Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Family Christmas Traditions



Christmas is just around the corner and having little children around reminded me of how special this time of year is.  A child can express awe, excitement and joy so much easier than grown ups.

William had taken James, our ‘almost two year old’ grandson, out for the afternoon this past week to enjoy the cool weather and have some one on one time.  While they were out we decided it was time to bring the Christmas tree in from the garage where it’s been stored all year.

It’s an artificial tree with the lights already in place making things so much easier, except there’s a row in the middle that no longer works.  I’ll get around to replacing it some day; at least that’s what I said last year, or was it the year before?

James came in from the cold all bundled up with a hood covering his Astros’ ball cap.  As he turned from the entry way he noticed the tree situated in the middle of the living room directly in front of the window, most of the tiny lights sparkling brightly.

He walked over to it, eyes wide open and took it all in, floor to ceiling.  The magic of Christmas landed on him as he gazed and then gazed some more. 

“Wow”, he breathed out a hushed reverence for the singularly majestic tree which wasn’t there when he’d left; but somehow appeared in the room as if sent by angels.  “Wow!” 

I had my cell phone/camera in my pocket but it didn’t dawn on me to capture the moment; guess that one will have to be stored in my mind along with so many other magic moments.

When I was a young boy one of our family Christmas traditions had to do with writing a letter to Santa around the first week of December.  We’d use our best penmanship skills while making sure to list each item on our bucket list that Santa needed to know about prior to his visit on Christmas Eve.

These letters were put on a plate on the dining room table along with some cookies and a glass of milk before we went off to bed.  Our parents explained that we’d know Santa had visited during the night to read the letters if all the cookies were gone along with the milk; more importantly, we’d know Santa read our letters because his magic mittens would cause the paper to catch fire, leaving only burnt fragments singed on top of the plate.

The next morning we’d marvel that Santa had come, just as our parents said he would.  The cookies and milk were gone and sure enough, the letters had turned into a pile of ashes leaving a scorch mark on mom’s fine china.  “Oh boy, I’m gonna’ get that bicycle, cowboy boots, the erector set, the Lincoln Logs, the rocket that you have to fill with water and pump it till it shoots off, the submarine that really sinks in the bathtub and comes back to the surface; all the neat stuff that was on that letter…and Santa knows about it now.

There were other family traditions; one in particular wasn’t so great.  Mom and dad loved to make oyster stew on Christmas Eve.  How they came up with that is a mystery, or is that a misery?  They actually looked forward to putting a bowl of oyster stew on the table, lighting the candles and having us prepare for the coming of Santa.

I couldn’t even look at a bowl of oyster stew without my stomach turning, much less place a spoonful in my mouth.  Mom and dad decided that children weren’t sophisticated enough so we were served Tomato soup instead.  I wasn’t thrilled with Tomato soup either; but at least I could look at it without barfing. 

Last on today’s list of family Christmas traditions has to do with the hanging of stockings for Santa to fill with candy, oranges, apples, nuts and small toys.  These were placed on the end of our beds just prior to light out along with a warning, “Go to sleep or Santa won’t come”. 

That worked pretty well until we reached our teen years.  By then we’d figured out that Santa needed to put toys together in the living room and didn’t want little children disturbing the process.

One night while contemplating life there in the darkness of my room I heard dad coming down the hall.  As he entered the room, carefully hanging the stocking on my bed and turning to leave, I surprised him, quietly greeting him, “Good night, Santa”.  I’ll never forget the smile and wink my father returned as he realized I’d left a part of childhood behind.

May your family find simple traditions that make Christmas memories, memories that will last a lifetime and beyond is my hope and prayer.  Merry Christmas!

This article has been cross posted to The Self Educated American, a publication whose banner reads, “Standing Fast By the Judeo-Christian Heritage, Limited Government and the U.S. Constitution”.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

United Nations Human Rights Day



Where to begin, oh where to begin?  The United Nations Council on Human Relations, sometimes referred to as ‘Third World Thugs in Suits’, wants everyone to understand how important human rights are as we go about making the world a better place.

The image of a dove or perhaps the Blue Bird of Happiness popped up on Facebook as we are reminded to support the United Nation’s efforts, truly a worthwhile goal.

Really, human rights for everyone, that’s the goal? 

Does that include women under the control of Sharia?  Saudi Arabia and Iran spearhead the United Nations Council on Human Relations.  What example are they setting for the entire world to follow?

Under Sharia, (not limited to nation states claiming to be under Islamic control), women are subservient to men and may be beaten to a pulp just for being a woman. 

For example, according to Q 4:34, husbands are allowed to beat their wives if they “fear disobedience” (which implies that actual disobedience need not occur for the beating to be justified)”

What does Islam have to say about murder, rape and enslavement of women?

