Category Archives: Christmas

#TBT: A Non-Ironic Christmas Miracle

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I originally wrote this post on Christmas Day 2015. For a variety of reasons, this holiday season has been if anything worse than the season I mentioned originally, but whenever I read this post, I realize in the midst of the deepest darkness we have something to cling to if we just reach for the light.

I’ve been having a terrible holiday season. Thanksgiving was wonderful but ever since that glorious meal and day of hanging out with friends like family my mood and emotions have slowly and inexorably skidded towards a new nadir. I always write a Christmas post and honestly I had planned something even more cynical than last year’s. I feel like sandpapered bare nerves and figured I may as well take my massive (ha,ha) readership down with me.

Then, I some news rocked me back on my heels and got me to thinking beyond twinkling lights that keep blowing, decorations that never made it to the tree, and all the presents I couldn’t afford to buy this year. I got some news and it made me shut my cynical, downward spiraling mouth until I could open it in wonder and say to myself, “Damn, if that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what is.”

I’m leaving out all the names in this story because it is so highly personal to those involved. In doing so, however, I fear some may see my concern for another’s privacy as a cheap way of passing off a lie. If you believe I’m lying about this story, I pity you because you have grown more cynical and jaded than I have. I’m trying to protect the dignity of a person who doesn’t even know I exist and if you think that’s lying, I can’t help you.

This concerns the granddaughter of a precious acquaintance of mine. This sweet young lady whom I have only seen in pictures at my friend’s home is a freshman at a Midwestern college who currently attends said institution on a full scholarship. She comes from a wonderful family, had a reasonably good upbringing, got into the usual teenage mischief, but is overall a lovely young lady, if completely unremarkable in most ways. When I say she is unremarkable, I don’t mean she isn’t special or talented or she doesn’t stand out in any way, but she is much like the rest of her tribe of young college students. If I gave her name, it wouldn’t ring any bells to anyone outside her immediate family and circle of friends, I’m sure. In a very good way, she is simply average.

Several weeks ago, this wonderfully average girl was in her room studying for classes when her suite-mates announced their room was to soon become the epicenter of a spirited get-together. This lovely girl wasn’t too thrilled about having her study time interrupted by an impromptu party, but she realized those are the memory making moments of college which last so she didn’t protest much.

By-the-by, friends and acquaintances, classmates and dorm-mates began to arrive and a wonderful time of eating and listening to music, etc was had by all. Whether or not any underage drinking occurred is anyone’s guess but I can say with absolute authority the young lady in question emphatically did NOT partake of anything alcoholic, much less to extreme because her scholarship depends on an extremely high level of training and fitness and her coach does not tolerate hangovers.

So, at an appropriate hour, or maybe somewhat past, the suite-mates decide the gathering had run its course and started breaking up the festivities. Our girl walked a few friends out of the building then returned to her apartment, said goodnight to the few remaining guests and — claiming fatigue — retired to her bedroom where she changed into flannel pjs, crawled into bed, pulled the covers up and went soundly to sleep. When she awoke the next morning, she was in basically the same position, same clothes, same bed, same everything.

When she got up, she did notice she was really sore, but she didn’t think much of it because training for her sport had begun in earnest and a modicum of soreness was expected at this point in the season. When the ache went away by the next day, she didn’t give it anymore thought.

Fast-forward four or five weeks and she’s feeling a touch under the weather. Nothing terrible and she figures it might be her body adjusting to the new climate. Still, to be safe, she went to the infirmary where a very efficient nurse practitioner checked her out and took a blood sample before sending her home with an antibiotic.

Two days later, she got the call from the infirmary which would change her life and the life of her family forever. A lot of us think we’ve gotten such a call . . . this young woman did. The very efficient nurse practitioner was on the phone and basically ordered her to return to the infirmary . When she arrived at the clinic, she asked what the problem with her blood tests was. The very efficient nurse practitioner then point-blank informed this young lady all alone and miles from any of the support systems she knew and adored she was several weeks pregnant.

That was impossible she told the nurse. She absolutely couldn’t be pregnant because she was, in fact, a virgin. She didn’t even have a boyfriend! Somehow a mistake had to have occurred, but upon a thorough exam, she realized there had been no mistake. She was no longer a virgin. She WAS pregnant.

When the shock wore off enough for her to contact her family, her mother came out and along with her roommates they began to piece together what had happened. To cut a rapidly growing story somewhat short, this girl had been drugged or “roofied” at the party weeks before, stripped, raped while unconscious, then re-dressed and tucked back in bed as though nothing happened. What’s more, the roommates were certain of the culprit because he had apparently been accused of this action before.

Now, this girl and her family are solid Christians, but even so, the most staunch pro-lifers are against abortion “EXCEPT in the case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother.” OBVIOUSLY this was a case squarely in the “exception clause.” Of course she was going to have an abortion. The school even offered to pay for it for her so she wouldn’t be out any money. They would work on prosecuting the offender, but no one expected her to keep this child. It was a RAPE BABY! Everyone would understand. It was the right course of action to take.

Here’s where the story turns from anger inducing to miracle working. She said, “No.” Simple as that. NO. She wasn’t having an abortion. Furthermore, she is not giving the baby up for adoption once he or she is born. She plans to keep and raise her baby.

