December 29, 1890: Wounded Knee Massacre


While we’re all sitting about in our mid-Holiday malaise, drunk on sugar and fat, filled with drink and feasting and friendship and song, it should be mandatory to sober up for a moment or two and give some thought to one of the great, horrific, historical moments of our very checkered American WK1past.  On a blistering cold South Dakota day, elements of the American 7th Cavalry, still  smarting from Custer’s incompetent, buffoonish debacle years before, and under the command of Col. James W. Forsyth, cornered a small band of Lakota and drove them to a forced encampment at Wounded Knee Creek under escort.

This occurred in the waning days of the “Indian Wars.”  The native Bison, or Buffalo, upon which plains Indian culture had relied, had been hunted WK12to the brink of extinction, effectively pushing the native communities to the same precipice.  Treaties were made and shattered in the insatiable search for fertile land and gold, ever greater numbers of Indians were being forced onto reservations, which were continually made smaller.  White settlers were spooked by the emergence of the “Ghost Dances,” a native spiritual movement which, in short, amounted to the Christian Messiah returning to Earth as a Native American, bringing peaceWK9 and prosperity to all.

On the morning of Dec 29, while the Union forces undertook efforts to disarm the few natives who still possessed weapons, a medicine man began a Ghost Dance, which put the superstitious soldiers on edge.  Then,  a scuffle broke out when one of the Lakota, a deaf man named Black Coyote, either resisted surrendering his expensive property or didn’t understand the soldiers’ commands.  In the struggle, the rifle discharged.

WK6The soldiers killed everyone.  The Lakota who were still armed.  The women.  The children.  The aged.  Over 150-and as many as 300 Indians died, with another 50 wounded–many of whom also died of their wounds in the ensuing weeks.  They were shot, stabbed, bayoneted.  In the midst of the horror, zealous artillerymen turned their cannons on the villages, where many of the women, children, and aged were sheltered in tipis–tents.  The WK10government reported 25 soldiers dead and 39 wounded–most of whom fell at the hands of friendly fire from both rifles and the enthusiastic cannon crews.

The military left the Indian dead on the field for three days, where they froze in a blizzard, before hiring civilians to bury them in mass graves on the hillside where the cavalry had placed their cannons.

WK4Colonel Forsyth was temporarily removed from command by his superior officer, who always believed that Forsyth engineered the atrocities purposefully, but the War Department reversed the decision, refused to conduct a court martial proceeding, and Forsyth was promoted.  The U. S. Government awarded no less than 2o medals of honor to various soldiers for their part in the massacre.


Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years!


Day After Christmas Hangover




Merry Christmas To All, And to All A Good Night


It’s officially Christmas at my house–one minute after midnight, eastern standard time–and I’d just like to take a moment to wish all of you, whether you celebrate this holiday or not–the warmest of wishes today and throughout the year.  There is no quantifying the fun, and the sense of community, I’ve experienced in reading your words as well as sharing mine–it’s certainly more than I ever expected to gain from keeping a blog.  Not bad for something I did on a lark.  So, enjoy today, tomorrow, and all of the year.

Thank you and goodnight.

Sincerely, Charles



David Keig: A Christmas Tree! A Christmas Tree!

A Christmas Tree!  A Christmas Tree!
by David Keig

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With dark green needled memories
Of childhood dreams and mysteries
Wrapped present-like in front of me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
I glimpse a past wherein i see
The child that then grew into me
Not forward fast but haltingly.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
A time for being with family
A time that’s gone so fleetingly
Yet lives for always deep in me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
When twelfth night comes whole hauntingly
One lingered look and then i see
No Christmas tree where it would be.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With feelings now felt longingly
No corner in my house to see
The magic of that Christmas tree.

sheer awesomeness

Christmas Traffic Stops in Lowell, Michigan Police

It seems like we see some sort of awful news about cops just about every day any more–often deservedly so.  A video like this tells me that maybe we can get things turned around.  Pretty amazing.  Now we just need to start treating each other like this all year round.  This one is a must watch–but that doens’t mean I’m not still wary of cops.


Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Charles Dickens

charles-dickens-st_2439822bChristmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas. –Charles Dickens


The Currier & Ives Cookie Tray

When I was a child my mom had a cheap metal cookie tray with this image painted on it.  No other picture has done more to shape my idea of an idealized Christmas.


Here’s what’s on Top of my Christmas Tree – what’s on Yours?

