Toys and Tears

Went to Blackfive for the first time in days and cried my eyes out. Okay, I do that a lot.

But it’s the story of a little girl in Iraq who was given a stuffed animal. She sat in the middle of the road in front of a convoy and wouldn’t move. Because there was a mine in the road. Read it from the guy who was there.

Christmas Comments

“Let them have Christmas” says this site. Then maybe we can show them Christ. I’m not sure how he gets from one point to the other, but I’ll tell you what I think.

I think that not letting people have Christmas is intruding on their civil rights. Put “offensive Merry Christmas” into Google and see how many pages of people not being able to do Christmas things shows up. It’s in the news. It’s all over the place.

Denver Channel reports on Christmas carols being offensive. There are others. Denver mayor says you can’t say Merry Christmas. Of course, California’s governor added it back in and has a Christmas tree rather than a holiday tree.

Clayton Cramer in this post talks about Plano’s situation.
Anyway… I got an email today. Here it is:


I’m Offended That You’re Offended – Merry Christmas Anyway! By Debbie Daniel December 13, 2004

I’m on a “Merry Christmas” mission and I’m in full throttle. My little yellow VW Beetle has turned into a Christmas billboard with Merry Christmas written across the back window. Yes, I’ve decided to trek off to work everyday on the public highways with a message that seems to offend people.

At stop lights, I even turn my music up a little louder, and to top it off, I sing along with it. Don’t I know that stopping at a red light to roll my windows down only to share the joy of Christmas carols on public streets is a No-No? Don’t I fear the Christmas Gestapo and those who would have me remove the written message from my car?

I’m sorry folks, but the only person I’m concerned about “offending” during this Christmas season is the Lord himself. LEAVE THAT MANGER ALONE! We’ve allowed the Baby Jesus to be kicked out of His lowly manger, and those offended by Christmas are still not happy.

I refuse to let this happen. I’m going to do my part to make sure “Merry Christmas” doesn’t become extinct. Because like it or not, if the believers in Christmas don’t take a stand now, it’s gone forever.

Listen folks, the Christian community has been underestimated before; we will have to show ourselves again.

I walked into a Wendy’s Restaurant the other day and was rather exuberant with my “Merry Christmas” greeting to the manager. He didn’t have much of a response and I said, “Where’s your Christmas spirit?” He said, “We’re not allowed to use the words “Merry Christmas” when greeting customers. We can only say “Happy Holiday.”

This morning I grabbed a quick breakfast at a Whataburger Restaurant. I noticed there wasn’t a single decoration in the store. I asked the manager why they weren’t decorated for Christmas. He told me the corporate headquarters decided not to send any decorations to any of their stores, and he didn’t know why.

After I heard about all the Macy’s and Federated Stores taking down their Merry Christmas signs, the Target stores not allowing the Salvation Army to “Ring the Christmas bells,” and the many incidents of children, choirs, and bands not allowed to play or sing Christmas carols, I realized it was happening right here in my own little Texas town.

How can this be? Not Texas!

We do, however, have a store, Hobby Lobby, that plays nothing but Christmas carols during the season. On Christmas Day they run a full page ad in our local newspaper. That ad is not to promote the store, but uses the entire page to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. Now that’s taking a stand. We need to thank them.

When I saw a news report the other evening of children being taught new words to a song we’ve sung for years – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” – I was saddened to hear “We Wish You a Splendid Holiday.”

I know now that it’s just a matter of time that the “Merry Christmas” greetings will be gone. Look around your town. Notice the “Holiday” greetings and not “Christmas.” It’s happening right before our very eyes.

Start singing the songs; go down the streets of America singing to your heart’s content. Get some of those wash-off markers that these kids use to write on their car windows when they’re rooting for their hometown football team. It’s easy to do, and if a torrential rain washes it off, write it on there again.

We’ve got to get this message out. “Go Tell It On the Mountain . . . that Jesus Christ is Born.” Sing it, speak it, be a billboard for our Lord.

The story of this “Baby Jesus” alone has brought about more goodwill at this time of year than any other day we celebrate. How can we sit back and allow Him to be snuffed out of our lives?

Is it Jesus, or is it His followers that the “offended” don’t like? What kind of revulsion galvanizes one to campaign so vehemently against the mere mention of His name, the mere singing of a carol, or the mere visual of a sign that says “Merry Christmas?”

