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|Tuesday, December 18th, 2018|
The first time we set eyes on "Big Red," father, mother and I were trudging through the freshly fallen snow on our way to Hubble's Hardware store on Main Street in Huntsville, Ontario. We planned to enter our name in the annual Christmas drawing for a chance to win a hamper filled with fancy tinned cookies, tea, fruit and candy. As we passed the Eaton's Department store's window, we stopped as usual to gaze, and do our bit of dreaming.
The gaily decorated window display held the best toys ever. I took an instant hankering for a huge green wagon. It was big enough to haul three armloads of firewood, two buckets of swill or a whole summer's worth of pop bottles picked from along the highway. There were skates that would make Millar's Pond well worth shoveling and dolls much too pretty to play with. And they were all nestled snugly beneath the breathtakingly flounced skirt of Big Red.
Mother's eyes were glued to the massive flare of red shimmering satin, dotted with twinkling sequin-centered black velvet stars. "My goodness," she managed to say in trancelike wonder. "Would you just look at that dress!" Then, totally out of character, mother twirled one spin of a waltz on the slippery sidewalk. Beneath the heavy, wooden-buttoned, grey wool coat she had worn every winter for as long as I could remember, mother lost her balance and tumbled. Father quickly caught her.
Her cheeks redder than usual, mother swatted dad for laughing. "Oh, stop that!" she ordered, shooing his fluttering hands as he swept the snow from her coat. "What a silly dress to be perched up there in the window of Eaton's!" she shook her head in disgust. "Who on earth would want such a splashy dress?"
As we continued down the street, mother turned back for one more look. "My goodness! You'd think they'd display something a person could use!"
Christmas was nearing and the red dress was soon forgotten. Mother, of all people, was not one to wish for, or spend money on, items that were not practical. "There are things we need more than this," she'd always say, or, "There are things we need more than that."
Father, on the other hand, liked to indulge whenever the budget allowed. Of course, he'd get a scolding for his occasional splurging, but it was all done with the best intention.
Like the time he brought home the electric range. In our old Muskoka farmhouse on Oxtongue Lake, Mother was still cooking year-round on a wood stove. In the summer, the kitchen would be so hot even the houseflies wouldn't come inside. Yet there would be Mother - roasting - right along with the pork and turnips.
One day, Dad surprised her with a fancy new electric range. She protested, of course, saying that the wood stove cooked just dandy, that the electric stove was too dear and that it would cost too much hydro to run it. All the while, however, she was polishing its already shiny chrome knobs. In spite of her objections, Dad and I knew that she cherished that new stove.
There were many other modern things that old farm needed, like indoor plumbing and a clothes dryer, but Mom insisted that those things would have to wait until we could afford them. Mom was forever doing chores - washing laundry by hand, tending the pigs, or working in our huge garden - so she always wore mended, cotton-print housedresses and an apron to protect the front. She did have one or two "special" dresses saved for Church on Sundays. And amongst everything else she did, she still managed to make almost all of our clothes. They weren't fancy, but they did wear well.
That Christmas I bought Dad a handful of fishing lures from the Five to a Dollar store, wrapped them individually in matchboxes so he'd have plenty of gifts to open from me. Choosing something for Mother was much harder. When Dad and I asked, she thought carefully then hinted modestly for some tea towels, face clothes or a new dishpan.
On our last trip to town before Christmas, we were driving up Main Street when mother suddenly exclaimed in surprise: "Would you just look at that!" She pointed excitedly as Dad drove past Eaton's.
"That big red dress is gone," she said in disbelief. "It's actually gone."
"Well...I'll be!" Dad chuckled. "By golly, it is!"
"Who'd be fool enough to buy such a frivolous dress?" Mother questioned, shaking her head. I quickly stole a glance at Dad. His blue eyes were twinkling as he nudged me with his elbow.
