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Lots of people willing to receive during holidays Richard Pena | Sat, Dec 25 2010 12:00 PM

The date of this issue of The Star-News is Dec. 24 also known as Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve, you might know, in some faiths and cultures is observed and is almost as important as the following day, Christmas itself.

There were many of my generation who were taught and raised that way. We observed Christmas Eve as a holy day in itself. It was a day of fast and abstinence and in spite of the cooking, baking and other preparations undertaken in the household, a certain amount of restraint and postponement was expected of most of us. But before one knew it midnight was upon us, and after the mass attended by most over the age of twelve it was merry Christmas time for young and old alike.

I mention this because in the last month of so I have written more than one piece related to the season that is upon us. It was my intention, at this time, to serve up something a bit more benign, that is, subject matter altogether divorced from the season. A sort of a change of pace, so to speak, a fresh approach.

At deadline time, however, I looked out the window, and saw a day with weather that belies the cheer that one might feel; it was truly winter and though we did not have snow, we did have its first cousin, rain and a decided chill in the air. We turned on our television and saw a generous doses of "Miracle on 34th Street," "White Christmas," and a plethora of other such films.

We saw colored lights all about us and brightly decorated houses that we certainly are not going to see a month from now and wondered about our decision. We had a phone call from a regular reader and commenter to this space, Hugh Hyde, and we mentioned our indecision. Hugh said go for it, so outside of a mention about the Senior Center you are reading the last Christmas column for 2010.

We have touched on traditions in previous columns and observed how important they are to us. One tradition that I truly cherished from my youth was the tamale festivals that was part of the season in my extended family.

The ladies of the family, that numbered in uncounted amounts, would gather on that Christmas Eve and there in the large kitchen, would crank out those delightful morsels like Henry Ford and his Model T's. They made enough for each individual family. Each unit had enough to keep them in gourmet heaven for a few days.

I, of course, have not been a party to anything like this in some time. I, therefore thought that it was one of those traditions that exist in memory only. Alas, I was wrong. I understand from Patty, the kind, caregiver that takes care of wife, Zula, during the week that she and son-in-law, Gregg, who will be here for Christmas, are going to reprise this undertaking and make tamales before Christmas. She went into some detail explaining to me the preparations and I was mentally making plans to be absent from the premises that day.

I don't want to get in the way, you know: just as long as I am here for the tasting.

One further word regarding the Christmas Season is that it is the season for giving. And the business of giving can take on many aspects. I have a letter from a local realtor, Jeff Phair, regarding the column about the Norman Park Senior Center, that appeared a few issues ago. You might recall that that important entity in the city is due to closure because of the lack of funds. There are plans afoot to keep it open. Phair and his partner, Tim Rhea, both extremely civic minded business people, aver that they will match each dollar sent in, in support of the project. This week I answered Phair's letter and enclosed a check toward that end. Now, during this Christmas Season, wouldn't that be a gratifying tradition to start? It is the season, you know, for traditions, old and new.

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