Vol. 3    No. 25
December 11, 2008
HMONG NEW YEAR BEGINS AND ENDS WITH
A HARVEST
Happy Holidays!
These are very interesting times that we live in. I would imagine that the world has always been filled with
problems that I have only become more aware as I have travelled along the road of life. I remember back to my
childhood and the world seemed to be such a safe place to be. Of course there was the threat of nuclear war,
but that was a distant abstraction in my real world filled with fun, adventure and school. Christmastime was
especially magical as the days before Christmas seemed like an eternity and we baked and decorated cookies
and the television programs had yuletide meaning and the Christmas commercials had not yet become
overwhelmingly obnoxious.
And when I was married and had small children those many years ago, Christmas was still a joyous time. My son,
stepdaughter and I would drive out into the country after Thanksgiving, trudge through the snow and chop down
our Christmas tree and hurry back home where steaming cups of hot chocolate awaited us before we trimmed the
tree. And there were cookies to be baked and decorations to be put up.
Every year, we would play the game of hiding the kids’ presents, which more than likely they found well in
advance of Christmas, and staying up until the wee hours wrapping them after the kids went to sleep. Oh how
they tried to stay up and I would beg them to sleep. And then at 7 a.m. — they knew it was a no-go until then —
the kids would scream out that the presents were under the tree. And we gathered round and opened them one
by one. Santa got the credit for the presents long after they discovered who Santa was.
Between our Christmas and the Christmas at grandma’s and grandpa’s, Christmas was a three-day affair filled with
gift giving and merriment. Who would have thought that those days would not last forever? And still the world
seemed to be a safe place to be in.
But now Christmas and the world seem to be different. It’s hard to peel back the commercialized coating of the
Christmas holiday to reveal the deeper meaning inside. My kids have grown and dispersed to all edges of the
world. My mom and dad have gone on to a better place and it hardly seems necessary to put up Christmas
decorations anymore. They remain in storage closet where they have gathered dust over the years. On some
levels, the mystery and joy of Christmas are for young children, and young children walk my halls no more.
This Christmas, we face so many troubling issues from wars and terrorism abroad to the fear of terrorism
domestically and an economy that lies in shambles. It is a time where the commercialism of Christmas won’t be
strong enough to carry the season. While for the past 40 years we have been able to indulge ourselves and
isolate ourselves with our riches, this Christmas, people must look past the material to a deeper meaning of
Christmas, a sense of salvation and redemption. Christmas has always been about hope and promise. While
Christmas, for many of us, has become superficial and hollow, our current circumstances ought to lead us to look
within our spiritual selves and find in each other the meaning of Christmas in a world that has become so
tenuous. It is each other and not all of the materialism in the world that makes life worth living. And it is our
relationships and not the money that truly define our worth.
Christmas is a time that calls for us to rise above the beastly isolation of our lives to recognize the humanity of
those who are near and far.
I firmly believe that if we do not take the message of Christmas — indeed the messages of all of the world’s
religions — to heart, we shall surely perish. Unless we rise above our own brutish self-preoccupation and
parochial interests, we shall cease to exist as a race — the human race.
While this Christmas will be unlike any other that I have celebrated in my 56 years and I will spend much of it
alone, I am also filled with a sense of hope, that we can arise above our circumstances, each and every one of
us and do the unimaginable. I believe that we can arise above the past and treat each other with respect. I
believe that we can work out our differences for the common good and allow each of us regardless of our own
personal characteristics to flourish, to learn, to grow so that each and everyone of us can be a part of the solution
to global warming, to hunger, to poverty, to disease.
It begins in each of us to have faith and belief. And once we are well-rooted in our faith and belief, we can
move mountains and do the unimaginable. While things may be bleak in our lives today, we must have hope for
the future. We can be reborn and feel confidence for the future. That is Christmas to me now. I wish true
happiness to all of you, my readers, and that you have faith.
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
               The meaning of the times

Stories & Columns

WOAA: Making the invisible
visible,
by Jonathan Gramling

Rev. Gregory Armstrong of SS
Morrris AME Church: Christmas
past and present,
by Jonathan Gramling

Looking back at the historical
presidential campaign,
by Paul Barrows

Asian
Wisconzine/JASHN-E-SANGAM:
UW-students celebrate  
India-Pakistan independence day,
"friendship and solidarity,"
by Heidi M. Pascual
www.asianwisconzine.com

Simple Things/Letting go,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

The Dane County Sheriff's Office
relationship with ICE: Unintended
consequences,
by Jonathan Gramling

Interfaith Awareness Week 2008:
Religions celebrate human rights,
by Laura Salinger

Faith Community Christian
Church's Annual Thanksgiving
feast: Everyone has a family,
by  Jonathan Gtamling

UW Muslim Students Association
celebrates Ramadan with a heart,
by Jessica Pharm

Time's up for Robert Mugabe,
by U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold

Omega Psi Phi Fraternity's Purple
& Gold Jazz Affair: Meeting new
challenges,
by Jonathan Gramling

Holiday Books Wish List
(UW-Press recommended list)

The State Council on Affirmative
Action and the Wisconsin Office of
Employment Relations Annual
Diversity Awards presentation,
by Jonathan Gramling

JWT Productions' New Year's Bash
at the Marriott: A Hppin' New Year,
by Jonathan Gramling

African American Community
Health Forum (2),
by Jonathan Gramling

********

Editorial Staff
Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows
Fabu Carter-Brisco
Andrew Gramling
Lang Kenneth Haynes
Heidi M. Pascual
Laura Salinger
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran
Martinez White

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