Christmas|Holiday Stories [v10]

DECEMBER 1999

Buon Natale; God Jul; Gloedelig Jul; Bonas Festas; Joyeux Noel…
MERRY CHRISTMAS!! —

This time is like no other during the year…we decorate with lights, trees and ornaments, we play music ‘for the soul’, and we spend hours searching for just the right gift for the special people in our life. Are we in danger of gliding through this important season without really coming to grips with it’s true intent?

Actually, the problem of celebrating Christmas for the right reasons has been around for a long time. There was no ‘official’ celebration of Jesus’ birth until the fourth century. December was likely chosen for this as a way to battle pagan religions that had a winter solstice festival called “Saturnalia”– ensuring widespread observance since the people were already celebrating at that time. However, merely changing the focus didn’t change the way some people celebrated, with just as much drunken revelry, gluttony and carousing as before…and has been happening ever since.

It seems that it’s always been a challenge to recognize Christmas in a way that lifts up its uniquely spiritual content, and to pull away from the cultural trappings that are so easily attached. So what should we do?

There are some simple acts that anyone can do. Share with those that are not as blessed as you are, maintain the highest ethical standards, and be genuinely interested in others by ‘building them up’ honestly and compassionately….show and share love in all situations. It reminds me of a story….

Just a few days before Christmas two ladies stood looking into a department store window at a large display of the manger scene with clay figures of the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the animals.

Disgustedly, one lady said, “Look at that…the church is trying to take advantage of our benevolence and ‘horn in’ on Christmas.

Well, there are many views people have about this ‘season.’ One view is cynically, feeling that it is the most important time of the year to make money and endorse the making of it. Another is graciousness, wishing their fellow citizens joy and peace. And the third is, of course, reverence—and awe that the God of the universe sending His Son as a way of showing His love and concern for man.

So it comes beyond logic…with a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts Himself at our mercy!

So, if we are ‘touched’ only once a year, the touching is still worth it…and maybe on some quiet morning of reflection, the ‘reason’ He came will be clear—-be comforted that He will carry you and all your burdens…..
if you will let Him. [excerpts by Ken Larson]

I wish for you the “peace that transcends all understanding”….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v10) for DECEMBER 1999
(NOTE: Please send your ‘thoughts’ to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net)

Thanx for some of this edition’s material IS GROWING!!! — I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all send it to me…

Thank you’s to everyone that has sent me ‘stuff’ throughout the past year…

Richard Bachman
Lezlie Besh
Brenda Guinn
Bob Hart
Jake Izatt
Jeff and Stacey Jezak
Michelle Jones
Nanci Lewis
Terry Longo
Gail Lutey
Rollie Mossberg
Joe Olson
David Osborne
Joe Roczniak
Bonnie Stephens
John Waskin
Suzie Wilkinson
Karen Williams

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CHRISTMAS SYNONYMS
Translate the following statements back into ‘recognizable’ English—
each one is a common Christmas saying or song (answers at the end)

1. Move hither ward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their belief
2. Listen, the celestial messengers produce harmonious sounds
3. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness
4. An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere
5. Embellish the interior passageways
6. Exalted heavenly beings to whom harkened
7. Twelve o’clock on a clement night witnessed its arrival
8. The Christmas preceding all others
9. Small municipality in Judea southeast of Jerusalem
10. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders
11. Omnipotent supreme being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males
12. Tranquillity upon the terrestrial sphere
13. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals
14. Expectation of arrival to populated area by mythical, masculine perennial gift-giver
15. Natal Celebration devoid of color, rather albino, as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me
16. In awe of the nocturnal time span characterized by religiosity
17. Geographic state of fantasy during the season of mother nature’s dormancy
18. The first person nominative plural of a triumvirate of far eastern heads of state
19. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic, resonant cups
20. In a distant location the existence of an improvised unti of newborn children’s slumber furniture
21. Proceed forth declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation
22. Jovial Yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural by us

[Received from Joe Roczniak]

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TWAS THE NIGHT…..

