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DO THEY GET COLD FEET?: Ducks paddle upstream at Third Dam in Logan Canyon. / Photo by Mike Sweeney

Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

MENTORS WANTED: Media professionals in all fields wanted to serve as email mentors for journalism students. If interested, send email slugged "Mentors" to Ted Pease (

The whole meaning of Christmas

By Reba Stringham

December 16, 2005 | Words like, "snow," "giving," "Santa," and "nativity" are a few that come to my mind when I hear the word "Christmas." Christmas is a very special time for me. It's not my most favorite holiday, but it is a holiday that brings a lot of joy to my heart. I love spending time with my family during the holiday season. It's a peaceful and relaxing time for me because it's a nice break from school and all the studying and school work.

Christmas brings back many of my fondest memories growing up. We would bring out the Christmas tree around the first week of December. My siblings and I would all help put it up and decorate it with my mother's old, homemade tree ornaments.

I always looked forward to my mother putting up her old ceramic nativity set. The set is very colorful with the bright, old-fashioned colors you saw people use all the time in the 1970s. Baby Jesus was traditionally placed in the center of the nativity. Each year, I took down the Christ child and studied it for long, silent moments. There was something about baby Jesus that created much curiosity and intrigue in me.

Sitting in front of the fire and sipping hot chocolate are my coziest memories of Christmas. My mother would always make hot chocolate for us children after we came in from playing in the snow. We took family shopping trips each year to Provo or Salt Lake City. I thought it always an adventure to inconspicuously purchase gifts and hide them in the car without family members seeing them. I had a different hiding spot for the gifts each year.

When Christmas day came around, we would each take turns opening a present. I clearly remember taking my time with finding my gifts from under the tree and then opening them. I wanted Christmas morning to last forever. I love watching as my family open their presents and see the surprised expressions on their faces. Especially when they were opening the small but meaningful gift in which I gave them such as gloves, or a Christmas mug.

Christmas has never been a stressful holiday for me. I find it to be joyful and relaxing. For many, Christmas is just as dear to them.

Unfortunately, for several people, it's a headache holiday. Too many of us have it all backwards. We have turned Christmas into a greedy little holiday for shoppers and retailers. It's now the season for shopping, long check-out lines, bargains, gift wrapping and finding the exact items in which spouses and children demand.

Then, there are always the Christmas decorations. I see it every year. The competition among the neighbors of who has the brightest, most exuberant-looking exterior Christmas decorations. What a waste of time, money and energy! Don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful sight to see if you like to go around and see the decorated rooftops and yards. However, some of the houses do go overboard on making their house the liveliest in the neighborhood.

Christmas is not about who has the best lit-up rooftops and yards. It's not about being greedy and demanding the most expensive toy on the market. It's not about Santa Claus and his eight reindeer, well nine if you include Rudolph. Christmas is about the greatest gift of all, our Savior's birth. When I was younger, my family made it clear to me Christmas is a time when we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was a season of giving and spending time with family and friends.

This meaning is still with me today. I couldn't care less what I got for Christmas, just as long as I am able to give meaningful gifts to my friends and family to let them know I care. I refuse to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I avoid the long lines at the stores by going earlier in the mornings to find the simple items I need. The last thing I want to do is make Christmas a hassle.


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