An Unlikly Meeting

The coffee shop was mainly empty when the stranger entered. Most patrons had gone home to be with their families now that the holiday was winding down. As the new visitor looked around, he recognized Tom Trindle paying his check. Harry Lemke was talking on his mobile phone at the counter as Mr. Trindle walked passed by and out the door without even a glance the stranger’s way. The new arrival made his way to a booth in the back. There he sat across the table from a man still in a Santa suit sipping hot chocolate and eating a blueberry muffin.

Harry, still on the phone was oblivious to the two characters seated at the back corner booth, but Stella the waitress was not. She had already waited on Santa and found him friendly enough to earn the bells on his hat. She didn’t know what to make of the strange man now seated with him dressed in a robe and sandals – odd enough in principle but particularly so this time of year. She took him a glass of water. The stranger smiled at her and offered his thanks as he called her by name. Stella slightly taken back by the fact that this visitor knew her name inquired, “Who are you supposed to be, Jesus?”

The stranger replied, “I am.”

Stella mustered an uncomfortable smile as she made her way back to the counter for she knew that the stranger required nothing more than the water and didn’t look like he could pay for more than the price of "free" anyway.

“I always wanted to meet you,” Santa said. “You are the reason I’m here.”

“Some say it is so for godly reasons; others say ungodly reasons,” replied Jesus.

Santa spoke up, “I assure you sir, I have only the most honorable of intentions. I make all the boys and girls know that the night before Christmas is the most special time of the year. I picked your day to show generosity and love to all people.”

“Do you not think that you have replaced me in many the lives of the children and their parents?” asked the bearded man.

“I cannot control the minds of the people. I can only be what it is that I am.”

Jesus smiled, “You are my seed that is planted in the children’s hearts. The crops that grow from you will only be realized when the children are older – if they are watered and nurtured.”

Santa exhaled in great relief. “I am glad that you see me that way. I do not want any glory for myself. I only want to devote my being to loving and giving. We are a lot alike in that way, do you not think, Teacher?”

Jesus replied, “As there are attributes we have in common, there is one major difference between us that can never be bridged no matter how much faith the people have.”

Santa smiled sweetly, “I know, Master. You do not need to say any more.”

At that instant, Stella looked up to see an empty booth. She rushed over to see if on this Christmas evening, she would actually get stiffed for the $2.25 owed to her. She discovered on the table a five-dollar bill and a profound sense of peace.

Christmas, Think About It

I always get tickled this time of the year when I see all the PC'ers struggle with what to do with this holiday. Secularists in the USA have been trying get rid of Jesus Christ for the past century or so. They don't like the word "Christmas" because it is a shortened term for "Christ's Mass". Can't have that. So here is what we have. We have "Happy Holidays" as an alternative. Well, "holiday" is a shortened version of "holy day" with apologies to my UK influenced friends who are convinced that "holiday" means "vacation". Most people I know, don't treat their vacations as something holy (see: Las Vegas, Spring Break, etc.) So, "Happy Holidays" is really including Chanukuh with Christmas which really doesn't do much to advance the secular agenda.

Christ carries power that can't be denied. We are living in 2006 A.D. (the year of our Lord). Secularists have been trying to change it to CE (common era), but a rose by any other name, still smells as sweet. The truth is that God made His presence known in such a way, that it literally divided time as we know it.

I get fascinated with this passive war against all things Christian. Without Christmas, there would be no national holiday. The national holiday is "Christmas", not winter solstice. Businesses in retail and the production of retail goods would fall apart without it. Most do not make a profit until the Christmas season gets underway. The term "Black Friday" the first shopping day of Christmas derives its name from the first day these retailers go from being in the red to being in the black. The coming of Jesus to the world keeps the US economy afloat. That's power, right there. What other holiday is so big that we spend our hard earned bucks to give presents to nearly everyone we know. We give to others because of the biggest gift that could ever be given - a life, a child, God's own Son. To step out of the glories of heaven to be abused by your children for THEIR sake. THAT is a gift.

The next time someone says, "Happy Holidays" or if you are getting two weeks off of school for "Winter Break", just smile and say to yourself, "Thank you, Jesus."

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. " (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday Thirteen #3

I think it is only suitable to do the Thursday Thirteen about Christmas in some way or form since this is the last Thursday before then. However, I didn't want to do the old standbys this time. You know, thirteen favorite Christmas songs or TV programs. They are all fine, but I am sure people will be able to find a ton of them if they look. Nope, today I decided to list thirteen presents that I will NOT be getting this Christmas. They are in no particular order

1. Laptop Computer (notebook) - I need this because it is still an excuse I have for not working on my writing projects. Once I get this, I will have to find another excuse. Once I satisfy all these excuses, I will be able to write a book about all the excuses I had for not writing.

