Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Which Positive Quality Are You?

Which Positive Quality Are You?
Your Result: Faith

You are Faith. Faith is the belief in better things, in spite of the cynicism and doubt that swirls around us. Faith gives us strength; it inpsires us to move forward and follow our hearts. "Faith tells us what the senses do not."

Which Positive Quality Are You?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Power of THANKSgiving

There are few things that get an immediate smile like the words "thank you." It seems rare these days for folks to just be courteous, to open doors for ladies or cover their mouths when coughing or refrain from nose-blowing in the middle of restaurants, not to mention cell phones at the worst of times.

Thank you seems to feed a little part of us that we don't realize is there. It even heals us in a way. We are all scarred by some offense or another. A simple thank you helps us remember why good is really good. It can be easy to lose hope or get depressed if you only looked at life in terms of what you get or get back or don't have. Thank you gives a little of that back and even does something for the one kind enough to utter its syllables. Say it...thank you. It recognizes existence, kindness and thankfulness. Evenmoreso; a thankful person is more likely to receive more because the givers recognize that characteristic and enjoy the food of thank you that feeds their physioemotional stomaches. [yeah...that's probably a made up word; but I think you can handle it.]

I had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. There was so much and yet so little left. My wifey did really well at a wonderful meal and the family all chipped in. Croquet afterwards was like old times growing up with the siblings. Dad even played. It is probably one of the best holidays I can remember in some time. It's so simple, "thank you," and yet, it goes so far when it's really sincere and unexpected. I know it makes me smile. I wonder if God smiles when we take the time to say you? Thanks, honey for being a great wife, companion and friend. Thanks to all the Veterans and Service families that give so much for our freedoms. Thanks, God, for everything!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Cost of Love

It's easy to sluff off some cavalier response when asked about the costs of love. Obviously some will argue that there is no cost and that it was just some fair trade. Humbug!!! Have a Starbucks and really think about it. The cost of real love is VERY HIGH. In fact, it may be incalculatable from the onset.

Love bears a cost so innumerable that it reaches beyond the vastness of space and time. The love of a mother is beyond measure. The love of a Christ leaves us speachless and hiding. The love of a father will face lions even of certain defeat. The love of a man and woman will defy nations. Is it not our hearts, merely the size of a large fist, that holds the greatest of all treasures—a palace with more rooms than we can count; a universe of endless next times and forgivenesses, and hope beyond all reason, for the mind's desired outcome?

Yes, the decision to love will cost you plenty; maybe everything. But so is the payback; you're playing for ALL the marbles! Any dark day doesn't guarantee one tomorrow. We all want to believe and hope for the best. Often it is easy to just give up! Real love never does. When our minds finally close the doors hearts; darkness most thick embraces us as the tendrills of despair pull us below the surface. The Son disappears to us and our circumstances loom tall and beyond our strengths as we focus on them instead. Again, love is willing to bear all the wrongs, harshnesses, illnesses, duties, hassels, responsibilities, ungratefulnesses, oversights and offenses. Sometimes I think I want a love like that; but my humanity reminds me that I don't. Logic pleads for limits. Self begs for dignity. He asks that we suspend all and cast any worries upon Him. Hmmm....This Thanksgiving, I will give more thanks for the great costs, even beyond life, that have been paid in the name of love.

The cost of love....
 A little boy came into the kitchen one evening while his mom was fixing supper. He handed her a piece of paper he'd been writing on. After wiping her hands on her apron, she read it, and this is what it said:
For mowing the grass, a pair of Nike shoes,
For making my own bed this week, $10.00
For going to the store, $5.00
For playing with Baby Brother while you went shopping, Rs 25.00 - you know that baby sitting fees have gone up...
For taking out the trash, Rs 15.00 - well mum it does involve germs!
For getting a good report card that new cell phone I saw advertised on TV
For raking the lawn $10.00

Well , she looked at him standing there expectantly , and a thousand memories flashed through her mind. So she picked up the paper, and turning it over, This is what she wrote:
For carrying & nurturing you for 9 months, No charge!
For the nights I sat up with u. Doctored you, prayed for you, No charge!
For the time & the tears and the cost through the years, No charge!
For the nights filled with dread and the worries ahead, No charge!
For advice and the knowledge & the cost of your college fees, No charge!
For the toys, food and clothes & for wiping your snotty nose , No charge!
You see when you add it all up , the cost of my love is NO CHARGE!!!
With tears in his eyes the little boy hugged his mom and said "PAID IN FULL"

Remember to say thank you to your parents - I promise it won't cost you a cent!!!!!

