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  1. 6 points
    Michael Rielly

    If

    English poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) is perhaps best known for the children's book The Jungle Book. In addition to The Jungle Book and other novels, Kipling's works include many short stories and poems. "If—" is a poem by English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling, written circa 1895 as a tribute to Leander Starr Jameson. It is a literary example of Victorian-era stoicism. The poem, first published in Rewards and Fairies, ch. ‘Brother Square-Toes, ’ is written in the form of paternal advice to the poet's son, John. If by Rudyard Kipling, 1910 If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breathe a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
  2. 3 points
    The Mistletoe Bough "The Mistletoe Bough," lyrics by Thomas Haynes Bayly, music by Sir Henry Bishop, is a ballad composed around 1830 retelling a traditional tale about a newlywed bride who accidentally locks herself in an old oak trunk while playing hide-and-seek with members of her wedding party, who then spend a long night searching for her in vain. The Mistletoe Bough The mistletoe hung in the castle hall, The holly branch shone on the old oak wall; And the baron's retainers were blithe and gay, And keeping their Christmas holiday. The baron beheld with a father's pride His beautiful child, young Lovell's bride; While she with her bright eyes seemed to be The star of the goodly company. Oh, the mistletoe bough. Oh, the mistletoe bough. "I'm weary of dancing now," she cried; "Here, tarry a moment — I'll hide, I'll hide! And, Lovell, be sure thou'rt first to trace The clew to my secret lurking-place." Away she ran — and her friends began Each tower to search, and each nook to scan; And young Lovell cried, "O, where dost thou hide? I'm lonesome without thee, my own dear bride." Oh, the mistletoe bough. Oh, the mistletoe bough. They sought her that night, and they sought her next day, And they sought her in vain while a week passed away; In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot, Young Lovell sought wildly — but found her not. And years flew by, and their grief at last Was told as a sorrowful tale long past; And when Lovell appeared the children cried, "See! the old man weeps for his fairy bride." Oh, the mistletoe bough. Oh, the mistletoe bough. At length an oak chest, that had long lain hid, Was found in the castle — they raised the lid, And a skeleton form lay mouldering there In the bridal wreath of that lady fair! O, sad was her fate! — in sportive jest She hid from her lord in the old oak chest. It closed with a spring! — and, dreadful doom, The bride lay clasped in her living tomb! Oh, the mistletoe bough. Oh, the mistletoe bough. A video of the poem was made in 1904 . . .
  3. 2 points
    The German Nussknacker (Nutcracker) is a timeless symbol of the Christmas season. Originating near the Erzebirge regions of Germany, decorative Nutcrackers in the form soldiers, knights, and kings have existed since the late 17th century. A close cousin to the Nutcracker is the Räuchermänner. Commonly known as “Smokers” or “Smoking Men”, Räuchermänner are similar to Nutcrackers in that they are both colorful, carved wooden figures and both originate from Erzegebirge. However, instead of cracking nuts, Räuchermänner are used to burn incense known as Räucherkerzchen. Literally meaning "little smoking candle", a Räucherkerzchen is a small cone of incense burned at Christmas time. The emergence of Räucherkerzen goes back to the use of frankincense in Catholic liturgy. The Räucherkerzchen are made from the resin of the frankincense tree, mixed with charcoal, potato flour, sandalwood and beech paste. The substances are ground and mixed into a moist dough, then shaped into a cone and dried. Räucherkerzchen come in a wide variety of fragrances ranging from traditional Christmas scents like, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and balsam to the more exotic like sandalwood, honey, and others. Unlike Nutcrackers, which tend to represent political, military, or religious figures, Räuchermänner traditionally resemble common folk such as: shepherds, farmers, bakers, carpenters, chimney sweeps, and other tradespeople. Over the years, these figures have evolved into a wide variety of styles. Today Räuchermänner can be found in all sorts of variations, especially Christmas themes such as Santa Claus, Elves, and Snowmen. The Räuchermänner is made up of two pieces that fit together to create one body. The upper part of the body is hollow so that an incense cone can be placed on top of the lower half of the body. When the incense is lit, smoke then billows out of a hole carved in the mouth to resemble a man smoking a pipe. Its nostalgic charm has made the Räuchermänner a Christmas tradition in Germany for hundreds of years. Unlike their Nutcracker cousins, who are often depicted as bearish and grim faced, Räuchermänner seem friendlier; almost jovial. But perhaps what has made the Räuchermänner so popular is that these little wooden figures represent the work of the common man.
  4. 2 points
    The Santa Claus Oath I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels. I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults. I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself. I acknowledge that some of the requests I will hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion. I know the “real reason for the season” and know that I am blessed to be able to be a part of it. I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest, and show fellowship to my peers. I promise to use “my” powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend. I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of Saint Nicholas the gift giver of Myra. All words, contents, images, and descriptions of the Santa Claus Oath including the Santa Claus Oath Crest are copyrighted under an attachment with Arcadia Publishing 2008 by Phillip L. Wenz. ISBN # 978-0-7385-4149-5 and LCCC # 2007925452 - All rights reserved.
