Thursday, December 23, 2010

Random Thoughts Volume XII

Merry Christmas to all of you!

My granddaughter, Chloe, spent the night with my wife and me last Friday night. We watched the Christmas movie "Home Alone" and laughed a lot, especially when the little boy Kevin put the tarantula on the bad guy's face. Later in bed all three of us watched SpongBob Squarepants before falling asleep. As I expected Chloe and I got up early on Saturday morning because "only Paw Paw's like to get up early". We went downstairs, she helped me make coffee, and then we had a tea party with a snowman, my Jerry Garcia doll, some dinosaurs, and other assorted stuffed animals. When it was time for me to get ready for work we woke up my wife who was still in bed because "Memo's don't like to get up early". Much of life is difficult and trying. Many chores and obligations take a real effort. My granddaughter, however, is a source of real joy for me. Maybe it's because I never had a daughter. Maybe it's because being a Paw Paw is a reward for being a Dad. It doesn't really matter why. Speaking of being a Dad....My two sons have begun to collect what they call "Dadisms". These are things I say over and over, apparently in a very predictable fashion. My youngest son also does a very good imitation of me. I must admit that I find it all very funny because my wife and I did the same thing with our parents.

After three snowfalls, one ice storm, and some really cold days, this past Tuesday was the official start of winter. It was also the winter solstice which is the shortest day of the year. There's a reason that Christians celebrate Christmas at this time of year. No one knows for sure what day Jesus was born. The early Christians believed that Jesus Christ was the "Light of the World" so what better time to acknowledge his birth than during the darkest time of the year? The date for celebrating Christmas is more symbolic than historical. The idea of Santa Claus did not begin in America until the 17th Century. Here's a link that gives you a brief history of the man in the red suit.

Now that the winter solstice has arrived the days will slowly get longer until we reach the Summer Solstice on June 21st.

This past Monday night my son and I were having dinner at the Waffle House. If he's home from the seminary and my wife is doing something else, the two of us usually end up at the Waffle House. When he was a teenager I took him to a Rolling Stones concert in Indianapolis. On the way home we stopped at a Waffle House and I introduced him to hash browns. He's been hooked on them ever since. These thoughts are not really about the Rolling Stones or hash browns. They're about my faith in mankind being restored. While we were in the Waffle house there was only one other customer plus a cook, our waiter, and another waitress. While we were eating and talking about life the waitress came over to our table and said, "The stranger that just left paid for your dinner". I was shocked and said, "Are you kidding"? She assured me that she wasn't so I looked outside and saw the man getting into his truck. I gave him a thank you wave and he waved back. There's a philosophy that some people call "Pay It Forward". It means that when something is done for you, instead of paying back the person that did it for you, you "pay it forward" to someone else. I thought of this philosophy in the afterglow of the stranger's kindness. My first impulse was to over tip my waiter which I did. Going forward, however, I hope I don't forget the kindness shown to me and when the moment is right I hope I show such kindness to someone else.

A friend of mine sent me the following quote.

The reason acceptance isn't more popular is that in acceptance there is nothing to do. In acceptance there is nothing that needs to be changed, fixed, worked on, or otherwise improved. It is what it is!
-Cheri Huber

Acceptance is not the same thing as giving in or giving up. Acceptance is not allowing life to just toss you to and fro as though you were a small boat on the ocean during a storm. I think acceptance is more of a realization that you can't control or manipulate everything around you. It is realizing that sometimes we are powerless. There is a situation in my personal life right now that I would love to change but it is beyond my control. It is very difficult to simply accept it. I am not a control freak but I do like to fix what is broken. For some people the idea of acceptance is rooted in faith. Some people's attitude is "Let go and let God". Their acceptance is a sign of faith and hope that the situation will take care of itself and everything will turn out as it should. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn't. It is sometimes difficult to accept that some things in life are what they are and happen for a reason even if we cannot understand it logically. When we are in situations where acceptance is needed I think we still need to ask ourselves if we have done all we can or all we should because acceptance is not passivity.

The cosmic event known as Christmas really kicked in this week. Earlier this week I had a team breakfast with one set of co-workers followed by a team lunch with another set of co-workers. Most of that afternoon I sat in a stupor from too much eating in too short a time. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. After a few hours in the office I will begin family visits to my mother's and sister in law's where I will see brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and outlaws, sister in law's and brother in laws, boyfriends and girlfriends, and a few that have no specific title yet. My granddaughter will be wild with excitement and I will be weary and eager for bed. God willing, however, I will rise early on Christmas morning to prepare a tasty breakfast for my immediate family when they come over to my house. By the time we eat breakfast, have the final exchange of gifts, and clean up the mess, I will be more than ready to have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. What the heck is a sugar plum anyway?

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