14 December 2017

The Promises of Christmas ~ Veterans

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

One of my Christmas habits is that I do not pass a Salvation Army Red Kettle without putting something in it.  At the grocery store where I shop regularly there has been a very old gentleman ringing the bell for the last three Wednesdays.  He wears a U.S. Marine Corps hat that is in good shape but quite old.

Each time I pass his kettle I drop in my donation and say, “Merry Christmas Marine.  Thank you for helping the ‘army’”.  The first two times he has laughed and returned my wish for a merry Christmas.

Yesterday he put a still strong hand on my arm to stop me from continuing on my way.  I looked up and saw tears in his eyes.  He said, “Three time now you have addressed me as ‘Marine’.  No one has done that for thirty years.  The thing I have done best in my life is to be a Marine.  I was one for twenty years.  I lost a lot of friends.  I miss being called that.  Thank you.”

We chatted a bit more and I thanked him for all he did to protect and serve our nation.  I thanked him for serving the Salvation Army.  As I walked away he called out cheerfully, “Don’t tell the other leather necks.  They would never forgive me.”

The promise of Christmas is that some day good men and women will not have to put their lives in harm’s way because of the foolishness of other men and women.  I long for the day when this is true.  Until then I want to make sure that every veteran knows how much love and respect I have for the time they gave.  I know that my freedom to celebrate comes from their efforts.

Merry Christmas to all of you veterans.  Thank you for your gift.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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13 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Not even Batman

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Don’t give a child underwear.”

One would think this is obvious.  Yet all over the Christmas world children will excitedly open a gift to find underwear.  Even if it is Batman or Transforms or Barbie it is still underwear.  It could be the best underwear in the world but it is still underwear.

Again, I should not have to mention this but for the sake of the children I need you to remember how you felt when you got underwear as a child.  If you did not get underwear as a child you need to recall that this is good and not do evil to your own son, daughter, nephew, or niece. 

Your gift will be remembered.  Years from now the child will remember that his excited anticipation was revealed to be Underoos.  Yes, they are cute.  Resist the cute.  The cute will lead you into great error.

And socks are right out as well.  Do not give a child socks for Christmas.  It is simply unkind.  Socks are not a gift unless asked for.  I have an ADULT Daughter who loves socks. They are an appropriate gift for her.  Wee lads and lasses do not want socks for Christmas.

Spread the Christmas joy Dear Reader.  Do not give socks or underwear to children.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Parental Promises

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

The promises of Christmas that come from parents are multitude.  Some are spoken and some are implied.  I think a clue as to why retailers are launching Christmas in September may be hidden here as well.

I can clearly recall threats of Santa watching me as early as August.  The promise in my world was that no matter how good I was a single act of disobedience could scuttle it all.  The promise was that the scale was always tipped in the parental favor.  The promise parents should make is that gifts are given out of love. The promise of Christmas is that we are freely given the gift of redemption.  Giving gifts is supposed to be a reminder of that gift from the Father.  Presents, like the gift of Christ must be freely given. They cannot be earned. 

Another parental promise that is inherent in Christmas is to put your family first.  This is not just getting the right gifts.  It is showing love to everyone you encounter as an example.  It is being good to each other.  It is giving a little more to promote peace and restoration.  We must do this as an example to our children.  We must not put up signs that say peace on earth if we are not willing to work toward it in our own family.

The promise of Christmas is that a Father loved us enough to send his Son to reclaim us as his own.  Nothing can be more parental.  Nothing can signify more that parents have a great deal of responsibility to promote the promises of peace on earth and good will to men.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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12 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Christmas Tree Lights

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Enjoy a couple of meals illuminated only by the Christmas tree.”

I always do this.  It is so peaceful.  I will prepare my dinner and relish that it is dark so early.  The tree is right behind my favorite place to sit.  It casts enough light for me to see once my eyes have adjusted.

I put on some great Christmas music and settle in with dinner.  Slowly, ponderously, I enjoy the meal whilst watching the lights dance their untiring pattern.  The colors fade in and out of view.  The bubbles dance up the tubea mimicking candles.

