I Wish You a Merry Christmas

And plenty of good reading now and in the new year

Isn’t this a complex time of year?    
    On the one hand, we’re rushing about to create perfect Martha Stewart holidays. Deck the halls, trim the tree, bake the cookies, plan the parties, shop and spend, choose the presents and wrap them. Ah to be Jewish, with Chanukah already celebrated and put to rest.
    On the other, we’re harkening back to a perfect time of peace, comfort and joy, whether our ideal is a Silent Night, White Christmas or some other Good Olde Day.
    It’s enough to give you a complex.
    To manage it all, you need to be an octopus — a creature who, by the way, is coming next year to Calvert Marine Museum, as you’ll read in this week’s pages. What all of us need this time of year is “a big head and eight legs,” Deputy Director Sherrod Sturrock’s words.
    Busy as you are, I don’t want to add to your obligations with too much to read this week. So in this season where tradition guides us, I’m continuing Bay Weekly traditions.
    Our feature tradition for the Christmas week is a Christmas story. Because we want a story to warm your heart, we dig deep into our own. These are true stories of Christmas moments that defined our lives.
    The one exception was our very first Christmas story, Eastern Shore humorist Helen Chappell’s wonderful invention from the fantasy village of Oysterback.
    Continuing that tradition, a touch of humor often adds tang, as in Mark Burns’ teasing tale of his mother’s dozen Christmas trees.
    Magically each year, the perfect writer appears to carry the tradition forward.
    This year Bob Melamud stepped up.
    As I saw him consider the bait, I was hoping we’d get our first Chanukah story. That wish didn’t come true. Instead Bob returned to his good old days. Auld Lang Syne, as we call his story, describes how 2013 turned into his year of reconnections.
    I love the story, for isn’t reconnection the essence of these winter holidays, no matter what our faith?
    Jews, Christians or even sun worshippers, we act out traditions that reaffirm our history and reawaken our faith. Rekindling the light is common to all our faiths. We light our menorahs to celebrate the miracle of oil enough to keep the temple’s lamp burning. Jesus, whose birth Christians celebrate, is the light of the world. The lights on our homes and Christmas trees make pagans of us all, celebrating whether we know it or not the rebirth of the light on the winter solstice.
    The hope for reconnection inspires my Christmas cards, each one a little letter to people from a past I want to keep alive. All our decorations are reconnections, too, from ornaments made by kiddies now grown into men with their own families to photos snapped in Christmas long ago to the etched plate made by my oldest friend’s father to print Christmas cards sometime in the 1950s. Alas, he failed to date that card.
    Perhaps Bob’s story will inspire us to reach beyond cards or Facebook to the real people who are the characters of our lives’ stories. I’ve already requested one such date.
    You’ll find Bob’s story on page 6.
    As well as Auld Lang Syne, this week’s paper brings you two more quick reads suited to the season.
    Choosing your 2014 calendar will be easier, thanks to Emily Myron’s roundup of Chesapeake calendars.
    One last thing: Busy as you are, take time to read — and read aloud to kids and grandkids — Michelle Steel’s Creature Feature Built for the Job, explaining how reindeer are perfectly suited to pull Santa’s sleigh.
    We’ll see you one more time this year, for the unveiling of our 2013 Best of the Bay winners on December 26. For now, I give you good reading and wish your celebrations that rekindle your faith, hope and charity.

Should this Christmas bring you the miracle of time on your hands, here’s a full list of Bay Weekly’s Christmas stories past for your reading pleasure:

1998: Helen Chappell’s The Last Word in Christmas Lights:

1999: Readers join Kristin Hagert in sharing 20th Century Christmas Memories

2000: Mark Burns’ House of 12 Trees

2001: Sandra Martin’s The Kitty Who Came for Christmas

2002: Nancy Hoffmann’s Christmas in the Country

2003: Louis Llovio’s Black Bean Christmas

2004: Penne Romar’s Could a Cowboy’s Promise Save Christmas?

2005: Helena Mann-Melnitchenko’s The Girl Who Forgot Christmas

2006: Mick Blackistone’s Christmas Past

2007: Allen Delaney’s Our Otherwise Perfect Christmas

2008: Jane Elkin’s The Christmas Stove

2009: Margaret Tearman’s White Christmas Memoir
www.bayweekly.com/old-sit: atures.html

2010: Louise Vest’s Our Coldest Christmas

2011: Elisavietta Ritchie’s Finding — and Giving — Refuge from the Storm

2012: Ashley Brotherton’s The Christmas Runaround


Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com