“The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart.”

The morning, besides being dreary, is cold at 37˚. Rain is expected later. When the alarm went off this morning, the house was cold so I stay snuggled under the covers reluctant to leave the warmth of my bed and the dog beside me, but I had no choice. It was time to get up, get dressed and go out to my usual Sunday breakfast. I think most people were wiser than I and chose to stay in bed as the roads were empty.

When I got home, I ran upstairs to get into my cozies then came back downstairs and turned on the tree lights. They are shining especially bright in the darkness of the day.

The week or so before Christmas is the longest stretch in time for any kid. The days move at the slowest pace imaginable, and counting down only makes it worse. Anticipation just can’t be contained. School drags on forever. Every kid knows the finale, Christmas Eve, is the longest night of the year, despite the calendar. Bedtime never comes. It is 4 o’clock, 4:12 and on and on. For the first in our lives, bedtime can’t come soon enough.

My parents had ways to amuse us. Every year was the drive to see the lights. In Saugus was the ultimate light show. The houses competed with one another for the glory of being the most decorated. My father would drive up and down the streets, and we’d be glued to the windows not wanting to miss a single house. Our heads would whip back and forth from one side of the street to the other. On each of houses the lights were all different colors. Not a tree or a bush was left undecorated. It was a spectacle in all its glory.

My favorite was always the trip to Boston. It didn’t happen every year so it was special. We’d walk by the department stores to see the windows with all their animated figures. Santa’s workshop was always the busiest window with elves hammering toys and Santa checking his list. We’d then walk through Boston Common which always seemed a fairy land to me. All the bare trees were hung with strings of lights, and they shined on the walkways. I don’t ever remember feeling cold. I just remember wanting to run to see everything and being filled with an excitement I could barely contain. I wanted to hold open my arms and take everything with me for always.

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37 Comments on ““The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart.””

  1. Bob Says:

    I am always amazed that our childhood memories are almost identical regardless of our different backgrounds and locations. The week before Chanukah was time going in slow motion as we awaited to see what presents we were getting when we lit the first candle. My parents would drive around the ‘wealthy’ neighborhoods at night to see the mansions decked out in spectacular light displays.

    Growing up in both New York and Dallas gave me the opportunity to see the world’s best Christmas displays. The largest displays were in the windows of Macy’s at 34th Street (of movie fame) and the most elaborate were in the windows of Neiman Marcus on the corner of Main and Ervay streets in Downtown Dallas. In those days, before corporate consolidation, each city had at least a couple of family owned department stores that tired to outdo each other in decorating their windows for the holidays. I recall going into Manhattan to see the huge Christmas tree and the decorated skating rink in Rockefeller Center and to see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The stores still decorate for the holidays and the big tree is still in front of the RCA building, or what ever it is called today.

    I don’t think that with the internet and cable TV that the holiday season is as important or as exciting to kids today as it was for us in the good old analog days of black and white TV. Getting the gifts, however will never go out of style.

    • Kat Says:

      I too am amazed when I read the family traditions of my Coffee friends, and they are so very similar to mine. We grew up at the same times which I guess explains it, but the fact these traditions happened all over the country is what amazes me the most.

      I have never been in New York at Christmas so I missed all those windows. Boston was far smaller with fewer displays but to me they were mouth dropping.

      Little kids are still excited. My sister’s 6 year old grandson wakes up every morning and runs to find the Elf on the Shelf. He sits to listen when The Night Before Christmas is read, and the family tradition of a piñata on Christmas Eve continues with him. He loves all the traditions of Christmas.

      • Bob Says:

        Well, just when you thought you knew everything, here comes the “Elf on the Shelf”. I understand that parents buy the doll and tell their kids that he watches over them to report their good and bad behavior to old Santa. Kind of like a holiday version of Big Brother in George Orwell’s book “1984” 🙂

        Hispanic kids have had piñatas here in the Southwest forever. When I was a kid in Dallas we never knew about piñatas because the hispanics were segregated in their barrio just like the blacks.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I live near that section of Saugus and we used to do the same thing. It got so big that there were bus tours of that little neighborhood. It was crazy watching those big tour busses try to negotiate the little suburban streets with all the other traffic. Eventually, some folks got upset with the busses and managed to get them blocked from the side streets. In the energy crisis, almost all of the houses went dark because it was wasteful and expensive to run those lights. Now, there is one house that goes all out for every single holiday but I think the owner is in the business of celebratory decorations. Gradually the other houses in the neighborhood are coming back on line and decorating for the big holidays. I still drive through there mostly because it’s on the way to Kelly’s Roast Beef but the lights are lovely, too. 😀

