3. Table of Contents
1. Betty Windsor Cancels Staff Christmas Party. Royal Scrooge Reigns. What she should have done
2. My most memorable Christmas, delivered by hand, changing my life. Now my time to do the
3. 'God rest you merry, gentlemen'. At my home that means preparing everything for the visit of the
Prince of Peace. It's a true labor of love.
4. First Christmas away from home. Paris. 1967.
5. Christmas from another point of view. The Grinch has his day... astonishing revelations from his
first-ever interview exclusive to me exclusively here.
4. Christmas Reflections
Betty Windsor Cancels Staff Christmas Party. Royal Scrooge
Reigns. What she should have done instead.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
What can she be thinking of?
It has been announced from Buckingham Palace (by the Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel) that Her
Majesty the Queen (known to favored intimates as "Betty Windsor") has cancelled this year's staff
Christmas party. Thus are the 600 people who serve her in myriad capacities deprived of the joy of
making merrie from her privy purse (meaning she pays for the dainties herself).
Why did she do it?
Lord Peel in his email notification says it's because of England's punk economic condition. Cynical
royal watchers opine that it's because the Queen wants to make a point about the hardships of royal
living in advance of Parliament's consideration of her civil list, namely what she gets from the
nation for doing her job. In other words, she's negotiating with the government and figures that
taking bon bons from the staff will help achieve her goal of more money faster.
The reason doesn't much matter, however. The plain fact (whatever the reason) is that Her Royal
Majesty is (dare we say it).... just plain cheap.
This Christmas season we need MORE parties... not fewer for the very reason that so many are
suffering and need a good day out. The Queen should be doing her bit, not showing the Sugar Plum
fairy the door.
Let's contrast the Queen's behavior with that of Mame Dennis in the smash Broadway musical (and
film), "Mame." In the depth of the depression, Mame, her family and staff are glum, decidedly in the
dumps. Instead of canceling Christmas (like you-know-who) Mame sings "We need a little
Christmas now"... and belts out a festive song while (at least momentarily) lightening that load for
the people she loves, the people who know and serve her. In short, challenged though she is, she
does what she can.
It's a far better thing she does than the tight-lipped and tighter-fisted Betty Windsor, for the royal
decision (calculated though it may be) brings no joy to anyone... but her, the very antithesis of the
purpose of Christmas.
We can help in at least two ways
First, contact Buckingham Palace at once, protesting this silly decision. We KNOW she has the
money.... and if she wants to negotiate with Prime Minister Cameron for more funds for palace
upkeep and maintenance, fair enough. But let's not take it out on the staff... who have to feel hurt
and disappointed at this niggardly decision, stiffer upper lip or not.
Indeed, let's go farther. Let's all chip in and turn a bad decision into a terrific pot-luck. Let's all offer
to supply a favorite Christmas goodie to her larder, tagged exclusively for the benefit of her staff.
My grandmother's Christmas sugar cookies were always a hit back in Illinois and were shipped to
grateful (and expectant) friends and relatives worldwide; even the crumbs were treasured. I offer a
dozen of these... not least because my grandmother (born in 1901) was named after.... you guessed
it: Queen Victoria! It seems right and proper that her cookies go towards helping Betty out with her
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5. Christmas Reflections
Make sure YOU have your own Christmas party... or invite a few more people to the one you've
Her Majesty's cancelled Christmas party was budgeted at 50,000 pounds sterling, about $80,000
USD. That's grand indeed. But, remember this about Christmas: it's the thought that counts. Rather
than cancel the party and the joy therefrom, Her Majesty should have held it, doing the best she
could with less... just the way the rest of the world is doing. Just because you can't have a party with
the grand and imperial flourishes you'd prefer is no reason to (petulantly) cancel the whole shebang.
A party is about the people... not about whether the champagne is vintage.
Make this Christmas season the one where you discover the real meaning of the season. It is about
sharing... the good times and the bad... together. It is about offering the best you can (and can afford)
while reaching out to old friends and new, grateful to see and welcome them, not to impress, but to
re-connect and make it clear that you care.
