MY POINT OF VIEW: Remembering the spirit of Christmas, and its meaning

by Gary Kennedy

This was the time of year most of us looked forward to. School books, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Christmas bonus, gifts and great food with family and friends. Usually our hearts are full of joy and season feelings such as giving. Most of us don’t pass the guy or gal standing on the corner asking for help. We are afraid that person might be honestly hungry, homeless and/or alone. I have on occasion filled myself with such guilt that I have turned my vehicle around so as to retrace my steps and redo my original path to give that person standing on the corner a gift so as to right the wrong my mind tells me I might have done.

That being done I feel so much better. After all, who am I to judge or ignore that person’s situation. The guilt would probably pass if I had nothing to give. Actually it’s sad to have such feelings initiated because of a seasonal guilt trip. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of birthdays himself. They were usually given in honor of the rich and famous (kings, pharaohs, etc.) Actually, whenever the Bible does show the celebration of birthdays, it was done by people who weren’t following God.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says the day of death is better than the day of birth. It continues to speak of the importance of mourning rather than celebrating. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning”. (Ecclesiastes 7:4) It is good to celebrate our love for God any or every day. We as a collective honor God with our love and obedience to the principles he laid out for us. The greatest commandment is to first love God with all your heart, soul and might. By loving others in this entire world, irrespective of race, color or creed we are giving the greatest gift to God on any day as he did for you and the rest of mankind. The greatest gift each and every day is to try and understand your fellow man/woman and show love. It’s a gift that was given to you and it’s yours to understand and use.

Remember Jesus never asked us to celebrate his birth, he commanded us to remember his death. Christmas is actually a Catholic holiday. I don’t mean to demean the intent; I am just saying there are many misconceptions when it comes to the Christmas holiday. If you forget all the tankers laying idle in the harbors off the West and East coasts you might find many broken hearts revolving around material things and also billions in profits that benefit other than the poor and truly faithful.

The greatest gift waiting to be received by us is that of faith and love. You are the reason for the season and when you think about it you will realize it. If those ships laden with Barbie Dolls and electronic toys were to never reach our shore or, in fact, our homes what do we tell the children. There laid a beautiful chance to set the record straight. We can always give our children material things but what the world needs right now is children taught history as it was meant to be. God so loved the world that he gave the most precious gift that could possibly be given, his only son. Times are very trying right now and the salvation of this world rests on the shoulders of that which we love most, our children. They must learn that we are one in the eyes of he who matters. There is no place for greed, lust, materialism and prejudice. They need to learn that only they can bring about the change that will redeem this lonely, war-ridden place that has been created. We need to help them turn that corner and embrace that which we annually celebrate. Enjoy this holiday that was created by man but remember its original intent and see it through to its true purpose. Let’s remember the loved ones we have lost through this tumultuous time we have addressed as life, and remember the great promise of the real gift, “Eternal Life” with he whom we celebrate in his name. The books of Luke and Matthew as well as John indicate different dates for the possible date of the birth of Jesus of Naza­reth. There are many assumptions but the best would be somewhere between 6 – 4 BC in Bethlehem during or shortly after the harvest season of that area. Some say September or October. After all is said and done it really doesn’t matter when, its why.

We still celebrate Christmas for the love of Christ on December 25 and we will still target our children for the merriment. It’s a reason to love and fill them with joy while loving the Holy Father as the reason for the season.

One more thing before I go, The Town Line is staffed with some military veterans, some with disabilities and some with those you might not see. In any case we know what it’s like to be away from home and those that we love. I am sure we have all shed a tear or two. However, we eventually came home, but many of our comrades didn’t. Both men and women know Flanders Field.

These as you are now seeing are uncertain times. Make sure you pray for all those who wear the uniform of our states and our country. At the same time pray for love and guidance to those of other countries. One field goal, basket or run doesn’t make a game. It’s just a step in the right direction. We all have the ability to love. I can’t imagine someone not loving anyone. For me that is not a possibility.

We wish you all a very merry holiday season and God be with and protect you and yours. Stay safe and remember others always. We are all in this together. If we remember that then we will all receive the blessing of, Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all. Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year.

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

MY POINT OF VIEW: Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time

by Gary Kennedy

The views of the author in this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.

In doing my research for a thanksgiving article I started with Huff Post and its contributor Randy S. Woodley. The article was Thanksgiving Myth. Although those of us who have given history an honest look know that the fairy tale, Thanksgiving, isn’t realistic or even close to the truth. I find that some things need to be known in their reality/entirety but some things of which we don’t agree, only need to be described in their proper place and time and in a manner that will not destroy the intent of family. Sometimes truth needs to be given in proportions over time with the advent of maturity.

We know world history was never pristine and much of its foundation is shameful. However, I firmly believe that history has its place in our reality and holidays have another. Sometimes throwing the truth in its entirety destroys the band aid that we give to the wound. We place the band aid so the wound will heal the already very obvious wounded. I believe we tend to live in the past where the truth maintains its origin a little too much. The past is what it is. For me, it’s a precursor of now and a second chance on getting it right.

