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December 2004 Archives

Printable Issue 428  Today is Wednesday, December 1st, 2004; Karen's Korner #428

Last weekend I had Allison Cramer come over and help me for a couple of hours to decorate our house for Christmas. She has come over for the past three years. It isn't that I can't do it alone. It just that I don't like to do it alone.

Now that the house is decorated, who is going to enjoy it but Jim and I? So I invited a handful of people from the neighborhood over for lunch yesterday. As one of the guys was leaving, he said, "Thanks for the "M & M moment"!

"What is that?" I asked.

"Making a memory," he said.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul writing below isn't about the upcoming holidays, but it is about 'making a memory'.

 

Making Memories
By Tonna Canfield

     After eating breakfast, my little girl says, "Mommy, will you watch this show with me?"  I look at the breakfast dishes in the sink and then at her big brown eyes.
     "Okay," I say, and we snuggle together on the couch and watch her favorite show.
     After the show, we put together a puzzle and I head for the kitchen to wash those dirty dishes when the phone rings.  "Hi," my friend says, "What have you been doing?"
     "Well," I say, "watching my little one's favorite show with her and putting together a puzzle."
     "Oh," she says, "so you're not busy today."
    No, I think to myself, just busy making memories.
     After lunch, Erica says, "Mommy, please play a game with me."  Now I am looking at not only the breakfast dishes but also the lunch dishes piled in the sink.  But again, I look at those big brown eyes and I remember how special it felt when my mom played games with me when I was a little girl.
     "Sounds like fun," I answer, "but just one game."  We play her favorite game, and I can tell she is delighting in every moment.
     When the game ends, she says, "Please read me a story."
     "Okay," I say, "but just one."
     After reading her favorite story, I head for the kitchen to tackle those dishes.  With the dishes now done, I start to fix supper.  My willing little helper comes eagerly to the kitchen to help me with my task.  I'm running behind and thinking about how much faster I could do this if my sweet little one would just go play or watch a video, but her willingness to help and her eagerness to learn how to do what her mommy is doing melts my heart, and I say, "Okay, you can help," knowing it will probably take twice as long.
     As supper is about ready, my husband comes home from work and asks, "What did you do today?"
     I answer, "Let's see, we watched her favorite show and we played a game and read a book.  I did the dishes and vacuumed; then with my little helper, I fixed supper."
     "Great," he says, "I'm glad you didn't have a busy day today."
    But I was busy, I think to myself, busy making memories.
     After supper, Erica says, "Let's bake cookies."
     "Okay," I say, "let's bake cookies."
     After baking cookies, once again I am staring at a mountain of dishes from supper and cookie baking, but with the smell of warm cookies consuming the house, I pour us a glass of cold milk and fill a plate with warm cookies and take them to the table.  We gather around the table eating cookies, drinking milk, talking and making memories.
     No sooner have I tackled those dishes than my little sweetie comes tugging at my shirt, saying, "Could we take a walk?"
     "Okay," I say, "let's take a walk."  The second time around the block I'm thinking about the mountain of laundry that I need to get started on and the dust encompassing our home; but I feel the warmth of her hand in mine and the sweetness of our conversation as she enjoys my undivided attention, and I decide at least once more around the block sounds like a good idea. 
     When we get home, my husband asks, "Where have you been?" 
     "We've been making memories," I say.
     A load in the wash and, my little girl all bathed and in her gown, the tiredness begins to creep in as she says, "Let's fix each other's hair."
     I'm so tired! my mind is saying, but I hear my mouth saying, "Okay, let's brush each other's hair."  With that task complete, she jumps up excitedly, "Let's paint each other's nails!  Please!"  So she paints my toenails, and I paint her fingernails, and we read a book while waiting for our nails to dry.  I have to turn the pages, of course, because her fingernails are still drying.
     We put away the book and say our prayers.  My husband peeks his head in the door, "What are my girls doing?" he asks.
     "Making memories," I answer.
     "Mommy," she says, "will you lay with me until I fall asleep?"
     "Yes," I say, but inside I'm thinking, I hope she falls asleep quickly so I can get up; I have so much to do.
     About that time, two precious little arms encircle my neck as she whispers, "Mommy, nobody but God loves you as much as I do."  I feel the tears roll down my cheeks as I thank God for the day we spent making memories.

Printable Issue 429  Today is Thursday, December 2nd, 2004; Karen's Korner #429

Here are a couple of lighthearted things to start your day today.

The first one was forwarded to me by Leon and Mariel Betts:

 A man decided to write a book about famous churches 
around the world.  So he bought a plane ticket and took a
trip to Orlando, thinking that he would  start by working
his way across the USA from South to North. On his  first
day he was inside a church taking photographs when he
noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a
sign that read "$10,000 per call".
 
The man, being intrigued, asked a priest who was
strolling by what the  telephone was used for. The priest
replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for
$10,000 you could talk to God.
 
 The man thanked the priest and went along his way.
 
 Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral,
he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.
He  wondered if this was  the same kind of telephone he saw in
Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. She
told him that it was a direct line  to heaven and that  for
$10,000 he could talk to God. "O.K., thank you," said the man.
 
He then traveled to Indianapolis, Washington DC,
Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. In every church he saw the
same golden telephone with the same "$10,000 per call" sign
under it.The man, upon leaving New York decided to  travel
out mid west to see if western states had the  same phone.
 
 He arrived in Iowa, and again, in the first church  he entered,
there was the same golden telephone, but this time the
sign under  it read "40 cents per call." The man was surprised
so he asked the priest about the sign. "Father, I've traveled all  
over America and I've seen this same golden telephone in many
churches. I'm  told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in the
east and south the price  was $10,000 per call.
 