Light catches on some of my favorite ornaments.  It fractures through some of the crystal ones offering alternative hues and intensity.  It is in this moment that I quietly whisper the Christmas story from Luke chapter two:

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Children’s Wishes

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

The deep promises of Christmas are held by children.  Just this weekend when asking my younger Grandson about his Christmas wishes his first response was that he wished me to come over.  So often the heart of Christmas is evident in the hearts of children.

It is the hope of children that feeds my energy.  It is keeping Christmas promises for them that fuels me.  We need to be constant examples of their hope.  Instead of indulging in our petty differences we can assure that there is peace for the children involved.  If we must quarrel we should leave it for another time.  The gift that is most precious to children is seeing adults exemplify kindness and patience.

I must be sure that I set an example of being loving and kind.  I must be patient when others are not.  I must be good to everyone.  I must make time for others.  The wishes of children are that adults would be the example they need, that they would be present.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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11 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Minor Differences

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Before going to bed every night of the Christmas season, ask yourself, ‘Whose life did I make brighter today?’”

Do we really ponder this?  This is the season when we are supposed to spread joy and cheer.  If it is not something of which we are mindful then we will not do it.  It we fail to focus on being an enrichment to others then we will not be so. 

When the pressures of the season mount and time seems to run through the glass faster we need to have minds and hearts that are focused.  All that negative thoughts need is a toe hold.  They will invade our minds and keep us from seeing the beauty that is possible in the season.

The point is to end the day with the joy of knowing that we have made life a little better for someone.  It is to see that the world a little better each day for having been here.  I must be this.  I can and will be this.  

I will still fail.  I will often be the one in the wrong.  I can still find ways to be the one who is a bright spot in the days of others.  I can still infuse kindness and grace into the lives I encounter.  That is true joy.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Trans-Siberia

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

If you have not taken in the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra you are missing out on something beautiful.  Beyond the music there is content.  The stories and message of their music are transcendent and timeless. 

I realize that is a bold claim but I stand by it.  Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the album I would recommend first unless you are the kind to save the best for last.  You can listen to the entire album HERE.  I recommend finding a way to see it live, however. 

The stories they tell deal in the potential of Christmas.  They promote what is best in all of us.  Along with all the music I most cherish they challenge us to be more than we are.  They ask us to see beyond what is common and to believe in the uncommon and the possible. 

The promise of Christmas is the heart of the impossible.  It is impossible for us to cure the world’s ills on our own.  They are varied, virulent, and viable of their own accord.  The world is infected with them and we are too busy being common to see the chance to be better. 

I must embrace the possible.  I must see the promises in this music and live them.  How you ask Dear Reader?   “By helping a neighbor or even a stranger; to know who needs help you need only but ask.”

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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10 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ What to Give?

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“When you don’t know what to give, give a book.”

As a writer you can imagine that this is one of my favorite ways to spread joy.  If we were to truly remember the value of reading we would be richer for it.  I give books and not just my own as gifts often.  Feel free to give some of my works as gifts.  You can get them here.  The reading is the important thing.

There is something in those silent patient companions that endures.  The stories are always there to be retold and reread.  Adventures new and old await the time when you take them from the shelf and wander through them with the flicking of the finger. 

It is wise to take time during the Christmas season to read a tale or two.  It relaxes the body and distracts the mind.  It is a good thing to read a book.  You learn, grow, and become more than you are.

Read to your children as well.  Teach them early on of the value of the habit.  Put more time aside for them to read to you as well.  This will carry life long rewards.  Think about this when you think about what to give others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Santa

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I know that there is discussion among my fellow travelers about the entire idea of Santa Clause and his place in the Christmas story.  The fact is that he is there and I must deal with him properly.  The truth is that like all legends there is some truth in the telling.

I have an advantage.  I see the value of Santa in the Christmas story.  I understand his place in the narrative and that it can be used for good.  I have another advantage.  Little children often think I am Santa.  I admit that I contribute to this by the way I dress during the Christmas season. 