Whereas, on an occasion immediately preceding the Nativity festival,
throughout a certain dwelling unit, quiet descended, in which could be heard no disturbance, not even the sound emitted by a diminutive rodent related to, and in form resembling, a rat; and

Whereas, the offspring of the occupants had affixed their tubular,
closely knit coverings for the nether limbs to the flue of the fireplace in
expectation that a personage known as St. Nicholas would arrive; and

Whereas, said offspring had become somnolent, and were entertaining re:
saccharine-flavored fruit; and

Whereas, the adult male of the family, et ux, attired in proper headgear, had also become quiescent in anticipation of nocturnal inertia; and

Whereas, a distraction on the snowy acreage outside aroused the owner to
investigate; and

Whereas, he perceived in a most unbelieving manner a vehicle propelled by eight domesticated quadrapeds of a species found in Arctic regions; and

Whereas, a most odd rotund gentleman was entreating the aforesaid animals by their appellations, as follows:

“Your immediate co-operation is requested. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and
Vixen; and collective action by you will be much appreciated, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen”; and

Whereas, subsequent to the above, there occurred a swift descent to the
hearth by the aforementioned gentleman, where he proceeded to deposit gratuities in the aforementioned tubular coverings.

Now, therefore, be ye advised: that upon completion of these acts,
and upon his return to his original point of departure, he proclaimed
a felicitation of the type prevalent and suitable to these occasions, i.e.,

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

[forwarded by Steve Roder]

*****************************
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except Papa’s mouse.
The computer was humming, the icons were hopping,
As Papa did last minute Internet shopping.

The stockings were hung by the modem with care
In hope that St. Nicholas would bring new software.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of computer games danced in their heads.

PageMaker for Billy, and Quicken for Dan,
And Carmen Sandiego for Pamela Ann.
The letters to Santa had been sent out by Mom,
To santaclaus@toyshop.northpole.com –

Which has now been re-routed to Washington State
Because Santa’s workshop has been bought by Bill Gates.
All the elves and reindeer have had to skedaddle
To flashy new quarters in suburban Seattle.

After centuries of a life that was simple and spare,
St. Nicholas is suddenly a new billionaire,
With a shiny red Porsche in the place of his sleigh,
And a house on Lake Washington that’s just down the way

From where Bill has his mansion. The old fellow preens
In black Gucci boots and red Calvin Klein jeans.
The elves have stock options and desks with a view,
Where they write computer code for Johnny and Sue.

No more dolls or toy soldiers or little toy drums (ahem – pardon me)
No more dolls or tin soldiers or little toy drums
Will be under the tree, only compact disk ROMS
With the Microsoft label. So spin up your drive,
From now on Christmas runs only on Win95.

More rapid than eagles the competitors came,
And Bill whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, ADOBE! Now, CLARIS! Now, INTUIT! too,
Now, APPLE! and NETSCAPE! you are all of you through,

It is Microsoft’s SANTA that the kids can’t resist,
It’s the ultimate software with a traditional twist –
Recommended by no less than the jolly old elf,
And on the package, a picture of Santa himself.

Get ’em young, keep ’em long, is Microsoft’s scheme,
And a merger with Santa is a marketer’s dream.
To the top of the NASDAQ! to the top of the Dow!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away – wow!”

And Mama in her ‘kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
The whir and the hum of our satellite platter,

As it turned toward that new Christmas star in the sky,
The SANTALITE owned by the Microsoft guy.
As I sprang from my bed and was turning around,
My computer turned on with a Jingle-Bells sound.

And there on the screen was a smiling Bill Gates
Next to jolly old Santa, two arm-in-arm mates.
And I heard them exclaim in voice so bright,
Have a Microsoft Christmas, and to all a good night.

*****************************
‘Twas the night before Jesus came…and all through the house,
Not a creature was praying…not one in the house.

Their Bibles were lain…on the shelf without care,
In hopes that Jesus…would not come in there.

The children were dressing…to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling…or bowing a head.

And Mom in her rocker…with baby on her lap,
Was watching the Late Show…while I took a nap.

When out of the East…there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet…to see what was the matter.

Away to the window…I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters…and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes…should appear,
But angels proclaiming…that Jesus was here.

With a light like a sun…sending forth a bright ray,
I knew in a moment…that this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face…made me cover my head,
It was Jesus returning…just like He had said.

And though I possessed…worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him…in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life…which He held in His hand,
Was written the name…of every saved man.

