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Last week I received a Christmas card from my federal representative in the House of Commons. It featured a picture of him surrounded by his wife and children. He never had sent me cards like that before he got elected. And I doubt he ever will after his stay in the House comes to an end. I also doubt that his heart-warming message cost him a penny.  3

In the news this morning: "Pope snubs Vatican's sci-fi nativity scene, directs visitors to others." The scene referred to is a "larger-than-life ceramic assembly of statues that includes an astronaut and a character reminiscent of Darth Vader from the Star Wars." He also said that "the holy day that marks the birth of Jesus had been 'kidnapped' by consumerism." If we did not know already.


      "Speaking from the window overlooking the [Vatican] square, Francis twice urged people to visit an outdoor exhibit under the square's colonnade where 100 small traditional nativity scenes are on display.

      "They demonstrate 'how people try to use art to show how Jesus was born (and) ... and are a great religious education of our faith,' he said."  4

That picture was taken in 2019. Two and a half millennia earlier:

• Li Fang asked about the roots of the rites.
   "An excellent question indeed," said Confucius.
   "As to the rites, rather be modest than lavish. As to mourning, rather be grievous than meticulous." (Lun Yü 3-4)  5

* * *

And so, what am I ... eh, what are we to make of it? What can we do? What should we do? Forget about it? It's the season to be jolly. Go with the flow. Enjoy yourself. Life is complicated enough.  6

      I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
      Just like the ones I used to know
      Where the tree tops glisten
      And children listen
      To hear sleigh bells in the snow

Bing Crosby
"White Christmas" is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.  
7


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