Liz Smith: Christmas Reflections



Our Gossip Girl sends holiday joy to one and all!

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” as Santa yells back when his sleigh pulls out of sight.

This is a Christmas for me when the object of my affection, a young boy who is my godson, is 12 years old and the light has dawned that Santa is just another urban, suburban and country myth.

If we are lucky enough to live and see our children well and healthy, all adults seem to go through this slightly sad, mystifying experience, where they grow up before our very eyes. But my boy still loves all the traditions he embraced so fondly through his years. He still wants to spend Christmas in the countryside with friends and family, overlooking the magnificent Connecticut River. And I won’t be surprised if, on Christmas Eve, he tells me, smiling: “We better leave some milk and cookies for Santa and a few carrots for the reindeer!”

He knows that I am a bigger child than he is. I have fought for years to impose a Texas tradition on the Yule. But my friends and loved ones in the east keep insisting on not opening the stocking presents on Christmas Eve after church, dinner and the carols are sung. This year, I finally convinced them that if they do it my way, we won’t have such a confusion of gifts, gadgets, paper, ribbon, lists to keep and tinsel to wade in on Christmas morning. I got my way at last!

As you can see, I am a big believer in Chistmas; not in Happy Holidays, not in putting the Christ out of Christmas but simply observing all traditions – mine and others – as well as Hannakuh. You can’t ignore history, even history as myth. Why should you?

Now I want to show a writing about love at Christmas done by my friend, the former Governor of New York State – Mario Matthew Cuomo. (Should you ever meet this great man, who would have been such an effective U.S. president, you should know his first name is pronounced “Mary-o!” He is not only New York’s former governor but is about to become the father of New York’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo.)

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Gov. Mario Cuomo: “Christmas: Everyone seeks it, and when it’s found, it makes everything else seem no longer worth seeking. It costs nothing to give and it can’t be bought. It’s best when graciously received and then passed on. It brings with it warm smiles, deep contentment – sometimes tears of joy. Wise men analyze it; poets romanticize it, but no one can improve on it. Our word for it is ‘love.’

“Some of us believe it was best personified two thousand years ago in a manger, in a stable, far from here. Others see it embodied in other symbols and other events. Almost all of us celebrate festivals to it at this time of year. Doing so, we are reminded how good a whole year could be – if only we were wiser. We want to join with you in sharing it, joyfully, this Christmas season.”

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WELL, dear Governor Cuomo The First, I do join you and your wonderful wife Matilda. One of the fun nights of my life was in seeing this lovely couple made “Living Landmarks” by the New York Landmark Conservancy.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! From me and Santa.

11 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Liz — I found myself loving hearing of your own personal thoughts on those special days of the holidays — and Governor Cuomo’s equating love as the most wonderful and important portion of our celebrating is what I have thought forever.  Thank you both.

    But Liz, instead of bows and ribbons for you this year, I think all of us who know you will instead be sending you oceans of love and caring — and wishes pouring in for you to make great strides in your own recovery.  The world without Liz in good shape, bursting into smiles at restaurants and functions all over town leaves a gigantic hole that can’t be filled with any other.  So, dear Liz, may our good wishes for you fill your home with hope and great cheers as you make great strides back to us again.  And can I close -as Gov. Cuomo would say — that we send love — the greatest lift of all.  Joan

  2. avatar Lila says:

    “You can’t ignore history, even history as myth.  Why should you?”
    Well said, Liz!!  I am quite the agnostic but nothing chaps my hide more than a bunch of politically-correct, I-want-to-be-offended people trying to take the Christ out of Christmas, or for that matter, turning Halloween into a “Fall Festival.”  Ugh.
    Those who don’t want to partake in the traditions of “religious” celebrations – which are not really very religious any more for most people – should turn their lights off and pretend they aren’t home, and leave the rest of us to it!

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I remember well the “two Christmases” and miss one particular annual Christmas Eve I never missed with the enormous dinner buffet and the camaraderie as well as the carols and the stockings for everyone invited, thank god they had a big fireplace and bookshelves on each side to hang them all, and then desserts and eggnog at 10 and at 11, everyone piled in the assigned cars, my friends had “designated drivers” long before anyone else did, and we were quite a mass for midnight mass! 

    I am not sure it is a Texas tradition but a tradition Texans love. It’s probably also the one eve Texans are just Texans. Politics and everything else that divides us is put aside. Everyone is friendly. Grateful for the year passing. Hopeful for the coming year. Proud to be a Texan.  Which at Christmas is to be part of a very big family! 

    And of course Christmas is the one day that the only thing you can wish someone is a Merry Christmas. And Eartha Kitt is replaced by Mel Torme. “Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.”  Merry Christmas to you, Liz, and to everyone else on wowOwow.  

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Oh, I forgot the stockings along with the desserts and eggnog at 10!  Rivaled the “goody bags” at Academy Awards time I might add. Gift certificates, something in a Tiffany box, the Waterford Christmas ornament of the year, and my favorite which was a small box of Godiva chocolates.  Nothing like oilmen at Christmas. Or I should say nothing like Texas oilmen at Christmas! 

  5. avatar Linda Myers says:

    Merry Christmas to all at WOW!
    What I love about WOW is that this site doesn’t try to align you to the mission or thought process given, rather enhances the perception of our world through the views of others freely. The common factor which comes through will your photos and post is the laughter and ability to lighten the views, accepting of all people.
    The best to WOW and all connected in 2011!

  6. avatar Mary says:

    Merry Christmas!  I love to hear how others celebrate the season.  I too am not overly into the religious aspect but I love the season and have over the past few years struggled to form my own traditions, keep the past traditions that I can adapt , and even leave the safety of the box I put myself into and enjoy getting out of.  Tonite, I will venture out at midnight to the local little country church that I attend only on Christmas Eve.  It is a pretty little church that you might see on a Christmas card.  Music will be sung, children will make  up a little nativity and then everyone in the congregation will ( if they want) share memories of family .  We will all have a candle , sing silent night, greet each other and sit a few minutes then leave.  It is sweet and just enough.  With any luck the best part is leaving the Church with just a soft few snowflakes in the air.   

  7. avatar Rho says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

  8. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    One of the nice things about Christmas Day is that for the most part the world does seem to pause and reflect upon the message of Christmas which transcends religion.  Peace on earth. Goodwill to men.  For a day anyway.

  9. avatar Lizzie R. says:

    MERRY CHRISTMAS everybody and a HAPPY 2011 to one and all!

    It is so peculiar on Christmas day to open the papers and see stores opening at 5 AM tomorrow like another “black Friday.”  All the stuff you didn’t get is now on sale even cheaper. I read the papers as nothing is going on here, but hope others are having a lovely day.

  10. avatar D C says:

    I’m from Texas, and in our family as I was growing up we always had to open all gifts on Christmas Eve because mother’s sister’s family HAD to be at her husband’s mother’s home on Christmas Day.  Every year.  There was no compromise.  But after we stopped Christmasing with the extended family, we always waited til Christmas Day to open all gifts.   Now, in MY nuclear family, our tradition is that you cannot open a gift on Christmas Eve unless it’s snowing.  Snowing… on Christmas Eve… in Houston.  That actually happened in 2004.  My youngest was 8, and the perfect age for Christmas magic.  It is a sweet sweet memory. 

  11. avatar Linda says:


    I hope your Godson always finds something in life to believe in which can not be explained, in that space imagination lives and gives us strength and vision.

    Happy Solstice!