Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas with the President...1942

I meant to post last week, but never got around to it. I have been making an effort to post at least once a week if I can. This time of year is really busy though. I'm hoping either later this week or next to do my post about New Year's goals. We'll see.

I found this article an old Christmas annual from 1942 my mom has. I was looking for something to read to the senior center my dad preaches at once a month. This really spoke to me and I wanted to share it with everyone here too. I'd really like to hear what you think of it. Didn't it speak to you too? (I don't like that phrase, speak to you, but couldn't think of another way to say it.) Enjoy!

Christmas with the President
There have been many Christmas celebrations in the family circles of our presidents; but the Christmas of the year of our Lord 1941 will no doubt go down in history as one of the most significant ever observed in the White House. The previous Christmas had been the occasion of a real family celebration in the home of our Chief Executive. President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had observed the day much as it had been kept in millions of Christian homes the country over. Around a huge Christmas tree the President’s mother and most of their children and grandchildren had been gathered for the Yuletide festivities.

Last Christmas season, however, found conditions quite different. Our country was at war. The events of Pearl Harbor were still a vivid memory. The President’s time was crowded with the duties and responsibilities incumbent upon the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. The war spirit all but invaded the Executive Mansion. Heavily armed soldiers paraded endlessly around the White House grounds. Police and Secret Service men stood watch. Instead of having his children and grandchildren around him, the President had a great number of statesmen, generals, admirals, and Cabinet officers. As house-guest he had Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, who had secretly traveled across the Atlantic for an important war council with the President.

Those were eventful days. On Christmas Eve time was taken from the m
any conferences for a brief ceremony. The President pressed the magic button to light the National Christmas Tree. He spoke a short greeting to the thousands that had been admitted to the White House grounds. Mr. Churchill was at his side. To a crowd less exuberant, more reverent than he had addressed on previous Christmases, Mr. Roosevelt said: “Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God’s care for us and all mean everywhere.” Mr. Churchill also spoke. His remarks and those of the President were broadcast to the nation. “Let the children have their night of fun and laughter,” said Mr. Churchill. “. . . . By our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance, or denied the right to live in a free and decent world.”

The two men stood together as the Marine Band played
The Star-Spangled Banner and God Save the King; they joined in singing Christmas carols.

A little sidelight on the events of that week was given by Mrs. Roosevelt in her syndicated column on December 24:
Washington, Tuesday—I was late arriving at the Office of Civilian Defense yesterday morning because the President, who had been very mysterious as to what was going to happen over these holidays, finally decided to tell me that the British Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill, and his party were arriving sometime in the late afternoon or evening. It had not occurred to him that this might require certain moving of furniture to adapt rooms to the purposes for which the Prime Minister wished to use them.

On Christmas Day the President and Mr. Churchill attended divine service at the Foundry Methodist Church, where the pastor in his petition paraphrased the Prime Minister’s famous remark, praying that he might continue to lead his own people even through blood, sweat, and tears, to a new world.

On December 22, the day of Churchill’s arrival, our President made the proclamation for a day of prayer on New Year’s Day. In this proclamation he said:
We are confident in our devotion to our country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all mean everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.

The first day of the New Year was then formally set aside by the President “as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God’s help in days to come.”

The President’s proclamation concluded with this paragraph:
We need His guidance that this people may be humble in spirit but strong in conviction of the right, steadfast to endure sacrifices and brave to achieve a victory of liberty and peace. On January 1, the Prime Minister again was the President’s guest. Together they worshipped in the pew used by George Washington in Old Christ Church, Alexandria, Va., and began the New Year with a prayer to which they had plighted themselves. Together they heard a young rector intone the prayer: “Be now and evermore our defense; grant us victory if it be they will.”

