Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

President’s Day

March 3, 2011

I was eating lunch today with my 10 year old grandson when his mom asked him “What is tomorrow?”

He said “It’s President’s Day”

She asked “What does that mean?”…. I was waiting for something profound…

He said “President’s Day is when Obama steps out of the White House and if he sees his shadow, we have 2 more years of unemployment.”

I almost snorted my iced tea.

Christmas on the Ranch – an inspirational story

December 24, 2010

‘Twas the night before Christmas and out on the ranch
The pond was froze over and so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,

And happier young folks you never did see-
Just all sprawled around a-watchin’ TV.
Then suddenly, some time around 8 o’clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!

The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
”Just what I expected,” they heard him remark.

”Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago.”
I’ll hunt up some candles,” said Mom. “With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we’ll make out all right.”

The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle and started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.

Mom started to sing, and 1st thing they knew
Both Pop and the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang “Holy Night,”
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.

They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God’s Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight-and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed ‘twas a fine Christmas Eve.

Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on…
”The power company sure got the line repaired quick,”
Said Grandpa – and no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch – the old Son-of-a-Gun!

-Anonymous

Merry Christmas!

BLESSED ARE THE CRACKED, FOR THEY LET IN THE LIGHT!

The True Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 24, 2010

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined to make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn’t end there either.

Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

‘TWAS THE NIGHT OF THANKSGIVING

November 25, 2010

‘TWAS THE NIGHT OF THANKSGIVING,
BUT I JUST COULDN’T SLEEP.
I TRIED COUNTING BACKWARDS,
I TRIED COUNTING SHEEP.

THE LEFTOVERS BECKONED –
THE DARK MEAT AND WHITE,
BUT I FOUGHT THE TEMPTATION
WITH ALL OF MY MIGHT.

TOSSING AND TURNING WITH ANTICIPATION,
THE THOUGHT OF A SNACK BECAME INFATUATION.
SO, I RACED TO THE KITCHEN, FLUNG OPEN THE DOOR,
AND GAZED AT THE FRIDGE, FULL OF GOODIES GALORE.
GOBBLED UP TURKEY AND BUTTERED POTATOES,
PICKLES AND CARROTS, BEANS AND TOMATOES.

I FELT MYSELF SWELLING SO PLUMP AND SO ROUND,
‘TIL ALL OF A SUDDEN, I ROSE OFF THE GROUND.
I CRASHED THROUGH THE CEILING, FLOATING INTO THE SKY,
WITH A MOUTHFUL OF PUDDING AND A HANDFUL OF PIE.
BUT, I MANAGED TO YELL AS I SOARED PAST THE TREES….
HAPPY EATING TO ALL – PASS THE CRANBERRIES, PLEASE.

MAY YOUR STUFFING BE TASTY, MAY YOUR TURKEY BE PLUMP.
MAY YOUR POTATOES ‘N GRAVY HAVE NARY A LUMP.

MAY YOUR YAMS BE DELICIOUS. MAY YOUR PIES TAKE THE PRIZE,
MAY YOUR THANKSGIVING DINNER STAY OFF OF YOUR THIGHS!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

Tiger Woods Holiday Poem (humor)

January 17, 2010

‘Twas the night of Thanksgiving and out of the house
Tiger Woods came a flyin’, chased by his spouse.

She wielded a nine iron and wasn’t too merry,                                                              Cause a bimbo’s phone number was in his Blackberry.

He’d been cheatin’ on Elin, and the story progressed.                                                Woman after woman stepped up and confessed.

He’d been cheatin’ with Holly, and Jaimee, and Cori,                                                With Joselyn, and Kalika. The world had the story.

From the top of the Tour to the basement of blues,
Tiger’s sad sordid tale was all over the news.

With hostesses, waitresses, he had lots of sex,
When not in their pants, he was sendin’ them texts.

Despite all his cryin’ and beggin’ and pleadin’,
Tiger’s wife went investin’ — a new home in Sweden.