Oh how great is the love of a shepard — how long is His reach, beyond the surface of the muck; even to its bottom. Ignoring our faults continuously without even our slightest of regards. His love is much greater than mine. It's a good thing He is Him and I am me. Oh that He would leave the 99 and come for the one; so not logical --- none of it is and yet its power is derived from just that. Is there a point at which easy is hard? The "Way" is touted as easy; but it isn't; nor is it popular. We might as well be turkeys on a table of forks. But our Host contiues to deliver and protect us....that's the power of love.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Cash of Time

I was listening to DJ Wikit, a CD I picked up at a show my son was doing lights at, and I heard a mix of Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" with a hip-hop funk behind it.......hmmm.....now there's a market! I actually met the man in black once when I was a child in an airport for my first trip on a plane and my first trip to Washington, DC. It's funny, that's been some time ago; but I can still hear his voice. "Excuse me," his voice bellowed polietly, after I had bumped into him. Even worse, I had no idea who he was until I had gotten back to my group and they had asked what did he say. It would seem that great songs/songwriters have to do a bit of living to be good at giving...much like so many other things. Johnny never claimed to be a saint and his songs and life testify to that. Nonetheless, his music much like himself evolved over life and the picture at the end was far more complete than the beginning. Much like Solomon, he counted all the fame and riches as nothing. The real jewels of life were family, love and you can probably figure out the rest. Anyway, the song is killer! Here are the lyrics. For all those who found "who" they were looking for; this song makes it all make sense.

Walk The Line
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

That's all good. As your foot stops tapping and your memories begin to fade back into the day, smile. The Cash of Time is not translated into currency; but love and legacy of friendships and families.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Points in the Wet Black

I enjoyed my afternoon drive home. It is obvious that time has changed; particularly since it's dark when I leave and dark when I return. It is an ugly day by most standards or outside appearances. The rain is falling, if not pounding—the darkness is thick, if not solid. I enjoy the drive despite all the possible degrees of drama and plague. The lights are so bright even through glassy, sometimes foggy windows. Granted that may complicate the driving processes; it would be ideal with very little traffic.

Once upon a time I could make this drive and never see a cellphone. Now, I can hardly pass 4 out of 5 cars without one. It seems that we are driven to be entertained, distracted or just in touch with someplace/where other than where we are. I find myself having to be reminded that really the phone is there for ME to call out and emergencies; not just to kill time or be distracted. If there is an important call — beyond delivering someone from boredom or dismay; then I should take it. Not only does it cut down on the inevitable cost; but the potiential for accidents. Oh but you have a headset, you say!!! Well, unless your brain is also disconnected or double-flanked, its unlikely that your dilligent focus is on the matters at hand. YES, cellphones are great...so is candy and wine; but not all the time. Movie theaters, church, restaurants, airplanes and a hundred other places are not among ideal locations to become distracted or become a distractor.

Anyway, hmmm....I must have gotten distracted. I am always fascinated by the dark. It tends to reveal the light and it tends to free more darkness. Unlike land; it makes more of itself. There are a million things people would do in the dark that they would NEVER consider in the light. (hmm....that may be another blog). [There I go conversating with myself again; but isn't that what I do best? hmmm] The red lights are always prominent and sometimes preferred because they tend to just discolor without blinding or hiding what you can see. Headlights which typically are white or bright, especially for me in the rain, can be blinding and harsh. In fact, I have noticed that I have to look to the edge of the road until the car passes. Hmmm......(that could be age-related). Anyway a light in the light is easily lost; if even seen; but a light in the darkness is a target for extinguishing. We tend to follow its trail; but hope that it isn't glaring in our eyes. For all the perks of being famous, I would hate to think my every move, word, mistake, mood or failure would end up on national TV for everyone's viewing pleasure. What pressure. It is "stuff" that seduces us with pleasure; but rewards us with emptiness and separation. "They" say that the best things are free. That's a lie! Nothing worth anything is free. Friendships, relationships and dreams all have a price. Even smiles aren't free....you have to "choose" to do it; there are costs to everything — ....and the good things are typically worth that cost. The return on some payments are never seen by the customer; but the storekeepers register notes every receipt.