2. My house sold - I have this house that I SAY that I am desperately trying to
sell. I work on some improvements from time to time, but if I was as desperate
as I SHOULD be, I would be working on it daily and there would be a sign in the yard. Anyone want to buy a house?

3. New (bigger) House - I am sharing my wife's house right now and it is too small for both of us. There is no way we can start a family till we have more space. As it is, I feel like I am living out of a suitcase. She didn't want to move
into MY house, although it is bigger and has an additional apartment in the back.

4. A Child - See #'s 3 and 2.

5. A puppy - We have three dogs as it is in this small house. It is my practice for
fatherhood. Since I am not Catholic, three practice children are enough.

6. Car - this is the same situation as the house. We have four vehicles and a
couple will have to be sold before this can happen. Two of them no one would
want and I can't part with my truck and classic car.

7. Be more in shape - Winter is a tough time to lose weight because of the weather and the holidays. I can't afford a gym membership because I have all my money tied up in houses and cars. However, I don't like the idea of not having any control of my weight so I decided to GAIN weight until January. So far, so good.

8. A gym membership - I guess it is possible, but gifts that expire are kind of a
gyp. But if I did get one, I could add it to the excuses that I mentioned in #1.

9. Cable TV for my work office - the facilities guys in my building at work was
supposed to have done this two years ago (I would like to monitor CNN and CSPAN). However, they are always "too covered up" - a favorite phrase around here.

10. New Carpeting for my office - three years ago this was supposed to be replaced. Back then; I packed a lot of stuff in boxes so it could easily be moved. It didn't happen. Those guys have been covered up. In the meantime, I have the only carpeting in the building still from the '70's. Seriously, it is this plaid thing - very dated.

11. A fantasy football championship. After years of winning championships along with the hundreds of dollars that came with it, I have officially ran my team into the ground. Alas, I think the game has passed me by.

12. A girlfriend - See #7 above. Besides, my wife would frown on it.

13. The ability to understand HTML enough to avoid screwing up these posts.

Wednesday's Whys

Don't worry, this isn't a new meme (hate that word) that I picked up somewhere. I just made it up. If you want to use it on your blog as one of those, feel free. Every once in a while (perhaps on Wednesdays ;) I will present some things that are bothering me hoping that someone has some insight. Here is what is on my mind today:

1. Why is it that Christians on TV are always portrayed as out of touch idiots? My wife and I was watching a reality show (Trading Spouses), and even the woman the show picked was kind of a whacko. I am sure the show's editing has something to do with it, but some things just spoke for themselves. There have been a lot of people with a strong Christian faith that contributed a great deal to history and society so I know that all Christians are not as idiotic as the media portrays them. I also know that those who do not believe are farther from Christianity after watching these shows.

2. Why is it that the ongoing presence of US troops in Iraq and the continued instability there because of it is somehow better than just letting a full-blown civil war break out and let the chips fall where they may? Both scenarios provide for a lot of death and bloodshed, but the civil war will at least end with the Iraquis deciding their own fate. I mean, how could it be worse than the Saddam Hussein era? I know people will talk about Iran coming in and taking over, but how can that be worse than the the Saddam era? If it would be worse, than why did we attack Iraq instead of Iran? I mean, if we thought we had to attack someone rather than go after bin Laden, why not Iran or North Korea? Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it is better to let them fight it out among themselves, I just want to know why it isn't.

3. Why am I a sports fan? It takes up a lot of my time and ultimately I get disappointed. For instance, I am a big Cincinnati Bengals fan. Monday night, after weeks of playing great, they laid an egg on national TV. It hurt their chances to go to the playoffs and I have had a bad taste in my mouth ever since.

4. Why is my wife not more of a sports fan and why is she losing her enthusiasm for her beloved University of Illinois basketball team? She used to be nuts for this team - even before they were great a couple of years ago. Shoot, she got me liking them and I went to Indiana University (a conference rival)? Last night we watched the first half of the Illinois/Missouri game. At half time, she talked to her dad on the phone and I went to check on my mother. I showed up in time for the second half and she was in bed. It was a close game (and Illinois won). I stayed up and watched the rest of HER team's game by myself.

5. Why do I blog instead of finishing my writing projects? I guess that is a loaded question because I could do both. I started blogging to get me used to writing everyday (or at least multiple times a week). I do that, but I haven't worked on my projects (four novels and two nonfiction pieces) in quite some time. My blog writing really isn't as good as my other stuff and doesn't have the pressure to be as good. Do you think I am just lazy?

I got nuttin'

This is the post that states that I have nothing to say. It really isn't true, though. I have plenty to say about the situation in Iraq and the political outlook for the presedential election in '08; I just don't have the energy today.