    Dull and damp and cold up here, too. Even Rocky doesn’t want to budge off the couch. That’s where I am, as well, in my cozies. 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your day.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I missed the years of the tour busses. There were just cars when we made the run around that neighborhood. Years later my sisters and I drove there and were disappointed to see the houses dark. That was such a huge memory from when we were kids. I’m happy to hear the lights are returning.

      Gracie too is on the couch snoring and driving me crazy. I haven’t yet changed into my cozies from breakfast as i got right on the blog. As soon as I answer the comments up I’ll go to change.

      I do have to bring up the laundry which has been sitting in the dryer for a week. That is it for my list today!

  3. Hedley Says:

    My Poppa would hire a Richmond coach and up to London we would go to see the lights, Oxford Street, Regents Street, Harrods where the real Father Christmas lived,which was a different trip.

    And so I sit on the floor wrapping and wrapping. I watched Tottenham win at home and move up to 4th, not so bad really. Mrs MDH went to Kroger with the terrier onboard I need her help on which gifts go in stockings or are given and who is the recipient.

    My Uncle Paulie called from London, he doesn’t call me it’s the other way around, so I panicked but it was ok. He had received his Matt cartoon book and Aero Hot Chocolate which I sent instead of a Christmas card. He was pleased, that was good

    Gaudete Kat 🙂

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      One year we took a horse and carriage ride to see the lights inBoston, but that was when I was an adult.

      Jordan Marsh had Enchanted Village for Christmas. As you walked to see Santa, you walked by window after window filled with animated characters. It was a wonder!

      My father would sometimes help my mother wrap, and we always knew which ones he’d done. They were a bit messy, but we didn’t care. I helped my mother a few times when I was an adult. She hand me a box, and I’d wrap it. I took pride in my wrapping and my ribbons and bows. When I’d finished, I’d ask whose name to put on the tag. “Kat,” she’d say.

      Your Uncle certainly had to have been really pleased to make the call. Great choices on the presents!

      Today is almost entirely a Dear Hedley music day!

  4. im6 Says:

    There are several variations to this, but I love the idea. (P.S. Give my love to Aunt Velma !!!!)

    • Kat Says:

      I got a chuckle out of that. There is a house here which I suspect can be seen from space. I’d love to live next door and do that!

      I will pass along your good wishes to our dear Aunt Velma!

  5. olof1 Says:

    We’ve had a warm (37,4F) and somewhat rainy day here, if this continues we’ll have no snow at Christmas. I really don’t mind the loss of the snow but it has been nice not getting all that sand in the cottage now when the ground has been frozen 🙂

    It’s just recently that people have started to decorate their ýards over here and when we do it’s lights only. The few homes that have more than a few lights and figures in their gardens usually ends up in tv and newspapers 🙂 🙂

    Here it’s the day before Christmas Eve that’s the longest day since Christmas eve is our big day and here the Yule Gnome comes and visits the children. I hated that and felt relieved when I understood he didn’t exist 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      You are talking about the day being warm, and it is the same temperature I am calling cold! Funny!!

      I agree about the sand, but I’ll add mud to that. Gracie always brings it in on her paws, and I have to keep swabbing the kitchen. With the ground hard, my floor is nice and clean.

      Some people go way overboard here with blow-up figures and plastic characters. One house has a TV running outside with a Christmas movie going the whole evening.

      Christmas Eve is when Santa comes so that day seems to go on endlessly. Night never comes. We’d want to go to bed right after dinner-way too early according to our mother. No matter what time we went to bed, it took forever to fall asleep.

  6. Hedley Says:

    Shame on WalMart, running a Sunday flyer featuring “The Perfect Guy Gifts” and pictures of guns
    shame on you walmart ..you will never get my business

    • Caryn Says:

      That is incredibly insensitive. They don’t get my business anyway so I can’t withhold it.
      I wonder, though, if it was too late to pull them. If I recall correctly, the Sunday fliers come to the distributor early and are sent out to shops and delivery people sometime on Saturday. They are not associated with the news sections of the paper until the Sunday morning edition is delivered.