Mother craned her neck for another glimpse out the rear window as we rode on up the street. "It's gone..." she whispered. I was almost certain that I detected a trace of yearning in her voice.
I'll never forget that Christmas morning. I watched as Mother peeled the tissue paper off a large box that read, "Eaton's Finest Enamel Dishpan" on its lid.
"Oh Frank," she praised, "just what I wanted!" Dad was sitting in his rocker, a huge grin on his face.
"Only a fool wouldn't give a priceless wife like mine exactly what she wants for Christmas," he laughed. "Go ahead, open it up and make sure there are no chips." Dad winked at me, confirming his secret, and my heart filled with more love for my father than I thought it could hold!
Mother opened the box to find a big white enamel dishpan - overflowing with crimson satin that spilled out across her lap. With trembling hands she touched the elegant material of Big Red.
"Oh my goodness!" she managed to utter, her eyes filled with tears. "Oh Frank..." Her face was as bright as the star that twinkled on our tree in the corner of the small room. "You shouldn't have..." came her faint attempt at scolding.
"Oh now, never mind that!" Dad said. "Let's see if it fits," he laughed, helping her slip the marvelous dress over her shoulders. As the shimmering red satin fell around her, it gracefully hid the patched and faded floral housedress underneath.
I watched, my mouth agape, captivated by a radiance in my parents I had never noticed before. As they waltzed around the room, Big Red swirled its magic deep into my heart.
"You look beautiful," my dad whispered to my mom - and she surely did!
By Linda Gabris
|Monday, December 17th, 2018|
|Teach The Children
I just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to
go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to
the front room and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the
Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask. The words choked up in my throat, and I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. He then answered me with a simple statement. "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" I was puzzled; what did he mean? He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a
miniature toy bag from behind the tree.
As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children! Teach them the old
meaning of Christmas. The meaning that now-a-days Christmas has forgotten."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it before
the mantle. "Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir
tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind,
all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning
He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "Teach the
children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised
a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His
He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE. "Teach the children that
the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see
this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."
Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the
tree. "Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love.
Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."
He then pulled from his bag and ornament of HIMSELF. " Teach the children that
I, Santa Clause symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month
He then brought out a HOLLY LEAF. "Teach the children that the holly plant
represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior.
The red holly represents the blood shed by Him.
Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "Teach the children that God so
loved the world that he gave..."
"Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise
men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gold, frankincense and
myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."
Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the
tree. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherds' crook.
The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The
candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."
He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "Teach the children that it was
the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels
sang 'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men."
Suddenly I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL.
"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell,
it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return."
Santa looked back and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the
twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, remember, teach the children the true
meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble
servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God."
Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your
God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
|Sunday, December 16th, 2018|
|A Brother Like That
Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present.
On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was
walking around the shiny new car, admiring it.
"Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.
Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was
astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost
you nothing? Boy, I wish..." He hesitated. Of course Paul knew what he
was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like
that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.
"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."
Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added,
"Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"
"Oh yes, I'd love that."
After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said,
"Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?" Paul smiled a
little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his
neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was
"Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked. He ran up
the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he
was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He
sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him
and pointed to the car. "There she is, Buddy, just like I told you
upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost
him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it...then
you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas
windows that I've been trying to tell you about."
Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The
shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them
began a memorable holiday ride.
That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he had said:
"It is more blessed to give..."
My Holiday Wish for the World Is That
We all Could Be Brothers Like That.
|Saturday, December 15th, 2018|
|The Prodigal Son - From "The Lotus Sutra"
This parable was told by one of Buddha's senior disciple Maha-Kasyapa:
Once upon a time, there was a man who had a son. As a teenage, the son took his father's money and ran away from home to lead an extravagant life. After he had spent all his money, he became very poor, and had to wonder from town to town, begging for a living.
Many years had passed and the father had been looking for him but failed to find him. As time went by, the father became very rich, having a big house with numerous treasures, gold and silver, a large herd of cattle and goat, a group of servants and employees, and a large fleet of elephant and horse drawn wagons.
