A place for thought.

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A Christmas Rant

How I came to Love Christmas or Not.


By now, most of us realize Jesus was not born on Christmas. Most of us will agree the first day of winter has more to do with picking the 25th than anything else, after all, without a second hand; it really is hard to pick out the shortest day of the year.

So Christmas was picked to celebrate the birthday of Jesus and since we only have one real birthday the day we choose to celebrate may not be that important. Many have suggested we should celebrate the birthday of Jesus everyday and if He is who He said He is (God?) we should celebrate everyday.

On the shortest day of the year everyone needs a little pick-me-up right? At that time it would seem several groups had taken to burning tree stumps or lighting candles so while they were doing that why not worship God?

And there’s the rub. How many times are you caught up in deep intimate prayer songs and you picture a baby wrapped up on a pile of livestock feed? “I serve a risen Savor” baby Jesus came, He was a gift, but He hadn’t done much yet. So we do not tend to worship the baby and at Christmas we do not.

At Christmas we sing songs “about” Jesus – only a few are songs sung as prayers “to” Jesus and most of those are sung to God about how nice it was for him to send Himself because we do not worship a baby.

So Christmas takes intimate music lead worship out of church services for two or three weeks. And Christian radio plays anything with Christmas in the title. I just heard Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and a day ago Baby It’s Cold Outside – come on, that’s not even almost a Christian song.

So; I look forward to quiet winter nights with people I love, getting and giving gifts, hearing some of the prettiest secular and non-secular music of the year, but I’d like to get it all over with and let the baby grow-up into a full sized awe inspiring God.

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Gray sky from top to bottom, people from the outside call it fog some call it smog, but it’s just a gray sky. Later in the day a spot of yellow may or may not appear suggesting something exists outside this dome of gray mist. There are days when the grey comes in close, where the universe is reduced to a bubble of visibility fifteen feet in all directions. It’s nice to be alone. But today the cars pass at full speed on the elevated freeway to the south. People in a hurry to be west of here, another group of people in just as big a hurry to be east, and I sit, without effort, at the spot they all pushed hard to reach.   Confidence in the continued spin of the Earth, our track around the sun, and our hurtle from the center of the universe keeps me from being a vagrant.

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A Girl

She sits at the edge of the water, her pant legs pushed up to her knees so she can dangle her white legs in the pool. Just a bit of orange/red hair curls out from under the brim of a white, straw hat that shades her face in a futile effort to keep the freckle count down. Hidden behind oversized, rose shaded, white-rimmed glasses her green eyes stare, without seeing, at the reflections of light on the still, blue water. A sloppy gray sweatshirt covers her from neck to bottom. Long white fingers with pink nails reach past the sweatshirt cuffs and grip the curved edge of the concrete; the index finger on the right hand taps a beat and then taps to words that match the song that plays in her head. A lone tear escapes from behind the oversized glasses and leaves a wet line down her cheek. The index finger stops it’s tapping and with her right hand she wipes the tear away and rubs her bump of a nose. Pulling her feet from the water she stands five-foot three inches tall, the baggy legs of her jeans fall back into position and cover all but toes with pink toenails. The music inside her head still plays as she walks away from the pool.

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Christmas Tree

We never wanted to kill trees, we do. We use paper, we have chairs the basic structure of our home is tree. But killing with a worthwhile purpose is different. I would never kill a buck in order to put the poor beasts head on a wall. From our first Christmas we (or I) could not have a tree killed special to place the dead carcass in our home as a decoration. We purchased live trees in pots and after Christmas we planted the trees in yards across Bakersfield. Several of the trees grew tall before they died in the hot valley they were never intended to live in, a few still live. We have decided to replace lost evergreens with trees better suited for this valley, like Pecan or Locust (we still have research to do).

I was given the task of purchasing our second (?) cut from its roots tree. We looked in tree lots and decided ahead of time on a small, simple tree. When the time came I could not do it, a tree should at the very least be allowed to grow into decent sized firewood. As an alternative I made a tree. No one likes my tree. Only God can make a tree.img_1377

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If A Train Travels North At Fifty Miles An Hour…

I did some water skiing once. Got up on two skis jumped around a little, went from side to side and made rooster tails, it was fun for a while – then it got boring. I never did fall down. I think if you fall down and break something it makes it more interesting but I wouldn’t suggest it might make it more fun. I like stories about hardship, the time after the great war, hiding from the space aliens, that sort of thing, but it really bugs me if the neighbors make noise while I’m sitting in the backyard trying to read. I like to drive on the freeway on holidays. That’s about as life and death as a thing can get. It keeps my interest. It may be the most focused I ever get. Watching cars ten cars ahead. Feeling the mood of the pack I’m in. Concerning packs; people do seem to drive in packs and in the pack they are always passing and changing lanes – how is that even possible? On a five hundred mile trip we get passed by at least eight groups of cars and pass maybe two. I try to travel at no more than six to eight miles an hour above the speed limit. How fast does a car need to go to pass a car doing seventy-eight miles as hour and make that car look like it is standing still? They don’t explain everything in math class!

