart piece. Holiday culture!

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Honeys!

  14. yomotley says:

    Obama reads his own book to second graders. (If already posted, just pass on by)


  15. Amsterdam Expat says:

    I just came across this article via Hot Air.


    No mosque or more accurately rabat at Ground Zero — but not in the West Village either, if you please! (Though if it were to be located at this other proposed site, no new gay bar would have to be built — remember that? — as the city’s Gay and Lesbian Center is literally right around the corner.)

    • AFinch says:

      Hmmm. Interesting. But what I want to know is why the Saudi King came to NYC for his surgery? Why didn’t he go to Cuba, or Canada or England or one of the dozens of other countries around the world whose health care system is supposedly better than ours.

  16. Wraith says:

    For those of you who still wonder if America’s on the skids…

    I just got back from church a couple of hours ago. Our pastor simply couldn’t wait to get into the ‘Joys and Concerns’ part of the day, since there was so much good news to share.

    –They’ve been donated a total of two new freezers, with a third on its way. They’re actually at the point where they’re wondering where to put them all! And enough food has been donated to put every one of those freezers to use. Our food bank is well-stocked, and we’ll be able to help out a whole lot of folks this Chrismas season. :D

    –The church budget is balanced, due to an anonymous donor kicking in $9,000 this week. :o

    Whenever you doubt America, take a good look around. Our people are still generous and charitable even in the midst of these perilous times. Despite what the Left would have you believe, the majority of our nation is composed of good, caring, upstanding citizens. God is still with us, and He will see us through.

    Merry Christmas, one and all. [url=http://planetsmilies.net][img]http://planetsmilies.net/angel-smiley-5087.gif[/img][/url]

  17. Amsterdam Expat says:

    If I didn’t know better — judging by how often he’s mentioning her — I’d say Ol’ Harry’s caught in a bad romance:


  18. yomotley says:

    You don’t think this is why Obama and Thugs tried, like the dickens, to get in charge of the census?
    Census Favors Republican Gain

  19. yomotley says:

    Ayn Rand and the World She Made


    Also, IamDagney explained Ayn Rand and Christianity on Open Forum earlier in the week. Here is the discussion.

    Hey Dagny,

    I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I would love to know if you have addressed how to reconcile Randian objectivism and the Christian faith. You’re obviously a fan of Rand (an atheist) and a Christian. I know a lot of Christians and some conservatives are repulsed by her philosophy. Have you ever written on this topic?


    IAmDagny says:
    December 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm (Edit)

    Oh yes, many times. In a nutshell, whenever you read Rand and she is talking about “reason” or “logic”, she is actually (unwittingly) talking about Christ. John 1:1 specifically identifies Christ as “the Word”, which is “Logos” in Greek. Logos is the Greek word for “logic” and “reason”. God is, in Himself, logic and reason, and we are made in His image. The fact that humans possess the capability to reason and think logically is the attribute that makes us “made in the image of God”. Rand was so close. She knew that our ability to reason lifted us to infinite dignity, but she missed that it was Christ indwelling in our minds and giving us that “spark” of reason. She thought that human minds self-generated reason and that there was no outside Source.

    Re-read Atlas making that substitution and it will knock you on the floor.


    AFinch says:
    December 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm (Edit)

    Thank you! I’ve tried to make that argument before, but much less articulately. If you can link to something you’ve written, I would love to see it.

    emmajeri1010 says:

    December 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm (Edit)

    Hey, Dagny! Thank you for this!! I’ve read Rand and, as a Christian, I’ve never been able to connect those logic/philosophy dots so directly. I wasn’t ready to abandon her points, but it bugged me. Thanks very much.

  20. chrissythehyphenated says:

    According to this article, the Obama administration is actively working behind the scenes to remove conscience protections for health care workers who refuse to participate in medical procedures they find objectionable.


    I graphicked it at


    • I am SO glad I became disabled and quit nursing before this came into effect! At least one good thing came out of my disability, since, working in labor and delivery, that would have been a real problem if they started moving abortions into our department “for convenience.”