I guess I slept okay. I had a couple of crazy dreams. Usually, I feel like I slept well when the dreams are intense or real-like. These were. So, I must have slept okay. I woke up to the smell of coffee which was nice. We set it come on automatically at 5:15 this morning. That was a nice thing that I want to be a habit.

The weekend was okay, but not outstanding. The weather was springlike but I didn't get much done. I hate that a ton, because who knows when the weather will cooperate again. I managed to break my chainsaw when doing what little I did manage to accomplish.

I can't stop yawning this morning. I need to keep a cot in this office for just such an emergency. Maybe I will sum up the energy later to start one of my diatribes. Maybe not (yawn).

Thursday Thirteen #2

This is my thirteen reasons why this will be a great holiday season;

1. It is the first Christmas as a husband.
2. We are spending a couple of days at my father-in-law's house and he likes me. ;) (he is totally understanding of his daughter's "ways").
3. My mother seems to be maintaining her health.
4. I get as many days off as I want.
5. The Christmas shopping is about 90% completed already.
6. We have Marley the Christmas Dog (he just looks Christmasy).
7. My sister is hosting the get-together and she is great at it.
8. My Christmas turkey!
9. My wife wraps all the presents and is great at it!
10. The present gravy train started at our November reception and will continue till the rest of the year. :)
11. "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer" is on TV.
12. Linus' reading of Luke 2 on "Merry Christmas, Charley Brown".
13. I haven't lost sight of the reason for the season!

My Retirement Plan

Today, I was just going to complain about my wife. It has been a while since I had and I didn't want to give the false impression that I finally found marital bliss. However, instead, I am going to present this retirement plan that my wife (ironically enough) sent me through email. There will be plenty of time tomorrow to complain about my wife. ;)

Because I am thinking of my mother and always trying to figure out my own plan for the golden years, I found this email somewhat interesting - even if it was intended to be tongue-in-cheek.
This is my retirement plan:

About 2 years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderlylady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. Ialso noticed that all the staff, ships officers, waiters, busboys, etc., allseemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter who the lady was, expecting to be told that she owned the line, but he said he only knewthat she had been on board for the last four cruises, back-to-back.

As we left the dining room one evening I caught her eye and stopped tosay hello. We chatted and I said, "I understand you've been on this ship forthe last four cruises." She replied, "Yes, that's true.! " I stated, "Idon't understand" and she replied, without a pause, "It's cheaper than anursing home."

So, there will be no nursing home in my future. When I get old andfeeble, I am going to get on a Princess Cruise Ship. The average cost for anursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on reservations on a Princess andI can get a long term discount and senior discount price of $135 per day.That leaves $65 a day for:

1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.
2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to therestaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast-in-bedevery day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers and dryers, and shows every night.
4. They have free toothpaste and razors, and free soap and shampoo.
5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days.
7. T. V. broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No Problem! They will fix everything and apologize for your inconvenience.
8. Clean sheets and towels every day, and you don't even have to ask for them.
9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare;if you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship they will upgrade you toa suite for the rest of your life.

Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or name where you want togo? Princess will have a ship ready to go.

So don't look for me in anursing home, just call shore to ship.

PS: And don't forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side --at no cost.

Thursday Thirteen #1

There is an activity out there called "Thursday Thirteen". A blogger makes a list comprising of thirteen uh . . . anything, I guess. It is designed to let the readers get to know them a little more. I don't really know how to officially join the group that is doing it, so I am just going to wing it. They have these little things they put on their blog and I don't even think I could figure out how to do it. Nonetheless, here is my first Thursday list of thirteen.

Thirteen All-Time Favorite TV Characters:

13. Stewie Griffin from The Family Guy. He is the baby with the adult feminine voice. It is so outlandish, that it is fascinating to me.

12. Arthur Fonzerelli (a.k.a. Fonzie, the Fonze) from Happy Days. I used to think he was the coolest guy when I was a kid. I wanted to be him. I always tapped juke boxes when we went out to eat, but I could never turn on a song that way.

11. Dwight Schrute from The Office. The guy is maniacal psychophant. Hilarious.

10. Mr. Spock from Star Trek. He introduced me to logic and was such a contrast from . . .

9. Captain Kirk from Star Trek. He was so melodramatic and bigger than life. He was a master of space karate and always got the girl - even if she was blue or green from time to time.

8. George Costanza from Seinfeld. Nobody could get into a ridiculous jam like this guy. He made the best speeches, too.

7. Edith Bunker from All in the Family. She appeared to be dumb but was probably the one on the show that had the most going on. Edith is the only female on the list. I think this is more of indictment on the industry than on females. Females never seemed to get the interesting roles. I will say that Betty from Ugly Betty may make it to a future list.