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Trapped (part 5)

The front door opened and no lights blinked, no alarms were activated, Randy was home. Marge heard his steps going up the curved stairs. She closed the safe, put the picture back into its place, closed the door to Randy’s office and went into the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee. She was sitting at the kitchen table when she heard Randy making his way back down the steps.

“Are you alright?” he asked carefully, not sure if she would want to hear from him.

“I’m fine,” Marge answered. “Pour yourself a cup and sit,” Marge said pointing to the chair closest to her’s.

Randy’s first thought was he’d been drinking coffee all night but lately invitations to sit with Marge had been rare so he poured himself a cup, “Sorry, I wanted to come right away.”

“But there were things that just had to be done,” Marge continued for him.

“Well, there were,” he said just a little sheepishly. “They told me it was just a door left open.”

“An hour after the alarm went off.”

“I couldn’t just leave..” he started but she put her hand up to stop him.

“It’s fine, I had some great alone time with Maggie.”

“She’s a great kid. I watched her sleeping for a minute, so peaceful, so trusting. That comes from you.”

“Thanks Randy, you can be a decent guy when you want,” she looked into his eyes and for a moment saw the man she had seen sitting with in a coffee shop ten years ago. Perfect hair, perfect suit, shoes that cost more than some cars. Ten years ago he had that made of money look and back then he was just a poor struggling millionaire.

“The door wasn’t left open, Randy,” She waited until she was sure she had his full attention. “We were robbed.”

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Trapped (parts 1-4)

The silent alarm had gone off. Marge and her daughter Maggie prepared to lock themselves into the safe room following plans laid out years before. As they closed the door, which could only be opened from inside or by a trusted few, the not so silent alarm went off letting the intruder or intruders know they needed to leave. When the silent alarm was first activated several cameras had started scanning for movement while others remained focused on key value points; the picture covering the wall safe, the new Tesla S in the garage, the gun collection in Steve’s den all had focused cameras with a scanning camera across from them. The thief would be not only recorded but the digital information was already being sent to an off site server just in case something happened to the computers in the house. Marge and Maggie settled into soft comfortable chairs and started one of Maggie’s favorite DVD’s.   They waited for the all-clear notice the police or private protection agency would key into the pad on the door of the safe room. Marge retrieved a box of Maggie’s preferred cookies from a cabinet and poured a couple glasses of milk.   The milk was fresh and cold from a small refrigerator under the cabinet. Fresh cold milk had been available in the small refrigerator for every day of the last three years but this was the first time a glass of the liquid had been poured.

The system had been easy to fool. Most of the work had been done while still sitting in the car. Everything disabled in just a few strokes on the keyboard. It was quite a convenience to have the front door unlock itself. The greatest risk had been the people inside but the infrared had shown the girl and her mother in the upstairs bedroom. There had been a temptation to look through the lens of the bedroom camera and see what they were doing but the movement of the camera might have warned them. With cloth covers on shoes, gloved hands, in complete silence, small almost priceless items were placed into a bag. The safe was a challenge but also produced an acceptable reward, there was no reason to keep that much cash on hand, cash should be working for people – encouraging the economy. The heavy walnut door with thick brass hardware hung open just a few inches so there would be no question as to the entry point. With the new found wealth in it’s trunk the unwashed white Toyota Corolla started with just a flick of the key. As the car moved away the house’s surveillance system was activated and the silent alarm informed the police, the security company, the mother and the child that the front door was open.

Security men waited in their cars for the police to give the all clear. They had seen the flashing lights on the road, four black and white cars spilling onto the driveway, the security men held back, letting the cops take the point. The police were better trained and better equipped. The police, with vests on and guns drawn entered the house, groups of two, touching nothing observing everything.   The first task was to clear the house, make sure no one still posed a threat to the occupants.

“There,” Andy, the sergeant in charge pointed in a direction and two men dressed in black cautiously made their way into the maze of rooms to the left. Another, “there,” and two peeled off towards the right. Previously instructed two had already circled the house from the outside, checking the bushes and gates but staying clear of surfaces that might offer footprints or other such clues. Andy and his partner Sal filmed rooms as they were cleared to preserve the scene. Two sets of stairs led to the upper floor, four men climbed each set cautious at the moment their heads would be exposed to the second floor. Almost a full hour passed before the all clear could be given. The men in black informed the security men, still sitting in their cars, that they could take over the scene. The policemen took their places in their still running, still warm cruisers and started the paper work, the new guy was sent to the local Star Bucks to get the necessary coffee. It could not be confirmed until the homeowner could be interviewed but it appeared no one had entered the home, nothing had been disturbed or removed. The final conclusion would be, almost without a chance of error, that the door had not been set properly and had simply opened just enough to set off the alarms.

