Posts Tagged With: Santa Claus


Despite the rumors the world as we know it is not predicted to end today, on December 21st.  Popol Vuh, in the Mayan Sacred Book, did not say the world will end, it simply meant the Fourth World started a new cycle on Aug. 11th, 3114 BC. and it ended on December 21st, 2012. The year of the Fourth Calendar was predicted to end in catastrophe, before another, fifth world cycle began.

Well, maybe not a cataclysmic ending with crashing mountains and earth rending volcanoes and great rents in terra firma in one day.  But right now, our world as we know it, is definitely ending and catastrophe is…well…relentless and correct.  Man-made climate change moved our world beyond the point of return. Peak oil, now peak water.  Climate driven mega storms, rising oceans, acidic oceans, collapsing coral and fish populations and collapsing animal and plant populations. Another dust bowl predicted for the mid-west because the natural water isn’t there and what is there is contaminated. We are melting glaciers, cutting down rainforests, covering up coastal wetlands, interfering with bird and animal migrations.  The ozone hole has widened and we now understand why.

Should we ignore these obscure predictions from obscure, centuries old cultures and get on with our lives.  What do they know?  Did we ignore Jesus to love our fellow-man?  Maybe Popol Vuh was really warning us not to ignore our scientists who are struggling to find solutions in the face of a self-destructive society that refuses to make changes to save the planet for all of us. There is still time for one more merry Christmas, anyway. And, a few more cards.

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The beauty of nature.

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The innocence of children.

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The delight of make-believe.



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Obviously,  some post offices must be closed. The US Postal Service is bleeding money while most of us communicate through our computers, fax machines or private delivery services. Consolidating is a hard decision when it affects postal employees during already hard times. I’ve heard neighbors grumble  why not cut down the number of days the mail is delivered? For rural folks like us, the Post Office is regarded as a necessity. House to house delivery was just a wish when I first moved to Calaveras County. In some remote areas it is yet the case and continues to serve as  a friendly neighborhood meeting place. You can’t just shout  “Howdy” to your neighbor as you drive by when neighbor’s driveway might be a half mile long on two dirt ruts. It is the place for a community bulletin board when you inform your neighbors there has been a death in the family, or you impart other less important information.  Giving up such a chunk of history will be hard.

From a purely selfish point of view, I’m hating the idea of closing post offices because I’m a stamp collector. It was a lesson in history growing up, inexpensive, and engaging at one time.  The above two post marks reflect local history from two different communities that most people could care less about. But, what’s in a stamp?  The small towns of Centerville, Irvington, Niles, Mission San Jose, and Warm Springs became Fremont in 1956. The post mark reflects the change from each community.  I wish I’d gotten a transfer mark from each town. The Calcopex post mark honors the former community of White Pines which consolidated with Arnold many years earlier. Local folks identify themselves as being from White Pines and wanted their heritage honored and remembered. They applied to the U.S. Postal Service and permission was granted.

I started my collection in 1946. And it was a thrill if a neighbor gave me a post mark from far away places, like Norwich, Connecticut, or Tuscumbia, Alabama. It was enough to make me dream of faraway places. Along with the  stamps I collected history on post marks.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it.) You notice abbreviations were CONN. and CALIF.  No zip codes. Stamps are pretty boring to young people who have the world at their fingers in their computers.  I still like to send away for Christmas Post Marks in exoticaly named places like Bethlehem, IN, Antler, ND,Chestnut,Ill, Snow,OK, and Angels Camp, CA. Yipes!  Just 9 miles down the road. I don’t oppose the closings, but I will miss the post marks. I’m saddened to watch this small part of history disappear.




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Tasters usually snug up to the tasting room bar for the fine wines at Chatom, and maybe enjoy a bit of chocolate or an olive spread and cracker. I love the sunny tasting room at Chatom, and the wines, the frog balls and other eccentric gifts but once a year during the Christmas Season, Chatom hosts a party in the barrel room for members.

