Tag Archives: Life

Your Christmas Tree

What will you find,

Underneath your tree?

Will there be presents,

For you and for me?

 

Will there be games,

Or a train set for you?

Did you speak to Santa.

So he knows what to do?

 

I wished and I prayed,

That Joy would be there.

Nestled beneath,

The world would be fair.

 

The morning was bright,

The tree stood up tall.

And just below its branches,

Was Peace for us all!

Santa Claus is Dead?

 

This is one of my favourite Christmas stories that I have written and also one of my most popular posts.  I hope you enjoy it.

‘Santa Claus is dead.’

When Sebastian Phillips finished writing that phrase on his bulletin board, he turned around to see what the reaction had been on his students. He was not disappointed.    Because this was a first-year philosophy course he expected them to be a little green when it came to abstract ideas.  After all they were just kids.  Truth be told, Professor N. Sebastian Phillips wasn’t all that much older than his students.

When he looked around the room Sebastian saw surprise, humour and perhaps disbelief, it was also very quiet.  Here he was, a college professor talking about a white haired, fat man in a red suit as if he were real.  Well real and dead.

“When you signed up for this course, I am quite sure you were not expecting to talk about a symbol for a religious holiday that has come to mean the excesses of commercialism that are rampant in our society.”

Sebastian looked out at his students.  They seemed relieved; this was more like it.

“Santa Claus does exist.”

Now Sebastian heard a few giggles and was that a grunt?

“Professor, those two statements cannot both be correct. There either is a Santa Claus for isn’t there? I mean really! ”

Sebastian grinned, “Actually they can Adam. A thing can only be dead if it first existed. “

“Come on Professor there is no Santa Claus!  That is only a marketing gimmick to get parents to buy more for their kids. Commercialism at its best:  vulgar!” These words were spoken by a young woman with an earring in her nose and one in her belly button which flashed every time she turned around.

“Well Cindy, yes and no.”

At this point the room erupted in confusion. A great many of the students were arguing about the wisdom of using symbols, some about the evils of commercialism in general and the western world’s corruption of money in particular.  Sebastian noted which students seemed to think he was demented and which students were curious.  Curious minds are open minds.

Very quietly Professor Phillips spoke.  “Amanda did you believe in Santa Claus as a child?”

The room was suddenly quiet. Everyone turned and looked at Amanda, eager to learn her answer. The professor had chosen to ask the one person in the room who appeared normal.  She was conservatively dressed with no strange piercings throughout her body.  She also preferred to observe any heated discussions without actually joining in.

“Amanda . . .” her professor coached.

“Yes.” Was the quiet response.

“And how did you feel when you learned that the jolly man in a red suit was just a marketing ploy.”

The answer was a few minutes in coming and it was not the answer everyone was expecting.  “I still believe in Santa Claus and I do not believe he is dead professor.”

For the second time that morning there was complete silence in the room, a stunned silence.

And then there was pandemonium.  Only snippets of conversations could be heard.  “I always knew that woman was nuts!”  Geez I wish I had taken a mathematics course, that would of made sense.” “It is going to be a very long day.”  “Do you want to go to the pub afterwards I think I could use a drink?”  “I don’t know who is more insane: that Amanda chick or that Professor?”

Professor Phillips let the arguments roll about the room for several minutes. During this time Amanda just sat and looked at her hands as if she was too timid to become involved in a conversation she had helped to create.

“Okay everybody pipe down, you have had your little discussions and each one of them has some sort of validity.  Problem is you’re not listening.  Does Santa Claus exist?  Yes.  Does he exist as a fat, old man in a red suit?  Yes.  That guy in the red suit is on every corner in the Western world ringing a bell and selling products. Something can exist in more than one embodiment.  We see the jolly, old fella and we equate him with shopping at Christmas.  Do you know where the idea for Santa Claus came from?  Amanda might.  Because she alone seems to understand what Santa Claus represents, and who he is.  Let me tell you a little story.”

