Some random thoughts on the last Christmas Eve of the second millennium - or is it the first, or does the new one really start next year instead of next week? Time is eternal, so they say, but dates are man-made so it doesn't matter that much except to a billion or so computers.
In 999, just a thousand years ago, Europeans and Byzantines thronged monasteries and churches in the fall bringing deeds of land, valuable jewels, manuscripts, and wagon loads of possessions in hope of being in good grace on Judgment Day. Church bells rang December 31, lords went down on their knees with peasants, and were astonished that the world did not end.
What goes around comes around. In 1999 the late night talk shows are talking about the end of the world on December 31. But they are also advertising survival gear, so I am not quite convinced of their sincerity.
Meanwhile we have the wonderful season of Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas verses since I was a little girl is Clement Moore's "On the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..."
There have been dozens of parodies, but this one, as passed along by the library network, seems most appropriate in this millennial year. "'T'was the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Musmusculus."
Tonight will be an extraordinarily busy one for the famous gentlemen in the red suit. Somebody on the Internet did a little math last year and found some amazing facts. Assuming one small toy per kid, the payload on Santa's sleigh would be roughly 321,300 tons, plus Santa who is slightly overweight. Eating 4 million cookies in one night will do that to you. Donder and Blitzen and their co-workers can't do the job, since they are now over 150 years old. It would take 214,200 physically fit reindeer
These figures are based on the premise that there is only one Santa Claus. A thousand Santas (1 kilosanta) or a million Santas (a megasanta) working in parallel could make it work. Santa is not dead. He is distributed.
He may be distributed, but part of him will be here tonight - down your chimney and mine. For Christmas is really about love and sharing and caring, and all the technical talk cannot take that away.
St. Mary's Hospital will be without their special Christmas Day volunteer this year. Dora Perlmutter's family escaped from Nazi Germany in 1938, barely ahead of Hitler. Her last years were spent in Grand Junction and she was a Red Cross volunteer at the Hospital until her death this year. She always volunteered to work on Christmas day so that others could be at their religious services or home with their families.
I am remembering Christmases Past, but not very many in detail. Who can remember 84 Christmases? One that I do remember -- I think -- was when I was very little. The picture in my mind is of my mother and father working on a Christmas tree in a room of amazing brightness - far more brightness than was possible at that time. But it is there in my memory, along with the love and warmth that filled the room. Through all the passages of life, Christmas changes as we change, but the spirit is always there.
Just as I wrote that sentence a group of wonderful carolers from Koinonia Church, my friends, came by my house and sang Christmas carols for me. Santa Claus has just arrived.
I wish for everyone in the world the true Christmas Future -- Peace on Earth and Good Will to People -- All People. And for us as individuals a room with warmth and light and love.