There are promises in the Santa story.  The original ones are those of a good man who loved God and wanted to give to the needs and dreams of children.  He is an excellent example of what we can become if we choose to follow Christ. 

As for the modern Santa story, there are promises there as well.  I wish there were that much “magic” in the world.  I wish that we all had enough faith to keep believing in the possibility.  I realize I sound a little “Hallmark” but I am a man of faith.  I do believe in the things we cannot see.

The modern promise of Santa is that we must hope and believe and if we believe in the right things we will not be disappointed.  It is humans that have turned Santa into something commercial and fantastic.  The promise is that there is something to believe in and long a ago a man cared enough about it to change things. 

I would give up much to be able to give gifts to every child on Christmas.  That hope and promise is beyond my reach but it is work believing in.  So, I do a little to help the magic along.  I do what I can to spread the kindness, joy, and spirit of the season.  I respond with kindness to the wonder of children.  There is magic there if we will only see it.  There are promises Santa has yet to keep.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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09 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Handel’s Messiah

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Take your family to a church performance of Handel’s Messiah.”

I had planned to do this.  My dear friends and fellow travelers, Jeff and Ruby performed in just such a thing last evening.  My intent was to take my family but the tickets were sold out by the time I got word of the performance.

I have been privileged to see this brilliant composition a number of times.  It is one of those things that stands the test of time.  I will spare you the history lesson but I will say that it is one of those that builds to a blast off instead of rising then falling.  I have even seen a performance with cannons.

In contrast to my pipe and a warm fire it is an energizing Christmas joy.  Whether you choose this or something like The Nutcracker or Gilbert and Sullivan’s A Christmas Carol find some music to attend that is live and lively.  

The joy is in the sitting and seeing and being a part of a great story.  Make time for it.  Make it an evening.  Dress for dinner, go to the event, and go out for desert.  Indulge and little and enjoy.  Here is an example:


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Snow

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

My first white Christmas came when I was four.  It was also the year that I first began to comprehend the promises of Christmas.  The gifts I received that year were those to fill a boy with wonder.  I was taken to feed reindeer in the snow. 

Photo by Echo Mills 12/08/17
It was not for many more years that I regularly have been able to have a white Christmas.  I treasure it.  Yesterday my family in north Georgia received four inches of December snow.  It will not likely last until Christmas but the pictures and were magical.  They showed the wonder of fresh snow on still verdant woods.  They showed the joy of my seven-year-old nephew at the thought of a snow day.

There is a promise in December snow.  It is the promise of Narnia.  We are reminded that we may have winter but we also have Christmas.  It is the painting of the world with hope when it is gray and barren.  It is the promise that there will be new life.  It is the beauty in the world that is for everyone if we will only see it.

The first snow each year I sit with my pipe and bowl and take in the smell, the beauty, and the wonder.  I remind my heart of hope and promise.  The smoldering Cavendish keeps my hands warm.  The hope keeps my heart thus.  It is often my best December prayer.

Visiting a Crystal Gallery

Silently the clouds crept across the sky,
Negating the brilliance of the haunting harvest moon.
Only the brightest of stars could I still spy,
While the cottony gray darkness still had rips and tatters.

Sending chills over my exposed face,
North winds begin to whip across the field fiercely
Offering me an invitation to retrace
What steps I have taken and return to my cozy home.

Something inside drives me to pursue,
Narrowing my focus to climb the hoary-frosted hill.
Only the higher field will give a proper view
When the dance begins in earnest.

Softly they begin their waltzing flight
Navigating their way through the winter wind,
Outstanding crystals of drifting delightful white
Whispering to me that God is still an artist.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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08 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Hard Candy Christmas

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Don’t despair if you are short of cash.  Be Creative.  Looking back, you’ll discover that the Christmases when you had the least money were the ones that left you with the best memories.”

We all face times when things are difficult and we do not know how we make ends meet.  Christmas is a time when want and need can be felt more keenly.  It is a time when we must focus on the needs of others but it can also be a time when we are tempted to despair over our own needs.