The first people are not here to answer to their interplay in historical reality and I nor my parents or children shouldn’t have to pay a price for historical evolution. As of late I have found myself searching history because of dirty politics. Who did it, why and what is their history. You can only go back to known time. Other than that we are dealing with innuendo and supposition. We all know the truth, as we see it, time teaches us that.

If we adhere to biblical teaching we only have good intention which became violated by human corruption. Was that the intent of our creator? I don’t think so. I believe that the first broken heart was his. We are talking about a big, all forgiving, beautiful and merciful heart. There has been no other heart like it. I am of the opinion that he has applied thousands of band aids over time. Only he holds the cure in his hands and he has a plan. He has a time and place in which this problem will be revisited and once and for all healed. Have no fear, irrespective of who you are or what you believe he holds the solution.

What I would like to instill in your hearts at this time is nothing more than a band aid. The band aid is laced with lidocaine and antibiotic. The lidocaine will ease the pain and the antibiotic will help with the infection. Guilt is both painful and infectious. That is why we temper the injury with love, forgiveness and understanding. If we truly know that there are very few, if any, good, fair and honest beginnings to the origins of all the parts of this world. If you think about what you know about world history, through all of time, you will grow to realize there is no such thing as a peaceful beginning. Every country and all their extensions began with might, not love. Someone gave up their world in order to form yours. Since the beginning of time through many guises the earth and its people have changed as has its physical appearance. The configuration of borders and even the character and beliefs of people have changed.

Yes, we know the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock as taught to our young ones. We explain in little detail how corn was grown and fish were used for fertilizer. We teach that the Indians taught us much and helped us through some harsh winters. We certainly neglect the parts about our cruelty towards them eventually and how we grew in numbers and carried out materialistic values as we expanded our material gains and used those very friends who saved our lives in our beginnings in America. Yes, it is very sad to forget what the cost of progress is and has been throughout time. We tend to lean now toward the good things. We talk of our friendship, learning, trade and growth. We cherish such things as the great celebratory feasts of turkey, deer, fish, vegetables, and pumpkin pie, most of which was supplied by those very American Indians whose land America really belonged too. Stories of John Smith and Pocahontas are still told to our children. We talk about all the fun and beautiful things but forget the true reality of the celebration. The big picture here is the hands of time and the evolution of peoples. To this very day we tend to find the need to grow separately not collectively. Time has shown us we only tell the good stories to justify the outcome. We always want a happy ending. So, we just make up one in order to conceal the truth. This year several writers have decided to tell at least half truths and write closer to the truth. I’d like to think that we are starting to realize that even though the truth may not always be full of happiness at least it will begin to lead us down the path to unification.

Thanksgiving is only a word depicting a spot in time which people gather together to celebrate the good with merriment. Thursday, November 25, is the day we celebrate the Thanksgiving that we know. It’s always on the fourth Thursday of November. There are other countries that celebrate this same holiday and for most of us the true meaning is being thankful for our annual harvest. These foods have pretty much remained the same over time. It’s a time for family and friends to join together with music and games. It is a very happy day for most. Although the first part of my Thanksgiving dissertation was serious, sad, and informative, the evolution has evolved to a happier scenario. However, I believe we should never forget and learn from the factual parts of this holiday.

The first Thanksgiving event was celebrated in October 1621. It lasted for three days with 53 pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians. It was Abraham Lincoln in 1863 who proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday on the last Friday of November, thanking God for the harvest. So fortunately for us through art work and some writings we know some of our history both good and bad. So I guess from here it depends on how we move forward with what we know and continue to learn.

For me and mine, Thanksgiving begins and ends with the one who makes all things possible. We know the road has had many pot holes and mud puddles but it has also had some wondrous straight aways. Where we take it from here is up to you and me, and what we teach our children. Never hide the truth but always let it be your guide. We still have many hills to climb but with love in your heart the path will be so much more achievable. We have come a long way when you consider the past. We’re not perfect yet but we have grown closer. We will always need that November Turkey day. God bless you and your family and always try to help those you know who need it. Please give a special prayer to those who are enslaved by the wicked. Always remember, “It’s not what you take with you, it’s what you leave behind.”

MY POINT OF VIEW: How Armistice Day became Veterans Day

Soldiers celebrating after hearing of the Armistice in 1918. Internet photo

by Gary Kennedy

At 11:00 a.m., on November 11, 1918, the Allied Powers signed a cease fire agreement with Germany at Compiegne, France, which terminated the war known to us as World War I. Armistice Day, so called was commemorated by the U.S.A., France and Great Britain. This was a celebration as the war to end all wars. Interestingly it was signed on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the First Armistice Day the following year, 1919, with these famous words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

Of course, the world didn’t learn much after hundreds of thousands of deaths. Actually, it wasn’t very long at all before we became caught up in World War II, another bloody four-year war. Then in 1954 the U.S.A. designated November 11 as Veteran’s Day to honor all those who gave their lives in U.S. wars. However, the British Commonwealth Countries decided on Remembrance Day, to honor their fallen. Then came the Korean War which was a conflict between North and South Korea. The North was communist in character and the South was capitalistic. I guess we Americans are fully aware of how that works. Unfortunately, most of the time the communists seem to maintain their ground. This battle was fought from June 1950 until July 1953. The causation and American involvement was mostly to do with the Cold War between the Soviet Union, China and the U.S. with some Japanese interplay. The main reason the U.S. got involved was its desire to avoid the spread of Communism. The Truman Doctrine was the name of this endeavor. American President, Harry S Truman firmly believed that communism needed to be contained at all cost.

