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Peace can be found in a good book

December 16, 2005|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

While glancing through sales fliers last week, I paused to read a line of text that curved across some cell-phone ads. The words seemed to hang in mid-air on the page, asking the reader, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

My mind answered with, "Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy?", the next line of Noel Regney's Christmas song.

Then I chuckled as a vision of a shepherd holding a cell phone came to mind.

The ancient and the modern just don't seem to mesh, even though we want them to do so, particularly at this time of year.

We rush around from party to party, store to store, task to task, with hopes that we'll have a restful holiday at last.

Where is the peace that is supposed to come at Christmastime?

It's found in the very essence of the word peace. My favorite definition of peace is "to be or become silent or quiet."

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One of the best ways to enjoy silence or quietness is to spend some time with a good story. The sentiments expressed in the prose of this season can be quite calming.

Take the following, for instance:

"The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world."

Those words were published in 1897 by the New York Sun in response to a little girl's question. The editorial is commonly known as "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

How familiar are you with the prose of Christmas? See if you can recall where the following lines originate. Some are from classics, others from children's books. For the rest of the story, treat yourself to a library visit.

1. "Without any stars or a moon as our compass,
This extra-dark night is quite likely to swamp us.
To keep from collisions, we'll have to fly slow.
To keep our direction, we'll have to fly low.
We'll steer by street-lamps and houses tonight,
In order to finish before it gets light."

2. "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time .... Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas."

3. "Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."

4. "It was terribly cold; it snowed and was already almost dark, and evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets. When she left her own house she certainly had had slippers on, but of what use were they?"

5. "'You know the reason mother proposed not having any presents this Christmas was because it is going to be a hard winter for everyone; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't.' And Meg shook her head, as she thought regretfully of all the pretty things she wanted."

6. "And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!"

7. "Heap on more wood! The wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer."

8. "And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seem'd, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes of blessed Christmas Day."

9. "As Starlet grew brighter, she began to rise. Up, up, up into the sky, higher and higher, brighter and brighter. Starlet was now the brightest star in the sky. Everyone saw the magnificent star. This was the moment she had always wished for!"

10. "One dreary evening in the depths of November a stranger rode into town. He stopped his horse in front of a lonely storefront. The windows were boarded shut and the door was locked fast. But the man looked at it, smiled, and said, 'It will do.'"

11. "And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

Answers

1. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Robert L. May

2. "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

3. "Cock-Crow at Christmas" from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

4. "The Little Match-Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen

5. "Christmas at Orchard House" by Louisa May Alcott

6. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss

7. "Christmas in the Olden Time" by Sir Walter Scott

8. "Christmas at Sea" by Robert Louis Stevenson

9. "The Tiny Star" by Arthur Ginolfi

10. "The Legend of the Candy Cane" by Lori Walburg

11. From the story of the birth of Jesus, as told in the New Testament book of Luke, chapter 2, in the Bible.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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