Transcript of " "Candles in the window/Carols at the Spinet ." "
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."
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Table of Contents1. We need a little Christmas. Why Im working hard right this minute to make Christmas 2011 thebest ever.2. My most memorable Christmas, delivered by hand, changing my life. Now my time to do thesame.
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."We need a little Christmas. Why Im working hard right thisminute to make Christmas 2011 the best ever.By Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program note. I was young then, blessed with that overflowing feeling of high animalspirits and joy to the world. It was 1967, I was in New York City for the first time, about to sail toEurope on the SS Aurelia ... The future seemed boundless, was boundless, and I had only goodwishes and to spare for everyone, everywhere.The only snare was that I couldnt get tickets for "Mame" (music and lyrics by Jerry Herman); the hitmusical based on one of my mothers favorite books, "Auntie Mame" by Patrick Dennis (1955).Bummer. But not down hearted I somehow managed to get a program and discovered when AngelaLansbury, the star, the toast of Broadway, was likely to leave the Winter Garden Theatre. .. and justwhere I could stand for the best chance of getting her autograph.I well recall the moment she came out the stage door, she was smaller than she appeared on stage...and I remember how the collar of her coat brushed against my cheek... and her scent as she bentdown to autograph the program, a little crushed in my hand. It was lush, seductive, delicious... And Iwas happy...I have that program still, in good condition, too, a reminder when the song Ive chosen for todaystheme music -- "We need a little Christmas" -- was just a peppy, high-stepping, belt-it-out number,not an absolute need for all of us. Start, however, by going to any search engine... get the tune... thenlet er rip... its going to get your blood going, your feet tapping, and maybe even bring a tear to youreye, you sentimental softie you..."For Ive grown a little leaner, Grown a little colder, Grown a little sadder, Grown a little older!"These words pretty much sum up events since that magic moment at the door of the Winter GardenTheatre -- and I dont merely mean for you and me, either. I mean for America and for our deeplytroubled world. And that is why I am already at work to ensure this Christmas in this year of generaldismay and gloom is the best ever. We need it -- for the good of home, hearth, soul, and, yes, theeconomy.I began this week.It is September 25, 2011 as I write, and my dear and valued helpers, Aime Joseph and his soothingwife Mercedes, have commenced Operation Christmas. We started with a herculean task meant tooccur twice each year but often "forgotten" -- polishing the silver. It is arduous, it is wearying, it isdull... and it is a necessary deed in creating the "wow factor" that is such an essential part ofChristmas for me and mine.The question is, why have we started so early... just what are we doing it for?Over the last few years I have noticed the inception and development of an invidious trend in meand many others: scaling back, pruning, diminishing the high festival of Christmas. This is a verybad thing... and this year I decided to take constructive action before I bear an even closerapproximation to Ebenezer Scrooge. This called for drastic action... and my better self answered thecall.Unmarried, no (known) children. Katie Segal made a fortune on "Married with Children"(1987) inwhich she played the ultimate suburban vulgarian wife, Peg. She thought the holiday was for maxingout her credit cards and causing pain to her hapless bills-paying husband. It was funny... because, ofhttp://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 4 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."course, we werent like Peg, no way. But we are... and not, I hasten to add, because we enjoy theconsumer aspect of the event.I have always thought the sanctimonious folks who decry the blatant commercialism of Christmasand seek to revert to prior usages, pure and holy, misread the original text and allowed themselves tobe hoodwinked by Puritans. Now, lest you think I am anti-Puritan, be aware I am of Puritan heritagemyself. And it pains me to admit, the Puritans got Christmas all wrong and missed its message.The culprit in the matter was Oliver Cromwell, a man who, saying enough is enough, helped KingCharles I to eternity in 1649 through the simple expedient (as Charles told his horrified children) byseparating His Majestys head from His Majestys body. The Lord Protector, more powerful thanmost kings, then lead an effort to root out all vestiges of the traditional high-living EnglishChristmas. And so for 10 years (until his successor son Richard got kicked out in 1659) Cromwelland company worked to make everyone just as miserable and gloomy at Christmas as possible. Thatwas the right and proper thing to do.For instance, zealous Puritans, rigid, unbending, inflexible, muffed the matter of the Three WiseMen, princes of the Orient. Each, if youll recall, brought the Christ child very expensive gifts. Theseincluded gold (imagine if theyd held it), frankincense and