NOTE: The baby BOY was born in due course and is beautiful and lovely in every way and as far as I have been able to keep up, mother and child are doing well.

Obviously, to just about everyone around her this is nothing short of insane. She’s a freshman in college. How is she going to manage a baby as an unmarried single mom in school? What about her reputation? What about the father? What about the hundreds of other “What abouts” to consider? Well, she considered them and decided to have and keep her baby.

The university is working with her hand in glove. She’s being given a leave of absence until the baby arrives at which time a court ordered paternity test will take care of the question of the father. Her scholarship is safely intact. Still, nothing in her life is ever going to be the same. All the plans she had mapped out, all the hopes and dreams now have to be completely overhauled. She will endure ridicule and scorn from now on because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone. She’ll be accused of “asking for it.” Her life will be on trial even though she’s done nothing. Some people will claim she’s using the baby for monetary gain because the rapist father is the scion of a hugely prominent and wealthy family in that state.

From now on, no matter what she does, she’s going to carry a stigma. She’s going to be “That Girl,” but she’s also carrying a baby. I guess 999 of 1000 women or more would have gone with the abortion and WHO COULD BLAME THEM? To this girl, however, aborting the baby would be tantamount to blaming him (or her) for the heinous crime the father committed. She refuses to do that. The world sees a rape baby, fit for — at best — being given up for adoption.

She sees her son (or daughter) and THAT is what hit me so hard.

2000 years ago and half a world away, another lovely young lady, also completely unremarkable in most ways and also a virgin found out SHE was pregnant. She, at least, was warned by an angel, but I’m thinking it didn’t help much in the end. As soon as she began to show, tongues started flapping. Obviously she was a harlot! She must have done something to bring this on herself! Her betrothed had the right to have her killed by stoning, but he chose instead to just “put her away”, an euphemism for divorce. Another visit by another angel changed HIS mind and together they had that baby and the Apostle Luke says she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room in the local inn. They became a family right in the middle of a storm of scandal.

“The Holy Spirit?!” “Right!” “A VIRGIN!! Her?!” “Right.” That mother and her little baby were haunted by people who thought for absolute certainty they knew more than they did and weren’t afraid to spread their venom far and wide. Even today, 2000 years later, it hasn’t stopped. Scientists, philosophers, and great men of all stripes still say it couldn’t have happened. One major theory for all 20 centuries was this lovely young lady, completely unremarkable in most ways was raped by a Roman soldier, got pregnant, and tried to cover it up with the most unbelievable story possible and make herself the center of a new religion in the process because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone and refuse to believe otherwise.

By the way, spare me all the stories of the pagan roots of the Christmas celebrations — I know them, studied them, and even taught classes about them. I know, as do most thoughtful Christians, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, 1 AD so save all your science and your scorn. Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself because I’ve been there, I’ve got the scars, and I bought the t-shirt with all that cynical drivel writ large upon it and I came to realize one thing:

Christmas isn’t about a date on a calendar; it’s about a babe in a manger. It’s not about the gifts we give each other but about The Gift a loving God gave to a world dying in sin; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, to quote an adorable little cartoon guy with a red shirt and a blue blanket, “THAT’S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Love y’all, keep your feet clean, and have a very Merry Christmas.

A Non-Ironic Christmas Miracle

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https://i2.wp.com/acebos.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Pictures-Of-Merry-Christmas.jpgI’ve been having a terrible holiday season. Thanksgiving was wonderful but ever since that glorious meal and day of hanging out with friends like family my mood and emotions have slowly and inexorably skidded towards a new nadir. I always write a Christmas post and honestly I had planned something even more cynical than last year’s. I feel like sandpapered bare nerves and figured I may as well take my massive (ha,ha) readership down with me.

Then, I some news rocked me back on my heels and got me to thinking beyond twinkling lights that keep blowing, decorations that never made it to the tree, and all the presents I couldn’t afford to buy this year. I got some news and it made me shut my cynical, downward spiraling mouth until I could open it in wonder and say to myself, “Damn, if that’s not Christmas, I don’t know what is.”

I’m leaving out all the names in this story because it is so highly personal to those involved. In doing so, however, I fear some may see my concern for another’s privacy as a cheap way of passing off a lie. If you believe I’m lying about this story, I pity you because you have grown more cynical and jaded than I have. I’m trying to protect the dignity of a person who doesn’t even know I exist and if you think that’s lying, I can’t help you.

This concerns the granddaughter of a precious acquaintance of mine. This sweet young lady whom I have only seen in pictures at my friend’s home is a freshman at a Midwestern college who currently attends said institution on a full scholarship. She comes from a wonderful family, had a reasonably good upbringing, got into the usual teenage mischief, but is overall a lovely young lady, if completely unremarkable in most ways. When I say she is unremarkable, I don’t mean she isn’t special or talented or she doesn’t stand out in any way, but she is much like the rest of her tribe of young college students. If I gave her name, it wouldn’t ring any bells to anyone outside her immediate family and circle of friends, I’m sure. In a very good way, she is simply average.

Several weeks ago, this wonderfully average girl was in her room studying for classes when her suite-mates announced their room was to soon become the epicenter of a spirited get-together. This lovely girl wasn’t too thrilled about having her study time interrupted by an impromptu party, but she realized those are the memory making moments of college which last so she didn’t protest much.

