Commentary: Verses for the New Year’s Poetry

Woman Reading

Christmas brings us a feast of words and music: songs played 24/7 on some radio stations, classic literature like A Christmas Carol and “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” a stocking full of new children’s books every year along with the classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, films enough to watch every day from Advent throughout Christmastide. And that’s not to mention the ubiquitous Nutcracker performances, kids’ plays at churches and schools, and carolers strolling the corridors of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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Commentary: The Gift of Christmas Is Hope Through Sacrifice

Jesus Christ Birth

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)

We thought about and were well on the way to drafting a much different column for this Christmas – Biden Outdoes The Grinch seemed apropos to this season of economic distress and discontent. But in looking through past Christmas columns we ran across one of our columns from 2019, entitled “The Gift of Christmas is Fulfilled at Easter” and we were brought back to the recognition that no Christian should be bitter on Christmas, because if there is one day of the year that is to be dedicated to hope it is Christmas and the anniversary of the birth of Our Savior.

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Commentary: Advent and Christmas at the Vatican

The Vatican

When I was a child, my parents and I would attend Christmas Eve Mass at St. John’s Catholic Church in Whitehall, Wisconsin. When we got home, my father and I would watch the replay of Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican on television. After watching the beautiful Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, we would say to each other, “One day, we’ll go there together!”

Sadly, my father and mother were never able to make the trip to the Vatican. However, as the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, I was blessed to attend Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s on several occasions. And each time, I brought the memory of my parents with me.

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Commentary: Neuroscientist Explains How to Listen to Your Hunger During the Holidays

Family Dinner Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, and with it, opportunities to indulge in festive treats. The proverbial saying “you eat with your eyes first” seems particularly relevant at this time of year.

The science behind eating behavior, however, reveals that the process of deciding what, when and how much to eat is far more complex than just consuming calories when your body needs fuel. Hunger cues are only part of why people choose to eat. As a scientist interested in the psychology and biology that drives eating behavior, I’m fascinated with how the brain’s experiences with food shape eating decisions.

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Commentary: Don’t Let the Grinches Steal Your Christmas

Grinch costume

This Christmas season, the grinches are staying busy as usual.

There’s the usual crew who annually devote themselves to debunking the season, flailing away at everything from a babe born in a manger to the season’s extravagant buying and selling to taking offense when someone says, “Merry Christmas!” In Iowa, Satanists have honed in on the holiday, setting up a now-torn-down display in the state capitol in the name of “religious pluralism.” Pro-Palestinian protests occurred at the annual lighting of Christmas trees in places around the country, including New York’s Rockefeller Center and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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Commentary: Seven Timeless Picture Books for the Christmas Season

Girl Reading

“Aletheia!” A 7-year-old girl grabs my hands and pulls me through the playing kids toward my church’s stash of books. “Will you read us a story?”

The kids at my church enjoy picture books year-round, but—during the holiday season—the stories begin to revolve distinctly around Christmas. Several of these stories are ones I enjoyed when I was young; others contain lessons and art that I’ve grown to appreciate over the years.

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Commentary: With ‘White Christmas,’ Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby Helped Make Christmas a Holiday That All Americans Could Celebrate

Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant who loved America. As his 1938 song “God Bless America” suggests, he believed deeply in the nation’s potential for goodness, unity and global leadership.

In 1940, he wrote another quintessential American song, “White Christmas,” which the popular entertainer Bing Crosby eventually made famous.

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Commentary: Some Observations on My Nine-Week Christmas

This year, the Christmas spirit knocked at my door two weeks before Thanksgiving, smiled coyly, and settled in like some stray feline who’s struck gold with a warm hearth and a bowl of Friskies Seafood Sensations. Never before had this spirit arrived so early and so unexpectedly.

It started with a review copy of Faith Moore’s Christmas Karol, a novel that copycats the plot of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Here we meet Karol Charles, an attorney obsessed with success and money to the detriment of her husband, her two young children, her sister, and her employees. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Karol is visited on Christmas Eve first by her deceased partner and then by three spirits of the season. Most of the action takes place in a hospital, a stroke of inspiration on Moore’s part as hospitals serve both the dying and the recovering. When we meet her, Karol’s soul is most decidedly on the critical list.

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Majority of Small Businesses Not Seeing Holiday Bump as Consumers Run Out of Cash: POLL

In a poll of small business owners, 76 percent said that they had not seen an increase in sales during the holiday season as inflation and other economic conditions constrict consumers’ cash, according to Goldman Sachs.

Of small business owners surveyed, 55 percent said that their profit margins decreased this year, and a further 70 percent said that their own personal spending plans for their families were negatively impacted following their own assessment of the state of the economy, according to a poll by Goldman Sachs conducted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 8 of 337 small retail business owners. Consumer spending previously slowed in October as the Americans’ savings declined to $768.6 billion in the month, down from the over $1 trillion held in May and even further from the all-time high of almost $6 trillion held in April 2020.