Ah...I click the little button and my garage door opens, a light comes on, I drive in, the door closes — no more rain or cold. What a world this would be without remote control, electricity, wheels, motors, commerce or technology. What a country! Ahhh....home sweet home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Family...That's Incredibles!

Hey, look, I think it's a job for the Incredibles!

Families are Incredible. There are some things in life that we just don't get to control or choose. Some of those things turn out to be the most incredible gifts we ever receive. I think "family" is one of the most precious things I posess. My particular family comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and confusions. I think that is probably more the norm these days. It keeps things interesting.

I love the Incredibles! Not only is it very well done; but it is a movie for the family, about the family and in support of the family. Seems like most big budgets are aimed against the family and everything else we once clutched so close, as "sacred." These Incredibles just happen to be my brother and sister-in-laws and their beautiful children. In fact, aren't they all just catalog chic! I think the best revelation about families is their ability to pull together in tough times. Family is something very difficult to escape; but forever linked. I remember growing up with 5 other siblings—sometimes it was tough but one thing was for sure, we were family. It doesn't mean hugs and kisses every night; but it does mean somebody is always in your corner rooting for your success. We often played WWF (World Wrestling Federation...i.e. male soap operas) and it was usually fun; but we were born with that right; anyone outside of us messing with one of us, just got a date with ALL of us. Cans of 'WA' (I'll let you figure this one out) start opening like instant bisquits.

I used to look at others and think "they seem like the normal perfect family." Later in life, I discovered that maybe there is no "normal" or "perfect," just degrees of "like everybody else..." The punchline turns out to be that practically everybody is just a little off. (Smile) Whatever your relationship with your family, consider at least always leaving the "talking" door open. Families are fun. Find some way to communicate in a civil manner....don't wait 'til just a holiday to reach out. There's just something special about family that you can't get any where else. I miss working out with my brother, Chris; incidentally, one of my brother-in-laws has the same name and works out too, and our mutual friends Chan and another Chris and Tommy. We had great comradery!

In fact, if my neighbor is my brother/sister; then the world gets even smaller and my family gets even bigger! I am looking forward to Thanksgiving in spite of it often being overlooked and treaded on by Christmas (Happy Holidays) merchandisers. I actually like to just find strangers (within reason) and invite them too. I love my family in all its many shades and delimas. If you ever really want to know about yourself, hang around your family for a bit and they will probably tell you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Foggy Monday--Victory Weekend

Well, I had a great weekend with friends. Not only was it more than enjoyable to share my weekend with my highschool friend Joel and Oneal, his son. That sure is a perty skullcap! My beloved Pickle cooked a fantastic breakfast of french toast, scrambled eggs with cheese, Sunny Delight and Cheddar Brotworst. We also ate at our favorite restaurant, Demos Steakhouse. I have know Jim and Doris for years and they run a top-class operation. There are very few things as good as a steak done well. I topped that all off with a Snickerdoodle slice of pie.MMMMMM....Ok, so I am going to the gym tonite. I even got to visit my nephew, Christopher. I had gotten him a windup Triceratops dinosaur while in Utah. Since I had told him what I got him; I was afraid his imagination might be bigger than my gift. So I went and found a much larger dino that glowed in the dark and could be written on and washed to start all over again. So together, they were the Dyno-duo. It was cool. I think he liked them.

But it was just the right kind of weekend for justice. And justice was served. The Titans fell to an ex-ole faithful, Steve McNair. I think it's safe to say that everyone walked away with a bit of dignity. Current quarterback of the Titans, Vince Young performed well; so no discredit to him. It's always great to see aged-wisdom out maneuver bronze. Reminds me of the joke about the two bulls standing at the top of the hill looking down on the valley of cows....(but I didnt say I was going to tell you the joke).... While the air was a bit sharp form time to time, it wasn't so you couldn't go shopping. My wifey and I picked up matching pj's at Old Navy....u know, casual loungewear for around the house. I even got to watch an old rerun of "Columbo" with Johnny Cash as the villian.

