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Archive for Just for Him

Mar
08

Teenagers – the brain thang

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerWhen my kids were little, we used to make fun of the disrespectful, lazy, reprobate teenagers that frequented the neighborhood. We’d see them riding their bike the wrong way in traffic, saying bad words, or damaging property. I’d look at my boys, shake my head disapprovingly, and say, “Teenagers.”

Soon they started doing it too. When a group of drunk teens tried to pull an alligator out of the sewer in front of our house (hey, it was Florida), one of my kids looked and me and said, “teenagers, right dad?”

Right.

Except now I have two teenagers.

We live in West Virginia now, so there are less alligators, but there is still property to damage, bad decisions to make, and lots and lots of drugs (drugs are West Virginia’s state bird).

My wife and I commiserate a lot about our two teens. “How did this happen?” we frequently ask each other. We are good parents. I even write a parenting blog.

There are many factors involved in teenagers turning into teenagers. We might explore some of them in a future article. But today I’m going to share one fact that helps my wife and I deal with the times when we see our kids making immature or poorly conceived decisions:

Their brains are not done developing.

I’ve heard about it on TV before, how teens make impulsive decisions because of their prefrontal cortex still developing. On a CSI drama, one character remarked that they don’t finish brain development until age 25ish.

25? Is that really true!?!

Yes, in this case television didn’t let us down. The front of teenagers’ brains, the part where they make logical, informed decisions, is still developing. So instead of using it, they default to the part of the brain called the amygdala (try spelling that for a spelling bee). The amygdala is the part of the brain that reacts with instinct, aggression, and emotion. So teenagers are primarily using a brain that has them make poorly conceived, emotional decisions; usually impulsively.

So, my wife and I have to enjoy this state of unformed brain development for a few more years. Sometimes we talk about the Bible and how teenagers were already living on their own, frequently married, and working in full-time occupations. We lament that times have changed. Just trying to imagine our boys out living in their own house, being responsible for a wife or finances, and holding down a job, is a thought that is both scary and pleasant.

We’d love it if they faced some of the challenges that they think they can manage. But at the same time we don’t want them to make life-altering disaster decisions. But also at the same time we are tired of their attitude.

We can see why teenage kids of Bible times were out on their own; because they knew everything!

Sometimes when i feel like a bad parent, I read the parable of the Prodigal Son from the Bible. Here is a clip from it in case you are unfamiliar.

(Luke 15:11 – 24 NIV Bible) “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Reading this story gives me hope. My teens will probably make bad decisions, but I will watch out for them and provide a forgiving and accepting home base and family for them when they start to think reasonably again.

Or, in other words, they are going to make dumb decisions while they are teens and their brains are still developing. We dads will be there for them when they start using their developed brains.

This also gives me two pieces of advice that I think apply to all parents, especially Dads:

Don’t judge harshly: the Prodigal Son parable above is a metaphor for us (the kid in the story) and God (the father in the story) — if God is the BEST parent and unruly teenage kids (us) still make bad decisions . .

Which means don’t be too hard on yourself
Which also means don’t be too hard on other parents either — I’ve seen way too many parents with kids that used to ‘walk on water’ when they were younger and now have turned into little demon harlots. It’s sad when parents feel that they are all alone because they don’t want to admit that their kid isn’t perfect.
Give them grace through relationship: I did and said some horrible things when I was a teen. Some of it, as an adult, I am ashamed of. I suggest that you decide right now that you will love your kids — even teens — and accept them as people no matter what they say or do. Because it gets hard.

I heard a kid recently. . a kid that may or may not be the fruit of my loins . . say that he wanted to graduate high school, try lots of drugs, live with his female manager at the fast-food job, and make enough money to drink and have fun on weekends.

NONE OF THAT IS OK! However, there is still brain development occurring (thank God!) and I’m pretty sure most of that was said out of shock-value anyway. I hope.

Teenagers.

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Mar
06

Have Mouth, Will Stutter

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerI pride myself with the ability to express myself with the proper wording. I enjoy words and seeing how they relate one to another. Unfortunately, it has not always the case.

I have found through the years that I have developed quite the art of stuttering. It happens at the most inconvenient moments.

It is like the story of Honest Abe Lincoln and his wife. The story is not true of course, but it is very interesting. Mrs. Lincoln asks Honest Abe, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

Known as “Honest Abe” we all chuckle at that moment of stuttering for him.