I have been in this place this year.  It is a Hard Candy Christmas; a reference to a time when poor people might only be able to give their children some hard candy for Christmas.  I cannot in honesty and faith despair.  Even thought I am uncertain of how to get through tomorrow I still have so much for which to be thankful.

The joy is that I can be good to my family and share the joy of the season with them no matter the situation.  The hope is not in buying the gifts and having the answers.  It is in remembering that I do not need those things to be kind to others.  I can still be loving and good.  I can still be patient with others when they are not.   

The joy is in seeing a hard candy Christmas as an opportunity to be creative and remember that we can give much more than things. “And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Fruitcake (YES Fruitcake)

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Fifty-two miles west of Savannah, between Daisy and Belville lies a sleepy southern town. With a population of about twenty-five hundred there is not much industry.  There is a poultry processing plant that provides fresh from the farm poultry that is of the finest quality.  This small Georgia town is world famous for another reason.  It is the home of Claxton Fruitcake made by the Georgia Fruitcake Company.

For over a century fresh fruit and nuts have been baked into this seasonal delight that I first encountered with my Grandfather.   He and I would have fruitcake whilst we watched television during the Christmas season.  It is one of the hallmarks for me of Christmas joy.

I realize that fruitcake is much maligned and hated by those who have never had it.  I must disagree.  I love fruitcake.  I am, however, a purist.  I do not love all fruitcake and I enjoy Claxton the most.  I understand that some of you see my approval as the final proof that I am mad.

There is a Christmas promise in this concoction that we can all embrace.  Whether you like fruit cake or think those who do nuttier than one, the humble fruitcake reminds us of Christmas.  Even when I pull one from the freezer in June to celebrate my late Grandfather’s birthday I am transported to the memories of him and our time together at Christmas. 

You may not like it and you may get it as a gift.  You surely know someone who does.  Claxton sells five million pounds a year.  Someone is buying it on purpose.  Pass it on to them.  The promise is that there will be joy in their hearts on receiving it.  

Everyone does not love you.  Some will and do.  The real promise is like the fruitcake: there may be those who dismiss us out of hand.  There will be those who love you and they will be all the more precious because they see us as we are and still love us.  Now I need some fruitcake and eggnog.  How about you Dear Reader?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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07 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Let Go

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Let go of the problem you cannot solve; enjoy the season.”

Our burdens and problems do not take a holiday.  They are there nipping at our heals and troubling our minds daily.  They clamor to steel our thoughts and good nature.  Like sirens the seek to dash our spirits against the rocks.

We can choose to accept what we cannot change.  Whether it is a great need or trying malady we can choose to see past it to the joy and peace possible in Christ.  We can set aside worry and continue to do our best. 

Whether it is money, health, family or any other ills if we cannot solve the problem we only make things worse by worrying about them.  We rob our lives and our friends of joy by dwelling upon them.  

The joy is in the blessings we do have.  It is knowing that what we celebrate is that all problems come to pass and not to stay.  They are as fleeting as the season.  We must adjust our perspective.  The joy is in seeing all that is possible in this season.  It is in realizing that the babe in the manger is also the King who comes to make all things good. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Eggnog

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

 It may seem that the only promises in eggnog are more calories.  Another may be that of the spirits in some recipes.  There are, however, promises other than a light head and heavy frame.

There are those who do not like eggnog and I do pity the loss of enjoyment.   They are not wrong but feel they are missing out.  Perhaps they have not had quality eggnog.

This all begs the question of how writing committed to following Christ can find promise in eggnog.  I am sure that are parallels for us all.  Every year I look forward to the appearance of a certain quality eggnog at my local grocer. 

This eggnog is not like any other I have ever tasted.  It comes from Oberweis Dairies.  Present in real glass bottle that show the colour and viscosity of the rich liquid; it brims with promise.  The rich taste and perfect spicing make it a true seasonal favorite for me. 

There are other good eggnogs.  There are also some very bad ones.  Avoid any canned eggnog that need not be refrigerated.  True eggnog takes work and is fleeting in its freshness.  It is the eggnog of promise.

