Christmas Memories

Did you ever sit back and ponder Christmas past? I mean way past, back when you were just a young’un. I know some of us are challenged to remember what we had for breakfast, much less what we did when we were ten. There are some memories, however, that never leave us. We might misrember them sometimes as we’ve reprinted them time and again onto the cranial hard drive.

My cousin Preston got one of those vibrating football games for Christmas. In our day, that was really high tech. To play the game you aligned the opposing teams for every down and then switched it on. The field vibrated with an awful racket. The players, wearing plastic bristles for cleats shook wildly and started moving – in every which direction. Sometimes they would hook arms and sit there vibrating in a circle or end up in a directionless clog of plastic football players right in the middle of the field. Occasionally one of them would break loose from the mob and head toward a goal line – hopefully the correct one. Except for my battery powered machine gun that made a noise when you squeezed the trigger that was about as hi-tech as it got for us. We did have the marvel of Etch-a-Sketch and Light Bright and every girl learned how to burn food with her easy bake oven. Nearly every year someone got a football for Christmas. Football was a lot more fun out in the back yard than on a vibrating field sitting on the bedroom floor– especially when the dogs got into the game. When we ran they did too tugging on our shirt sleeves or pants legs. They’d go after the ball too actually blocking a pass now and again and try vainly to pick up the ball with their mouth.

At school, we used to draw names for a gift exchange. Unbeknownst to me, one Christmas Big Rita drew my name. She gave me a toy pistol that was broken and put back together with a screw that was about an inch too long. She had a sneer on her face as she watched me open it. The sneer turned into a cackle and chocolate dribbled out the corner of her mouth. Who ever drew her name gave her a box of candy and in our time probably homemade fudge. No, I did not wish for her to choke as that would not be very Christmassy. Silently, however, I did hope it was laced with Ex-lax.

One year, I wanted a sled, but I guess I knew it was a little outside the price range of gifts. My Dad managed to come up with a sled for me anyway. It wasn’t new. Dad found a frame and runners from an old sled. He re-done the wooden body and steering handle and shined up the runners. On Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Our sled runs were epic, if not sometimes dangerous. We lived near the top of a mountain and the way up was a winding dirt road. We got a good bit of snow every year. Repeated snow and freezing along with some vehicle traffic turned that road into a very fast well packed sled run. We never gave much thought to zipping down the middle of the road. We also didn’t wear helmets.

One kid that lived just up the road came out with his brand spanking new sled. It was shiny and sleek. Of course, he wanted to race. I took the challenge. Initially he was in the lead, but I passed him. We usually ended our run at a turn in the road, but he wasn’t quitting and nether was I. My smaller more steerable sled made it through the turn and sleek speed racer went into the creek. It was a memorable Christmas event for me, a wet cold one for him.

My most memorable sledding day was not at Christmas. My friend Shortie, Preston and me decided we would sled down a hillside cow pasture on a piece of roofing tin. There was one problem with our sled run. At the bottom of it was a barbed wire fence so we would have to bail or face being shredded. I guess we didn’t realize how fast a sheet of tin loaded with three boys would travel down a snow-covered hillside. We all managed to make it, but Preston did leave the seat of his britches attached to our improvised sled.

The most memorable Christmas event for me? It was the first time I heard my young son yell out, “Mom, Dad! Come see what Santa brought!”

May you make countless good memories. Have a Blessed Christmas.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

A time for giving

I have worn second hand clothes. I have eaten the cheese, canned pork, peanut butter and barley cereal from a government food supplement program. I don’t recall every talking of that time in my life with anyone. Not even those I held as close personal friends. I do use it as an important anchor, a reminder of a central time in my life, a reminder that not everyone lives a plentiful life. Not even in these days of abundance. Most importantly it reminds me that good people gave me clothing when I needed it and the commodities program provided additional food items my family needed.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ – Matthew 25:34-36 (NIV)

That brief period of life did not mean much to me then, a child with no life experience from which to draw. Over the years, however, each living day it has become to mean more. Suzie-Q and I haven’t always had a lot to give, but we’ve volunteered our time putting together Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets and collecting toys. Items that were given to young military families who barely had two pennies to rub together at the end of the month much less the money to spend for big holiday meals and gifts. Experiencing the same period in our lives, we knew that Christmas could just as easily be a depressing time as it could be a time of joy.

