Friday, November 25, 2005

Finally, The Christmas Season has started.

It's official, duly noted by throngs of shoppers waiting in freezing temperatures, or rain, certainly all in the dark, at retailers across the country, for stores to open insanely early to accommodate Christmas bargain hunters. Most retailers here in the Sacramento area opened at 5am.

But never mind the pre-Thanksgiving Christmas decorations. Ignore the post Halloween glitter and Veteran's Day "Pre-holiday sales". They were all premature, efforts by the retail establishment to garner ever more of your hard earned dollar. The glitz of twinkling green, red, and white lights, mingling with the amber and orange hues of fall "harvest celebrations" are a misbegotten holiday-hybrid, turning the shopping masses schizophrenic as they mash their apples and pumpkins into pies, which sit heavy in their uncertain tummies, unsure if they are enjoying a post-harvest goodie, or a pre-Christmas taste of things to come.

The posing is over. The pretending is done. The dress rehearsals have finished.

Christmas truly starts today.

Christmas, with all it's glamour, glitz, and glowing, twinkling bobbles. The glitter of ice, the crunch of snow, or the chill of a foggy December morning, all brings, to us in the Northern Hemisphere, a forshadowing of, and hearkening back to, wonderful times.

The sight of a decorated Christmas tree germinates memories of childhood holidays.

Coming from a large family, I always enjoyed watching the pile of presents under the tree grow, day by day, as my parents added to it gifts they bought, right up until Christmas Eve. I would poke and paw and caress each present that had a nametag on it addressed to me, trying to discern the contents of the wrapping. Most often I was completely surprised on Christmas morning, no matter the depths and detail of my previous sleuthing.

As an adult, I see the same phenomenon in my own children's eyes. They see the packages coming into the home, and they just KNOW there's something in there for them. They carefully gauge the size of the bags, catalogue the shape and sounds it makes coming through the door, and mentally tick off possibilities from the list of things they've asked for. My x-wife and I changed my childhood tradition a little, and made a habit of hiding all the presents until Christmas eve, when, after the kids had all gone to bed, we'd bring out everything and place it all under the tree, to watch with wide-eyed looks on sleepy-eyed children as they behold what, in recent years anyway, had become a wonderful stack of joy for the little kids.

But the beauty and joy of Christmas isn't all in the commercial gift-giving. Obviously, that's a fun and enjoyable part, giving gifts and seeing the joy your gift imparts. But there were years when Christmas for my girls was quite slim. And bless them if they didn't seem to enjoy Christmas just as much during those years of want as they have have during our years of plenty.

The Christmas spirit, I've found, is indeed alive and well, and I want to encourage each everyone of you to experience it, enjoy it, and pass it on; love your neighbor as yourself; do to others as you'd have them do to you; smile and say a kind word, every chance you get.

As a Christian, I refuse to get bogged down in the petty arguments over the PCness of "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas". To me, it will always be "Merry Christmas", and no one can change my opinion. To the neighbor who wishes me "Happy Holidays" as their way of passing on good cheer, then thank you, and God Bless you for it! If Wal-Mart wants to wish me "Happy Holidays" as I pass through their doors, that's fine with me. I'm certain they won't throw me out for wishing "Merry Christmas to you" in return.

The good cheer and good grace is the important part.

So, to each of you as we Official Start The Christmas Season, I wish you Merry Christmas. I hope your holidays are warm and happy.

If you ever have a hard time finding your Christmas Cheer, remember, Christmas Cheer is one of those things you find only after you give it away to someone else.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner tonight, over at my kids' mom's house. My girls (from left), Lindsey, Cameron (holding their new baby brother), and Emily, all pitched in to cook a wonderful meal. Emily, my oldest, did the lion's share of the work, but man, did she do a good job.

Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, potato rolls, candied yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole with french onions on top, devilled eggs, and stuffing (tons of stuffing!) rounded out supper.

For dessert, 4 different types of pies; apple, peanut butter (yes, and you have to try it before you say anything! It's awesome), pumpkin, and lemon meringue.

Every last bit of it home made. Their mom even said she stayed out of the kitchen most of the day. Emily stepped up to the plate and, with a little help from her younger sisters, and hit a home run!

So, I hope all of you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. Remember, friends and family is what it's all about. Hug your kids. Hug your spouse. Kick the dog if he eats turkey off the table, but not real hard.

Drive safe, designate a driver, and arrive alive!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, and A Look Back

Happy Thanksgiving to all you celebrating the holiday. It's a uniquely American holiday, this Thanksgiving we celebrate. Not that many other countries and cultures don't have their own thanksgiving days, but Thanksgiving Day, our Day, is uniquely American.

This coming from my brother (who is a baby-boomer), take a look at MSNBC's "Take 3", a look at the 60's, today baby-boomers (many in their 50's, like my brother, and closing in on 60), and what made that generation, today's leaders, who they are. A very interesting report.

God Bless Everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Playing Checkers

I need to be as vague as I can because this is a semi-public forum, and I never know who will read it.

I'm smitten. Honest. It's like a little, warm, fuzzy ball in my brain. I can't help it.

There's a checker at the grocery down the street who has just stolen my heart. Well, not really all of it, but enough that my little heart goes pitter- (not quite -patter, but just pitter-) when I see her working. I will wait in long lines to go through HER line.

She outrageously cute, with long dark hair, very dark eyes (just makes me melt), always smiling, always remembers me, and definitely talks to me in a way I'm certain is different from how she talks to all the other guys. No, really, she does.

(Ok, that last part made me laugh just writing it.... but I digress)

Since I have far to large a sense of propriety about these things, I shall quietly pine for her in my heart, and keep my quaint little fantasies to myself. I shall not cross the unwritten boundaries between customer and checker, for once crossed, such a line is never re-drawn, and the prospect of shopping elsewhere unacceptable, for that would be a shop where she is not.

I shall, however be a faithful customer, enduring the long lines, and dutifully redeem my 2-for-1 coupons with her, and her only, for as long as I shop.

I also bought a new celphone today. I dropped and finally busted my other one. So I wandered down to my trusty MetroPCS store and bought a Motorola V262. Sounds impressive, huh?

Well, it is to me. I've never had a "flip-phone". My phones have always been the mundane, trusty, boring old straight, flat phones.

Now I've got a sexy phone! Well, a little sexier, anyway. For me.

Funny, though, it doesn't DO anything better than my old phone. I've got a good camera, so I don't need a camera in my phone. It still has the same old people in my phone list (I was hoping for someone new). It's sure small though!

I know this: I'm gonna break this one a lot faster than the last.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

If I Die Before You Wake

My brother sent me this link. It's a power-point set to the song If I Die Before You Wake.

Grab some tissue.