It's been an easy, consistent kind of Monday. The morning commute was ever so foggy. All gone now. Darkness beginning to pull its blanket over us again as the temperature begins to dip. My day almost at an end...getting back to the best part....my honey and my workout and my dinner.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flicker for the Weekend

What another gorgeous day in the 'ville. I am sitting here watching the leaves dance to the ground like a radiant blanket of color falling from one point to another. My cucumber melon candle flickers at my desk as I glance out the window and back at my screen. How magnificent its aroma; how splendid the view of nature's canvas. I am not sure what I need to get off my chest today; so I will just let my fingers wander. It's Friday and (despite appearances) I am getting a lot of work done. I am looking forward to the weekend.

I have visitors coming. My good friend Joel from LIfe, Balance, Love and Stuff is coming! He and his son Oneal will be in town for the Titans vs Ravens game on Sunday but spending the day before with us at our humble abode. I love having company. I have always wished for the gift of hospitality and a grand estate that would fully allow us to entertain old and new friends. J' and I go all the way back to grade school and the memories to prove it. It's cool to 'just hang' with someone you don't have to do or say anything special because you get each other. We share the same wavelength. We often refer to each other as "my brother from another mother." Its gonna be a great time. While I "might" like to see this particular game in person; I really enjoy the comforts of home. I will be rooting for Steve McNair, formerly of the Titans.....this will remind me of Gladiator when the king discovers the identity of his champion, Maximus. Tee Hee Hee...(Good luck, Steve!!!! Payback is a mutha!)

My son, Nick and his band are doing well. Falling for Yesterday has quite a following. I am looking forward to the holidays around the corner. Perhaps we get up some Christmas lights before it gets cold. Wednesday nite, I went and watched Jason, my other son-the oldest, do lights at the Mercy Lounge. He did a great job! What a groovy little place. I have heard of it many times but never gone. Met some cool people in the process and one of the members of SKY HIGH band (really good funk/jazz band). My wife and I agreed it was very nice seeing them both together in similar industries.

Well thats about all I can get out of these fingers for the day. I will leave you with one of my favorite crock pot recipes.

Taco Soup (pay no attention to the name, it is really good)
1 can mild chili beans
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of rotel
1 pound of ground beef
1 small pkg of taco seasoning
1 small pkg of ranch dressing
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 bag of Tostidas scoops
Marbled cheese

Brown ground beef and drain. Add ranch and taco seasonings and stir up. Set aside. Add all cans to crock pot. Do not drain the juice from cans. Add ground beef and simmer for 3-4 hrs. Add soup to dish, garnish with cheese and scoops and eat! *variations include substituting mesquite flavorings, navy beans, a dash of sugar or chili seasonings.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today's Child

It is a gorgeous fall morning in downtown Nashville. The trees, burning with rich yellow and orange leaves, shower the autumn landscape. What another great day to be alive. I couldn't help but be thankful for so many gifts and blessings on a morning like this one. I was flooded by several thoughts on the commute into the office.

Amist them all, the one that keeps rising to the top is just to be grateful for the youth, to have a heart for their loss and wondering, to bend an ear to their dreams and woes and to only want the best for them. As a parent, the first instinct is to shield them from any and all harm — but what a horrible disservice that would be. Time passes and so will the guardians. Being from the country, I have watched the newly hatched Monarch butterfly struggle from its chrystalis to be free of its birth and start its new transformed life. I have also watched them die if they were aided by the casual observer who hadn't taken the time to realize what is being witnessed in addition to the struggle necessary to be completed unaided. The butterfly didn't need to be rescued. It wasn't a victim. It just had things it had to go through for the right of being itself.

Isn't it funny how we are all connected somehow. Isn't it terrifying how small the world really is when we notice. Our children, the youth of America are our legacy, our hope and our tomorrow. What are we willing to give up today to ensure that great tomorrow? Are we willing to give ourselves, our patience, our hearts, our disappointments and our dreams? Do we require instant results or success or to be witnesses of either? The sower's job is simply to sow. Another comes to water. Another comes to prune. Another comes to feed and care. We all have roles even when we don't know what they are; but what a grand revelation to understand that we are so much bigger than just ourselves. We all have purpose. We all have destiny. We are all supposed to be here. No, it isn't always pleasant; but as my great grandfather always used to say about road construction, "boy, it don't rain on the job, it rains on you." Isn't it funny how some words come back to you so much later but at just the right time.

