How do you remember your favorite holiday season story?

When I was a little girl “The Little Drummer Boy” was my favorite Christmas story. Have you ever seen it? It’s actually rather a sad tale about a poor shepherd boy who loses his parents in a fire caused by bandits who raid and pillage his home. I bought it when my son Jackson was 3 years old. Over the years, it’s funny how your mind will erase what it does not want to remember. I had completely forgotten about the brutal opening scene in the beginning. I walked away from my childhood with only the image of the drummer boy holding the lamb and following the star in the sky.
 Recently, I retold Jackson the story of how we watched this show and how I had forgotten the tragic beginning of this my favorite Christmas story. If you don’t know it, this is how the story of “The Little Drummer Boy” goes:
After the boy loses his family, he becomes a wayward shepherd. While he is in the fields tending his flock, he hears a rumor that there is a king coming to Bethlehem. He travels with others to find the truth.
Like many, he followed the star in the sky to see if the tale was true. Meanwhile, the drummer boy had such great hatred in his heart for those who destroyed his life. He was an angry little guy and with good reason, I think.
The story goes that he makes it to the manger. There he finds this newborn — the supposed king — with mother Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men.
He is told by one of the Wise Men to look upon the baby. However, the drummer boy does not want to. He is too angry and hurt to feel pure love for anything, including himself. ?”Go and look at him, child,” one of the Wise Men says again.
Finally he does as he is instructed. He pushes his way through the crowd gathered around the manger to stare upon the baby. When he does, his eyes are filled with light. He looks up to the sky and sees an image of his parents holding their arms out, with beautiful smiles upon their face. The child instantly feels the warmth of love ridding him of all hatred toward those that had taken his parents’ lives.
Then someone gives him a little lamb as a gift. He no longer feels alone. The last image is the drummer boy walking away beating his drum with the lamb wrapped around his shoulders, forgiving those that had hurt him in the beginning of the story.
After I finished telling Jackson this story, he asked me, “Why would he forgive them Mom?”
That’s an excellent question. Who wants to forgive those that betray or hurt us? I know I still grapple with this one lesson. Then I realized that is why this one story, to me, captures the meaning of Christmas time. To become extraordinary in this world we must choose love during times we would rather not. We must reach in and spread the joy of hope even when things may seem bleak. Make the most of your holidays this year by choosing love over hate. Be positive and visualize your hopes and dreams. Try to see beyond the negativity. Remember your blessings. Promote love and light this holiday season. Remember the lesson of “The Little Drummer Boy.” There is always hope for something new and beautiful with the power of forgiveness and love.
Around town
On Nov. 26, I ran into my gal pal Meredith MacDonald and Tom and Jean Stewart. All three were in the heart of the Ranch celebrating the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend. Tom and Jean Stewart came down from Long Beach to enjoy The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe and then have their turkey day at Mille Fleurs. Mr. Stewart informed me that his wife, Jean, had been a model for Life Magazine. They mingled with Ms. MacDonald, me, Melissa Williams and designer Janice Jaraicie —  thrilled to be out for the beginning of the holiday season.
On Dec. 6, I visited one of my favorite shops — St. Joseph Catholic Store off of Mira Mesa Boulevard, near Black Mountain Road. I have known about this fabulous religious store for the last seven years. Richard Brant has owned the store for more than 14 years. His daughter, Eleanor Brant, told me all about the history of this quaint business that receives shipments of beautiful inventory for their clients from Spain and Italy. Don’t hate me if you are not religious, but if you are, take a drive the back way by Santaluz to Black Mountain Road to buy wonderful inspirational gifts for your friends and loved ones over the holidays. I always buy a few necklaces for my friends. We’re known as the “necklace swingers” in town. Go figure. Their address is 8963 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, 92126 or call (858) 547-8801 for details on this delightful one stop religious shop.
On Dec. 8, I went downtown to the Village Market to discover the gorgeous poinsettias. They also have one section of specialty gifts if you are in a pinch to do some last minute holiday shopping. Just down the street, Thyme in the Ranch bustled with business. Have you been there? If not, you need to visit this shabby chic breakfast/lunch bakery. If you are looking for cookies elegantly wrapped for your family parties or for your clients or co-workers, call (858) 759-0747 to reserve your tray before it’s too late! There’s Country Squire Gift shop tucked in the back corner of Mille Fleurs pack patio with an assortment of Christmas ornaments, unique presents for that special loved one.
On Dec. 10, I was invited to attend a Helen Woodward luncheon in the library, to discuss their upcoming charity event. I was thrilled to meet Mike Arms, the president and executive director. All of the attendees — Cathie and Wayne Ayman, co-chair Katie and her son Robin Shull, Linda Koligman and Renee Reskso were privy to a 30-minute speech by Mr. Arms. First, he introduced himself and then went on to explain how and why he became involved with his mission to save animals from all over the world from cruelty and animal destruction. The story he shared brought tears to my eyes: One day when he was trying to save a dog from dying (hit by a car), he was brutally stabbed and beaten by some nearby thugs. The dog he was trying to save kept licking his face until he regained consciousness. Then the dog died as he waited for help. From that moment on, Mr. Arms has committed his life to helping save animals. Have you heard of the “Home 4 the Holidays” program? Mr. Arms started this program. In 1999, the Helen Woodward Animal Center teamed up with 14 San Diego area shelters to start the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program. That year they found homes for 2,563 orphaned pets. This year their pledge is to save the lives of 1 million unwanted animals. Mr. Arms’ passion and empathy has saved and impacted many animals’ lives that so desperately needed a home. I will be helping fundraise for this event and will be in charge of the silent auction for next year’s Shangri Paw spectacular gala. If you would like to help donate your time and effort in the new year to this famous charity and animals that need help, please e-mail me at machel.penn@yahoo.com.
 On Dec. 11, Roger Rowe students organized Christmas caroling at The Inn. The event featured the students singing Christmas carols on a lovely chilly night under the moonlit stars, while friends and family stood by proudly and listened. I found some boys downtown afterward with big smiles on their faces having fun after the event had ended.
Save the date: Dec. 18
Café Positano owner Tim Cusac gave me the scoop on the first “Holiday Del Rayo” annual holiday concert and festivities, which starts at 4 p.m. Dec. 18. Tim Holcombe and Harmony Grove will be performing Holiday Country Blue Grass tunes, plus many more singers. There shall be free samples of food, fun and music in the heart of Fairbanks. Bring your friends and family and show and share in the cheer for this first ever event.

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