And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

– Luke 2: 1-14

Greetings, my fellow port swillers and a very merry Christmas to you all!

Have I ever mentioned before the fact that this passage affects me like no other in the Gospels?  There are those that comfort me.  There are those that terrify me.  There are those that puzzle me.  There are those that cause me anguish and sorrow.  This is the one that invariably gives me an overpowering frisson and reduces me to tears of, well, Joy.

Indeed, I have a very, very special mental image of the appearance of the heavenly host, as described by Luke.  It’s not much like Rembrandt’s rendering above, but that said, I couldn’t possibly describe it in words.  It’s just that potent.

At any rate,  I take this opportunity to wish each and every friend of the decanter, whether you stop in for only the odd sip or are a regular fellow swiller, my very best wishes for this season.   It’s no exaggeration to say that we live in terrible times and that the barbarism which always lurks just below the surface is bursting forth with ever-increasing frequency and viggah.   But rayther than rail against the onslaught of darkness, I am convinced that this is just that much more impetus to grasp at that Joy which is the good news of Christ’s birth which we celebrate.   And it is my resolution to try that much harder to spread that Joy, both here and in my daily dealings in the “real” world.

Not that there won’t be raillery here, of course; It’s too much fun.  And besides, Satan can’t stand to be laughed at.  It’s just that I have spent years internalizing the Good News, whereas I recognize increasingly that I should really be concentrating more on spreading it about.

And with that, I pray you charge your glasses.  Bumpers all round, ladies and gentlemen, and no heel taps!  Here’s to glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men, with three times three indeed!