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WITandWISDOM(tm) - December 22, 2003
"Blessed are those who give without remembering and those who take without forgetting" - Elizabeth Bibesco
Source: The Funnies, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/andychaps_the-funnies
~~~~~~~ SPECIAL THOUGHTS:
With candles glowing softly in the living room, snow floating quietly into our front yard and the Bible opened to that familiar "shepherds abiding" story in the gospel of Luke, it was a picture-perfect Christmas eve until the coffee table erupted in flames.
As part of my German heritage, our family has always opened at least one present on the night before Christmas. Somehow, a piece of wrapping paper got too close to a candle. It did not merely ignite; it exploded.
Instinctively, I began stomping on the paper in an effort to .smother the flames. This is an effective way to stop a small fire unless you happen to be wearing brand-new furry "lion's head" slippers, which immediately flame to life like some kind of mythological beast roused from its thousand-year slumber.
In less time than it takes to sing "presents roasting on an open fire," our quiet holiday evening was transformed into a modern-day version of Dante's Inferno, only stupider and less poetic.
"Grab that thingy!" I yelled to my son Mark as I performed an impromptu version of "River Dance" (albeit with more smoke).
"The hose?" he yelled back.
"The red thingy that sprays stuff," I barked.
But my wife, Dale, had already grabbed the fire extinguisher and began blasting away. In a roar of white mist the flames died out, and the room filled with gently falling ashes.
We all stared quietly at the mess.
My lion slippers sported melted whiskers, the coffee table bore scorch marks and white powder residue from the extinguisher covered the floor. We opened the doors and windows to clear the air and spent the evening cleaning things up. I don't think we ever got back to the shepherds abiding peacefully in their fields. And I finally gave up my quest for the perfect Christmas.
For many years, I had embarked on a futile attempt to achieve that elusive ideal - the romanticized holiday captured in magazines and 30-second TV commercials. The ingredients seemed so simple: a warm fire glowing in the hearth, hot cider brewing in the kitchen, the glow of the tree and my family snuggled together on the sofa as we recounted the touching story of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.
But something always went wrong. The fireplace belched smoke back into the room, a drink got spilled or one of the kids asked if he could play a video game right when the angels were about to bring tidings of great joy.
As each year passed without me realizing my dream of a perfect Christmas, I became progressively more uptight, obsessive and ridiculous.
"All I want is one perfect holiday! Just one," I complained to Dale.
"Dave, we have kids! It will never be perfect," Dale replied. "Can you just let it be good? Can you just enjoy what actually is instead of what you think it should be?"
As is so often the case, my wife was right.
Irritating at the time, but right nevertheless.
The perfect Christmas is a myth. After all, the first Christmas was hardly perfect. It was glorious and difficult, miraculous and earthy, sublime and sweaty, tender and yet so harsh. Angel songs were mixed with animal smells. The hopes and fears of all the years were jumbled together as heaven invaded a stable.
Nothing has really changed since then. Hopes and fears still meet. Christmas may not be perfect. But it can be good.
By Dave Meurer, Redding, California
Source: Focus on the Family - December 2002, http://www.family.org
~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:
A Letter from a Farm Kid at Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
Dear Ma and Pa,
I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before maybe all of the places are filled. I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m., but am getting so I like to sleep late.
Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing. Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water.
Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food. But tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit between two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you till noon, when you get fed again.
It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much. We go on "route" marches, which the Platoon Sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A "route march" is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. The country is nice, but awful flat.
The Sergeant is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. The Capt. is like the school board. Majors and Colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.
This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move. And it ain't shooting at you, like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.
Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake. He joined up the same time as me. But I'm only 5'6" and 130 pounds and he's 6'8" and weighs near 300 pounds dry.
Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers hear of this setup and come stampeding in.
Your ever-lovin' daughter,
Submitted by Marilyn Graham
~~~~~~~ KEEP SMILING:
In school one day, a teacher asked my six-year-old nephew why his handwriting wasn't as neat as usual.
He explained, "I'm trying out a new font."
Source: Clean Humor Digest, http://www.jokesnstuff.net/digest
A sharp-eyed Canadian Mountie spotted a spelling error on U.S. Treasury bonds worth about $2.5 trillion -- bonds that turned out to be forgeries.
Two men tried to cash $25 million worth of the bonds at a Canadian bank in February 2001 when the Mountie saw some of the bonds said "dollar" instead of "dollars."
From: Britain's Sky News, http://www.sky.com/skynews/home
Source: ArcaMax Off the Wall, http://www.coolnewsletters.com