A Soldier’s Christmas Poem

A Soldier’s Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night”

“Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”
then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue… an American flag.

“I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

By Michael Marks, Christmas 2000

Holiday traditions

1. When the boys were little we would light the tree and each night of December we would sit by the tree and read a Christmas book by the light of the tree.

I wasnt’ thinking ahead to the fact that this would not be a great tradition when they got older.

But I loved it when they were little. I hope they will do it with their children.

2. Both R’s and my family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. We would open presents in the evening. Sometimes Santa came while we were at church or getting ice cream (when we were older) or just while we were down for a nap.

We didn’t tell the boys about Santa so we just calmly opened gifts on Christmas eve.

This was the first year the oldest waited through each person opening their gifts in a round robin of opening without sneaking an extra of his open. Of course, he was a kid, so we were okay with that.

3. Once my family had money to actually be able to buy special Christmas food, probably when I was 10, we started eating Mexican Steak. (I have lots of posts on that, if you want to look them up.) Just about five years ago we started adding turkey to our holiday dinners, because of all the in-laws. Three years ago I made both Mexican Steak and turkey for our holiday meal. This year, we had turkey on the date (Thanksgiving) and Mexican Steak the next day.

4. With children who are vegetarians, there is a small difficulty of eating meat for holidays. For M, we have mashed potatoes. He is a fan. (Not a big fan. He doesn’t eat 5 pounds of potatoes by himself like my brother, but a fan.) There is NOTHING traditional or otherwise that E eats. Dad gum it! I’d like food traditions with my kids.

Questions for Mary

Mary, Did you know?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered
Will soon deliver you?

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You’ve kissed the face of God?

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding
Is the great I Am?

written by Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry
sung by Clay Aiken and Reba McEntire (sp?)

enjoyed by the rest of us

Rumors ran wild years ago…

there Are People Who Are Whispering
and The Rumors Are Running Wild
there’s A Woman Who’s Not Married
but She’s Gonna Have A Child.

her Name Is Mary She’s A Virgin
from Down In Nazareth Now Listen Close
she’s Gonna Marry A Man Named Joseph
but The Baby’s Father Is The Holy Ghost.

and Who Do You Think Could Believe Such A Thing
could Believe That The Story Is True
and Who Do You Think Could Believe Such A Thing
well Here’s Hopin’ To Heaven You Do.

now There Sayin’ She Had A Baby
in A Barn In Bethlehem
and The Stars Moved ’round The Heavens
till It Stopped Right Over Them.

then Some Shepherds Said An Angel
came And Told Them ’bout The Birth
they Always Knew Men Went To Heaven
but Now God Had Come To Earth.

and Who Do You Think Could Believe Such A Thing
could Believe That The Story Is True
and Who Do You Think Could Believe Such A Thing
well Here’s Hopin’ To Heaven You Do…

Just a reminder that the first Christmas was not an easy fun time with lots of presents… But it was a good one.

This song is sung by the Statler brothers and written by Harry Reid and Don Reid.

It is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.

“I heard the bells…”

was a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in a time of great personal tragedy and sorrow. It asks what is the use of wanting peace when hate is strong and answers “God is not dead.” It is a beautiful song with a beautiful story.

Go here to see what I wrote about it two years ago. The back story and the words can be found there.

The ordinary folks…

heard about Jesus first. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, baby John (before he was born), and the shepherds.

Luke 2
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14″Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Peace on earth to men on whom his favor rests.

Merry Christmas. May his favor rest on you.

Cranberry recipes

Cranberry from Grama:

package of 12 oz cranberries (wash them)
1 orange, cut into quarters (don’t peel), take out ends and middle membranes

Grind those in food processor.

Put them in your serving bowl.

Put 1 cup of sugar over it and put it in the fridge for 10 hours. Make sure you mix it up well with the sugar.

Use strawberry, cranberry, or orange gelatin. Mix jello with 1 cup hot water. Be sure it is mixed well. Then pour it over the cran/orange mix. Mix it up well. Put in the fridge till it sets (overnight is what Grama does).

If you want to, put just a little bit of water in it with ice cubes, it will set faster.

Elise’s recipe:
This is what I made for Thanksgiving this year. My future BIL said it was his favorite dish.

1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (255 mL) water
4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
Optional: Pecans, orange peel, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.
(I used pecans, orange peel, cinnamon, and nutmeg.)

1. Wash and pick over cranberries. In a saucepan bring to a boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.

2. At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients. We typically mix in a half a cup of roughly chopped pecans with or without a few strips of orange peel. You can add a cup of raisins or currants. You can add up to a pint of fresh or frozen blueberries for added sweetness. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice can be added too.

3. Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Cranberry sauce base makes 2 1/4 cups.

Note: If the cranberries have not all burst, then they will be bitter. I think it may be better to do too much than too little bursting of the crans.

Merry Christmas!

May your holidays be cheerful and your family realize it is blessed.

God, please be with our nation during this holiday season. Be with our leaders and their families. Show them your love. Be with our military and their families. Give them peace. And those military, God, who are far from their families this holiday season, I ask that you give them and their families joy.