Here is where Her Gilded Majesty went right off the rails... and shows me she needs to have a Tiny
Tim remind her of wherein the true joy and meaning of the season resides: it is about the sincerity
and affection of the gift, not its lavishness or cost. We need gifts that show what is in our heart... not
our bank account.
Let's say that the Queen really couldn't afford the cost of her party (she's worth a billion or more, but
let's not be petty). Who can doubt that if she had done anything... but done it with real affection and
gratitude.. that the event would still have been the highlight of the year: a gesture of profound
sincerity and consideration. Yes, it would have been touching and forever remembered. Even with
day old doughnuts.
Thus, our first suggestion (given with the utmost humility) is this: :Queen of England and
dominions over the seas, reinstate your devoted staff's Christmas party and resolve that you will do
more with less; above all that you will use the event to radiate more joy and more happy memories,
rather than do away with them altogether. Use your royal powers for good, to live the true
sentiments of the season.
And as for the rest of us: let us learn from this imperial error and use it to enhance our own
Christmas, to make this, because of the misery around us and an economy doing no better than
mediocre, the best Christmas ever... with the one and only focus being on how to bring joy to the
most, even if that joy is simply the warmest and most heartfelt of embraces and the sharing of
yourself. For if you do these things, the true embodiment of Christmas, you will do more than a
queen.... be she ever so rich and empowered.
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6. Christmas Reflections
My most memorable Christmas, delivered by hand, changing
my life. Now my time to do the same.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author's program note. One of the most marvelous things about the Internet is that wherever you are
the 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 creative
minds crafted to celebrate the birth of our Messiah. It is a feast, a banquet, an embarras de choix that
never 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 better
hearing it... and if you know it, I suspect you feel the same. It's called "Carol of the Bells," and if
you don't know it, it's my pleasure to introduce it to you. You'll be glad to have it. Either way, go to
any 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 that
something of transcendent importance is about to occur... and the bells are ringing out to ensure you
don't miss it and are not late.
It is of Ukrainian origin; a 1904 choral miniature work by Mykola Leontovych, set to the words of
an ancient Ukrainian pagan chant. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim
the plentiful and bountiful year that that fortunate family will have. Given the rocky road we've all
traveled this year, I am sure you hope that swallow visits you... as I do.
I was just 26 in 1974, the time in one's life when, having assiduously pursued education,
self-improvement and development, one is ready to stride life's stage and announce to the world that
you are ready to demonstrate your powers and do your bit, however small, to make things better on
terra 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,
you're as ready for life as you'll ever be. And that life bloomed for me in 1974.... when I set out, like
the 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 the
England -- and the life -- they desire... London.
London, beloved, rich, desired, accepting.
If one believes in Fate, as I didn't then but believe now, I encountered mine in what I regarded, not
alone either, as the greatest city on earth... where every minute was like the best champagne and
every 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 to
seize it. And I was... and I did.
Robert Montgomery Scott.... His Excellency will be pleased...
I can see him clearly in my mind's 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 is
nothing without that. When I entered his office in the Embassy of my United States, in Grosvenor
Square, 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 gaining
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7. Christmas Reflections
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 means
and 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 he
asked the debonair Mr. Scott to receive the young Harvard man and see what could be done. He was
no doubt scrutinizing me, drawing his own conclusions; that was his job. But the scrutiny was
oblique, a chat, not an inquisition. And after this most amiable inspection he said, "For the next
year, whenever the Ambassador is invited to any Royal ceremony, you shall go as a member of his
The skies had opened and the road below was clear. I was grateful then... and grateful now because
he -- and the Ambassador -- had given me just what I needed, just when I needed it. And how often
does that happen in even the longest life? But it was happening to me, in 1974, in London, and I put
the bit between my teeth and relished the run.
