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Christmas Eve

Twilight on Christmas Eve is a special time on the farm.

Where do you find Christmas?

Come and see.

A feast of turkey, ham and all the trimmings. Coats piled high upon a bed and piles of presents under a shimmering evergreen. Stories told and retold. Four generations of family sharing fellowship, laughter and love.

Come and see.

Empty liquor bottles and needles are scattered among unpaid bills. A couple of strands of holiday lights hang from a bent curtain rod. Three adults are passed out in front of a flickering TV. Lying on a dirty bed, a hungry child wonders if Santa will come this year.

Come and see.

Carols fill the air as the entire neighborhood goes singing house to house. After church a feast of rice and yam paste and soup is shared outdoors with everyone sitting in a circle. Later that night the celebration continues as fireworks fill the African sky.

Come and see.

The only sign of Christmas inside a murderer’s maximum-security cell is a cardboard tree propped against the wall. After a Christmas meal the TV rooms will be tuned to NBA basketball. Inmates wait at phones for their turns to talk to loved ones.

Come and see.

A mother works checkout at a convenience store on Christmas Eve. She’d rather be home but needs the holiday pay. The children have been sick and her oldest daughter needs braces. Their presents — she wishes there were more — are wrapped and in the car. She hopes to be home before they wake in the morning.

Come and see.

No matter where you find it, Christmas is nearly here. The time of year for wishes, goodwill toward all, hope for mankind and peace on earth. And my, how we really need it.

Slaughtered innocents, bitter politics, endless wars, poverty, despair — our weaknesses and needs are endless. Another generation of God’s lost children wallowing in the mud of sin.

It’s the same filth into which God’s son entered the world those many Christmases ago. Into a stable filled with stinking animals and dung came purity and hope.

Some find peace in that stable year-round. Others see it only at Christmas. Some find it through other deities, religious or not. Others are still looking. Some have given up.

No matter where you live, no matter what your faith or creed, we can all start with a little goodwill. It’s an attitude that starts with a smile. Instead of having our faces down in the technosphere, we can look up. Look forward. Look others in the eye. Greet politely. Open doors. Be courteous. Practice the golden rule.

Hope will follow. Hope surrounds us — when we choose to see it. It’s in the faces of children caught in the enchantment of the holiday season. It’s in the works of volunteers who go out of their way to make this season special by giving to those who otherwise would have little.

Peace follows hope, but it begins in our own hearts. We cannot expect peace to overcome the anguish, anger and hurt in others if we can’t find it in ourselves. The weakness of men who live in an imperfect world makes true peace an improbable state. But heart by heart, one person at a time, we can all make peace our choice.

I feel the peace on the farm as the shadow of twilight creeps across the snow-covered hills on Christmas Eve. The earth quiets and even the animals seem to fall into a contented hush.

In this season of gift-giving, be generous with sharing your peace. It costs nothing but can grow into a powerful force. Peace can change the world.

Come and see.

Former Tribune editor Chris Hardie and his wife, Sherry, raise sheep and cattle on his great-grandparents’ Jackson County farm.


Local news editor

(3) comments


Chip - you're getting coal this year. And not the good stuff either. The high sulfur soft coal that is nearly worthless. It was a good article and reminds us to think of others and not ourselves during the season of giving. Nope, not you. EphU Scrooge!

Buggs Raplin

Again, Chris brought up the subject of world peace, and added the word 'filth' in connection to the lack of it. Left unsaid is that since the end of World War 2, the US has been responsible for most (not all) but most of the filth. In a few weeks we'll be remembering Martin Luther King Jr. In 1967, when King began opposing the Vietnam War to the ire of Lyndon Johnson and most of the black leaders at the time, he said the US was the 'greatest purveyor of violence in the world.' That statement is as accurate today as it was then. Frankly, I am sick and tired of "Christmas Philosophizing"on world peace with no regard for who is mainly responsible for its absence. US foreign policy. As to coal, I would welcome such a gift. I thank the coal miners for working deep in the bowels of the earth, risking their lives to bring forth this wonderful fossil fuel that generates almost all of our electricity. The religionists in the global warming crowd demonize it while relying on it. Finally, as to the "EphU" comment, I think that says a lot about you, who, by the way, hide behind anonymity in making that comment.

Buggs Raplin

Chris, as to peace, it is United States foreign policy that is the main culprit. And I'm not just picking on one political party. I'm picking on them both. I'm picking on Trump, and Obama, and Bush, and Clinton, and the first Bush, and all the members of Congress who enabled them. All the horrors of American foreign policy are unknown to a large portion of the citizenry because of the fake news mainstream media, which lies about it, and the La Crosse Tribune is part of that.. We're told we're just trying to spread democracy according to the fake news. What an absolute lie. So the first Bush can kill some 4,000 innocents in Panama; Clinton can bomb Yugoslavia killing 2,000 innocents; the 2nd Bush can invade Iraq under false pretenses; Obama can topple the government in Libya and help overthrow the government in Ukraine, and Trump can continue Obama's dronings and interference in the affairs of other countries. I'm not sorry at all, Chris, for interrupting your Christmas reverie, but you were the one to bring up world peace as if its something elusive, and not our fault. It IS our fault. No other country-Russia, China, or the UK is meddling violently in the affairs of other countries as we are. It is our fault there isn't world peace. Our fault. That's the reason I supported strongly the candidacy of Ron Paul in 2012. Chris, why not ask Rusty why the Tribune has not editorially criticized our involvement in Afghanistan? Why are we there sowing hatred amongst the people, terrorizing the people there, spending some $4 million an hour occupying that nation. Ah, the great evil of American foreign policy, shunted aside, not only at Christmas but all year long as well.-Chip DeNure

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