TEXANS ARE IGNORING THE CRISIS AT THE ALAMO

By Debbie Andrle

There is a historical crisis happening in Texas right now, but the vast majority of Texans don’t know anything about it. Greed and a politically correct undercurrent amongst a powerful few are working to minimize the battle for Texas independence at the Alamo and whitewash our precious Texas history. It is an attempt to take away the heart and soul of this state, and the Texans that know about it are not standing for it.

This “re-imagination” of the Alamo has been in the works for the last few years. The repair and refurbishing of the Alamo is most welcome. However, the true purpose of their plan—by General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, the City of San Antonio, and wealthy investors—is not what it first seems.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the purpose of this project has always been to honor “both” sides. It doesn’t matter to them that Santa Anna would be considered a war criminal today. They are developing a type of “movie set” to entertain tourists. They have already put up some historical monuments to Defenders. The purpose is to have an educational/entertainment experience. However, they are whitewashing the history.

George P. had a complete meltdown Wednesday night. He said that he was not behind putting Santa Anna up, and the people accusing him of it were “racists.” It was a social media showdown, as Texans were outraged at the very thought of honoring Santa Anna.

Texas taxpayers will be footing a bill of $200 million. The overall price tag for this project is $450 million, but investors will supposedly make up the difference after our initial $200 million.

Can you remember anyone asking you if that is OK?

Gov. Greg Abbott has refused to speak up against it, and every bill last session to protect the Alamo was killed.

Already, George P. Bush and the GLO has convinced the legislature to pony up $75 million out of the Rainy Day fund purportedly for repairs to the Alamo. However, no one knows exactly where the money is being spent, even after several unsuccessful open records requests to Attorney General Ken Paxton.

A bill was even written to force them to report expenditures. Killed, of course, in committee by State Rep. John Cyrier (R–Lockhart), who is chairman of the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee that heard the bill.Bush admitted they had several “good” people at the Capitol working to keep those bills from being passed.  One of them, Democrat Senator Jose Menendez of San Antonio, stated he doesn’t like our “disgusting racist history.”

The few patriotic citizens that knew about all this have been protesting the last couple of years and trying to get the word out to absolutely no avail. Abbott refuses to do anything or even voice an opinion, and every bill written to protect the Alamo and the Cenotaph was killed last session. Speaker Dennis Bonnen and State Rep. Four Price (R–Amarillo), chairman of the House Calendars Committee, killed the monument protection bill just two days before the end of the session. Bush’s people were fighting that one, too, because it would have protected the Cenotaph.

At this point, the only hope left is the lawsuit filed by a few Alamo Defenders’ Descendants. The Cenotaph, or what is also called the Empty Tomb and Spirit of Sacrifice, is very personal to the Descendants. They want it to stay on the blood soaked ground where the renowned Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini intended it to stay.

Not many know that about 1,300 people are buried around the Alamo. The burial book of the Mission San Antonio de Valero Church records shows this going back about 300 years.

This is truly a historical cemetery. The Cenotaph is literally standing in the middle of a cemetery. And just a few months ago, excavators unearthed bone fragments in Alamo Plaza. The Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation Indians have also filed a lawsuit to stop the desecration of graves and preserving the area as a cemetery. The GLO is aggressively fighting them back, too.

Outraged people from all over Texas have been raising money to pay for this lawsuit by the Defenders’ descendants. Pretty amazing. 13,000 signatures from all over Texas have also been taken to stop this atrocity. This is in addition to all the people who traveled to Austin last session to testify for the protection of the Alamo, the rallies held at the Alamo to save the Cenotaph, and all those who attended the City of San Antonio’s city council meetings on the Alamo plan.

A small win was achieved Dec. 4 when the City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission decided to hold off briefly until they learned more about the two lawsuits. About 30 people testified against moving the Cenotaph. The three for the removal were paid employees of the GLO.

