Monday, December 12, 2011


I began this blog just over one year ago, and I want to say thanks to my 27 followers, all of whom I value. I trust I haven't tried your patience or lost your interest. A check of my blogging history shows that my posts have been infrequent. Even more infrequent have been comments, but a friend tells me that readers are generally too busy to leave one.

My small family has agreed once again to forego gift-giving at our Christmas gathering. Instead, as we did last year, we'll each make a donation to a charity we'll elect. So many Americans are doing without even necessities that it seems fitting for us not to receive more gifts in a long life that has left us pretty much without the need or desire for more possessions. We are in mind of Henry David Thoreau, whose mantra was "Simplify, simplify." And I am personally influenced by The Catholic Worker movement and its ascetic regimen. CW, which does good works for those in need (in NYC it has a house at 36 East 1st St.), has never sought tax-free status for the sake of its donors, who must give from the heart alone without the benefit of a deduction. In this, CW follows Paul, who wrote to the Corinthians, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

When the King James Version was revised in the mid-twentieth century, the last of the three became "love." In an early novel, A CLERGYMAN'S DAUGHTER, George Orwell had already changed charity to "money," and written that charity kills friendship. When we give alms or donate to a charitable organization, it is probably good to have some understanding of why we do so.

Among my favorite Christmases were those on which I went with my friends Roz & James to a YMCA in Brooklyn to help serve turkey dinners to those in need. I also served as the distributor of used overcoats, helping to fit the poor and homeless with some warm garment to help them withstand winter's cold. I was especially glad to help a thin man put on a down-filled Eastern Mountain parka that some Manhattanite had owned. The thin man looked very pleased with himself in the mirror and smiled at me as he left the "Y."

Whatever solstice holiday you celebrate, I wish you well.


  1. I so much appreciate your sharing the spirit of this season, George, which is for so many a difficult time. I tried to declare this a "no-gifts, please" holiday, but my family would have none of it - more out of the desire to give than to receive, I might add. Perhaps next year we will finally just be glad for each other's breathing presence and love. Life itself is a gift. I have had one dear friend go through cancer and so far survive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He has been an inspiration on the will to live and belief in love, beauty, and friendship - though he at times nearly gave up. And now a family member is facing a battle with lung cancer, though he never smoked. My best friend lost two beloved friends to cancer this year. So we are all grateful for the time we have on earth, and for friends and family. I'm a winter solstice person - I think this season is really about the returning of the light after the darkest days of the year.
    I still prefer the King James version with the word "love" in one of my favorite phrases in the New Testament. Unfortunately, the English word loses something in translation - the Greek word Agape is closer, implying empathy and compassion. Charity flows out of such fellow-feeling.
    Thank you, George, for your extremely thoughtful posts. I hope to read more in the coming year.
    Have the warmest of holidays.

  2. I love your message about simplifying and giving, to this day the best Christmas memories my children have isn't the stuff they got but answering the letters to Santa at the post office for Operation Santa Clause, it was such fun picking the leters, doing the shopping and delivering the gifts and turkey. Too bad they don't do that anymore. Have a wonderful, simple Christmas!

  3. Thanks George. There are so many ways to give -- I appreciate your always inquisitive consciousness, attention to the meaning of words and art - friendship. What better gift that?