One day, the son was wondering into his hometown and begging for a living as usual. He came across a fleet of luxurious wagons, accompanied by a group of servants. When he saw the procession, he thought, "he must be a king or some noble knight. Well, I should not have come here. It is difficult to approach someone very high in society to ask for help."
As he was turning around and going away, the father recognized him and ordered his security officers to get him. As the son was approached by the security officers, he cried out in despair, "I had not committed any crime. Why do you want to arrest me?" The security officers became suspicious. They tied him up and brought him to see the father.
The father looked at him carefully to make sure that he indeed was his son. He knew that his son had a very strong will and it would not work if he tried to lure him back with money or riches alone. So, without saying a word, he ordered his release and let him go. The son was glad that he was free, but he returned to the ghetto and continued to beg for a living.
The next day, the father sent two of his senior employees to the ghetto to look for his son. The two employees found him and said, "our boss is operating a big business and he is looking for someone who is trustworthy to work as a janitor. We will offer you a good salary and benefits. Are you interested in taking the job?" Having been wandering from town to town looking for work, the son was happy that someone offered him a job. He accepted it immediately.
As the son took on a low-ranking job as a janitor, the father did not say anything about their relationship to any other employees, customers, suppliers, friends or relatives. However, the son proved himself to be a good worker and soon earned the respect of his fellow employees. As time went by he was promoted to a senior position.
One day, his father got sick, and, knowing that his days were soon over, his gathered every employee, friends and relatives to announce his will. He disclosed the father-and-son relationship to everybody and announced that his son would inherit his business. The son, by this time, a fairly senior employee, had proven his ability to take over his father's business operation.
Maha-Kasyapa (Buddha's senior disciple) concluded that the father represented the Lord Buddha and the son represented the followers.
NOTE: Although a similar story appears in the Christian Bible (Luke Chapter 15, 12 to 32), there is a very significant philosophical difference between Buddhism and Christianity. In the Christian Bible, the father forgave the son immediately and gave him all his heritage as soon as the son admitted his sin - that means: you have sinned, therefore, success is a grace from God. Here in the Lotus Sutra, after the reunion, the son proved his ability to take over his father's heritage - that is, success is largely a result of your own effort. However, the reader is free to interpret the story in anyway he wants.
|Friday, December 14th, 2018|
Sometimes, the holidays are filled with the joy we
associate with that time of year. The season flows.
Magic is in the air.
Sometimes, the holidays can be difficult and lonely.
Here are some ideas I've learned through personal
experience, and practice, to help us get through
Deal with feelings, but try not to dwell unduly on
them. Put the holidays in perspective: A holiday is
one day out of 365. We can get through any 24-hour
Get through the day, but be aware that there may be
a post-holiday backlash. Sometimes, if we use our
survival behaviors to get through the day, the
feelings will catch up to us the next day. Deal with
them too. Get back on track as quickly as possible.
Find and cherish the love that's available, even if
it's not exactly what we want. Is there someone we
can give love to and receive love from? Recovering
friends? Is there a family who would enjoy sharing
the holiday with us? Don't be a martyr; go. There
may be those who would appreciate our offer to
share our day with them.
We are not in the minority if we find ourselves
experiencing a less-than-ideal holiday. How easy,
but untrue, to tell ourselves the rest of the world is
experiencing the perfect holiday, and we're alone in
We can create our own holiday agenda. Buy
yourself a present. Find someone to whom you can
give. Unleash your loving, nurturing self and give in
to the holiday spirit.
Maybe past holidays haven't been terrific. Maybe
this year wasn't terrific. But next year can be better,
and the next a little better. Work toward a better
life--one that meets your needs. Before long, you'll
It's difficult to get through “The Holidays”, which many
consider to be from way before Thanksgiving to way after
Christmas – or even after the Super Bowl. It’s like
staying sober. Just try to do it for One Day At A Time.
