Tag Archive for 'Merry Christmas'

Video: In defense of scrooges everywhere

In this week's video I share by Christmas message while offering advice about dealing with the scrooges of the world.

“Merry Christmas, My Friend”

There is a poem that has been popular on the Internet for several years which describes a visit by Santa to a soldier’s simple home. There are several versions with different names as authors, but here is the story of the original poem as told by its author, L Cpl James M. Schmidt, U.S. Marine Corps.

“While a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers [in 1986], Iwrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in the BEQ. When Col. Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed wordwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine.”

Over the years the text of “Merry Christmas, My Friend” has been edited to change the Marine-specific wording into Army references (U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”).

Here is L Cpl Schmidt’s version as printed in Leatherneck in 1991:

Merry Christmas, My Friend

Twas the night before Christas, 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 was that night, owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would plan, 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 knew 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 read, 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 his 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.

Indeed. Merry Christmas and safe holidays to all of my small business heroes and those who are defending our freedoms.

Hug a scrooge today; they need love, too

Some say I’m a scrooge; they might be right. But here are three exhibits in my defense:

1. The early part of my career was spent in retail, which is tough on the holiday spirit. There’s a syndrome for everything else; why not one for retail survivors? Let’s call it PTHSS: Post-Traumatic Holiday Shock Syndrome.

2. Since I don’t wait until the holidays to give someone a gift, I just don’t get all worked up about holiday giving. Not that the ladies mind getting stuff all year (let’s not lose our heads!) — it’s just that they want me to be giddy about giving at Christmas-time. Giddy? Bah! Humbug!

3. As an avowed contrarian, it would be antithetical for me to feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing. And one thing that is part and parcel of the holiday season is obligation. For example:

a) If someone gives my significant other and me a last-minute gift before Christmas, “Other” feels obligated to reciprocate. I don’t. I’ll do something nice for them in March.

b) After the holiday cards have been sent, if a card comes in from someone not on your list do you rush to reciprocate? Not me – maybe next year. In fact, to a scrooge, not reciprocating is endearing.

It’s not that I don’t like the holidays. As a Christian, this is an important time in my faith life. As a capitalist, the importance of holiday spending to the economy is not lost on me. But I just don’t care for what we self-absorbed humans hath wrought on the holiday season; and if that makes me a scrooge, guilty as charged.

On behalf of my misunderstood brethren and sisteren (I heard of a female scrooge once), let me clear up a few things.

  1. Scrooges can be lovable – even cute.
  2. Some are actually generous, but without the giddiness.
  3. Scrooges can be compassionate without saying, “Bless their hearts,” over and over.

To influence my acquittal, I offer two challenges into evidence; one for me and one for us:

1. I challenge myself to be more receptive to, and tolerant of the silly parts of the holiday season. But please, be patient; the mill of a scrooge grinds slowly.

2. I challenge us to be more generous, loving, thankful and spiritual all year long, not just during the holidays.

Imagine what would happen if we all practiced peace on earth and goodwill toward everyone, every day. It might sound something like this: “Let’s help those people right now, in the middle of July!”

Peace to you and yours. Shalom. Salaam. Que la paz este con ustedes.

A holiday message from Jim

Several years ago, we added up all of the money we paid for fruit, nuts and candy holiday gift packages we sent to our customers - it was a lot. We decided that the world will be better served if, instead of sending holiday gifts, we made donations to those who have less in life and greater needs in honor of our customers.

After a while, we extended this practice to include at least some of the money we spent on adults during the holidays.

With all of this in mind, we’ve chosen to contribute to these outstanding organizations in your honor. Links are included in case you would like to make your own donation.

The Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation supports world-class medical care for women and children from all over the globe, including trauma, heart and cancer treatments and, if necessary, without cost - no one is ever turned away.

Homes for Our Troops assists severely injured veterans and their families by coordinating the process of building a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently. The homes provided by Homes for Our Troops are given atNO COST to the Veterans we serve.

Alliance for Smiles provides free comprehensive treatment for cleft lip and palate deformities in under-served areas of the world, and helps to establish and maintain permanent centers to provide follow-up treatment and continuing care to children who have received surgery.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides a full college education to the surviving children of special ops personnel who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military, and immediate financial assistance and support to ensure severely wounded special ops personnel are able to have their loved ones at their bedside during recovery.

Thanks for participating with us in this spirit of giving. And thanks for all you’ve meant to us over the years. It’s with great anticipation that we look forward to our work together in 2014.

Wishing you and yours all the best for a safe and happy holiday season.

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