God, there are Christians around the world who cannot worship you freely. I thank you for my ability to do that. I ask you to bless those who cannot with a sure knowledge of your presence in their lives.

Thank you, God, for sending your son and giving us something to celebrate this Christmas.

High school versus college

Murray State has a good presentation of the differences between the two.

This might be useful in teaching, for a beginning of class discussion. Or for background information for people who are the first in their families to go to college (most of my students at CC2).

Wine for your health.

It’s an antiseptic.

Another use of wine that has been recognized for millennia is the antiseptic qualities of wine. The germ-killing qualities of wine are greater than the same proportion of alcohol in water – and a good natural wine is not as damaging to the flesh as some strong antiseptics are.

Jesus showed he knew the benefits of wine as an antiseptic when he gave the parable of the good Samaritan. In this case a man had been injured and had a severe wound. The good Samaritan “bound up his wounds, pouring in [olive] oil and wine [oinos]” (Luke 10:34). The oil mollified or softened the flesh; the wine helped kill bacteria.

It’s also good for your stomach.

Paul instructed Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine [oinos] for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23). He said to use only a little wine, not a whole lot. The purpose of this wine was Timothy’s frequent stomach ailments; small amounts of wine can help some stomach problems.

(I wonder if there was any honey or cinnamon in the wine. –Okay, not really. Just thinking.)

For use with Dielli.

Fun Stumbles

Okay. I’ve been stumbling across these sites for three weeks. But I really need to do something else when I’m bored. (Some FUN things in here.)

Cool Stuff Stumbles:

Unique staircases. Includes the one from Loretto chapel, one where there is no center to step on, one where each step is a drawer, retractables, etc.

See your brain play tricks on your eyes. Very cool! You stare at a dot for 30 seconds and then you bring the mouse over the picture. It changes to a photograph and looks like it is in color. But the photograph is black and white.

Reverse speech makes me want to tape myself and listen to it backwards. What might I actually be saying?

How to Ace Your Finals Without Studying is an interesting discussion of holistic learning. I do not think, however, that it is useful at two a.m. the night before your test.

How to Talk to a Professor is pretty short and, I would have thought, obvious. But apparently not.

Toilets from Around the World asks, Ever been sitting on the tv watching the couch thinking about how people from other parts of the world pee? Er, no. But there are some funky urinals. Very funky. The naked man soap dispenser is twisted. The urinals with women’s pics over them are FUNNY.

Seven Abandoned Wonders of America, fascinating stuff

Honey and Cinnamon cure everything in the world. Heart trouble, bladder infections, hair loss, and weight problems.

WEIGHT LOSS: Daily in the morning 1/2 hour before breakfast on an empty stomach and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one-cup water. If taken regularly it reduces the weight of even the most obese person.

Er, how much honey and cinnamon? Can I use the bark and not the powder? Do I need real cinnamon or will that fake stuff do?

History Stumbles:

Death Tidbits including:
Paul Revere was the fist person to ever identify a body by dental records. He recognized the dead man because of work he had done joining two teeth together with silver wire.
A few months before he got killed in a car accident, James Dean made a driver’s safety TV ad in which he said, “Drive safely; the life you save may be mine.”

Lincoln-Kennedy assassination comparisons

Medieval Demographics Made Easy… Maybe I should review this. But the cities I am writing of are HUGE.

The History Place. I especially liked the photos of Native Americans.

Nice: a history

I read a quote a few months ago about how we have changed the meaning of nice. I am sure I looked up the word after that, but I didn’t remember. Here’s an etymology:

c.1290, “foolish, stupid, senseless,” from O.Fr. nice “silly, foolish,” from L. nescius “ignorant,” lit. “not-knowing,” from ne- “not” (see un-) + stem of scire “to know.” “The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj.” [Weekley] — from “timid” (pre-1300); to “fussy, fastidious” (c.1380); to “dainty, delicate” (c.1405); to “precise, careful” (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to “agreeable, delightful” (1769); to “kind, thoughtful” (1830). In 16c.-17c. it is often difficult to determine exactly what is meant when a writer uses this word. By 1926, it was pronounced “too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness.” [Fowler]

“I am sure,” cried Catherine, “I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?” “Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything.” [Jane Austen, “Northanger Abbey”]

from the Online Etymology Dictionary

Global climate change:

Is it happening? Maybe.

Did man create it? No.

What are my reasons for thinking that?

We had the Little Ice Age in the Middle Ages and then, amazingly, the earth warmed up.

When I was 15/16, the scientists were heralding “the next Ice Age” as being upon us. I expected, from what they said, to be driving snowmobiles at the age I am now, wearing animal coats to keep warm. Now scientists are saying that we’re going to have a huge climate change that is going to damage the world and mankind caused it.

I’m not buying that without a significant influx of support. Partially because I believed “the fear mongering scientists” last time. I’m now a skeptic.

My son says it is ridiculous to base my belief on what happened last time. In a way, he is correct. But in another way, he is not.

Last time, I bought the line. This time, I’m saying, “Will this really hold a fish?” And my answer is no.

There is not a consensus on climate change. And without a consensus, I’m not buying it.

The US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Minority Page details 400 prominent scientists who disputed man-made global warming claims in 2007.

The report itself is here.