That summer there was a shower of largesse... not least because of the Harvard Traveling Fellowship
bestowed on me, a Fellowship which made it all possible. I went to the annual ceremony of every
order of chivalry... the Bath, the Order of the British Empire, the St.Michael and St. George, and
delved deep into the mysteries of Thistle, St. Patrick, and Garter. I loved every minute of it and, for
current use and later reflection and proof that I had lived, wrote it all down, fodder for many articles
to 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 of
H.M. The Queen and her Consort of Edinburgh. My reserved place was right behind one of Prince
Philip's 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, to
Harvard, 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 I
returned in December of 1977, there to hand-deliver a proposal for my first book, to Hamish
Hamilton 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 it
with alacrity only to read, "I regret to inform you..." It was on Hamish Hamilton's stationery. I didn't
complete 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 right
time, picked it up and said, "Hadn't 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 now
editor Roger Machell wrote, "I regret to inform you we cannot accept your proposal as written but if
you make a few minor changes..." A contract and cheque were waiting for me after Christmas at his
office. And so "Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victoria's Court" was
born... and another benefactor stepped forward, Christmas Eve mind, to advance my career and
Now it my turn, 64 this year as I am, to give to others in remembrance of the many, now too often
gone before, who have given to me. God having blessed me so, and especially that unforgettable
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9. Christmas Reflections
'God rest you merry, gentlemen'. At my home that means
preparing everything for the visit of the Prince of Peace. It's
a true labor of love.
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author's program note. Please note the date: Saturday October 13 for this is the opening of the
Christmas preparation season for 2012. Archeologists and cultural historians will be grateful to me
in years hence when they get their government grants and write their learned tomes about the whys
and wherefores of Christmas in this our particular era. Yes, I say they will be glad to have each
salient fact, observation and deduction gathered by yours truly and herewith shared with the world.
For we are talking about the most joyous event of the Christian year, Christmas, and its preparations,
staggering for some, meagre and tardy for others, but all acknowledging that this is and continues to
be an event of significance to each of us.
How was October 13 selected as the commencement date for this event? Easy! It was the first day
when your observant author was assailed by not one but a series of "the Christmas season has
commenced" portents, signs which might easily be dismissed were there but one or even two, but
which in their concerted numbers make it clear that the great count-down to Christmas, with its
traditions, meanings, songs, poems, foods, displays, sentiments, travels, resolutions, friends,
observances has now commenced in earnest and for the next 71days until the day itself your life will
be affected, influenced, shaped and to a greater or lesser extent determined by what our fellow
travelers do or don't do, buy or don't buy, wear, stand in line, decorate... or don't wear, stand in line,
In other words, because of the birth of a child you may or may not believe was the Son of God your
life and all its prosaic concerns and tasks will be hi-jacked; weeks of your life will be less yours,
significantly influenced and directed by others you don't know, will never meet, but who are
nonetheless powers over you, determined you should listen to them... or else.
The first portents.
The thing about portents, that is a clue to future occurrences, is that they must for maximum impact
take you completely unaware. One moment you're doing such and such a task; considering such and
such a thing; talking about such and such a topic. Then the portent arrives, preferably delivered by
one or more appropriate gods of Olympus, all of whom seem to traffic in the dicey business of
portents, omens, divinations, and auguries. The portent (often obscure and therefore more amusing to
its deity deliverer) having arrived, pushes other quotidian topics to the bottom of your
consciousness, pulling out the rug on what you were focused on a moment ago and substituting
quite a different agenda.
Yesterday, October 13 mind, these portents arrived thick and fast; itself a sign that a seismic moment
had arrived; actung! stop what you're doing and pay attention. And unless you're that hapless noodle
the bored and therefore capricious gods have determined to make even more hapless and miserable,
you do pay attention. Thus does your life cease to be as much yours as it was just a moment before.
