On Christmas Day I received an email from a legal group that claims to fight for the religious rights of all faiths but proclaims itself Christian. The message did wish me Merry Christmas and said that on Christmas “we celebrate the birth of the One who makes our spiritual freedom possible.” I don’t understand that phrase, but I expected what was coming. Jesus may make spiritual freedom possible, but He could be helped along if I would forward some money to this organization. Is this what the Christmas spirit now means–fundraising for your own organization on the day to celebrate the birth of Christ? I don’t think being nummamorous ???, especially on Christmas, seems very Christian. Luckily for me, however, my Christmas spirit was not affected because I did not read the email until Boxing Day.

Old joke: The sailor, when asked what he did with his money, replied, “Part went for liquor, part went for women, and the rest I spent foolishly.”

Christmas Day is over, but we are in the twelve days of Christmas leading up to the Epiphany on January 6, which is a big holiday in some cultures. However, while perhaps it should be sung now, the song The Twelve Days of Christmas seems to be heard before Christmas Day, not after. I like Christmas carols, but I would be happy if I heard The Twelve Days only once in a season, or perhaps not at all. And doesn’t it contravene the Christmas spirit to give someone 78 gifts?

Those who worship the version of the Second Amendment the Supreme Court created) a decade or two ago should send their true loves a cartridge in a pear tree.

Who for twelve consecutive winter days sends over a pear tree? And where do they get all those partridges?

The young woman next to me pointed to the book I had placed on the bar and said that she was trying to see what I was reading. I held it up to display the cover and said, “It’s a fictionalized biography of Thomas Mann.” She looked as if I had not uttered an English sentence. I added, “He has also written a fictionalized biography of Henry James.” She still looked blank. I decided that,  despite this evidence, she must be a reader. Did she have any recommendations? She could not come up with one. She told me that she was there to meet someone she had only just met from an online writing course. We did not speak much after that.

“It is a common failing of an ambitious mind to overrate itself.” Lady Caroline Smith.

Browsing in a library, I pulled out a collection of three short novels that had been reissued in a single volume a couple decades after their initial publications. The back cover had paragraphs from two noted (that means I recognized the names) literary critics. One stated, “Whoever she is, she is the most important new novelist in the English language to appear in years.” The other began, “She has cut to roundness and smoothed to convexity a little crystal of literary form that concentrates the light like a burning glass.” WOW. I grabbed the book and looked forward to reading it, only partly because I anticipated the pleasure of commenting on it (in a superior fashion) to others “What? You’ve never read so-and-so?!” I gave up after thirty-seven pages. I concluded that just because you have read Henry James, that does not mean you should try to write like him.

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