I am very thankful for my two boys. Yes, sometimes it hurts to watch them wander or suffer. YES, I know that it works out in the end and that growing requires some necessary pain. That's only healthy. The JOY of watching them come through the forrest, tattered amist the trees is what makes you stand and cheer with bursting lungs. I have often been quoted at "I would never go into battle with somebody without scars." We all need our scars. They mark our progression from one point to the next, they mark our advance or retreat, they remain as that line in the sand underlined by "once upon a time." I already bask in watching them emerge as men of honor, heroes of my future, men of their own tomorrow.

Time marches on craddling today's child. It is we who determine the warmth of the blankets.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"...and I approve this message!

Well today marks the end of the elections. FANTASTIC!!!! Hopefully you got what you voted for and if not, there's always next time. I personally am not sure there was much of a difference in any of them; but that's neither here nor there. MY Number ONE ounce of gratitude right now is the END of those horrible negative ads all summed up by someone saying "I am so-n-so and I approve this message" which already indicates probable cause NOT to vote for that individual. (so-n-so is my southern vernacular for "add your name here") Hmmm....A friend of mine, David Waters, from down in Memphis, TN wrote an article that is worth reading. I will include some of it here for your reading pleasure. Anyway, he makes my point better than I and here it goes....

Let Politicians Know The Feeling Is Mutual
I'm going to miss this congressional election. The dignity with which candidates conducted themselves, especially when referring to their opponents. The restraint candidates showed in refusing to drag their opponents' families and their own families into the fray. The discipline candidates displayed by rejecting the temptation to use religion, race, class or gender to divide us. The frugal spending habits exhibited by each campaign (no wonder we elect people who are so good at balancing budgets). The way the candidates ignored the pleas of high-paid consultants to go negative, insisting that this election be contested with high-minded ideals and appeals to our better angels, not cheap, below-the-belt, if-you-can't-beat-'em-destroy-'em attack ads.

. ...but wait; there's much more! Click here.

I like catch phrases as much as the next chap and I am sure it's there for legal reasons. However; ironicly according to one of those nightly news specials, "the candidates have no idea who is making these ads or what they are going to say. We have hired independent contractors to run that portion of the campaign. We see it when you see it." Hmmm....great, not nearly as cool as David Blane. So who is really getting elected to the office?

WELLLLL (in your best Ronald Reagan voice), I guess we'll just see. I am Maximus Doom and I approve this message.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

For The Love of Utah

I spent Thursday thru Saturday with my lovely wife in a place I would have assumed was mundane and probably boring. Even from the plane ride, the arial view left me just a bit uninspired with its sparse brown landscape dotted with occassional bodies of water and mountains; but I was at least with her. It was the first time I had not traveled with my doggie, Annie, which I had left with my sister back in Nashville. I had slim expectations at best. I WAS WRONG! We had a great time with my wife's long-time friend and husband in the heart of Utah's many pleasantries. We are most thankful for them sharing their family, home and time with us while we were in town.I had some fantastic carrot fries Friday nite at a restaurant called Red Rock in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.

We had fabulous fun shopping at one of the nearby ski lodges (no...I don't ski yet). I clearly was ready to relocate as I took in all the sights, sounds and crisp Utah air. I guess my "metrosexual" tendencies really come out in the presence of fine shopping and dining. There was even a great spa nearby; but even better, a groovy quiet martini bar with a bartender that sounded like Val Kilmer. I shot a round of pool as the girls giggled and chatted over their martinis.

Well, as usual, I couldn't leave a shopping district with absolutely nothing. It was easy to make friends and meet new people as I walked along smiling as is my custom. I met this jolly bloke, Ron at his shoppe Dreaming Down Under nestled among many other very nice little establishments....such as The Flat Goat (which I didn't get to fully explore; too many shoppes, so little time.) Anyway, I don't like hats and have never worn a hat. I have spent many years enjoying the feel of a slick, clean and sometimes, ok, often shiny head—why would I cover it up. Nonetheless, I knew as soon as I tried on this Kangaroo leather dome, it was a sure thing. Ron also played the didgeridoos for us as we completed the purchase. The girls argreed; it was a go! It was clear that I could have stayed there all day. It was also clear I did not need to be there much longer. Anyway, we all had dinner at another fine eating place to finish out the night before retiring.