“In a coastal town called Patra, in what is now Turkey, in the year 260 AD a child was born.  His name was Nicholas.  His parents were taken from him when he was a child and yet he still grew up with a generosity of spirit and a love of children. He was a rich young man who tried to use his money to give other people happiness.  He did ‘good’ in secret. Eventually he became known as St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and his generosity continued.”

“Over the centuries St. Nicholas has become beloved by many religions.  Our Western tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas originated with St. Nicholas.  His faith and his actions make remembering him more important even in our day and age. He is our Santa Claus and people need to remember him.  In essence it is his spirit of giving that is behind our traditions at Christmas.  The spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well.”

“A beautiful character is more powerful and more memorable to more people than any marketing ploy or religious dogma.  Santa Claus, even if he comes in the guise of a human being, is still the loving spirit of the good Nicholas. Santa Claus does exist and should continue to exist for as long as we remember what he stands for.”

There was total silence in the room.  Not a single student had a humorous quip, or disparaging remark to make.  In fact, when Sebastian looked around the room he saw only understanding and awe. Finally, these supposedly well-educated young adults had picked up on something that all children knew from a very young age: if you believe, it will endure.

“Class dismissed.”

Sebastian smiled to himself and started to gather up his books and notes. The class had gone well, better than he’d expected.  But the year was getting on and there are places he needed to be so he was going to have to tender his resignation and move on.  But at that point Sebastian realized that not every student had left the room. He looked up.

“Amanda, how can I help you?”

“Professor Phillips you haven’t been completely honest with us, have you?  I know that Santa Claus exists and not as the jolly, red suited man, but rather as St. Nicholas.  You see my family can trace its roots back to that same town in which St. Nicholas was born.  As a matter of fact, we’ve kept a very close watch throughout the years on the descendants of that family.  It has always been the responsibility of my family to ensure that yours is protected.  I’m surprised you didn’t know that.  What’s your first name Professor Phillips?”

“Yes, I thought perhaps you did know,” Sebastian’s grin was even more pronounced. You know I won’t be here next week.  I have a lot of preparing to do and Christmas is not far away. And yes, I am St. Nick. ”

 

The end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A World in Crisis

 

As most of you know, those that follow me regularly, I am a Canadian. With that title comes some responsibility. We are known for being polite and kind and inoffensive. If you would indulge me for a few moments I would like to step outside my comfort zone and get a few things off my chest.

ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME!  Whew! That felt better. What will follow is a little rant. No, it’s a big rant. It is a global rant. I am somewhat annoyed. Am I allowed to say: pissed off? My mother would not be pleased. This may be the only time I will ever say that I am happy my parents are not still alive. Because this crap-fest would probably kill them.

In early March of 2020, the world was introduced to a deadly pandemic. We were frightened and rightly so. People were dying. A lot of people were dying. So, we did what we needed to do. We locked down, stepped away from our lives, our loved ones, our friends. We learned what social distancing meant and we adhered to it strictly. We washed our hands constantly and we did everything we could, to lessen the impact of this global crisis. And we did.  Some parts of the world were able to flatten the curve as they say. Canada is in ok shape. We are in no way out of danger but some areas of our large country have very few cases of Covid. Why? Because they took it seriously and when the curve flattened, they kept on taking it seriously.

New York City showed us just how bad it could be. It was terrifying. But they took action. It was strict, it was drastic and it worked.  A number of countries around the world have made a difference. Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam,  Cambodia, Australia, Nigeria.   In some cases, it’s because it’s a smaller country and they’re able to control things better. In some cases, it’s because they understand the need for diligence. And it can’t just be a government ordering people to do the right thing, it has to be the people as well. Individuals have to be involved; they have to do the work. They have to wash their hands, wear their masks, be adult about it!