By-the-by, friends and acquaintances, classmates and dorm-mates began to arrive and a wonderful time of eating and listening to music, etc was had by all. Whether or not any underage drinking occurred is anyone’s guess but I can say with absolute authority the young lady in question emphatically did NOT partake of anything alcoholic, much less to extreme because her scholarship depends on an extremely high level of training and fitness and her coach does not tolerate hangovers.

So, at an appropriate hour, or maybe somewhat past, the suite-mates decide the gathering had run its course and started breaking up the festivities. Our girl walked a few friends out of the building then returned to her apartment, said goodnight to the few remaining guests and — claiming fatigue — retired to her bedroom where she changed into flannel pjs, crawled into bed, pulled the covers up and went soundly to sleep. When she awoke the next morning, she was in basically the same position, same clothes, same bed, same everything.

When she got up, she did notice she was really sore, but she didn’t think much of it because training for her sport had begun in earnest and a modicum of soreness was expected at this point in the season. When the ache went away by the next day, she didn’t give it anymore thought.

Fast-forward four or five weeks and she’s feeling a touch under the weather. Nothing terrible and she figures it might be her body adjusting to the new climate. Still, to be safe, she went to the infirmary where a very efficient nurse practitioner checked her out and took a blood sample before sending her home with an antibiotic.

Two days later, she got the call from the infirmary which would change her life and the life of her family forever. A lot of us think we’ve gotten such a call . . . this young woman did. The very efficient nurse practitioner was on the phone and basically ordered her to return to the infirmary . When she arrived at the clinic, she asked what the problem with her blood tests was. The very efficient nurse practitioner then point-blank informed this young lady all alone and miles from any of the support systems she knew and adored she was several weeks pregnant.

That was impossible she told the nurse. She absolutely couldn’t be pregnant because she was, in fact, a virgin. She didn’t even have a boyfriend! Somehow a mistake had to have occurred, but upon a thorough exam, she realized there had been no mistake. She was no longer a virgin. She WAS pregnant.

When the shock wore off enough for her to contact her family, her mother came out and along with her roommates they began to piece together what had happened. To cut a rapidly growing story somewhat short, this girl had been drugged or “roofied” at the party weeks before, stripped, raped while unconscious, then re-dressed and tucked back in bed as though nothing happened. What’s more, the roommates were certain of the culprit because he had apparently been accused of this action before.

Now, this girl and her family are solid Christians, but even so, the most staunch pro-lifers are against abortion “EXCEPT in the case of incest, rape, or danger to the mother.” OBVIOUSLY this was a case squarely in the “exception clause.” Of course she was going to have an abortion. The school even offered to pay for it for her so she wouldn’t be out any money. They would work on prosecuting the offender, but no one expected her to keep this child. It was a RAPE BABY! Everyone would understand. It was the right course of action to take.

Here’s where the story turns from anger inducing to miracle working. She said, “No.” Simple as that. NO. She wasn’t having an abortion. Furthermore, she is not giving the baby up for adoption once he or she is born. She plans to keep and raise her baby.

Obviously, to just about everyone around her this is nothing short of insane. She’s a freshman in college. How is she going to manage a baby as an unmarried single mom in school? What about her reputation? What about the father? What about the hundreds of other “What abouts” to consider? Well, she considered them and decided to have and keep her baby.

The university is working with her hand in glove. She’s being given a leave of absence until the baby arrives at which time a court ordered paternity test will take care of the question of the father. Her scholarship is safely intact. Still, nothing in her life is ever going to be the same. All the plans she had mapped out, all the hopes and dreams now have to be completely overhauled. She will endure ridicule and scorn from now on because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone. She’ll be accused of “asking for it.” Her life will be on trial even though she’s done nothing. Some people will claim she’s using the baby for monetary gain because the rapist father is the scion of a hugely prominent and wealthy family in that state.

From now on, no matter what she does, she’s going to carry a stigma. She’s going to be “That Girl,” but she’s also carrying a baby. I guess 999 of 1000 women or more would have gone with the abortion and WHO COULD BLAME THEM? To this girl, however, aborting the baby would be tantamount to blaming him (or her) for the heinous crime the father committed. She refuses to do that. The world sees a rape baby, fit for — at best — being given up for adoption.

She sees her son (or daughter) and THAT is what hit me so hard.

2000 years ago and half a world away, another lovely young lady, also completely unremarkable in most ways and also a virgin found out SHE was pregnant. She, at least, was warned by an angel, but I’m thinking it didn’t help much in the end. As soon as she began to show, tongues started flapping. Obviously she was a harlot! She must have done something to bring this on herself! Her betrothed had the right to have her killed by stoning, but he chose instead to just “put her away”, an euphemism for divorce. Another visit by another angel changed HIS mind and together they had that baby and the Apostle Luke says she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no room in the local inn. They became a family right in the middle of a storm of scandal.

“The Holy Spirit?!” “Right!” “A VIRGIN!! Her?!” “Right.” That mother and her little baby were haunted by people who thought for absolute certainty they knew more than they did and weren’t afraid to spread their venom far and wide. Even today, 2000 years later, it hasn’t stopped. Scientists, philosophers, and great men of all stripes still say it couldn’t have happened. One major theory for all 20 centuries was this lovely young lady, completely unremarkable in most ways was raped by a Roman soldier, got pregnant, and tried to cover it up with the most unbelievable story possible and make herself the center of a new religion in the process because in any crowd some people will always rush to believe the worst about someone and refuse to believe otherwise.