These days, we are certainly blessed, so we make a concerted effort to give back. Find a charity that puts most of your donated money toward meeting needs of the less fortunate. The Salvation Army does. Sometimes people find it difficult to part with their hard-earned dollars, but it doesn’t have to be cash. You can also donate used clothing, used furniture and food. I’d wager that if you went through your closets and overstuffed drawers, you’d find useful clothing you haven’t worn in ages. There are people including children who simply do not have adequate clothing, especially during winter. Donate to the community food bank. Donate your time. You will discover that there is real joy in giving. That is a tremendous and worthwhile return on your small investment.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for everything.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. – Ecclesiastes 3: 12-13 (NIV)

This is the time that we celebrate the greatest Gift ever given to humankind. Celebrate this time by ensuring it is a time for giving.

Merry Christmas.

Dear Santa:

I wrote to you once before.  I was much younger then and not too bewildered by adult behavior.  I told you I was sometimes a little bit naughty – maybe.  I asked if you could see your way clear to bringing me a Zorro suit.  I didn’t tell you what I really wanted to do was carve Z’s onto some peoples butts.  Like Zorro always did to the fat Federale trying to catch him.  I was told to mail my letter to Santa at the North Pole.  I addressed the envelope to Santa Claus, North Pole and gave it to my Mom who assured me it would be delivered.

You must’ve found me on the not too naughty list because the Zorro suit was under the tree Christmas morning.  I was excited to put on the black mask, hat and cape.  But best of all, I grabbed the trusty rapier and began slashing Z’s in every direction.  I slashed big Z’s and little z’s and I was whipping every Federale in my mind’s eye.  That was until I knocked over one of Mom’s knick-knacks.  I froze mid slash as it tumbled in slow motion toward the floor.  I didn’t even know my eyes had slow motion capability.  It only prolonged the sheer terror.  Fighting a thousand Federali would have been less frightening.  It was a saving grace when it landed on a rug and not the hard floor.  Phew.  I was thankful to my guardian angel.  I’m certain I have one, else I wouldn’t be here writing to you again.  That’s when Mom instructed Zorro (me) to take his sword fight outside before she took the sword and wore him out with it.  Zorro complied post haste.  The only Christmas morning I can recall being more exciting than that was when my brother shot my sister with his brand new Daisy B-B gun.  Now that gun disappeared.  Whatever became of it remains a great family mystery.

So, I am convinced you exist.  Although, with the Internet and email these days I imagine we can just send our letters to you out into cyberspace.  I never looked to see if you have a social media presence.  I prefer the mystical side where the little elf and his tiny reindeer land on my roof.  It’s a new roof, but fortunately for you it’s not a metal one.  I imagine Rudolf and the gang might have trouble gaining traction on one of those.  You know, “Up on the roof there arose such a clatter.”  I’m afraid it could be upon the roof, down the side, into the patio furniture and on to the cold concrete patio all while the on looking squirrels giggled.  I am sure you have some magic nose twitch or something to prevent such a calamity, but the possibility remains a little frightening.  I mean if you crashed into a heap on my patio who would finish your night’s work?  With all of the years you’ve been at it, I expect you have worked out all potentialities.