It is one of the best parties of the season and Margo, Karen, Jan and I enjoyed the wonderful food and camaraderie even though I’m no longer a member. Gay Callen started the winery in 1982 or 3, I believe it was. My youngest son planted vines for Stevenot’s Vineyards under her direction in 1979 .  She later developed her own vineyard. He developed a high school  crush on Gay and loves to tease and remind her about those days. (Doug wasn’t the only high school boy with a crush on Gay during that planting season.)

These two women, and a guy, who was taking a break when I took the picture, have played this party every year for the last twelve. Beautiful voices that rival some famous folk singers I’m fond of. Unique about them is Chatom’s Christmas Party is the only gig they play. They enjoy it as much as we enjoy them.

Singer and hunter seems a strange combination.  Though I’ve never gotten her name, she confided she had recently made her first kill. My look must have expressed alarm. “Its more humane than the way our meat is raised and killed,” she defended. “A head shot kills instantly, there is no suffering.”  She hails from a hunting family. I do too. My father was a great hunter, and we farmed and butchered our own hogs and chickens. I was taught to handle a gun at age six and encouraged to hunt partridge. I never did like killing any critter. Even when I was a competition skin diver, I disliked killing the fish and never hunted outside of a meet. I’m not being judgmental of her choice to hunt, just surprised. Her statement is absolutely correct about the way our meat is “factory farmed” and killed. In a word, inhumane.

As we wandered about the room, visiting with anyone in sight, courteously, we introduce ourselves to each other, but the names all float away in my head. This woman approached me because we have the same Christmas bell earrings and a necklace. Just fun, cheap costume jewelry from years past. She told me something very funny I intended to blog. It too, floated out of my head. I  enjoy chatting with friends and strangers. After all, a stranger is just a friend you don’t know well yet.

Santa was present again this year from Copperopolis. He has no role in the party but does play Santa for non-profits, free of charge. A service he loves to provide.

Jan wanted her picture taken with Santa to prove to her grandchildren Santa is real. It is nice to have a Santa with real hair and beard. And it was very nice to join the throng at Chatom’s barrel room and taste and nibble for an hour or so. There was a time when I would get dismayed at how early the Christmas season started. Not now!  I enjoy the extended party season and all the wonderful colors, music and special treats. Of course, I don’t have young Children and a dream to perpetuate at Christmas. I just have fun.



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Yesterday, when I spoke of the Christmas card with the poem, “T’was The Night Before Christmas”, I deliberately didn’t put the author of that poem as Clark Clement Moore, even though I’m ancestrally related to him. He was a sour, difficult,  and mean spirited man and there is evidence to suggest he was not the author. His peer, Major Henry Livingston Jr., related to Moore’s wife, is more likely the author. I read a comprehensive article some years back  about the investigation into the true author of the poem and came away convinced it was Livingston’s name that belongs next to this poem. Just for the heck of it, I looked it up on Wikipedia and I was amazed to see Wikipedia has a briefer version of the debate. You may look it up if you’d like at this link:

The poem has had major influence over the magical games we play at Christmas with our young children. It has, in essence, given definition to the gift giving, charitable figure that left presents for children in their socks or shoes over the centuries in many cultures. The actual title of the poem is “A Visit From St. Nicholas.”  St. Nicolas was a real person with a history of his own that represents the charitable side of man’s nature, mostly lacking during centuries of hungrier times.
There are cards that depict St. Nicholas, with his flowing beard, walking with a staff, with his pockets overflowing with presents. I couldn’t find the one I had in mind. But with that poem we metamorphosed St. Nicholas into the jolly red suited fat man we know as Santa Claus. And, even he has changed over the years.

From an old fashioned guy like this one…

To a slimmer, hardworking guy like this one. Its all fun.,
Wikipedia, by the way, is a free service. A very valuable one in my opinion. They are stressed for operating cash and are looking for donations. If you can send them a fiver once a year,  we can hope they will always remain free. There isn’t very much that is truly free these days.

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