By the way, spare me all the stories of the pagan roots of the Christmas celebrations — I know them, studied them, and even taught classes about them. I know, as do most thoughtful Christians, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, 1 AD so save all your science and your scorn. Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself because I’ve been there, I’ve got the scars, and I bought the t-shirt with all that cynical drivel writ large upon it and I came to realize one thing:

Christmas isn’t about a date on a calendar; it’s about a babe in a manger. It’s not about the gifts we give each other but about The Gift a loving God gave to a world dying in sin; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever will believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, to quote an adorable little cartoon guy with a red shirt and a blue blanket, “THAT’S what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Love y’all, keep your feet clean, and have a very Merry Christmas.

Great War Wednesday: The Christmas Truce of 1914

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The London Times from January 9, 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

“Had he and I but met
      By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
      Right many a nipperkin!

     “But ranged as infantry,
     And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
     And killed him in his place.

     “I shot him dead because —
     Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
     That’s clear enough; although

   “He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
   Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
   No other reason why.

    “Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half-a-crown.”

Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”

Men in their natural state show little inclination to go off and kill one another. The taboo against homicide is so ingrained within us that those who would be soldiers have to undergo desensitization to killing and interestingly enough, one key way of doing this is using violent video games, but that’s a post for another time. As a society we have labels for those who like to kill or enjoy killing or aren’t even bothered by killing. We call them psychopaths or sociopaths or simply “monsters.” Some studies of combat troops have found as many as 1 in 5 soldiers never fired their weapons during battles in which they participated. It seems despite all the sensational novels and television shows, even in the face of The Fall and our broken human natures, enough of God’s image remains within most people to cause severe distaste and discomfort when faced with taking the life of another Image-bearer of our Creator. Few events throughout history show this proclivity towards peace more clearly than the spontaneous Christmas Truce of 1914.

Ever since August, Tommy, Pierre, and Fitz had been killing one another on an industrial scale from the border of Switzerland to the English Channel. What began as a war of movement now degraded into a stagnant morass of trench warfare with misery compounded by machine gun fire. By the time Yuletide came around, men on all sides realized they had been lied to — the war certainly would NOT be over by Christmas. So it was along the Western Front as the troops hunkered down in their muddy trenches on December 24, 1914 and prepared to spend the most miserable Christmas Eve of their lives cold, damp, and utterly devoid of cheer. Then, something changed.

By most accounts, the Germans started the affair up around Ypres by singing Christmas hymns and lighting candles. As the strains of “Stille Nacht, Heil’ge Nacht” drifted across the shell-pocked moonscape of No-Man’s Land, a few adventuresome Brits climbed atop their trenches to listen and then join in. When they didn’t tumble back into the trench with holes through their heads from snipers, more soldiers climbed out of their burrows to join in the singing.

At some point, accounts say, some German lad attached a bit of white cloth to the top of a small evergreen tree, climbed out of his trench, and walked towards the British.  When he didn’t fall to an Enfield round, more of his comrades joined him. The Brits, realizing this wasn’t a ruse, climbed out and the two erstwhile enemies met in the midst of the barbed wire and shell holes between their trenches.

Their first action was to gather up the dead, some of whom had been lying unattended for weeks, and carry them back to the rear for proper burials. That grim work accomplished, the two groups began some tentative conversations and the spirit of Christmas took over from there. The troops began exchanging small gifts — the English had a surfeit of tobacco; the Germans an abundance of chocolate — so these two commodities rapidly changed hands. Some men exchanged caps or buttons or whatever trinkets seemed to interest the other party. They sang more carols together. In some places up and down the front a game or two of football — soccer for the Yanks — broke out. As the old cliche’ says, “a grand time was had by all.” Then, some hours after the festivities began, it ended. Both sides embraced and returned to their trenches with the knowledge they would soon begin the unsavory work of trying to kill one another anew.

Officers on both sides were appalled by the impromptu ceasefire. They knew actually meeting the enemy and seeing he had a regular face and neither horns nor fangs made killing said “enemy” much more difficult. Orders went up and down the chain of command. The Christmas Truce of 1914 would be the last for the duration of the war. The enlisted were threatened with court-martial or worse should any of them be so silly as to attempt such a humane action ever again. The old men who send the young men to fight and die for the wars the old men started had spoken.

Still, for a brief shining moment in the midst of Satan’s playground, the Prince of Peace reigned supreme. The joy of Christmas stopped the mouths of the artillery and silenced the bark of rifles, if only for a time, proving for anyone who cared to ponder on the topic that peace is stronger than war if only men would embrace the light.

Love y’all and Merry Christmas! Keep those feet clean during these celebrations.

And So This Is Christmas

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A_Christmas_CarolI just finished watching my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. In this rendition, Captain Jean Luc Picard plays the part of Scrooge and brings such a weightiness and excellent acting to the part that I tape the version each year to watch on Christmas Eve. As I told a friend of mine while chatting on Facebook tonight, I believe Dickens’ novella is the greatest story of a man finding redemption to be had outside the pages of the Bible. He starts the movie a hard-hearted miserly old . . . well, SCROOGE, but four ghosts later, he is a changed man who knows the meaning of Christmas isn’t presents or even family. The true meaning of Christmas is redemption.

