Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas Comes but Twice a Year

Christmas is full of many traditions. Years ago, Hal Johnston, my Nature Director and later the Program Director when I was a boy working at Bartlett, told how his favorite Camp Director, Bill Price had held Christmas in July at Loll. In 1977 Craig Edwards and I restarted that tradition and ever since, for those I love, Christmas has come twice a year.

Some activities are new – they needed electricity, others are as old as Christmas. Here at Loll, every one draws a name and prepares a gift for a fellow staff member. I find the amount of time and materials devoted to Christmas gift preparation a bit excessive, and have issued an official “bah humbug”, but with only limited effect. I had wanted to hold Christmas on Saturday, conveniently the 25th of July this year, but was told that the day was needed for the “elves” to complete their tasks. Thus, Saturday became Christmas Eve. We decked the hall and that evening watched “It's a Wonderful Life” together. I was surprised, and somewhat pleased, that only about half of the staff had ever seen it. It is a December Christmas tradition with us at Conner House, but apparently not everywhere. We sang Christmas Carols at meals all day and in Church on Sunday. Our Chaplin who usually plays the sound track from Lord of the Rings for our meeting prelude, filled the woods with Christmas music for us Sunday morning above the Lake of the Woods. We sang Silent Night to close our service.

That evening we had the Christmas feast: turkey, potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. We had many welcome guests. Then we gathered for gift giving. All sat in a circle around the edge of the lodge and opened their presents, then we went around and did show and tell. The Santa's gift bags; full of treats, cheap toys, and colorful bandanas; were handed round to every one. We then had our “staff meeting” and then I told the Emperor and the Nightingale. This might seem an odd Christmas tradition, but when I was a boy, in Alaska, one of the two TV stations broadcast a puppet show of it every Christmas at midnight. So it is Christmas to me. Joey Langford, our Mandarin speaker, said I have a very good Chinese accent. Then Dan Mauchley, our Chaplin, read the Christmas Story from St. Luke and we sang “Silent Night” once again. Another Christmas in July had played out according to tradition.

The Staff await the exchange of gifts below the the Christmas
tree. Don't worry, it was dead fall.

Two elves, a matched set.

One tradition I could do with out is the pink frosting on the
nose while we sing "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer".

Kissing under the mistletoe.

Of course Mom and Dad have the most joy at Christmas.
The Gifts

People are the best gifts.

An appropriate present for the Director
of the Waterfront.

What a beautiful family.

Merry Christmas


Alison Conner said...

I always miss hearing the story. You don't tell it in the winter. I love you. Merry Christmas.

Taylor and Jodi said...

I love that you are sharing the summer with us who can't be there. Thank you.