I can listen to my own boss at work use some of the vilest words and follow up with, “Excuse my French.” I may cringe inside at his damning of God’s name, but I tolerate it. So if you don’t like me wishing you a “Merry Christmas,” I’ll say, “Excuse my joy.” You may cringe that I celebrate the birth of Jesus, but just tolerate it.

I cannot be concerned that “Merry Christmas” offends you. If I’m not careful, the day will come when saying I’m a Christian will offend you.

I’m offended that you’re offended. How about that?

When we get to a point that we can no longer take part in a tradition we hold dear, we have no choice; we either defend that tradition or we give it up to those who say NO. That’s it . . . period. So, which will it be?

I’m not giving up my “Merry Christmas” joy to anyone. If I know of someone that celebrates another holiday during this time of year, I will be glad to wish them whatever holiday they want. Just tell me what it is and I’ll shout it to the world and wish you a grand celebration.

Just give me Christmas. To you merchants: Stop being so hypocritical and “filling your tills” on the back of Jesus! Who do you think is the symbol of giving at this time of year? It was the wise men bringing gifts to the newborn Christ-child.

You want your coffers full, but have ordered your employees to take down all the Merry Christmas signs. If that’s the case, I’ll buy gifts at a place that understands my joy.

If you’re worried about offending someone, you just did. The most recent Newsweek survey shows that 82% of Americans believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So, in trying not to offend a few, you’ve offended many.

It’s okay to jump into the “Merry Christmas” spirit when it fills your cash register, but let’s call it something else . . . and don’t stop giving . . . and don’t stop buying. . . we’ll just change the name and you’ll never know the difference.

I know the difference and I’m feeling it greatly. It’s hard not to be aware that townships across our country have actually banned the singing of Christmas carols because it might offend someone. And it’s not just the religious songs; it’s the secular ones too. No more “Jingle Bells” or “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because they’re associated with Christmas. Boy, aren’t we getting sensitive?

If we’re not celebrating Christmas for the hope it gives with the birth of our Savior . . . there is no hope!

I noticed a few years ago that we changed the name of Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthday so as to be all inclusive regarding the Presidents. Hark, if we should recognize anyone as exceptional. Now it’s called Presidents’ Day.

Well, if we’re going to be so all inclusive, next month I’ll have to refer to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as Civil Rights Leaders’ Day. We don’t want to exclude great Americans like Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez, do we? And to think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton might be left out.

We might need to change Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents’ Day to All Parents’ Day. Just lump them all together.

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? So what’s the difference?

My freedom to celebrate Christmas in the tradition of the Christian religion is as much my right as it is your right to be offended by it. So what are we going to do? Did anyone hear me . . . what are we going to do?

Do we defend a person’s right to go forward with a time tested tradition (how about 2000 years?), or do we defend a person’s right to end it all because they’re offended? As long as we live in this great land and have the freedom to express ourselves and what we believe in, we will always offend someone.

If we try to make everything right for everyone, we won’t have anything for anyone.

May you always have Christmas in your heart!

Merry Christmas

In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight.

Soon ’round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of soldiers like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black,
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside.
I didn’t want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so clean and pure,
“Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night!

Urban Legends says it was written by a Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986, when stationed in D.C. I actually found it via House of Crap on Blog Explosion.

Support for the Troops

If you want to help support the troops, but don’t have anyone you know in the active military, you can go to anysoldier.com and find folks who have asked for help.

As I said in this post, the homeschoolers around here are sending packages to the military and I’m the coordinator.

As I mentioned in this one, the yellow ribbons do actually mean something.

I have mailed 47 boxes to four different units in Iraq and Afghanistan, two in each. The mailing costs have been $535. That’s just the cost of sending the boxes. Many people have contributed and my husband and I put in about $400 of stuff to send over, not including the $255 out of our pocket for mailing the boxes. It seems like a lot of money, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of support.

I have written over 70 individual letters and encouraged others to write another 30 or so that I’ve sent. I’ve sent two units, who asked for mail, letters- 52 of them.

I’ve been doing this for six weeks. I received a response last Sunday as I mentioned here. The Marine who responded is from Texas; God bless him.

Someone took my yellow ribbon off my car. I don’t know why. I have another one, which belongs to my husband, but apparently his car is too cool to have a ribbon on it. So I’ll put that one on. I wonder how long it will take to disappear and why they are disappearing. I’ll probably never know.

Christian School Starts Interfaith Mess

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except through me,” Jesus said. But apparently some people who are Christians are forgetting that.

Fuller Theological Seminary has launched an interfaith conflict resolution which includes the proscription of proselytizing for two years. What happened to “Go into all the world and preach the good news” as a command?

