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Clearwater Valley News: ‘Xmas’ is OK: Christ is still there!

Clearwater Valley

Clearwater Valley


Norma Staaf 208-993-0689


Free Press / Norma Staaf Kylea Clemenhagen performs at the annual Harpster Community Christmas Program Dec. 10.

— Wishing you a happy winter solstice on Thursday! We have almost survived the darkest days of the year. Winter solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years as the beginning of the solar year, a time to welcome the light back into our lives. Great to have a bonfire or light candles, the days only get longer from here. (I think I’ll get the seed catalogues out and dream of gardening.)

I don’t consider myself a photographer, I’ve never had the patience for it. Since I do freelance writing for a newspaper and photos help illustrate stories, I decided to upgrade from a “point and shoot” camera to a more advanced model. I am thrilled that the Free Press printed three of my photographs in last week’s newspaper. My trajectory that week: Monday- buy camera; Thursday- remove camera from box; Friday- people-picture lesson with Lauren Paterson at Muse Media in Kamiah; Sunday-shoot photos of cute kids and Santa at Harpster Christmas program and by Wednesday three photos printed in the newspaper. One of the benefits of rural, smalltown living is that this is possible. It is unlikely that a bigger city newspaper would print my photos. With a combination of a quality camera, good advice from Lauren, very cute kids in Harpster and encouragement from Free Press staff, I now feel like a photographer and am inspired to improve. This is a time of year to dream and to reflect on what you can do that you didn’t think you could.

It seems like this time of year, amidst all the craft fairs, concerts, parties, church services and other activities, some people worry about what an appropriate greeting is. A sign on a church in Kooskia suggests that the term “Xmas” leaves out Christ. Actually, Xmas includes Christ. According to Webster’s dictionary the term “Xmas” dates back to the 16th century. The “X” resembles the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of the Greek word Xpiotoc which translates to Christ in English. The mas is from an old English word for Mass. The two together are Christ’s mass. So Xmas is an older (not a newer) word than Christmas, with religious, not secular roots. My point is not to give a linguistic lesson, but I hope that we can all wish each other well, in our own traditions and not fret too much about exactly which words to use.

With that I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Peace on earth, goodwill toward men!


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