Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

29 December, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL, START IT WITH A LAUGH


I have been sitting at my computer for at least 30 minutes trying to think of something really profound, original and noble to say to my friends about the coming New Year, but sad to say adequate words escape me.  Maybe I'll try something a little different by letting some others express themselves,  albeit slightly off-the-wall for the most part -- funny with a grain of truth in some instances.
A New Year may be a significant event for many. But the absurdities of the celebration cannot escape a skeptic. What better way to start a New Year than with a hearty laugh?  Here is a collection of New Years quotes, some of which you too may want to share with friends.

Mark Twain
New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

Brooks Atkinson
Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.

Bill Vaughan
Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.

P. J. O'Rourke
The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.

Jay Leno
Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year's resolution.

James Agate
New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

Eric Zorn
Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.

Bill Vaughan
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Charles Lamb
New Year's Day is every man's birthday.

Oprah Winfrey
Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Mark Twain
New Year's Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Judith Crist
Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let's just wish each other a bile-less New Year and leave it at that.

Anonymous
Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.

Joey Adams
May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!

Anais Nin
I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.

Oscar Wilde
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

Robert Paul
I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit rounder, but still none the wiser.

Anonymous
A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.

Leonard Bernstein
From New Year's on the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.

G. K. Chesterton
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Dick Wright
Oh no!  Here we go again my friends...Let's all resolve to turn 20"13" into our luckiest year ever.

26 December, 2012

THE CHRISTMAS THAT WAS OUR REALITY

The question had been hanging over us for weeks.  "Would my wife Rosanne be well enough to travel to daughter Cindy's home in Caledon East on Christmas day?

Finally at 10:45 a.m. on Monday (Dec. 24) it was mutually conceded that "no", we would be unable to make the two-hour drive on Tuesday.  Rosanne's delicate and weakened condition had not shown sufficient improvement, in fact if anything it had worsened.  It was a painful and inevitable concession for both of us.  Rosanne comes from a traditional Ukrainian background where Christmas was not only celebrated by her family on the 25th of December but on the 7th of January as well. Ever since we were married 10 years ago, her Christmases have been spent with my two daughters and their families.  This would be the first time in 50 years that I would not spend Christmas with my girls.


SORRY ABOUT THAT
KENNY AND DOLLY!
After breaking the news to Cindy in a hasty and difficult telephone call, I realized I had to get my butt in gear if we were to have anything resembling a Christmas dinner the next day. I had no choice but to join hundreds of other frenzied grocery shoppers scrambling to beat the early Dec. 24 closing deadline.  My priority purchase, of course, was a turkey but a frozen bird was out of the question at that late date.  The store had sold out of the already cooked and stuffed variety, so I opted for a fresh young turkey breast that would do Rosanne and I quite nicely.  Stove top turkey dinner dressing was the next item on my list and thankfully the store was still well stocked.  After a quick stop in the frozen foods section, I headed to bakery goods for some minced fruit tarts -- a poor substitute for my all-time favorite minced meat pie.  Since Rosanne does not like anything minced, I picked up a mini cherry pie for her.  Next was a visit to the meat department for a cottage roll of ham, an essential for Boxing Day dinner, along with leftover turkey.

I must have picked up a few other incidental items as well, because my bill came to $101.86.

Upon unpacking the groceries at home I realized that I had typically forgotten some items.  So back I went for poultry seasoning, a can of gravy (I always like to top up my turkey drippings with either canned gravy or cream of chicken soup) and some spaghetti for that evening's supper.  I made it just by the skin of my teeth (an old family expression) as the store was about to close.

The impulse was to sleep in a bit the next morning but after all, it was Christmas and I had a lot of things to do.  As I prepared Rosanne's toasted bagel and cheese, I had a strange craving for a bowl of porridge.  "Good idea for Christmas morning breakfast," I thought.  "We always have Quaker Oats on hand" -- wrong!  Well, we had a bag alright, but with no more than a table spoon of oats rattling around on the bottom.  Come to think of it, the last time I had oatmeal for breakfast was about a year ago.  Disappointed, I settled for my usual raisin bran muffin with coffee.

Still not over the oatmeal let-down, I had another craving, this time it was for my mother's tomato aspic, another Christmas dinner tradition in our family.  Again, "no problem", I thought confidently, remembering a packet of lemon jello mix I had purchased several months before (lemon jello and tomato juice are the two main ingredients in my favorite recipe).  As I was about to rip open the small jello box, the word "pudding" bounced out at me.  God help me, it was pudding mix that I was about to dump into the already steaming pot of tomato juice on the stove, not the required jello powder.