We had a great time visiting. Amist the work we went to accomplish, all the other things that we managed to fit in made it a perfect getaway. My wife and I work well together, as we were acustomed to doing for many years before we ended up at different venues. Its always comforting for me to look back over our history and be resolved and overjoyed that I kept the best decision I ever made; her heart.

Last in line of a string of typical "us" encounters. We met an internationally-known artist while dining. Rodney Wade came over to say hello to us. He is penned as "The Idealist" I had not heard of him before and of course we yacked for a bit before leaving. He and his buddy, an ex-green beret were definitely an odd couple—which is probably why they were drawn to us. Actually I get a lot of mistaken identity seekers when I travel; so maybe that could have been part of it too. Oh well. Either way, Rodney, the art looks great! I wish you continued success.

Alas it was over. Our time had come to get home. Back to the place our peace begins and resides. We went back over the mountains and over the hills and back to Annie.

Friday, November 03, 2006

No More Airplanes; Goodbye Airlines!

My Thursday began with the normal traffic mayhem of patience over situation; but this time I was headed to the airport. I was bound to Salt Lake City by way of Dallas, TX. It was like deja'vu as I left the ground. I knew that I was riding a dinosaur. I knew that someday I would tell stories to ears much younger of a time people crowded into huge metallic birds to travel places of distance. I knew that amist their ooh's and ahh's; they would hardly believe such a time existed.

I had seen the future. Maybe it was somewhat as Sci-Fi had previewed. There would come a time that air travel would be like getting into your own car with your own drinkholder and favorite CDs. The future would not be so asphalt paved. The yellow lines no longer painted. Evenmore; I realized this as only the beginning. Soon it would be molecular travel; not just across the globe; but the universe. The world as we knew it was in for shocking changes.

How odd it all seemed that we would not destroy ourselves before the pain of staying the same had exceeded our fears of the pain required to change. Change was coming and unlike history previous; it would be drasticly immediate. Those who do not adapt will be mercilessly lost.

Goodbye airlines! The sky is no longer your private domain. We humans will become as the birds ...free to take off at will, stopping and refueling on our own time and pleasure.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Bliss of Innocence

Well, last night was Halloween. A dear friend of mine called on her way home to say Happy Halloween and that she was thinking of me on what once was my "favorite" holiday. She recanted how much I got into dressing in costume and having fun. Alas, it is a "once a time ago" affair whose luster has tarnished. I won't say that I don't like Halloween; just not nearly as much. It seems to me that watching the little children come and go in costumes of their heroes or terrors is just as appealing. They all look so happy. Perhaps if we as adults knew less about life, we would also be just as happy. Ironicly, Christ encourages us to come to Him like the little children—come in our costumes before Him and experience His love in spite of ourselves and self/peer condemnation. The child-like joy and excitement they have when they come in anticipation of receiving treats without any concerns of time before "trick or treat" time or safety or deserving free candy or any of the things we adults so readily become entangled. It is nice to see the little kids with their parents greet you with smiles and friendly words as we all share in the joy of their children's quest for candy; but also the communion of community, the extended sphere. The real thrill will be when they go home and tally up all their loot....or so I remember.

I further believe it is healthy for the kids to express themselves by dressing up in costume and also greeting semi-strangers. It's great for parents to get out with them and begin or become aware of the people around them. My Dad was never around much growing up; he was always working to keep food on the table. We talked about that once as adults. I had told him I would have traded all of that for just time shared with him. He understood as well as I understood what had to be done back then; but it was nice hearing it and it needed to be said. I like holidays for the most part. It always takes me some time at the beginning to back off my negative programming and loathing of the tension that typically comes or I grew up with during holidays. My wife is good on that kind of stuff. She makes it all easier. Personally, the Grench is my hero. In fact, she gave me a foot-tall grench one Christmas that I still have to this day as one of my favorite gifts of all time.

I think it is important that we allow children to be enthrawled with the things of childhood. I know there are a lot of debates about "good" this, "evil" that; but face it, as a parent it is your responsibility to guide your offspring—not cage them. It's make-believe, it's fantasy, it's not real. Children can afford that luxury....at least for a little while; after all, Santa Claus loves everyone—most people cannot say the same. Reality will make its presence dominant soon enough and good fences make good neighbors....so moderation, not excess. But what do I know?