He spoke not a word…as He searched for my name;
When He said, “It’s not here,”…my head hung in shame.

The people whose names…had been written in love,
He gathered to take…to His Father above.

With those who were ready…He rose without sound,
While all of the rest…were left standing around.

I fell to my knees,…but it was too late;
I has waited too long…and thus sealed my fate.

I stood and I cried…as they rose out of sight,
Oh, if only…I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem…the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus…is soon drawing near.

There’s only one life…and when comes the last call–
We’ll find that the Bible…was true after all!

*****************************
THE JOURNEY…

Their journey would have taken most of a year at best, likely longer. Tradition claims there were three wise men, or Magi. If there were indeed three of these men, advisors to the royal court, the group traveling with them would have been at least forty men strong. There would have been cooks, and soldiers. There would be someone with some medical experience. There must have been a number of animals loaded with food and valuable items to use for barter for more food. It must have been quite an entourage.

They would have come from the area of the old Babylonian Empire making the trip hundreds of miles through rough terrain and desert. This trip was not free of danger. The group made this journey in peril of their lives from bands of robbers and thugs who might attack the convoy of mules and horses and men on foot. There was also harsh weather, injury and disease to contend with living in the open as well.

So why did they come? What could motivate men who lived the life of ancient court to literally put their lives on the line to make this trek? They would be gone for about two years of their lives living in far less than luxurious conditions. At least some of these Magi were court astronomers. They had seen a new star in the sky over Judea. Changes in the heavens were often considered omens. After some research, someone had come across the ancient texts left by Daniel centuries before. God’s hand is seen in the capture and exile of the Jewish people into Babylon. Daniel had been an enormous influence in the kingdom; he had left his mark.

It is interesting that no one in Judea had made the connection of the new star with the Messiah. Within a few short years of the birth of Jesus, the Roman Empire had subjugated the region. The power of self-rule had been taken from the leadership of Israel. Another interesting note was that they no longer held the power to impose the death sentence on a criminal. That sentence had to be issued by Rome, as it would be some 33 years later to an itinerant Rabbi named Jesus bar Joseph. The Chief Priest had gone wailing through the streets with his robes torn mourning that the Word of God had been broken. The scepter had been taken from Israel before the Messiah had come. It should have been a sign that Messiah was here, but that thought was missed just like the star.

God had moved Daniel, and Daniel remained faithful. Daniel had left his mark of faith and moved the Magi centuries later to announce to the world that a new King was born.

[Mike Hoskins]

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IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

Many years ago an eight-year-old American girl wrote, with her father’s help, a letter to the editor of the New York Sun in which she asked, “Is there really a Santa Claus?” An open letter in reply was published – the now famous “Answer to Virginia” It was written by a hitherto unremarkable reporter named, Frank Church,

The reply has become one of the most famous editorials ever written. It has been reprinted millions of times in more than 20 languages. So here it is again. You may like to read it to your children or grandchildren. The sentiments are as true now as they ever were.

“Virginia; your little friends were wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they are men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist and you know that they abound and give to your life it’s highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childish faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not? But that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside, that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God, he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia — nay, ten times ten thousand years from now – he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

[Frank Church]

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BreakPoint Commentary #91130 – 11/30/1999
Not By Might or Power: Why We Need Christ
by Charles Colson
http://www.breakpoint.org

In the last few weeks the newspapers have been full of stories about sexual misconduct–and conservatives are horrified.  We’re shocked because the titillating exposes involve, not Hollywood stars but prominent conservative leaders.

Among them is Newt Gingrich, who is embroiled in a nasty divorce case.  Court documents reveal that, at the same time he was espousing family values, he himself was involved in a secret extra-marital affair.

Then came the explosive charges involving George Roche, president of Hillsdale College.  According to press reports, Roche carried on a two-decade affair with his daughter-in-law, Lisa, who was also Roche’s personal assistant.  The ugly story came out after Lisa tragically committed suicide.

Many Christians are deeply troubled by these events.  They’re asking, how can people stand for high moral principles and then behave this way?  Are we all hypocrites?

I think an experience I had with George Roche may help us understand what’s going on.