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Commentary: Seven Forgotten Christmas Traditions to Bring Back

Tradition is the cumulative experience of thousands of human lives. It is the conclusions reached by countless ancestors who tested what it meant to live well. Unfortunately, we are losing many of our traditions and their accompanying wisdom, abandoning the practices by which we speak to the past, and the past speaks to us.

One way our ancestors lived well was by engaging in certain yearly celebrations surrounding Christmas and the holiday season. They bequeathed many of these delightful and meaningful celebrations to us—if we care to receive them.

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Commentary: Bidenomics Is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The labor market continues to soften, with 199,000 jobs created last month, well below the recent average. Real job creation is far lower than this topline number suggests. Nearly 50,000 jobs were unproductive government jobs, continuing the trend of disproportionately high government job growth. The return of striking auto workers accounted for about 30,000 jobs. And 77,000 jobs were created in healthcare, which is a quasi-government industry. That leaves only about 40,000 jobs created in the real economy.

Real wages continue to stagnate, growing at the same rate as core inflation following significant declines in the first two years of Biden’s presidency. As usual, job creation in previous months was revised down in today’s report. Nearly one million more Americans are unemployed since April.

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Commentary: 13 Traditionalist Gift Ideas for Kids

Opening Presents

Christmas is just around the corner! We often look forward to the holidays with heaps of joy … and maybe a little trepidation. There can be so many presents involved, particularly given the numerous people and parties. It can be a lot for anyone to deal with.

But presents can’t just be ignored: Children love gifts, and they find so much joy in the simple act of opening sparkly, wrapped boxes. Plus, presents are a great opportunity to share traditional values with children. But instead of opting for the “more is more” mentality of mainstream culture, let’s embrace the mantra “fewer but better.” Let’s explore alternative gift ideas that not only support traditionalist values but also won’t overwhelm children, parents, or our wallets.

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Commentary: The Christmas Tree Is a Tradition Older than Christmas

Why, every Christmas, do so many people endure the mess of dried pine needles, the risk of a fire hazard and impossibly tangled strings of lights?

Strapping a fir tree to the hood of my car and worrying about the strength of the twine, I sometimes wonder if I should just buy an artificial tree and do away with all the hassle. Then my inner historian scolds me – I have to remind myself that I’m taking part in one of the world’s oldest religious traditions. To give up the tree would be to give up a ritual that predates Christmas itself.

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Commentary: The Story of the Christmas Truce of 1914—and Its Eternal Message

War had already been waging in Europe for months when Pope Benedict issued a plea from Rome on Dec. 7, 1914 to leaders of Europe: declare a Christmas truce.

Benedict saw how badly peace was needed, even if it was only for a day. The First Battle of Ypres alone, fought from October 19 to November 22, had resulted in some 200,000 casualties (mostly German and French soldiers, but also thousands of English and Belgians). The First Battle of the Marne was even worse.

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Commentary: Rediscovering the Heart of Christmas

The celebration of Christmas has become a mess.

For decades, the Grinches among us have launched their attacks on religious holidays. In our schools, for instance, Christmas pageants, singing carols, and any reference to “Christmas break” have long become verboten—we are told, to keep state and religion separate.

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Commentary: Inflation Takes a Bite Out of Christmas Cheer

Americans may want to light the fireplace more often this winter and cut back on the holiday festivities, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Energy costs have remained consistently high for over a year, having risen over 13% since November 2021. So, American families can expect to pay significantly more for their heating oil as the colder months approach. As of the week of Dec. 12, the average cost for residential heating oil hit $4.56 per gallon, which is about 95% higher than it was the week of Dec. 14, 2020, shortly before President Joe Biden took office.

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Blue State School Districts Are Mandating Masks for Christmas

Girl with mask on and braids

Ahead of the holiday break, several schools in blue states are implementing mask mandates in light of the “tripledemic.”

Schools in states such as Pennsylvania, Washington and New Jersey are fearing a “tripledemic” of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (flu) and coronavirus. To combat the “tripledemic” some schools are considering mask mandates while other states have already asked their students to mask up.

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Commentary: Nicaragua’s Brutal Catholic Crackdown

For millions of Christians around the world, the official religious Christmas season kicked off this week with a renewed sense of normalcy – an abundance of colorful lights, parades and processions, family and church gatherings, and even fireworks in some areas.

Many believers in countries where Christians are religious minorities such as China and India are embracing the festivities with new enthusiasm. Early December marks the first time annual public and private advent gatherings have been allowed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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