Another hearing by the Historic Design and Review Commission is scheduled on the 18th. They are required to give 48 hours notice for the time and place. Concerned citizens from all over Texas may come to testify against it, and they are highly encouraged to do so.

Abbott could settle this problem right now by holding a special session in January to at least allow the monument protection bill to get that vote in the House, but every indication has been that he is flatly refusing.

On December 14, this Saturday, there will be a 10-block march to protect Texas history starting at the Main Plaza in San Antonio and ending at Travis Park. There will be many groups there including the Indians who want to protect the cemetery, the Alamo Defenders’ Descendants who also want to protect the cemetery and the Cenotaph, and other patriotic Texans who just want to save our Texas history. People should arrive by 1:00 p.m., and start walking about 2:00 p.m.

History gives us meaning as to whom and what we are. We should guard it, cherish it, and learn from it for the betterment of all.

This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission.

GARTER SNAKES CAN BE SUPER DEADLY

Snakes also known as Garter Snakes can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here’s why.

A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.

The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That’s when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch.. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa.

The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man’s throat.

By now, the police had arrived. Breathe here…

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake!

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that’s when he shot her.

39 RANDOM FACTS

1. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is “screeched.”
2. “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”
3. Almonds are members of the peach family.
4. The symbol on the “pound” key (#) is called an octothorpe.
5. The dot over the letter ‘i’ is called a tittle.
6. Ingrown toenails are hereditary.
7. The word “set” has more definitions than any other word in the English
language.
8. “Underground” is the only word in the English language that begins and
ends with the letters “und.”
9. There are only four words in the English language which end in “-dous”:
tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
10. The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford
English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
11. The only other word with the same amount of letters is its plural:
pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosesl.
12. The longest place-name still in use is
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwe-nuakitnatahu, a New Zealand hill.
13. Los Angeles’s full name is “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reinade los
Angeles de Porciuncula” and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, L.A.
14. An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.
15. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
16. Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a belly button. It was eliminated when he
was sewn up after surgery.
17. Telly Savalas and Louis Armstrong died on their birthdays.
18. Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.
19. The muzzle of a lion is like a fingerprint – no two lions have the same
pattern of whiskers.
21. A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.
23. There is a seven-letter word in the English language that contains ten
words without rearranging any of its letters, “therein”: the,there, he, in,
rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
24. Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered
blood donors.
26. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
27. It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
28. Cranberries are sorted for ripeness by bouncing them; a fully ripened
cranberry can be dribbled like a basketball.
30. The letters KGB stand for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti
31. ‘Stewardesses’ is the longest English word that is typed with only the
left hand.
33. The combination “ough” can be pronounced in nine different ways; the
following sentence contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced,
thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after
falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
34. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter
is uncopyrightable.
35. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as
does arsenious, meaning “containing arsenic.”
36. Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian seal
for that reason.
37. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.
38. The word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,”
which means “the king is dead.”
39. The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore
when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the
ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

A Christmas Miracle

by Donna Wallace

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Helen. Dear, sweet, elderly, Helen. Such a beloved lady, and friend to all who knew her.

Helen had belonged to the same church for almost all her adult life. She saw many members come and go, bond and feud, but she had always remained faithful to her beliefs, and she was highly respected, and cherished, among all the other parishioners.

Poor Helen. She wasn’t a young spry chicken anymore. She was well into her 70’s, and not quite as energetic and bubbly as when she first visited the church so many years ago.

Christmas 1998 was not destined to be a very kind year to Helen. She had suffered many losses. She lost her beloved husband six years before, but this year she seemed to have lost it all. After her dear husband passed away, she had moved in with her daughter, Becky, and her young grandaughter, Jennifer. They saved her from the loneliness she would surely have visited without their love. They grew closer every day, and each new day, life brought them more to be grateful and appreciative of. They knew they were blessed, and always remembered their blessings in prayer. Image

Jennifer was only two years old when Helen first came to live with them. Cute as a button, rambunctious, outgoing, and always joyful and singing. She made a house a home. Becky and Helen used to kid how it took the two of them to even half keep up with the whirlwind they nicknamed “Sunshine”. Jennifer was curious as a cat, and filled the day with endless questions – some deep, some comical, and each one needing answers! Her mother, and her grandma were careful never to carelessly brush her questions aside, or grow impatient. They answered each and every one, if not with wisdom, then at least with unbridled love. Jennifer grew into a brilliant young lady, and everyone predicted a bright and sunny future for the special little girl.