Hugh, over at Hugh’s Views and News, is sponsoring a Christmas charity event–for every person who blogs a photo of what’s on top of their Christmas tree he will donate £1–up to £250.  That’s about $390 bucks in US Dollars–a significant amount.

Christmas Tree 2008b


So, all you need to do is to snap a shot of the top of your tree–whether it’s a star, an angel, or a bobblehead replica of NASCAR star Rusty Wallace in a cocktail dress–and link back to Hugh’s post, where he’s helpfully included specific directions that cover whatever I’m forgetting.

So, let’s get the money out of Hugh.  We’ve got a tin star on the top of our tree, just like a Sheriff in the Old West.  What do you have?  When you post, stick a link in my comments section so we can take a look at your tree top


Ghosts of Christmas Past, er, Present Part 4–Christmas Eve Now

 Part 1 The Hanging of The Greens

Part 2 On The First Day of Christmas

Part 3 Getting There From Here

We’ve had some good Christmas Eve celebrations over the past two decades or so, since my wife and I started celebrating together.  Each year we gather at my in-laws home with however many relatives and friends are available–sometimes as few as nine of us, sometimes closer to 29–and  spend the afternoon talking and laughing, catching up, calling out, the usual–with the occasional decimation of a shrimp cocktail and a cheese & crackers plate thrown in, but the main attraction is my mother-in-law’s meal, a combination of her Polish and Italian traditions that suits my tastes even more than a Thanksgiving Dinner.

S2007 Christmas_130 2007 Christmas_134he cooks a marinara sauce that is not only the best I’ve ever eaten, but which has a unique character unlike any I’ve tasted before, rich and simple, flavored with smoky cooked parmesan–and she only makes it at Christmas.  This is served over spaghetti, along with pierogies, fresh baked rolls, and a multitude of delicious sides for a meatless meal that makes both carb-counters and I cry, but for diametrically opposed reasons.  If you don’t get my implication: I’m the one crying for joy.

After dinner, there’s a bit more hanging around, but eventually the pious among us (which is pretty much everyone who doesn’t live at my house) takes turns slipping off to get dressed up for midnight mass.  When the time is right, then, we take our leave amidst Christmas wishes, but not to head home.  For the next 90 minutes or so we idle around town and the adjoining sprawl and take in the Christmas lights, carols singing from the car stereo.  There’s a lot of small talk and a lot of consideration as we evaluate the displays, but we’re not harsh judges.  If you’ve made the effort to celebrate by decorating your home/yard/pets you’ve got my appreciation.

For many years we did the light tour on the pretense of taking my wife’s great aunt Julie home, turning the 7-mile, 14 minute trip into a few hours of crawling through residential streets, but Julie’s up around 90 now and her vision has failed, so she’s no longer game.  I’ll always smile and think of her on the tour–I’d walk her to her back door, and she would “slip” a crumpled five dollar bill into my hand “for the ride.”  I tried to not to accept it the first time, and she pinched me on the wrist and chastised me.  The pinch hurt, and I remembered someone once telling me, “it’s good to be generous, but it’s important to know how to accept generosity graciously.”  So, hey: five bucks for me.

Christmas Tree 2012When we finally get home, it’s straight to “work.”  We hang stockings while more Christmas music plays, put out a plate of cookies and a cup of milk for Santa–one year we opted not to put out the milk, in fear that it would get warm for Santa, and left the cup and an invitation to serve himself from the refrigerator, but Santa hit the eggnog instead.  Hard.

Lesson learned.

Next up, from my wife’s childhood, the opening of a single Christmas present–a tradition I indulge–reluctantly, at first– because, well, I’m not in charge, even though it makes me nervous.  My mom was a Christmas despot–we weren’t allowed even a sniff of presents until everyone was awake in the morning.  Opening that present at night seems dangerous.

Christmas Tree 2008After that, it’s off to bed, where we all pile in for the reading of our favorite Christmas books, the ones saved after a month of reading to each other.  It used to me me reading all the stories, but now that the kids are mostly grown we take turns, although there are still calls for me to read “Marty The Christmas Moose” using goofy voices for all the characters.  They may be indulging me, but what the heck.

Then it’s off to bed. I used to wait to wrap all my presents on Christmas Eve, alone after everyone else turns in, right there in front of the tree, but I need my sleep more these days.  Oh, I still stay up a few minutes after everyone else, but I’m content to take a few laps around the house and look at the decorations and let what memories that may come venture into my mind.



Counting Down To Lift-Off

I wish I knew where this shot came from…it’s a beauty.