God, help me enjoy and cherish this holiday. If my
situation is less than ideal, help me take what's
good and let go of the rest.
|Thursday, December 13th, 2018|
|Mom's Letter To Santa
I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned, and cuddled my two children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground, and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my daughter's girl scout sash with staples and a glue gun.
I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find any more free time in the next 18 years.
Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache after a day of chasing kids (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to carry a screaming toddler out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.
I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
If you're hauling big ticket items this year, I'd like a car with fingerprint-resistant windows and a radio that plays only big-people music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.
On the practical side, I could use a talking daughter doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with one potty-trained toddler, two kids who don't fight, and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.
I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can be heard only by the dog.
And please don't forget the Playdoh Travel Pack, the hottest stocking stuffer this year for mothers of preschoolers. It comes in three fluorescent colors and is guaranteed to crumble on any carpet, making the in-law's house seem just like mine.
If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.
If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It would clear my conscience immensely.
It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family; or if my toddler didn't look so cute sneaking downstairs in his pajamas to eat contraband ice cream at midnight.
Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the chimney and come in and dry off by the fire so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.
Yours Always, Mom
P.S. One more thing: You can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young.
|Wednesday, December 12th, 2018|
One beautiful December evening Huan Cho and his girlfriend Jung Lee were sitting by the side of the ocean. It was a romantic full moon, when Huan Cho said "Hey baby, let's play Weeweechu."
"Oh no, not now, lets look at the moon" said Jung Lee.
"Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I play Weeweechu. I love you and it's the perfect time,"
Huan Cho Begged.
"But I rather just hold your hand and watch the moon."
"Please Jung Lee, just once play Weeweechu with me."
Jung Lee looked at Huan Chi and said, "OK, we'll play Weeweechu."
Huan Cho grabbed his guitar and they both sang.....
"Weeweechu a merry Christmas,
Weeweechu a merry Christmas,
Weeweechu a merry Christmas,
and a happy New Year."
God Bless You..............
|Tuesday, December 11th, 2018|
|Christmas Gifts for Men
Christmas is just around the corner so here are some gift ideas for those special men in your life! Buying gifts for men is not nearly as complicated as it is for women. Follow these rules and you should have no problems.
When in doubt, buy him a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why!
If you cannot afford a cordless drill, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. “Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?” “OK, By-the-way, are you through with my 3/8-inch socket yet?” Again, no one knows why.
If you are really, really broke, buy him anything for his car. A 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from his rearview mirror. Men love gifts for their cars.
Do not buy men socks. Do not buy men ties. And never buy men bathrobes. I was told that if God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, He wouldn’t have invented Jockey shorts. In general, clothes are not a good gift.
You can buy men new remote controls to replace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money, buy you man a big-screen TV (at least 70”) with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as the flips and flips and flips!
Do not buy men any of those fancy liqueurs. If you do, it will sit in a cupboard for 23 years. Real men drink beer or whiskey – Jack Daniels and Scotch are best.
Do not buy any man industrial-sized canisters of after-shave or deodorant. I’m told they do not stink – they are earthy. Scented bath soap is particularly offensive.
Buy men label makers. Almost as good as cordless drills! Within a couple of weeks, there will be labels absolutely everywhere – socks, shorts, cups, saucers, door, lock, sink. You get the idea. No one knows why.
Never buy a man anything that says “some assembly required” on the box. It will ruin Christmas Morning for him and he will always have parts left over. No one knows why. (On the other hand, he does like putting things together that require a ratchet or socket set! See Rule 2)
Rule # 10
Good places to shop for men include Northwest Iron Works, The Lumber Company, Lowe’s, Home Depot, John Deere, Ace Hardware, Valley RV Center, and Joe’s Tire. NAPA Auto Parts and Sear’s Clearance Centers are also excellent men’s stores. It doesn’t matter if he knows what it is.
