Category Archives: Christmas

The Year Christmas Died – Wonderland

“…A Christmas celebration in disguise?” Its coming to that, yes.
As we moved into December and what for some time has been called “the holiday season,” the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee issued a “best practices” directive for the campus to “ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”

A Christmas party in disguise? Has it come to this?

Aghast state legislators got the directive rescinded, but the Christmas killers will get the last laugh. In fact, they’ve already won. This is the year Christmas died as a public event in the United States.

We know this after touring the historic heart of public Christmas—Fifth Avenue in New York City.

For generations, American families have come to New York in December to swaddle themselves in the glow and spirit of Christmas—shops, restaurants, brownstones, the evergreen trees along Park Avenue, bar mirrors and, most of all, Fifth Avenue’s department-store windows. You couldn’t escape it, and why would you want to?

A friend, an ardent atheist, would be inconsolable if he couldn’t sing Handel’s entire “Messiah” with 3,000 other revelers this month at Lincoln Center. Even if the only god you worship is yourself, December in New York has always been about the bustling good cheer flowing from the Christian holiday.

For many, December required a pilgrimage to Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman. No matter the weather, people walked the mile from 38th Street to 59th Street and jammed sidewalks to see these stores’ joyful Christmas windows.

Stay home. This year Fifth Avenue in December is about . . . pretty much nothing, or worse.

Shoppers on 5th Ave

To be sure, the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas tree still stands, and directly across on Fifth Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, its facade washed and hung with a big green wreath. But walk up or down the famous avenue this week and what you and your children will see is not merely Christmas scrubbed, but what one can only describe as the anti-Christmas.

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller—and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

I thought: Lord & Taylor! Surely the iconic Christmas windows on 38th Street won’t shelve St. Nick. They did. He’s gone, replaced by little bears and cupcakes, gingerbread men and Canada geese.

There is one holdout to the de-Santification of America: In Macy’s windows at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street—as in “Miracle on 34th Street”—the characters of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” frolic in Yuletide splendor.

The Christmas-less feeling along once-famous Fifth Avenue this year is similar to the loss one feels reading the last lines of “Casey at the Bat”—a shattering, historic strikeout.

The erasure of Christmas between the grinding stones of secular fanaticism will persist. Eventually the holiday will be forbidden, forgotten and filed away in attic boxes. But maybe God, in His usual mysterious way, is nudging us back toward the beginning.

Once the inevitable Federal Office of Diversity and Inclusion has joined with the commercial cynics at Saks and Bergdorf’s to suppress even Santa, what pretext will parents have to give gifts to their Christmas-cleansed children? Amazon Day?

In the post-Christmas era, the infant Jesus and Santa Claus will go back to the catacombs of early Christian life, where you won’t have to say happy holidays to anyone. Christmas as we know it will die off, and what will be left on December 25th will look a lot like Thanksgiving, but smaller.

Unless celebrating Christmas in America becomes a prosecutable crime, as it was in the Soviet Union, families will go to church in the morning to renew the beginnings of their faith and then spend the day at home listening to pirated copies of the carols and hymns on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album. For radical refuseniks, I recommend playing, at the highest possible volume, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” on Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You.”

As for Saks and the other Fifth-Avenue sellouts, I have two words this season. They aren’t Merry Christmas.

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Merry Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

How to share a year’s worth of our family ‘life’ in a short post?  I’m going to give it the old college try. [If MSU can win the conference beating unbeaten OSU, I certainly should be able to write one letter.] After more than 24 years in sunny Florida, Jennifer’s parents moved a home about 5 miles from ours here in sunny, snowy Ohio! They are now both in their 80s and decided it was time to downsize, get back to their roots and get closer to the grandkids – ops, only one grandkid left in town! It is wonderful to have them close. We can help; we can have dinner on the spur of the moment; we can drop in to each other’s home… We are making the most of it. Hard to beat that, eh?

Well, wouldn’t you know it but Jenn and I have finally graduated! At least that is how one friend put it. “You’ve been such good parents that you have been promoted to grandparents.” There you have it – one of the bigger events in our family this year. Trace Martin Donald was born in Boston on 9/24 to Emily and Chris. Jenn and Evelyn were out for the 9/11 due date [another miscalculation the medical profession probably won’t ever admit to] but Evelyn had to return for school before Trace was born. Our grandson and his parents were here for a short week in October and we are looking forward to having them another week between the holidays. Trace is the cutest and smartest boy born this year – honestly.

After 12 years, more or less, with The Andersons, Joel accepted a position with Promise (name of Company) in Cincinnati, OH. In his position managing the technology side of website design projects, he will much better be able to leverage his skills and hopefully find his work more fulfilling. Living in Cincinnati also gives John Mason, Jenn’s brother, a relative in town. Joel and John have become better acquainted these past six months.

Mark has been working at The Andersons White Pigeon (MI) terminal the past year. As an Account Rep he is learning the grain business from the ground up. He lives in Elkhart IN where he has discovered Crossfit – a regiment not for the faint of heart. We got worn out just watching him compete at in a two-day competition where he finished 7 of 23 men.

“I think this summer I will learn to cook.” And it was with that inspiration that the remaining Rossols in the house embarked on a three month culinary journey – with Evelyn as our chief guide and chef – but not bottle washer. That job was left mostly to Dad. What fun we had enjoying one recipe after another. I think Evelyn enjoyed it so much that she might have second thoughts about her career ambitions. Evelyn has been accepted at Kent State U in Fashion Design – her dream for many years. Evelyn continues to cook, study, cheer, sew, work at a Chocolate Shop and bring happiness to her mother and I.

My parents are both doing well. We are so thankful for the marvels of medical technology; Nelda’s heart issues culminated in single by-pass surgery and what was likely a normal recovery. Its wonderful that my siblings are close to Herbert and Nelda; there to help in these kind of situations.

Jenn continues as the unofficial “Cheer Parent” for her second year. She also still enjoys her time at the Toledo Christian library a few days each week. Of most concern: what will she do next year with an empty nest? Please send ideas her way! And me, well, I’m beginning to think like the SAP system migration might just last until I retire; its the project that keeps on giving! Serving on the Presbytery Council is also an accountability that I find rewarding, both personally and as a way to keep our church connected in the Midwest Presbytery.

Well, how’d I do [with the letter]? For Jenn and Evie, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Please stay in touch. If they haven’t canceled our accounts I think we’re still on Facebook, or email, or phone. (The Flickr link below has 2013 “Christmas Letter pictures”.)
Leave a comment if you want our electronic contact info.


Merry Christmas!

I want to take a minute to wish each of my readers a very Merry Christmas!  Two thousand years ago the world was as dark as it seems to us today, or darker.  Yet the Son of God willingly came into our world so that we could “see God”.  He came so he could provide a solution to the “darkness problem”: the hurt, the sickness, the prejudice, the hate, the killing, … He came to ‘be with us’… Emmanuel, God with us.

I am so blessed; so much more than I deserve.  I am blessed with a wonderful wife and four children (and one son-in-law).  Here is a link to some pictures of the family the past year.  Most from a trip to Boston where daughter Emily and her husband Chris are at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.