Christmas eve and Christmas day both important. Most Italian-Americans give a bit more attention to Christmas Eve.

Whether the day before Christmas or Christmas day itself, each I would describe as a conspiracy of love. Even relatives who avoid each other all year, bury their animosities. Everyone kumbaya.

The dinner the night of Christmas Eve a big deal. The end of several days of preparation. The day itself further preparation.

Cooking smells permeate the house. A big fish dinner ahead. Seven fishes.

In spite of all the preparation and planning, there are snafus. Last minutes ones. Additional groceries to buy. Last minute gift shopping. Grandma getting her hair done. Wrapping presents (takes forever and many hands), setting the table, finish decorating the tree, some one cannot make it on time, etc.

The conspiracy of love is pure confusion! It reaches its high point and ultimate reward when all sit down to dinner. Anywhere from 10 to 30 guests.

Card tables set up all over the place. Age determines who sits at the dining room table. Some adults are still relegated to the card tables at 25. Since tiny tots. Waiting to move up.

The meal spectacular! Grandmom and Mom did their usual best. Everyone enjoys! Grandmom and Mom taking special pleasure in seeing their family seated all around and enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Which brings me to a comparable story. One involving confusion leading to Christmas warmth. And a special reward!

Joan Lunden for more than 20 years was host of Good Morning America. When she left, she turned to writing. Became an acclaimed journalist.

Eighteen years ago, Emotional Health printed one of her short stories. It was about Santa Claus and a bad day he was experiencing Christmas eve day.

Four of Santa’s elves were sick. The trainer elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones.

Santa began to feel pressure.

Mrs. Santa told him her mother was coming. Such increased Santa’s stress more.

Santa went out to harness the reindeer. Not all were in shape to travel the skies that evening. Three were about to give birth.  Two others had jumped the fence. To where, Santa knew not.

Santa began to load the sleigh. One of the floor boards cracked and a toy bag fell to the ground. Toys scattered all over.

Santa had had it for the moment. He needed a drink. Went inside for a cup of apple cider and shot of rum.. He went to the cupboard. Only to discover that the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.

He accidentally dropped the empty cider jug. Broke into hundreds of pieces all over the kitchen floor.

Santa went to get the broom to clean up. Only to discover the mice had eaten all the straw at the end of the broom.

Just then, the door bell rang. The noise further irritated Santa. Obviously not having a good day.

He rushed to the door and yanked it open. There stood an angel. Holding a large Christmas tree.

The angel said cheerfully, “Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn’t this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?”

The thrust of the story. After all the exasperations experienced, there finally comes a time when joy abounds. The angel at Santa’s door with the tree, the Italian family sitting down to Christmas eve dinner.

Another reason, also. The story explains the tradition why in many homes, a little angels sits at the top of the Christmas tree.

Love Christmas Eve! I look forward tonight to dinner with Lisa and the family.

Enjoy your day!




‘Twas the night before Christmas…..The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, / In hopes St. Nicholas soon would be there…..

Opening lines from ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Also known as A Visit From St. Nicholas.

First published in 1823. Its authorship disputed.

The original hand written copy recently sold for $280,000.

The Christmas presented in the poem not the way Christmas was at the time of its publication. A differently practiced holiday at the time.

The Christmas of today is based on the birth of Christ and paganism. Yes, paganism.

Back when, the Papacy was not as religious and honest as today. Popes married, waged wars, etc. A political force as well as a purportedly religious one.

The Catholic Church needed more members. The opposition was beginning to beat them. The Church openly solicited the pagan population to join them.

The pagans were just that. Pagans. A rowdy bunch. Prone to orgies and drinking.

The pagans were interested in preserving their holidays. Especially, winter solstice. A carnival type event lasting several weeks. Dancing, alcohol and sex. Germans, Anglo-Saxons, and Norsemen part of the pagan group.

The Pope at the time won them over. He said in effect we will blend our Christmas with your winter solstice and have one holiday. The blending promise also included Easter.

And so it happened. For political reasons, the two forces joined.

Pissed off big time many Catholics and non-Catholics who referred to the amalgamation as an apostasy. An abandonment/renunciation of a religious or political belief.

The Protestants went on a killing spree. Where ever a Catholic or pagan was found, the Catholic/pagan was killed.

Certain portions of the Catholic Church left and formed new religions as a result thereof.

The pagans brought with them into the new Christmas the word yule. Meaning nothing more than a winter festival.

The Christmas tree. What we erect in our living rooms today were then the great tall trees of the German forests. Decorated.

No Santa Claus, sleigh, reindeer or Christmas Eve yet. The celebration continued basically as a pagan one.

Until recent times, Catholics were generally disliked worldwide by Protestants. Adding to the fire, Protestants were upset to think Christmas Day had become pagan.

Now comes 1823 and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. The Christmas we practice today is derived from the poem and several other writings of the time.

‘Twas The Night refers to the night before Christmas as opposed to Christmas day. The author wrote it this way so not to offend Protestants. Christmas day including pagan activities would not be to the liking of Protestants.

‘Twas the Night also contributed to Christmas practices not in existence before. Like Santa Claus. No Santa Claus at the pagan parties.

‘Twas the Night introduced gift giving. Santa Claus was scripted after a local Dutch handyman. First time for a sleigh and reindeer.

To appreciate the Protestant/Catholic conflict re Christmas, Boston banned the practice of Christmas for 22 years from 1669-1691.

Yesterday began with a visit to Tammy. Manicure time. The place was packed. Standing room only. I had no problem. Always make an appointment.

Tammy says it is women getting ready for Christmas. Last minute!

Then to La Concha for a quick bite. After which Larry Smith’s annual Christmas concert.

As with Tammy ‘s, the place was packed. The most people I have ever seen in recent years at a Larry Smith Christmas event.

Larry out did himself this year. His best show ever!

Unfortunately, I did not see the second half. I felt strange. Decided to get home. Waited till intermission. Chatted a few minutes on the sidewalk with Don, Tom, Pati, and Peter. Then to my car and home.

The second half of the show featured a Key West police officer who appears to have written the only song about Irma. He was going to sing it. Since I wrote the only book about Irma, I thought it would be especially interesting. Sadly, I missed his performance.

For whatever reason, Florida is slow to act/react when an invasive species moves in. First, it was the pythons. Now more than one million in number. Impossible to eradicate. Contain the only alternative. Difficult to accomplish.

Iguanas have joined the pythons. All over Florida. Their number indeterminable. Probably in excess of one million. The State wants to eradicate or contain. As with the pythons, good luck with eradication. Iguanas are her to stay!

This morning’s Key West Citizen explained that position in a cartoon on its editorial page. Two iguanas reading a newspaper and saying they want to get rid of us. Move to the last of the four part cartoon. The two iguanas laughing.

They know.

Enjoy your day!