Life is funny. Predictions sometimes don’t come to pass. Future’s sometimes only last today.

One night, driving home from the store, Becky and Jennifer were hit, head on, by a drunk driver. It was a mistake. A horrid mistake. If it weren’t for a flat tire, they would have been home long before the intoxicated man drove down their street. Nobody can predict the future. Their shiny future ended that night. Their dreams, and plans and goals scattered among the broken glass, and the shredded steel. They were gone – forever. Once again, Helen was alone. Image

The sorrow and remorse that lived in Helen’s heart surely should have killed her, she thought. The agony of losing those closest to her, the loneliness of being all alone, in a house as quiet as a tomb, and the emptiness of having nothing more to live for were more than she could bear.

Every Sunday she continued to go faithfully to her church, pray to her God, and she was always polite, but oh so sad. She had changed – withered, deflated, crumbled. She seemed to hardly be able to put one foot in front of the other. Her joyous laughter was seldom heard, her excitement and zest for life was simply no longer a part of who she was. She was no longer inflated – just completely deflated – flat. Zombie-like instead of lifelike. Just waiting for her turn to go be with her loved ones.

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Naturally, all the other parishioners saw the change. They felt her sadness, and loneliness. She had always been such a pillar of strength, a friend in need, someone who could be counted on when the rest of the world had checked out. She was always there, in every way, for everyone. But now, she wasn’t there at all, and nobody seemed to know how to comfort and help her.

But everyone saw. And everyone knew – from the oldest members, to the toddlers. They all saw the change, and the grief, and the pain.

Months passed. It was now December, and the holiday season was proving to be harder than Helen imagined it would be – and lonelier. She still went about living, kept up appearances, prayed, and was kind to everyone she met. Yet she felt like she was melting – disolving – dying, slowly inside. She wondered if she would see Christmas this year, or go to spend it with those that went before her – the ones she loved. Image

Then, the second Sunday of December, the Sunday School Teacher came to her with a special request. Would she be kind enough to help with trimming the tree that stood in the middle of the children’s classroom? Each child had handmade a special ornament, to place on the tree, and they needed assistance, and adult supervision. Helen tried to gracefully decline, but the teacher smiled, and said that the children had requested that she be the assistant this year. It was important to them for some reason, the teacher whispered.

The night of the special event, Helen was present. She was dressed as immaculate as always, and wore the best smile she could muster. The sight of the young children was bittersweet. The laughter and playfulness were refreshing, but they also held memories of her dear, grandaughter, Jennifer, who had passed away just four short months before. For the first time in months though, you could occassionally see her eyes shining, through a veil of tears. She decided she was happy that the children had thought to invite her, and thankful that she had decided to come join in the merriment. She felt more alive than she had since that dreadful day in August 1998.

Most of the ornaments had already been placed on the tree when an excited, almost giddy group of children came to her and took her by the hand. They led her to an ornate, red velvet chair that the teacher must have pushed into the center of the room, and they begged for her to sit down. Curious, and a little aprehensive, Helen obeyed, goodheartedly. You could see a tiny smile light up the corner of her mouth as she wondered what the little gremlins were up to.

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A group, of five girls and four boys, sat in front of her splendid chair, smiling up at her with eyes moist with tears of happiness, and mouths trying not to prematurely babble the secret they were about to share with her. In the middle of the group sat a magnificent gold, gift-wrapped box addressed to: “Our Grandma, with Love.”

