From one December to the next, it runs through our history like a luminous thread joining us in the best and worst of circumstances.
Even in the grip of the Great Depression or amid World War II, when scores of Tuolumne and Calaveras county youths risked their lives in Europe or the Pacific, Christmas brought a sense of cheer and connection to the Mother Lode.
Through boom and bust and war and peace, the season has brought wonder to our children and, at least for a while, charity and goodwill to their parents.
Although reducing the Christmas spirit to words is a daunting, perhaps impossible task, The Union Democrat's editors and writers have again and again taken up the challenge. And collectively their efforts help define the special connection between this magical, revered holiday and the place we call home.
So, on Christmas Eve, a look at a few of our own Christmases Past:
Dec . 24, 1870: Christmas is again at hand. The day is to be devoted to
acts of fond remembrance and generous friendship. It should be enjoyed
free from all the cares of the business life and given up to family
reunions and recreations of a domestic nature. To the thoughtful, this
day is one of more than mere enjoyment. - Charles H. Randall.
Dec. 23, 1911: All over the country sounds the greeting, "Merry
Christmas!" On the sea and land, to the palace and in the hovel, in the
hospitals and in the prisons, in the asylums and amid the orphans and
in homes for the friendless and the aged, the greeting is exchanged. Is
there any other sentiment that has the sovereignty of these cheerful
and heartfelt words? - J.A. Van Harlingen.
Dec. 23, 1933: Amid the festivities of the season, the needy should
be substantially remembered. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and what
can please the father of all mercies more than to make his creatures
happy on the birthday of his only begotten son. Let the children hang
up their stockings, and see that they are well filled. Leave the door
wide open for Santa Claus and his toy-laden chariot. Let the exuberance
of childhood have full and joyous vent. - Ferdinand Van Harlingen.
Dec. 25, 1942: "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men." How this has
been preached for years and how little it has meant to civilized man
for the past 1,942 years. Even though we are murdering in a wholesale
manner, deep in the heart of American servicemen scattered to the four
corners of the earth burns the desire of peace on earth. What the final
chapter of this war will bring is still open to debate. If we can kill
greed and jealousy, we might see peace for more than 25 years. If we
fail to kill these elements of destruction, we shall again have war." -
Dec. 20, 1945 - The magic of Christmas season is with us once again
that magic that softens our cares and gives to life a renewed warmth
and gentleness. In millions of American homes the light hearts and
laughter of children tell of their freedom from fear. We should never
forget that this freedom was bought at a price, a price paid by the
fathers and brothers of many of them. - Hugh McLean.
Dec. 26, 1957 - Isn't everyone nice at Christmas? Of course they
are. The spirit of goodwill that always accompanies the Christmas
season has been getting increasingly strong, culminating with a sincere
feeling of friendship between all of us. We like to make people feel
good and we are willing to go to quite some trouble to do so. That
makes for some real living. - Hugh McLean.
Dec. 24, 1971 - Christmas is things felt, not said. It is sounds
and smells and tempos. It is memories and flavors, sorrows and prayers,
tenderness and tolerance. And it's here in the hills that Christmas
fits best. Here where scents and lights are crisp in the December
night. Here where a sense of belonging and joy in sharing kindles an
intimate warmth. - Harvey McGee.
May that warmth be with you this Christmas and throughout the coming year.