A few years ago, I spoke on the subject of ethics at one of Hillsdale’s national conferences.  I took Dostoevsky’s famous question, “Can man be good without God?,” as the title of my lecture.  I argued that man cannot be good without God, that the human will is rebellious, and that only the power of God’s Spirit can enable us to live a moral and righteous life.

Afterwards, Lisa Roche called to tell me that George Roche wanted to publish the address in a school periodical.  When I received the edited version of the speech, I was dismayed to find that all references to Jesus had been eliminated.  I called Lisa to protest and she told me that it was
their policy not to use the Lord’s name in any of their publications.  My response was, “Then forget about publishing the speech.”

After lengthy negotiations, George Roche agreed to let me make two references to Jesus Christ.

I think the title of my speech, “Can Man Be Good Without God?” turned out, sadly, to be prophetic–and maybe helps us understand this tragedy.

What Roche was trying to do at Hillsdale, as I understand it, was to create a strong pro-family, pro-traditional values institution, but keep it secular.
Many politicians try to do the same thing, giving us the impression that we can create a good and just society on our own, without reference to a transcendent moral authority, and sustain it on our own strength–that is, apart from Jesus.  But it just doesn’t work.

And when some do fail, as they inevitably will, their example can be especially dangerous, because Americans are tempted to conclude that if the
strongest and best can’t make it, what hope is there for ordinary citizens?

In reality, these very public moral failures illuminate what scripture teaches about the weakness of the human will: It is naturally prone to sin–and that’s true, even among those who espouse the most powerful pro-family teachings.  The human will is not strong enough to maintain a life of decency and morality apart from the transforming of that will by the power of Christ.

No amount of disciplined education, political programming, congressional funding, or sheer determination will do it.

Without the help of the living Christ, even the most powerful among us is potentially nothing more than the next moral embarrassment waiting to happen.

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YOU ARE VXRY IMPORTANT

Xvxn though this typxwritxr is an old modxl, it works
vxry wxll, xxcxpt for onx kxy. You’d think that with all
thx othhxr kxys working, onx kxy would hardly bx
noticxd. But just onx kxy out of whack sxxms to ruin
thx wholx xffort.

Havx you xvxr said to yoursxlf, “I’m only onx pxrson.
No onx will noticx if I don’t do my bxst.”

But it doxs makx a diffxrxncx, bxcausx to bx xffxctivx,
a family, an organization, a church or a businxss
nxxds complxtx participation by evxryonx to thx bxst
of his or hxr ability.

So if you’rx having onx of thosx days whxn you think
you just arxn’t vxry important, and you’rx txmptxd to
slack off, rxmxmbxr this old typxwritxr. You arx a kxy
pxrson, and whxn you don’t do your bxst, nothing xlsx
around you works out thx way it’s supposxd to.

[Dick Innes]

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THE NATIVITY SCENE

A 7-year old child was drawing a picture of the Nativity.  The picture was very good, including Mary, Joseph and, of course, baby Jesus.

However, there was a fat man standing in the corner of the stable, that just did not seem to fit in. When the child was asked about it, she replied, “Oh, That’s Round John Virgin.”

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A SOUTHERN NATIVITY SCENE

In a small Southern town there was a “Nativity Scene” that showed great
skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered
me. The three wise men were wearing firemen’s helmets. Totally unable to
come up with a reason or explanation, I left. At a “Quik Stop” on the
edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets. She
exploded into a rage, yelling at me, “You darn Yankees never do read the
Bible!” I assured her that I did, but simply couldn’t recall anything
about firemen in the Bible. She jerked her Bible from behind the counter
and ruffled thru some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage.
Sticking it in my face she said “See, it says right here, ‘The three
wise man came from afar’.”

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SEASONAL QUESTIONS

What do they call Santa’s helpers?
Subordinate Clauses

What do you call Santa Clause after he’s fallen into a fireplace?
Krisp Kringle

Who sings “Love Me Tender,” and makes Christmas toys?
Santa’s little Elvis

Which of Santa’s reindeers needs to mind his manners the most?
“Rude”olph

What did the Gingerbread Man put on his bed?
A cookie sheet

What reindeer has the cleanest antlers?
Comet

What is the cow’s holiday greeting?
Mooooory Christmas

What does Santa like to eat?
A jolly roll

Where do Santa’s reindeers like to stop for lunch?
Deery Queen

What does Santa say when he is sick?
OH OH NO!