Men enjoy danger. That’s why they never cook – but will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. “Oh the thrill! The Challenge! Who wants a hamburger?”
Rule # 12
Tickets to a Football game are a smart gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to “A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts,” or craft shows.
Everyone knows why!
Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a man you love a chainsaw. If you don’t know why, please refer to Rule #8
and what happens when he gets a label maker.
It’s hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a man a stepladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.
Rule # 15
Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least to The Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8” manila rope. No one knows why!
Measuring Tape – minimum 50 feet – with locking device and belt clip. Men love to measure things. “How wide is your driveway, Frank? Here, I’ll measure it for you.” No one knows why. And no pair of jeans is complete without a Measuring tape on the belt.
|Monday, December 10th, 2018|
"Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again.
We've been back to this animal shelter at least five
times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,"
the mother told the volunteer.
"What is it she keeps asking for?" the volunteer asked.
"Puppy size!" replied the mother.
"Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that's what she's
"I know...we have seen most of them," the mom said in
Just then Danielle came walking into the office
"Well, did you find one?" asked her mom. "No, not this
time," Danielle said with sadness in her voice. "Can we
come back on the weekend?"
The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and
laughed. "You never know when we will get more dogs.
Fortunately, there's always a supply," the volunteer said.
Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door.
"Don't worry, I'll find one this weekend," she said.
Over the next few days both mom and dad had long
conversations with her. They both felt she was being too
particular. "It's this weekend or we're not looking any
more," Dad finally said in frustration.
"We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size
either," Mom added.
Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on
Saturday morning. By now Danielle knew her way around,
so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller
Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at
the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation
window so you could see the animals during times when
visitors weren't permitted.
Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling
periodically to take a closer look. One by one the dogs
were brought out and she held each one.
One by one she said, "Sorry, you're not the one."
It was the last cage on this last day in search of the
The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully
picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a
"Mom, that's it! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I
know it!" she screamed with joy. "It's the puppy size!"
"But it's the same size as all the other puppies you held
over the last few weeks," Mom said.
"No not size ---- the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he
sighed," she said.
"Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is,
you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart.
The more you love, the bigger the sigh!"
The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom's eyes
gathered tears. As she stooped down to hug the child.
"Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy
come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh.
I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held
it in my arms," she said.
Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said,
"Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!"
|Sunday, December 9th, 2018|
|A Light In The Window
It was the first night of Chanukah and the night before Ellie's last final. As a freshman she was more than ready to go home for the first time since August. She'd packed everything she needed to take home except the books she was cramming with and her menorah, the 8-branch candelabra that's lit every night of Chanukah. Ellie had been so tempted to pack the menorah earlier that night. However, just as she was getting ready to justify to herself why it was OK to "skip" the first night's lighting - (A) she'd have to wait for the candles to burn out before she could leave for the library and (B) she had no clue as to where her candles were hiding - her conscience (and common sense) kicked in. The voice coming from that special place in her body where "mother guilt" resides said, "You have the menorah out, so light it already." Never one to ignore her mother's advice, Ellie dug up the candles, lit them, said the blessings, placed the menorah on her window sill and spent the rest of the evening in her room studying.
Ellie's first winter break was uneventful, and when she returned to her dorm on the day before classes started she was surprised to find a small note taped to her door.
"Thank you," the note said. It was signed "Susan." It was dated the day that Ellie had left after finals. Ellie was totally perplexed. She didn't know a Susan. Convinced that the letter had been delivered to her by mistake, Ellie put the note on her desk and forgot about it.
About a half an hour before she was getting ready to head out for dinner, there was a knock at Ellie's door. There, standing in the hall was a woman Ellie didn't recognize. "I'm Susan," she said. "I wanted to thank you in person, but you'd already left before I finished my finals."
"Are you sure it's me you're looking for?" asked Ellie. Susan asked if she could come in and explain.
