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What a lovely read for Christmas Eve, Todd, and equally enjoyable, or the stories from your readers! Merry Christmas to all!

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I know...the comments have really made my Christmas Eve that much more special...so so nice

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Although I loved Xmas as a kid, and my parents went to great lengths to make it family-warm and exciting - even though they were Jewish, they really understood the tradition of delight in giving and gratitude- it is the Xmases where I got to watch the fierce joy of my own kids that bring up the strongest emotions, and all my favourite memories are about giving. I worked on a doll house kit for weeks, "secretly" (I thought!) in the basement as a gift for my wee girl. My ex would make amazing pound cake, and I'd do a dinner for as many relatives as were willing to come - it was a gas!

I remember particularly fondly an activity after a sumptuous meal, one that freaked out my then-newish manfriend (later, my 2nd husband), where all of us sat around playing games with the dictionary - who knew which collective nouns for various animals!

Your phrase "Our ideas of freedom, human decency, and a meaningful and purposeful life" remind me of travels in Egypt. Those folks have been overrun by conquerors so many times in their history, that their word for their own country is "Misr", meaning "occupied land". And yet, they have one of the oldest, continuous cultures on the planet and consequently know more than many about what is truly "a meaningful and purposeful life". And what do they value? Family, friends, celebrating with song, dance and food. This is what our happiness rests on, and only those ruling structures that allow sufficient "decency and freedom" to engage in these simple, human pleasures are worth the struggle.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

All the best to you and yours, Todd, and all reading this... That's what I love about The Season. The Reason has fallen out of fashion, but the heart-y well-wishing will do. Maybe we'll rediscover the archetypal value of the whole myth longer-term, the birth of light and compassionate wisdom within us all, but loving thy neighbour at the darkest time of year here in the North is a start, at least. His full message is still in translation.

Christmas memories... So many now it's hard to choose, like a tray of chocolates...

My father joined AA and dried up just before I was born at my mother's insistence. And became quite successful quite quickly, and transferred his addictive tendency to shopping. We had more than enough, we had three or four or more of absolutely everything. He was trying to atone for the drunken years with nothing, which were pre-my-experience, so Christmas was overwhelming. For all of us, which is interesting to note. Even my brothers, who had the deprived earlier lives. I was in public school when we started teasing him about his neurotic compulsion (he laughed and agreed) and asked him to stop. We also all agreed we'd rather travel than have more stuff. Which we did, for years, until we all left home.

We went to a tiny Caribbean island where it seemed there were no rules as we knew them. Anyone could drive if they could reach the pedals, for one thing, which made the narrow, winding roads more fun than any theme park, there were dances in the town hall when the band, a blend of brass and steel drums hit the stage at midnight and did not stop until sunrise and everyone was there-- mothers with babies, elders and kids, all dancing all night. A rave I went to with my nephew was like that. Pure uplifting joy as a community. Celebrating life itself. So unlike my regular life it seemed like paradise. The island was a British "possession" then (independent now) and part of the profound learnings were around colonialism and racism, just to mention the shadow side... the gift of education.

Earlier than that, though, in the avalanche years, during the holidays lots of recovering alcoholics dropped in with their families. My father took me aside once and said something like: 'These are people we are helping get back on their feet. Those kids probably didn't get much for Christmas. If you want to, you could give them some of your toys...' No pressure, as I recall, just a suggestion.

To be honest, it was a huge relief. I could be guilt-free on not fully appreciating every gift, since there were not enough hours in the day to really experience each thing, and leading the other kids to my room, seeing their eyes widen with the whole display, and saying something like: 'Pick out whatever you want' and loving their delight as they explored and made choices with glee was satisfying in every way. Joy is infectious.

Later in life, on my way to my parent's house I ran into a fully-decked-out drag queen I knew who was wandering the freezing street with two glittered friends. Their families hated them, they had no plans, so we all went to dinner spontaneously together, just showing up in a pack with no warning. My blessed parents extended the table and redid the setting before coats were off, threw a party like no other, and we all laughed and told stories until late in the night.