myhrr. Unless these royalties justhappened to have some extra gifts in their treasure trove (possible, but unlikely) each had to make atrip to the bazaar (which is what people called malls in those days) to scrutinize what was availableand mull over their options.This is exactly what the non-kingly people do nowadays at Christmas, parking their cars (easier tohandle than malodorous camels which spit), returning over and over to get just the right gift, the giftthat will say loudly and clearly, "I care." So, wheres the problem? Christmas, in short, has had apronounced commercial aspect from the first moment. People should get over it and get on with thereal business of the event: love!Whether you consider the matter from the vantage point of God to man -- "For God so loved theworld that he gave his only begotten son" (John 3:16) ---... or from the vantage point of human relations, the fact is that Christmas is the prime event of everyyear based on, all about, and dedicated to love. And we humans after this storm-tossed year shouldembrace the event and enjoy it for what it is: a chance to love one another, be kind to each other,embrace our diversity, and give the embedded rancors of our deeply fissured planet a rest... even ifwe know, as we do, theyll be back in the new year. Even a little solace helps. We need it, we musthave it, and we deserve it.And because I have been, shall we say, neglectful both about giving and taking love, I have a hugelove deficit to make up for... and so Christmas 2011 must be done right in every nuance and detail...and this takes time, care, and thoughtfulness.Cleaning the silver is just the beginning.And then like the score says, "Candles in the window/Carols at the spinet."And gifts for all... and not merely anything grabbed at the eleventh hour Christmas Eve either... forthe gift must be as special as the beloved who gets it...All this takes time... meticulous attention to detail... and, most of all, love...And it is this love, in short supply in years past, suppressed, which is the most important thing ofall... This year will be different, for this year that love will flow without stint... as a resolutedeclaration to everyone, everywhere that this is a place where humanity is made welcome and wherehttp://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 5 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."we know the true meaning of Christmas... and mean to have it! Share it! And renew it...Knowing this, can you wonder why I am starting so early here? The wonder is that you have notcommenced early, for your need is pressing, too.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 6 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."My most memorable Christmas, delivered by hand, changingmy life. Now my time to do the same.by Dr. Jeffrey LantAuthors program note. One of the most marvelous things about the Internet is that wherever you arethe riches of the world are just a few keystrokes away, and this is never more true than at Christmas,when you can, wherever you are, remember, access what the most fertile, inventive, and creativeminds crafted to celebrate the birth of our Messiah. It is a feast, a banquet, an embarras de choix thatnever palls, even if you do have distinct touches of Scrooge about you.One of my favorite Christmas carols never fails to exult, thrill, and cleanse. I always feel betterhearing it... and if you know it, I suspect you feel the same. Its called "Carol of the Bells," and ifyou dont know it, its my pleasure to introduce it to you. Youll be glad to have it. Either way, go toany search engine to find it. There are many fine versions.Play it now... turn it up and up again. This is no pallid anthem but a stirring declaration thatsomething of transcendent importance is about to occur... and the bells are ringing out to ensure youdont miss it and are not late.It is of Ukrainian origin; a 1904 choral miniature work by Mykola Leontovych, set to the words ofan ancient Ukrainian pagan chant. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaimthe plentiful and bountiful year that that fortunate family will have. Given the rocky road weve alltraveled this year, I am sure you hope that swallow visits you... as I do.1974.I was just 26 in 1974, the time in ones life when, having assiduously pursued education,self-improvement and development, one is ready to stride lifes stage and announce to the world thatyou are ready to demonstrate your powers and do your bit, however small, to make things better onterra firma. You have your health, your teeth, an ample mane, and that crucial "never say die"attitude, so necessary, sure to be sorely tested in the days ahead. You can be certain of that. In short,youre as ready for life as youll ever be. And that life bloomed for me in 1974.... when I set out, likethe protagonist of every great novel, not just to see the world, but to conquer it.And so this year, I tasted life, and tasted deep I tell you, in the city where everyone finds theEngland -- and the life -- they desire... London.London, beloved, rich, desired, accepting.If one believes in Fate, as I didnt then but believe now, I encountered mine in what I regarded, notalone either, as the greatest city on earth... where every minute was like the best champagne andevery