It seemed that Susan had been facing the same dilemma that Ellie had been that first night of Chanukah. She really didn't want to light her menorah either. Not because she was packing, or was heading home, couldn't find the candles or because she busy studying but because her older sister Hannah had been killed by a drunk driver ten months earlier, and this was the first year that she'd have to light the menorah candles alone. The sisters had always taken turns lighting the first candle and this wasn't Susan's year. She just couldn't bring herself to take her sister's place. Susan said that whenever it was Hannah's turn to light the first candle, she'd always tease Susan that the candles she lit would burn longer and brighter than when Susan lit them. One year she even went so far as to get a timer out.
It had always annoyed Susan that Hannah would say something so stupid but still, it was part of the family tradition. Susan said that it was just too painful to even think about Chanukah without Hannah and she had decided on skipping the entire holiday.
Susan said that she had just finished studying and was closing her drapes when she happened to glance across the courtyard of the quad and saw the candles shining in Ellie's window. "I saw that menorah in your window and I started to cry. It was if Hannah had taken her turn and put the menorah in your window for me to see." Susan said that when she stopped crying she said the blessings, turned off the lights in her room and watched the candles across the quad until they burned out.
Susan told Ellie that it was as she was lying in bed that night thinking about how close she felt to Hannah when she saw the menorah, that it dawned on her that Hannah had been right. Hannah's last turn always would have candles that would burn longer and brighter than any of Susan's because for Susan, Hannah's lights would never go out. They would always be there, in her heart for Susan to see when she needed to reconnect with Hannah.
All Susan had to do was close her eyes and remember the candles in the window, the one's that Hannah had lit the last time it was her turn.
By Eileen Goltz
|Saturday, December 8th, 2018|
|Christmas Eve At The Gas Station
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. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. 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, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the 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 said.
He 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 inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take 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. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ........"
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 that the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, 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 anyway. As he was working, he heard shots 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, "Please 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 uniform 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 were 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."
The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your 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. 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 money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee 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. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes 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 work 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. An airplane, a car and a 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," 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 gettin' 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 make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "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 old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room. "You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."
George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord."
|Friday, December 7th, 2018|
|A Christmas Wish
I know there are many other religions today,
and I wish that for one day and night,
violence and hatred would all go away
and all would give up the fight,
and put away guns and explosives, for only one night.
To sit and talk with each other,
treating each other like sister and brother.
To fill every stomach with good healthy food,
to put every mind in a happy mood.
To pray together no matter what your religion,
to give thanks for the peace, what a wonderful vision.
But I know I am wishing and dreaming a dream,
that can't possibly happen, or so it may seem.
But then again, maybe it could,
if each one of us would do something good,
for one person and she did the same,
to another and another until none remain,
that have not been touched by the spirit of good.
With only six degrees of separation on this sphere,
it would take little time to touch everyone here.
So take the first step and reach out to one,
And maybe, just maybe, peace will come.
Have a joyous and peaceful Christmas.
By Steve Robinson
|Thursday, December 6th, 2018|
|Principles Of The 12 Steps
Basic Principle – Change
1. Honesty, Acceptance, Surrender
2. Hope, Faith, Trust
3. Surrender, Trust, Commitment, Faith
4. Courage, Responsibility, Truth, Fearlessness
5. Integrity, Truth, Courage
6. Willingness, Growth, Healing
7. Humility, Surrender, Cooperation with Grace
8. Compassion, Justice, Responsibility
9. Accountability, Compensation, Healing
10. Awareness, Discipline, Commitment, Perseverance, Vigilance
11. Prayer, Awareness, Seeking, Attunement,
12. Spirituality, Service, Love, Compassion, Surrender, Perseverance
Summary – Surrender – Surrender – Surrender
|Wednesday, December 5th, 2018|
|Christmas Eve In Florida
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the town,
no noses were frozen, no snow fluttered down,
no children in flannels were tucked into bed,
they all wore shorty pajamas instead.