"Don't tell me that this is the way my day is headed!" I grumbled aloud.  I needed a break and thought that I would make another coffee and join Rosanne in the living room for a while.  While I was at it, I inserted a Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers Christmas tape into our 1980s portable radio, just to add a little seasonal atmosphere to our morning.  The first song, believe it or not, was "I'll Be Home for Christmas".  Rosanne and I looked at each other, both thinking the obvious: "Oh ya, tell us about it!"  Rosanne asked me to turn off the tape several songs later.  It was obviously bothering her -- and keeping her from her customary extended morning nap.

"I think that I might die before the day is over," she said with a weak voice.  "I don't want to, but..."
"Is that right," I interjected off-handedly, thinking to myself  "Thanks for the warning Rosanne -- no pressure there!"

I made some broccoli soup for lunch and let Rosanne sleep (in between several telephone calls from family) for most of the afternoon.  Thankfully, preparation for our turkey dinner later that evening went relatively smoothly and it turned out extremely well too, if I do say so myself.  Rosanne has not been able to make it to the dinner table for the past few months and I served her on a TV table in the living room. I too, collapsed into an easy chair with my dinner on a TV tray and subsequently fell asleep between courses (I think we both did) and woke up about an hour and a half later, but never too late for dessert, even if it was 10 o'clock at night.

Rosanne had her cherry pie and I had my minced tart and a glass of egg nog while begrudgingly cleaning up the kitchen.  Somebody had to do it, right?

I started writing this post just before midnight and we went to bed around 2:15 a.m.  We fell asleep counting our blessings -- we made it through the day and we were both still alive.

First thing on my to-do-list for morning was to go out and buy a package of lemon jello mix, this time being very careful to read the labelling...I am determined to have my tomato aspic on Boxing Day.  Better a day late than never!

19 December, 2012

SOME THINK-ALIKE THOUGHTS ON KEEPING CHRIST IN THE CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS

As the days dwindle down to a precious few before December 25, the media gives constant updates on dollars spent on retail sales.  We are reminded that there are fewer days of shopping left and made to feel guilty if we do not shop 'til we drop.  At the same time we increasingly see and hear the salutations "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays."
The late Pat Salmon
For some reason, the past dozen years or so I have been holding on to a clipping of a newspaper column written by veteran journalist Pat Salmon.  I always enjoyed Pat's take on issues of the day and was particularly impressed by this one piece: "Please keep Christ in Christmas".  Pat's stand on this subject, in truth, was the best that I have ever seen.  We often chatted about things that he had written, particularly nostalgic, homespun pieces which were Pat's forte.  He was published in a number of weekly community newspapers, including the Brampton Guardian where I usually picked up on him.

Pat wrote that it seemed to him that the word "Christmas" had become synonymous with shopping and our most sacred Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus had been reduced to "Tis the season to be jolly."  "Too many of us think that Christmas Spirit is a product sold by the LCBO," he stated.

"In our rush to please everyone, we are losing our heritage," he contended.  "I know that Canada is not a 100 per cent Christian nation, but on other festive occasions like the Feast of Eid or Ramaddam or Channakuh or Roshashanna, no one tries to water down the tradition.  I am sure that no religion in the world objects to the simple message of Christmas -- 'Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men.'

Pat made no secret that he doubted the Virgin Birth, but did believe a very special prophet was born in Bethlehem at that time and He had a special message for us all.  "That message has been confused by theologians over the ages," he said.  "The Golden Rule has been turned into 'he who has the gold makes the rules' and 'do unto others before they do it to you'."  He simply felt that cynicism should not stop decent people from being decent.  "The detraction from the message given so long ago points to a major malaise in our material national thinking."

We agreed that society was becoming molecular in as much as our current philosophy was one of listening to single purpose viewpoints.  Fashion a decade or so ago, as is the case even more so now, dictates that if one molecule in a mass objects to the behavior of any other molecule (or the mass itself), the the objecting molecule is right.  That means the mass as a whole is wrong.

I am especially offended, too, by the fringe few who take up causes simply because of some sick self-serving need to be heard. They delight in upsetting tradition and the beliefs of others.  In taking away, they contribute nothing in return.

This new law of behavior allows single purpose groups to prevail over established customs without regard for the good of the whole.  Kind of like the tail wagging the dog.  This establishes the dangerous tyranny of the minority and imprisons the thinking and voice of the majority.  How many cases of this happening today can you think of?

Our so-called leaders, in their haste to displease no one, end up pleasing only a few.  We have no leader with a genuine opinion; we only have elected mutes who are paranoid about having their say for fear of a tirade of objections from a vocal minority.  They exclusively spew scripted party lines.  Political oneupmanship is the dominate modus operandi.