  5. 2 points
    As a Financial Advisor I also often get questions this time of year about what is deductible. Although I will mention things in broad terms, it is always best to ask your tax advisor about your specific items. Here is a good rule of thumb: If it cannot be used for other purposes and is purchased specifically and exclusively for your Santa business, it is usually deductible. Some examples: Santa suit - yes, can't be worn to work or church or anything "normal" Santa belt - yes Wig and beard - yes Boots - this one is tricky - do you wear them to ride your motorcycle? Do you wear them everyday? With Jeans? Might not be deductible. If they are exclusive to Santa then yes. Bells, toys, stickers or candy to give away - yes Eyewear - another tricky one. Do you use them exclusively for Santa? yes if exclusive, no if you wear them everyday. Santa's chair - yes, if it is decorative and not used for other purposes. Memberships to Santa organizations - yes Books for Santa or your Santa business - yes Here are some tricky ones: Domain name and hosting - yes if exclusive for Santa Internet service - usually you can deduct a portion. Speak with your tax advisor Home phone or cell phone - same as internet service Mileage - a qualified yes. Speak with your tax advisor, keep good records. It can get a little complicated - donated time as a volunteer, for example can count as a donation. Get advice. KEEP RECORDS Hair care products, bleach, etc - complicated. If you bleach year round it may not be deductible. Storage containers - yes, if used only for Santa stuff. Software, computer equipment, cameras, electronics - mostly no, but qualified. You must prove the equipment is dedicated and cannot be used in every day life. Talk to your tax advisor. Most of all, with everything, keep good records! I often recommend that clients buy a 3-ring binder and fill it with paper. Tape receipts to the pages and make notes beside the receipt as to what was purchased and the use. I also recommend that business purchases be made separate from personal purchases. Keep the receipts separate; it is easier that way. Keep your mileage in a small notebook in your car - or even better, if possible do a MapQuest directions printout for your mileage and place in the same 3-ring binder.
  6. 2 points
    Born in Germantown Pennsylvania, Henry Jackson van Dyke (1852-1933) was an American author, clergyman, and English literature professor. He authored numerous books of poetry and devotion. Among his popular writings are two Christmas stories: The Other Wise Man (1896) and The First Christmas Tree (1897). One of his more notable books was,The Spirit of Christmas (1905); a collection of Christmas themed writings that includes short stories, prayers, and the following sermon entitled, Christmas-Giving And Christmas-Living. Christmas-Giving And Christmas-Living By Henry van Dyke The custom of exchanging presents on a certain day in the year is very much older than Christmas, and means very much less. It has obtained in almost all ages of the world, and among many different nations. It is a fine thing or a foolish thing, as the case may be; an encouragement to friendliness, or a tribute to fashion; an expression of good nature, or a bid for favour; an outgoing of generosity, or a disguise of greed; a cheerful old custom, or a futile old farce, according to the spirit which animates it and the form which it takes. But when this ancient and variously interpreted tradition of a day of gifts was transferred to the Christmas season, it was brought into vital contact with an idea which must transform it, and with an example which must lift it up to a higher plane. The example is the life of Jesus. The idea is unselfish interest in the happiness of others. The great gift of Jesus to the world was himself. He lived with and for men. He kept back nothing. In every particular and personal gift that he made to certain people there was something of himself that made it precious. For example, at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, it was his thought for the feelings of the giver of the feast, and his wish that every guest should find due entertainment, that lent the flavour of a heavenly hospitality to the wine which he provided. When he gave bread and fish to the hungry multitude who had followed him out among the hills by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were refreshed and strengthened by the sense of the personal care of Jesus for their welfare, as much as by the food which he bestowed upon them. It was another illustration of the sweetness of "a dinner of herbs, where love is." The gifts of healing which he conferred upon many different kinds of sufferers were, in every case, evidences that Jesus was willing to give something of himself, his thought, his sympathy, his vital power, to the men and women among whom he lived. Once, when a paralytic was brought to Jesus on a bed, he surprised everybody, and offended many, by giving the poor wretch the pardon of his sins, before he gave new life to his body. That was just because Jesus thought before he gave; because he desired to satisfy the deepest need; because in fact he gave something of himself in every gift. All true Christmas-giving ought to be after this pattern. Not that it must all be solemn and serious. For the most part it deals with little wants, little joys, little tokens of friendly feeling. But the feeling must be more than the token; else the gift does not really belong to Christmas. It takes time and effort and unselfish expenditure of strength to make gifts in this way. But it is the only way that fits the season. The finest Christmas gift is not the one that costs the most money, but the one that carries the most love. But how seldom Christmas comes- only once a year; and how soon it is over-a night and a day! If that is the whole of it, it seems not much more durable than the little toys that one buys of a fakir on the street-corner. They run for an hour, and then the spring breaks, and the legs come off, and nothing remains but a contribution to the dust heap. But surely that need not and ought not to be the whole of Christmas only a single day of generosity, ransomed from the dull servitude of a selfish year,-only a single night of merry-making, celebrated in the slave-quarters of a selfish race! If every gift is the token of a personal thought, a friendly feeling, an unselfish interest in the joy of others, then the thought, the feeling, the interest, may