Back to previous post: Varieties of insanity known to affect authors

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Open thread 14

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 24, 2003

Christmas, 2003
Posted by Teresa at 02:05 PM *

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 93Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Comments on Christmas, 2003:
#1 ::: Paula Kate Marmor ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 02:43 PM:

Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 02:48 PM:

This holy tide of Christmas all others doth erase;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

#3 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 04:05 PM:

"The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Everyone, everywhere, every night, but tonight Bethlehem.

#4 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 05:20 PM:

Health, love, and peace be all here in this place

By your leave we will sing, concerning our King.

#5 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 05:46 PM:

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories, published every year in the Kansas City Star, originally written by the late, great Bill Vaughan.

Peace to all.


#6 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 05:46 PM:

Oh, this was so nice to see before I go off to play for the Children's Liturgy, a.k.a. "The Zoo."

I've got a 4 p.m. call for the 5 p.m. Mass. I'm playing guitar with a pick-up group of whoever's free and willing to put up with the insanity of the noisiest Mass. ("Loud is good" is the motto for both the musicians and the congregation, I think.) I want to see what the kids do, so I signed up.

#7 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 06:01 PM:

Happy Christmas to everyone here.

#8 ::: Jame Scholl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 09:13 PM:

Fa la la la la. Happy holidays, everyone.

#9 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 09:52 PM:

"Into each generation, there is only one..."

Oh, wait, wrong story.

#10 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 10:25 PM:

93With powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.94

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 11:37 PM:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray;
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

#12 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 11:45 PM:

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas."

Merry Christmas, everyone.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 11:51 PM:

The best words in the whole story: "Fear not."

#14 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:01 AM:

Weal and frith to one and all!

#15 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:08 AM:

hark now, hear the angels sing
listen to what they say
that man will live forever more
because of Christmas day

#16 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:14 AM:

Adeste Fideles
Laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Natum videte
Regem angelorum . . . .

(From memory, probably badly spelt.)

Have you seen the Real Live Preacher's Christmas Story?

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:18 AM:

I knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas,
And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve.

#18 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:49 AM:

I can recite almost that whole passage without even trying. The part I miss is "And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger," because it's cut from the Handel recitatives. Yep, music student.

Out of your sleep arise and wake,
For God mankind now hath ytake,
All of a maid withouten make,
Of all women she beareth the bell.
That ever was thrall now is he free;
Now ever was small now great is she;
Now shall God deem both thee and me
Unto his bliss if we do well.

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 02:59 AM:

Joy health love and peace
Be all here in this place

(hey, it beat out
Caput apri defero
Redens laude domino)

You brought back memories of the only explicitly Christian ceremony I grew up with, my father reading that passage (and continuing) on Christmas Eve. Every year. A strong family memory. Thank you very much.

#20 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 03:47 AM:

"God bless us every one."

#21 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 03:54 AM:

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Peace on Earth

Which reminds me:

Isaac Asimov concocted a recipe for a planet like Earth:

"Weigh out roughly two septillion kilograms of iron, adding 10 per cent of nickel as stiffening. Mix well with four septillion kilograms of magnesium silicate, adding 5 per cent of sulfur...and small quantities of other elements. Heat in a radioactive furnace and two mutually insoluble layers separate. Cool slowly till the crust hardens and a thin film of adhering gas and moisture appears. Place in an orbit at a comfortable distance from a star and set to spinning. Then wait. In several billion years it will ferment at the surface. The fermented portion [is] called life."

Actually the fermented part of the system is called the Biosphere.

To me, what's funny about Isaac's quote is the entirety of what it leaves out.

Isaac told me that he was ashamed of very few things, but one was that he was not an observanr Jew. He rationalized that he got far more done in the faiths of Humanism and Science Fiction.

Speaking of people with Old Testament names (he and I, for two), and with all these biblical quotes in the thread:

Job wrote in Job 38:31 [circa 1700 B.C.] "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?"

Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 33:22 (NIV), "I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore."

Me, I have an education that says it is better to count the stars than call them countless. The current (2003) estimate is 70 septillion.

And here's a science fictional/theological poem by Stephen Crane:

"Should the wide world roll away
Leaving black terror
Limitless night,
Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
Would be to me essential
If thou and thy white arms were there
And the fall to doom a long way."

