Christmas Tree

Christmas tree: (n) a decorated tree at Yuletide

“If you want a tree, go get it yourself.”

That’s what my dad said when I was fourteen years old and asked him why we had not put up our tree as of yet, at Christmastime.

Normally the practice was to pick a tree and decorate it on my birthday–one week before Christmas. But for some reason, December 20th had rolled around and nobody had even mentioned getting one.

I was offended, disrupted, angry, bewildered, uncertain, out-of-spirits and generally and profoundly rebellious, in the most adolescent way possible.

So I complained. That’s what I knew how to do.

Since I had asked at least a half a dozen times about the tree, I felt it was time for me to object. he option provided for me by my dad was to go get a tree myself.

This was plausible because our family owned a little farm outside the town, where we grew some Christmas trees. So I had my brother drive me out to the location, grabbed a little hatchet and headed off through the snowy ground to bag myself an evergreen.

With my chubby legs and being severely out of shape, I was completely exhausted from the walk to the pines–ready to give up on my mission. After all, it wasn’t my fault. I was not in charge. If the damn family didn’t want a tree, then we should be treeless.

But the problem was, that included me–and I didn’t want to be treeless.

So braving the cold, little hatchet in hand, I found what I thought would be a good tree and began to whack at the trunk.

My hatchet had obviously been purchased by Davy Crockett when he went to the Alamo and not sharpened since. The first three strikes at the tree trunk didn’t even split the bark. So as not to bore you, I will shorten this story by telling you that an hour later, sweat pouring off my face, I finally got the tree to give up its roots and prepare to move to my home.

The trunk was an absolute mess. It was not a cut, but rather a massacre. But I drug it out, my brother and I put it on top of the car, and we drove it to the house. He kindly helped me saw the bottom off to make it even so we could put it into the Christmas tree stand. To add insult to my effort, it ended up being too tall. We had to cut off part of the top.

But eventually it sat in our living room, waiting to be adorned.

That evening when my father returned from working at his loan company, he stepped into the house, looked at the tree, and said to me, “Is that the best tree you could get?”

I didn’t respond to him directly, but in my mind I thought, “Yes. It’s the best tree I could get. Because this year it’s my tree.”

 

 

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Choose

Choose: (v) to pick out, select or decide on a course of action

I could be kind or I could be mean. I can choose.

Being mean is touted. Being kind is lifted up as virtuous, as it is also mocked as valueless. Is there something in between? How about “keen?”

I could be alert, or I could be dull. It’s for me to choose. Alert is what we applaud and dull is what we observe.

I can be selfish, or look for opportunities to be giving. Is it true that if I give I actually get more, or is that just promotional talk from those who desperately need me to give?

I can choose to enjoy the holidays, or complain about how hectic they are. I do seem to be more grown-up when I bitch. Isn’t that ironic?

I can choose to believe in God, or don the garments of the intelligentsia and sneer at the notion. Do I really want to tie myself into a bunch of hillbilly religionists? Yet do I want to choose to be part of the obnoxiously over-educated?

I can insist I’m a man with no knowledge of women, or scream like a woman who says she is unfairly treated by a man. I suppose I could choose to be a man who understands that a woman is just a human. But it would be a very unpopular position.

That’s the problem. The things I feel I need to choose, which are full of spirit and life, are often relegated to being “buddied up” with the ridiculous and superstitious.

How will I choose?

Can I keep my choice to myself, or must my light shine before all men?

How will we choose?

How can we choose and satisfy the disgruntled masses, while pursuing the glory and advantage of simply believing there’s more?

 

 

 

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Blown

Blown: (adj) past participle of blow

Dictionary BYou can’t make a duck bark. It’s a simple statement.

Therefore, it’s virtually impossible to get your dog to quack.

Patterns of behavior are established through choice and genetics, and maintained by stubborn tradition.

So as I listen to people complain about leaders who are causing turmoil and steering the American public into bad decisions, I look on, perplexed.