remain after the gift is made. The little present, or the rare and long-wished-for gift (it matters not whether the vessel be of gold, or silver, or iron, or wood, or clay, or just a small bit of birch bark folded into a cup), may carry a message something like this: "I am thinking of you to-day, because it is Christmas, and I wish you happiness. And to-morrow, because it will be the day after Christmas, I shall still wish you happiness; and so on, clear through the year. I may not be able to tell you about it every day, because I may be far away; or because both of us may be very busy; or perhaps because I cannot even aff ord to pay the postage on so many letters, or find the time to write them. But that makes no difference. The thought and the wish will be here just the same. In my work and in the business of life, I mean to try not to be unfair to you or injure you in any way. In my pleasure, if we can be together, I would like to share the fun with you. Whatever joy or success comes to you will make me glad. Without pretense, and in plain words, good-will to you is what I mean, in the Spirit of Christmas.' It is not necessary to put a message like this into high-flown language, to swear absolute devotion and deathless consecration. In love and friendship, small, steady payments on a gold basis are better than immense promissory notes. Nor, indeed, is it always necessary to put the message into words at all, nor even to convey it by a tangible token. To feel it and to act it out-that is the main thing. There are a great many people in the world whom we know more or less, but to whom for various reasons we cannot very well send a Christmas gift. But there is hardly one, in all the circles of our acquaintance, with whom we may not exchange the touch of Christmas life. In the outer circles, cheerful greetings, courtesy, consideration; in the inner circles, sympathetic interest, hearty congratulations, honest encouragement; in the inmost circle, comradeship, helpfulness, tenderness,- " Beautiful friendship tried by sun and wind Durable from the daily dust of life ^ After all, Christmas-living is the best kind of Christmas-giving.
  7. 2 points
    The first Santa Claus Convention, held in 1939 in New York City, New York, was a 2 day affair that brought more than a dozen Santas to the Hotel St. George. It was held by the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus, which was founded two years earlier in 1937, to promote a positive image of Santa with guidelines such as clean costumes, personal hygiene, and knowing the reindeer names. The convention was to organize Santas and present to department stores an ever endearing code of conduct and the proper appearance of the profession. The slogan of the convention was “Santa Claus is a living cause.” During the conference portion of the convention discussion, a foundation was laid for the code of conduct that included; Santa will never smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or use any language unbecoming of a saint, be physically and mentally healthy, never break character, incorporate folklore and legend, and use the best available costuming. After the convention, the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus continued for a few more years. In 1942 the Order was dissolved. There would not be another convention until 1950 that was held by the newly organized, Ancient and Mystic Order of Kris Kringles in St. Louis, Missouri. The Ancient and Mystic Order of Kris Kringles was organized in 1949 for the purpose of “Placing Santa Claus on a Higher Plane and to Promote Good Will, Fellowship and the True Christmas Spirit in the Hearts of All People.” Santa Sam Caress, President of AMKK, was very instrumental in laying out a 2 day conference that held seminars taught by Santa Frank Lais of New Orleans, Louisiana and Santa Charles W. Howard of Albion, New York. In the convention’s symposium, 12 important topics were open for discussion. The symposium used “Roberts Rules of Order” and was presided over by Santa Francis A. Kirby of Silver Springs, Maryland. There would be a few more conventions in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Then not another until 1985…but that is another story.
  8. 1 point
    Nicholas the Wonder Worker A Look At Our Patron Saint A few weeks ago now a group of Santa Clauses met in a little town in the Smoky Mountains. As they met they took a pledge, a pledge that their brothers from all over the globe join them in taking. One of the lines reads as follows: “I pledge myself to these principals as a descendant of St. Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.” -- The Santa Claus Oath, Phillip Wenz They made a pledge to ideals that should befit every Santa Claus, closing that this pledge was made as a descendant of Saint Nicholas of Myra/Bari. These men have dedicated their lives to uphold the character of a man that truly very little is known about, yet his life has touched the world in a special way. Who was he? Why was he special? How does this one figure remain alive after 1700 years after his natural life has ended? Who is Saint Nicholas? What Did Saint Nicholas Look Like? If you would see him you would never think of the jolly, plump Santa that we all know and love. In contrast, Nicholas was a rather tall and slender man. His beard was more likely cut in the fashion of the times, being cropped close to the jawbone. This is much different than the long, flowing beard of our Santa. Saint Nicholas Icons, Author’s Collection A study performed on the remains of Nicholas in the 1950s by Luigi Martino, the University of Bari, described a man who had a bent back, worn shoulders, and a broken nose. The study also revealed that the Saint had lived on mainly a meatless diet. Nicholas would have been dressed in the clerical vestments of the day, carrying a long shepherd’s staff (crosier). Indeed the picture of Saint Nicholas is far different from that of our beloved Santa. However, the two share the common bond that became the seed of the Santa Legacy – a deeply rooted love and generosity to children of all ages. Left: 2004 Facial Reconstruction, by Anand Kapoor. Right: 2014 Updated Facial Reconstruction What was Saint Nicholas’ Early Life Like? Imagine the small Mediterranean village of Patara, in modern Turkey, between the years of 260-280AD. This was the hometown of Nicholas, who was born to Theophanes and Nonna. By accounts Theophanes was a prosperous merchant, and both he and his wife were very