I think differently about Christmas than a lot of you – than even friends and family – and take my holiday pleasures as I find them, and with people to whom I owe much for what I’ve learned.
Unlike many of you I have not spent the run-up to Christmas on Amazon. What I’ve spent for the holidays pales in comparison to most.
I’m not much for resolutions, and peace towards men, because that lasts about as long as Bowl Day football disappointment.
Doesn’t mean that I’m Scrooge, because if time is money I’ve spent a fortune. I got home from Houston Sunday evening, where I spent two days with family…only to get up Monday morning and drive 600 miles to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to spend a couple of days with friends Dean and Judy Shultz.
Because, while others sing carols and reminisce about the gift of sharing time with friends, I can think of no two people that I owe more to in that respect than Dean and Judy. And I chose to pay that respect in person.
Because instead of heading to the slopes of Vail this Christmas, I will consider the slopes of Little Round Top and Culp’s Hill this holiday…of Lost Avenue, on the back of the Shultz’s farm outside Gettysburg on Baltimore Pike. Where, while the climax of Pickett’s Charge took place just up the road a couple of miles from the Shultz farm on July 3, 1863, the final action of the Battle of Gettysburg took place on a narrow strip of ground on the back of the farm, simultaneously.
Dean Shultz, now in his 80s, has taught me history – where men from Pennsylvania and New York thwarted the final Confederate attempt to flank the Union line and stores of supplies parked on Baltimore Pike that day. It’s where thirty Confederate bodies are still buried in Dean’s pasture. Where no one but Dean knows the location. And where I enjoy time during Christmas walking and reflecting on how little we appreciate the price of liberty, and God’s grace, that we sing about and celebrate. Especially this Christmas! (Was that Amazon I heard at the door?)
Seriously, do we still appreciate it? Or, do we concern ourselves more over why we’ve lost three straight football games to Michigan?
To be blunt, we’ve taken for granted ‘America the beautiful’, and the security of its gifts. We’re content to see it run over by people bent on destroying it, who’ve given no skin…by those we justify for their will to change the character of America through manipulation of political culture.
Truthfully, we’ve become a nation of whiners and self-serving interests that would throw rotten fruit at John F. Kennedy today for saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you…but ask what you can do for your country.”
And in that respect I enjoy visiting Gettysburg, knowing that more than 53,000 gave their lives over three days of fighting in 1863 to defend the liberty and values set forth just 87 years prior by the American Revolution.
It’s ironic now to think of how people reacted to the call for troops at the time of the Civil War…because presently as a people we don’t have that kind of resolve, or commitment, to fight to the death to either liberate a race of people, or to preserve the Constitution that made the least of Americans free…knowing that our military has reached on all-time low in voluntary enlistment – those willing to serve, less than 18%.
We don’t even have pride in our history, given the contempt of modern academia and culture. Which is why I appreciate and remain so committed to men like Dean Shultz, the late Edwin C. Bearrs, and author/historian, Shelby Foote…all from whom I’ve learned about America and Americans then, as opposed to America and Americans, now.
There’s no reason to go into it…because we all know from the daily headlines, whichever network you choose to believe.
But now in their 80s, and so many of them gone, we owe much to the elders of American culture and history that we would not know if it weren’t for men like Shultz.
I will take the time this week to share the graces of America as we remember it, with a generation who asks for nothing other than respect for those who died in defense of that grace.
There will be no such talk that America, the beautiful, is contrary with America, the awful. For as much now as it’s ever been, everything that Americans need is still here – along with the imagination to dream.
“You’re old, and out of touch,” someone will tell me. They’ll tell me that dreams are limited to too few. I’ll counter that dreams are as near as turning off the television, and walking in the same generational pursuit of happiness.
There was a time when we treasured the old and wise, instead of mocking them for standing in the way of something new and better.
That said, I respect them more than contemporary logic, such as it is.
Those who still believe they have more than they need – something not available from Amazon – while others shout for more….
…others who say that I have my holidays confused.
As old as the hills at Gettysburg, such is even prophecy!