Stories & Columns

The Literary Divide: A retrospective
on 2007,
by Paul Barrows

Interstate Impact (Part 2),
by Jonathan Gramling

What Kwanzaa is all about,
by Laura Salinger

Politicas de hoy:
Foro Republicano: Ron Paul el
mas cuerdo,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

Asian Wisconzine: PAMANA
celebrates Maligayang Pasko!
by Heidi M. Pascual

Simple Things: Christmas Tree,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

Voices: New Year may bring,
by Jean Daniels

WWOCN Women United,
by Jonathan Gramling

WWOCN: God Women,
by Cecilia Leon

Kwanzaa Holiday Fair,
by Jonathan Gramling

Old time Kwanzaa feeling,
by Jonathan Gramling

China Dispatch: Leaving
by Andrew Gramling

Interfaith Awareness Week,
by Laura Salinger

Navigating the world of literary
agents, authors,
by Ike Anyanike

Organ donations in the African
American community (Part 2),
by Jonathan Gramling


Editorial Staff

Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows
Jean Daniels
Andrew Gramling
Lang Kenneth Haynes
Heidi M. Pascual
Laura Salinger
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran
Happy Holidays!
Madison celebrates religious and cultural
Reflections/Jonathan D. Gramling
                                   Happy Holidays!
Life has a way of coming full circle. I remember the holiday celebrations of my youth. After a glorious Christmas Eve
where my brothers and sisters — there are eight of us — would play for hours with the presents that Santa Claus had
brought us. The celebration would come to a halt as Midnight Mass approached and some would don heavy coats
and scarves to trudge into the cold and snow for mass and to remember the real meaning behind Christmas.
The next day, we would have special treats in the morning, fresh kuchen, a German pastry that my mom would bake
the Saturday before. There would be plenty of sausages and eggs and all kinds of good things to eat. And as we
played with our new toys, there would sit my Uncle John in the family room, silently taking in all of the commotion that
existed throughout the household.
My Uncle John — my mom’s brother — would take the train from Chicago and spend Christmas Day with us. He was a
bachelor banker. He had a wonderful mane of wavy white hair and an equally white mustache. He was a very kind soul
and had a gentle heart. My mom was his favorite, perhaps because she was the youngest child growing up in a
household without a mother and he was the oldest child. He paid my mom’s way through college during the Great
Depression. And he was a regular fixture on Christmas Day until he retired and moved to California.
Over the course of the years, I was married, had a step daughter and a son and got divorced — the same that happens
to about half of the marriages in the U.S. every year. And it was my turn to watch as my children opened their gifts and
played for hours before we hurriedly got our things together and made the trip down to Milwaukee to spend Christmas
Eve with the extended family.
And now, my son lives in China half the world away. And I will be going down to the Milwaukee area on Christmas Eve
to again spend part of the holiday with my brothers and sisters and their children. But as my hair continues to gray and
whiten and as I see those streaks of white in my mustache, I think about my Uncle John and wonder if perhaps it is I
who will one day sit at the home of one of my brothers and sisters and watch their grandchildren open presents and
play all day on Christmas Day. I used to wonder how my Uncle John felt. Now I am beginning to see that I will, in all
too short of a time, know.
The other week, I was invited to speak at the men’s homeless shelter at Grace Episcopal Church just off the square. A
friend of mine, Jeri Ware, had always loved a column I wrote back in 2000 called ‘The Obsession,’ about my efforts to
give up cigarette smoking. Well, as a member of Tobacco Free Dane County, she scheduled a time for us to come
into the shelter and talk to the 30 plus men who were using the shelter that night.
You could say I was the lead-off act and then Jeri gave a presentation followed by a demonstration of the ravages of
cigarette smoking on a real diseased lung. As I stood there talking to the men, surrounded by bunk beds and the
chatter of card playing residents in the background, a part of my mind was wondering where do they come from and
where do they go? And on holidays like Christmas, are there good memories that they conjure up from their youth? Is
there something special that they do on Christmas Day? Is there someplace special they go to make it something
special? And do they have the occasion to exchange gifts or w2atch happy children play with their gifts before sitting
down to breakfast to feast on sausages, eggs and kuchen?
When we are young, we so take for granted all of the happy times that we have and feel that those good times will go
on forever, especially if those are the only kinds of Christmases that they have ever known. But life does change and
people fall on hard times or families disperse to the ends of the earth. During the past few weeks, I have talked with
people who have lost siblings during the past year. Nothing is guaranteed to last.
And so this holiday season, cherish your loved ones because they are the most precious gift you will ever receive on
this earth. Hold them close and enjoy! Happy Holidays and Kwanzaa and Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!
12/21/07 Archives



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