“The fact is that ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, who are notorious for raping Yazidī women who they capture (sometimes shortly after killing their families and neighbors), are clearly acting within the interpretive parameters of traditional Islam and following the example of the Muhammad of the earliest Islamic sources.”

Ahhh, the joys of universal human rights as set down by those running the United Nations…  May we all embrace the examples we have been shown as we work toward becoming one big world order family.

This article has been cross posted to The Self Educated American, a publication whose banner reads, “Standing Fast By the Judeo-Christian Heritage, Limited Government and the U.S. Constitution”.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Dangers of Requiring a Loyalty Pledge


While finishing off the day, going over entries on Facebook, there was one particular link which immediately caught my attention.  Someone had established a page imploring folks to ‘Pledge your Loyalty to Donald Trump’ as we enter this new era for America.

There were T-shirts with this logo pledging loyalty to Donald Trump splashed across the front, symbols of our undying devotion to the man who has promised to “Make America Great Again”.  The way they see it Donald Trump is our hope, our one and only hope to save the country.

My thoughts instead turned to a much darker period of time; pre-WWII Germany when Adolph Hitler promised to restore Germany from the brink of bankruptcy into a nation all could be proud of, make the Fatherland great again.  The Hitler Youth saw him as a father figure, god-like and worthy of the title Fuhrer.

The rest of the world didn’t share Germany’s blind obedience to the Fuhrer; instead they saw him as a threat, something to be dealt with, even if it meant going to war.  Far too many died to stop a nation willing to do the bidding of a narcissistic ego maniac who grabbed the reigns of government and captured the hearts with promises of national pride and greatness.  No, this kind of loyalty must be avoided.

Our loyalties are to the Constitutional Republic which protects our individual God given rights from power seeking men who achieve high office.  Our Flag is a symbol, a means of displaying all that is good about our country.  It isn’t a banner declaring any particular party or individual as supreme leader; but some folks can’t understand or get their arms around the idea of nation that relies on self governance, instead looking for a great leader to guide them and rule over them.

Sorry; but my allegiance is limited to the concept of individual liberty and is given to no man.    


This article has been cross posted to The Self Educated American, a publication whose banner reads, “Standing Fast By the Judeo-Christian Heritage, Limited Government and the U.S. Constitution”. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gratitude and Thanksgiving



This morning London, my granddaughter, came over to greet me as I reviewed the latest headlines in the news on the internet.  She pointed to an umbrella which is stored in the corner behind my work-station; a serious look took over her face as she reminded me not to ever open the umbrella in the house.  A couple of days ago London got in trouble playing in the house with the umbrella and she wanted me to know she understood how important it was to follow the rules.

I nodded in agreement as we reviewed how silly it would be to have an open umbrella in the house since its purpose was to keep rain from falling on us.  I looked up at the ceiling and explained how blessed we were to have a roof over our heads to protect us from the rain.  London looked thoughtfully at the ceiling and smiled.

It’s also nice to have a house for when it gets cold outside; again she smiled and pretended to hug herself as if being warmed by an imaginary heater.  And in the summer we have air conditioning to keep us comfortable too. 

London may have taken these conveniences for granted up until this moment; but as she considered the light rain falling outside, that she was enjoying the comforts provided by the house which she lived in, gratitude for all these blessings was evident by the look on her face.

May we all have a similar moment of appreciation for what ever blessings have been provided in our lives.   

If you watch much television, the advertisements tend to make a mockery of Thanksgiving; a not so subtle way of redirecting our thoughts.  Instead of getting down on our knees and thanking the Lord we’re being desensitized and programmed into accepting this time of year as a spending orgy, a chance to prove we have more money than brains as we go about going into debt for items we really can’t afford.

Black Friday with its door buster sales has, for far too many folks, become more important than sitting around the dinner table with family in quiet thanks for what has been provided and prepared. 

This nation was founded under the direction of wise individuals who understood our relationship with God, Creator of all we have, to include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Our blessings come from above and we are showered with them in great abundance; consider what we have been given, not what you don’t have. 

London is correct, you shouldn’t open your umbrella in the house, let God’s blessings fall all around you and be grateful, truly grateful; that’s why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Thanks for the Memories





I went to the Spring Creek Village assisted living center where my dad spent his last days to make sure our account was settled up, no loose ends.  We’d been double charged for a ‘one time only’ fee on the second month’s billing which we were told would be subtracted on the following month’s rent; but dad never made it to the next month.

My father died October 25, 2016 and we made it a point to remove all items we’d provided for his comfort the very same day, leaving the room as it was when he first arrived. 

Today I looked over at their ‘occupancy availability board’; they had a large white board in the manager’s office showing new move ins and those who’d moved out.  There was dad’s name showing he died October 25th along with his move out date of….Nov 7th…?