Scrooge can find redemption for the same reason we all can, because a little over two thousand years ago, God was born in the flesh to a teenage virgin girl huddled with her betrothed in a dank odoriferous cave converted into a makeshift stable behind a cheap motel in the backwater town of Bethlehem in the equally backwater region of Palestine. That girl then wrapped God — creator of the Universe — in clean, but frayed cloths and laid Him in a feed trough and probably sang Him to sleep. Royal robes to old rags; angelic choir to a mother’s lullaby. All so that He could undo the tremendous mess His most prized creation had gotten the world into. He came as a baby with one purpose in sight — to die on a cross and save the world. Everyone born WILL die; He was born TO die . . . and save us all.

Atheists, scientists, other religions’ leaders down the centuries have tried to disprove that teenage girl ever had a child named Jesus. They’ve tried through time to say He never existed, and when they failed in that, they tried to say He existed, but He wasn’t God. I think they’ve failed at that as well.

See, the name of the holiday (holiday = holy day) is Christmas. Literally, that means Mass of Christ. Now I’m not going into all the theological historical arguments about Christmas being a usurpation of the pagan Saturnalia and Jesus not being born in December. I know all of those arguments and if you insist on hashing them out, give me an email in the comments and we’ll talk. Now, back to the name. A mass is a celebration so Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. It’s right there in the name.

The name isn’t “Toymas.”

It’s not “Santamas”

It’s not “Treemas” or “Partymas” or “Frostymas.”

It’s not called “Shoppingmas” or “Retailmas” or “Giftmas.”

We don’t sing about “O Shopping Night” or “The First Black Friday.”

We don’t because no matter how much the rising tide of secularization tries to wash away anything Christian to do with Christmas, they haven’t thought to change the name. They’ve tried a time or two. Years ago it started with “Seasons’ Greetings” and today the most PC among us go with “Happy Holidays” (again:  holiday = holy day). Christmas is still on the calendar though. The name of the Federal holiday (holy day) is “Christmas” and not “Winter Holiday.”

The Roman Empire was one of the mightiest political entities ever. They tried to kill the holiday in the womb and stamp out Christianity, but they couldn’t get it done. Neither could Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao and they ALL had more power than any of our Presidents have ever possessed.

Every gift you run around buying? You are constantly reenacting a central part of the Christmas story — the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ child. Every scrap of “holiday” music you listen to from Halloween to December 26th? Reenacting the angelic host announcing to the shepherds the birth of the Christ child. Wrapping all those gifts? Just like Mary wrapped our ultimate gift.

So try to stamp it out. Try to humbug it like Scrooge did, but at the end of it all, despite the best efforts of generation after generation of genuises, the message of Christmas is still Christ is Born. To quote the greatest showman wrestler of all time, Mr. Richard Fleer, aka Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair, “Whether you LIKE it, or DON’T LIKE it, sit down and LOOK at it, because it’s the best thing going today!”

Can I get a “whooooo?”

Love y’all, keep those feet clean, and Merry Christmas.

 

The Christmas Day Budge Channeled Gypsy

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When the lead pic is Gypsy Rose Lee, you just KNOW this is gonna be interesting.

1675 years ago today, the still-nascent Christians first celebrated the Birth of Christ on Christmas Day; 1211 years ago, Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor; 945 years ago, William the Bastard took the crown of England; 235 years ago, Washington crossed the Delaware and defeated the Hessians; 193 years ago, the choir of St. Nikolaus Cathedral in Oberndorff, Austria performed “Silent Night” for the first time; 97 years ago, several groups of Allied and Central Powers soldiers spontaneously stopped the Great War to sing carols and play soccer; twenty years ago, the final President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned; fifteen years ago, child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was murdered (probably by her psycho brother); and two years ago, a crazy Nigerian tried to use his underwear to blow up an airplane.

These were all extremely important, memorable events to be certain, but none of them can match the Christmas morning ten years ago today when my beloved Budge made her burlesque debut on the back deck of our new home.

See what had happened was, it was Christmas morning and the two of us had breakfast in the living room in front of our tree, then exchanged gifts with each other. We were supposed to be at Daddy and Teresa’s for Christmas lunch at noon, so about ten o’clock, Budge went to get a shower while I took some of my new presents out to my workshop. At the time, my precious Jackie Boy and Beauregard (better known as Beau and Jack) were in their primes and I hadn’t yet taken the initiative to have their little testosterone factories shut down. Both of them were jealous of me and had scrapped quite violently before.

Even if you don't save a life, you may save a trip to the ER!!

While I was outside, I dropped something — I can’t even remember what — and when I stooped to get it, Jack ran up to me. Beau must have figured Jack was attacking me because he set into Jack ferociously. They were snarling and biting each other around the neck and generally tearing each others flesh (and my nerves) to pieces. Now I have been raised around dogs all my life. One of my earliest companions was a full blood American Pit Bulldog named Queen. I know dogs and dog behavior and one thing I knew to NEVER do was to get between two fighting dogs.

Well, I forgot myself in my desire to get this fight broken up. Beau was on top of Jack so I reached to grab his collar so I could pull him backwards. Just as my fingers touched Beau’s collar, Jack whipped around and tried to latch onto Beau’s neck. Unfortunately, my hand and wrist happened to be in his line of fire. He clamped down on my left wrist with malice and forethought. Pain exploded in my hand instantly, but just as quickly as he had bitten down, Jack released me.

