In just four days, it will be Christmas again and we will all reach out for the bright hope of peace and the snug warmth of friendship.
The star-sweepers are swinging from the rafter in the living room, the same intrepid three my boss at the theater bought me for my 18th birthday. They are small cloth dolls, the boys dressed in gingham shirts and blue pants and the girl in a blue dress with a red pinafore and white eyelets making her skirt stand out over her red felt Mary Janes. Last year, my sister, Patsy, made them new clothes because their old ones had faded from the years of swinging high over the fireplace.
But this is the last year for the star on the roof. My husband, Doug, had it made by an old Belgian carpenter for the roof of the La Habra Heights house. It was a two-story house with a tall roof and stood on a high hill. The star was really always too big, more suitable to a market opening than a residence. But Doug didn't want to hurt the carpenter's feelings.
Bob Finch always said he was sure it was on the navigational charts for Los Angeles Harbor. It has really always been kind of an awful star. The old carpenter had wrapped the star's crossbars in foil and wrapped them with tinsel to make it more beautiful. Unfortunately, it tarnished the first year.
But the star goes up every year. So do we mark all the comfortable traditions that make it Christmas.
The angel with the wandering eye is standing on a table, wearing her silver dress--which has darkened with age until the poor old girl looks as if she might be going to a wake instead of a Christmas party, but that wicked eye still wanders around the room as though she was eagerly available for a fast twirl around the rink, if someone would just invite her.
May this be a wonderful holiday season for everyone. Don't worry if you don't get everything done. The house will be brave with red bows and plastic holly and gingerbread men, even though you didn't get the Hansel and Gretel house made. Ah, well, maybe next year.
The brightest of the season to Dr. Alan Mathies, president of Huntington Memorial Hospital, whose baritone voice led the 20 junior volunteers in their peppermint-striped pinafores on a caroling tour of Huntington, their sweet harmony blending with Mathies' voice, which he brought down to a diminuendo, like the gentle notes of a viola, to keep from overpowering the silver sopranos and contraltos. Patients who were able stood in the doors of their rooms and smiled at the pretty faces of the young singers.
Tournament of Roses Queen Kristin Harris and the six members of her court made the caroling rounds with the junior volunteers, presenting their listeners with a tiny silk rose, the hallmark of the tournament and the parade on New Year's Day.
Santa Claus was a large and ebullient man who went with the singers, hugged patients and wished them health and happiness. He was Anthony Horton, the husband of a hospital volunteer, and he managed to be soft and gentle, though never losing his robust persona.
The patients loved him. An elderly lady in a periwinkle blue robe said, "Imagine Santa finding us here."
May she have a glass of ruby red port served in a crystal goblet for having held on to the magic through all the years. Of course she knew it wasn't really Santa Claus but, honey, it takes a lot of courage to pretend when most everything else is gone.
A glorious yuletide to people who will work on Christmas Day, to waitresses and actors, to piano players and animal keepers, to doctors and news reporters and to those who deliver the paper with a solid thunk on your driveway so you know the day has officially opened.
To those of you who bought a present for the Marines Toys for Tots drive, a turkey wearing a wreath of cranberries. A cup of Tom and Jerry, redolent with brandy and served in one of those old straight-sided mugs with Tom and Jerry inscribed in gold to all of you who helped with the Christmas celebration at the Downtown Women's Center.
May the organ on Christmas morning at church peal forth like the trumpets of battalions of angels for all of you who share your Christmas with someone who might have been alone.
A warm, woolly robe to curl up in at the end of the day for veterinarians who work so some small, scared animal will feel better, maybe even make it home before New Year's Day. May the tall shamas , the regal candle that lights the rest of the nine candles on the great Menorah to celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah, make a golden glow, telling us again that it is possible to give love and light to others without losing any part of our own radiance.
A joyous holiday to each and every one of you, and don't forget the milk and cookies for Santa and a candle in the window to show poor stalwart Joseph and his pretty young wife, Mary, that there is room in the inn, maybe in the stable, even for the sturdy donkey who walked so far to reach Bethlehem, just as the great star shone above. Merry Christmas.