If athletes get athlete’s foot, what do astronauts get?
Missile toe

How does Santa Claus take pictures?
With his North Pole-aroid

What do you call a cat on the beach at Christmas time?
Sandy Claus

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IMMEDIATE DOWNSIZING MEASURES EMPLOYED

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the
early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern
about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring
decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining is due to the North Pole’s loss of dominance of the season’s
gift distribution business. Home shopping channels, the Internet, and mail
order catalogs have diminished Santa’s market share. He could not sit idly
by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late
model Japanese sled for the CEO’s annual trip. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer–who summered at the Harvard Business School–is anticipated. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has received unfavorable press.

I am pleased to inform you that Rudolph’s role will not be disturbed.
Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies,
in the strongest possible language, the earlier leak that Rudolph’s nose
got that way, not from the cold, but from substance abuse.  Calling Rudolph “a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load” was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa’s helpers and
taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under
executive stress.

Today’s global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for
better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following
economic measures are to take place in the “Twelve Days of Christmas”
subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be
the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant,
providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost-effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the
French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system,
with a call-waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the
birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors.
Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative
implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other
precious metals as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks
appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per
goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese
will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel
will assure management that from now on every goose it obtains will be more productive.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times.
Their function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their out placement.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy
scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being
sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring, or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be
phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords plus the expense of
international air travel prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest
replacing this group with ten out-of-work Congresspersons. While leaping
ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we
expect an oversupply of unemployed Congresspersons this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on
new music, and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and
other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day,
service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorney’s association seeking expansion
to include the legal profession (“thirteen lawyers-a-suing”), action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in
the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request
management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is
the most efficient number.

[forwarded by Leonard Gresens]

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This only takes 30 seconds. Work this out as you read.
Don’t read the bottom until you’ve worked it out!

1. First, pick the number of evenings per week that you
would like to eat out.
2. Multiply this number by 2.
3. Add 5.
4. Multiply it by 50 (where’s that calculator?)
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1749.
If you haven’t, add 1748.
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should now have a three digit number:

The first digit of this was your original number i.e. how
many times you want to go out each week).

The second two digits are your age.

This is the only year (1999) it will ever work, so spread the
fun around while it lasts!

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WHAT WE PROJECT

Jim DeLoach tells the following story: “A little boy in a fit of anger shouted at his mother that he hated her. Then, perhaps fearing punishment, he ran to a steep cliff near their house and shouted into the valley, ‘I hate you, I hate you!’ Back from the valley came an echo, ‘I hate you, I hate you!’

“Startled at this, the boy ran into the house and told his mother that there was a mean little boy who lived in the valley who shouted at him, ‘I hate you, I hate you!’

“His mother took him back to the hillside and told him to shout, ‘I love you, I love you!’

“When he did, back came the reply, ‘I love you, I love you!'”

What we project is what we get back. We do reap what we sow. . .even if it is eventually.

[Dick Innes]

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THE TWELVE THANK-YOU NOTES OF CHRISTMAS

My dearest darling Edward, Dec 25
What a wonderful surprise has just greeted me! That sweet partridge, in that lovely little pear-tree; what an enchanting, romantic, poetic present!
Bless you, and thank you.
Your deeply loving
Emily

Beloved Edward, Dec 26
The two turtle-doves arrived this morning, and are cooing away in the pear-tree as I write. I’m so touched and grateful!
With undying love, as always,
Emily

My darling Edward, Dec 27
You do think of the most original presents! Who ever thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all the way from France? It’s a pity we have no chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Anyway, thank you so much; they’re lovely.
Your devoted Emily

Dearest Edward, Dec 28
What a surprise! Four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly–they make telephoning almost impossible–but I expect they’ll calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very grateful, of course I am.
Love from Emily

Dearest Edward, Dec 29
The mailman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly! A really lovely present! Lovelier, in a way, than birds, which do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid none of us got much sleep last night. Mother says she wants to use the rings to “wring” their necks. Mother has such a sense of humor. This time she’s only joking, I think, but I do know what she means. Still, I love the rings.
Bless you,
Emily

Dear Edward, Dec 30
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese laying eggs all over the porch. Frankly, I rather hoped that you had stopped sending me birds. We have no room for them, and they’ve already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but let’s call a halt, shall we?
Love,
Emily

Edward, Dec 31
I thought I said NO MORE BIRDS. This morning I woke up to find no more than seven swans, all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not think what’s happened to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds, to say nothing of what they leave behind them, so please, please, stop!
Your Emily

Edward, Jan 1
Frankly, I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids? And their cows! Is this some kind of a joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.
Emily

Look here, Edward, Jan 2
This has gone far enough. You say you’re sending me nine ladies dancing. All I can say is, judging from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless viragos, with nothing on but their lipstick, cavorting round the green, and it’s Mother and I who get the blame. If you value our friendship, which I do (less and less), kindly stop this ridiculous behavior at once!
Emily

Jan 3
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing up and down all over what used to be the garden, before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it. And several of them, I have just noticed, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbors are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.
Emily

Jan 4
This is the last straw! You know I detest bagpipes! The place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse, and a man from the council has just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mother has been spared this last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an
ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.

Sir, Jan 5
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival on her premises at 7:30 this morning of the entire percussion section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and several of their friends, she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent you importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock. I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
G. Creep
Attorney at law

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Few things last forever, especially in the new condition that they are given. The day after Christmas, pieces are missing, batteries are worn out, things are showing signs of wear.

We shop and shop and shop til we drop, but sometimes we buy things that are the wrong size, off-color, or unwanted by the recipient. Once in a while we even forget to buy for someone on our list.

The stores are crowded, playing tinny music; things are picked over, twice-dropped. People are crabby, overspent, tired, and singing “Joy to the World”.

I thought about all of this and wondered why we bother. Nothing I can give can top the gift that God gave to me; the day that He created the world, stepped off His throne and formed Adam with His hands, He knew that He would have to step out of Heaven once again and use His hands to give life to the whole world.

His gift is the right size, right color, always in style, fresh every day and no one is forgotten. It’s from His heart, not out of duty or obligation. He loves each one of us so very much. We don’t deserve Him, but He gives us His presence to dwell within us forever and forever.

So, sit down, put your feet up, open a Good Book and discover for Yourself that the best gift was already given.

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On Christmas day, a little girl is sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly notices that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looks at her mother and inquisitively asks, “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.”

The little girl thought about this revelation for a while, went into the dining room, looked around, and then came back and said, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

[Submitted by John M. Walls]

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THE STRANGER

At Christmas time there was a man who looked so out of place as people rushed about him at a hurried sort of pace. He stared at all the Christmas lights, the tinsel everywhere, the shopping center Santa Claus, with children gathered near. The Mall was packed with shoppers, who were going to and fro, some with smiles and some with frowns and some too tired to go.

They rested on the benches or they hurried on their way, to fight the crowd for purchases to carry home that day. The music from a stereo was playing loud and clear Of Santa Claus, and snowmen, and a funny nosed reindeer.

He heard the people talk about the good times on the way, of parties, fun and food galore, and gifts exchanged that day. “I’d like to know what’s going on,” the man was heard to say, “There seems to be some sort of celebration on the way.

And would you tell me who this is, all dressed in red and white? And why are children asking HIM about a special night?” The answer came in disbelief; “I can’t believe my ears! I can’t believe you do not know that Christmas time is here.

The time when Santa comes around with gifts for girls and boys, when they’re asleep on Christmas Eve, he leaves them books and toys.” “The man you see in red and white is Santa Claus, so sly. The children love his joyful laugh and twinkle in his eye.

His gift packed sleigh is pulled along by very small reindeer as he flies quickly through the air, while darting here and there.” “The children learn of Santa Claus while they are still quite small. When Christmas comes, HE is the most important one of all!”

The stranger hung his head in sorrow; he closed a nail pierced hand. His body shook in disbelief, He did not understand. A shadow crossed his stricken face; his voice was low but clear, “After all these years, they still don’t know,” and Jesus shed a tear.

[Received from Suzie Wilkinson]

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JUST WONDERING…

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple or pine in pineapple. And while no one knows what is in a hot-dog, you can be pretty sure it isn’t canine.