The promise is this: there is sweetness in the season and in the world.  There is richness to remind us of what is to come.  We must not accept lesser things than the best God has to offer.  We must search for the promise that is the sweetness of the Father’s best.  It is always there if we seek it.  It leads us to the very best promise of all; home.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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06 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Parties

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Make an effort to attend every Christmas Party you’re invited to even if you can only stay a few minutes.”

My beloved friend Katie mentioned the other day that she misses my annual Christmas open house party.  I used to have a home and loved doing this for my friends and family.  My sparse rooms are no longer conducive to this.  I miss it as well. 

There is something joyful about gathering with friends and family for some wine and song.  There is something delicious about the treats and confections that are people’s holiday traditions.  There is something enchanting to me about seeing how other decorate and celebrate.

We must make time to enjoy each other and Christmas parties are an opportunity to do so with some appropriate efficiency.   Before the calendar fills up, look at the things to which you are invited and say yes to as many as you can manage.

Even if you cannot find a party to attend arrange a gathering for lunch or dinner with friends.  Touch base with those who matter to you.  Make time for people over things.  I know that when I do it makes merry making merrier.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Christmas Hymns

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I know that there are those who are already weary of Christmas music.  I listen to it all year round.  It is the hymns that hold the promise.  They tell us the words that we long for but also dismiss.

Simple phrases, most wrought centuries past ask us to hope and believe.  They ask us to rest in the promises of Christmas.  They offer us tidings of comfort and joy.  They offer these promises to the entire world.

Let us look at a few of them:

“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

“Though few may hear his coming, yet in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in.”

“Mild He lays His Glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining ‘til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

“Now ye need not fear the grave.”

I could go on.  The promises are plenty and full.  The idea is to fill my spirit with the promise that there is hope and love and joy.  It is to be so full of it that I live out those promises no matter my state or station.  It is to be so resolute in their veracity that I spread the love and joy to others at every turn.  There is then always time for another Christmas song.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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05 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Clerks and Wait Staff

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Be nice to sales people.  They are often wearier than you are.”

To my shame, when I was younger I was not always patient with service personnel.  We were dining at a nice restaurant whilst on vacation.  The server came to our table and was quite rude when she greeted us.  After she took our drink order and walked away my eldest Son, Maxim said this:

“Dad, please don’t get mad.  I like this place already.”  He was only eight.

In that moment I began to get an understanding of how hard I could be on people who I thought were not doing the job right.  It took some time buy I have learned to be kind, patient, and understanding.  We find it too easy to judge without knowing what fuels the person behind the counter or holding the order pad.  It is too easy to forget that this person has a life, struggles, and needs. 

My schedule, wants, and feelings must not precede my duty to love and kindness to those who earn their living serving those things.  I held my temper for the sake of Maxim that day.  The waitress continued to be rude and flagrantly and intently bad at her job.  I learned that I could put my feelings aside for the sake of being good.  It became an excellent illustration of how to overcome my own feelings for the sake of those around me.

This is a Christmas joy that I attempt to practice all the year.   Every clerk, waitress, cashier, or vendor is worthy of my kindness.  They deserve my best.  I want those transactions to leave the person serving me feeling loved and valued.  Not just a good tip but good treatment is my passion. 

Maxim is good at this as well.  Whilst he was working his way through college he worked as a clerk at a servo.   A friend who had not met him asked me if he worked at that very one.  I said that he did.  She remarked that she knew he had to be my Son because of the genuine way in which he wished her well as she paid for her gas and coffee.  That is the point is it not Dear Reader?  We must spread joy by being kind and good to others in small but memorable ways.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Hershey’s Kisses

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

I realize that this is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Christmas.  For me, however, it is one of those advertisements that brings a smile to my face.  It also is one of those things that unwraps my spirit when I first see it. 

If you do not know what I mean it is the add that has Hershey’s Kisses in the shape of a Christmas tree playing “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” as if they are bells.  It is twenty-seven seconds of simple sweetness.  The details are worth watching. 