6. Data from Star Trek, The Next Generation. Data was an android that had no emotions (in the vein of Spock). However, unlike Spock, Data had a pinnochio complex. He was fascinated with humans and his trying to become human was both interesting and humorous.

5. Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza. Hoss was as big hearted as he was big and strong. There was certain charm about him that drew me to the show.

4. Michael Scott from The Office. He is so funny. He is the guy in real life that you would laugh at in real life but feel guilty about later. With this being a television show, there is no guilt.

3. Kramer from Seinfeld. Every facial expression, body movement, and situation is so exaggerated and plain funny. He keeps the relevance of slapstick humor. He is, indeed, a pod.

2. Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. Barney is a combination of a lot of characters I listed above, but with his own style. There will never be another Barney.

1. Archie Bunker from All in the Family. Archie was so offensive and stupid, it is a miracle in character development that he was so loved by the TV audience. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I soaked up every word and facial expression. Archie is a television masterpiece.

That's my first list - hopefully not my last.

Weird? Yeah, guilty.

This another one of those tagged things. I have mixed emotions about them, but sometimes they are insightful.

This is six things that are weird about me:

1. I am a packrat. I have trouble throwing things away. I think in a former life I lived through the Depression (except I don't believe in that sort of thing).

2. I don't recognize my voice on tape or the image of me on film. The voice thing is easy to understand I guess. We all sound differently from the inside than on the out. I don't care too much for the way I sound except from on the inside (which I cannot share). The pictures are kind of weird. I don't think I ever look like myself. I guess it is because my self-image is a lot better than reality.

3. I have a habit of holding a napkin or tissue in my hand (or stuff them in my pocket). I got that habit from my mom. She was always ready for a runny nose or an unexpected mess.

4. I hate feet. Do I even need to explain why? Some e-pals used to threaten to send me pics of their feet, but thankfully no one ever did. :)

5. I can't stand for skin to touch. For instance, when I go to bed, I have to have something between my legs so they won't touch or a blanket between my arms and my chest. I don't know why, but if I let myself, I can drive myself crazy by thinking about my fingers touching themselves in between. Fortunately, I am not nuts about it. Most people don't even know about it - till now. ;)

6. I sing my wife "Happy Birthday" every year in Jimmy Stewart's voice (or the best immitation I can do). She loves Jimmy Stewart and evidently I do a good job at it. I think that is why she married me. She refuses to believe that Jimmy Stewart stutters, though. I say he does - most of the time.

That's the weird me. I am not tagging anyone specifically, but if you read this and thought of a few things about yourself that you would like to put in your blog, let me know.

Plumbers and Doctors

Since I got married, I have inherited yet another house that needs maintenance and upkeep. These aren't my strong points. I don't know exactly what my strong points are, but I do know that these things are not. So, I now have THREE, count them, three houses to maintain. It is kind of like giving a horrible cook a bigger kitchen.

What's worse is that I have a wife that thinks as soon as a man becomes a husband, he becomes Bob Vila. More than that, she thinks that I am responsible for the disrepair as if I get up in the middle of the night while she sleeps and tear stuff up. It is quite baffling, actually.

The latest thing is the kitchen sink. It leaks. I checked it out and it appears to be leaking in multiple places at the same time (where the faucet is connected and where the handles are). How these things decided to leak at the same time, I don't know. I think the whole system has to be replaced.

As I have mentioned to one blogging friend, I cannot afford a plumber - especially during Christmas time. So, I called a friend of ours and he is coming over today to assess and fix the thing. That is great, except for one thing. There is nothing I can do to adequately show my appreciation to this friend. You see, he is a doctor. He DOESN'T need the extra money. He can do anything. He is a physician, he makes shirts and other customed things (mugs, hats, etc.), he does construction, he bakes, you name it. He is so busy, yet he drops everything to come and help. He is gold!

What can I do to show my appreciation? I mean, I insist to pay him for his time and skill. Yet, he doesn't really care about the money - especially the measley amount he is getting from me. It is very humbling.

Fun Friday

Not really, but hey, I can dream. I am still struggling to get rid of this stupid cold so I am going to take a half day off. I guess that is fun.

We are going to put up the tree tonight. I guess that could be fun if my wife is behaving.

I am going to make some hot cider. That could be fun if I don't sneeze into it. Good thing the stuff has to come to a boil. ;)

Here is my Friday Fun challenge. What is the most fun game you can play on the Internet. I am not talking about the "with other people" type games (like poker), I am just talking about some little game that you can play anytime if you have to kill a minute or twenty. My bud, Charles, introduced me to a Monkey Kick Off. If you have a game you like, pass it on.