      • Hedley Says:

        Disgusting. Even if it couldn’t be pulled they could have run an ad in all the major papers.

      • Kat Says:

        MDH and Caryn,

        You are probably right, Caryn, about the timing, but I take issue with the whole idea of a “Perfect Guy Gift” being a gun in the first place.

        I haven’t ever shopped in one, and I never intend to.

    • im6 Says:

      I hate WM. (that’s pretty much sums it up for me)

  7. Caryn Says:

    Yes, I’m not sure how a personal assault gun rates as a perfect Christmas gift. But it is WalMart and the clientele have a different esthetic.

    • Kat Says:

      I definitely agree with their clientele having a different esthetic.

      • Hedley Says:

        With or without Connecticut, WalMart should be ashamed.

        The Prince’s Mum is excited by new photos she has had taken this week at JC Penney. She knows I will be thrilled to have a new picture of our First Grader for my desk. And then I think of the photos of the lost of Newtown. This week we have his First Grade Christmas concert on Wednesday. I would not miss it

        We treasure those we love, we celebrate the joy they bring. We try to speak openly and directly about our core beliefs.

  8. Kat Says:

    My sister’s grandson is also in the first grade. My brother-in-law takes pictures of him often and sends them to me so I have an up-to-date album. Their newest grandson is 4 months old, and I get several of those too. I save them all.

    My sister is one of the kindest people I know, and she is the best grandmother. She was a great mother as well, and I can see all she did reflected in the way her children are raising their children.

    Many of the Christmas traditions I started for my sister’s kids are now continuing into the next generation, and my niece and nephews are the ones making sure that those traditions don’t die. I am so happy to be a part of their Christmas even though I’m so far away.

    • Hedley Says:

      The Prince and I have been watching Snow Buddies, Space Buddies, Santa Buddies etc and talking about Christmas for weeks. we decorated the tree together and reviewed optimal gifts. He is a bundle of energy…and very cool

      • Kat Says:

        Ryder stayed over my sister’s on Friday night. It is his favorite place to be other than home. They bake together; he fishes with my brother-in-law, and they read books. He is a funny kid.

  9. Bob Says:

    Black Friday gun sales set a record.


    How about the Congressman from Texas who said today, on the Sunday morning talk shows, that there should be more guns not less. He thinks that if the principal of the school had a gun locked up in her office she could have taken out the shooter and saved some kids.

    • Kat Says:

      Just what teachers need: certification with a weapon. I can’t begin to fathom that congressman.

      • Bob Says:

        That’s the mentality of many people here in the Southwest. Gun advocates believe in the theory of mutual annihilation that was prevalent during the cold war. If everyone is carrying a gun, then everyone will be afraid to use it for fear of retaliation. Their theory is that when the mentally deranged person pulls out his assault rifle in the mall, all the shoppers will pull their weapons and kill the guy. This saves the money of having a trial and to imprison the offender. Instant justice is what they like. It’s the modern eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Many of these people are devoted evangelical Christians who carry guns to protect themselves from those unruly blacks, browns and muslim terrorists. They are packing even when attending church on Sundays.

  10. Kat Says:

    That is such faulty logic. If you shoot first, then you’ve either wounded or killed your victim who can’t return the shot. That is no deterrent.

    I wonder how many other people would get killed in the mall by so called friendly fire when the shoppers retaliate.

    I will never understand that mentality.

  11. Spaceman Says:

    The majority of the people I know are gun owners and most are soft spoken and upstanding citizens. That’s just the way it is here, it’s accepted and frankly no one thinks it to be a big deal one way or the other.

    Now consider this. At Va Tech, a shooter meandered from class room to class room, and methodically and callously slaughtering people’s sons and daughters. If a student or a professor has reasonable access to a weapon, many lives could have been saved. Unfortunately schools have become a hard to resist target for a few isolated young men who want to go out in a big splash. For the most part, whatever is wrong with them is beyond our understanding and likely out of our control. A viable and implementable way of reducing the risk is to have a handful of trustworthy staff members with training and access to a weapon. Principal, asst. principals, veterans would be good choices. They don’t have to carry, but simply have ready access in an emergency situation. At a minimum, knowing that someone in the school is armed has a great deterrence value.

