Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Grinch, St. Nicholas and Moonlight Upon the Snow by Margaret Ullrich

Tonight is Full Moon number twelve for 2013.
The last one for the year.
No, we did not get a blue moon this year.
No problem… I don't think anyone missed it.

Here in Manitoba, witnessing a full moon during winter is a mystical experience.
Add the occasional Northern Lights and it can be a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
When viewed through a frosted window, the night scene is truly magical.
Our nights in Manitoba are extra long - it's dark by 5:30 p.m.
The sun doesn't appear until about 8:30 a.m. - fifteen hours later.
That gives us plenty of time to enjoy the play of twinkling lights upon the glistening snow's surface.

Clement Clarke Moore - the author of the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known 
as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") would have loved winters in Manitoba.
As he had written in the poem:

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below…

The luster of mid-day combined with the peace of of an extended mid-night.
Perfect conditions for humming Silent Night.

Moore had a reputation as a serious, learned professor.
He had written "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for his children's amusement.
At first he did not wish to be publicly connected with the family oriented verse.
He allowed it to be included in an anthology at the insistence of his children.
As children they had recognized a good story when they'd heard it.

Another Christmas classic, Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!", has the Grinch, the villain with the heart two sizes too small, realizing
Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more. 
after seeing that Christmas is more than presents and feasting.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, didn't try to teach kids morals.
He was not against writing about issues; he'd said that he was "subversive as hell."
But he also wisely said, "Kids can see a moral coming a mile off." 
He was talented enough, and smart enough, to not let a lesson ruin a good story.

Writing is a funny business, with a pecking order as to what is respectable.
Literary poetry and novels are considered to be the height of the art.
There are quite a few major prizes awarded to literary writers.
There are also government grants given for literary projects.
I know about the government grants because I was awarded a couple.
And I was very grateful to receive them.

For some reason most literary work doesn't have the appeal of lowbrow writings.
Organizations and governments feel duty bound to support literary writers.
Commercial writers settle for paying their bills and living a comfortable life.

A few poets I know have told me that, while their art is considered the ultimate form of writing, they  usually have to write genre - mysteries in particular - to make a living.
Genre sells, poetry doesn't.
Most people know a good story when they've read it.

It's absolutely true that kids can see a moral coming.
In the 80s and 90s I had volunteered in my son's schools' libraries.
During that time R. L. Stine was the equivalent of J. K. Rowling.
Kids came in pairs - one to return a book, with a friend ready to borrow it.

"A Visit from St. Nicholas" was written for the author's children.
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" was not intended to teach a moral.
They weren't written to win Pulitzer Prizes.
No problem… Moore, Dr. Seuss and their millions of readers didn't miss it.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

According to the folks at astrology.com:
December 17: Full Moon in Gemini
Just when you thought life might calm down, this information-loaded full Moon also sees Uranus turn retrograde, bringing unexpected news that will prompt you to take a second look at your plans. 
Although you may feel overwhelmed by the rapid pace of this week, it can also move you out of situations that have become stale or outmoded. 
People are extra-emotional now, and much of what they say is contradictory. 
What should you do? 
Slow down and carefully review all your scraps of data. 
Once you see the whole picture for what it is, you'll know what to do. 
Until then, don't overreact!

So, in other words, relax, review and have another cookie.
And maybe start making some New Year's resolutions.

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