The gods know this, but they have kept this insightful observation for their own delectation and
benefit ere now. They wouldn't dream of imparting this intelligence to you; "free will" for humans
being one of the most potent and popular of their shrewd devices for controlling the not so sapiens
Let me make one thing clear, for sharing this with you I shall be persona non grata at Olympus
tonight, for if mankind knew just how little true freedom their gods have allowed us, there would be
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10. Christmas Reflections
tonight, for if mankind knew just how little true freedom their gods have allowed us, there would be
such a revolution as has never been even imagined before, much less consummated. And the gods
would surely have to make concessions, or they would never regain exalted position and control...
and what would their excellencies do then to amuse themselves at our expense?
What is your portent saying?
Portents must be clear but capable of complete misunderstanding. In other words, when reviewing
an event that could be a portent, two reasonably intelligent people must be capable of drawing two
dramatically different conclusions, for a portent is not a directive... not a declaration... if it were the
gods would be most unhappy... for if their signs could be so easily read by everyone the muddles
beloved of these ancient deities would cease and the gods who already have to wrestle with the
matter that is eternity...would fall into even deeper despair; for they already have too little to do and
far too much time in which to do it. Remember, their irritation, ennui and pique become the basis for
our misery. No wonder they don't want us to know.
Christmas portents by the hour.
The gods realize humans are short sighted, careless, capable of massive confusions and
misunderstandings. Thus, the game becomes determining the precise formula that will give us clues
(but not too many) and insight (but not too much). Even the Olympian gods are not born knowing
these things; they must learn. And they do so at our expense, for what are we humans for if not to
provide the wherewithal for their education and expertise? We are just so many lab rats to divinity.
Nice work if you can get it.
Store sightings, catalogs, email.
The first shop in my neighborhood to deck the halls was the smoking shop in Harvard Square. Given
the fact that teen-age smoking has dropped dramatically; thereby proving that even heedless
adolescents can get the message if we adults have the patience and deliberation to beat them about
the head with it.
As a result, the revenues at the smoking shop have most probably dropped... whilst their
Harvard-charged rent has undoubtedly done the reverse. It is therefore obvious why they want to
weigh in with a cheery seasonable greeting and display. "Give the gift of cancer."
Even the most knowledgeable of advertising executives might think twice before taking on this
daunting account. Still, there they are, hoping that the dwindling number of young smokers will
purchase their diminished life span from them, especially if they can do so in the name of Jesus, who
promised the eternal life the smoking shop is doing so much to curtail. Cool.
Catalog temptation (and ease) by mail and the 'net.
Stores like the smoking shop need to lure you into their premises as early as possible before
Christmas; their continuing survival depends on it. But catalogs live to remind you how difficult and
irksome store shopping is in the age of catalogs and 'net. Simply mentioning the invading hordes, the
unending lines, the harassed staff, the parking difficulties is usually enough to tip the scales to
catalog shopping online and off. That persuaded me. As a result the last several years such shopping
constitutes all my shopping.
The problem is the proliferation of mail-order Christmas catalogs, especially after you become a
proven buyer. Then you may expect to hear from each catalog at least 3-4 times before their last
frenzied promotion, hitting about December 15. All prophesy consumer distress if you fail to ACT
NOW, visit their website and ORDER!
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11. Christmas Reflections
But here the retail stores re-emerge as they reap the considerable advantages deriving from
procrastinators like you. At this point you will most assuredly wish you had heeded their October
warning. You will pledge to do better next year. You won't, of course. And so you'll keep your name
on every list; a portent of things to come, especially purchases you're sure to make. They know that,
even if you don't.
Polishing the silver.
In my house there is one certain activity that indicates the coming of Christmas. That is polishing the
silver. It is a very time-consuming task, taking a couple of days. Mercedes Joseph, so giving and
warm in all her aspects, will take these traits and leave the silver burnished into eye-popping
radiance. It's a significant part of our invitation to the Prince of Peace, an invitation that will see us
clambering up step ladders to clean the chandeliers in all the rooms to ensure that all is brilliant and
every facet sparkles. So that there is not a single molecule of tracked in dirt or bunched carpet. We
work hard to make it perfect; we work early and late to make it perfect... and we do it all because of
the advent of this harbinger of our salvation; because we will do it, not because anyone tells us what
to do or oversees our efforts, evaluating what we do.