Of course, you probably couldn’t get Muslims to talk to you if they knew you were going to proselytize. And the idea is that finding out what they think can help eliminate differences. But I’m having trouble imagining that the terrorists who believe all infidels must die are going to be hanging out at Fuller. So we aren’t going to be able to talk to them anyway. And eliminating the difference would pretty much require that one group or the other convert.

Apparently this idea is old. This story is from last year. But it does take a while for anything in academia to be up and running.

The Package Has Arrived!

I’ve mailed 42 care packages to soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. But I hadn’t heard from anyone on whether they had gotten there. And I got back a bday card that had been sent in October. I was very worried.

But the Marines came through! Even though their boxes weren’t shipped in the first two weeks, one of them emailed me and told me that my box got there okay! I am so glad.

He sent cool pictures too. He’s been married almost as long as I have and has three kids. His family lives in Corpus right now while he’s gone.

Christmas at our House

Scheiss Weekly wrote a blog entry about scrooge and humbuggy Christmas. I left a post, but then I really wanted to write more.

Someone else, I can’t remember who, wrote a blog post about Christmas gifts. They didn’t come up with a list. They wanted to be surprised.

Okay, Christmas at our house:

There is a huge tree in the living roo, put together by me and my boys, with some encouragement from their dad. Then R and I put the lights on. The next day I hung the ornaments and put out boxes in Christmas designs. I have five nativity scenes up around the house and three wreaths hung on doors. But if you looked at our house from the front street all you would see would be one meager wreath. Our tree is in the living room, which faces the backyard, not the street.

There are not any lights up. I love the lights that people put on their houses. They are beautiful and festive and fun. But I don’t like to put them up myself and my husband hates to put them up. So we don’t have any lights outside. We look, to the passerby, like an original case of Scrooge, but we’re not.

In fact, it is a wonder we have any decorations up. We’re spending the holidays in North Carolina. So these decorations won’t be much of anything to our family. Just a reminder of where we’re headed. I like the decorations, even though we don’t celebrate here.

Gifts is another problem. My kids have all they need. There are some reasonable presents I would like them to have: Apple Care for their Macs, new cables. But other than that they don’t need anything and they have almost everything they want as well.

I don’t need anything. Yes, there are things I would like. I would like new bras and undies, matching, made by a good company. I’d like them to be pretty and utilitarian. I’d like big two-sided barrettes so I can put my hair in a bun. I’d like a gold queen bed skirt, preferably silk and tailored. Stein Mart has one that would work. I needed new socks, but I finally bought some of those. There’s just not much I need.

I have some wants, but they’re generally big. A hiking trip in the mountains. A cruise with my husband. Leather furniture for the media room and the living room. A new pretty front door. A pantry from the wet bar. New siding. A new air conditioning system. A total kitchen makeover.

There are a few books I want, but I’d have to think about it to tell you what they are. I’ve mentioned them in the past, but I don’t know that they’re in my blog.

So… Christmas is more about celebrating time together and what we already have, as opposed to what we need to get.

Mary

“Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?”

“There are people who are whispering and the rumors are running wild. There’s a woman who’s not married and she’s going to have a child.

Her name is Mary; she’s a virgin from down in Nazareth.

Now listen close.

She’s going to marry a man named Joseph but the baby’s father is the Holy Ghost!

Now who do you think would believe such a thing, would believe that the story is true? Who do you think would believe such a thing? Well, here’s hoping to Heaven, you do.”

John Mark Reynolds has an interesting and thoughtful post on Mary. I appreciated it, especially during this advent season.

As my youngest son said, “It’s not so much that we celebrate his birthday as that we say, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for being born!'”

24 Hours Without Children

I left my boys at my parents’ house Friday night and picked them up Saturday night. That meant R and I had two dates and a whole day of no kids.

I love E and M dearly, but having time off was fun.

I worked, ate, went out, went to the bookstore, shopped at two malls- all without kids.

It was a fun time.

Taking Care of Momma

I went to my mother’s house to help her decorate for Christmas. At least, that was what I was supposed to be doing. However, that’s not actually what happened.

My dad didn’t want me in the attic, to get the decorations out, until the house was clean. Since the living room, dining room, kitchen, and study are covered in mom’s stuff, that meant a lot of work. I spent an hour cleaning the dining room and organizing it. I spent half an hour in the kitchen and living room. I am fairly sure the study is a lost cause without a four or six drawer filing cabinet.