To mention another of the Great Religions, and coming full circle on the "septillion" versus "countless":

Muhammad, transported to heaven one night, reported, "I saw an angel ... [that] had 70,000 heads, each head had 70,000 faces, each face had 70,000 mouths, each mouth had 70,000 tongues, and each tongue spoke 70,000 languages; all were employed in singing God's praises." That, Jim Holt says, "comes to only 1.6807 septillion languages."

Happy holidays,

Professor Jonathan Vos Post

#22 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 08:26 AM:

Jim: when Sasha was a small child he misheard the line about "Satan's power" as "to save us all from sacred cows" and I've been singing it that way ever since.

#23 ::: Janice in GA ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 09:01 AM:

Peace, love and joy to all!

Our Lord harpe8d, our Lady sang,
And all the bells of Heav'n they rang
On Christmas day at morn.


Deep in the arms of winter
The snow falls like a blessing
The wild things sleep beneath the ground
They are not cold
They are not lonely
Deep in the arms of winter.

Deep in the arms of winter
The stars are bright and holy
The Hunter stalks across the sky
The Dancers dance
I hear their music
Deep in the arms of winter
(from Julia Lane)

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 10:16 AM:

A wassail, a wassail
For wassail's been my rue, my yin
I'll go no more to wassail
With you, fair maid.

Well. It's Sarah's first Christmas with us. Last night she threw up five times and we all ended up sleeping in the living room. This morning, she was happy to tear wrappings off and push her new dolly stroller around. Hopefully heartwarming pictures were taken. Muffins were et.

Onward. To The Future!

#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 11:17 AM:

By the way, we had a milestone last night. We were watching A Christmas Story on TNT, and we came to the scene where Ralphie is caught, alone, by Scut Farkas. At the end of the scene, Flick (I think it was Flick. I have a 50/50 chance here.) says, "Uh-oh." This is one of Sarah's favorite things to say, so she said it too.

You see? Not even two yet, and she can quote from A Christmas Story! That's my girl!

#26 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 01:02 PM:

A Christmas Carol

Little Star of Bethlehem!
Do we see Thee now?
Do we see Thee shining o'er the tall trees?
Little Child of Bethlehem!
Do we hear Thee in our hearts?
Hear the Angels singing:
Peace on earth good will to men! Noel!

O'er the cradle of a King,
Her the Angels sing:
In excelsis Gloria, Gloria!
From His Father's home on high,
Lo! For us He came to die;
Hear the Angels sing:
Venite adoremus Dominum.

The Innate

Voices live in every finite being,
Often undivined, near silence.
Hear them!
Hear them in you! in others!
They sense truth deep in all life;
They know the things true Pilgrims stand for.
Stand out!
Come to Him without the things the world brings;
Come to Him!
As a child and, as a poor man.
He had all,
He gave all, all.

They're even better with the music. My favorite pieces to sing on Christmas, both by Charles Ives. [Not sure about the stanza breaks, since I've only ever seen them on sheet music. :)]

All best to all here, and my thanks as well.

#27 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 04:11 PM:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

#28 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 05:45 PM:

And further to my "hopes and fears" comment above,

#29 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 07:16 PM:

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

#30 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 10:21 PM:

Jo Walton:

Everybody knows a missile and some turkey toes.

(But seriously, dona nobis pacem.)

#31 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 10:57 PM:

Peace to all this Christmas and a Happy New Year.

#32 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 05:44 AM:

In terra pax hominbus bonae voluntatis.

(And I mean "bonae voluntatis" not "bona voluntas".)

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 07:46 AM:

Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bare Jhesu;

Ezechielis porta clausa per transitor;
Unde lux est orta, sallus invenitor.

And, original stuff that's been set to music:

Old Sun is gone. His fading light
Is swallowed by the Solstice Night.


The Sun is born. Behold: the night
Is driven forth by brilliant Light.

#34 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 01:46 PM:


Hodie Chirstus natus est; hodie salvator apparuit. In terra canunt angeli, laetantur archangeli. Hodie exultent iusti, dicentes, Gloria in excelsis Deo.


"When he is king, we will give him the kings' gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes", said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her firstborn on Bethlehem down.

Bethlehem down is full of the starlight,
Winds for the spices and stars for the gold,
Mary for warmth, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

When he is king, they will clothe him in gravesheets,
Myrrh for embalming and thorns for a crown:
He who lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so softly on Bethlehem down.