I pointed out the discrepancy to the manager and reminded her that we’d made sure to remove dad’s personal items on the same day he died.  Her response was, “That’s in the contract”. 

There is a clause in the residency contract which states the assisted living center can charge up to 10 days rent after the death of a renter.  Apparently we could have left dad’s body in the room for another week; not that the health department would have approved.

I reminded the manager that we’d been over charged by $1500.00, expecting a refund for that amount and perhaps a refund for the last five days of October since dad didn’t occupy the room that last week of the month.

Again the manager explained, “That’s in the contract”, as she handed me a due bill for  $186.50, the difference between the $1500.00 we’d been over charged and the ten days which the assisted living center considered an opportunity to extract additional money from the deceased’s bank account.

Spring Creek Village provided exceptional care while my father was in their facility and I would recommend them to anyone looking for an assisted living facility.  That said, they have an unusual way of interpreting their lease contracts.

I pointed out that this was morally wrong and as a business practice was no different than gouging the dead.  I know, “That’s in the contract”.  But the contract indicated that the assisted living center ‘can’ charge up to 10 days following the ‘move out’ of a resident; it doesn’t say that it must charge the full ten days. 

I suppose they were only honoring the memory of my dearly departed father as they hit the Enter Key on the cash register, or as Bob Hope used to say, Thanks for the memories.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scattering of Ashes


While visiting with my dad today I brought up an awkward topic, having to write everything down on a tablet since his hearing is all but non existent.  I wrote down, “Where do you want your ashes scattered”, not a normal question to ask except dad’s in hospice now and heaven only knows how long we’ll get to visit.

Back in August when my mother died she’d left very specific instructions; she wished her ashes to be scattered among the Mangroves that were found along the river and so that’s what we did.  Dad is rapidly getting closer to the ‘dropping off place’.  He hasn’t given such a request, only that he wants to be cremated.  I’ve no intention of placing him on the mantle place in a Biscotti Jar or putting him in the closet on the top shelf next to an old worn out pair of blue jeans.

He took his time reading the question and shrugged his shoulders with the universal answer, “How should I know”.  I wrote some more...“How about on a golf course?  Maybe we can put you on a fairway; or in your case, the rough or in a sand trap?”  Again he read the tablet and smiled back at me while nodding his head.  He hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

So if you read about some fool getting arrested for trespassing on a golf course please remember I would be carrying out my father’s last wishes.  It’s difficult saying goodbye, very difficult, a lot like dad trying to stay on the fairways.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Background Checks and Fingerprints



Recently the State of Texas altered the requirements for the renewal process licensed locksmiths must complete in order to continue applying their skills in what used to be a free market system.  The Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau, (DPS/PSB) working under their interpretation of HB 4030 passed during the 84th session, has determined that locksmiths must have yet another set of official fingerprints submitted along with a complete background check in order to maintain a valid locksmith license.

While visiting my father, holding his aging hand as we watched some insignificant golf show on the television, I noticed his fingers were a bit discolored as his circulatory system no longer functioned at peak efficiency.  It’s just a guess; but you could bet the farm the fingerprints on his hands would be the same ones he’s had since birth, the same ones he had when he signed up with the Navy in WWII and the same ones he’ll have when he meets St. Peter on the other side of the veil.

Some where in Washington, as the singer Arlo Guthrie would point out in his tune, Alice’s Restaurant, there’s a study in black and white of his fingerprints…   

These identifying marks don’t change all that much over time so it’s beyond my thought process as to why the State of Texas considers it necessary, requiring locksmiths to furnish a fresh set of these prints simply to renew a license... a license which has that very same set of fingerprints already tied to it and filed away collecting dust. 

About the only thing such a requirement does is add $25.00 to the cost of doing business for each and every locksmith while accomplishing absolutely nothing towards the State of Texas’ goal, “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”

Then there’s the requirement of another complete and thorough background check in order to maintain an already issued locksmith license; that bothers me too.  Actually, the veins in my neck are pulsing and may explode while thinking about this.

The State of Texas conducts a complete and thorough background check of each individual prior to issuing a locksmith license.  If the State wants to find out whether or not a licensed locksmith has committed a noteworthy criminal act since the last time he/she went through the licensing process then all the State’s investigators would have to do would be to bring up a standard criminal check on their computer, not much different than the way police officers are able to find out the same information while on patrol; it takes only a minute, sometimes less.

If someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths…locksmiths who’ve already been fingerprinted, had their background checked six ways to Sunday and then issued a license…if someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths a threat or danger to the public...  Could you hand me my blood pressure medicine; those veins are swelling some more.

Yesterday I received an email from the DPS/PSB letting me know my latest renewal efforts were finally accepted and that my pocket sized wallet card would be sent in a timely manner.

Do you see why the updated renewal process bothers me? 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.