Eight year old Christine stood before Helen, tears overflowing, smiling from ear to ear, eyes dancing at the speed of light. Christine had always been special to Helen, for she had been Jennifer’s best friend ever since she could remember. They had spent much time together over the years, and they had grown close. She placed the box in Helen’s tiny lap and the whole group rose in unison, and began to sing just for an amazed and delighted Helen, who seemed to be crying and laughing and praying all at the same time! With pride in their eyes, and love in their voices, and their notes sometimes off-key, they musically told her the reason that she was there. It was easy, yet touching to see that the children had written the words, and the song just for her. A gift to be cherished. Wonderful memories to last forevermore. Image

Each of the nine small children either had no grandmother any longer, or had never even known theirs. This was a very special celebration and union – a new family meeting, and bonding, and growing and loving – and sharing a very special Christmas. One by one, they unpacked the special ornament they made, and proudly showed her their surprise. Each ornament was addressed, “To my special Grandma, with Love – on our First Christmas”. Every ornament was unique, special, splendid, and every one was a miracle beyond belief, to a heart so desperately in pain.

Once again, proving that predictions, don’t always come true…..Christmas 1998 wasn’t unkind to Helen whatsoever. No, Christmas 1998, was a new beginning, a brand new start, and nine new reasons to celebrate many more Christmas’s to come. The next two weeks Helen became a human dynamo! She baked, she decorated, she sang and filled her house with so much cheer until at last it warmed up again, and became a home. She invited her nine special grandkids over and celebrated a Christmas as only a very special, wonderful grandma knows how to do, filled to the brim with magical memories that only the nine most special grandchildren on earth could ever have provided. Image

You see, dear sweet Helen wasn’t the only one in need that Christmas. She wasn’t the only lonely soul who felt the emptiness and a void which needed filling. The children in their infinite wisdom saw her need, and in filling her need, they filled their own. There is no love as pure and unpretentious as a child’s love, no mind as wise and true as a childs mind can be when given the opportunity to flourish and grow. Every single child is a miracle you can mold and design. Parents have the power, the opportunity, and the responsibility to teach their children love and compassion, peace and kindness. The future is in the hand’s of our children, but our children are first placed in our loving arms, and under our tender guidance. Teach them love. Teach them the true meaning of Christmas. Not only one day in 365 days, but 365 days each and every year. Each new day providing an opportunity to celebrate, and rejoice, and give the gift of love. The gift of abundance that only grows, with no chance of diminishing in time. Image

Christmas is magical. You can see it, feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it. Christmas is a blessed event, that makes believers out of the staunchest cynics at times. It’s wishes being granted – dreams coming true. But most of all, it has to live, all year long, deep within your heart. Christmas isn’t for a day – it’s all year long. Christmas is a lifetime affair. Merry Christmas to all….today, tomorrow, and forevermore.

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What Are You Expecting For Christmas?

by John Killinger

 

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What are you expecting for Christmas this year? Smoke curling from chimneys into cold skies and bare trees standing like sentinels watching for Santa Claus with his sleigh full of toys? A tall fir tree bedecked with soft colored lights and trinkets and candy canes? The smell of Christmas cookies wafting through the house, and the sound of bells and carols on the stereo? Children hanging their stockings on the mantle, or, if the stockings have gotten too large and the gifts too plentiful, laying them on the hearth by a blazing fire?

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It is easy to think of Christmas images, isn’t it, because there is no season of the year so full of nostalgia and ripe with expectation. It takes a Scrooge, with a heart of stone, not to become excited about the approach of this joyous occasion. Visions of sugar plums or their contemporary equivalent—dance in all our heads.

