The Dick Summer Christmas Connection – 2008

“The Christmas cards have all been sent…” I like Karen Carpenter’s voice in that very gentle Christmas song. There’s something very important about the yearly Christmas card ritual. It makes us sit down and think about people who were…and are…important to us…at least long enough to address an envelope and sign a card. And you’ve GOT to personally sign the card. That’s a small enough effort to make to give something of yourself to somebody you care about. It’s like wrapping a Christmas gift. Even if you do it badly…just doing it says something important. My Lady Wonder Wench was badly injured this past summer. She’s recovering…slowly…every day. And I watched her…painfully wrapping presents this year. She’s just learning to use her left hand again. I hope the people who get those presents will understand how much of herself she had to give to get that job done.

My buddy Dick Stadlen takes great pride in wrapping Christmas presents. He does it enthusiastically if not very well. He claims “You can’t be a cynic while you wrap pretty paper around a box, just so somebody else can tear it off just a little while later.” His lady Diane doesn’t give him a hard time about it…because she loves him….even though the results of his wrapping often look like green and red spitballs. Dick says, “If there had been wrapping paper on the first Christmas, The Gospel would have said…’and lo the Magi’s gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throw it away. But Mary sayeth unto him…holdeth it…that’s nice paper…saveth it for next year ! And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was far more interested in the paper than in the frankincense.”

Before you put your Christmas cards away…take a moment to send one more. Here’s the address:

A Recovering American Soldier

c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center

6900 Georgia Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20307.

Actually, that would be a good address to keep long past the holidays. It wouldn’t hurt to send a note, or some goodies, or a letter doused in cheap perfume with lots of lipstick kisses on it once a month or so. If you do go the cheap perfume route however, I think I’d address it to a Male Recovering Solider.

Santa is lots of things to lots of people. But he pretty often gets a bum rap. He gets the blame for all the tasteless, crass, loud tv commercials for “The Biggest Sale Of The Year.” He also has to take the fall for “Taking Christ out of Christmas.” I think he deserves better. I think it’s time to thank Santa, because that stuff is not his fault.

Santa is a connector. Every year…no matter how old you are…he connects you to who you were when you got your first electric trains… a sled…or a bike under the tree…or your first Christmas kiss. And most important, he’s the connection to that distinct Christmas Eve “tuck you – in – so – Santa – can – come – with – his – reindeer – and – presents” feeling that your parents gave you. It was so safe…and happy…and real. And Santa helps you pass all that along to your kids…every Silent Night.

Of course, “He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” Not a bad reminder for us “Louie-Louie Generation” folks. Sometimes we slip…and a reminder at Christmas is very much in order. “You better not pout, you better not cry…” yeah…we do too much whining and not enough smiling the rest of the year. Christmas is a good time to turn that around too.

My Lady and I went for our traditional Christmas flight in our little airplane the other night. We have a little four seat airplane that flies low and slow. Most of our friends think we go out looking for Santa Claus. But that’s not what we do. I guess you could say we’re looking for Christmas Gold. And we always seem to find it.

Our little airport is a few miles west of Philly. As usual on a cold, clear, pretty close to Christmas night, when my Lady and I got there, it was dark and deserted, except for the white runway lights and the blue taxi way lights, the spotlight on the wind sock, and the revolving beacon. We strapped ourselves in…fired up the engine…and climbed up into the black and white magic midnight. If you heard a small plane engine late the other night, and looked up…and saw small wingtip lights playing in the stars, that might have been us. Moonlight was shining into the cockpit…the city’s Christmas lights sliding under our wings.

Those city lights were Santa Claus bright. You could almost hear the hustling and the ho-ho-ho-ing from all the crowds, and the music and the parties going on down there. But that’s not what we were looking for.

So we turned out over the suburbs…the lights get gentler out in the neighborhoods. Instead of the city hustle and bustle…the Santa Claus jingle bell sounds…you get houses carefully decorated with Christmas lights…and there’s the feeling of carols playing softly on stereos, and fancy paper wrapping around personal presents…and cups of hot chocolate with cold whipped cream…and kids trying to pretend they’re really asleep.

Then, a little farther out…we floated over some farms…mostly Amish…no electricity…real candles in the windows…and a few horse drawn wagons. We could see a few lanterns swinging from side to side on the dark roads. It was like flying slowly backward into time. It was quiet. So quiet.

My Lady was sitting in the right seat, looking like a lovely little girl, wearing those big co-pilot headphones in the moonlit cockpit. She started to smile…and then she started to cry. And that’s when she did it. Again. She said, “Thank you for this. I love you.”

And as quietly as the sound of Ancient Angels, the black and white midnight turned into…Christmas Gold.

Merry Christmas.

One Response to “The Dick Summer Christmas Connection – 2008”

  1. aliasJean Fox says:

    Hope you and your Lady had a wonderful Christmas. So glad you were able to be together.By the way — I believe in Santa!

    Signed – a former and current N.A.G. (anyone still remember that?)