In this simple chocolate advertisement is the promise of a simple wish.  Wishing one a “Merry Christmas” is a promise in itself.  It is the promise that I desire for you to have a Christmas that is merry.  I desire good things for you.  Some people have decided that this wish is exclusive or offensive.  Perhaps they think those of us who say it “should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

In truth, I wish that everyone would have a Merry Christmas.  The literal meaning of “Christmas” is the celebration of Christ, or the celebration of “The Anointed One”.  If I could work my will everyone would know the love and joy of Christ without the burdens that his followers try to attach to it. 

A promise of Christmas is the sweetness that we associate with chocolate. It is those moments of bliss that sustain us on the journey.  I think what it would be like if we gave Jesus the love and devotion that some give to chocolate.  I wish this for every human.  I wish them to have it freely and not have it imposed upon them. 

I truly wish you a delightful and merry Christmas.  I do so without demanding any pudding.  Perhaps the chocolate can remind you. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Mending

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Mend a broken relationship with a friend or relative during the holidays.”

There are friends who no longer speak to me.  My failures in the past became too much for them and they chose to end communication with me.  I have tried to reach out to them.  In their minds I must still be unworthy of forgiveness and reconciliation.  This all motivates me.

I use this time to mend and foster my relationships.  I try to reach out to others and assure that I hold no ill will toward anyone.  It is the time when we see the Advent of the realization of forgiveness.  We must do the same for others.  We must be forgiving, gracious, and kind.

This does not mean that we have to put ourselves in danger.  It does not mean that we have to accept toxic or harmful behavior.  We must, however, reach out and try to be reconciled if we see the chance.  We must always be willing to forgive.

In fact, forgiveness may be the best gift we can give ourselves.  Even if I cannot make headway with those who do not value me any longer, I must assure that I hold no ill will to them.  I must forgive their failure to love and forgive.  I must love them with all that I am.  It is what will keep my joy complete.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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04 December 2017

The Promises of Christmas ~ Magic

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Please know that my focus here is not prestidigitation.  It is a quality that is almost always intangible.  It is one of those things that you cannot define it but it happens.  It can be a feeling or a moment.

The promise of Christmas is that there will be inexplicable moments of peace, joy, or grace.  There will be instants where people are kind and generous.  The world has something in it that is elusive but very much there.

I realize that you may not agree with me.  This is one of those times where seeing is not believing but rather believing is seeing.  I do not ask you to accept it or embrace it.  It is enough for me that you benefit from it. 

Every time we give a little more to those in need we invoke this magic.  Every time we see the wonder in a child and share it we see the magic.  When we drop a few pennies in the red kettle we fuel the magic that is a promise of Christmas.

The one who provides us with Christmas would not call it magic.  The wonder of it all would be enfolded in greater miracle that is the incarnation we celebrate.  All good things are possible because of this thing.  We have access to all that is possible through the birth of Christ.  The promise of getting things back to good will be kept through the magic of Christmas.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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03 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Selecting a Christmas Tree

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Never select a Christmas tree after dark.”

We all know the scene from A Christmas Story where they are selecting a Christmas tree.  I remember doing this as a boy.  It is true that selecting ones tree after dark is a gamble.

On the broader scale just as we need to avoid busyness we need to schedule things when they work.  We need to do them when they have the best hope of turning out well.  A way to find joy in the season is to plan well.  Put things where they will work not simply where they fit.

The tasks that accompany the season do not have to be dry and burdensome.  They can be moments of joy.  Find ways to control the process so that it is a pleasurable event not just a task to complete.  The joy is in savoring the moments.  It is in seeing what is there to appreciate and doing it.

Turn the mundane into an adventure even if it seems foolish.  You will find joy hidden in those moments that you may have overlooked.


Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet

Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn't snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry

So climb down the chimney
Turn on the brightest string of light I've ever seen
Slice up the fruitcake
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough

For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older

And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now

For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter

And we need a little snappy
"Happy ever after"
Need a little Christmas now

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Wishes

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Tell me Christmas are we wise, to believe in things we never see?
Are prayers just wishes in disguise and are these wishes being granted me?”  - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The seed of this theme for December comes from the album Christmas Eve and Other Stories by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  We all wish for something at Christmas.  We may not even like Christmas and wish to be left alone.  This was what Scrooge originally wished. 