But I wonder, have you ever been disappointed by Christmas? Did you expect something Christmas that didn’t materialize? Maybe you were looking for a bonus in your pay envelope that wasn’t there or expecting somebody home who didn’t arrive or anticipating something, a mood or a feeling, that never quite came to you. Maybe you didn’t receive a present you were looking for—the doll you had seen in the toy shop or the drum set that would have driven Mom and Dad crazy or the microwave oven you had hinted about for months.…

Christmas can be that way. We can build up such impossible hopes and dreams that it can’t possibly fulfill them. That is one reason people often feel depressed when Christmas is over. They have lived for days in a state of perpetual excitation, expecting something to happen; and, when it doesn’t, they feel sad and let down.

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That’s too bad because you know what the real message of Christmas is about? It’s about what we don’t expect. That’s right. Christmas isn’t about what we expect; it’s about what we don’t expect.

Think about it. Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t expect to have a baby in their old age. Mary didn’t expect to become the mother of the Son of God. She couldn’t believe it when the angel told her. “Why, I’m not even married,” she said. Joseph didn’t expect his young bride to be pregnant. Herod didn’t expect to be disturbed by word of the Child. The shepherds didn’t expect to see angels in their fields. The Magi didn’t expect to find the Savior of the world born in a manger in a poor little country village like Bethlehem. The whole thing was a surprise. God surprised everybody that first Christmas. No_Room_At_The_Inn

And when you think about Jesus’ teachings, you realize that surprise is in the nature of who God is. God is full of surprises.

The meek shall inherit the earth. Think about that. That’s really a surprise, isn’t it? When you look around and see the people who shove and push and talk the loudest getting ahead of everybody else, you wonder about the meek.

The first shall be last and the last first. That’s another corker. The high and the mighty going into heaven behind the low and the poor.…

You see, it isn’t a matter of what we’re expecting for Christmas. It’s what we don’t expect. That’s what we ought to be looking for, what we don’t expect because that’s the way God is. God is a God of surprises.

I don’t have anything against traditional Christmas celebrations. In fact, I love them. I enjoy the trees and lights and Christmas pageants and music and presents and all the rest. But we ought to realize that God may have some surprises in store for us this Christmas. God may not come to us in the old familiar ways. God may speak to us in some new event, in some place where we least expect it.

The surprises of God! We never know where they are or when they are coming. But the word of the gospel is that they are and that they do come. And this is what Christmas is all about.

 

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Christmas Magic During The Great Depression

by Beverly Roberts Jostad

Christmas 1940 makes me misty-eyed every time I think about it. I was a high school student and The Great Depression was in full swing. In the hard times of the era, people depended on one another. We collected food, clothing, bedding and household items and gave them to the needy.

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We saved the toys we collected for Christmas. The home economics classes made new dresses for the dolls, while the shop classes turned lumber into trucks, games and other toys.

That Christmas we students found ourselves wrapping toys and loading packages for delivery. As we presented the gifts, we saw joy in many faces, especially those of the children.

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We had a few more visits to make on Christmas morning. The air was heavy and chilled us to the bone. Seeing us riding our bicycles, a rancher offered us his truck for deliveries, and we gratefully accepted. For several hours, we knocked on doors. But as the cold hours passed, our enthusiasm gradually waned.

ImageWhen we finally headed home, someone pointed to a small house down a canal bank. Although there were no electric or telephone lines running to the structure, smoke curled from the chimney. The house stood bleak in the forlorn terrain that surrounded it.

None of us knew who lived there, and we wondered if there were children. We still had a doll, two trucks, assorted small toys, chocolate Santas and a box of groceries. We decided to make one last visit. Three of us climbed down from the truck bed and gathered the gifts.

Mud sucked at our boots, slowing our progress. When we knocked on the door, a young woman whose dark hair was tied back with a red ribbon answered it. Three small children peeked from behind her skirt—a little girl of about 2, and boys perhaps 4 and 5 years old. The mother put an arm around the toddler and looked at us questioningly.

“Merry Christmas,” we chorused as we bent down and handed the gift-wrapped packages to the children and the box of groceries to the mother, whose eyes widened with amazement. She slowly smiled, then quickly said, “Come in.”072611_sr_hume_FNC_072611_18-35

The catch in her voice was sufficient for us to accept her invitation. We removed our boots and stepped inside.