These are the ones I'm choosing right now. Not all are sweet.

May the spirit of the season infect us all. Joyeux Noel!

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Dr. Hayen. Thank you for all the words of wisdom you have given to us through your substack; it is truly appreciated.

Merry Christmas to all the Shrews who will be reading this.

Here's hoping that 2023 brings more hope and more awakening to the truth.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas, Todd, and to all Shrews everywhere. Also to Ovine creatures of goodwill, as I, sadly, have no Shrews in my family and will be cooking dinner for the Woolly Ones.

May 2023 bring lots of sheep-to-shrew trans-ing - they don't even need to change their pronouns.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas Todd & Everyone.

Christmas Eve was for me, as a kid, the only night that I volunteered to go to bed early, knowing that was the only way to make Christmas morning arrive 'sooner'.

Waking up early on Christmas morning was quite incredible, trying to get our parents out of bed at 6am so that we could start our tradition of opening the presents slowly, one at a time, reading the card first before unwrapping the colorful, beautiful gifts.

One Love to All.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas, Todd, and all the shrews! Todd, like you, as I get older I am more aware of the original meaning of Christmas. For that reason, it is an important time of the year for me.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas, Todd. And all others reading this. I am so grateful to have found others who have confirmed that it's not just me thinking we have been living in a Twilight Zone world of late.

My memories of Christmases past just seem to be that there was just always a lot of chaos. My dad was in the military so we moved around a lot but there always seemed to be house parties with lots of people but more importantly lots of treats. And even constantly meeting new kids in each base we would move to, it always seemed so easy to make new friends. Sadly that seems to have fallen off over the years.

As for the New Year, the old credo applies more than ever - don't let the bastards get you down!

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Christmas to Todd and all the wonderful Shrews. My favourite present as a kid was a Barbie Dream House that I found under the tree. Seeing it all set up in the filtered darkness of the early morning is one of the strongest memories I have. We also loved to watch Forgetful the Elf on A Visit With Santa on the Buffalo TV channel and listen on CFRB to the NORAD reports of Santa's journey. Christmas Day is also my birthday - 66 tomorrow!

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Happy Birthday Gwaihir!

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Thank you!

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Merry Christmas to you too Todd. My parents came to Canada from Germany so we typically celebrated on Christmas Eve. My mother was never much for making big celebrations but she did make Christmas magical. She and my dad would put a drape over the living room entrance and tell my brother and I to stay out while they “got the room ready for Santa”. We’d go over to our neighbours who were surrogate grandparents to us and have snacks and drinks. Santa may have come by while we were out and my dad would check before we were allowed in. Magically our Christmas tree appeared, candles burning (no electric lights) and German Christmas carols playing. And of course presents under the tree. It was magical. We continue the tradition of candles on the tree but celebrate on Christmas morning. My kids both swore they heard Rudolph on the roof of our house. This year it looks like my daughter won’t make it home from Montreal due to the ongoing storm, it also is the first since my mom passed. Happy/sad days, drives home the fact that you should always appreciate the people you love and rejoice in being together because you never know what may happen. Blessings to the Shrews! 🎄🥂🕯

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

All blessings to you and yours too, Irene.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Merry Xmas Todd! Thanks for all you do. Fave Xmas memory was as a child on our farm and dad took the feet from a deer he killed to make prints with snowmobile caboose tracks all over yard to make it look like Santa and his sled were in our yard. Magical!!!

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Your story is both macabre and heartwarming at the same time.

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Dec 24, 2022Liked by Todd Hayen, PhD, RP

Talking of Rudolph, don't know if you've seen Bob Moran's Rudolph cartoon. :-)

https://www.bobmoran.co.uk/other-work/rudolph-original-artwork

Merry Christmas!

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