I have had such moments of my own.

For example, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I might be sitting in the living room watching TV and all the time the person on the other couch is chattering. Me, I am not listening, just smiling and nodding my head in agreement. That has cost me quite a bit throughout the years.

The wife was chattering and then she stopped and said, “I want to know what you think about that? And please be honest with me.”

Now the stuttering syndrome begins. I had no idea what she was talking about. Now I am backed into the proverbial corner with nowhere to go. How I answer that question, may determine my health.

“Well,” my dear, I stuttered, “if you think it’s a good idea I just want you to know that I support you 100%.” Getting that out gives me a great sigh of relief. While saying this I am looking at her smiling very graciously.

“Oh,” my wife says rather sarcastically, which should have been a warning to me, “you want broccoli for supper tonight. Right?”

How you get out of a situation like that is something I have yet to learn. Sometimes, or maybe I should say, all the time, it is crucial to listen to what your wife is saying particularly the questions.

One morning after finishing breakfast, she looked at me smilingly and said, “Ya wanna take a ride with me this morning?”

The first time she asked me this question I was startled because I could not remember the previous conversation as to where she wanted to go that morning. Trying to be the gracious husband that I sometimes think I am, which is a solo opinion, I smiled, nodded and said, “Yes, of course, I want to go with you this morning.” Read More→

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Feb
06

Now, Do You Feel like a Big Boy?

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerbeach vacationVacations mean different things to different people. For me, the vacation means I am vacating one place and going to another place to do nothing.

Recently, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and me vacated the parsonage to go to some place where we could major on doing nothing. We have mastered this over the years.

My definition of “nothing” is quite different from my wife’s definition.

My definition is simply that I spend the day doing nothing.

My wife’s definition is simply that she will spend the day doing nothing but thrift store shopping.

At this point, I am not quite sure who has mastered their “nothing.” We might be equal at this point. As long as each of our “nothing” activity does not collide with each other.

One of the aspects of getting to that “nothing” point is travel. The older I get, the less fond I am of traveling especially long distances. But if we are going to get to our destination, travel is part of the activity.

A long time ago, I made the decision, that on our vacations would use my wife’s van. Henceforth, she does all the driving.

How I got to this point was simply that if she is going to go thrift shopping she will need space to put the stuff that she buys. Hence, she needs to take her van, and consequently, she needs to do all the driving.

I have long ago come to my point of manhood that I do not have to do all the driving. My father was quite different. He felt that because he was the man in the house, he should do all the driving. I am not my father’s son. At least, in that respect.

If my wife is going to go thrift store shopping, she will need her van and so this problem has been worked out quite nicely, if you ask me.

On our travel I can either do some reading or log sawing, at which I am pretty good.

She’s a very good driver; after all, I trained her. I remember the time training her to drive a car, I would not say anything now, but there were some very anxious moments. So, there is nothing she could do now that would in any way cause me to be anxious.

This past vacation time I did see something that startled me to no end. We were driving down the main street in St. Augustine when we passed an old man riding his bicycle. That in itself is not an unusual sight, after all a lot of people ride bicycles. As we passed him, I noticed his trousers were down to his knees and I saw something that I am not supposed to see under any circumstance. My eyes burned for the next two days.

Then, the next day as we were driving and I saw this large Cadillac coming in our direction and there was nobody in the driver’s seat. Believe me, I was a little excited about that for sure. When we passed this car, I looked over and behind the steering wheel, barely able to see through the steering wheel, was a little old lady sitting.

Where do people get their driver’s license? Who gives them their driver’s license?

The next day we were driving home and I had just about fallen asleep. The Sandman had just started his activity and I was fast approaching dreamland. Then I heard a noise…“Bah room boom boom boom boom boom. Bah room boom boom boom boom boom.”

I jumped out of my sleep and looked over at my wife and she was looking at me. At first, I thought we were entering the apocalypse and was tempted to get down and start praying. Read More→

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Feb
04

Absolutes, Absolutely

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerIf I haven’t mentioned before that I’m a geek, this article will surely prove it.

I’d like to start out by mentioning one of my great Star Wars quotes from the Bible.

“From the Bible,” you ask?  Yes.  And it has a great implication for Dads – especially as your kids enter middle and high school.