We do it, because this is Christmas and the greatest gift we give is our voluntary adherence and a
belief that starts in our hearts and has no ending whatsoever.
That is why October 13, I awoke to the strains of my favorite carol running through my head, "God
rest you merry, gentlemen/Let nothing you dismay", first released in 1760. In an instant I find Bing
Crosby's 1945 version; then in a search engine one other version after another, including a rendition
by "Barenaked Ladies" (2004). Only the very young can find the sniggering humor in such
sophomoric nomenclature, but today I don't care.
For you see, every off key note I sing proves that I have become a portent myself of the great event
en route "For Jesus Christ our Savior/Was born upon this Day", and we rejoice in the Good News
passed from me and mine, to you and yours, to a burdened world which needs "tidings of comfort
and joy, comfort and joy", the true meaning of Christmas and why we gentlemen and gentlewomen
rest merry and shall remain so long past the day and season itself.
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12. Christmas Reflections
First Christmas away from home. Paris. 1967.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author's program note. Today is the day I sign up to receive Social Security. It will be a day when
low level bureaucrats will prod me, asking questions they already know the answers to, all designed
to prove (or not) that I am the Jeffrey Ladd Lant born 66 years ago in Illinois, into a time and
situation which now only exist in my imagination.
I wonder whether the clerk will smile or even look at me when the inevitable queries are asked? I'm
not counting on it, for they see a generation advancing to old age, while I consider only myself. I
want human contact but will have to do with "sign here" and get the money.
And so, under the circumstances you will understand that I need something quite different; a kind of
cosmic pick-me-up composed of equal portions of youth, energy, hope and optimism, all things in
shorter supply today, here and now, than then. I need Paris. Since you probably do, too, let me share
some with you.... the better to remember and pass a kindred moment when not a single word is
required or expected.
"I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles".
For me, only one song would do for the musical accompaniment to this article; Cole Porter's
seductive tune "I Love Paris". It debued in 1953, in the film "Can- Can" and like so many of Porter's
haunting melodies it immediately touched the soul of the world; in this case setting us to recall the
bittersweet memories of a youth that can only be tapped infrequently, so powerful is even the
I like Ella Fitzgerald's rendition about "this timeless town". It cuts to the heart... and does with you
what it will... just like love itself. You'll find this bijoux in any search engine. Go now and play it...
again... and again... and again. If it's cold and misty outside and the memories come thick and fast,
you are ready for what follows.
In 1967, I was the luckiest 20-year-old in the world. Though the Great Republic was at war, gravely
divided by whether we should have more of it or less, I was going to Poland for my Christmas
holidays. Now as all the world knows, the way to Warsaw most assuredly goes through Paris, at
least in my atlas. Thus I found myself for the first time in the City of Light at the best possible time
in life to be there, that is to say whatever time you are there; in my case December,1967 just a few
days before Christmas.
My trip, hurriedly arranged which is to say (in the way of young men) not arranged at all, came
about because of a notice hung on the campus bulletin board at the University of St. Andrews in
Scotland, where I was spending, and happily too, my junior year abroad. It promised high times and
hijinx in Zakopane, the site of the Eastern Bloc's 1967 Winter Olympics. The trip was sponsored by
the Young Pioneers, Communism's equivalent of the "Best and the Brightest." The cost could be
scrapped together and was just affordable at just about a hundred quid.
Of course we wouldn't tell parents where it was we were going, much less under whose auspices.
Bright young men seek to shield the 'rents from any inkling that they might have had, were having,
or would have a "good time." That was always the best possible course, especially where
Communists... and Paris, mind... were involved.
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13. Christmas Reflections
Our trip to Poland was to have begun in London where we were to meet the tour guide and
organizer. He had been a Tory candidate for Parliament in the last General Election; time now hung
heavy while he waited impatiently for his next chance at greatness. Like most young, ambitious,
aspiring Conservatives he didn't believe in much of anything; principles, you see, get in the way of
success. It was always better not to have too many or to believe them too seriously.