We all wish for something.  There are hidden rooms in our hearts where we store those things that are our fondest desires. We guard them, hide them, and nurture them but rarely let them out.  They live next door to our dreams and hopes yearning to be transformed into reality.

This is the time of year when we let some of our wishes out to play.  We give them a little sunshine and air.  We might even take them to meet some of our friends.  All too soon, however, we put the away with the lights and ornaments.  We box them up and store them until the next December tries to stir them. 

The promises of Christmas find some of their roots in wishes.  We wish for things that are good.  We desire for things to be a certain way.  We want to put certain things into our lives.  I use this time of year to rekindle wishes.  It is up to me to keep feeding the fire.  I wish the same for you Dear Reader.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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02 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys ~ Busyness

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

“Don’t schedule yourself too tightly during the holidays.  Before making an appointment ask yourself ‘Can this wait until after Christmas?’”

I had the privilege of being the silent child in the room when my Grandfather would counsel his flock on Sunday’s after his sermon.  One of the things I heard him say server times was, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”  

We get so very busy doing the tasks of Christmas that we forget that most of them are supposed to be a joy.  We forget that the time is fleeting and that we need to invest it in each other.  Except for wrapping presents I include my family and friends in everything I can.  I have even gotten gift wrapping down to something elegant, fast, economical, and easy.  Yes, Dear Reader if you ask me I will tell you.

Still I want everyone to make the time to enjoy each other.  There is no task so important that the people do not matter.  Busyness is barren.  It shuts out the people for whom we are busy.  Each year I look at the things I have to do and ask what can wait without slight or harm to anyone else. 

I would rather have time with you Dear Reader than be busy with things.

I Need a Silent Night – Amy Grant

I've made the same mistake before
Too many malls, too many stores
December traffic, Christmas rush
It breaks me till I push and shove

Children are crying while mothers are trying
To photograph Santa and sleigh
The shopping and buying and standing forever in line
What can I say?

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

December comes then disappears
Faster and faster every year
Did my own mother keep this pace?
Or was the world a different place?

Where people stayed home wishing for snow
Watching three channels on their TV
Look at us now rushing around
Trying to buy Christmas peace

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

What was it like back there in Bethlehem
With peace on earth, good will toward men?

Every shepherd's out in the field
Keeping watch over their flock by night
And the glory of the Lord shone around them
And they were so afraid

And the angels said fear not for behold
I bring you good news of a great joy that shall be for all people
For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night
To end this crazy day with a silent night

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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The Promises of Christmas ~ The Salvation Army

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

This is one of those sounds for which my spirit waits every year.  The sound of small bells ringing across a parking lot or in shop is a sound of Christmas for me.  The excitement starts for me in early November when I go to Ringbells.org to sign up for my bell ringing shifts.  I choose the ones that will work best for my family.  Then I choose a couple of shifts that are just for me.

Some things I would point out about this organization in this country are very important.  Ninety-three percent of every dollar collected makes it to people the Salvation Army supports.  They do not discriminate in any way as to who receives their support.  They mobilize thousands of volunteers every year. 

This organization is the inspiration and soul of the song Silver Bells.  The promise of that sound is that needy people will get help.  It is the promise that the homeless men, women, and children will get a bed for the night safe from the cold.  It is the promise that helps us remember there are others in need.

I find great joy in this tradition and hope that you can make time to volunteer to help.  The link above will get you started no matter where you live in the US.  I am not sure how they do it in the rest of the world.  If you do this Dear Reader please write me and tell me about it.  I would love to hear your story.

I have my own silver bell that I bought at a Salvation Army thrift store.  I use it for my shifts.  Listen for the sound.  Give a penny, a dollar, your time.  Every bit matters.

