Be glad of it

By David Grima | Dec 25, 2020

Well, we seem to have blown our one chance to see the so-called Bethlehem Star.

Monday, the night of the Winter Solstice, was to have been our opportunity to see what romantics and the sentimental think might have been the star that shone over Bethlehem, really a conjunction of two bright planets making one super bright one, as in the old story.

I once read a sci-fi tale in which a Jesuit scientist is aboard a spaceship that visits a blasted-to-bits planet that once had a highly advanced culture. His calculations bring him to the conclusion that the star over Bethlehem was in fact the nuclear blast which wiped out this civilization.

The knowledge unsettles him deeply.

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By the way, there is no strict Biblical basis for thinking there were three wise men in the old story. The number was chosen only because there are three kinds of gifts mentioned, that they brought.

More meaningful is the fact that these visitors from the east were foreigners with an alien religion, yet they get a starring role (oh dear, bad pun) in the Bible story.

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According to WCSH-TV, a lobsterman will distribute free lobsters on Christmas Eve along Route 1 in Thomaston. The station says Noah Ames has done this for years.

The idea of lobster for Christmas is quite pleasant to me. Not all cultures dig into portions of birds or mammals for their Christmas dinners.

For example, I am assured by one of my continental European correspondents, currently under cover in Bulgaria, that cod is eaten as the traditional Christmas Eve dish in Poland.

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Speaking of Europe, Dec. 15 was the 135th anniversary of news reaching Lloyd’s of London that the Rockland-built clipper Red Jacket was wrecked on rocks off Madeira.

Red Jacket held the record for a crossing between New York and Liverpool, which was accomplished in what the Portland paper says was “slightly more than 13 days” in 1854, on her maiden transatlantic voyage in the same year Rockland was made a city.

There are all kinds of tidbits of this nature in columns newspapers often run, giving info about historic events on a particular date. The Bangor Dreadful News runs such a column, and made a mistake in reporting on the 98th anniversary of the first-ever sky-writing in the U.S., which their history column says took place Nov. 28, 1922, above New York City.

That is not in dispute, but what caught my antiquated editor’s eye was the assertion that the first U.S. aerographic display was undertaken by Capt. Cyril Turner of the Royal Air Force. As I am sure you all know, there is no such rank as captain in the RAF.

After having first demonstrated sky-writing as a new advertising medium in England, “later that year, Turner went to America to demonstrate the new ad format, writing “HELLO USA” over New York City. People were intrigued.

The following day, he wrote “CALL VANDERBILT 7200,” the phone number of the hotel he was staying at. Over the next two-and-half hours, the hotel’s operators fielded 47,000 calls. Proof-of-concept accomplished.”

This extra info is borrowed from the website

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Do you remember the movie called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” from 1977?

In it, the government established contact with alien spaceships, which do a nice bit of sky-writing on their own account. In order the get all civilians out of the area near Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, where the interplanetary rendezvous has been arranged, the Army spreads panic with a story of (I think) anthrax poisoning.

(What a cheerful thing to mention during the Christmas week, old chap. Have you no decency?)

My vague point is that many people today will remember that film, and perchance it has implanted in certain sections of our population the half-understood memory of government using a fake sickness to manipulate the population.

This is at least one way we might try to understand people insisting, as has been reported, that there is no such thing as COVID-19, the Modern Plague, even as it kills them.

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If I have recently mentioned this, please forgive me. But of all the entertainment that is available to us this holiday, I implore you to avoid looking for and watching the Star Wars Holiday Special. First aired in 1978, surely it is a nominee for the most abominable piece of television ever conceived by humankind. Even Art Carney and Harvey Korman could not save it. They tried.

People guilty of heinous crimes should be forced to watch it, except I think Amnesty International would undoubtedly sue to prevent such cruel and unusual punishment.

* * * * *

I am glad to read that city council is not inclined to pass an ordinance to prevent the Park Street Grille building being demolished, even though I find the idea of losing this corner in town to make way for a parking lot to be a dismal prospect indeed.

The point is that the application for demolition has been made, and is legal. To pass a law making it illegal after the fact would be a very bad way to do government.

We are also aware — because we all read the newspaper don’t we — that the city is already in a bit of a bind over the plans for a cellphone tower out along Route 1. As I understand it, a court has ruled that the tower is legal, while the city planning board says it isn’t. City council wants the planners to say something nice about the towers, but they refuse.

Surely, the decision to refuse to block demolition of the PSG by passing an ordinance was made in the light of this ticklish situation?

Ah, thus we stumble along our merry way to 2021, doing business as usual.

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The musician Greg Lake said decades ago that Christmas can be heaven or hell, adding that people generally get the Christmas they deserve. There’s a cynicism in which almost staggers belief, but to oppose it effectively you need to have something quite different in your soul.

Whatever that “something” might be, it is my experience that so many of you do have it. I raise a modest glass of “something else” to you all in celebration of those who understand, but also for those who do not quite yet see it, but one day will.

There are far more people in this, and many more drawing nearer, than we might ever think, given the apparent state of things in our world. Let our imaginations provide but a single glimpse through a smokey window, for now, and be glad of it.

Here’s to all, and amen.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Dec 25, 2020 10:56

The Bethlehem star shone bright over the Fox Thoroughfare on Christmas Eve as Vinalhaven and North Haven churches combined their talents for an amazing service!  It is what will make Christmas 2020 memorable for me and I am sure for many others. :)  It was that "glimpse through a smoky  window| some of us needed to keep our "OOMPH" going. :)

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