To find wreaths of holly, t'was not very hard,
for holly trees grew in every back yard.
In front of the houses, dads and moms were
adorning the bushes and coconut palms.
The sleeping kiddies were dreaming in glee,
hoping to find water skis under the tree.
They all knew that Santa was well on his way,
in a Mercedes-Benz, instead of a sleigh.
And soon he arrived and started to work,
he hadn't a second to linger or shirk.
He whizzed up the highways and zoomed up the road,
in a S-L 300, delivering his loads.
The tropical moon gave the city a glow,
and lighted the way for old Santa below.
As he jumped from the auto he gave a wee chuckle,
he was dressed in Bermudas with an Ivy League buckle.
There weren't any chimneys, but that caused no gloom,
for Santa came in through the Florida room.
He stopped at each house...stayed only a minute,
emptying his sack of stuff that was in it.
Before he departed, he treated himself
to a glass of papaya juice upon the shelf.
He turned with a jerk and bounced to the car,
remembering he still had to go very far.
He shifted the gears and stepped on the gas
and up Highway 436 he went like a flash.
And I heard him exclaim as he went on his way,
"MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL, I WISH I COULD STAY!"
|Tuesday, December 4th, 2018|
I KINDLED my eight little candles,
My Chanukah-candles—and lo!
Fair visions and dreams half-forgotten
To me came of years long ago.
I musingly gazed at my candles;
Me seemed in their quivering flames
In golden, in fiery letters
I read the old glorious names,
The names of our heroes immortal,
The noble, the brave, and the true,
A battle-field saw I in vision
Where many were conquered by few.
Where trampled in dust lay the mighty,
Judea's proud Syrian foe;
And Judas, the brave Maccabæus,
In front of his army I saw.
His eyes shone like bright stars of heaven,
Like music rang out his strong voice:
"Brave comrades, we fought and we conquered,
Now let us, in God's name, rejoice!
"We conquered—but know, O brave comrades,
No triumph is due to the sword!
Remember our glorious watchword,
'For People and Towns of the Lord!' "
He spoke, and from all the four corners
An echo repeated each word;
The woods and the mountains re-echoed:
"For People and Towns of the Lord!"
And swiftly the message spread, saying:
"Judea, Judea is free,
Re-kindled the lamp in the Temple,
Re-kindled each bosom with glee!"
My Chanukah-candles soon flickered,
Around me was darkness of night;
But deep in my soul I felt shining
A heavenly-glorious light.
by PHILIP MAX RASKIN
|Monday, December 3rd, 2018|
|I Prayed For ...
I prayed for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I prayed for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I prayed for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I prayed for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I prayed for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
|Sunday, December 2nd, 2018|
|A Christmas Prayer
It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.
These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.
Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.
This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.
© 2012 Max Lucado
|Saturday, December 1st, 2018|
|Being Ready For Christmas
Many of us arrive at Christmas tired, running, distracted, and already fatigued with the lights, songs, and celebrations of Christmas.
Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for Christmas; but for many of us it is not exactly a time for the kind of preparation that enables Christ be born more deeply in our lives. Instead our preparation for Christmas is mostly a time of making ready to celebrate with our families, friends, and colleagues.
The end result is that, like the biblical innkeepers who had no room for Mary and Joseph at the first Christmas, we generally arrive at Christmas with “no room at the inn”, no space in our lives for a spiritual rebirth. Our hearts are good, we want Christmas to renew us spiritually, but our lives are too pressured, too full of activity and tiredness, for us to have any real energy to make Christmas a special time of spiritual renewal for ourselves. The spirit of Christmas is still in us, real, but lying like a neglected baby in the straw waiting to be picked up. And we do intend to pick up the baby, but simply never get around to it.
Everyone struggles with this in some fashion. No one is perfect; no one gives a full place in his or her life to Christ, even at Christmas time. That should bring us some consolation. But it should also leave us with a pressing challenge: There is too little room for Christ in our busy, distracted lives! We must work at clearing some space for Christ, at making Christmas a time of spiritual refreshment and renewal in our lives.