And people did what needed to be done, in the beginning. And then they started to scream human rights and nonsense about measures not working. They didn’t want to wear their masks even though if you have eyes, ears and a brain you can see that it does work. There is proof all over the world that it does work. The strict measures made a difference. But there will always be a certain element of stupidity in our societies. Mostly it is amusing but not deadly. Now it is killing people.

Kids, young adults are complaining that they need to see their friends so they go to a party with 100 people. And 15 people come away with Covid and pass it on to their friends and family in their little bubbles. And they in turn pass it off to strangers in the grocery store or in the bank. And before you know it, we have a Covid Tsunami. All because some idiot wanted to go to a party. And how many people will lose their lives because of that stupid party? And the ones that went to it might never know what they have done. And that angers me. I want to take their smug little faces and run it into the caskets of those who die.

I chose to go into my apartment and stay put in March 2020. I am not one of the ones that is beleaguered and suffering because I have to be on my own. I have a TV, a computer, a phone, books. I can amuse myself just fine. I visit with friends and family via Zoom or Skype or FaceTime or just the phone. But I am protecting them and I am protecting myself. I’d rather be part of the solution then part of the problem.

For now, our world is in crisis and I do hope we will all survive it. But we won’t. We are going to lose a lot. It is believed one third of the world’s population was infected in the 1918 Flu Pandemic.  They lost at least 50 million people. The world population at the time?  1.8 Billion.  Today the world stands at 7.8 Billion.  Those infected? 58,260,174.  Deaths? 1,383,349. (as of 21/11/20 1:11pm)

Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters, Cousins, Friends. Dead.

Rant concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few examples

 

Cases of Covid             Population (millions)

Tanzania                     509                                      60+

Thailand                  3,902                                      70 +

Vietnam                  1,306                                       97+

Cambodia                  305                                       17+

Australia              27,806                                       25+

Nigeria                 65,982                                     208+

 

Information from:  http://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?

Auto Correct

  1. Auto correct

For sometime now I have been threatening to write ups about auto correct. Guess what today is? I Wai type using a set of headphones and a program that prints what I say. I must speak clearly and enunciate correctly. But I also must contend with the nefarious auto correct. It doesn’t always like what I say nor does it know the difference between 22 and two or which witch is which. It amuses me and it frustrates me.

There is a wonderful joke I remember about a woman who is texting her boss to say that she is home sick with a cold. The auto correct sent the message at home in bed with a clown. I laughed myself silly. Now I will admit that day I am being super careful to see how much I can get out correctly. And wouldn’t you know it, today the auto car seems to be taking a break. I spoke too soon but we all go through this.

I was doing an art show a few years ago and they asked me for a bit of a biography. Where did I get my ideas for painting and so on. I wrote about how I had canoed in northern Ontario and swim in the ocean off the Atlantic provinces. And you see auto corrected exactly what someone did to my biography. Instead of using the word swim, no my dictation will not take it. There are three chances, I said tenses: swim, swim, swim. Nope my dictation will not take it. So what I’m going to do is I am going to take this a few paragraphs and correct them. Some of the errors are AutoCorrect and some of the errors are my dictation program refusing to recognize words.

Does this frustrate me? Yes. But life is a continual speedbump. Some of them are easy to step over and some are a challenge. But it sure as hell ain’t boring!

 

2 . AutoCorrect

For some time now I have been threatening to write a post about AutoCorrect. Guess what today is? I am typing using a set of headphones and a program that prints what I say. I must speak clearly and enunciate correctly. But I also must contend with the nefarious AutoCorrect. It doesn’t always like what I say nor does it know the difference between to, too and two or which witch is which. It amuses me and it frustrates me.

There is a wonderful joke I remember about a woman who is texting her boss to say that she is home in bed sick with a cold. The AutoCorrect sent the message “at home in bed with a clown”. I laughed myself silly. Now I will admit that today I am being super careful to see how much I can get out correctly. And wouldn’t you know it, today the Autocorrect seems to be taking a break. I spoke too soon but we’ll all get through this.