active in the Christian community. They had spent much time in prayer asking for a son. Then came Nicholas (which means the people’s victor) as an answer to that prayer. The stories about him begin at this point. One account says that the baby was standing on his own and talking at the instance of his birth. As Nicholas grew into his early teens we see the picture of a devout young man who fasted every Wednesday and Friday – a practice he continued all his life. It was said of Nicholas that he excelled in his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and in the daily virtues of the Christian life. He especially held to a strict code of chaste thinking, abstinence, and temperance. He was also said to spend long hours in prayer to his Heavenly Father, sometimes for an entire day and night. This raised the attention of his uncle, who some accounts say was the bishop of Patara at the time. His name was Nicholas as well, and he realized that his nephew had a true calling for the service of God. It was at this point that, with the help of his uncle, he entered the monastery of Sion. He excelled in his ministerial studies, and when Nicholas was ordained, the elder Bishop Nicholas prophesied: “I see, brethren, a new sun rising above the earth and manifesting in himself a gracious consolation for the afflicted. Blessed is the flock that will be worthy to have him as its pastor, because this one will shepherd well the souls of those who have gone astray, will nourish them on the pasturage of piety, and will be a merciful helper in misfortune and tribulation.” As time went on and the old bishop decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, he left the care of the congregation to Nicholas. It was said that the future saint took the work very seriously, spending much time in fervent prayer and fasting. His care for the congregation was every bit as strong as that of his uncle. Also around this time came a great tragedy to not only Patara but also to Nicholas. A plague had swept through the town leaving no family untouched. Nicholas was left an orphan. However, Theophanes and Nonna had left a considerable inheritance to their son. Some of the priests admonished Nicholas that he should give it to the Church. But Nicholas had other ideas. He would use it to bless the needy. In his late teens to twenty in age, Nicholas was making his first steps to what he would forever be remembered for – a selfless giver to all. What Are Some Early Stories About Saint Nicholas? One of the earliest stories regarding his generosity actually took place when he was very young. A man in the village was unable to supply dowries for his daughters and was about to sell them out as slaves or prostitutes, as he was unable to give them a future. When Nicholas heard of the need of this very poor father, he came at night when the family was asleep and dropped a bag of gold either through the window or the chimney. Some accounts have this bag of gold actually falling into a stocking. Nevertheless, when the family awoke the next morning they were amazed and happy to find this gift. The father wept and thanked God. When it came time to marry off the man’s second daughter, Nicholas did the same thing. He secretly left another bag of gold in the night, which was received the next morning with great happiness and thanksgiving. Finally, when it came time to marry off the third daughter her father decided to find out who their benefactor was. So, Nicholas came once again in the night and left the bag of gold. This time the father chased Nicholas down and found out the identity of his benefactor. Nicholas made him swear that he would never tell the truth. Do you think that the poor man kept this promise? Nicholas Gives the Dowries, Author’s Collection How Did Nicholas Become a Bishop And What About His Early Miracles? At one point in Nicholas’ early life he went to Alexandria and the Holy Land to study. Upon the return home, the ship that carried Nicholas entered a mighty storm. The ship was tossed, causing a man to fall from the mast to the deck of the ship. He was pronounced dead. Legend has it that Nicholas, in the name of Jesus Christ, calmed the seas and then went to kneel beside the fallen sailor. After a prayer Nicholas told the man to, “Raise in the name of Christ our Lord.” This the man did, and it was this act that caused Nicholas to be revered by seamen unto this day. Upon his return to Myra, Nicholas happened to just walk into the Church and be pronounced the new bishop. Here is how he received this station. While in sleep the night before, one of the priests had a vision from Heaven that the first man to enter the Church the next morning would become the new bishop. To prove this fact the man would be named Nicholas. Having no knowledge of this Nicholas entered for prayer early in the morning. When the priests asked his name, they fell to their knees in thanksgiving. Nicholas was in his early twenties at this time. Bishop Nicholas took his duties very seriously, and brought much good to his flock. It is said that he loved all, especially children and those who were in need or afflicted. He was constant in prayer and led his congregation wholly in the faith. Was Saint Nicholas Ever In Prison? Sadly, Bishop Nicholas lived in a time when the Christian faith was not approved. The Romans did all they could to squelch this new faith and not only caused problems for but also killed many Christians. The Emperor, Diocletian, was the Roman ruler at that time and called for an empire wide persecution of all Christians. Though many died, many others (including Nicholas) were beaten and taken to prison. What happened to him while there we do not know, but one thing is known – Nicholas raised above all the pain that he had to endure and remained forgiving and friendly to his tormentors. Legend has it that while in prison, Bishop Nicholas would make small toys for the children of his guards. This in turn caused some favor with them. Even in the strongest of persecutions, our Nicholas stayed the course for Christ, and with the coming of Emperor Constantine was released after four long years of imprisonment. His back a little more crooked, Nicholas returned to his Church in Myra to much rejoicing from the people. What Were Some of Saint Nicholas’ Biggest Achievements for the Church? By far there are two major acts that Bishop Nicholas performed which must be considered his greatest contribution to the Christian faith besides just his noble character. In