For the majority of the country that was founded on Christian faith, we should be celebrating Christmas as the religious festival that it is and not the commercial binge that is taking over this most sacred time of year.  Pat Salmon truly had a single purpose cause and it was called "Canada".  He wrote always in favor of his adopted country.  He demonstrated his love and did not care who knew it.  He believed that developed potential in this country is enormous if only the current populace would view the mass and not the molecule.

I'll let the words of Pat close out this post:

"I wish all readers a very Merry Christmas with Tidings of comfort and joy. It seems we have turned our backs on the Queen...Please don't try to shut out God.  We aren't that strong!"

07 December, 2012

THE STORY, AS TOLD BY 'THE' INNKEEPER

Believe it or not, I have been asked to play the "Innkeeper" in a "Night Before Christmas" pageant performed during an upcoming Sunday morning church service.  My brief appearance in the pageant consists of only a half dozen lines (87 words), but I take my Thespian  role call seriously.  After all, I would not want to be out-performed by a cast of  angelic characters, some of whom will be 70 years my junior...Would I?
 
Out of interest and in the name of authenticity, I have been thinking that it would behoove me to research the role of an Innkeeper during the time of the birth of the biblical Jesus.  The Scriptures are silent about there even being an innkeeper, but we must assume that an inn would have someone in charge. The Bible is also silent about the character of this person but, again, we must make assumptions.
 
I am struck by the harsh reality that the coming King of Kings was turned away from the little town of Bethlehem's possibly only local lodging establishment. Certainly the unnamed innkeeper did not know that the as yet unborn Messiah had just shown up at his doorstep, but just what kind of person would turn away a pregnant woman who was well into labor? Sure, the inn was full of visiting guests, but was the Innkeeper so heartless? Was the guy really that cold hearted?  In the end, he did offer the desperate couple shelter in his stable, didn't he?
 
Here is how I think the Innkeeper would explain the unusual and historical circumstances he found himself in that most famous of all nights.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
So you want to hear THE STORY.  You want to hear about the CHRIST CHILD.  Am I right?

Well, I am the one to tell it to you, for it was I, the Innkeeper of Bethlehem, who was there to witness it all.  And it was at my Inn that the Christ Child was born.

It was a cold and dark night.  My wife Ramada and I were going to bed.  She was mad at me again. The Ruler of Rome had declared a Census to be taken.  Therefore, everyone had to go to his home village to be counted and taxed, so Bethlehem was full of people!

It was a very happy time, and a very sad time. It was happy, because my inn was full. There was no more room at all. It was sad, because I had to turn away so many cash customers.

It was happy, because I was charging triple rates and putting up three families in each room besides. It was sad, because at the end, a great, wealthy man and his wife had come and offered me more money than I could refuse, so I rented them our bedroom. This is why my wife was mad at me, for we were sleeping in the kitchen that night.
It was late. We had cleaned ourselves and bedded down by the hearth with a little fire still going, since it was so cold. Our kitchen faces the courtyard, right across from the gate, so it is sort of in the open, and rather drafty. After we had gone to bed, we heard a knocking at our gate. I ignored it. I knew if we did not answer, they would go away. My wife, however, was most insistent that I get up and see who it was. But what was the point? I would just have to tell them to go away. We were full up, and there was no more room at our inn.

But she insisted, so I got up and ran across the courtyard barefoot, having misplaced my slippers. "What do you want, banging on my gate this time of night?" I yelled.  "Please!" came the answer. "We have gone everywhere looking for a room. My wife is expecting a child any minute and we need a place to stay!"

I could plainly see the young man and his wife in the night, for some bright star was overhead and it was as light as a full moon outside. She was sitting on their donkey, and she may have already been in labor. I thought of their relatives and somehow I knew not to ask.

What to do? What to do? They needed some privacy, at least. But first, they needed to be out of the cold night air. Certainly no place to have a child!  I found myself saying "I have a clean stable down below the hill behind the inn. You are welcome to use that."

Now, you will not tell on me, right? I did not take the young man's money. He tried to push it on me, but I refused. Besides, I had washed my hands for bed, and did not want to touch money. More than that, I did not wish to offend our God. I had no room for them in the inn, but at least I was not sending them out into the cold. How could I do otherwise? I just did not have anything else to offer them.

So they headed for the stable and I went back to bed.

I did not sleep long, however. Sometime in the early hours of that morning, a long time before sunrise, there was more pounding on my gate.  My wife again insisted that I get up and answer it. By the nature of the noise and pounding, I knew they would not go away, whoever they were.

Indignant, I did get up again, but this time I looked for my slippers first and I put on my heavy coat before going to the gate.  "What is it? Who are you banging on my gate this time of night!"

"Please. It is us. We are looking for your stable. Do you have one?"

Shepherds at my gate? Dirty shepherds! "Why are you not out on the hills with your sheep?" I asked them, indignantly.