Some of you still aren’t convinced that Star Wars quotes the Bible.  If you’d like to stop reading right now and leave a comment as your guess what it is; then do it.  It’s the only way people will believe you if you’re geeky enough to get it right.

That was your chance.

Here’s what Jesus said (in Matthew 12:30):

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, andwhoever does not gather with me scatters.

It’s a pretty plain, direct statement.  Some might even consider it a statement of absolute.  There is no grey area.  You’re either for Jesus, or you are against him . . .  and if you’re against him then you’re going to lose.

Here’s the quote from Star Wars Revenge of the Sith:

Anakin Skywalker: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.

Anakin Skywalker: You will try.

So, obviously the director was trying to make some sort of statement . . . probably against God.  But that’s Hollywood.

My concern as a Dad is that there are many venues for our kids where absolutes are shunned.  If I went to the local high school and said, “There are only two genders.” There would be drama.  Same thing if I made the statement, “3rd trimester abortion is murder.”  Or “You have to believe in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for your sins in order to go to heaven.”  Or “Homosexuality is a sin.”

Any one of those statements at a public school would get my kids disciplined or ostracized.  Same thing if they were said in a social setting – there would be an immediate issue with some people.  Unfortunately, even at many churches there would be the same level of drama if any of the above statements were said; especially from the pulpit.

The good thing is, very few people need to go around publically stating absolutes.  But, as Dads, we really need to make sure that our kids know the truth and know that there isn’t a grey area with most things God says in the Bible.

Much of our society has become a dichotomy (two parts) of people groups; the loud, and the quietly virtuous.  It pretty clear that there is a lot of stigma against absolute virtue from the media these days.  So I wouldn’t ever post on Facebook:  “Sex outside of marriage is wrong.” because my feed would immediately erupt in drama.  So, like most people, I share truth with people that aren’t going to turn into a Darth Vader when they hear an absolute.

Your kids are those people.  We’re not raising Dark Lords of the Sith (for you non-geeks, that means ‘villains’).  We want to make sure that our kids know right from wrong; they need to know the absolutes.  And of course we’ll temper the knowledge with how to live according to the truth . . . and how to avoid drama along the way. Read More→

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Jan
30

The end of all nonsense and other practical jokes

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerWhen it comes to practical jokes, Yours Truly is always on the ready. Throughout my earthly passage, I have perpetuated my share of practical jokes. I will not enumerate them here, the simple reason being, I might want to bring one out of retirement.

I must say that most practical jokes are neither practical nor funny. However, I operate on the biblical premise, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). With the high cost of medicine these days, I will take a merry heart every time. Just call me Dr. Merry Heart, and I will dispense some good medicine to everybody who needs it.

Now, the practical joke I am thinking of has to do with New Year’s Resolutions. I always look forward to the last week in January for this very reason. For the first several weeks of January, I am nervous and sweating over those lousy New Year’s Resolutions I am forced to make. Pardon my French.

Somewhere there is someone laughing at all of those stupid enough to make New Year’s Resolutions. It is probably the quintessential practical joke played on all humanity. Is there a culture anywhere in our world today that does not fall for this practical joke? If there is, I want to move there.

The first week in January is probably the worst week when it comes to these New Year’s Resolutions. They are fresh in our mind not to mention fresh on our lips. A New Year’s Resolution would not be so bad if nobody knew that we made one. The problem comes when somebody knows what our resolution is and constantly reminds us, “How’re your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?” Read More→

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Jan
23

Why childhood is better the second time around

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerThis week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly had the privilege of attending our youngest granddaughter’s second birthday party. I wanted to go to her third birthday party but she was not old enough yet. So, I will have to wait another year.

On the way home we sat in silence thinking about the party we had just attended. It just does not seem possible that we have eight grandchildren. I broke the silence with a little comment along this line. “I’m just not old enough to be a grandfather of eight grandchildren. I don’t feel old enough to be a grandfather”

From the other passenger in the car came a rather sarcastic snicker, if I say so myself.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I retorted.

“Well,” she said rather slowly as if she was trying to collect her thoughts and use the right words, “believe me, putting all feelings aside, you’re old enough.”