fact, both took place not too far away from his home in Myra. You see, during this part of history there was still the influence of idolatry among the people. Too, Christianity was still in its formative years and there were still conflicts to be fought. Not far away in the town of Ephesus there was an altar to the goddess Diana. Nicholas launched a religious crusade to destroy paganism. In so doing Nicholas won many converts to Christ. One account tells of how Nicholas called the false spirits out of the actual shrine and claimed it for Christ. Truly this act of faith should not be forgotten. Another great event took place in 325 AD in the town of Nicea. An ecumenical conclave was held be Emperor Constantine, as the teachings of Arius were to be debated. Was Christ truly divine? That was the question raised by this teaching, which held that Jesus was but a mere man. Upon hearing this, Nicholas went to Arius and struck him in the face. Arius and his supporters appealed to the Emperor that Nicholas be removed from the proceedings. He was jailed. Stripped of his position, many of the bishops and Constantine dreamed that night of Nicholas and were told to release him and restore his position as he was indeed working for the will of God. Legend has it that an angel came down to Nicholas in his cell and delivered a special book to his hands. One account says that it was a book of the Gospels while others contend it was the Book of Life. Nevertheless, Emperor Constantine released Nicholas and restored him to his place in the conclave. It was said of Nicholas by John the Monk, “He was animated like the prophet Elias with zeal from God, putting Arius at the council to shame not only by word but by deed.” In the end, the teachings of Arius were condemned and a new creed was established within Christianity proclaiming the true and full divinity of Christ. Of the 318 leaders that were at this conclave, Nicholas had proven to be the most zealous for the cause. After this Christian triumph he returned to Myra and cared diligently for his flock. Are Their Any More Stories Regarding Saint Nicholas? The stories concerning Nicholas are too numerous to fully write down. Many have become legend. However, there are three that must be remembered which took place during his life. It is said that upon his way to Nicea that Nicholas stopped at an inn for the night. Though the land was in drought and famine, Nicholas was treated to a dinner of roasted meat. This intrigued Nicholas and he went into the kitchen to inquire of the Innkeeper of where this meat had come. As he entered he found that the Innkeeper had actually kidnapped, killed, and dismembered three young children and had placed them in three barrels of brine. It was the thigh of one of these that he had served Nicholas. Nicholas rebuked the Innkeeper and stressed that he should repent before God. He then turned to the barrels and prayed for the children to be made whole through Christ. The three children came out of the water whole and unharmed. The Innkeeper repented and asked for forgiveness. Nicholas forgave him and called for God to do the same. Nicholas Saved the Children, Author’s Collection Nicholas Rescues the Innocent Soldiers, Author’s Collection In another instance, three soldiers had been condemned for a crime that they had not committed. In fact the three had been on the road with Bishop Nicholas at the time. The sentence was death, and when Nicholas heard the news there was little time for a formal pardon from the Emperor. So, off he went to their rescue. He found them on the field of execution with the blade of the headsman raised high above the first soldier’s head. Nicholas ran to the man and stopped the sword between his own hands. Unscathed, he proceeded to tell the officials of his presence with the soldiers at the time of the crime. The three were released. Famine was a reality in the area around Myra. So many stories deal with Bishop Nicholas feeding the hungry. One such legend finds Nicholas doing just that. The people were starving and they called upon the good bishop to help them. Far out on the sea was a ship filled with grain. As the captain slept he began to dream. In his dream he envisioned Nicholas beckoning him to come to Myra where he could sell his grain. This the good captain did and upon the morrow the town was saved from hunger. The captain also received the price he was asking. Some stories tell that when the captain returned to the ship it was miraculously filled with grain once again. When Did Saint Nicholas Die and Where Are His Remains? Nicholas continued doing great works for Christ until he was advanced in years. He had devoted his life to the ministry of Christ, and on December 6, 343, was called home to be with his Lord. His last words came from Psalm 11, “In the Lord I put my trust.” He was laid to rest in great honor within the small cathedral in Myra where he had served so long. He was buried there by much monastic pomp and by a countless crowd of mourners. All grieved for this beloved leader. He remained within his tomb there for nearly seven centuries, until a group of sailors from Bari, Italy, took the remains and carried them back home with them in the 1070s. There are many stories as to why they did this, but it appears that the most plausible was to protect the remains of Nicholas from the raiding Muslims who had just before destroyed many of the Christian sites of the area. He now lays within the Basilica di San Nicola di Bari in Italy. Upon opening the tomb the nostrils of the thieves were met by a very sweet and wonderful fragrance. It was discovered that myrrh, one of the gifts given to Christ at His birth, actually exuded from the remains of Nicholas. This myrrh, called “manna” is said to have many healing properties. Every May there is a festival in Nicholas’ honor. His feast day is honored as well, with the tradition reaching all over the world. Miraculous stories of Nicholas still are carried and his tradition and teachings are well remembered. When Did Nicholas Become a Saint? We really have no date to an official canonization of Saint Nicholas. The official canonization process would not be in effect until the 1000s. But, it is believed that he was called Saint Nicholas as early as the 500s when Justinian I built a church in his honor. Accounts from as far back as the 800s tell of him as Saint Nicholas as well. We definitely have proof that by 1100 he was perhaps the most beloved and powerful of the Saints. More