And I heard her exclaim from her white Escalade,
“If you’re gettin’ laid then I’m gettin’ paid.”

She’s not pouting, in fact, she is of jolly good cheer,
Her pre-nup made Christmas come early this year.

Barbie’s letter to Santa – humor

January 5, 2010

Dear Santa,

Listen you fat little troll, I’ve been helping you out every year, playing at being the perfect Christmas present, wearing skimpy bathing suits in frigid weather, and drowning in fake tea from one too many tea parties,  and I hate to break it to ya Santa, but IT’S DEFINITELY PAYBACK TIME! There had better be some changes around here this Christmas, or I’m gonna call for a nationwide meltdown (and trust me, you won’t wanna be around to smell it).

So, here’s my holiday wish list, Santa:

1. A nice, comfy pair of sweat pants and a frumpy, oversized sweatshirt.  I’m sick of looking like a hooker. How much smaller are these bathing suits gonna get? Do you have any idea what it feels like to have nylon and Velcro crawling up your butt?

2. Real underwear that can be pulled on and off. Preferably white. What bonehead at Mattel decided to cheap out and MOLD imitation underwear to my skin? (It looks like cellulite)

3. A REAL man…maybe GI Joe. Hell, I’d take Tickle-Me Elmo over that wimped-out excuse for a boyfriend Ken. And what’s with that earring anyway? If I’m gonna have to suffer with him, at least make him (and me) anatomically correct.

4. Arms that actually bend so I can push the aforementioned Ken-wimp away once he is anatomically correct.

5. Breast reduction surgery. I don’t care whose arm you have to twist, just get it done;

6. A sports bra…to wear until I get the surgery.

7. A new career. Pet doctor and school teacher just don’t cut it. How about a systems analyst? Or better yet, an advertising account exec or even a hooker….for goodness sake!

8. A new, more 2009 persona. Maybe “PMS Barbie”, complete with a miniature container of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and a bag of chips; “Animal Rights Barbie”, with my very own paint gun, outfitted with a fake fur coat and handcuffs; or “Stop Smoking Barbie”, sporting a removable Nicotine patch and equipped with several packs of gum;

9. No more McDonald’s endorsements. The grease is wrecking my vinyl;

10. Mattel stock options. It’s been 42 years–I think I deserve it; Ok, Santa, that’s it. Considering my valuable contribution to society, I don’t think these requests are out of line. If you disagree, then you can find yourself a new bimbo doll for next Christmas. It’s that simple.

Up yours truly,
Barbie

A Christmas Story

December 29, 2009

A Christmas Story

The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights.  It was just another day to him.  He didn’t hate Christmas, just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate.  There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.  Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm-up.

“Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger. “I see you’re busy.  I’ll just go”

“Not without something hot in your belly,” George turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger.

“It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty.  Stew.  Made it myself. When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”

Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell.

“Excuse me, be right back,” George said.

There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy.  Steam was rolling out of the front.  The driver was panicked.

“Mister can you help me!” said the driver with a deep Spanish accent. “My wife is with child and my car is broken.”

George opened the hood.  It was bad.  The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead.  “You ain’t going in this thing,” George said as he turned away.

“But mister,  Please help….” The door of the office closed behind George as he went in.

George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside.

He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.

“Here, you can borrow my truck,” he said.  “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night.  George turned and walked back inside the office.

“Glad I loaned ‘em the truck.  Their tires were shot too. That ‘ol truck has brand new tires……..” George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone.  The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.

“Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start.

It cranked slowly, but it started.  He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been.  He thought he would tinker with it for something to do.  Christmas Eve meant no customers.

He discovered the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.

“Well, I can fix this,” he said to himself.  So he put a new one on.

“Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.” He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car.

As he was working he heard a shot being fired.  He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground.

Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Help me.”

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic.  He knew the wound needed attention.  “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought.  The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels.  He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

“Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.  “Something for pain,” George thought.  All he had was the pills he used for his back.