There is still a table covered in the kitchen with Christmas presents that need to be wrapped, but that’s what Mom loves to do. So I didn’t do that.

I took Mom out for a late lunch and she went and got Christmas presents at the jewelry store.

I went to Target and the Dollar Store for her.

Then I went back and got her and took her to the grocery store and then home.

She was up way too much, but she’s not my child. She won’t mind. (Come to think of it, sometimes my boys don’t either.)

List of other things good to send

Copied this from a major’s email of what his soldiers would like. Hopefully it will be a good list for the ones we’re supporting. I can get the list out again in January. This is a good tight list.

It would be nice to have wet-wipes, salty snacks, sweet snacks, candy, cereal, gum, high energy snacks, high energy bars, tissue paper for noses, good moisture wicking socks and underwear for long missions walking (sizes L/XL/XXL), plastic ziplock bags, cigarettes, microwave popcorn, instant cups of soup, motorcycle, sailing, and men’s magazines (i.e., men’s fitness, maxxim, FHM, men’s health, running, outdoor life, airplane mags), action and history books. Body wash, toothpaste, deodorant, pens, DVDs, CDs, instant and regular coffee sugar, creamer would be great, cookies, AA batteries, small cans of shaving cream, soft toilet paper, small cans of food, crackers, canned cheese, summer sausage, mustard, individually wrapped cheese, Ramen noodles, and small foodstuffs that are easy to pack and don’t take up alot of room.

Dang!

Today I received one of the birthday cards my Heroes and Villains class sent overseas. He’s not dead. He has moved. But his address ought to have worked. His command said not to list him as any soldier anymore when I went to the website to see if there was something there. That’s fine. But this was a bday card and was not addressed to any soldier.

So one long note from me and a birthday card has bounced saying “address not known.”

Most of the cards didn’t have return addresses on them, so I guess they are all lost. Oh well. We tried.

Christmas 2004

An earlier Christmas list that I posted 10/08.

Also:

new front door

art plate from the artist in Sugarland who was at the Home Show

help putting up the Christmas decorations– maybe as a family deal with hot chocolate and s’mores (which we used to call something else in Camp Fire Girls)

a gold silk bedskirt, though I was thinking of buying that myself

my emerald ring re-sized

big hair things, since my last two broke

Brazilian guarana soda pop

having the wet bar turned into a pantry

Update: Obviously, I don’t have a lot of needs. Don’t have a lot of wants either. Less stuff. But it’s hard for me to get rid of some things.

Marine Must Have List

Marine “Must-Haves” List- Something to remember when I’m sending “our” unit in Afghanistan stuff.

Here are some items (at least the ones not issued by the military that can be given as gifts) that made the list of the 3rd Platoon’s “Must Haves” List:

Energy bars: “They’re lightweight, easy to get to,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Lopez, 3rd platoon sergeant. “Plus they?re not as bulky as MREs.” (meals-ready-to-eat)

Extra socks: “My feet are nice and dry right now,” said Lance Cpl. Kaleb Welch, a squad automatic weapon (SAW) gunner. “I’ve gone without changing my socks before on three to four day training exercises and I always regretted it later.”

Baby wipes: “It’s a multi-use piece of gear,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Irving Ochoa, a Navy Corpsman. You don?t have much time out here for personal hygiene, so it’s the best alternative.”

Watch with compass: “You get calls where you have to lay down suppressing fire in a certain direction and instead of wasting time to ask which way is north or south, you can just look at your wrist,” said Lance Cpl. Lonny Kelly, a machine gunner. “Knowing the time is important because everyone pulls shifts for guard duty or standing post. How would you know when your shift starts or stops without one?”

AA batteries: “You use them for your NVGs and handheld radios; both which contribute to more effective fighting,” said Cpl. Bryan Morales, 1st squad 1st fire team, team leader. “You wouldn’t want either of those items dying on you, so having a spare set of batteries around is very important.”

High powered flashlight: “It does wonders,” said Cpl. Chris Williams, 2nd squad 1st fire team leader. “After you throw a fragmentation grenade into a room it’s difficult to see because of all the dust floating around. No one can hide from them.”

stolen entirely from The Patriette

Dinosaur stuff

Here’s a tale of a discovery of a dinosaur-type underwater creature in China. Neck was five and a half feet long and had neck ribs. The trunk of the creature was about three feet long.

This article on a finding in China with one grown up and a gaggle of 36 youth dinosaurs includes a picture of the bones.