Happy Feast of the Holy Family

Bill has been off this week, so we’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing.  It’s been lovely.

We did go to see The Muppets.  We had 8 free tickets, which meant that ordering 4 medium popcorns and 4 medium sodas for nearly $50 didn’t hurt too badly.  Everybody enjoyed the film; it was nice not having to worry that the next joke or scene was going to include something crude or offensive.  There was one scene where the camera panned to the audience watching the muppets perform, and the rows were filled with 40ish people with dopey, happy grins on their faces.  It was like looking in the mirror…(and that only made my own dopey, happy grin larger).

Bill and I watched The King’s Speech.  Wow.  How absolutely wonderful to enjoy a movie made for adults, with adult topics, but absolutely no violence or nudity.

This is in contrast to a few other shows we’ve been trying to watch, but one little night owl has been repeatedly coming downstairs to visit us.  A large number of scenes are completely inappropriate for children, so we can’t watch the shows at all.  Just as well, I suppose.

The other night, I read Bedtime for Frances to Mary, the night owl.  She loved it, as I did when I was a child.  I asked her last night, “What is your job?”

“To go to bed,” she answered.

“And what happens if you don’t go to bed?” I asked her, just as Frances’s father asked her in the book.

“You’re going to spank my bottom!”  She smiled and laughed and scampered off to bed, finally, permanently.  Corporal punishment is such a terrifying threat in our home.

Bill has not shaved since Christmas Eve.  I hope to take a picture of him today, since he has promised to clean himself up.  We’re going to a party this evening, otherwise he’d probably let it go.  He looks kinda cute with a beard, but he sure isn’t getting many kisses.  He’d need a few more weeks before it was long enough to be soft, but he’s back to work on Monday.

I’m scouring the internet for information on housing in Tampa.  If anybody can recommend areas to live, I would be grateful.  I’ll head there in a few weeks to see potential homes in person and hopefully put a deposit down.

Lastly, I enjoyed this article by Marybeth Hicks: Set New Parenting Trends in the New Year.

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The North Wind was not blowing yesterday

Yesterday we (meaning “I”) took a break from the cleaning and the baking and the stressing out about the long to-do list, and went to the beach (that’s where the “we” part comes in…”I” clean, “I” bake, “I” stress, but “we” go to the beach).

Don’t let the bathing suits fool you – the water was cold.  And the air was chillier at the beach than at my house.  I was glad to have a sweater, and I was glad when the sun wasn’t hiding behind the clouds.  But, still, December 22nd and the shoreline temps around 70 degrees were nothing to complain about.

And a cold day at the beach is better than a nice day stuck indoors scrubbing baseboards.

I managed to convince two friends to also neglect their pre-Christmas preparations for a few hours to come along.  It took them a long time to make up their minds and decide to go – maybe 20 or 30 seconds.

No matter how long we stay at the beach – 2 hours or 10 – my children are not at all happy when I say it is time to go.  Mary refused to get in this picture because she was so mad.

My kids grumped all the way to the car, and when my girlfriend asked if they had had a good time, they all said various unpleasant things (no, tell me how you really feel…).  But by dinnertime, when asked, unanimously agreed they had thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Fortunately for them, Bill did receive confirmation yesterday that we are “definitely” moving to Tampa in March (as “definitely” as the Army lets you get).  So trips to the beach – the warm, sunny, go-there-in-the-winter beach – will continue to be a regular part of their lives.

{Side note: I did once go to the “beach” in Maine in December.  Very different experience: it was so cold that being outside for more than a half hour was unpleasant.  But the violent sea crashing on the rocks and the wind, “like a whetted knife“, slicing through every layer of clothing was an exhilarating moment.}

Envy and Stealing Joy

Envy is a feeling of sorrow at another’s good fortune and joy at the evil which befalls him; as if we ourselves were injured by the good and benefited by the evil that comes to him.