I looked down at my wrist and four holes were spouting bright red gouts of blood. I grabbed my injured wrist with my opposite hand and staggered towards the back door. I was bleeding like the proverbial “stuck hog” and I didn’t want our utility room looking like an abattoir so I opened the back door, leaving a bloody hand print on the knob, and called out to Budge to please come to my assistance.

Now my Budge is a pretty cool-headed person and handles most emergencies well; however, she doesn’t handle ME being hurt OR large amounts of blood very well. She walked out to the back door wrapped in a towel fresh from the shower with her hair wrapped in a second towel. I recall her words being “Honey, I’m getting ready. What do you wa — OHMYGODWHATHAPPENED!!” I asked her for a clean towel so I could wrap my bleeding limb. At this point, I figured she would pick a towel out of the hamper that was at her feet or, failing that, she would take the towel from her hair.

I was wrong.

Ironically, this is one of Budge's favorite movies.

I heard her scream “HERE, TAKE THIS ONE!” and a towel fell at my feet. It was a pink towel and somehow, through the haze of pain and adrenaline, I remembered the towel on her hair being blue. I looked up and there stood my beloved wife au naturel.  She had stripped off her body towel and was standing on the back deck in a deep frost in front of God and everybody just as naked as the day she was born!

I managed to strangle out, “Um, baby?” and she came to her senses with a jolt and dashed back into the house. For about fifteen seconds, if anyone had been in either of our neighbor’s yards or driving by at a proper angle, he or she would have gotten a SHOW! Oh, that was a sight.

Once I got the blood contained, we spent about an hour of Christmas morning in the Hillcrest Hospital ER. Miraculously, the bite had missed any vital tendons or arteries. I ended up with four deep puncture wounds that hurt like CRAP as the nurse flushed them with iodine. Then I got a morphine injection and that was about the last clear thing I remember for the day.

We made it to Daddy’s about thirty minutes late, but by then the morphine was in control of my mind so I spent two hours in a recliner in a doze. We left Daddy’s and went to Charles and Missy’s for Budge’s side’s dinner. Again, I spent the evening in a recliner as Budge related the morning’s events. We made it home about eight that night and I was finally able to give in to the morphine completely and I was GONE to see the Wizard, so to speak.

Because I had such a great night’s sleep, I was able to get up really early the next morning. Budge and I had a fantastic day shopping the after Christmas clearances. To this day, we call it one of our top ten days ever!

And to think, it all started with a dog fight and a strip show 🙂

Love y’all and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Have a great day and keep those feet clean!

I’m Dreaming of a white . . . Boxing Day?

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Snow in the Southland is a rare commodity. Snow when people actually WANT it, like around the holidays, is nigh upon unheard of in these parts.

December 26, 2010

So, when the flakes started falling about sundown last night most of the grownups around me were just as giddy and giggly as the few children in attendance. Greenville County, South Carolina was experiencing the first white Christmas since 1963, according to our local weathermen.

The snow fell throughout the night and we were greeted by a blinding white landscape this morning. Of course, the Sun has peeked his head out now so what’s left isn’t likely long for this world.

Snow brings out a certain special madness among Southerners. We so seldom get a simple pretty snow that we aren’t quite certain how to take them when they come along. Here, our winter weather of choice is ICE. This region has been smacked by four big ice storms in my memory. The first big one I remember was in 1988. The Monday we went back to school from Christmas break, it started snowing and icing. We left school by lunchtime that Monday and didn’t return until Wednesday of the FOLLOWING week. We missed seven school days and got no spring break that year.

My sophomore year in college saw a big snow, too. I learned a very important lesson in that storm; education majors should not get into snowball fights with engineering majors — especially if said engineering majors have access to their engineering lab. Surgical tubing and some Gore-tex pouches will launch a slushball nearly 100 yards with enough energy to take a guy completely off a bicycle. The funniest part of that particular day, however, was the two foreign students from South Africa. They’d NEVER seen snow and were convinced the sky was falling and the world was coming to an end. After we bopped them with a few good snowballs and served both of them some homemade snow ice cream, they started to come around.

It was the ice storm of 2002 that caused the most damage of any winter weather I remember. We got three or four inches of ICE. This stuff had just enough snow mixed in for color. Ice isn’t like snow in any way shape or form other than being cold. Four inches of ice is HEAVY; heavy enough to bring down main power lines — the big boys on the steel towers, not just the smaller residential stuff. It decimated trees — especially pines and other evergreens that are soft woods and woefully unsuited for weight bearing. By the time the storm lifted, most of Upstate SC was out of power. Our neighborhood went five days in the dark and some of the more remote places, like Glassy Mountain up in Pickens, went a full two weeks without power. I saw crews from as far away as Alabama working on the lines. It was a serious mess, but ever since then, we haven’t had a major outage, mainly because all the trees and limbs threatening power lines came down in that storm!

So I hope all my northern readers will forgive me my excitement over snow. I realize y’all get more snow in a day than I’ve seen in my lifetime, but we don’t laugh at you when you can’t move in our July humidity, so you could go easy on us and our poor winter driving skills!