We know that NORAD tracks you and nowadays we all assume that the NSA monitors your communications.  I suggest that this year, you dim Rudolph’s schnoz and travel in stealth mode.  Every little kid has a tablet or a smart phone (that may be an oxymoron) or a computer.  Most of them will be trying to find you right after they find the rarest Pokémon.   When Ma’s in her kerchief and I’m in my cap the soft glow of smart phones and tablets will light their bedrooms.  I am sure you have a Santa jammer to counter that problem.  Just think of all the houses you’d have to pass because the children were not nestled snug in their beds.  Santa, you have a challenging task.  I expect little boys do not often ask for Zorro suits but, some would be thrilled with even the smallest gift.  To help you keep up and watch your health, I will leave you some Nutri System cookies and soy milk.  Although I don’t have a clue what a gluten is, the labels assure me both are gluten free.

I guess it’s time for me to get around to what I want.  It is a tall order.  I am a bit older now than the last time I wrote.  Still, I get a little sparkle in my eye around Christmas.  Santa, the only gift I long for is one Silent Night.  One Holy Night.  Heavenly Peace.  I want everyone to awake on Christmas morning with thoughts of the Child savior born to us on that day.

God bless your selfless and giving spirit Santa.  May it never end.  But, for as popular as you are, may you always remember that it is the Christ Child, not Santa Claus, that is the reason for the season.

© 2017 J. D Pendry

Because I pay taxes

Could be I’m just a naïve hick from wild and wonderful West By God Virginia.  I pay taxes and expect my hard earned dollars are used for the good.

My government gives some of my tax dollars to cities and states that refuse to obey and enforce or even assist in enforcing federal immigration laws. Because I pay taxes, I am helping to fund the deaths of people killed by illegal immigrants who should have never stepped foot on American soil.  Some advocate taking federal dollars from sanctuary cities and states.  Just between you and me, that ain’t going to happen.  Why don’t we instead prosecute city and state officials who refuse to obey and enforce the federal law?

In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, including section 8 U.S.C. 1373, which provided that no state or local entity can in any way restrict its law-enforcement officials from communicating with federal immigration authorities regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. – National Review

My tax dollars are also used to fund Planned Parenthood.

Combined federal, state, and local government funding has increased from $203 million (30 percent of Planned Parenthood’s consolidated revenue) during its fiscal year 2000–2001 to $528 million (41 percent of revenue) during 2013–2014.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America claims that the 665 clinics run by its affiliates provide a “wide range” of health care as justification for taxpayers providing more than 40 percent of their funding, and that abortion is a small proportion of their services. Yet, data show that Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the country’s largest abortion provider with affiliates performing more than 300,000 abortions per year, which amounts to approximately one out of every three in the country. – The Heritage Foundation

My tax dollars, regardless of my convictions on abortion and without anyone in my supposedly representative government giving a hoot about what I and other Americans may think, are being used to fund killing of children in a manner not seen since the Old Testament days of Baal worship.  This is the greatest atrocity ever allowed by humankind and in each death I share a responsibility.  Because I pay taxes.

My tax dollars fill up a fund used to pay sexual assault claims made against members of the United States Congress.  We learned that Congress has spent as much as 17 million dollars paying these claims.  Our elected representatives choose to hide the names of the sexual predators walking the hallways of Congress.  Along with the entire body of Congress, I am an enabler of sexual deviants.  Because I pay taxes.

The nearly $1.5 billion in direct Hollywood giveaways doled out every year since 2010 by state governments is equivalent to “the salaries of 23,500 middle-school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police-patrol officers.” – National Review

New York’s fully-refundable 30 percent film tax credit is the most generous in the nation, with an annual limit of $420 million. –

Since last year’s Oscars, Alaska, Michigan, and Illinois all ended their film tax credit programs. … In contrast, California tripled its non-refundable film tax credit budget to $330 million in an effort to lure more film production back to Hollywood. –

Two of the highest taxed states in the country give some of those taxes to Hollywood.  A majority of states have these Hollywood incentives.  I am an enabler of the Harvey Weinstein culture.  Because I pay taxes.

Every member of Congress, every person sitting in the Whitehouse, every person working for the federal government is an employee of the country’s stockholders. They are the taxpaying citizens who blindly invest their tax dollars into a swamp of corruption, incompetence and immorality.  I am responsible for all of it.  Because I pay taxes.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry