Archive for December, 2006

A Modern Tragedy

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

It is a tragedy of modern times that we do not value teachers enough. Take a look at their pay. It’s pitiful. They are the front line in educating the citizens of tomorrow….the ones who’ll take care of me when I’m old and feeble. Yet as a society, in general, we seem to put such little value on teachers, and pay them poor salaries. Truly they do it out of love, and that’s an admirable quality. I have two sisters who are teachers. One of them wrote the following in an email message recently:

Yesterday afternoon, I was busy correcting personal narratives. I’m checking for things like beginnings that grab the reader’s interest, strong use of details, dialogue, and other criteria. I have a student whose mother was killed in a car accident 17 months ago. He wrote about finding out his mom was dead. His narrative did not met many of the requirements, but how do you grade something so sad and so heartfelt? It made me realize how hard Christmas must be for him. He lives with his grandparents, but his brother lives with his dad. They won’t see each other this Christmas, and I realize just how good I’ve got it. At Christmas, we often get bogged down in a mountain of tasks, but need to remember that we are blessed to be able to complete those tasks, one at a time. And if they don’t all get done…so what? We have the gift of love. We have the gift of family. Nothing else matters. Oh, and the student, with a bit of tweaking on my part, ended up with an “A”.

My sister, as a teacher, has the ability to touch this child, to give them hope, to give them a shoulder to cry on, to lend a kind word, to touch their heart. Why do we not value teachers more, and pay them more. The good ones (and both of my sisters count among those) are not paid nearly enough for what they do. We pay the administrators and the politicians much better, yet they don’t make the difference in one life that an individual teacher can.

Perhaps, if you can read this, you have a teacher to thank. I suggest you do so today, now.

Merry Christmas.

My weird family

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

My family is weird. Definitely weird by today’s standards. I so often hear of families where someone is not speaking to someone over some distant (and often fuzzily defined) issuer. Or families where everyone is divorced and remarried so many times that you need a scorecard. Or families that see each other once every few years, the visits are far between and, when visiting in another city, you stay in a hotel, not at their home.

My family is not like that. They are definitely weird.

Among my brothers and sisters, all are still married to their original spouses, all over 25 years. Definitely weird. Of all my cousins, I think there’s one or maybe two divorces. That’s it. Not a lot of churn. Looking to my mom’s cousins, there is a divorce or two, not much.

My family is so weird. We actually visit each other. No one would think of letting a family member staying in a hotel when visiting. Hospitality reigns. Just in town for a bit? Stop over for dinner, food will magically appear and you’ll eat like a king. Driving through? Stop by, you’ll be welcomed like you’re a king.

Definitely weird.

I am very lucky.

Christmas in the Country

Monday, December 11th, 2006

This isn’t really about Christmas, it’s about country. Country, as in country music. I was thinking about country music yesterday, having spent part of the day watching CMT on TV. What is it about country music that’s touched me lately?

Well, when I look back, there have always been a number of country songs that I’ve enjoyed. Many of them were crossover songs, popular both in the country and in the “pop” world. But it’s more than that. As I’ve listened to more and more country music, I am fascinated by the deep feeling and meaning that many songs have.

When I was younger, I thought all country music was about was drinking, sex, cheating, whiskey, fighting, who’s husband or wife left, etc. But I find that it’s a lot more than that. It’s really more about faith, belief, hope, love, community, thankfulness, sharing, and peace. There are so many great country songs, and so many great country singers. I can’t remember the last time I heard about some pop star donating money to feed starving children or the like–they are most likely to get up on their high horse politically and complain, but do nothing about it. When was the last time you heard about Alec Baldwin or Madonna quietly feeding the hungry, or setting up a fund to house the homeless? Never, that I’ve heard of. If they do something at all, it’s purely for publicity, and only a token effort at that.

Country stars, on the other hand, generally do not get up and speak out politically. (And if they do, they can end up like the Dixie Chics–scorned!). Rather, they seem to act and give and not make a lot of noise about it. I hear from time to time about some of the great things people like Dolly Parton have done. And it’s wonderful. Amazing. Touching. And they don’t do it for publicity, they do it out of love.
I think country music, in essence, speaks of and to the heart and soul of good people everywhere. You don’t have to be a Christian to be touched by the deep faith and belief of many country songs.

So, this Christmas season, I am happy to say that I have a new found appreciation for country music and for all things “country.” So, I guess, I’m having a “country Christmas” this year, and loving every minute of it!

The Real Danger of Electricity

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

There is a real danger to electricity, and I had the chance to ponder on that fact today. Now, when I was a child, my parents taught me to be careful with electricity. I learned to respect that current going through the wires. I learned how to replace a light bulb, how to fix a broken cord or plug, and learned what can happen when you’re not careful. Heck, I learned that last lesson again a few years ago on Christmas eve: I’d fallen asleep on the sofa with all the tree and inside Christmas lights on, and awoke to some sort of noise and what sounded like sparking….I’d overloaded a circuit and the plug in the wall (actually, it was a noise filter) was shooting sparks! I quickly unplugged it and felt the warm cord. Shame on me, I’d overloaded a 5 amp filter with, I’m sure, a lot more than that. The next morning a 10 amp filter was on it’s way, and now I use some heavy duty cords to make sure.

But, I’ve gotten away from the purpose of this post. You see, apparently, I’ve learned nothing about the real danger of electricity. I know this is so because I just spent the last bit of time cutting warning tag after warning tag off of a series of 7 watt lights!  Yes, I have some little village type things I put up every Christmas, and this year I just could not deal with all the warning tags. There were four on each cord! Four! What did they say? Hell if I know, just some sort of warning about the dangers of electricity. Apparently I’m an idiot or a dolt, or just got up from a hundred year nap and don’t know a thing about electricity! Four warning tags! For one 7-watt light!

But the real danger, the REAL danger of electricity, the real danger is when you try to cut those tags off. It’s hard to get a scissors in there, and using a sharp knife is also dangerous–don’t want to cut the cord, right (See, I knew that and yet none of the warning tags warned me about the danger of removing them!)?  So, the real danger of electricity is in removing those unsightly warning tags.

Hey, I wonder… if I’d cut myself while trying to remove a warning tag, could I have sued the maker, because no where did they warn me of the dangers of removing the tag, nor provide any easy means to remove the tag. I’ll bet some lawyer out there would take my case, make it a class action, and walk away with several million dollars. Me? I’d get enough from the lawsuit to buy a box of band-aids!

The Grinch did not steal Christmas!

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Yes, I know, I read the book, too. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Of course, if you remember the ending, who won? Christmas did. And the people of Whoville.

Why am I bringing this up? There are a lot of so-called Politically Correct people out there trying to steal Christmas from us. I’ll admit, it’s a bit better this year, as some major retailers have put Christ back in Christmas, refusing to bow to the pressure to change “Christmas” to Holiday or something else. It’s the Christmas Season, I’m going to do Christmas shopping, I’ll sing and listen to Christmas Music, and I’ll wish people a “Merry Christmas.”

Yes,the Grinch will not win. Actually, it’s the so-called politically correct Grinches that will not win, not if we don’t let them. If you celebrate Christmas, wish me a “Merry Christmas.” If you celebrate Hannukah, I’ll accept your “Happy Hannukah.” If it’s Kwanzaa, “Happy Kwanzaa” greeting are fine by me. Celebrate the holiday you want to celebrate, and I’ll do the same. Just don’t tell me what I can’t celebrate.

It’s December, it’s the Christmas season, and I’ll be wishing you a “Merry Christmas!”