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20 December 2020


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Al Spafford

Co. Lang: Life as it should be, you say it so well. A time of the year to rejoice for our blessings and to hope for what can be. Peace.

Charles I

Who can resist a gaudily bedecked tree, and we tree huggers love big trees.

I could tell you its a shame we like to consume trees so much.

However, in my cosmology that tree's karma makes it from one perspective like a missionary in the cannibal's pot - an honoured treat - respectfully incorporated, well, consumed, into the culture with great ceremony, bringing glory and honour to all involved, joy to those who see it, why even His Royal Highness paid a visit, obviously this is no ordinary tree.

Looks like its in a lovely room, too.

Beats going out as a roll of bumwad.

It feels in Canada that the war on Christmas seems to have abated somewhat this year, maybe the economy meted out a dsash of humility this year.


"... and peace to men of good will."

Fred Strack

I remember the submarine I served on visited Toulon over Christmas in the early eighties. It was quite a sight to see the French Mediterranean fleet at anchor completely lit up for the holiday. Four of us went off the beaten path on Christmas eve wandering the city. I'm sure we were a unique sight (and smell - 37 days underwater does that to you) in a few perfume shops. Towards nightfall we made our way down a narrow alley and found menu with a single bulb lighting the door down the stairs below....down we went - and found a very memorable restaurant.

None of us spoke French and the proprietor's wife, who was about 8 months pregnant, spoke no English, yet we still managed a memorable meal. I still remember the steak with Roquefort sauce and Chocolate Mouse for desert. Unfortunately we were unable to return again as we put to sea again the day after Christmas. The French stayed in port. I think they knew something the USN didn't care to admit to - that peace was already at hand, at least for a time.

William R. Cumming

Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men (and Women)!

Sidney O. Smith III

Extraordinary vignette. Thanks for sharing it.

Brett J

Agreed with Sidney - thanks. Just read Shaker's obit in the Guardian: war vet, debt-cancellation, and elections; It was a pleasure to read of a (what feels to be) rare type of leadership in the ME.

Term Papers

It's looking so charming. Just read Shaker's obit in the Guardian: war vet, debt-cancellation, and elections; It was a pleasure to read of a (what feels to be) rare type of leadership in the ME.Keep posting.

William R. Cumming

Yes we can all thank those neolithic types in the dark forests of Europe who saw the green of the tree in winter as magic.

All trees are magical in all seasons. Call me tree-hugger!



Sadly it appears that 'political correctness' has hit the Tulsa OK's officialdom. It is no longer 'pc' to say Merry Christmas in Tulsa, but instead 'Happy Holidays'. It has been a constant assault unabated nationally upon Christians, the Christmas tree, and Christmas by those entities who appear to hate Christmas with a vengeance. It is ok to say Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanzaa, but if you dare say Merry Christmas, they appear to blow a fuse and it sends them into outer space.

So to you Tulsa officialdom, I say 'Merry Christmas', and you can take your political correctness and put it where the sun doesn't shine (up your politically correct back-sides).


MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all. And to the world's scrooges (i.e. Tulsa officaldom), I say to you a 'bah humbug' that you apparently can't be humble/smile/say Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas to one and all.

Charles I

Boy, I have trees on the brain!

William R. Cumming you have it right, trees are one of the last bits of magic left in the New World. But not just magic. They were our home. We came from a magic place. We are magic, but we forget.

What treats you share with us. Beauty. Camaraderie. Respect. Wonder. Humility. Tolerance. Enjoyment of the other. Gratitutde.


Russ Wagenfeld

Hi Pat,
I was one of 4 individuals who had the opportunity to meet with bin Shaker for an hour during one of his visits to Washington. And you are right there was something very special about him.
Merry Christmas to you and your wife.


Charles I

Farming Xmas trees with a 6/8 year rotation is more eco-friendly than plastic versions.



Do you ever see the State Department "Growing up" and realising the need of Arabists once more?


I've always loved this story Col. Thanks in general for keeping this blog going. It feeds my head -- and frequently, my humanity.

The only christmas story i've ever written -- note who chose to republish it.


Merry Christmas to all, and better times ahead

Nancy K

J, I don't like political correctness either, however Jesus has little to do with Santa Claus, over the top commercialism and Christmas decorations. Historians don't even believe he was born December 25. It is a made up holiday. I imagine Jesus would be disgusted at way his birth is being celebrated. If he didn't like the money changers in the temple, he definitly would not approve of the malls that start pushing Christmas right after Halloween.


Nancy K,

By 'officialdom' doing it, they have caused hurt feelings/deep-seated anger in Tulsa that will result in a backlash state-wide in many ways against both individuals and parts of the Tulsa community which had no part in Tulsa 'official-dumb' pc stunt. There is nothing wrong with people saying Merry Christmas or any other holiday greeting, particularly since it was given in genuine friendship/peace towards all men. The Christian community of Tulsa has been standing up for other faiths, and when they're now being slammed, those communities that they stood up for are now silent on the 'dumbness' of Tulsa's officialdom's stupidity. And don't think that those that have been hurt by all this aren't noticing the 'silence' of those they thought were their friends.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, your family, and all who frequent your wonderful website.


Oh Nancy, what truth is left in this world. With Santa Claus no longer a belief at ten years of age and now Jesus not born born on the 25th what is an old man to believe.

As we have put our faith in an old Arabist with a twinkle in his eye who has been lashing those reindeer in government for years on end let's hope that our presents this year mean many more thoughtful and stimulating discussions in the year to come. Oh, yes I promise to be more thoughtful and less caustic with my posts next year.

May each and all enjoy this Holiday Season with friends and family reflecting on your accomplishments this year.


PS: For my fellow Christians and non politically correct individuals Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

R.L. Kirtley...Yours in Peace

For many many years,I have loved to reread around this time.. the short story 'A Christmas Memory'by Truman Capote.It is such a warm,beautiful heart tuging love letter.I urge eveyone to fnd the short time to read it.It is on the web and there is even a reading by Capote.

David Habakkuk

'God rest you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.'


Very lovely and important post thank you!

Ultimately the exact date of events is nothing but an artifact of our limited human awareness. The moment of the birth of a Prophet is indeed great in the history of humanity; we each for himself/herself have the ability to infuse significance into the day and into what is being celebrated.

Merry Christmas to all and Happy birthday to the living Prophet Issa, Spirit of God and His Word from an Arab Muslim.

Robert Murray

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story Colonel. It says alot about many things. Merry Christmas and comfort and joy to each and everyone!


There is no need for the People of the Book to engage in hostilities with each other. At least over religion. In all cultures you can find people of wisdom and appreciation, too often a noticeable minority.

Thank you, Col., for the parable. I'd like to think that that cup of coffee may have done more good work than sailing a fleet into port. May health and happiness find us all in the year to come.

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