Saturday, December 30, 2006

Early to bed--Early to rise

I am not really a morning person, and never have been, but for some reason I keep having situations in my life where I need to get up early. For a while, right out of High School, I worked for a dairy. Every morning, I had to get up at around 5 am. Then later I worked for a youth program where I was up each morning at that same time, preparing breakfast for the staff. When I started teaching, I thought that the regular schedule would eliminate this problem, but then I got a coaching position where we had to have early morning practices for a while. Just recently, my oldest daughter has been volunteering to sub for the paper delivery in our area, so occasionally she gets a call from someone for that duty. She can drive, she knows the town, and she has a younger sister who usually volunteers to help, but for some reason, I usually end up climbing out of bed at 5 to assist. Either they slept in, or the paper is a huge holiday edition, or somebody's sick--like this morning. I didn't want a paper route when I was a kid for just this reason-plus the lousy pay- but here I am. Maybe I can convince the local paper to change to an afternoon edition, at least I'll already be awake when the call for help comes. Have a Happy New Year.:o)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hills and Vales

Where I grew up, we lived on a street that was one long hill, as were the two streets behind us. This made it difficult for me to learn to ride a bicycle, but gave us hours of fun with our sleds and homemade go-carts. I always enjoyed listening to Bill Cosby's comedy sketch 'Go-Carts" because of my early time with them. At the top of our street, and a block or two down, was a cemetery. At Halloween, this gave an added thrill to the antics of the day, daring one another to walk by-or into-this no man's land.
I made friends for blocks around our house, and for me it didn't matter what the age or gender. My brother and I made friends with an older lady who lived back in from the top of our street. On one occasion, she told us about the snakes in her cellar. We thought she was telling us a story at first, but then she took us down to show us. There were hundreds of black snakes with orange rings around their necks--Western ring-necks--dangling from the rafters of her cellar. We were ecstatic. She gave us buckets, and we collected as many as we could carry, and she was letting us have them for free! When we arrived home, our mother was not as overjoyed as we were. I don't remember what she said exactly, or even what we did with the snakes, but it was one of many memories that I associate with that first home.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Frozen in Time

I remember a particular winter when I was growing up. We were at school when a blizzard blew in, and I had to walk home from school in this storm. For some reason, I did not have any gloves with me. That day had been a library day, and I had books to take home with me. I had to carry the books in my gloveless hands. It was so cold, but I didn't want to put the books down and get them ruined in the snow. I walked from shelter to shelter in the storm for as long as I could, then simply ducked my head into the storm to make it the rest of the way home. When I arrived, my mother took one look at my hands, and began to treat them for frostbite.
Things turned out all right, but as I think back on that event, I can't help but think how different that story might have been with the attitudes of some of the youth that I teach. We had a respect for things and authority which seems to be lacking today. I think that many of the kids today would have dropped those books in the snow, and who cares what happens to them. The same is true for the respect we used to give to our elders, or people in authority over us. When they talked, we listened, and responded with "yes sir" or "yes ma'am". Times have changed. Maybe there is a way for us to get back to those simpler times when we had that respect for people and things--I don't know. I hope so. I think it all comes down to families, and the way we are raising our children. How can they have respect for a father who is not even there, or who drinks and beats them when he is. I have heard it said that the gang problem we have in the United States all comes down to this one thing, those gang members are searching for a place to belong--where they are accepted, because they don't find it at home. Maybe we just need to show a little more love in our homes, and get back to those basic emotions and respect.
I don't want to sound too discouraging. I have some wonderful kids of my own, and teach many more who still have these important values in their lives. I just wish they all could. Maybe we need to learn to keep the spirit of this time of year--Christmas time--with us all through the year. Christ set the perfect example, and I pray we can folow it. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A White Christmas

When I was young, we lived in a (to me then) big two story house in Omaha, Nebraska. I remember Christmas there as being a very magical thing. My mother would always paint decorations on our big picture window, and although our house wasn't the most decorated outside, inside it always felt like Christmas. The tree would be brought in (and start to shed pine needles almost immediately), and the smell of pine would permeate through the house. All of the kids helped decorate, including hanging the handmade Christmas stockings--each one unique to the child it belonged to. Then we would wait anxiously as the presents began to trickle under the tree, one or two at a time. Soon the tension of Christmas to come was almost more than a child of 5 or 6 could bear. Christmas Eve would find us all gathered around the tree for a family talent show, with each child , or two, sharing some (to them) inspired portion of the little program. Dad usually went last, and often finished the night by playing Christmas songs on his Harmonica. The children were then bustled off to bed (much too early, but the sooner you fall asleep, the sooner Santa can come and deliver his much awaited load), and whisper in the dark for what seemd like hours, before they finally drifted off to sleep. Then in the wee hours of the morning, one of us children would awake, and quietly sneak around to all of the bedrooms, waking each of the others, asking , "Is it morning yet? Can we go down?". We knew the time was right when Dad would stagger-- half asleep himself--to the bottom of the stairs, and call us all down to line up in the hallway, youngest to oldest. Oh the torture of waiting for everyone to get in line! When all were ready, we would enter the front room, like pilgrims entering a sacred shrine. Squeals of joy, and cries of delight would ring through the room as each child found his special gift from Santa.

As my children grow older, we are starting to get away from this scene at my own home today. We can't stop them from growing older, but maybe we can try to instill in them some of the magic that we shared in those Christmas mornings from our youth. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

At Long Last

I tried to set up this blog on more than one occasion. I went through all the steps, set up the site, set my user name and password, and then...nothing. I couldn't log on to post. My password wouldn't work. I thought I must have done something wrong, so I tried it again. I went through the entire process again.. with the same results. Finally, I was able to go through Google to change my password, and get on to the site. I almost gave up before I got started.I currently teach High School history, so I am used to being frustrated. Maybe I am a little cynical too. I hope I don't come across that way all the time, I don't think of myself that way. As I said at the front of my site, I have done many things in my life. Working many different jobs. Like my sister-who also blogs-I consider myself to be a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none. I have been a rodeo clown, and a white water raft guide. Of course I have also worked for the fast food industry at Orange Julius, and thrown freight for Wal-Mart. In the course of all of these things, I managed to get two college degrees, get married, and have 6 kids--including one set of twins. I need to think about how I want to organize this blog, but I think after this entry, I may start at my earliest memories and work forward to present. Along the way through my memory, I will try to entertain if possible, and maybe even share something worthwhile.