Silver Bells – Martina McBride

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you hear

Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells)
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling)
Hear them ring, (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of street lights, even stoplights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
This is Santa's big day
And above all this bustle you hear

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, (ring-a-ling) hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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01 December 2017

Second Thoughts ~ Christmas Joys - Opening

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

The intent here will be to end my day and hopefully yours with something to put a bit of joy into your Christmas season.  The springboard for this will be The Little Book of Christmas Joys by H. Jackson Brown, Rosemary Brown, and Kathy Peel.  If you do not have it; the few dollars are worth it.

I will begin with this simple thought: Be the first to wish everyone you meet a Merry Christmas.  I know that not everyone likes this.  I refuse to be political about this Holy Day.  If you are offended by this only mean to wish you the joys of the most important event in history.  My heart is to include everyone not be exclusive.  If you know me at all you know this is true.

So Dear Reader, I will attempt to have something for you every December evening until Christmas.  I hope it makes the journey lighter for you.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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The Promises of Christmas ~ Opening Thoughts

Happy Christmas Dear Reader,

The madness can truly begin for those who see it as madness.  The Rockefeller Center tree is lighted.  So is mine.  All of the shops that want you to shop have decorated their shops. 

The lovely sound of bells rings across parking lots as you approach those shops.   Shops and virtual shops will take in $765 Billion dollars over the Christmas season.  Wishes will be made and granted.  Dreams will be dreamed.  Hope and joy will flow from some to some.

Then there are the promises.   I speak of the promises iterant in Christmas.  The implied and the implicit promises come to mind even if we no longer believe them.  You know Dear Reader that I deal in faith and hope.  Both of these are based on promises.  They are nurtured and watered by promises.  They live and move and have their being in promises.

For the time we count down to Christmas my focus will be on those promises.  The promises of Christmas are not just for December but this is the time when they are most tolerated.  As Phillip Brooks reminded us, “The hopes and fears of all the years” are met in Christmas. 

I enter this time with joy in my heart and hope to bring joy to you as well.  I set aside time every day to ponder these promises.  This I wish to share them with you.  There will be a story or two along the way.  Walk with me Dear Reader and share your joy as well.

Promises to Keep - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas time
On a cold December morning
All is calm
And the world is still asleep
Christmas lights
That have been caught without warning
Gently glitter on
Stars to wish upon
All the world is at peace

Christmas time and the year will soon be leaving
Cloaked in time till it's just a memory
Christmas stays if we don't forget its meaning
Days go quickly by
Years they multiply
And we go searching for thee

And the dream is still alive
From that first December morning
And it always will survive
As long as we can see
That the dreams we find in life
Are the dreams we tend to seek
And Christmas has its promises to keep

Christmas time
And the moments just beginning
From last night
When we'd wished upon a star
If our kindness
This day is just pretending
If we pretend long enough
Never giving up
It just might be who we are

And so it's good that we remember
Just as soon as we've discovered
That the things we do in life
Will always end up touching others
So from a fading neon star
Somewhere shining in the night
We find a father far away
Now reflecting in its light

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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30 November 2017

Thanksgiving Leftovers ~ Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

So, November closes and the last of the pie and cranberry will be part of my luncheon.  First of course will be a turkey sandwich.  There is still almost a gallon of turkey soup frozen in quarts for winter remembrance.  Before I turn my full attention Advent and the closing of the year I will consider further gratitude.

The other aspect of this is the realization that no human is a leftover.  Rather each is a new creation, fresh and alive with potential.  I am just learning to tap into some of mine thanks to the good counsel of some dear friends. 

Those things that remain when something has past can be viewed as rubbish or leftovers.  My lunch today will furnish a final repast from the food I prepared for Thanksgiving.  All the large pots are put away.  The roasting pan is clean.  That which remains will still sustain me and give me joy.

As long as I am viable I have the opportunity to do this for others.  No matter my circumstance I can do some good.  Yesterday I made a toddler smile and helped a dear friend.  The remains of every year provide a time to seek the good we can give and accomplish.  I will continue to give thanks and search for the opportunity to do right by others. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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