Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas and enjoy the midnight mass

As we've done for years, we will have a "Noche Buena" meal and attend the midnight mass.  It will be a lot of fun to sing Christmas carols. 

We take a minute to wish you and family a very happy Christmas holiday.

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Apollo 8 and memories from Christmas 1968

My father died 7 Decembers ago.  My mother died 18 months ago. I always remember them on certain anniversaries or those first years in “el exilio.”.

On Christmas Eve 1968, our family went to the midnight mass. By the way, very few parishes actually celebrate mass at midnight anymore.  Our church today celebrates mass at 9 p.m.!

Nevertheless, it was a rather remarkable ride from church. It took me a while to realize that I was hearing three men reading the Good Book from a spaceship circling the moon. It was one of those moments that I will never forget.   

Years ago, families actually sat around to watch the NASA missions. In our household, it was a lot of fun to gather around the TV and enjoy an Apollo rocket going into space.  My favorite part was hearing my father say that he would have never believed it when he was growing up.  My mother would usually compliment the U.S., with the Cuban version of “what a country”.

The Apollo 8 mission accomplished some rather big objectives:  

The six-day mission was a roaring success, orbiting the moon 10 times and testing out the “trans-lunar injection” system and other electronic networks that would allow future missions to land on the moon over the next three years. Anders’ iconic photo (known as the “Earthrise” image) of a partially shaded bright blue Earth graced a U.S. stamp and is credited in part with being a catalyst for the environmental movement. The astronauts were feted with a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

The mission gradually lost a measure of prominence after Apollo 11 carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the lunar surface the following year. Other missions also grabbed the public’s attention, including the Apollo 13 mission Lovell commanded in 1970 that failed and became the subject of a Hollywood movie. 

The Apollo 8 crew was Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders.. They became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon.   I recall my father talking about all of those science-fiction comic books in Cuba about the unknown on the dark side of the moon.

Who wasn’t stunned to see that picture of the earth floating is space on the cover of the weekly magazines? It certainly put living in our good earth in a little different perspective.

Who knows when we will send men to another world again? I was fortunate to see it!

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2014: A 'Merry Christmas' message with Frank Burke and Amarilys Rassler


A 'Merry Christmas' message 12/24 by Silvio Canto Jr | Politics Podcasts:

Guests: Frank Burke, businessman, and Amarilys Rassler, author. 

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"It's a wonderful life" with James Stewart & Donna Reed

Image result for a wonderful life images
"It's a wonderful life" was released in 1946.   It has become a classic or the movie that we watch every December.  

You can get a copy here.

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1947: "Christmas Eve", a fun movie

Last year, I caught a bit of "Christmas movie" from 1947.   It is a delightful movie but it takes a while to get the story straight.   

