Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Day Before The Night Before Christmas

I don't always know a lot, but I do know this for sure. You would have to be beyond the acceptable limits of all sanity to go anywhere near any large metropolitan shopping area or mall today. I don't know what comes over people when the need to purchase gifts reaches such an unhinged frenzy, but it does.

This might sound kind of common, or even trite, but maybe it is so because the truth in it is so obvious. I really do think that whatever religiosity might be left in the Christmas brand after having been crushed beneath more than a few billion dollars worth of advertising is entirely and utterly lost in all the major shopping centers on this day.

Personally I believe that you really ought to go in an entirely different direction. A walk in the mountains is where you will more likely find God. Or in your home with your family. Give the simplest of gifts, that is where you are the most likely to find the joyous complexity in the hearts of those you love. You should never be afraid to share with them your own joyous complexity as well.

I have this theory that God, being almighty, does find that there are places He would not care to go. And that if you are so unwise (or unlucky since we are infinitely fallible and can't possibly know everything about God's preferences) to be in such a place when the cold hand of death decides to take you, then you cannot go to Heaven. Instead you get stuck forever in whatever Godless place you may happen to be at that awful moment. A shopping mall on the 24th of December might very well be one of those. I thought that I ought to warn you.

You'd be much better off doing your last minute shopping here in Sierra Madre. Flawed though we all may be, I don't think the place has been forsaken quite yet. The doors of Heaven are still open above us. Though we will have to see if that holds.

I have been mulling over the dark heart of the message the so-called "civility crowd" has been attempting to beat into us into silence with these last few days, and while I have not been able to put my feelings about this oppressive and dishonest concept into words just yet, somebody I know and respect (a lot) has sent me the words of someone who has. The author's name is Kristin Rawls, and here is what she has to say:

Notwithstanding the fact that "love" is perhaps the vaguest, most unhelpful political prescription of all time, this kind of thinking removes any analysis of power from the conversation. It falsely presumes that we all enter the conversation on equal footing. Indeed, everyone is so busy preaching "unity" and "loving one another" that there is never any interrogation of privilege or power. It's a bit different out in mainstream society, but the message is clear. Love your oppressors ... (We) are accustomed to being silenced because we have a "mean tone." We're asked to speak more respectfully so that we can earn a hearing. We're taught to submit to our oppressors. We're being angry and irrational, and it's our job to make everyone comfortable."

Or, as Alice Roosevelt Longworth so famously put it, "If you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone, come sit next to me."

There was a rather unfortunate incident at the Frosty the Snowman unveiling last night in Kersting Court. Apparently Lady Elizabeth Wistar and some of her friends decided to stage something of an impromptu parade through the downtown area, complete with strange music and God knows what else. A film crew from Austria (of all places) was on hand to film our beloved Frosty event, and they captured the following footage. Which, wouldn't you know, has now gone viral on the web. Let me warn you, much of it is shocking, and you may wish to shield the eyes of the more sensitive. Click here.

I was scouring the Internet to find something inspirational to end this post with, and I couldn't find anything that quite rose to my expectations. But I did stumble across an interesting piece on Wikipedia about Christmas Eve. Which is a very matter of fact and almost anthropological essay on the Night Before Christmas. I think that the person who wrote it did so from the perspective of a social scientist rather than a believer. Something that is, of course, a belief system in itself. Here is the Wikipedia Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25. It is a culturally significant celebration for most of the Western world and is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day.

One reason celebrations occur on Christmas Eve is because the traditional Christian liturgical day starts at sunset, an inheritance from Jewish tradition, which in turn is based in the story of creation in Genesis: "And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." This liturgical day is followed for all days in the Eastern rite and the custom of beginning Christmas celebration (as well as Sunday and the other major festivals) in the preceding evening is preserved in western Churches that have altered the liturgical day to start at midnight, for example the Roman Catholic Church. Many churches still ring their church bells and hold prayers in the evening before holidays; for example the Nordic Lutheran churches. In some languages, such as the Scandinavian, Christmas Eve is simply referred to as "Christmas Evening."

Since Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is referred to as "Heilige Nacht" ("Holy Night") in German. "Nochebuena" ("the Good Night") in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song, "Silent Night, Holy Night."

Nominally religious people, or people who are not formal with definitions, may see the whole day as a day of celebration or as just the day before Christmas. Millions of people around the world with no Christian or religious affiliation or background also celebrate Christmas and Christmas Eve. The emphasis of celebration on Christmas Eve varies from country to country and region to region.

The Blogger's Union (Local 14) doesn't allow me to work on Christmas, so I will be taking tomorrow off. The Tattler will resume its normal publishing schedule on Monday, December 26. With something controversial, I'm sure. Isn't that why so many people come here?

Have a great Christmas!


  1. Wishing you, family, friends and all your readers the best Christmas ever.
    Thanks for the truth you bring out.

    Merry Christmas

  2. The Wistarian video is chilling. You can tell they are up to no good.

  3. Very nice Fairy Tales about virgin births and splitting seas, great crowd control methodologies over the centuries..Wikipedia eh? ..that explains alot...GO DUCKS!!!

