He hath exalted them of low degree

Friday, December 26, 2003

On my tombstone, I'd like to see these words chiseled:

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

In case you don't recognize it, those words are from the Good Book.

You do know which Good Book, right?

Among those of low degree I have championed over the years, none has been more maligned than the noble fruitcake.

Many readers are all too aware of my love of fruitcake. I've never met one I didn't like.

And thanks to my persistent whining and begging, many of you have taken my fondness for fruitcake as your own personal blessing. For the first time in your lives, you have been able to dispose of those annoying gift fruitcakes without guilt. You have given them to me.

Some of you even baked special fruitcakes for me. In a word: delicious.

This year, without having to whimper once about my affection for fruitcakes, many of you took pity one more time and unloaded cake after cake in my office.

Since most of you with generous hearts have never tasted the fruitcakes you give away, let me give a brief report.

Texas is still the king of fruitcake states.

Monks do not make better fruitcakes, but they do add more brandy.

Students at the School of the Ozarks at Point Lookout, Mo., once again deserve an A for their fruitcake-baking skills.

Thanks ever so much to my 2003 fruitcake benefactors. And thanks for the special loaf of pumpkin bread and the sack of peanut brittle and all the other goodies. They will not go to waste. They will, however, go to my waist.

By the way, the Bible verse above might be a bit pricey. It would be less expensive to say Fruitcake champion.

Not only does Fruitcake champion have a nice ring to it, it's fun to think what historians will make of it in the 22nd or 23rd century.

Since our sons are grown and away from home, Christmas at our house was a quiet day.

Here's what I don't miss about Christmas Past: The scramble for batteries in the hours following the mad rush to open presents.

When I was growing up on the Killough Valley farm in the Ozarks over yonder, we didn't have a problem with batteries. Flashlights were about the only things that used batteries.

Toys in my childhood required assembly in some cases. But they were built to last. And if they had moving parts, they were wound up. Or pushed. Or pedaled. Or pulled. Or thrown.

Nowadays, there are few toys that don't have batteries and computer chips in them.

Is this progress? For the most part, yes.

But I fear many of today's toys don't challenge the imagination of youngsters the way they used to. Today's toys do all the thinking.

Imagination is the inspiration for discovery and exploration.

There are still children who shun gizmos that outsmart them. They opt instead for big cardboard boxes and blankets over the dining room table which, in a child's mind, can become almost anything.

I've seen children, lost in the world of make believe, play for hours and hours. I've seen these same children tire of a new toy filled with electronic wizardry in less than an hour.

These are interesting times. Technology is great. "No batteries required" is even greater.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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