We Need A Little Christmas

In the 1960s Broadway musical and movie Mame, the title character is an eccentric woman named Auntie Mame who is the central character of the story. Toward the end of the first act, the 1929 stock market crash leaves the family destitute and the mood becomes as gloomy as the weather. To liven things up and ease the depression, she sings a rousing musical number that has become the most popular song from that play and movie, “We Need a Little Christmas” as she lavishly decorates the family home for the holidays.

The song is a lively, bright optimistic number that sticks with the listener, and it is no wonder why that song has become so popular through the years. Perhaps that song might best express the feeling of joy at this time of year, especially during tough times like it was in the play and movie.

After almost two years of COVID induced lockdowns, closings and sickness; with more people getting vaccinated and the rate of new infections falling again, perhaps we can have some hope of returning to some sense of normalcy. After last year when it seemed that somehow the grinch had actually stolen Christmas from us with no Christmas parties, shows, concerts and plays or family gatherings. After being all hunkered down and afraid of being exposed to COVID last year, we really need a little Christmas this year. Last year my family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas were on zoom.

After an almost two year period of civil unrest and protests, including an assault on our nation’s Capitol as well as our political divisiveness, perhaps one thing that everyone might agree on is that we need a time to celebrate just the joy of the season. Regardless how anyone celebrates this holiday, we need a little Christmas right now. We need the shopping, the shows, the music and most important, the gathering with friends and family to celebrate the holiday.

When you think about it, December is a very gloomy month of the year. It is dark in the northern hemisphere as the winter solstice comes a few days before Christmas when the sun is at the lowest point in the sky and the daylight is the shortest of the year. In this part of the country, December is often the cloudiest month of the year with a sunny day being a special treat. December also brings cold rain as well as sometimes a lot of snow. But the snow soon turns to slop and then freezes into ice making it difficult to get around outside.

Without the lights and decorations of the Christmas holiday, this would really be a very gloomy depressing time of the year. But for a few weeks, we can enjoy all the lights and special things of the holiday season.

In fact, the reason why we celebrate Christmas on December 25 is that the biggest holiday in the ancient Roman year was the Saturnalia celebration following the winter solstice. That marked the time when the sun began its annual climb in the sky and that the warmer and brighter days were ahead. It was a time of great celebration and of parties. The early Christians who were persecuted by the Romans celebrated their holidays at the same time as the Romans so as not to be seen as different. The Jewish celebration of Hannukah, the festival of lights is also celebrated at the same time of year when it is darkest in the northern hemisphere.

Many of our Christmas traditions have their roots in the pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. One is the lights on the Christmas tree. This Christmas tradition began in Germany as the evergreen trees kept their green throughout the long winter were brought inside the house. The lights on the tree indoors represents the stars in the heavens. In what is now Great Britain, the Druids celebrated the winter solstice with bonfires that provided heat and light, but also to help bring back the sun. It worked since after the winter solstice the sun began rising higher in the sky.

The days after the winter solstice the sun began its slow climb in the sky. it was a cause for celebration and the ultimate return to sunnier and warmer days to come. That celebration was the beginning of the Christmas feasts of the season which led to the famous “boar’s head” celebration and the yule log, a large log brought in for the fire since the night was long and cold. Somehow those ancient pagan celebrations that began long before the birth of Jesus endure as ways to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Therefore, despite our differences and beliefs, we can enjoy the traditions and joys of this glorious holiday season because after the past two years, we sure need a little Christmas now.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 7:49 AM, 12.01.2021