But being ready for Christmas, getting everything we need to do done on time, does not depend upon getting everything neatly checked off on our to-do list: gifts, done; cards, done; decorations, done; food, ready; the requisite number of social obligations, completed. Even if that list is only half done, if you find yourself in church at Christmas, if you find yourself at table with your family on Christmas day, and if you find yourself greeting your neighbors and colleagues with a little more warmth, then it doesn’t matter if you are distracted, tired, over-fed, and not thinking explicitly about Jesus, you’ve made it.
Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI
|Friday, November 30th, 2018|
|An Answered Prayer
At the Christmas Eve church service, I sat with my two boisterous grandchildren, ages three and five. Their parents sat in front of the church to present a nativity reading titled "Silent Night." They had warned the children to behave. I had warned the children to behave. With scrubbed angelic faces and Christmas wonder in their eyes, they looked like model children posing for a magazine holiday spread. I indulged myself in a few moments of pride.
Alec pinched Aubrey. I was grateful that the organ thundered into the first hymn just then, drowning out her yelp. I grabbed her hand before she could return the pinch. During the Lord's Prayer, Aubrey shredded the program I had given her to color on. The crayons had already rolled under the pew. I watched bits of paper fall on the carpet like snow. I would help her pick it up later, but for now the naughtiness I was allowing kept her occupied and her brother quietly admiring.
We were enjoying an uneasy truce when their parents stood to deliver the reading.
"Mommy!" Alec yelled.
She frowned, and he sat back in his seat.
"Silence," my son said to the congregation. "Think for a moment what that word means to you."
My daughter-in-law signed his words. Earlier that year, she began to use her new signing skills for the benefit of the few hearing-impaired members of our church.
Alec said a naughty word, thankfully too low for many to hear. I scowled at him, shaking my finger and my head. Aubrey grinned. Then she proclaimed, every syllable enunciated perfectly, in a clear voice that carried to far corners of the sanctuary, "Alec is a potty mouth!"
Everyone stared. I was too stunned to speak. My son and his wife looked at each other. But instead of anger, I saw surprise.
My son set aside his script and told another story. He told about their daughter being born profoundly deaf. He talked about four years of hearing aids and speech therapy with no guarantee she would ever learn to speak plainly. He talked about the rugged faith that kept the family praying she would have a normal life.
He said Aubrey's outburst was an answer to prayer: the first perfectly enunciated sentence she had ever spoken.
From the back of the room, a lone voice sang the last line of a beloved Christmas Carol: Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king.
While the congregation sang four verses of the unscheduled hymn, my two little angels wiggled in their parents' arms, adding laughter and giggles to the joyful Christmas noise.
From – Inspiration Daily - By Carol Stigger
|Thursday, November 29th, 2018|
[Jesus continued on, saying,] "Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.” (from Matthew 7:1-5)(New Living Translation)
We alcoholics tend to have difficulty seeing “our role” in situations. We are quick to judge and criticize others, without first taking an objective look at things. On pages 61-62 of the Big Book it states, “Our actor is self-centered – ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; the politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not the most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellow and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.”
When we judge and criticize others, invariably we are indicting ourselves. Consider the explanation of “fear” given on pages 67-68 of the Big Book, “It [‘fear’] was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling?”
It is not healthy for us alcoholics to “judge others.” On page 84 of the Big Book, in connection with the discussion of Step Ten [“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”], we are told that “Love and tolerance of others is our code.” We are also told to “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.”
Perhaps the ultimate test of whether or not we are spiritually in tune is set forth as a “spiritual axiom” on page 90 of the 12 X 12, as follows, “It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.”
God, help me to remember these words of Jesus. If I don’t want to be judged, then I should not judge others. The next time I start to “judge” another person, let me remember that I am the one who needs help!