  • Nobody can make me prejudiced.
  • Nobody can turn me into a bigot.
  • Nobody can suddenly convince me that black people are evil or that people from China are out to get me.

I am the one who is ready to hear the nonsense.

So therefore, it is the responsibility of our citizens to own up to the fact that the transitions which have occurred in our lifetime, which have promoted truth or at least tolerance, have been avoided by many, who have sat by, pretending to be part of the parade, only to whisper complaints to each other as the floats go by.

There is a disgruntled spirit in our country which is blown by every ill wind.

It is unconfronted.

It is denied–as we pretend that everything is alright.

It isn’t.

We are still one of the most bigoted countries in the world, intolerant of the behavior of each other, and willing to become violent if someone takes our parking space.

I don’t think we will change these attitudes by hatching meanness to address the meanness.

But as long as people are blown by every wind of doctrine and every carnival barker, we will suffer under a cloud of uncertainty.

 

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Bargain

Bargain: (n) a thing bought or offered for sale more cheaply than is usualDictionary B

It is generally reported among the human race that any time we’ve saved a buck we’ve made a “dear” bargain.

I have to admit, I am susceptible to that philosophy but I also have enough memories of failed bargains to be a little leery of continuing to pursue the prospect with great vigor.

After all, nothing is a bargain if it ends up sucking.

There are two things we want in life, and two things only:

  1. We want what we desire
  2. We want it to work

Anything less than that will leave us disgruntled, even if it was less expensive.

I have often seen my fellow-travelers show me a product they purchased, touting the great deal they got, only to lament their dissatisfaction over its lack of quality.

So is it better to spend a bit more for what you desire, to plug it in and have it work?

I think that’s the definition of maturity.

It’s why I spend a little more time deciding to shop, and much less time actually shopping. Because once I do go, I know what I want and the price tag is secondary to my preference.

With that in mind, let us understand that politics is no bargain. It does not give us what we want, and honest to God, it does not work.

Entertainment is often no bargain. I need to be inspired and energized, but often walk out at the mercy of the director’s dementia.

Religion is no bargain. I desire happiness now and ecstasy in heaven–and they give me present misery and a “maybe” on the afterlife.

So for all you bargain hunters or people who spend three hours clipping out $18 worth of coupons (that’s $6 an hour in labor) let me tell you that I am reluctant to join your club.

My heart’s desire is too important to me, and making sure something actually works is too necessary to my well-being.

 

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Alienate

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alienate:(v) cause someone to feel isolated or estranged: e.g. an urban environment that would alienate its inhabitants

Some words are symbiotic twins. (Are the words “symbiotic” and “twins” redundant? I’ll have to look that up.) Anyway, they work together to create a good or to create the potential for evil.

You will never need to alienate another human being as long as you’re willing to confront the mediocre in your life.

For instance, if you run across people who are better than you at some task, rather than trying to attack their acumen, you evolve and learn from them. If you accept the mediocre in your life, it becomes necessary to foster a disgruntled attitude and discover something unseemly about your competition.

All prejudice is grounded in a sense of mediocrity. I will tell you, if the white people in the South prior to the Civil War had raised offspring who could work the fields, toiling with the same diligence as the Africans, they wouldn’t have felt the need to alienate the hostages as inferior, but instead, would have joined them, shoulder to shoulder, pursuing their cotton-picking minds.

I know when I start becoming critical of others, it is a warning sign that I’ve accepted mediocre behavior, and because some strangers have dared to be superior to me, I begin to find fault and separate them from my field of play and stable of friends.

We do it in politics. We certainly do it in religion. We do it in corporations, by trying to spread rumors about another company’s hiring practices instead of allowing for the product itself to find place in the market.

Mediocre and alienate are twins.

If you are alienating somebody from your life right now, it’s because you’ve accepted some sort of mediocre attitude as normal. And if you’re mediocre, you will eventually need to alienate people who dare to excel.