churches and more monasteries were named for Saint Nicholas than for anyone else other than the Holy Family. Knowing this, it was a group of French Nuns that are said to have been the first to begin the practice of giving gifts on December 5, the night before the Saint Nicholas Feast in his name and honor. Each was done in secret, as was the method of the Saint. Statue outside of Saint Nicholas Church In Myra depicts Nicholas “Noel Baba” With children, Author’s Collection From this point on the legend of Saint Nicholas grew and expanded from Turkey to cover the entire world. Vincent A Yzermans wrote, “The evolution of Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus, embodying goodness and love, good cheer and virtue, heartiness and holiness was really not a hard one.” Stories of his generosity and especially his kindness for children, intermixing with various regional influences, have created the modern Santa Claus. As Santa Claus, we have a wonderful line of heritage that truly began in many ways with this man, the Wonder worker of Myra. As we all strive to be the best Clauses that we can be, let us never forget Saint Nicholas, his life, teachings, and example to all who believe in the wonders of childhood. ### Santa John Johnson © 2009 - All rights reserved. Updated: Michel Rielly, 2015 Source: Saint Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas by Joe Wheeler & Jim Rosenthal, Nelson Reference and Electronic, 2005 Wonderworker: The True Story of How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus by Vincent A. Yzermans, Assisting Christians To Act Publishing 1994 There Really Is A Santa Claus: The History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions by William J. Federer, Amerisearch 2003 Santa Claus: A Biography by Gerry Bowler, McClelland and Stewart 2005 Stories Behind The Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins, Zondervan 2003
  9. 1 point
    Thomas Nast at Maculloch Hall Historical Museum By Black River Santa Where can you find Santa Claus, the GOP Elephant, the Tammany Tiger, Uncle Sam, Ulysses S Grant, and a host of other historical and political icons all under one roof? The Thomas Nast Collection at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum. My wife and I were taken on a festive private tour of Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, in Morristown, NJ, this past Christmas season. This gorgeous federal, Georgian style mansion was built by George Perrott Macculloch (1775-1858), the scion of a wealthy Scottish family and a prosperous businessman, who came to New Jersey with his wife, Louisa, in 1810. The historic home has three floors of period rooms meticulously appointed and adorned with a fabulous selection of European and American furniture, decorative art, porcelain (Including an incredible array of White House China), and a famous antique carpet collection from the Middle East and China dating from the sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Almost everything at Macculloch Hall, from the primitive kitchen utensils to the opulent chandeliers, were collected by the museum’s founder, W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976), a mining executive, philanthropist, collector, and former two-time Morristown mayor, who established the museum in 1950. Todd was also responsible for assembling the core of the Museum’s most well-known holding – the Thomas Nast Collection, the largest single collection of American political cartoonist Thomas Nast’s original works in the world. Dubbed “the father of American Political Cartoonists,” Nast was one of the country’s most influential and celebrated illustrators. A German immigrant, Nast came to America when he was five years old. Unable to speak English, he struggled in his classes and spent most of his time drawing with the waxy stubs of reject crayons that were given to him by a neighbor who manufactured crayons and candles. Largely uneducated and with limited artistic training, Nast was nonetheless determined to find a job doing the only thing he thought he was good at – drawing. At 15, he landed a job at Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, but it was his work at Harper’s Illustrated during the Civil War that made him a household name. Nast and his crusading pencil brought readers stirring, heart-felt, and patriotic sketches so persuasive, that Lincoln referred to Nast as his best recruiting sergeant. Nast also turned his wrath on political corruption in New York, taking on William “Boss” Tweed and his Tammany Hall cronies. It was his feud with Tweed that led Nast to leave New York with his family and settle in Morristown, NJ, in his own stately manor directly across the street from Macculloch Hall, dubbed “Villa Fontana.” Capable of bringing down hard-nosed kingpins or turning public opinion against a political candidate with his venomous caricatures, Nast could also tug at the heartstrings of Harper’s readers with his melodramatic engravings of “Columbia” or tear-jerking visions of Emancipation, and none were more endearing than his “annual gift to the readers of Harper’s Weekly,” published each year at Christmas time. During his tenure at Harper’s Nast produced 76, signed published Christmas engravings including his famous images of Santa Claus. Inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Nast’s early engravings stayed true to Moore’s description and thrilled readers with their first look at Santa, his sleigh, and his “eight tiny reindeer.” Over the years, Nast introduced modern twists to Moore’s conception that have endured as part of the Santa Claus story, such as placing St. Nick’s home at the North Pole; giving him a workshop and elves; having children mail letters to Santa; and the dreaded “naughty or nice” list. Since 1870, many popular American illustrators such as Norman Rockwell, have sketched out their own visions of Santa Claus but they have all been based on Nast’s original depiction. Yuletide is a tough time for Santas to find the time to visit Macculloch Hall, but for anyone dedicated to the Santa Claus tradition, it’s definitely a pilgrimage worth taking any time of year. The museum is open year-round and Morristown offers a myriad of entertainment options and great dining, including museums, music, Revolutionary War sites like the Jockey Hollow encampment and Washington’s Headquarters, as well as great parks and recreation. If you’re interested, you can find more information at maccullochall.org and morristourism.org.