English muffins were not invented in England nor French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, two meese? Is cheese the plural of choose? One mouse, 2 mice. One louse, 2 lice. One house, 2 hice?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Why do people recite at a play, and play at a recital?  Ship by truck or car and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?  Park on driveways and drive on parkways?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

How can the weather be hot as heck one day and cold as heck another? When a house burns up, it burns down.  You fill in a form by filling it out and an alarm clock goes off by going on.  You get in and out of a car, yet you get on and off a bus.  When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?

English is a silly language … it doesn’t know if it is coming or going!!!

[Received from Richard Bachman]

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AND…AFTER THE HOLIDAY…

Twas the night before finals, and all through the college,
The students were praying for last minute knowledge.
Most were quite sleepy, but none touched their beds,
While visions of essays danced in their heads.

In my own apartment, I had been pacing,
And dreaded exams I soon would be facing.
My roommate was speechless, his nose in his books,
And my comments to him drew unfriendly looks.
I drained all the coffee, and brewed a new pot,
No longer caring that my nerves were shot.

I stared at my notes, but my thoughts were muddy,
My eyes went a blur, I just couldn’t study.
“Some pizza might help,” I said with a shiver,
But each place I called refused to deliver.
I’d nearly concluded that life was too cruel,
With futures depending on grades had in school.

When all of a sudden, our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put-It-Off ambled inside.
Her spirit was careless, her manner was mellow,
She wore a white toga, she started to bellow:
“What kind of student would make such a fuss,
To toss back at teachers what they tossed at us?”

“On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes! On last year’s exams!
On Wingit and Slingit, and last minute crams!”
Her message delivered, she vanished from sight,
But we heard her laughing outside in the night.
“Your teachers have pegged you, so just do your best.
Happy finals to all, and to all, a good test!”

[forwarded by Carie Klassen]

*****************************
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.  We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.  We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.  We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.  We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.  We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.  We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.  We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.  These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

[George Carlin]

*****************************
If you rearrange the letters in the phrase,
“Year Two Thousand”…..

you can get…..

“A year to shut down”

[Bob A]

*****************************
FOR THE HOLIDAY’S…

“And what will you do when you grow up to be as big as me?” asked the
father of his little son.

“Diet.”

*****************************
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God even when He is silent.

[Scrawled on a wall where Jews had hidden in WW II]

*****************************
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas—oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it: overspending; the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma; the gifts given in desperation because
you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings
seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids–all kids–and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition—one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

[forwarded by Gabe Combs]

*****************************
GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
By Rose (age 22)

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late;
And so I pray, and calmly wait.

I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought,
But leave my prayers with Him alone.
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.

[Submitted by Tracy Shepard]

*****************************
SING WE NOW OF CHRISTMAS/EMMANUEL

Sing we now of Christmas/
Sing we all Noel/
Of the Lord and Savior/
We the tidings tell/
Sing we Noel/
For Christ the King is born/
Sing we Noel/
For Christ our Lord is born/

Angels from on high/
May shepherds come and see/
He’s born in Bethlehem/
A blessed family/
Glory to God/
For Christ out King is born/
Glory to God/
For Christ our Lord is born/

Sing we now of Christmas/
Sing we all Noel/
Sing we now of Christmas/
Sing we all Noel/
Sing we all Noel/

Emmanuel, Emmanuel/
Emmanuel, Emmanuel/
Wonderful Counselor/
Lord of Life, Lord of All/
He is the prince of peace/
Mighty God, Holy One/
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

[From the “Christmastime” album by Michael W. Smith]

*****************************
Answers to the ‘translations’:

1. O Come All Ye Faithful
2. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
3. Silent Night
4. Joy to the World
5. Deck the Halls
6. Angels We Have Heard on High
7. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
8. The First Noel
9. O Little Town of Bethlehem
10. Little Drummer Boy
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
12. Peace on Earth
13. Frosty the Snowman
14. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
15. White Christmas
16. O Holy Night
17. Winter Wonderland
18. We Three Kings of Orient Are
19. Jingle Bells
20. Away in a Manger
21. Go Tell It on the Mountain
22. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

I WISH YOU TIDINGS OF GOOD CHEER, JOY, AND THE PEACE THAT TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING….

Mark

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