“These ought to work.” He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.

“You hang in there.  I’m going to get you an ambulance.”

George said, but the phone was dead.  “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your police car.”

He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.  He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.

“Thanks,” said the officer.  “You could have left me there.  The guy that shot me is still in the area.”

George sat down beside him.  “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.” George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding.  “Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through ‘ya.  Good thing it missed the important stuff though.  I think with time your gonna be right as rain.”

George got up and poured a cup of coffee.  “How do you take it?” he asked.

“None for me,” said the officer.

“Oh, yer gonna drink this.  Best in the city.” Then George added: “Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.”

The officer laughed and winced at the same time.  The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun.

“Give me all your cash!  Do it now!” the young man yelled.

His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.

“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George.  “You need to put the cannon away.  Somebody else might get hurt.”

The young man was confused.  “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too.  Now give me the cash!”

The cop was reaching for his gun.

“Put that thing away,” George said to the cop.  “We got one too many in here now.”

He turned his attention to the young man.  “Son, it’s Christmas Eve.  If you need the money, well then, here.  It ain’t much but it’s all I got.  Now put that pea shooter away.”

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.

The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.

“I’m not very good at this am I?  All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on.  “I’ve lost my job. My rent is due.  My car got repossessed last week…”

George handed the gun to the cop.  “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then.  The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop.

“Sometimes we do stupid things.” George handed the young man a cup of coffee.  “Being stupid is one of the things that make us human.  Comin’ in here with a gun ain’t the answer.  Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”

The young man had stopped crying.  He looked over to the cop. “Sorry I shot you.  It just went off.  I’m sorry officer.”

“Shut up and drink your coffee.” the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside.  A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt.  Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.  “Chuck!  You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet.  How did you find me?”

“GPS locator in the car.  Best thing since sliced bread.

Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, “I don’t know.  The guy ran off into the dark.  Just dropped his gun and ran.”

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

“That guy works here,” the wounded cop continued.

“Yep,” George said.  “Just hired him this morning.  Boy lost his job.”

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher.

The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, “Why?”

Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas, boy.  And you too, George, and thanks for everything.”

“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there.  That ought to solve some of your problems.” George went into the back room and came out with a box.  He pulled out a ring box.

“Here you go.  Something for the little woman.  I don’t think Martha would mind.  She said it would come in handy some day.”

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw.  “I can’t take this,” said the young man. “It means something to you.”

“And now it means something to you,” replied George.

“I got my memories.  That’s all I need.”

George reached into the box again.  A toy airplane, a racing car and a little metal truck appeared next.  They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell.  “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.  “And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with?  You keep that, too.  Count it as part of your first week’s pay.” George said. “Now git home to your family.”

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face.

“I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”

“Nope.  I’m closed Christmas day,” George said.  “See ya the day after.” George turned around to find that the stranger had returned.

“Where’d you come from?  I thought you left?”

“I have been here.  I have always been here,” said the stranger.  “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas.  Why?”

“Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn’t see what all the bother was.  Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree.

Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby.”

The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder.  “But you do celebrate the holiday, George.  You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.  The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists.

The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people. That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said.  “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.

“Trust me, George.  I have the inside track on this sort of thing.  And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.” The stranger moved toward the door.

“If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now.  I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”

George watched as the man’s old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe.  A golden light began to fill the room.

“You see, George, it’s My birthday. Merry Christmas.”

The Big Wheel – an inspirational story

December 25, 2009

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money–fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana?

I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)

It was still dark and I couldn’t see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car-or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.

When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.  Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

THE SIMPLE WHITE ENVELOPE – a Christmas story

December 25, 2009

It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma –the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against another team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed an envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.  For each Christmas, I followed the tradition — one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

To Bobby, From Santa Claus

December 23, 2009

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns… I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted…. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second World-famous cinnamon bun. “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.” The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.” I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.  Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were, ridiculous.  Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care. And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!


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