Now go out and have some fun in what’s left of the white stuff and when you come in, get those feet dried off and warm. I don’t want anyone catching his or her death over this Christmas break!

Love y’all and y’all take care 🙂

What I Want for Christmas

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Today is Christmas and everyone who survived the rush and crush of people are gathered around trees or tables with friends and family swapping stories, opening presents, eating, drinking, and generally making merry. It’s been a common custom for people to exchange lists of gifts they would like to get from their significant others while children practice their penmanship on those all important letters to Santa. I thought that, in the spirit of the season, I’d like to make out a list of what I want for Christmas this year. Just for fun and variety.

I want to eat Christmas dinner at Papa and Granny Wham’s. I want Papa Wham to say the blessing — his blessing — the same one I can still recite in my head: “Father, pardon us of all our sins; we thank you for these and all other blessing, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” I want to eat Granny Wham’s bone dry turkey and her dressing that she never put onions in because she knew I hated onions. I want Granny Hughes’ English pea dumplings as a side dish. I want one of Aunt Nell’s cakes.

I want us all sitting around a huge table. I want Papa Wham at one end and Papa John at the other. I want Granny Wham to sit down and not walk around with the tea pitcher asking to fill everyone’s glass for the twentieth time. I want Budge next to me and Mama and Rob, Mama Lowe and Jessie, Travis and Dani, and Chloe stretching down from Budge’s side. I want Chloe to have a bottle of cereal held in two good hands. I want Daddy and Teresa, Nick, Keri, and Mason on my other side stretching up the table. I want Daddy to be holding Mason and genuinely happy, smiling and at ease instead of on a ragged emotional edge because of Vietnam rooted PTSD.

I’d say I want Mama and Daddy still together, but even my wildest fantasies have their limits. Also, wishing carelessly can reduce happiness as much as expand it. For instance, had Mama and Daddy not divorced, MAYBE some things in my life would have been better. Maybe not. However, no divorce would then mean no Rob. No Rob; no Baby Huey; no Baby Huey; no Dani and without them both I wouldn’t have my beautiful baby niece, Chloe. It would be the same story on my other side as well. No Teresa would mean no Nicholas; no Nick would mean no Sissy; no Nick and no Sissy would mean no precious baby Mason.

Unfortunately, Mason and Chloe don’t completely erase the pain, anger, and frustration of a busted up family and all the excess arrangements and holiday misery such a lifestyle brings with it — memory is a killing thing in that regard, but they DO give the pain, anger, and frustration new and happier context. They’ve given meaning to the madness. Having those two bright eyed centers of the universe giggling and laughing at the table make the tears worthwhile.

Then I want Aunt Judy and the family she’d have sitting next to Aunt Cathy and Uncle Larry and Blake and Zack and Ashley. I want them all sitting right across from me. I want Granny Wham sitting next to Papa Wham and Aunt Mary and Uncle Carroll sitting — happily — side-by-side next to Granny.  I want Aunt Polly, Aunt Nell, and Aunt Mot — The Three Sisters — sitting together. I want Shane and Ashleigh sitting together nearby. I want little curly-locked Gabriel sitting on his all-grown-up Uncle Scott’s lap.

I want Dad and Sandy nearby — and quiet for a change. I want Missy and Charles and Jackson and Harry somewhere close by. I want Richard, bright-eyed, unhaunted, happy and sober, sitting next to Ki-Ki with Ryken on his lap. I want my beloved Kayla with her mom and stepdad, PJ and O.J,. there with the boys and Celeste, calmly smiling, eating and talking instead of screaming and fighting. This is another case of wishing for wholeness would mean wishing away much happiness. In some convoluted “perfect world” Rich and PJ wouldn’t have divorced and Kayla would have grown up in a stable family, made excellent grades, and gone to a fantastic college on a soccer scholarship. However, if that were true, Budge and I wouldn’t have Ki-Ki and Ryken in our lives, so — as painful as the road my be — I’ll take the demonic with the divine and keep on keeping on.

I want Laura and Rachel and Jen and the rest of Budge and my Florida family sitting with us around the table. I want to sit next to Grandma Sims and ask her if Dad was always as stubborn and hard-headed as he is now!

I want Papa John to read the Christmas story out of Luke from Papa Hurley’s huge family Bible. I want Uncle Claude to pray for us all after the meal. I want Aunt Mildred sitting with him, calm and well. I want Aunt Betty and Uncle Raymond and Rhonda next to Granny Hughes. I want Mama singing Christmas carols (instead of hacking and coughing) with Aunt Lib and Big Granny while Papa John plays his guitar and Aunt Margie plays the piano. I want Jenny there with Bubba and Diane. I want Bluford and Chad, Connie and Gen all sitting together. I want Aunt Margaret passing around her biscuits with one hand while holding Uncle Leroy’s hand with the other.

I want Brooke and Smallwood, Daniel and the Sledzianowski Brothers, Angela and Christian, and of course, my buddy Tina all sitting near me. I want Coach Candler and Mrs. McCuen and all the rest of my Woodmont family sitting around the table and tree with us. I want Maureen and her 3 boys and Dr. O and his three girls with Lance and my District 56 family with them too. I want my “sister” Laura sitting with Cameron and Jacob, smiling and not worried about paying bills or being alone anymore. I want Erica sitting hand in hand with David, happy and satisfied.