  4. I used to journey to a cabin in the mountains, where one cannot hear or see the media, a week before Xmas eve, and return the Xmas day.
    It's amazing, by removing my family from the "madness", how we become focused upon the true meaning of the holiday.
    Getting back to civilization, is returning to find the drunken consumptionism has run it's course and is like seeing mass hangovers.
    It's pretty sad and cheapens the spirit of the holiday's meaning.
    Happy Holidays.

  5. Nothing cheapens the holiday spirit by spelling Christmas in some sort of consumption driven shorthand, Xmas.

  6. Xmas is NOT some consumer-driven short-hand. the "X" is actually the Greek letter chi, half of the chi-rho, or what looks like a p interposed over an x, a common symbol on stoles, frontals, chausables, and other items used in Christian worship.
    "X" is acceptable shorthand for Christ, a shorthand employed by early Christians and contemporary academics.
    Mery Xmas!

  7. I plan on giving the gift of fire wood this year.

  8. I agree, 8:00 am the first. The more "Xs" the greater the blessing. I prefer XXX myself. It always makes me feel elevated.

  9. And Mery? Is that some sort of intellectual shorthand, too?

  10. No, just a minor typo! So to 8:07, MERRY Xmas, and I hope that in the new year you overcome your apparent disdain of things intellectual.

  11. Forgiveness is a part of Christmas. That is what it is all about. Even typos can be giving a pass.

  12. I sometimes intentionally type in an eror so as to to show humility, or at least that is what I tell myself. Spel is a 4 letter word was the title of a cleaver book on the mess of English spelling-- so if you are a poor speller in more than one language and English is one of them than you have lots of company. Add that to the ease of this iPad automatically correcting for me and the short hand of the text message and the other misspellings for advertising space and cleverness, English is only bound to get worse!

  13. Great video Crawford!

  14. Merry Christmas to you and yours in our sister city to the East! You've had a busy week -- take a break!

  15. Tattler, you're flat out wrong about God not going places.
    I'll agree with you that a mall on Christmas eve day is a pretty good helping of an inferno, but it is in the worst places that God is revealed most.

  16. Ja, der krampus! They'll come to get those who have been naughty. Or two faced - like some of those in the civility club. One face smiling pleasantly, the other face mean as dirts. Wouldn't it be refreshing if they showed their true faces in the new year?

  17. Went on the Sage's very fine blog, and found this information about the PUSD Redistricting Task Force that Bart Doyle, under investigation Bart Doyle, was appointed to by Buchanan, Moran and Walsh. Wonder if anyone will show up to ask him about Titan, El Monte, the FBI, homeland security, integrity, repentance?

    The task force will begin drawing sub-regional district maps in Jan., 2012, and needs significant community input so the maps are representative of the communities of Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre.

    The meetings will be:

    Tues., Jan. 3, 2012 at 6 PM at the auditorium at Jefferson Elementary School, 1500 E. Villa Street, Pasadena.

    Tues., Jan. 17, at Mountain View Cemetery, 2400 N. Fair Oaks, Altadena

    Tues., Feb. 7 at the Western Justice Center, 55 N. Grand, Pasadena

    Tues., Feb. 21 at Al-Kebulon Cultural Center, 1435 N. Raymond, Pasadena.

  18. And the representative location for the community meeting for Sierra Madre families would be where?

    Perhaps they want to avoid the contingent not in support of Bart?

  19. 9:21 - there are rug weavers in the Middle East who always intentionally insert a mistake into their creations in the belief that only God is capable of perfection. I appreciate your technique.

  20. The thing I want to know - is Frosty OK?

  21. Frosty abuse is a felony in California.

  22. 10:43 - Notes for the meetings are published on the PUSD website. At the last meeting (12/20/11) held at Wilson Middle School, the task force stated that socio-economics will be the first consideration in drawing the sub-geographic district lines. Copies of the second round of draft maps should be available at PUSD. It's a shame that the proposed maps aren't published on the PUSD website to make it a more transparent process and allow for more participation from the public.

    In one version of the maps, Altadena is split in to 3 different districts. There were two map proposals for Sierra Madre. One plan keeps Sierra Madre entirely in one district and includes a portion of East Pasadena. The second map proposal splits Sierra Madre in half. North of Sierra Madre Blvd. is in one district, and south of Sierra Madre Blvd. is in a district that is bounded by the southern border of East Pasadena, and the western border of Allen below the 210 Freeway.

    Lots of conversation centered around racial matters - as in, the Latino community needs a sub-geographic district so that they have the advantage in electing a Latino representative. Likewise, the Armenian community is advocating for placing all of the Armenians in one district so they have a greater chance of electing an Armenian so that their special interests will be served (sigh! - I thought we were all Americans)

    There are so many more thoughts to share, but my Christmas shopping is not complete. Will keep the Tattlers posted...

  23. Thanks 11:43. Good information.

    I was reflecting on the lack of civility in our local politics - and while passions have always run high in Sierra Madre, albeit usually under cover, the struggles in the body politic really started to get nasty when some of our supposed representatives set out to develop the hillsides and the downtown. Those blows came one right after the other. The community lost Stonehouse and Carter, and then the same interests trotted out that Orange County facelift called the Downtown Specific Plan.

    The public figures involved in the overdevelopment schemes in the hillsides and the remaking of the shared downtown space into somebody's uninspired formulas, have never owned up to their disastrous choices. One Carter/Stonegate has sat there ruined for how many years? The bank that owns those properties was trying to find a buyer to take Stonehouse off their hands. Has any member of the council that allowed that to happen ever acknowledged just how wrong that council vote was?

    The DSP would have been an utter failure given what was coming in the economic situation, and resident David Smith warned the council of that time about the impending disaster in a most specific and prescient way. Imagine the downtown with the slated development stopped midway, with any completed, overpriced units standing empty. Has any member of that council ever acknowledged what a bad idea that was, and what an enormous waste of more than a quarter of a million dollars of tax payers money?

    One bad decision after another has produced some real anger in the community. The inability of responsible parties to admit their incompetent judgements is insult added onto injury. There is a genuine desire in Sierra Madre to keep it, not sell it.

  24. Thankful and TriumphantDecember 24, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Give it up for a day or two people and sit back and enjoy all that we have here in the good ol' USA, just because you have an open forum here doesn't mean you have to be "on point" 24-7, give it a break, have some egg not put a log on the fire and let your troubles be thousand miles away for a day or two...Happy Merrychristmahannakwanzika..y'all!!

  25. I would Thankful, but I'm worried about Frosty.

  26. Day after tomorrow it will be business as usual. Off point but nonetheless important was the vote of the Council in Long Beach last week which turned down a billion dollar project for the famous PCH 1 "pink hotel" location because the project was to fly in the face of the 3 story height limit imposed on developers. The developer and a minority of the Council were "disappointed and angry" that the 12 story hotel, multi condos, shoping complex were not approved. A wet lands protected area right next to the project would have been compromised, as well as inadequate traffic and parking studies presented by the consultants, were questioned by residents of Long Beach.

    A lesson for us..but then we have already compdromised our natural hillsides to developers, and parking is dictated by "units" not needed spaces. Developers will undo anything for a buck.

  27. 3:11...STOP ALREADY!!!!

  28. Yes, 5:17. Common sense, integrity, honesty, and listening to what it is the people in this community really want. Pretty awful.

    Merry Christmas, anyway.

  29. Doing good works and being with good friends is the reward in and of itself. We are rewarded all the time. Happy holidays to all.

  30. 1:13, 5:17, there's a very easy way for you to be happy. Stop looking at the blog. Unplug person, unplug.
    Thanks 3:11 for that great news and your insightful understanding of developers. Every slow growth victory is important.

  31. After a beautiful Christmas Eve with family it is a joy to read John's fabulous blog and be grateful to all the people who read and speak.

    It is a gift to know that the residents of Long Beach have fought against the developer and WON, and that WE WILL ALSO. Our life style is a reason to rejoice and the reason my family came here almost 150 years ago: for a better life. In honor of them I will fight to keep my town small and my life the way it should be: without greedy selfish developers screaming down our throats.

    The person afraid of free speech and critical thinking seems very sad and alone. This is not always a happy time for many people. We must remember the jobless, homeless and lonely at this difficult time of the year. It is not MERRY for everyone.

    Blessings to all...especially the Crawfords who are brave enough to expose the truth...

  32. Merry Christmas Everyone! Take the day off and enjoy spending time with your family!!

  33. Santas Helper,, oh what a nightDecember 25, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    May this NEW YEAR be the best one ever.

  34. Hey, which one of those monsters is Matheson? Must be the ogre who picks up the little boy and tries to walk away with him...

    And 1:13 p.m. and 5:17 p.m., you'd best just get off the track. In this town, it has been shown historically that we must always be on point to counter the profligate element of the development industry and their cronies (Doyle, Buchanan, Mosca, Torres, Stockley, Lambdin, Moran, Walsh, et. al.), regardless of holiday recesses taken by those who are just disinterested in the whole mess or the degenerate dirts who utilize that recess to overindulge their aberrant and excessive desires...

  35. 3:11 "Stop Already" on Long Beach? OK. How about todays uproar by residents of Hollywood on the CRA Approved transportation corridor of big high rises right there below the Hollywood Sign?

    The residents don't like it and the Developers facilitated by the LA City Council are going to work over the town of Hollywood.

    How many Politicians, Developers, Business Suits have got their hands in this Community Redevelopment Agency? It really is a legitimisized criminal grab bag of taxpayer funds. It is mind boggeling.

    Go get em Hollywood! They really don't care about you, only your bucks.


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