As a result our guide, youthful, good looking and unscrupulous was excellent company and game for
anything. It's a pity I've forgotten his name... he's undoubtedly a retired cabinet minister now, full of
sage advice and pompous aphorisms... the Right Honourable the (first) Baron Twitsbee-on-Thames.
Such a man, of course, approved our traveling to Paris first, meeting up with the group later,
pleasurably fatigued as men of the world would most assuredly be at that point. He undoubtedly
wished us luck... and winked, salaciously.
And so I went to Paris -- and to a passionate embrace which has never ended.
Every true Parisian believes there is Paris... and then there is everything else. There is no known
antidote to this belief. Once in Paris, walking the Champs Elysee, you are glad it is so. No antidote
desired; none imaginable. And that's as it should be. So I came to see that Paris was not merely a
place... but an idea, a dream, a journey, a vision and where, in grander style and sureness of touch,
there was a better me waiting for the ordinary me to arrive.
Le beau coup.
I remember everything about those days... no detail too small or inconsequential. Paris is like that,
transforming even the slightest of matters into Events, primed with Significance. Paris is, after all,
the greatest mise-en-scene on Earth, a place where you find yourself, see yourself as larger than life,
mesmerizing, captivating, the very person you have always wanted to be... and now are, to the
gratification of self and the satisfying envy of the folks back home.
No other city on Earth, no other place at all holds such power, such magic, and so you, like
Josephine Baker sing this: "J'ai deux amours. Mon pais et Paris"; you are suddenly, unmistakably, to
your complete bliss a boulevardier au fait with everything in this place which now forever holds a
piece of your heart and means to keep it forever with fierce possession.
And so it started in a boulangerie within moments of arrival. I ordered a baguette... and thanked the
proprietor for... her beau coup. "O, monsieur," she said, just for a moment no longer of a "certain
age" but young again, with gracious curves well worth the seeing. She patted her haunch, she
giggled, she pointed "O monsieur, c'est le beau coup". I had made her happy. It was a portent of
other happy encounters to come.
"Is this what I think it's for?"
Later that day, I stood with Mark Morris at the ticket counter of the Opera, Baron Haussmann's great
creation begun in1861, a venue fit for God Himself to make music. We barely had enough for two
tickets high up in the rafters and needed to count it twice over to be sure of even that.. but there was
something about us, two acolytes butchering la belle langue determined to worship everything we
saw, that touched the heart of the woman ticket seller.
"Voila'," she said, an empress dispensing largesse. And so we came to possess a box at the Opera for
the evening's performance, compliments of a Parisienne determined to turn by a graceful touch the
quotidian into a lifetime's happy memory.
Everything was new, notable, marvelous.. including how two young men of decidedly limited
means, dressed just a shade better than tatterdemalions had their box unlocked for them, then locked
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14. Christmas Reflections
again with them inside. And of how they soon discovered a ceramic pot on the floor festooned with
the grandiloquent "N"s of the master who ordered such monumental awe and splendor. Yes, it was
used... and so the customs of Paris turned the most natural function into art and protocol.
Last night, first visit. Venite adoremus. Notre Seigneur et Sauveur.
No young person wants to slow down the pace of time. Speed, not savor, is always their order of the
day. But then comes Paris and the dawning fear one has too little time, hardly any time at all to enjoy
each thing, every thing. And so youth comes to know a secret of age: that the best lived life is
patient, paced, distinguished by care not merely celerity. Thus one grows and matures, another of
Paris' insights and benedictions.
And so in my final hours of what I vowed must be the first of many visits, I made my way near
midnight to one of man's great achievements, Notre Dame. I went as a curiosity seeker, for I was,
after all, the son of Puritans who would decry my very presence at such a Romish place.