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I knelt to reach the little girl, and it was then that I looked around the room. The linoleum floor was worn but spotless. Bleached flour-sack curtains hung at the windows. Neatly made beds occupied one corner of the room and the kitchen another. A small stove furnished heat.

As I turned back to the children, dressed in clean, neatly patched clothes, I noticed several green tree branches standing upright in a dirt-filled pot. A red cloth circled the base. Can lids and paper angels hung on strings, and a tiny paper star graced the treetop. Streamers of popcorn completed the decorations.

The room was silent as the children looked at their mother, wondering if the gifts were really for them. The little girl hugged her doll, and the boys grasped the trucks as they sought an answer. She put her arms around them and said in a choked voice, “I told you Santa Claus would come.”

———

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On Santa's Team

Author Unknown
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My grandma taught me everything about Christmas. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” jeered my sister. “Even dummies know that!”

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me.

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“No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second cinnamon bun.

“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

“Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

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I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobbie Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough; but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn’t have a cough, and he didn’t have a coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. I didn’t see a price tag, but ten dollars ought to buy anything. I put the coat and my ten-dollar bill on the counter and pushed them toward the lady behind it.

She looked at the coat, the money, and me. “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” she asked kindly. “Yes,” I replied shyly. “It’s … for Bobbie. He’s in my class, and he doesn’t have a coat.” The nice lady smiled at me. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, “To Bobbie, From Santa Claus” on it … Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Image

Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Suddenly, Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell twice and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie. He looked down, looked around, picked up his present, took it inside and closed the door.

Forty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: Ridiculous!

Santa was alive and well … AND WE WERE ON HIS TEAM!

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Keep Your Fork

//

Author Unknown

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The sound of Martha’s voice on the other end of the telephone always brought a smile to Brother Jim’s face. She was not only one of the oldest members of the congregation, but one of the most faithful. Aunt Martie, as all the children called her, just seemed to ooze faith, hope, and love wherever she went. This time, however, there seemed to be an unusual tone to her words. “Preacher, could you stop by this afternoon? I need to talk with you.” “Of course. I’ll be there around 3:00.”

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As they sat facing each other in the quiet of her small living room, Jim learned the reason for what he sensed in her voice. Martha shared the news that her doctor had just discovered a previously undetected tumor. “He says I probably have six months to live.” Martha’s words were certainly serious, yet there was a definite calm about her. “I’m so sorry to . . . ” but before Jim could finish, Martha interrupted. “Don’t be. The Lord has been good. I have lived a long life. I’m ready to go. You know that.” “I know,” Jim whispered with a reassuring nod.” But I do want to talk with you about my funeral. I have been thinking about it, and there are things that I know I want.”

The two talked quietly for a long time. They talked about Martha’s favorite hymns, the passages of Scripture that had meant so much to her through the years, and the many memories they shared from the five years Jim had been with First Baptist Church.

ImageWhen it seemed that they had covered just about everything, Aunt Martie paused, looked up at Jim with a twinkle in her eye, and then added, “One more thing, preacher. When they bury me, I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the other.” “A fork?” Jim was sure he had heard everything, but this caught him by surprise. “Why do you want to be buried with a fork?”

“I have been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I attended through the years,” she explained. “I couldn’t begin to count them all. But one thing sticks in my mind. At those really nice get-togethers, when the meal was almost finished, a server or maybe the hostess would come by to collect the dirty dishes. I can hear the words now. Sometimes, at the best ones, somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, `You can keep your fork.’ And do you know what that meant? Dessert was coming! “It didn’t mean a cup of Jell-O or pudding or even a dish of ice cream. You don’t need a fork for that. It meant the good stuff, like chocolate cake or cherry pie! When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best was yet to come! “That’s exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral. Image

Oh, they can talk about all the good times we had together. That would be nice. “But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blue dress, I want them to turn to one another and say, `Why the fork?’ “This is what I want you to say. I want you to tell them that I kept my fork because the best is yet to come.”