  10. 1 point
    Raymond Joseph "Jim" Yellig Santa Claus, IN February 18, 1894 - July 23, 1984 One of the most beloved and legendary Santas of all time, Raymond Joseph Yellig (better known to his friends as Jim), was known as the Real Santa from Santa Claus, Indiana. Born in the small village of Mariah Hill, Indiana, just a few miles north of Santa Claus, Yellig would become the face of Santa Claus, Indiana, for 54 years. He served in the United States Navy prior to and in World War I. While aboard the U.S.S. New York in 1914, Yellig started the career for which he would become world-famous. While docked in Brooklyn, New York, the crew of the ship decided that they would like to do something nice for the underprivileged children of the area. A Christmas party was planned and since Jim was from the Santa Claus area, he was selected to be the jolly old elf. Yellig was so touched by the children’s happiness that he prayed, “If you get me through this war, Lord, I will forever be Santa Claus.” Yellig stayed in the Navy after World War I for a short time, serving over 17 years. After leaving the service, Yellig married his childhood sweetheart, settled in Chicago briefly, and worked for Commonwealth Edison. He returned to Mariah Hill in 1930 to open a restaurant. During this time Yellig would drive the short distance over to Santa Claus and talk with his old friend, postmaster James Martin. Over the years, Martin had begun answering the letters of children addressed to Santa Claus; he soon enlisted Jim's help. In 1935 Yellig organized the Santa Claus American Legion Post to act as Santa's helpers. He also started to dress the part of Santa Claus and became a fixture in and around the town of Santa Claus. Yellig appeared at Santa's Candy Castle and Santa Claus Town, the nation's first themed attraction, in the late 1930s and continued to answer letters from children who wrote to Santa. As an active Legionnaire, Yellig added to his fame by appearing in American Legion Christmas parades in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In 1946, Yellig became the resident Santa at Santa Claus Land, the world’s first theme park. At Santa Claus Land, Yellig was the main attraction. He was in costume over 300 days a year and his deep voice and hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho," is remembered fondly by all who met him. He wrote his own book in the late 1940s called, "It’s Fun to be A Real Santa Claus." Yellig also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, from "What's My Line" to "Good Morning America," and in many print ads. Yellig spent 38 years at Santa Claus Land. Even into his late 80s, Yellig would drive over to Santa Claus Land from his home in Mariah Hill to spend four to five days a week visiting and greeting children of all ages. Even in the months prior to his passing at the age of 90 on July 23, 1984, Yellig was still Santa at the park and continued to answer letters from children. Without a doubt, no Santa before or since has visited so many children in person as Jim Yellig. To many a generation he is simply Santa Claus. Source Phillip L. Wenz See also... Santa Claus Museum Holiday World Town of Santa Claus, IN Santa Claus Oath Map of Santa Claus, IN
  11. 1 point
    Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”. However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt. Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C. That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991. Below is Corporal Schmidt’s original version as printed in Leatherneck in 1991. Merry Christmas, My Friend by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone, In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone. I had come down the chimney, with presents to give and to see just who in this home did live As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see, no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree. No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand. On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land. With medals and badges, awards of all kind, a sobering thought soon came to my mind. For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen. This was the home of a U.S. Marine. I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more, so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door. And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone, Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home. He seemed so gentle, his face so serene, Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine. Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read? Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed? His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan. I soon understood, this was more than a man. For I realized the families that I saw that night, owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight. Soon around the Nation, the children would play, And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day. They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year, because of Marines like this one lying here. I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone, on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home. Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye. I dropped to my knees and I started to cry. He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice, “Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more. My life is my God, my country, my Corps.” With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep, I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep. I watched him for hours, so silent and still. I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill. So I took off my jacket, the one made of red, and covered this Marine from his toes to his head. Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold, with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold. And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride, and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside. I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night, this guardian of honor so willing to fight. But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure, said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.” One look at my watch and I knew he was right, Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.
  12. 1 point
    On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, a national day of Thanksgiving. In it, Washington called upon all Americans to express their gratitude for a happy conclusion to the nation's war of independence and the successful ratification of the United States Constitution. Especially this year, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we should reflect on the full meaning of the day. Let’s strive to be truly thankful in our hearts this Thanksgiving. What better way to enter the holiday season? By the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES of America, A PROCLAMATION. Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. Go. Washington
  13. 1 point
    Born in 1908, James (Jim) D. Rielly was a lifelong resident of Bristol Rhode Island whose love for his country and his community was immediately evident when you met him. In many ways, he was Bristol’s unofficial Ambassador. To paraphrase Yeats: There were no strangers to Jim Rielly; only friends he had not yet met. Jim Rielly was well known throughout New England for his kindness, generosity, and countless charitable acts. He was featured in the New York Times on multiple occasions and in hundreds of other newspapers throughout the United States. In 1982 he appeared on the television news program, PM Magazine hosted by Sheila Martines and Matt Laurer. In recognition of his efforts, Jim Rielly was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and an honorary member of the Bristol Rotary Club, which presented him the Paul Harris Fellowship Award. He was a life member of the Bristol Elk Lodge No 1860 and the Cup Defenders Association. He also received awards from the Bristol Jaycees, the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the Leonardo DaVinci Lodge, Sons of Italy, and the Seabees of Davisville. The Coast Guard Cutter Spar honored Jim Rielly for the loving and compassionate time he shared with crew members and their families. He also received awards from the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, the US Naval Construction Battalion Center, the USS Hammerberg and the USS Essex. In 1989, the Bristol Town Council presented Jim Rielly with the Bristol Citizen of the Year Award. Over the course of his lifetime, Jim Rielly received numerous letters of recognition from celebrities and dignitaries from all over the world including: Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators Theodore Francis Green, Claiborne Pell, and John Chafee, Presidents Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard M Nixon, and even his Holiness, Pope John Paul II. For 10 years Jim Rielly portrayed the character Charlie Weaver, appearing in Bristol’s Fourth of July Parades and at various places throughout Rhode Island. He once received a letter from the real Charlie Weaver, Cliff Arquette, who wrote “Keep up the good work but don’t take any checks”. In 1976, the year of our nation's Bicentennial, the town of Bristol appointed Jim Rielly as official Town Crier. His duties were to call to order the Patriotic Exercises and officially begin the Military and Civic Parade. As Town Crier he participated in all Bristol Fourth of July Parades from 1975 to 1989. He also participated in the official capacity of Town Crier in numerous other community and civic events. But Jim Rielly’s most notable role was that as Rhode Island's own "Santa Claus." His first appearance as Santa Claus was in the beginning of the Great Depression. In 1928 at the age of 19, Jim Rielly appeared as Santa Claus for a family living in an abandoned chicken coup. For more than 60 years, he would visit various orphanages, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, churches, charitable organizations, military bases and the State House. As Santa Claus, he traveled by helicopter, plane, Coast Guard vessel and sleigh to bring joy, laughter and cheer to literally hundreds of thousands of people. Accepting no payment for his appearances, his only fee requirement was that we share the true meaning of Christmas by loving one another. Close to his heart were those occasions when he spent time at the homes with mentally and physically handicapped children. In 1970, the town of Bristol named a street in his honor, Rielly Lane, and in 1975 the town dedicated the James D. Rielly bench at Rockwell Park. In 1979, the United States Senate entered his name into the Congressional Record for his kindness to people as “James D. Rielly, A Truly Remarkable Santa Claus from Rhode Island.” And on December 22, 2010, James D. Rielly was honored posthumously as one of the inaugural inductees into the prestigious International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in Santa Claus, Indiana. Today, at the entrance of Bristol’s Town Hall, hangs an oil painting of Jim Rielly; welcoming visitors to his beloved town as Bristol’s unofficial Ambassador. James D. Rielly died on November 26, 1991 at the age of 83.
  14. 1 point
    Charles W. Howard Albion, NY June 15, 1896 - May 1, 1966 Charles W. Howard was truly an American Original. Howard's professional Santa career is that of legend. He was born in the house that he would live in his entire life. The small town boy never left Albion, New York, except to venture out to be Santa. Howard first played Santa as a boy in a classroom play. As an adult he found himself asked to help a friend out and play Santa in a store front window in downtown Albion. This experience helped Howard's urge to perfect the role of Santa Claus as much as he could. In his early career Howard caught the train next to his farm in Albion and commuted to Rochester, New York and then Buffalo, New York to be Santa in department stores. It was about this time he started to develop the idea for a "school" for Santas. Howard's first school was in the fall of 1937. Howard also appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1948 through 1965. Oddly, he never worked as Santa in the New York City flagship store. From 1948-1964, Howard flew from New York City to Kansas City, Missouri to be the Santa at the Macy's store there. In 1965, his last Christmas season, Howard worked at Nieman Marcus in Dallas, Texas. In the late 1940's, Howard started to convert the three barns behind his house in to what became "Christmas Park." This small amusement park became known all over the Northeastern United States. The park included the classroom and dressing rooms for the Santa Claus School. Before using this facility, Howard taught his school in his living room of his house. (With some exceptions, Howard's three session school held in Santa Claus, Indiana in 1938 and the schools held at the St. George Hotel in NYC after WWII.) Student from all over came to Albion. Stores like J.L. Hudson's in Detroit, Gimbel's in Philadelphia, Foley's in Houston, and Dillard's in Little Rock all sent students and executives to the school. Howard was even asked to go to Australia in 1965 to teach a special school there. Appearances on television, in magazines and newspapers included: What's my Line, To Tell the Truth, The Tonight Show, Life Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. He was also hired as a consultant for Miracle on 34th Street. The contributions of Howard's work are embedded in the Santa Claus world today. One of Howard's most memorable quotes sums it up... "To say there is no Santa Claus is the most erroneous statement in the world. Santa Claus is a thought that is passed from generation to generation. After time this thought takes on a human form. Maybe if all children and adults understand the symbolism of this thought we can actually attain Peace on Earth and good will to men everywhere." Charles W. Howard passed away on May 1, 1966 at the age of 69. Source Phillip L. Wenz See also... The International Santa Claus Hall of Fame The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School The Official Charles W Howard Website Santa Claus Oath Map of Albion, NY
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