Later in the day they rode across the Washington estate at Mt. Vernon, overlooking the Potomac. It was raining. Standing beside the red-brick tomb, Mr. Churchill bared his head and placed a red, white, and blue wreath on the stones out of respect to the memory of our first president.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pirates, Heading West, and Book Reviews

(I wrote this post yesterday)

Today is shop day for me (I work at the bookstore Tuesdays and Saturdays). I just finished my lunch, a yummy hot soup which caused a flood to pour forth from my nose. Ahhh (deep sigh) nothing like a good congested cough and nose to start off the month of December. Business was slow all morning...more like ghost town. I spent it reading and finishing the book The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Then I dusted and suddenly around 1:30 I’m bombarded (in a good way) by a grandmother and her daughter-in-laws. Grandmothers make the best book buyers. Money seems to be no object to them. Funny I’m poor now and unless my scheme to sell my kidney goes through I think I’ll die poor too. I won’t ever be a rich Grandmother. One can hope though, right? :) Anyways they made my day they bought almost 25 books total! Ok I can go home now.

As mentioned I finished The Outlander, but before I tell you about it I want to talk about the book I finished prior to picking it up, The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King. It was only because of the cover and my sister reading the back cover that I knew this book was about pirates. You know me A. I love a good pirate story ( have a shelf dedicated to them) and B. I never read the cover. I will warn you, I may give away key events about the book (spoiler alert!). I didn’t like the book right off. I mean in the first chapter (prologue really) the main character dies. I’m thinking come off it! You can’t kill the characters off in the first chapter. Emer Morrisey (girl pirate!) is killed and cursed shortly before falling dead. As the title would suggest, if I would bother to pay better attention (sorely lacking), she is cursed to 100 lives as a dog. Over the next, roughly 362 years I think, she lives out the dog lives with her memories as a human intact. As well as all the dog memories. She emerges finally human in the 1970s (can’t remember the exact year) as Saffron Adams. Once again a female. The story bounces back and forth between her life in Ireland when she was Emer (plus how she came to be a pirate) and her life now as the daughter of a lower class family living in Pennsylvania. Her modern family burdens her with the task of all their dreams coming true for wealth via her. Well dammit she’s smart! Who wouldn’t be after 300 years, dog or not. The author also interjects dog facts, including a dog memory that Emer/Saffron has.

My initial disappointment was soon set aside. While this isn’t your typical pirate story, you do get the yummy piracy you’re craving. I could be here for a while talking about the book, so I’m going to narrow it down a bit.

Things I really liked the book:
- Ireland! I’m in love with Ireland (can you marry a country?). The fact that part of the story took place there and you learn some history even better.
- I liked how the author had Saffron imagining pirate things that she would like to do to people. I’m with you Saffron!
- The book made me think. Not only puzzling it out, but thinking about what it could be like to be thrust into a modern body. Especially since things are much different now than 300 years ago. (I know pirates...who wouldn’t want them around today still. Hand up for girl who would like to be captured by the Black Pearl first, thank you!)

Things I didn’t like (or people):
- Fred Livingstone – you’re messed up. I have maybe a smidgen of sympathy for you...(not much though) once I figured out why you are the way you are. I think he was the only thing I didn’t like. I give the book a 5!

Ok if the post isn’t getting too long I’ll talk about The Outlander too. This was another book that I purchased solely on liking the cover. I really need to be careful about doing that.

Mary Boulton is fleeing her brother-in-laws after killing her husband. The story is set in 1903 as Mary struggles west to escape her past.

It took me a while to get settled with this book. At first it was odd reading through Mary’s perspective of things because she’s a bit off. However, I found myself really connecting with the story the more I read. The book was never boring and it had a nice steady pace. My favorite character (after Mary of course) would have to be Arthur Elwell, the lunatic. Although his appearance in the book was brief I related to him more than I care to admit. I really like Giovanni, the giant catskinner, too. I won’t tell you anymore because I think you should read it. This got a 5 as well.

After finishing both of these books I was struck by something. This is going to sound strange and I don’t know how to say it without making a fool of myself. Ok here goes. These books bring to light to me how different the laws of today are. There was a time that going out and killing someone in a duel or by other means resulted to during piracy era and western settlement (in America) that it was ok. That was that, you moved on. Things were settled. In a way something seems appropriate about it. I don’t know, I don’t think I’m getting my point across right. I'm not saying murder should be allowed, please don’t hear me saying that even though I kind of am.

Both of these books I want to read again and slower the second time around. Unfortunately it can’t happen for a long time, too many unread books are in line before them for me to consider reading a book a second time. Maybe later...

Quote of the day:

He took to reading books because, for some reason, he heard nothing when he read.
(Quote from The Outlander about Arthur Elwell page 181.)
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