I want us all together and happy one more time.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Hug and kiss the ones you love today. Next Christmas might be too late.

Well Merry *bleep*ing Christmas to You Too, Jerk!

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For 22 years, starting in 1659, our lovely Puritan forefathers banned Christmas. Now I don’t hold too much with Puritan beliefs. I’ve had enough commerce with modern day Fundamentalists (who are only a pale shadow of the Puritans!) to know most of their beliefs rest in the authority of men rather than Scripture. However, on this whole idea of banning Christmas — well, they may have been on to something. I just spent parts of three days at the mall with about 350,000 of my closest friends and I can testify to one irrefutable fact — a whole truckload of people would be better off mentally, emotionally, and financially if we just skipped Christmas.

Now, before anyone wants to skewer me as being a Jehovah’s Witness or irreverent towards Jesus’ birthday, let me get one thing straight. For those of you who don’t know, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25, 8 BC. The Gospels state that the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks. If you ever have the time, check out the Weather Channel for Bethlehem in December. Not all the Middle East is hot all the time. Suffice it to say neither the shepherds nor their sheep would have been out in the fields in December in Judea.

No, Christmas as we know and love (or loathe) it today is a pastiche of pagan traditions adapted by some early Christians to make their new religion more appealing to their pagan neighbors. They basically co-opted the traditional Feast of Saturnalia from Roman pagans and later on, when Christianity reached the British Isles, the Druids added a healthy dose of their traditional Winter Solstice or Yuletine celebration to the Roman underpinnings. Honestly though, I don’t care about the origins of the Christ Mass. Christ can be honored at Christmas just as much as people want to honor Him. Or not. Paganism has nothing to do with my musings on canceling Christmas.

I’d consider canceling Christmas because it has morphed from “Tis the Season to be Jolly” into “Tis the Season to be a Raging Douchebag!”

Face it, NOTHING brings the collective inner a-holes of society to the surface like the Christmas season. Starting somewhere around August these days we start seeing the first glimmerings of the tinsel to come. Then stores get fully decorated as soon as the black cats and witches hats come down for Halloween. Thanksgiving gets brushed off and then OMG!

It’s Black Friday and the world loses its freaking mind!

From the Friday after Thanksgiving until sometime around the first week of January, you take your life into your hands if you venture to within a mile of a retail establishment. People will SHOOT YOU over a parking spot at the mall. I have personally been given the middle finger by several little old blue haired ladies driving their stretched out Cadillacs around the parking lot of Haywood Mall like the Malachy Brothers and Pinky Tuscadero in a demolition derby.

The Bird — from GRANDMA! That’s what Christmas DOES to people these days.

If you want to visit a breeding ground for strokes and heart attacks, head out to the nearest US Post Office starting around the second week in December. I was in my local station last Thursday to pick up some stamps and this guy a few people back in line from me gets on his cell phone (I will refrain from my “cell phone in public places” rant) and starts pitching a fit with whoever was on the other end. He actually SAID, “I’ll be here for AT LEAST an hour because for some reason EVERY IDIOT in this town brought TEN BOXES to mail!”

Really?

And people accuse ME of going off at the drop of a hat! Dude, word of advice — buy a calendar and some Xanax! Better make it the PURPLE ones too, because you are BEYOND the orange ones.

What I don’t understand is WHY ALL THE FUSS?!

For nearly six solid weeks, the great mass of quietly desperate sheeple run around like AD-HD lemmings on meth buying gifts they can’t afford with money they don’t have to give to people they probably don’t like. Why? Men are forced at bayonet point to put up trees and string lights on those trees and many of those men resort to alcohol in an effort to deal with the madness of trying to make out the color of the one remaining microscopic fleck of paint on the tip of a boxful of artificial tree branches! Is it orange or brown! Makes a difference you know.

We won’t even TALK about the lights. I don’t have the raw numbers, but I’m nearly certain the three leading causes of divorce in America are fights over money, lack of communication, and STRINGING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON A TREE!

“YES, DEAR, I see the big gaping hole where we need more lights!!”

People don’t enjoy Christmas anymore. They can’t. The “retail therapy” pushers won’t let them. What should be a nice, calm time for friends and family has turned into a materialistic feeding frenzy! My two oldest nephews get more toys and gadgets and stuff at ONE family get-together than Wilson’s Five and Ten’s whole inventory when I was growing up. The push to keep up with the Joneses who don’t even know you exist has driven people to madness.

People will STEAL PRESENTS out of a car. That is almost, but not quite as low as stealing money out of the offering plate as it comes by (not making change in the offering plate, that’s different). I’ve just recently seen women get into hair-pulling, shirt-ripping cat fights over the last Elmo doll — WHILE THEIR KIDS WERE WATCHING!

It’s unbelievable! Folks get trampled to DEATH every year at Wal-marts and Target stores over a sale on DVDs or some such nonsense. A person’s life has become cheaper to society than a round piece of laser etched plastic.

I can imagine Jesus looking over this chaos that — once upon a time — used to be set aside to celebrate His birth and thinking, “Really, guys?”

So watch out for the bird-flipping grannies out there and if you MUST go out to a mall sometime in the next four days, PLEASE be careful! It’s a tinsel wrapped, tiny light strung jungle out there!

Love y’all! Keep those feet clean!