On June 27, 1950, the U.S. officially entered the Korean War. President Truman ordered American forces to repel an invasion from North Korea. The Korean War was a proxy war for the cold war. The war ended in a virtual stalemate. The border remained the same.

War has been the norm for many centuries and for many reasons, most have not led to the solution of the cause. It seems we just don’t learn. Japan had some control of North Korea during this time, thus the communistic influence. For those of you who don’t understand the implication of a proxy war or the influence of such, Korea is a good example. The North of Korea began to lean toward communism because of Japanese occupation and Russian and Chinese influence while the Southern half of Korea tended to lean toward capitalism. So the short story would be the war was brought about/influenced by outside players. Once again the U.S. was morally involved. Once again the solution could only be dealt with violence and death. It always seemed the world was crying for freedom. The United States has always been a major player in the plea for freedom and peace.

From the American Revolution to the Iraq War, the U.S. has fought in 12 major wars. However, the list contains 93 wars in total. This figure is up for discussion, another figure being 143. In any case you can see why “Veterans Day” more apply applies when compared to Armistice or Remembrance Day. Our prayers should be for a lasting peace in which we need not search for titles to be given to the event of needless grief and death. That will require a humanitarian outlook on life and living without such life threatening conflict.

I have always been a firm believer in a peaceful, loving and even varied point of view. There is always more than one way to reach the same outcome or point of view. I am sure it can be achieved without the application of pain and suffering. I personally pray for the day that the word Veteran refers only to having done it before. All being said and done, happy Veterans Day. God bless all with hearts of peace and for now remember all those who have given so much of themselves in order that we may continue the journey to equality.

Also don’t forget that Memorial Day praises and honors those who have lost their lives in pursuit of peace and Veterans Day gives honor to those who served but survived in the same pursuit.

God Bless America.

MY POINT OF VIEW: The evolution of Halloween

by Gary Kennedy

Halloween will occur on October 31, 2021. This holiday occurs the day before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day. In some countries this is known as All Saints Day or Hallowmas which occur on November 1 and 2, respectively.

In Germany, when I was assigned there, it was also re­ferred to as Totensonntag or Blue Christmas, Thursday of the Dead. Costume parties, jack-o-lanterns and huge festive bon fires were part of the fanfare. The why of that is unclear but it just seemed to be part of the evolution of the holiday. Trick or treat just seemed to jump in there as well.

By today’s standards, I don’t believe we would consider this a religious holiday. The advent of costumes seems to me to be a competition between good and evil, for the most part, in a fun, peaceful way. However, many of we ancients can remember 1950-70 in which if you didn’t give a treat then you stood a good chance of having your house, car and other personal property pulverized with eggs or bad things being written on your walls with crayons, magic markers and even paint, by the real evil ones. Some of us with hopes of avoiding this would keep a light on, maintain a smile and give treats to the little monsters and some not so little.

The police were always on high-alert during this time. I should add it wasn’t all bad as some of the children were adorable and sweet. Some of us even loved the event so as to enjoy the children and to say hello to their parents. For the most part the event was territorial. Some of the older unaccompanied children figured out that the more affluent sections of the town gave the best treats, some even money. So, they being mobile and unattended would head for these locations to cash in on the better goodies. Those that would cause the damage were usually of the older groups with no adult supervision.

All Hallow tide, the time in the liturgical year (relating to liturgy or public worship) in which the dead are acknowledged, especially saints, martyrs and other revered individuals. This is strongly a religious attempt of defining this holiday. Obviously, Jesus and testimony for him were death sentences which consisted of swains, burning at the stake, crucifixion as well as various forms of torture. The first Christian martyr was Saint Stephen who was taken out of the city of Jerusalem and stoned to death. Final words echoed those of Jesus, a prayer of forgiveness for his attackers. (Acts of Apostles 7:60) Jesus (Luke 23:24) Stephen is the patron saint of deacons and stone masons both Christian and Secular.

So as you can see, Halloween is not just a day of door knocking and treats giving, but also has religious overtones far more significant than the Halloween we celebrate. We have allowed it to evolve into something totally different from what it was intended. There is so much more to this holiday than what I have given you here.

In any case we are still under the influence of this terrible Covid epidemic and that leaves us with many questions to resolve before we knock on doors and accept food stuff from strangers. Some folks known to each other will have small gatherings at their homes where there is some semblance of safely. In my opinion, all should not be lost during these hard times regarding our children.

This is a time when memories are created and shared throughout the years to come. It’s up to us to make them good and safe. God bless and enjoy your holiday. Also, remember there are more than just treats; we have family, friends and the one who makes all things possible. I’m not sure exactly what he thinks of this holiday but he reads the heart. So I am pretty sure he knows we mean no harm or disrespect.