This is the story from TCM:   
In the New York mansion of "Aunt Matilda" Reid, an eccentric octagenerian philanthropist, Phillip Hastings, Matilda's nephew, tries to convince a judge named Alston and a psychiatrist named Doremus that Matilda's extravagant contributions to charity are evidence of her senility. 
In order to prevent Phillip from being made executor of her estate, Matilda promises the judge and the doctor that her three beloved adopted sons, Michael Brooks, Mario Torio and Jonathan will be home on Christmas Eve and will prove their competency in handling her money. 
In order to contact the men, whom Matilda sent away to seek their own fortunes, Matilda holds a press conference and hires a private detective. 
Michael, a playboy, is about to marry a Manhattan heiress named Harriett, and has written $75,000 worth of bad checks in order to buy her gifts. 
After Michael's ex-girl friend, Ann Nelson, who still loves him, intercedes to make Harriett call off the wedding, Phillip offers to cover Michael's debt, knowing that the loan will make Michael too ashamed to come home to Matilda. 
Meanwhile, Mario, a hot-tempered sportsman who has been running a gambling club in South America, has been located by an FBI agent. 
Ten years earlier, Michael escaped federal agents in New Orleans following an indictment for illegal business practices. 
The agent now orders Mario to help bring in an escaped Nazi war criminal named Gus Reichman, who had been secretly involved with Mario's girl friend, Claire, prior to his conviction at the Nuremberg Trials. Reichman has come to South America to retrieve ten million dollars, which he gave to Claire for his escape money. 
Not until Reichman holds Claire and Mario hostage on a ship does Mario realize that Claire gave the money to the American Occupation forces in Berlin. After Reichman threatens to kill him, Mario escapes Reichman's guards and shoots him. Before he dies, Reichman fatally wounds Claire, whose last words to Mario are "I love you." 
Claire's heroic death inspires Mario to return to the United States and face his past. 
Meanwhile, Jonathan, an alcoholic rodeo rider, arrives at Grand Central Station. 
There he meets Jean, an agent of the humane society who is investigating a baby racket and needs Jonathan to pose as her husband. 
After being held up by the racketeers, Jonathan escapes with three babies to Aunt Matilda's. Jean follows, and Jonathan convinces her to marry him and help him rear the three little girls. 
Michael, who at Ann's urging, has been investigating Phillip's management of Matilda's business investments, exposes Phillip as a fraud and a thief. 
Mario arrives accompanied by a policeman and confesses that a decade earlier in New Orleans, he took a "rap" for Phillip in order to spare Matilda, whose money Phillip had used in a crooked deal. 
Phillip is now arrested. 
Seeing Matilda in the company of her upstanding sons, the judge and the doctor leave her to handle her own money, and Michael agrees to marry Ann.
It's a fun movie.   I'm surprised that it has not become a holiday standard.  

2013 podcast: Christmas and "war stories" with Leslie Eastman and Barry Jacobsen

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Merry Christmas to the military families

 As the song goes, “Merry Christmas, darling — we’re apart, that’s true.”  Once again, thousands of families will spend Christmas away from their husbands, wives, daughters, and sons.

Click to read:

December 24, 1923: President Coolidge and the first national Christmas tree

We remember President Calvin Coolidge for a few things. He was born in Plymouth, Vermont, on July 4, 1872 — the only president with that unique and patriotic distinction. Coolidge rose to the office of Massachusetts governor in 1919 and just one year later in 1920, he was on the GOP presidential ticket. I’m not sure if he aspired to be president but as vice president, he was one heartbeat away, as they say. When President Harding died, Coolidge became the commander-in-chief — he received word at 2:30 AM in Vermont and headed back to Washington as soon as possible. A few years ago, Amity Shlaes wrote a wonderful biography taking us back to his life and presidency. Maybe you still have time to text the North Pole and add it to Santa’s bag.

We remember him on Christmas Eve, too. The President and First Lady lit up The National Tree for the first time on Christmas Eve, 1923:

On this day in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge touches a button and lights up the first national Christmas tree to grace the White House grounds.  Not only was this the first White House 'community' Christmas tree, but it was the first to be decorated with electric lights--a strand of 2,500 red, white and green bulbs. 

The balsam fir came from Coolidge's home state of Vermont and stood 48 feet tall. Several musical groups performed at the tree-lighting ceremony, including the Epiphany Church choir and the U.S. Marine Band. 

Later that evening, President Coolidge and first lady Grace were treated to carols sung by members of Washington D.C.'s First Congregational Church. 

According to the White House Historical Association, President Benjamin Harrison was the first president to set up an indoor Christmas tree for his family and visitors to enjoy in 1889. It was decorated with ornaments and candles. 

In 1929, first lady Lou Henry Hoover oversaw what would become an annual tradition of decorating the indoor White House tree. 

Since then, each first lady's duties have included the trimming of the official White House tree.Coolidge's 'inauguration' of the first outdoor national Christmas tree initiated a tradition that has been repeated with every administration. 

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan began another custom by authorizing the first official White House ornament, copies of which were made available for purchase.

Great tradition started by one of our favorite presidents.

Merry Christmas to all of you and enjoy this most wonderful day.

P.S. Check out my blog for posts, podcasts and videos.

 P.S.  Check out my blog for posts, podcasts and videos. If you like our posts, please look for ”Donate” on the right column of the blog page.

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