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Christmas Eve 2001: Photo by Edward McKuen. ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment Group

A Thought for Today

Celebrate His birthday with love.


Good morning and Happy Christmas. I hope Santa was as sweet last night and this morning to you as I’m sure you were to each other all year long. As Jerry Herman’s Mame so aptly put it “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!”

Never has a nation and a world deserved the peace and hope that this holiday represents more than this very year and this very minute.

The past twelve months haven’t been the best for any of us but I’m sure that our individual troubles pale compared to the fix the world at large currently finds itself. I know mine do.

I’m trying very hard to concentrate on the plus side and you certainly top the list in that department. So many of you have been with me for years, shared your joys and sorrows with me and applauded and commiserated with me regarding mine. And, I’m just as grateful for the new friends I’ve made and am making every day for pausing a while and giving a nod to what I’m trying to with my life. Thanks to all of you I never feel alone.

We’re all in this little life together and since none of us will get out of it alive I for one am thrilled to be sharing space with you on our mutual journey.

But what to get you for Christmas? I’ve puzzled over that one a lot because you’re not easy to please and of course I wouldn’t want it any other way. A couple of weeks ago Eric Yeager sent me a letter suggesting that I might make available as downloads a couple of the MP3’s he created for me. That’s a thought, I thought, but didn’t do anything about it. Then a note from Ken last week, “My Christmas spirit hasn’t kicked in yet and I’m sure yours is lagging but we ought to start thinking about what we’re going to do for ‘the troops’ for Christmas." Indeed you are the troops and Webmaster Ken the very capable general.


By George I think I’ve got it. Today begins the 12 days of Christmas and so from now till Epiphany you’ll find a different MP3 to download every day. The tracks are from all over the place and will deal with a wide range of subjects – hey, with 200 plus albums released and half again as many projected or in the can I’ve got plenty to choose from. And, thanks to Eric, who has officially joined our little band of merry makers (Melinda, Jay, Wade, Ken & yours truly) from this day forward a new toy has been added to our playhouse. Rod’s Juke Box will keep all the downloads available from now, until . . .and more will be added every month.

This is a collaborative gift. Eric converted all the tracks to the MP3 format and did the uploading. Long ago Wade helped choose the songs for another project, Jay typed out all the lyrics to each song and Melinda’s gift of our mirror website <> gives us the added storage capacity to not only continue improving this site but opens the possibility for many mega biting files.

Webmaster Ken is also the puppet master for this whole affair, supervising and posting everything to the last detail. Here we go.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, “Simple Gifts” for under the tree.


I wrote “Simple Gifts” for my mother when we were both living on the corner of Gardner and Fountain in Los Angeles. The year was 1965. Both Glenn Yarbrough and I made demos of it for my then partner in publishing, David Hubert. The song has nothing to do with the Shaker Hymn of the same title but I’ve heard folk singers do them together as a medley.

This recording is taken from the LP & CD “New Carols for Christmas.” Recorded September, 1971 at Phillips Studios, London. Arranged and conducted by Arthur Greenslade


Simple Gifts

Though the gift be small and simple
if the wish is wide
just the simple gift of giving
makes you warm inside.

Though the thought is ever fleeting
if a thought at all
remember all the mighty big things
started out as small.

So if you’ve a gift worth giving
let it be your smile
let it be a kindly word
that makes a stranger stop awhile.

Let it be a simple gift then
if the wish is wide
just the simple gift of giving
makes you warm inside.

Words & music by Rod McKuen © 1965 by Stanyan Music & Rod McKuen


(A simple left-click on the above link should start the download automatically. If you're having problems, try right-clicking on the link and select "save target as".)

Join Ken tomorrow to celebrate Boxing Day (easy for him to do since he’s located in the hemisphere where everyone is currently wearing shorts anyway.) Kwanza starts tomorrow too and I’ll be here with another song for downloading. Again, Happy Holidays and sleep warm.

RM 12/22/2001 Previously unpublished

notable birthdays Clara Barton o Humphrey Bogart o Jimmy Buffett o Cab Calloway o Carlos Castaneda o Quentin Crisp o Dido o Ron Foos o Lord Lew Grade o Ricky Henderson o Conrad Hilton o Annie Lennox o Celia Lipton o Little Richard o Barbara Mandrell o Tony Martin o Sir Isaac Newton o Robert Ripley o Anwar Sadat o Gary Sandy o Hanna Schygulla o Rod Serling o Sissy Spacek o Gladys Swarthout o Helen Twelvetrees o Rebecca West
Rod's random thoughts Don’t forget whose birthday we celebrate today.

One life will always make a difference.

Love is another word for Christmas.


There's tinsel in the town already
and wreaths so fragile
       that I doubt they'll last
               through Christmas Eve.

There was a time
when I was bothered by
      commercial Christmas
starting in on All Saints Eve.
But now I welcome each reminder,
however early or ill-timed,
of that sweet saviors birth.
For if we ever needed Christ's
and quiet Christmas men,
there is no time when
they should be more welcome
                              than just now.

Each reminder -
carols of an evening,
trees trucked early into town,
merchandise in mad array
        in downtown windows,
even plastic garlands
strung across each city street -
should only serve to prod us
into friendship and the fantasy
        of goodness
set down clearly by the mystery
we chose to name as God.

Man can always use reminders,
be they old or new names
served as recipes for love.

-from Women's Day, December, 1968

Happy Landings - see you tomorrow
© 1968, 1971, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1998. 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith o Sound & Fury Dr. Eric Yeager o Webmaster Ken Blackie
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