Now he has peace, and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

#35 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 08:44 PM:

One for the carpenter

Happy birthday to you,
Josh Davidson! Whoever you were, you
could never be nailed,
planed, sanded, dove-tailed
to cross or crib.
Joiner, leader, agitator, king;
teller and told in contrary
stories; healer with a sword -
here's a word in your ear:
I wish you Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year.

Two thousand and three
candles and counting:
we can stop holding our breath:

you're not coming back.
But you're still here, walking
in writing on water,
in vexed texts talking
at cross purposes.

Against the rough
places, still not smooth,
the high places, still not low
still Mary's hand lights your candle: blow.

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 12:57 PM:

I hate to quibble with such an awe-inspiringly good poem (and I mean that), but wouldn't he be Josh Josephson?

#38 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 02:02 PM:

Xopher --

Note that the music is things like 'Hosannah to the Son of David', not 'Hosannah to the Son of Joseph'. Metatheopolitically, Jesus is the heir of King David, not the heir of his carpenter dad.

#39 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 02:51 PM:

As one who's had over 200 poems published, I am professionally impressed by Ken MacLeod's poem.

As to whether Yeshua ben Yusef, a.k.a. Jesus, is more properly Davidson or Josephson, consider that David is, for good cause, the most common name in the Bible:

Michael Hutching, using the software program Godspeed, found that the word GOD appears exactly 4444 times in the King James version.

(Hans Havermann reported a concordance-based word count shows GOD occurring 4447 times. Philip Bennett resolved the discrepancy when he discovered that in the software search, GOD-WARD, which occurs three times in the KJV, is indexed as a separate word (three times), whereas in the concordance search, GOD-WARD is broken down into two separate words: GOD and WARD. These counts do not include occurrences of gods (244), ungodly (27), godly (15), God's (26) Godliness (15), goddess (5), ungodliness (4), Godhead (3), and Gudgodah (2). The 4447 number includes the word in the title in Psalm 90, "A Prayer of Moses the man of God"; the title does not appear in the Project Gutenberg version.)

LORD occurs 7,836 times in the Bible. In addition, LORD'S occurs 134 times, LORDS 42 times, LORDSHIP occurs twice, and LORDLY occurs once [Philip Bennett].

The most commonly occurring name in the Bible is DAVID, which occurs 1,085 times. David's occurs 54 times [Philip Bennett].

The second most commonly occurring name is JESUS, which occurs 973 times. There are an additional 10 occurrences of JESUS'; there is one occurrence of BARJESUS.

The third most commonly occurring name is MOSES, which occurs 829 times. Moses' occurs 19 times [Philip Bennett].

[Much of the material for this page was contributed by Philip Bennett, who maintains a website titled My Bible Facts at]

Also on Ken MacLeod, connecting this with another thread, I recall with delight a long conversation I had with him at the worldcon in Glasgow. I was particularly impressed by his invention of the term "fractal balkanization." The following night, I had a vivid dream about fractal balkanization. Nanotechnology had led to universal matter-synthesizers that could make, based on software templates, anything (given the raw materials from, for instance, dirt). So almost nothing needed to be imported anywhere, and every community seceeded, de facto, from what once contained it.

The dream had me waking up and attending a meeting of the neighborhood council. "Okay," asked the presider, "who's the smartest one here this morning?"

"I am," said one. "The nanos did something clever in my brain last night. My IQ tested this morning at 330. I'm really flying!"

"Good," said the presider. "Now here's my plan..."

#40 ::: badri ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 03:30 PM:

...the dream had me waking up and attending a meeting of the neighborhood council. "Okay," asked the presider, "who's the smartest one here this morning?"
"I am," said one. "The nanos did something clever in my brain last night. My IQ tested this morning at 330. I'm really flying!"...
"Good," said the presider. "Now here's my plan..."
LOL . love this . who ever said left does not have humor.

#41 ::: Rivka Wald ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2003, 06:35 PM:

For so the children come
And so they have been coming.
Always in the same way they come
born of the seed of man and woman.
No angels herald their beginnings.
No prophets predict their future courses.
No wisemen see a star to show where to
find the babe that will save human kind.

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,
Fathers and mothers--
sitting beside their children92s cribs feel
glory in the sight of a new life beginning.
They ask, 93Where and how will this
new life end? Or will it ever end?94
Each night a child is born is a holy night--
A time for singing,
A time for wondering.
A time for worshiping.
--Sophia Lyon Fahs

#42 ::: eyelessgame ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2004, 09:00 PM:

"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.