    • Kat Says:


      The middle and high schools here have Community Resource Officers who are policeman considered both staff members of the school and policemen. They are always armed because it is a demand of the department. I believe they are a deterrent. Now, it is time to think about doing the same in elementary schools though I suspect cost would be an issue.

      I was a high school administrator. I would never have wanted to to be armed.

  12. Spaceman Says:

    I never have much cared for policemen being assigned to schools. Sends a bad vibe to students that it takes a armed officer for them to be safe at a school. For sure it’s an expensive proposition for the local government to budget for a professional policeman at every school, especially when their services are more needed elsewhere; traffic control, crime, emergency calls.

    I would bet every school has 2 or 3 vets who would be willing to serve as emergency security.

    • Kat Says:

      It isn’t like that at all. He is not in the school for security though that is a side benefit. He is a community relations officer and his salary is paid both by the police department and the school district. He teaches courses, offers after school classes for RAPE Aggression Training defense,assists students in navigating the legal system, helps kids who are bullied and his door is always opened if a student needs to talk to him. He was, for a long while, an advisor to the Student Council. He is a member of the police department and a de facto staff member of the staff. No emergency security would be so much a part of the school community as that officer. Kids trust him enough to go and talk to him about a kid who might have drugs in school or any who had made threats.

      Nick, our long time officer, thinks of the students as his people, and they know how he feels. None of them are at all phased by his gun they understand he has to wear it. Nick doesn’t dress in uniform, usually jeans and a regular shirt.

      Community policing in schools is very common in this state and the benefits are enormous.

  13. Spaceman Says:

    That sounds like a reasonable approach though it doesn’t make any difference as to who is paying him, it all comes from the tax payers. So the bottom line question would be is this arrangement cost-beneficial. The idea of needing an armed officer in a school environment still bothers me irrespectively.

    Perhaps that’s because I never went to a school that had guards. Worst that ever happened was an occasional fist fight, which the coaches would let go on for a little while, if it looked even. Break it up sooner if it was a mismatch. These days they arrest the boys and carry them off.

    • Kat Says:

      Nick is not a guard. He has an office in the building with an open door policy.

      The reason both departments split the cost is to make the school a part of his job. He works for the police and for the school as a staff member. That’s an important distinction.

      Potential problems have been eliminated because he is trusted by kids who will go and talk to him.

      I was a high school administrator. Often I’d break up fights myself. Never would I let the kids keep fighting in case they got hurt. I was never touched when I broke up those fights. They’d see me and generally stop. Usually both combatants were suspended, not arrested. The only time I remember one was arrested was when he assaulted the kid, sucker punched his victim and caused some real damage.

      Kids with drugs and weapons are arrested. Not only are those against school policy but also state law. The guilty party faces possible expulsion or an extended 45-60 day suspension as dictated by the law. We have to have an exact copy of the wording of that law in our student handbooks. That too is part of the law.

  14. Spaceman Says:

    Around here, if you fight in school in school, you automatically get arrested and suspended. Now teenage boys are apt to fight on occasion on often trivial matters. Seems overly harsh to arrest them over a single incident, making him shake hands afterwards and apologize likely works better in the long run in most cases. Suspended

    It sounds like your fellow is a good guy.

    But here is a way of thinking about it. Say you live in a medium size city and have 10 schools. Assume the cost of any employee is $50,000 a year and there is $500,000 in the city budget to hire 10 people (policeman/teacher/security-staff support person).

    So the question would be, what would be of the most benefit to the overall community? An additional teacher at each of the 10 schools, a security-staff support person at each of the 10 schools, or 10 more policeman? Not a clear decision.

    • Kat Says:

      I agree sometimes it is overly harsh to have the combatants arrested.

      Most school resource officers are good guys. They have to be when working with kids.

      You wrote, “an additional teacher, a security-staff support person or 10 more policeman.” I would hire the school resource officer and not another teacher. The SRO is a huge asset in any school in so many ways, even more than a teacher. SRO’s are members of school staffs nation-wide, and I think if you asked, most schools would not do away with the program.

      They are policemen but they are purposely called school resource officers because they do so much more than a policeman not assigned to the school.

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