I was doing an art show a few years ago and they asked me for a bit of a biography. Where did I get my ideas for painting and so on? I wrote about how I have canoed in northern Ontario and swum in the ocean off the Atlantic provinces. And AutoCorrect did exactly what someone did to my biography. Instead of using the word swum, they used swam.  There are three tenses: swim, swam, swum. My dictation will not take it and neither will AutoCorrect. So, I am going to take these few paragraphs and correct them. Some of the errors are AutoCorrect and some of the errors are my dictation program refusing to recognize words.

Does this frustrate me? Yes. But life is a continual set of speed bumps. Some of them are easy to step over and some are a challenge. But it sure as hell ain’t boring!

 

 

 

Merriam Webster says:

 

Swim is an irregular verb; swam is the past tense of swim, while swum is the past participle. Swum is used after have, as in “I have swum in that pool before.”

 

Awkward

 

We have all had those moments that are a little, well, awkward. Sometimes they are funny moments, even endearing.  Sometimes you want the world to end to hide your shame. When I think of that word, I always think of an incident involving a stage, an audience and a pair of fishnet stockings. I jest not.

Before you get too far down that rabbit hole, let me explain. It was part of an avant-garde play I was doing in University. The majority of the characters spent their time hiding behind wooden boxes and would jump up and sit on a box to say their lines and then hide again. Think of a Jack-in-the-box.  Seems simple enough. Hahaha. Anyone who has ever worn a pair of fishnet stockings knows that they are tough, steel tough.  My costume was simple but those fishnet stockings tripped me up quite badly. They got stuck on a nail that someone had forgotten to remove from the wood box. Whatever the stockings were made from wouldn’t rip. So, I missed my cue to retreat behind the box, more than once.  It took me several minutes to work the nail loose so that I could retreat. I don’t think the audience noticed but my cast mates did. I took a little ribbing after that.

I’m not going to regale you with my many moments of awkwardness over the last 60 years because, well, this post is not that long. But it could be! I’ve been on stage, forgotten my lines and had to improvise. I’ve been on a date when I forgot my date’s name. Now that was awkward!  It’s OK I figured it out before he noticed. There wasn’t a second date.

Then there was the time I was visiting a friend’s cottage.  There must have been 10 or 15 people in the room when I inadvertently bumped into a floor lamp as I was about to sit down.   A noisy room for some reason went eerily silent as I turned to the floor lamp and apologized. It did not go unnoticed. Welcome to my world.

Someone once said to me that you can judge the integrity of an individual by how well they handle knotted Christmas lights. When you think about it, that is quite wise. I have seen the frustration, the anger that often arises. I have also known people to simply buy new ones rather than face the daunting chore of unravelling of last year’s.

I am not the first person to have to deal with an awkward situation nor will I be the last. But aren’t they just moments in our lives to be lived as best we can or as the worst we can?  It’s all about how we deal in the moment when it’s happening to us or around us. We can find the humour and compassion to survive both.

The Bus Stop

It was a beautiful mid-summer’s day.  It was early enough that most people had not gotten into their cars to start the day.  But one lady was slowly approaching a local bus stop.  Marcella was starting her day the way she did most every day: walking to the bus.  And like every day before this one, she was complaining.

“I am getting too old for this nonsense.” She mumbled to herself.  “Every day I hurry to get to the bus stop just so I can wait.  The bus is always late.  Always!  And I know if I come late then that damn bus will come early!”

Marcella wasn’t a young woman but she didn’t consider herself old just yet.  Yes, she did have sore knees and her feet would swell if the day was hot, but she was not ready to be put out to pasture.  There would be time enough to be old.  For now, she just liked to take advantage of the fact that everyone else thought she was old.  She could complain all she wanted.  People were so polite and considerate.

As she approached her destination, she became suspicious.  Something had changed.  A new bench had been deposited beside the bus shelter.  Marcella was uncomfortable with change so she looked at this new piece of outdoor furniture with distrust.