"Angels sent us here," they replied.  "We were out on the hills, and suddenly we were surrounded by thousands of Angels. They were singing and rejoicing and it was they who told us to come here. We are looking for the Christ Child!"

I was beyond amazement at this. Taking a lantern from the wall, I went with them down the winding path to my stables. I had to see this thing for myself!

It was as the shepherds had said. There in the stable was the young man and woman that I had sent there. In the woman's arms was a newborn babe, wrapped in strips of cloth, as is our custom to do.

Not a word was spoken. None needed to be said. The shepherds took off their hats and knelt down in worship before the child. I did the same...Me!  The Innkeeper of Bethlehem. Never before had I seen such a sight as this, for the mother and child were beautiful and peaceful beyond description. It was as if God had come down into that humble place and we all were bowing before Him!

We did not stay long. After all, we were in the presence of Royalty and you don't linger there.

After the shepherds went back to their flocks, I went to my bed and tried to rouse my wife to tell her what I had seen, but she was in a deep sleep. You can know full well that early the next morning, even before sunrise, I was up and bringing the young couple some bread and cheese, along with what milk I could find.

I did not allow them to stay in that stable a minute longer than it took my wife and I the time to clean out our very own bedroom again. Our rich guest was unhappy to be put out at sunrise, but he gladly took back the cost of his room.

Then the little Lord Jesus, and his mother Mary, and her husband Joseph became our special guests at our Inn. The Inn of Bethlehem.

And you know, more than once I got to hold Him. The Christ Child! And I sat in wonder and awe that God should come among us as a tiny, helpless baby...

That's my story anyway, believe it or not.

04 December, 2012

WHO NEXT IS GOING TO WANT ME TO PUT ASIDE THE PRICE OF A CUP OF COFFEE EACH DAY?

I swear, the world is conspiring against me to give up drinking coffee.

For years doctors have cautioned me against drinking too much coffee.  I now have two cups a day -- one decaf with my breakfast and another around 4:30 in the afternoon when I pick up Rosanne's daily 12-grain bagel (she's addicted) from Tim Horton's.  I admit that late afternoon cup of java is a "fix" in my rather humdrum existence, but I enjoy it and look forward to it.  So does Rosanne.
A couple of years ago a local charity suggested that I put aside the equivalent of a cup of coffee every day ($1.25 at that time) for their annual fund-raising blitz...And I did.  My insurance company advocates the same thing -- putting aside the price of a cup of coffee daily to offset the cost of increased coverage and the associated premium hike...And I have.

A money management consultant recommended recently that I attempt to "save at least the cost of a cup of coffee every day" from my meagre fixed income...And I have tried.  Since Rosanne and I are a team and combine our incomes in order to provide for the necessities of life (mine an old age pension and her's a disability benefit)  I have tried very hard to put aside the cost of two Tim Horton's coffees each day.

Now my church is the latest to jump on the "save the price of a cup of coffee" bandwagon.  This past Sunday, at a congregational meeting following the worship service, a well-meaning but misled spokesperson promoted the supposedly brain-wave idea that we all could put aside $1.65 (inflation affects coffee shop prices too) "every time we have a coffee at Tim Horton's."  The thought being that if we all "bought" into the concept we could virtually wipe out the church's budgetary deficit inside of a year's time.   For me, that was the last straw.

Taking into consideration the local charity, my insurance company, the money management guru and now my church (which I already budget for each week), I am now looking at roughly $4,000.00 that I would be required to put aside each year from a fixed income that does not fully cover cost of living expenses each month as it is.

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer afford to drink coffee, thanks to the commitments that I have been lured in to by special interest parties.  As a way out of this "put aside the cost of a cup of coffee each day" bind, and without a pang of guilt, I am going to give up my daily coffee and start drinking tea exclusively.  No one out there is suggesting that I "put aside the cost of a cup of tea each day".  Not yet anyway.

P.S:  I have yet to break this news to Rosanne...I can just hear her now: "If anybody puts aside anything now Mister, it will be for your funeral which may come faster than you think!"  Wish me luck!

02 December, 2012

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO TURN BACK...

The attached link connects to a touching and phenomenal piece of work well worth listening to and watching. The wonderfully rich baritone voice of Andrea Bocelli and the choir alone, are worth the listen.  It is American in context but most assuredly applies to we Canadian neighbors north of the border too. The music is "The Lord's Prayer" with words being written as you watch. Then they tumble and start all over again, ending with ll Chronicles.  If you are not interested, then just hit the delete button... But you will be missing a unique opportunity to settle your heart and concentrate on the only One who can change our North American society today after He has heard our repentance and plea for mercy.  Please seriously consider the message. Our world as we know it rests in the balance. It is never too late. We are all in this life together. What applies to one applies to the other!