"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

When there should be room at the inn--3 days 'til Christmas

"Welcome," 5 x 7 watercolor card
"Welcome!" Shouldn't that be, or isn't that, the intended messages on Christmas houses and buildings this season?
In other words, "Glad to see you! Come on in."
We said that this week when friends Roy and Jill Kelsey showed up at our front door, unannounced of a visit of Christmas cheer.
We don't say "Welcome" much any more in our over-scheduled world when we need it more than ever. America is blanketed with Christmas lights,  but "gated" subdivisions, border walls and intern camps for children cry out just the opposite. 
Do we see any irony as we remember an innkeeper who told some expectant parents there was no room in his inn?  What is the spirit of Christmas about, symbolized by all those lights?
Remember the inner joy when someone made you "feel welcome" in their office, home or presence?  Just questions, about the meaning of Christmas, and a certain word, "Welcome."
Oh, we say an obligatory "You're welcome" to "Thank you," but that's not the same, as a "Welcoming" spirit.
Consider the origins of the word.
It comes from the Old English (450-1150 A.D.) wilcuma "an exclamation of kindly greeting, from earlier wilcuma "welcome guest," literally "one whose coming suits another's will or wish," from willa "pleasure, desire, choice" + cuma "guest," related to cuman "to come," from the proto Indo European root *gwa-, "to go, come." It's similar formation in Old High German willicomo, Middle Dutch wellecome.
The verb form, Old English wilcumian meant "to welcome, great gladly."
The meaning "entertainment or public reception as a greeting" is recorded from 1530. "You're welcome" as a  response to "thank you" is attested from 1907. "Welcome mat" is from 1908; "welcome wagon," from 1940.
Just thinking about the need for joy and warmth and friendship in this season, three days from Christmas, in the word, "Welcome."
More than you wanted to know? Sometimes it's good to dig into the meanings of the words we mouth without thinking.
Today's watercolor, New Mexico adobe and blue, says "Welcome to me."
Oh, "You're Welcome."

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