“Now why would someone put a pretty new bench out here where it can get all wet?” She queried, “kids will be playing on it before you know it and it will get damaged.  Now why would they do something so silly?”

“So that you can be more comfortable while you wait for your bus, you silly old woman!”

Marcella was startled!  She let out a sharp cry and turned around.

“Land sakes!  Beatrice you scared five years off my life!  And you are late!”

Beatrice didn’t respond immediately.  She simply nodded at the first woman and then proceeded to make herself comfortable on the new bench. After a moment’s hesitation Marcella followed suit.  And then the conversation continued.

“I think it’s very nice of them to want us to be comfortable while we wait for their bus.” Beatrice always seemed to find the good in any situation. She was exactly the same age as Marcella but she looked 10 years younger.  People thought the two of them had a strange friendship.  One always saw the good and one always saw the bad.

“Well I think it’s a terrible waste of money.  They should spend that money on buses so that we aren’t always waiting!” True to form Marcella saw the bad. “And think of the trees that died so that our bums could be comfortable.  It is a terrible shame!”

“Oh, I bet this is a green bench.  No trees would have been killed. People are getting smart about that.”

“Beatrice you are going blind, this is not a green bench.  It’s brown. And an ugly brown too.”

“No, no I am not referring to the colour I’m talking about the bench itself.  Nowadays these things are made green.”

Marcella shifted in her seat and stared at her friend.  She knew that both of them were getting older and that sooner or later their mental capacities would begin to alter.  She hadn’t thought that Beatrice had gotten that old.  But now she looked at her very carefully.

“Beatrice what colour is the sky?”

“Well that’s a silly question, its blue.” She turned towards her friend. “Is this a trick question?”

“What colour is the road?”

“Now I know you’re up to something.  The road is grey, just like your hair.  And before you ask, the grass is green.  Now what’s up?”

“Last question.  What colour is the bench we’re sitting on?”

“Well, it’s brown.  What is going on?”

“Hah! You admit it!  This bench is brown!”

“Well of course it’s brown, woman.  Are you blind?”

“A minute ago, you said it was green.”

Beatrice looked at her friend dumbfounded for just a moment.  And then she burst out laughing.  Poor Marcella just looked on, confused.

“Marcella, when some one refers to an item as being green, they are talking about how it was made.  Green items are made by recycling other items.  They are not necessarily referring to the colour.”

The woman in question sat without moving for just a moment.  Then she turned away from her friend and sat up straight facing the road.  She was processing what she had just heard and trying to understand it.

“Are you telling me that this bench my bum is residing on could have been somebody’s deck?  How do you know where this wood has been?  And who has been doing what on it?  It could be filthy!” No sooner were the words out of her mouth then Marcella jumped up and turned around to face the offending bench.

“Oh, you silly old woman!  Sit down!  I don’t care what this bench was in a previous life, now it is comfortable and I can get a load off my feet.  That’s all I care about.”

Begrudgingly Marcella did as instructed, but gingerly.  As she was settling back down on the bench she started to think.

“Do you think there’s any way we could recycle a few people I know?  I can think of something useful I like to make them into:  how about two gorgeous 40-year-olds for one wrinkle 80-year-old?”

As both women started to laugh, they saw the bus.

 

the end

Keep Me Posted

 

Lord keep us posted,

On the plan that you had.

I know you are brilliant,

But things have gone bad.

 

There are locusts and fires,

And floods and a plague.

Forgive me dear Lord,

Your details are vague.

 

I pray and I praise,

I know others do too.

These are desperate times

What more can we do?

 

We must come together,

Perhaps when we’re one.

Our path will be clear,

And this evil be done.

 

Forgive me dear Lord,

For questioning your way.

In panic I drifted,

But I knew you would stay.

 

Your word will be done,

Our lesson was learned.

Our future is forward,

Our sanity returned.