The most senior of the security men, a five foot seven, slightly overweight man with light wavy brown hair turning a bit gray above the ears pushed his rimless glasses up on his nose and carefully punched in the code to the safe room. He went over his greeting in his head. It is most important not to embarrass a client after a false alarm he reminded himself, especially a client like this one.

The DVD had finished; Maggie had climbed onto Marge’s lap and fallen asleep. There was little worry that things were being taken care of outside the safe room. Marge’s laptop had received a notification that the police and security people had arrived at the house. There was nothing for her to do but wait and not share any fear or concern with Maggie. They had both enjoyed the last hour in their “hide out”.   It was almost as much fun as building a blanket house in Maggie’s bedroom and reading by flashlight. In the back of her mind Marge wondered if things had been damaged and if the people breaking into her perfect home had been caught, but these thoughts took up little space. Maggie was the most important thing in her life and Maggie was safe here in her arms. She looked at the small, five-year-old girl in her lap. Maggie smiled as she dreamed, showing no fear, accepting the fact that her mother could protect her in any situation. The red light above the safe house door turned to green. Marge held Maggie with one arm, checked her hair in the mirror above the sink, stood up and pushed the lever on the door. The door opened out, a security guard waited a few feet back.

“And?” Marge said to the obviously concerned man.

“It appears to have been a fault in the system, Ma’am,” the guard started. “We are checking. The front door was found open, however nothing seems to have been disturbed. We would, of course, like for you to check for anything missing or out of place.”

“Are you telling me I failed to latch the door properly?” Marge asked with enough of a smile to let him know he wasn’t in trouble.

“That is a possibility ma’am,” the guard had more to say but Marge interrupted him.

“Could you call me Marge, or at least Mrs. Adams?” At the sound of her mother’s voice Maggie woke up and blinked at the man her mother was speaking to.

“There seems to have been a fault in the system, Mrs. Adams the complete system went down for several minutes and when it reset the door alarm was tripped. I’m sorry for the trouble this has put you through.”

“Oh, it was no trouble, we actually enjoyed ourselves,” Marge gave Maggie a hug and put her down. Maggie ran up the stairs to her bedroom singing a song from the DVD they had watched. And then Marge added, in a more business like tone, “you and your men will find the fault and repair it?”

The security man immediately nodded a yes and said, “we will not leave until we are entirely convinced you and your family are protected, Mrs. Adams.”

“Has Mr. Adams been informed?” Maggie asked. It was the first time she had considered her husband’s side in this.

“He has been in communication with us from the first and is up-to-date. I believe he is quite concerned.”

“But still in his office?” Maggie added and instantly felt guilty at bringing the security guard into her personal problems. “I’m sorry,” she said to the security guard, “I guess that was a little more stressful than I thought.” She left the man to do his job and walked toward the stairs to finish what was left of the evening with her daughter.

“You will double check, that things have not been disturbed?” the security man said to her back as she walked away.

She turned in a slow circle giving the room a quick look and giving the guard a glance she said, “everything is fine.” Marge started to climb the curve of carpeted stairs her left hand tripping from highly polished turned oak baluster to highly polished turned oak baluster.

“It’s time for your bed, little girl,” Marge said to her five year old and the process started, changing into soft flannel PJ’s with cartoon animals, brushing teeth and, with mother’s help, brushing thin, blonde hair that almost reached Maggie’s shoulders now. Her baby was growing so fast, Marge grinned to herself and thought, “everyone says they grow up too fast,” but she was enjoying every moment of Maggie’s growing up.

“Sleep good,” she said as she turned out the light and closed the door almost all the way.

Marge, for the first time tonight, allowed herself to think about what had happened. She remembered double-checking the locked front door. She remembered setting the dead bolt. The door had not opened on its own. She found a pad of papers and a pen in her desk drawer and began to wander the house looking for out of place or missing things. She found a few small items missing. A circle of polished gloss black shelving announced the spot where a gold mouse with diamond eyes and ruby chips for toenails had sat. The rest of the shelf held other objects just as valuable, all covered with a light coat of dust. Marge made note of the missing mouse on the tablet and made a mental note to let her housekeeper know shelves need dusting too. She found several items missing, all were things of value but it was just a show.   A robber worth his salt would have taken much more. Or, her salt Marge added in order to be politically correct. She knew what the robber had taken, she knew what the real purpose had been but she was afraid to confirm it. She took her time walking into Randy’s office. From across the room she could see the smudge in the dust at the edge of the hinged picture that covered the safe, her housekeeper wasn’t allowed in here. The safe was closed and properly locked. Marge punched in the code and looked inside. Piles of banded, uncirculated hundreds filled the shelves, easily traced it would have been helpful if the money had been taken but it was all still there. She moved it aside and looked for the one sheet of paper she knew was gone. Not finding the document she took everything out of the safe and put things back one at a time. There was no doubt, the robbery had nothing to do with a bag filled with small items. The sheet of paper was gone.