Courtesy of Pixabay

The Holiday letters are coming in, those annual news reports from friends and relatives that have become almost as traditional as sprigs of holly. These letters are a wonderful way to keep up with those who live far away, but sometimes I have doubts about their accuracy, or at least their believability. Like photos on Facebook, these letters are all smiles. 

Here, for example, is what we may call the generic or universal Holiday letter, written in the third person superlative, on which all others seem to be modeled.

Dear Friends,

When Santa Claus parades down 34th Street it’s more than just an entertainment with giant balloons. It is the ritual signal or starting gun that launches us into a month-long frenzy of consumption. We must buy gifts, right now, and on all sides we hear the dreaded and unanswerable question: what do you want for Christmas?

Courtesy of Miguel J. Soliman and OLA

This weekend, OLA of Eastern Long Island. will hold its 14th annual Latino Film Festival in the Hamptons. OLA stands for Organizacion Latino Americana. This year the festival will feature five films, including a Chilean crime drama where poet Pablo Neruda is pursued by an inspector after he joins the Communist Party and a Mexican comedy about an 8-year-old boy who discovers he’s a genius.

Courtesy of Habib Koite

One of Africa’s most renowned musicians will be performing in New England this weekend. Musician Habib Koite is from Mali in West Africa. He has a unique guitar style. His instrument is tuned to the pentatonic scale, which simulates the traditional stringed instrument called the n’goni.

Who can we blame for this extra hour of darkness in the evenings? Whose not very bright idea was it to push the clocks back just when we are all starting to get depressed about the coming winter? The answer is President Woodrow Wilson who imposed this ritual persecution in 1918, and the members of Congress who have supported it ever since.