I did not quite know what she meant by that, and I was afraid if I ask she would tell me. I quickly changed the subject and said, “Didn’t Jordin look cute with birthday cake all over her face?”

She laughed.

Then, I thought I was talking to myself but apparently, I said it aloud, a least loud enough for my wife to hear. “I wonder what it’s like to be two years old?”

“Get ready,” my wife said with a laugh in her voice, “you’re about ready to enter into your second childhood.”

At the time, I rather resented the comment, but upon further reflection, I do not see anything wrong with that. After all, what is wrong with enjoying childhood the second time around?

I really do not think it is possible to enjoy childhood the first time. There are so many things to interfere.

First off, are parents constantly telling you what to do or not to do. Telling you when to go to bed. Telling you when to get up in the morning. Telling you when to eat. Telling you what to eat. Telling… telling… telling…

How in the world can anybody enjoy life when people are always telling them what to do? The problem is, when a person is two years old they have absolutely no leverage against overbearing parents. The only thing the two-year-old can do to get the upper hand with his parents is to wait until they are in the supermarket with lots of people around and then throw a temper tantrum.

Here is the advantage of entering a second time into your childhood. Nobody is around to tell you what to do or what not to do. You are on your own, at least in this area. Of course, in your second childhood it is not possible to throw a temper tantrum in a public supermarket and get away with it.

The advantage of having a second childhood is that you have all that experience behind you to use to your advantage that a two year old could not possibly have. This in itself covers a multitude of sins.

“What’s wrong with your husband?” Somebody may ask my wife.

“Oh,” she responds quite mechanically, “he’s into his second childhood.”

“I understand, my husband’s there too.”

And all is right with the world.

In a person’s first childhood, he is quite limited in his outlook. He does not know what he is missing. But during the second childhood, he has the benefit of knowing this and using it for his own personal profit.

For example, when the parents of a two-year-old take him out to a restaurant he is completely at the mercy of the parents.

“Eat your vegetables,” the parents demand, “then you can have dessert.”

There is nothing the two-year-old can do at this point. After all, the one who pays the bill gets to say who does what.

Now, as I enter my second childhood I have the advantage of knowing that all that malarkey about eating your vegetables first is just that… malarkey. And, since I am paying the bill, I will eat the desert whenever I want to eat it. In fact, I will start with dessert and end with dessert. And while I am on the subject, if I do not want to order vegetables, I will order no vegetable.

Many has been the time when my wife and I are out to a restaurant and she will order a properly balanced meal, while I order dessert.

“You do know vegetables are good for you?” my wife will insist.

“I know no such thing,” I reply. Read More→

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Jan
16

It Was An Apple Fritter Kind Of Week

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Have you ever had a week where everything went exactly as planned? Neither have I. Every week I start out believing this week is going to be different from all the other weeks of my life. If this has ever occurred, I cannot recall it.

Take last week, please! I start every week about the same. I meticulously prepare my weekly to-do-list. This is not to be confused with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage’s honey-do-list. Her list, and I learned this by experience, takes precedence over every other list in the world.

My weekly to-do-list is a very important part of my week. I chronicle everything needing accomplished during the week along with appointments with people that I need to see. With the religious ferocity of the Pharisee, I follow this list throughout the week and dutifully check off each item as it is completed. Then, Saturday evening I can look back with a great deal of satisfaction and see what I have accomplished.

Unfortunately, I can also look back on my list and see what I have not accomplished this week. With a deep sigh, I carry these items over to next week’s to-do-list. Just between you and me, some items I have carried over for 36 consecutive weeks. By this time, I usually drop the whole notion and get on with my life.

My philosophy is, if you aim at nothing; you will hit it every time. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but what I take away from it is simply that if I do not aim to do something I probably never will do it.

I live day by day by this weekly to-do-list. If it were not for this marvelous tool, I would never get anything done during the week. It is my great joy late Saturday night to work out the following week’s to-do-list.

Sometimes my wife will look at me, sigh and say, “You’re not working on your to-do-list, are you?” Then she says something that actually irritates me. Not everything she says irritates me, but this one does. “You know, if you would spend as much time actually doing those things as you spend planning to do them you might actually get something done during the week.”

I developed this to-do-list so I would not have to keep trying to remember what I was supposed to do during the week. They keep me free to think more creatively about things that need that kind of attention. All I had to do was consult my to-do-list and find out what needed to be done. After all, I don’t want to tax my brain too much. Who do you think I am? The government?

