As a child of the 1930's Great Depression many of my memories of Christmas are colored by the number of people who died in those days before antibiotics. Pneumonia, scarlet fever, whooping cough, measles, all took their toll and the toll included good friends with whom I went to school and played with. In my book, BITTER HERBS OF MEMORY, I tell of one of these friends, Cecil Holmes. Cecil and I, as children, used to have long conversations concerning things we knew nothing about but which helped to seal our friendship. Cecil was a whiz at Arithmetic and many a time he slipped me the answers to the problems we were working on. I would tell him how awful I felt being dumb at Arithmetic. During the winter of 1935-36, an especially hard winter weather wise and disease wise, Cecil and I talked about things we would like to get for Christmas and Cecil said he would like to have a puppy more than anything. One morning our teacher, Miss Goerlitz, had all of us bow our heads to say a prayer for Cecil's family because Cecil had died during the night of scarlet fever.
In the late summer and early fall a bright star appears in the heavens just ahead of the rising morning sun. That star is Alpha Canis Majoris, the Dog Star, Sirius. It is 23 times brighter than the sun. Sometimes today I look at Sirius in the night sky and I wonder if Cecil had his wish, if he himself rises in the heavens every morning and for no other reason than just for the joy of doing it, works a few Arithmetic problems along in his descent to the horizon just to show his brilliance as he goes soaring high above us 'dumb' earthbound watchers.
And the Star in the East that led to Bethlehem? Could that have been Cecil in his yet-to-be human life? How many of us are led every day to new victories, to new adventures, to new discoveries, because we follow a star that enriches and enobles? I like to think so. I look up into the night sky illuminated by something that thrills me even thought I can't define it. It is a part of the mystery and the miracle of life on earth.
And so, with Tiny Tim, and just maybe with Cecil, I say, "May God bless us everyone."