But God was present that night, and I knew why men of vision had dreamed this place and worked
so hard to achieve it. Here was a place where one might look for and even find sanctity, belief,
peace, and be touched by the greatest light that shown that night in the City of Light. And it was
good. I sang the words of the great hymn -- "Venite adoremus" -- with conviction... Notre Seigneur
And then it was over. I was, in the middle of this Christmas night, en route by rail to Poland via
Belgium enraptured by the greatest reason for loving Paris, the reason found in the last line of Cole
Porter's great tune....
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15. Christmas Reflections
Christmas from another point of view. The Grinch has his
day... astonishing revelations from his first-ever interview
exclusive to me exclusively here.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author's program note. You just never know what impact the printed word is going to have, and this
tale of The Grinch proves the point. Thanksgiving Day, The Grinch (he insists upon the use of the
capital "T" ) was sitting at home having polished off last year's holiday left-overs as his wont, when
his eye happened to see a corner of an article used to wrap the garbage. It was my report on
"Squawk", the valiant leader of the "Young Turks" fighting for the freedom of turkeys everywhere.
The paper was greasy, ripped, noisome from the remainder of The Grinch's favorite morsels which
stank to high heaven.... in fact, he could only finish the article by searching online for it at
jeffreylantarticles.com. He liked what he read... and at that moment (as he later told me) he
determined to break his lifetime of media silence. He wanted his story to be told, and he wanted me
to tell it.
Within the hour, his invitation was en route to me, never mind that it was the middle of the night,
3:22 a.m. Eastern. The Grinch knew his man. You can sleep anytime; but such an interview comes
but once in a lifetime.
The letter to me from The Grinch.
There was a sharp knock at the door, the kind of knock that summons you to Destiny. I couldn't
immediately tell if it were real or a dream but its insistence made the point. There was a note under
the door. It said, "Open the door!", nothing more. So more irritated than apprehensive, I did. There
was a Christmas bouquet on the welcome mat, wilted, one half- eaten candy-cane alone amongst the
dying foliage. And there was a message, too, on stationery engraved with this motto, "After me, you
are the most important person on Earth."
The message couldn't have been clearer: "You have 10.5 minutes to get dressed and leave for your
Exclusive Interview With The Grinch. Be sure to brush your teeth. Don't keep your car and driver
I'm proud to tell you, nearly 66 that I am, that I was ready with a minute to spare, though there was, I
confess, stubble on my noble chin.
A black limousine was waiting, sleek, important looking... and clearly in need of a good wash. The
night was chill, the breeze off the snow piecing and unremitting. The door to my car was open, and I
could hear rock music from within. It was Eric Clapton singing "After Midnight" where "we're
gonna let it all hang out", where "we're gonna find out what it's all about." It was astonishingly apt
I slid into the back seat, where my full attention was immediately arrested by a pair of creme colored
eyes looking directly into mine. At the same moment he merely brushed my hand by way of
greeting. It was fur, not flesh, and it was a shade of green I had never seen before. Then right beside
a dog, his dog Max, a half-breed rumored to be The Grinch's only friend, faithful to his Master, his
aspect anything but welcoming. Throughout our interview The Grinch idly stroked his hide. I liked
him the better for it.
"Well, get in, Mack, it's cold out there," a directive swiftly followed by a short, sharp nudge to my
rib cage. My encounter with The Grinch was well and truly underway.
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16. Christmas Reflections
"Ask me anything....", and he grinned broadly, the kind of grin of ribald remarks, very dry martinis
perfectly made, and bottoms pinched just so. Thus I learned that The Grinch liked the good life.
"Cookie, Mack?" He offered a box of demolished Christmas cookies with the air of a prince. There
were dog hairs in the mix. I declined the dainty. "Your loss, Mack. Now what do you want to
know?", and he told his driver to "get the lead out."
The Grinch's personal history.
"Tell me about yourself, Mr. Grinch," I asked. "Nothing I'd rather do, Mack. For as you know, I am
a most interesting fellow". Max's tail wagged as if in confirmation. And so in a voice that mixed
insinuation, wisecracks, and sweet self satisfaction, he laid out the broad outlines of his unlikely life,
the life that made him one of the handful of the immediately recognized. He laid back, lit a stoggie
(whether I liked it or not) and readied himself for his favorite story... his, at which there came into
his eyes a look of reverie, fond remembrance, and Olde Lang Syne. He smiled the smile of those
who love themselves to distraction, not wisely but too well.
