December 6, 2010

Max’s Musings

maxBy Max Molleston

Here we are again poised for what is for most of us a joyous period of the year. In Judeo-Christian background are never to be forgotten events of long ago, celebrated as best we can in houses that hold forth for the religions and in our homes.

We, as people, accept much of the tone of these celebrations and are sure, when possible, to comply with the tradition of gifts when they are appropriate. You may fill in the blank for what your household does.

As we grew up in our home, somehow it developed that one present would be opened the night before Christmas. Looking back I think this is a move of some practicality. Will one present satisfy the kids and let everyone get some sleep ahead of christmas morning? Prior to those rules in our folks’ home, my sister and I would get up at maybe 2:30 a.m. or so as excited kids. All this after one of those late night Christmas Eve services.

In my lifetime, there has been more action to assist celebrations where it was not possible – meals, food boxes, toy collections, new or freshened clothing offerings. These times at the end of our calendar year have brought offerings from the heart that transform into means to purchase of arrange needs and gifts we’ve mentioned.

Thomas H.B. Webb penned a poem he titled An Ancient Prayer. I have no document it is ancient. It is one of those practical prayers of thanks any one of us might have uttered or might in the future.

An Ancient Prayer

Give me good digestion, Lord, and also something to digest;
Give me a healthy body, Lord, and sense to keep it at its
best, Give me a healthy mind, my Lord, and keep the good
and pure in sight; Which seeing sin is not appalled, but finds
a way to set it right.

Give me a mind that is not bound, that does not whimper,
whine or sigh, don’t let me worry overmuch about the fussy
thing called I. Give me a sense of humor, Lord, give me the
grace to see a joke, to get some happiness from life and pass it on to other folk.

I came on these line for the holiday column while reading The Best Loved Poems of the American People, published in 1936. Its creation moves through a journalist, a quiet benefactor who has seemed by his permissions and encouragement, to foster great staying power for poetry in America. The man is Adolph Ochs, publisher of the New York Times, (1858 to 1935). The column is dedicated to Ochs by Hazel Felleman, who claimed the publisher as a long-time friend, and was a thirty year staff member of a publication still highly touted, The Book Review.

Staying in the moment, years before in 1912, Ochs yielded to serve a public of poets through Harriet Monroe, again, a long time assistant who fielded the poetry sent to the Times. Ochs gave a go ahead to Poetry Magazine, which is going strong in the world of poetry and its criticism. A few years ago one of the daughters in the founding line of the Eli Lilly firm willed one-hundred million dollars to the magazine and its work.

I have covered enough ground for this column. Please come back in January.