The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.

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At the funeral people were walking by the woman’s casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.

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GRANDPA’S HANDS

by Melinda Clements

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Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.

When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK.

He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,” I explained to him.

“Have you ever looked at your hands,” he asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making. Grandpa smiled and related this story:

“Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

“They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.

“They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.

“As a child my Mother taught me to fold them in prayer.

“They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.

“They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war.

“They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.

“They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.

“Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

“They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my Parents and Spouse and walked my Daughter down the aisle.

“Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friend’s foot.

“They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand.

“They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.

“They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.

“And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

“These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life.

“But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home.

“And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch his face.”

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my Grandpa’s hands and led him home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I think of Grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

Christmas Hunting

By Carey V. Smith

Every year in December, comes a time that strikes fear into the heart of every husband and father. That is the Christmas shopping.

Men are by nature conquerors, and the shopping experience of many is the same as visiting an art gallery, museum, or sight-seeing. There is nothing to do, no sense of accomplishment, and no trophies. The stress we must endure is as high as when I first proposed marriage to my wife, only I get to live through it again every year.

Through deep analysis, I have decided that the problem is one of attitude; how you approach the situation. Instead of “Christmas shopping”, I call it “Christmas hunting”. Instead of gathering presents, I “hunt and kill” them. Here is how it works:

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The Prey

In order to hunt something, you must have a prey, something to hunt. With a normal hunting expedition, this would be deer, rabbits, ducks, geese, etc. Even when you go fishing, there is something to catch, kill, dress, and eat. At Christmas time, the prey is the GIFT. The nature of the GIFT is what determines the hunt. If, for example, you decided to go Buffalo hunting, you would make all the necessary preparations – special permits, gun, travel plans, etc. Bagging a GIFT is the same. CLICK HERE TO START YOUR CHRISTMAS HUNT

The GIFT must be something personal that only she can use. Although she may need a new kitchen appliance such as a blender, for every kitchen appliance bought, you must spend at least double to ten times that amount additional for her personal GIFT. Just as a fish is different from a duck, GIFTS come in various forms, from jewelry to clothing to knickknacks. Impracticality is the rule here.

In order to understand the nature of the prey, you must do some homework. This may involve actually looking or listening to your wife. See what earrings (who knows where they came from?) she is wearing. She will often give you hints that you are supposed to hear and understand. It may come in the form of “I wish”, or “it would be nice if . . .”, such as “I wish I had a watch to match my shoes”, or it may be that page from the department store catalog that she wrapped your sandwich in. Look for the item circled in red. Pay attention during some of those ordeals you are made to endure with her when you hold her purse as she moves clothing on a display rack in a department store. See what catches her eye. Another source is the television shopping channel. Stop for a few more seconds and take note of what they are peddaling. This part of the process can be related to when you learn about the best fishing lakes, hunting forests, etc.

The WeaponImage

The biggest problem with the Christmas Hunt is the weapon. In order to “kill” your prey, the GIFT, you must use a paper or plastic weapon. A check book or credit card just don’t look as ominous as a 12-gauge shotgun. There is nothing to wield. When you go fishing there is the pole, hunting has its gun, and even when you are golfing, you have a club to carry. Merchants frown on customers bringing and carrying firearms around in their stores. I have yet to find a suitable substitute. If the problem is acute, finding and carrying around a pole-like device (spear) may do. This may be in the form of a shower rod, mop handle, or umbrella. A coffee cup or beer mug may also suffice if you don’t mind carrying one around a store, as this is similar to the scabbard on a sword. Some stores have large plastic candy canes filled with candy or bath oil beads that could substitute for the weapon. This may help you during your hunt for the GIFT. You don’t have to purchase, just borrow it for a while until the real game has been tracked and bagged. There has yet to be invented a weapon-shaped object that would appeal to women.