Then last week it happened. Something I had feared for many a year. Read More→

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Jan
14

How to be the Favorite

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I was the favorite once.  Then I wasn’t. Then I was!  But then . . .

There is some, of what I will affectionately call ‘loose,’ science on birth order and affinity toward a certain parent.  In general, firstborn kids are more ‘like’ (have personality affinity toward) the Mom.  Second-born share a preponderance of personality traits with Dad.  Generally they even resemble (have more physical characteristics in common) these respective parents; first-born will get a lot of, “you look just like your mother,” etc.

Subsequent kids are a crap-shoot on looks and personality.

But this is all lumped into “loose” science.  Which means that it happens a lot, but, there is not a lot of empirical data to birth order ‘psychology.’

Here’s a fact though that you can count on: kids go through stages of closeness and affinity with either parent as they grow up.

I was the ‘cat’s meow’ for a while

My wife stepped in as ‘the bomb’ at some point.

Then I was the ‘wizard’

My wife took over as the ‘awesome-blossom’ . . . 

Many times I had flexibility to be home with the kids when they were little.  We did some fun things, and I was also ‘the disciplinarian.’  So you’d think that I’d be at the top of their favorites.  But, the truth is – don’t get offended until you read further – kids were created to have both parents.  So my boys missed their ‘mom time’ and were super-excited to have interaction with her when she was home.

If you’re a single parent though, this concept on how to be their favorite is especially important.   It’s not loose science that kids need parents.  In fact, kids will subconsciously seek out what they ‘need’ from parenting.  I’ll explain:

Society is built around children growing up to be successful members of the populace, so there are objectives that kids need to learn.  If they aren’t getting a skill, then they have to find it someplace.  So kids will gravitate subconsciously toward ‘parents’ modeling or offering the skills they need.

Example:  You might be a total introvert with no viable social skills (commenting on the Do the Dad Thing Blog might be the pinnacle of your social interaction).  But kids need to learn how to interact socially, so they might parrot the used car salesman they see on TV, or mimic the next door neighbor talking with their hand motions to the mailperson, etc.

So don’t worry if your kids have a favorite outside of you, or model someone else they see, or idolize an attribute in someone that is not exactly idol-worthy.  They are following the natural desire to grab the skills they need from the surrounding world.  This becomes more and more pronounced as your kids grow up and our accumulated set of skills gets more and more limited for their growth.  I.e.  I used to be the favorite to help my boys with math, but as they entered high school, suddenly my skills were sorely lacking. . .

–Warning– most sexual abuse is committed by family members or extended family; especially, for some reason, by uncles and aunts. So make sure there is adequate supervision and safety protocols for kids spending time with other adults.

The good news is, no matter the outside influence and modeled skills, your children always have the desire and need to find their ‘home’ favorite in a parent (yes, even if you are secondary care giver adoptive parent or foster parent).  The concept of ‘home’ and ‘family’ is core to people, and  children will always treasure the link they have with you as their safe place for understanding and acceptance. Read More→

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Jan
09

I Thought but Then I Unthought

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerLooking back over my life I honestly can say, giving it a great deal of thought, the biggest problem I have is when I actually think. Thinking can get me into more trouble than anything else I do.

This was no more evident than recently we got a phone call from the bank. I hate it when the bank calls because they never call to wish me happy birthday or wonder how in the world I am doing today. They always have an agenda. Usually, that agenda has to do with my money.

When I answered the phone all I could say was, “Here we go again.”

Much to my relief it was not about my account, but rather it was the bank account of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I cannot tell you the smile that slapped itself all over my face when I heard this.

Immediately I called my wife to the phone and said, “It’s your bank calling you about your account.” Smilingly I handed the phone to her.

For years, we have had separate accounts and it has worked out rather well. I remember when we first were married we had a joint account and it was always getting messed up. We had two checkbooks for the same account, which did not make any sense at all. Everything was messed up and checks bounced all over the place.

To solve this dilemma we decided to have our own checking account in separate banks. I am not quite sure about her account, but the checks keep bouncing in my account and I am not exactly sure why.

The bank was calling my wife because there had been a suspicious activity on her account. I thought about telling them that other activity on her bank account was also suspicious, but sometimes I know when not to speak.

