Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gentle Thoughts on Christmas Day

Smiles for Meg
"Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost."

-Charles Spencer Chaplin

"Cling very close to each other tonight."

-Oscar Hammerstein II
from The King and I

I don't like the salutation, "Merry Christmas". It's lost all appeal for me as I get a bit older. The Brits have a better way of doing it I think. They wish each other, "Happy Christmas" That works quite well for me - and it sounds nicer. Psychotics, drunks and drug addicts are often quite merry. They are seldom - if ever - happy.

And while we're at it, let's keep our focus on kind words and gentle deeds - not only on Christmas Day - but on every day of the year. Yeah, yeah - I know what you're thinking: A classic case of the pot calling the kettle "black". I concede the point. After all, the name of this site is not, "The Loving Discourse by Tom Degan". My only defense is that my wrath is always aimed at the high, the mighty and the greedy. Not one of them read this blog - I'm absolutely certain of that. 

Let me say, though, that there's not a human being I've ever written about whom I would not offer shelter, something to eat, the shirt off of my back, a nice cup of hot chocolate and a place to sleep if he or she were truly in need - except for Ted Cruz....I'm just kidding. Even Ted Cruz. ESPECIALLY Ted Cruz! I'd give him one heck of a lecture - but please be sure, I'd be very kind and quite gentle in the matter.

Calumny. A lot of us are guilty of it. All of us, at one time or another, have been victimized, even traumatized by it. A half century later, I can still hear the voice of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Peavey, telling her class of impressionable five-year-olds that sticks and stones could break our bones but that words would never hurt us. She was a very nice lady but she got that one wrong. I'll cut the old gal some slack. 1963 was a very different time. Any teacher who today would offer his or her little charges such reckless guidance should be given such a pinch. The fact is: words do hurt. They tarnish and destroy.

Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. I know of what I speak.

I've been capable of inexcusable, even vile, invective. Fueled by an alcohol-induced rage, I have said things at times which I am truly ashamed of and remorseful for. The fact is that, deep down inside me, I am an angry man. On the other hand, I've had horrible and unfair things said of me. What goes around comes around, I guess. But the point is that words do hurt. They do matter - very much so. To our sorrow we are discovering as a culture that the exclusively human characteristic of bullying does not diminish with "maturity". People can be so cruel and unfeeling;  it can break us in two.

At the top of this little holiday greeting of mine is a quote from Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator", begging us to use a little more "kindness and gentleness" in our lives. He passed away on Christmas Day 1977, so I guess his words are even more appropriate on this occasion. But let us not forget whose birthday we celebrate today. 

  "I tell you this: whatever you did to the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did to me."
Jesus of Nazareth
From the Gospel According to Matthew

This planet is such a dark and unhappy place. At times it can seem unbearable. There is not one of us who couldn't stand a little more love. Not one of us is incapable of giving a little more as well. Rather than cursing the darkness - and each other - let us, instead, light some candles tonight.

 Happy Christmas, everybody. Happy Christmas, one and all!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

"Keep your eyes open for the miracles all around you. And remember the simple truth that there is more music to be found in the laughter of a single child than can be found in all of the symphonies ever composed by all of the composers who ever lived."

From "The Rant"
Christmas Day, 2006


Happy Christmas/War Is Over
by John Lennon

And so, happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young! 

Forty years ago this week, John had this song on the charts.


It's been eleven days since my last post - a record. Please forgive the time lapse but it's been ever-so-gloomy in Rantsville lately. 


At 6:25 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Nice sentiments, Tom, for a world in longing.

May you always find peace and compassion the rest of your days.

Warmest holiday wishes...

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Jurassic Selling said...

Well said Tommy! I would like to add an additional message.... Not just during this beautiful season, but everyday take the time to reflect on Jesus Christ. God manifested himself to become human for what? For us! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” John 11:9-10.
John 11:9-10 is a great message in that Jesus tells his disciples not to fear those who have “the light” in them (those who believe in God and obey). Look, if we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we are stronger than the evils of this world. For those of you who haven’t read the Bible (which was me for 46 of my 48 years) Jesus tells of his promises in the Gospels. If anyone would like a free copy of the Gospel John (English Standard Version) just email me at and I'll be happy to send you a copy. God bless and Happy Christmas!!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Poignant, thoughtful and beautifully stated, but then I'm not a bit surprised, since they were penned by one of the kindest and most intelligent folks I've run across. I hope you have a warm Christmas surrounded by friends and family - and love and peace.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you, sister deegs. Bring a copy with you to Goshen this evening.

And, thank you, Leslie. That was a nice thing to hear today - of all days.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Patricia said...

Happy Christmas Tom, I was sorry to hear of your loss. Condolences to you and your family.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Are you a friend of Bill?

If so, you have more company than you could ever know.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Laina27 said...

Tom, it takes a kind soul to see the injustices that others just chalk up to "life." You are aware that it can be changed for the better and that alone makes you "Rant." Hoping you find comfort in your memories and dreams this holiday season.


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