It’s why in the United States it is more popular to talk about our uniqueness than it is to review our plans and critique our progress. When the stats and facts about our world placement in education, health care and even personal relationships is measured against other countries, we are not always found at the top. So this demands that we alienate. Some of our favorite terms:

  • third world
  • backward
  • non-Democratic
  • and ignorant

Great people don’t have to criticize anyone. They just evolve towards the new understanding instead of staying entrenched in tradition.

When you get rid of mediocre, you no longer feel the need to alienate other people. When you’re alienating people, it’s always a sign of some mediocre part of you trying to justify … blah.

 

Alchemist

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alchemy: (n) the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir.

“I need more.

Those three words form one of the more useless phrases in the English language. Yet the proclamation–or at least the sentiment–is in the air constantly.

I don’t know when we established the notion that pleading poverty, lack or futility is an acceptable profile for human behavior. What I mean is, even though we all pull up lame and make excuses, we privately hate it when it is done by others.

I have really noticed this over the past ten years. About a decade ago, I realized that whatever is going to happen in my career, dreams and aspirations has already happened, and unless I learn to take what is available and turn it into something better, I will become disgruntled.

One of the more stupid attributes of the human family is the insistence that we’re waiting for our “big break.” It’s why I would never buy a lottery ticket. Buying one would demand buying at least a dozen others in order to increase your potential, even though the odds of the bonanza coming my way are astronomical.

I want to stop complaining about what I have–and turn it into gold (or at least some yellow material that would pass.) That’s what the alchemists did. Their main claim was that they could change lead into gold. (Maybe that’s what we mean by “getting the lead out.”)

Yes, if I stop looking at the lead that comes my way and start using it more productively, maybe some gold will come out of it. I don’t know about you–I’m a little tired of seeing people turn gold into lead:

  • I’m weary of a religious system that takes a gospel of love and transforms it into a mediocre pabulum of rules and regulations.
  • I’m angered by the nobility of the American dream and the cause of freedom being denigrated down to voting, campaigns and political gridlock.
  • And I am certainly bedraggled by the hounding about “family” in our society, while we simultaneously have entertainment and shows portraying the relationship as detrimental or even destructive.

You and I have one responsibility: stop bitching about what we’ve got and try to turn it into something more.

Because quite bluntly, if we don’t understand that this is the mission of human life … we will end up leaving behind much less than what we were given.

 

Aglow

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAglow: (adj.) glowing: e.g. his bald head was aglow under the lights.

I can’t hear the word “aglow” without thinking about the Women’s Aglow, an organization that sprouted up in the 1970’s, for ladies to come together to celebrate their lives and faith.

I was most fortunate to take my fledgling musical group to perform at many of their functions.

There is nothing quite as righteous as an excited woman–and I mean that in all aspects. In like manner, there is nothing quite as devastating to view as a despondent one.

So to walk into a room with two hundred and fifty females of all ages who are emotionally vulnerable, spiritually charged, mentally alert and physically well-endowed was a little piece of heaven for this young man’s entire being.

I will tell you–I like women. But it’s not merely because I happen to be attracted to them from a physical point of view. No, I like them because they are quite capable of achieving “aglow.”

Even though some of my male counterparts would insist that the “she” part of the human race is “naggy” or bitchy, I have found that they have gained the freedom to express their hearts more readily instead of burying it underneath their gall bladder, inviting an early coronary.

What does it mean to be aglow?

  1. I am willing to share my emotions, whether they are right or wrong.
  2. I am eager to believe that I was created instead of hatched or cast down from the tree by a surprised, disgruntled monkey family.
  3. I like to think, I want to think, I will think.
  4. I am proud of who I am physically–or willing to do what’s necessary to make it better.

Without women being aglow in our society, we would just have men being “agrowl.”

Now if we can just teach some fellows to light up something other than their cigars …