person delivered gifts one had waited a lifetime to receive and was ready to savor. In this year,in this city everything was possible... so long as one was bold enough to dream it, bold enough toseize it. And I was... and I did.Robert Montgomery Scott.... His Excellency will be pleased...I can see him clearly in my minds eye... and will never forget. He was a gentleman to his fingertips...which meant cordial manners, polished speech, and, most of all, consideration; for a gentleman isnothing without that. When I entered his office in the Embassy of my United States, in GrosvenorSquare, he was direct, but most kind; I could see at once he meant to be my benefactor...I had written Walter Annenberg, U.S. Ambassador that year, to see if he would assist me in gaininghttp://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 7 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."access to the Royal pageants I was studying and wished to see at first hand. Ambassador Annenberg,a titan of American media, richer than Croessus, was the best kind of envoy being gifted with meansand the desire to disperse them liberally. He also understood the need that media have for never-ending content and the need to encourage the creators of such content, people like me. And so heasked the debonair Mr. Scott to receive the young Harvard man and see what could be done. He wasno doubt scrutinizing me, drawing his own conclusions; that was his job. But the scrutiny wasoblique, a chat, not an inquisition. And after this most amiable inspection he said, "For the nextyear, whenever the Ambassador is invited to any Royal ceremony, you shall go as a member of hisofficial party."The skies had opened and the road below was clear. I was grateful then... and grateful now becausehe -- and the Ambassador -- had given me just what I needed, just when I needed it. And how oftendoes that happen in even the longest life? But it was happening to me, in 1974, in London, and I putthe bit between my teeth and relished the run.That summer there was a shower of largesse... not least because of the Harvard Traveling Fellowshipbestowed on me, a Fellowship which made it all possible. I went to the annual ceremony of everyorder of chivalry... the Bath, the Order of the British Empire, the St.Michael and St. George, anddelved deep into the mysteries of Thistle, St. Patrick, and Garter. I loved every minute of it and, forcurrent use and later reflection and proof that I had lived, wrote it all down, fodder for many articlesto come. I had occasion to thank the Ambassador over and over again...... especially on the day when I attended the ceremony marking the 25th wedding anniversary ofH.M. The Queen and her Consort of Edinburgh. My reserved place was right behind one of PrincePhilips sisters, as if I were a sprig of the Family Royal myself.But money at an end and the pressing need to harness reality brought me back to Cambridge, toHarvard, to graduate, to get a job I was perhaps destined to hate; how could the mundane details of"real" life compare?But I had a scheme... to write my way to freedom... and so back to London where in due course Ireturned in December of 1977, there to hand-deliver a proposal for my first book, to HamishHamilton the famous publisher whose ranks I wished to join.No knock. Just a letter.It was Christmas Eve, 1977. My friends and I were going to Covent Garden, dressed to the nines,bright, mordant, as sophisticated as earnest money and deadly effect could make us.Just before we left, a letter was slipped under the door... it was hand addressed to me. I opened itwith alacrity only to read, "I regret to inform you..." It was on Hamish Hamiltons stationery. I didntcomplete the letter and was marooned in such unhappiness no Sugar Plum fairy could lift my spirits.Upon returning, I saw the letter, on the floor. Robert Dobson, so often in the right place at the righttime, picked it up and said, "Hadnt you better read this?"And so I did... and in instant, a single instant, there was "Joy to the World" in my heart as my noweditor Roger Machell wrote, "I regret to inform you we cannot accept your proposal as written but ifyou make a few minor changes..." A contract and cheque were waiting for me after Christmas at hisoffice. And so "Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victorias Court" wasborn... and another benefactor stepped forward, Christmas Eve mind, to advance my career andprovide succor.Now it my turn, 64 this year as I am, to give to others in remembrance of the many, now too oftengone before, who have given to me. God having blessed me so, and especially that unforgettablehttp://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 8 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."Christmas, makes that imperative, pressing, essential, a great joy and comfort.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 9 of 10
"Candles in the Window/ Carols at the Spinet."ResourceAbout the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a widerange of online services for small and-home based businesses. Jeffrey Lant is also the author of 18best-selling business books.Republished with authors permission by Elizabeth English http://LizsWorldprofit.com.http://www.LizsWorldprofit.com Copyright Elizabeth English - 2012 10 of 10