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December President's Message
Think of some little things that can bring a smile this Christmas season
By President Randy Snyder
This season, our offices (I hope) are decorated and you have some large or small plan for celebration. As we hang lights, wrap presents, plan parties and dig out the red vest, I pray your festivities help you set aside the hard or stressful work for a time. I love the season and can’t wait to wear red ties, green vests and sing carols.
The first Christmas in Bethlehem was a far different story. So too are some from more recent history. Thought I’d share a few:
Charles M. Russell, our Montana-Western Artist, wrote annual Christmas messages to friends, usually accompanied by a drawing. Here’s his most popular:
Best wishes for your Christmas
Is all you get from me
‘Cause I ain’t no Santa Claus
Don’t own no Christmas tree.
But if wishes was health and money
I’d fill your buck-skin poke
Your doctor would go hungry
An’ you never would be broke.
Lewis and Clark were each steeped in Virginia tradition. They celebrated three Christmases along the trail — more for food, drink, frolic, than expressions of religious feeling. Here’s what some of the Corp recorded:
[Clark] Christmas 25th Decr: I was wakened by a Christmas discharge found that Some of the party had got Drunk . . . the men frolicked and hunted all day. Clark further reported that three Indians came to camp to “take Christmas with us.” He gave them a bottle of whiskey for a present, and they all sat around talking politics. Not so different today.
At Fort Mandan in present-day North Dakota, on Christmas eve, the captains issued flour, dried apples, and pepper “to enable them to celebrate Christmas in a proper and social manner,” as Sergeant Gass put it. (You have to wonder if they tried to make apple pie.) Having finished their fortification the day before, the captains gave the men the day off for merrymaking. They even requested that the Indians stay away from the fort that day, as Christmas “was a Great medician day with us” and they wanted the men to be able to relax. (Clark wrote): I was awakened before Day by a discharge of 3 platoons from the Party and the french, the men merrily Disposed, I give them all a little Taffia and permited 3 Cannon fired, at raising Our flag, Some men went out to hunt & the Others to Danceing and Continued untill 9 oClock P, M, when the frolick ended &c. The men went to bed happy, full of food and drink, and “all in peace & quietness.
[Journal of Sgt Whitehouse] Wednesday Decemr. 25th . . . We saluted our officers, by each of our party firing off his gun at day break in honor to the day (Christmass). Our Officers in return, presented to each of the party that used Tobacco a part of what Tobacco they had remaining; and to those who did not make use of it, they gave a handerchief or some other article, in remembrance of Christmass. . . . A blessing, which we esteem more, than all the luxuries this life can afford, and the party are all thankful to the Supreme Being, for his goodness towards us.— hoping he will preserve us in the same, & enable us to return to the United States again in safety.
In Great Falls, in the 1960’s and 70’s, the employees at Smelter Hill would light up all the giant evergreens for the city. They were visible miles away and reflected over the Missouri River. My parents drove us through the roads every Christmas season, enjoying the thousands of lights amidst the snow covered company houses.
Ideas for you and your staff
Maybe instead of the big party this year, consider a gift of your time and spirit. Here’s a few ideas.
1. Announce an afternoon off. Give your staff an “office credit” to use at a local business for $25.00. They give you the receipt and you cover the cost.
2. Make a reservation at their favorite restaurant – just for them. Send some flowers they can take home.
3. Visit a local extended care facility (our revised term for nursing home). Cut some evergreen boughs (every forest has them in abundance) and take some with you. They smell great and a little red ribbon make a pretty easy gift. The nursing staff will help you distribute them.
4. Go Christmas Caroling at least once. Great for the soul.
5. Sleep in day. Pick a couple days, maybe alternate with staff –let them come in at 10, but pay them a full day.
6. Ask staff the charity they’d select for Christmas – make a
donation in their name.
7. Volunteer a day at the local Food Bank, women’s shelter, senior center or the like. Take a stack of Christmas cards. Write and give them out.
8. Make candles or Christmas wreaths at the office to give to others.
Try one. Try several. Should put a smile on your face and make you feel better for sharing something that cost you near nothing. Call me or drop a note – What’d you do this season for celebration? It doesn’t have to be meaningful or significant. Just giving a little gift of yourself makes such a difference & it’ll put a smile on your face. Guaranteed. Merry Christmas from the Bar officers and staff to you and yours this season.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
— Traditional Gaelic blessing
-Randy Snyder, chief deputy (406) 837.4383 | firstname.lastname@example.org