So, let’s say the rule is that you are supposed to wear a uniform to work, and so are your co-workers.  And let’s say that one of your co-workers has been getting away with not wearing the correct uniform to work.  That’s totally not fair, right?  It’s an injustice that needs to be fixed, and you are just the right person to go whining to the boss to point out that he is failing in his duties as a manager in upholding corporate rules and regulations.  And the boss listens to you and decides that he has no choice but to make your co-worker comply with the dress code.  Congratulations.  You have scored such a high moral victory.  (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

Because, let’s suppose that this coworker has a long white beard and long white hair (not against the rules), and let’s suppose he wears wire-rimmed glasses (also, within regulations), and let’s suppose the alternative outfit he wears is a red, fuzzy suit which makes him look just like Santa Claus.  And let’s suppose the reason he got away with breaking the rules is because everybody, from all your co-workers and the bosses to people who live on his route, especially little children, thinks he is the most wonderful man on the planet and feel happier for a few minutes whenever they see him.

And whenever people see you, they walk away with a sour taste in their mouth, because you don’t know how to create joy, so you steal it.

I hope you are happy.  But thousands of people are sad, including people like me who read this article and now have a sour taste in their mouth.

US Postal Service Tells Carrier to Stop Dressing Like Santa

Soldiers and Christmas Stories

Last week, Bill was making the rounds at work, wishing people a Merry Christmas, asking about their plans for the holidays.  He talked to a woman about family traditions.  I guess she was a single mom, raising three kids on her own.  She had a rule that the kids couldn’t wake her up until 7 am.  Her kids are older now, but they still hold fast to this tradition, even calling her on Christmas morning at 7 am if they aren’t at home.

She said that the time her son was deployed to Afghanistan, her phone rang right on time.  She heard her son’s voice from halfway around the world asking, “Can I get up now, Mommy?”

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OK, if that didn’t bring a tear to your eye, you are a cold-hearted Grinch (perhaps even a communist).  This story about one of Bill’s soldiers down in Tampa should get you.

Coming Home for the Holidays

I hope the Allen family has the most wonderful Christmas this year.

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Lastly, my sister picked her husband up from the airport today!  They only have a few weeks, and then he has to go back to Alaska to out-process.  She actually called me from the airport.  I was astounded, but then she explained that she was waiting waiting waiting for the plane to land, so I was happy to pass a few minutes with her to distract her from her impatience.

She confessed to thinking up all sorts of tragedies that might befall her on the way to the airport.  If you have ever been away from your loved one for 6 months to a year, you know what I mean.  It seems so silly, when you’re not the one nervous as all get about about a reunion.

We hung up before the plane landed and I haven’t heard from her since.  Sheesh.  I think I’ll wait until late tonight, and then I’ll start sending her text messages, one right after the other…

Dear Neighbors,

Twice this week, my dog has been attacked while we were out for our morning jog.  In both instances, we were fully on the street and not on the property line.  My dog is fine, in case you were worried.  I have to admit, that I don’t care about yours.  In one instance, my dog must have made contact with a sensitive body part, because one of the two dogs present yelped.  In this latest situation, I at first thought the animal was a cat, but I’ve never known a cat to attack a moving dog six times its size.  Only dogs are that stupid.  I did not hear any yelping, but I did have to pull my dog off yours.  What really bothered me was that there was no owner within earshot, not that the other dog owner shouting an apology as her dogs came hurtling down their drive at us was acceptable either.

This letter is to inform you that I have purchased Halt!, a pepper spray for dogs.  It will hurt them, but the pain is only temporary.  Any dog who approaches my dog while we are on the public roadway will be sprayed.  I have no desire for my own dog to suffer injury, nor do I truly want her to inflict serious injuries on another animal.  In addition, I am not interested in being pulled off balance and having my own ankles, knees or other body parts twisted, scraped or broken.  If your dog will not remain on your property, I suggest you keep your dog indoors or on a leash, especially between the hours of 6 and 7 am.  For those of you with “friendly” dogs, I am sorry to say that I can not differentiate between “friendly” coming-to-say-hello running and aggressive running, especially when it is still dark out, so all dogs will be subject to the spray.

If you have any concerns, feel free to stop by my home to discuss the matter in person.  I will keep the can near the door in the event that aggressive humans require encouragement to remain “friendly”.