Yes, there he was, the creature of the hour, the creature the world loved to revile, sitting back,
oozing self satisfaction, toodling through the darkness of the night, going nowhere in particular,
loving the high life. It was all so wicked cool... and then he remembered this all had a purpose.
"Now, Mack, what is it you wanted to know?"
"What started it off, sir?"
And darned if The Grinch didn't shake his tambourine and so begin his tale.
"Mack, it all happened a very long time ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was near
Christmas. I was a shy kid and had only a small role in the school pageant. I played one of the extra
shepherds who get put in the back because they have to be put somewhere. It was not my finest
"It so happened that from the time I was a nipper I had a beard, full, rich, patriarchal. The day of the
pageant, my mother decided her shepherd needed a freshly shaved look. But she was terrible,
absolutely awful at what she was doing and cut me to ribbons. I was in despair knowing what the
other kids would say."
"Mom, was horrified by what she had done. She took some ointment from the cabinet and applied it
liberally. Then she kissed me and sent me on my way."
At this point he closed his eyes, the better to recall his affecting story.
"I thought the matter was closed, but as I got closer to school, the kids started pointing at me, using
some pretty strong words I can tell you. To a certain extent I was used to them; after all I was a kid
with a beard. But these remarks were nothing compared to what they were calling me this day. It
was the worst ever and every single one of them was pointing at my face."
"As soon as I could I went to the boys' room to see what I could see. And what I saw horrified me.
My whole face was green, I mean every single inch. It had to be that ointment." "I wanted to run
The hot words came thick and fast, every aspect of the incident at his fingertips. He decided to run
home and hide. But he was grabbed by a teacher who thought he was trying to escape from the
pageant, something boys did. He was deposited on stage... and then it happened.
The Grinch explodes.
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17. Christmas Reflections
"I couldn't stay on that stage. I couldn't face the teachers and all the kids who started to snigger and
point the minute they saw me. I just had to get out of there."
He turned. He tripped. He fell on a pile of boxes wrapped like Christmas presents under the tree. He
crushed the boxes. The tree fell. The crowd roared. The kids jumped all over the place pointing at
me and shouting. There was the pop, pop, pop as incriminating photos were snapped in their
And then The Grinch heard himself shout in a voice not his own...
"I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it," sing song like a chant. "I hate Christmas. I hate
everything about it. I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it." The crowd went bananas.
Dr. Seuss heard it all, too, because he was in the audience that fateful day. And he knew a great story
when he heard one. He went home and started work on the book which after many drafts and edits
became in 1957, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
"Mack, I get a nice fat royalty check every Christmas, which enables me to live in the manner to
which I've become accustomed."
The car was just pulling up to my house. The dawn was just about to break. I had just one more
question to ask, but when we arrived, the door opened as if by magic. The Grinch poked my rib cage
again, Max glowered at me.
"It's been real, Mack. Write me a good story." He told the driver to "put pedal to the metal". And he
turned his head in my direction and seemed to say something. But Max was barking, while the car
shot away and I couldn't be sure. I thought I heard him say something like "Merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night". But I can't be sure... it's so unGrinch-like.
And then I heard one more line from Clapton in The Grinch's unmistable voice:
"We're gonna cause talk and suspicion"...... and he was laughing, Mack, he was laughing....
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18. Christmas Reflections
About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and
home-based businesses learn how to profit online through automation. Attend Dr. Lant's live
webcast TODAY and receive 50,000 free guaranteed visitors to the website of your choice! Dr. Lant
is the author of 18 books, a speaker, consultant and well known marketer. He is also the author of
"Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victoria's Court."
Republished with author's permission by Lance Sumner http://Profit2Riches.com.
http://www.Profit2Riches.com Copyright Lance Sumner - 2012 18 of 18