According to the bank, my wife bought a package of wine costing $600 and they were wondering if she was buying it for the church communion service. I heard my wife laugh and figured out there is something going on. We do not use wine in our communion service, we use grape juice. However, the bank did not know why my wife was buying wine.

The only wine in our house is me, who whines all the time and believe me, according to my wife, my whining is very intoxicating. At least to her it is.

We finally had to go down to the bank and try to sort this mess out. My wife tried to tell them that she did not make such a purchase.

I would like to tell you how delighted I was to go to the bank with her and see her in a dilemma that I did not create. I know I create a lot of dilemma in our home. The fact that we been married as long as we have been married says a lot for her tolerance of whiny old people like me.

“We did not think,” the bank manager said to my wife, “that you were buying wine like this. We thought perhaps you might have been buying wine for the church communion service.”

All three of us laughed a very hearty laugh because she knew we did not use wine in our communion service.

However, the truth of the matter Read More→

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Jan
05

Items not on my New Year’s resolution list

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Smile Post-itIt is typical this time of year to prepare a list of resolutions for the coming year. I believe this goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam said to Eve, “I think I’ll turn over a new leaf this year.” And so the tradition has come down to us today.

Normally, people will make a list of all the things they will give up during the ensuing year. All kinds of bad habits find their way on the list like smoking, drinking and other nefarious activities. Of course, nobody actually plans to keep his New Year resolutions but the act of writing them down on a piece of paper seems to give a sense of accomplishment to people.

One of the big things on the resolution list has to do with diet and losing weight during the coming year. I have often wondered why this seems to be number one on most of those New Year resolution list. Even Yours Truly has succumbed in years past to attend this resolution on his list.

This year I discovered why that is so high on people’s list. It begins with Halloween and all of the candy that is consumed. Now, there is a purpose behind all of this. And it is only recently that I have put it all together. And to my loyal reading fans (both of you) I would share with you the wisdom of my muse.

The reason it starts with Halloween candy is that candy is sweet. This sweet serves to prime the pump, so to speak, for the eating frenzy that is about to begin. Approximately 3 weeks following the Halloween candy blowout comes Thanksgiving.

When our forefathers did a Thanksgiving dinner, they had to chase the turkey down and kill it themselves. Following that, they had to pluck the feathers, clean the turkey, stuff it and get it ready for roasting. All of this activity burned up all the calories from the Halloween candy frenzy.

Now, all we do is pop it into an oven and the most activity we have is bending our elbows to see how fast we can get the turkey from the plate into our mouth. Even though this activity is quite strenuous it actually burns no calories whatsoever in the process.

If it was just the turkey it would not be so bad, but nobody can eat turkey without all the culinary accoutrements. Roast turkey without a generous slice of pumpkin pie is the closest thing to blasphemy that I know.

No sooner has the Thanksgiving dinner settled in our stomach, it is Christmas time, and all of the parties associated with Christmas. Nobody can refuse a Christmas party with all the delicacies that had been so meticulously prepared. When I go to a party, I think it rather rude not to indulge in the party snacks.

I like to join organizations right around the October keeping a sharp eye out for the annual Christmas party. Soon after the New Year, I dropped out of that organization. Call me a slacker, if you wish, but in my book, the Christmas party is worth the subterfuge.

Then there is the marvelous family Christmas dinner. Need I say more?

So we come to New Year’s Eve. By this time, everybody has eaten so much that hardly anybody can take another bite. Not only that, but many people feel guilty for eating so much during the holiday season. Others, like me, are made to feel guilty for eating so much during the holiday season.

To deal with this sense of guilt many people make a New Year’s resolution to go on a diet during the coming year.

Many years ago around this time of the year, I made a drastic tactical error. It had been a particularly good holiday season with many parties and Christmas dinners. I was feeling rather expansive at the time and sighed deeply and said, “After all that eating I should go on a diet.”

Quick as a wink the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage took that as a cue and responded, “I think that’s an excellent idea. That will be your New Year’s resolution for the coming year.”

And thus it was.

I quickly learned that such resolutions come with a great deal of superfluous supervision. Every time I turned around my wife said, “How is your diet coming?” Of course, she knows exactly how it is coming because she is the one who was supervising this aspect of my life. Read More→

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