CLICK HERE TO START YOUR CHRISTMAS HUNT

The License

If you can walk in the store, you have a license to hunt there. Your driver’s license, or whatever identification you use to get beer and tobacco products can be used for the Christmas hunt. This will be displayed to the game warden (store clerk) when the weapon (credit card or personal check) is used to get the GIFT. The prey may then be dressed (gift wrapped) or put in a bag for protection. The receipt compares to the deer or duck stamp. Unless you have a lot of experience wrapping things, this is best left to the professionals in order to be more attractive when it is presented to your wife. Your limit is determined by the balance left in your account.

The Site

Just as you would not hunt deer in the middle of a lake, where you go depends on the prey you are hunting. Hunters and gatherers have always shared space. The same field used for getting plants has been the roaming place for pheasants. In the forest where berries are found, the deer and elk roam. In order to get the GIFT, you must go alone into the dark, scary forest called “The Mall”. If this is too drastic, a “Department Store” may help ease you into the experience.

At each entrance of a Mall, there is a totem called a “kiosk”. This will help narrow down the hunt. The various stores are listed by item sold, so you can proceed directly to the quarry, avoiding the quick-sand and cliffs. Each store in a mall is divided as are department stores into specialized areas. Just as some fish like deep water, and others prefer shallow, the items sold there are separated as to type and size. There is usually an extra area designated for jewelry or electronic devices and cameras. Signs on or near the ceilings can lead you to the proper area.

Rules and Regulations

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Getting a personal GIFT for your wife has specific rules, like a size limit on a fish caught in a lake. Here are some that will help keep you out of trouble:

  1. Buy her something she already has. Then she can exchange it for something she really likes and “you will never know”.
  2. Avoid sizes. If you have to get her any clothing, get a size or two too small. This translates in her mind as a compliment.
  3. No underwear, Teddies, or pajamas. This is interpreted as a gift for you, and also conflicts with rule two above.
  4. If it comes from a store you are comfortable in, get something else. There are no personal items for women in sporting goods, hardware, liquor, or fishing/tackle stores. The possible exception is if you are building that romantic porch swing she has bugged you about for years. In this case, have it finished before Christmas, or you will have to go back into the forest for something else.
  5. No plants, flowers, or cards. These are for other occasions, weddings, and deaths. These are interpreted as make-do gifts, such as those things you grab at the last minute at the airport, the gas station, or the check-out stand.
  6. The GIFT must personal and impractical. The breadmaker and blender are used by everyone in the house, not just her. It must hers and hers alone. An exception would be an automobile. Compact – yes, Mini-van – no.
  7. Things that enhance her personal hobby or collection are sure winners. If she collects Barbie dolls, an expensive ceramic version would be an excellent trophy to give her.
  8. Expensive candy is OK, but does not constitute the main GIFT. Put this in her Christmas stocking with the plastic candy cane you forgot to put back.

The Perfect Hunt
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The best way to turn “Christmas shopping” into “Christmas hunting” would be to organize a hunting trip. Treat this the same as any other hunting expedition. Get together some buddies. Drive to the other side of the next state and camp. Drink and play poker until you all pass out. Wake up before dawn and walk at least a mile to the forest (mall). If it’s not open yet, have breakfast. Malls open earlier and stay open later as Christmas day approaches. Divide into two’s and hunt for the GIFT. Admire each other’s kill. Unless the GIFT is a car hood ornament, it would be tacky to tie the GIFT to the hood of the car. Only something too large, such as exercise equipment, can hang out of the trunk with bungee cords. Spend the rest of the day in the sports bar or golf course.

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I have had a lot of success with this attitude toward getting the GIFT. On one experience, I tackled the greatest of all forests, “The Mall”. I arrived on Christmas Eve morning at 7 am, parked right outside the door, and I was back in the car with her GIFT in 45 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend this to an amateur hunter. Once you get the hang of the “Christmas Hunt”, you can attempt the “Anniversary Hunt” or the “Birthday Hunt”, once you figure out which days those are.

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