 Why is it so cheap here?
 
 The priest smiled and answered, "You're in Iowa now,
 son,  it's a local  call".
 
***
 
And the second one is from Kevin Rayner:
 
God explained to one of his angels, "I just figured out how to rotate
the Earth so that it creates 24-hour periods of alternating light and
darkness."
 
The angel asked reverantly, "What are you going to do next?"
 
God replied, "I think I'll call it a day."
 
Printable Issue 430  Today is Friday, December 3rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #430
Since it is December, it is a good time to have a "story" about Christmas from an email "Chicken Soup for the Soul".  It could have been a "sad" time or "bad" time for Nancy and Barbara and their familes, and it probably was in spots. But these sisters chose to have fun:
 
 
In Search of a Simpler Time
By Nancy Harless

We were partners in crime.  What started as mischief became a yearly ritual we looked forward to every Christmas.

There were more children than money in our large family, but every year our parents managed to make Christmas a celebration to be remembered.

But one of my fondest Christmas memories is the secret shared only with my older sister, Barbara.

Our crime was committed while shopping for our siblings.  Our father would give us a crisp $5 bill with stern instructions that it was to be spent only on presents for our sisters, then drop us at the nearest dime store, with instructions to shop and then wait by the door until he returned.  Once our shopping was completed, Barbara and I would sneak to the soda counter, climb up on the tall round stools, plunk down our leftover change and count to see if we had enough.  We always did.  Grinning, we ordered hot fudge sundaes, then sat there, conspirators in crime, skinny legs dangling as we giggled and licked the thick, gooey chocolate from our spoons.

Fast-forward fifty years.  Barbara was diagnosed with incurable cancer.  We were told there was no cure, but "palliative therapy" would make her more comfortable.  Every day for weeks, particles of energy were bombarded through her brain.  Fatigue and nausea became daily companions.  Next, chemotherapy, with all its unpleasant side effects.  However, with the help of new medications, soon we were pleasantly surprised to find that Barbara no longer experienced nausea.  Her appetite even returned.  That is when we began our quest.  We were determined to find the perfect match of our childhood memory.  The ice cream must be the hard kind, the harder the better, since the thick, hot fudge will cause it to melt right away.  It had to have a cherry on top and it absolutely must be in a glass dish shaped like a tulip.  That was the recipe.

We spent the entire time she was in treatment in search of the absolutely perfect concoction.  We didn't tell anyone else what we were doing; once again it was our secret.

Treatment day was always Monday; by evening she could barely keep her eyes open.  The week became a blur of growing fatigue, confusion and weakness, but by the weekend, Barbara would begin to rally and by Sunday she was ready.

"You think we will find it this time?" she'd ask.  We'd laugh then climb into the car.

We ate a lot of ice cream that year, but it always seemed something was slightly off-kilter.  Soft ice cream wasn't the same as the hard-packed we remembered, chocolate syrup didn't give the same sensual delight as the thick goo of our childhood, the cherry on top was missing, or even worse, it was served in a paper container.  The exact replica seemed impossible to find.  Week after week we searched for the perfect combination.  We were on a mission - in search of a childhood memory and a simpler time.

"We didn't find it, did we?" Barbara sighed one morning.  I knew exactly what she meant.

"No, but we're not giving up!" I replied.  "Are you up for a road trip?"

The next day we took a longer trip than any we had previously attempted.

By the time we arrived at the ice cream parlor bedecked in 1950s décor, she was drained.  She needed help just to get out of the car.

As the waitress held out menus, Barbara spoke softly.  "We won't need those.  We already know what we want - hot fudge sundaes.  Do you use hard ice cream?"

"Of course," the waitress replied.

Barbara beamed at me.  "I think that we might have found it."

Soon the waitress returned carrying two tall tulip-shaped glasses filled with cold, hard, vanilla ice cream smothered in rich, thick hot fudge sauce, topped with a squirt of whipped cream and a cherry.  "Is this what you wanted?" she asked as she plunked them down on the counter.

I turned toward my sister.  Our eyes locked.  The silent, secret question hung in the air between us.  Was it? Slowly we picked up our spoons, plunged them into the sweet, cold confection and took them to our mouths.  As I licked the thick, rich chocolate goo from my lips, I looked toward Barbara and saw she was doing the same.  We began to first smile, and then giggle.

Mission accomplished.  There we were - not two overweight, middle-aged women enjoying an afternoon dessert with more calories than either needed.  We were two giggling little girls, perched on high stools, skinny legs dangling, sharing the precious bond of sisterhood, carried back to a time when life was simple and "palliative treatment," were just words that had no meaning.

Printable Issue 431  Today is Monday, December 6th, 2004; Karen's Korner #431

It's early in the holiday season, so I have sent and received only a handful of Christmas cards. Because we have received only about six cards, they are standing up on our kitchen table. I have had the opportunity to read and re-read the front of the one from Jim's aunt, Jessie Shupe.

Here is what it said:

 

If you have ever laughed,
if you have ever cried....
 
If you have ever believed,
if you have ever doubted.....
 
If you have ever been loved,
if you have ever been lonely.......
 
If you have ever felt burdened by trouble,
if you have ever felt blessed by joy.....
 
If you  have ever drawn one breath upon this earth --
then Jesus was born for you!
Printable Issue 432  Today is Tuesday, December 7th, 2004; Karen's Korner #432

Last night the Clarion Arts Council hosted a "Christmas Soiree" at our local museum. Among other events, people who attended were asked to share a Christmas memory or tradition. Leonard Cramer shared one of his from Christmas of 1944.

His story prompted a memory for me of the same year. It was my dad's story. He was doing the same thing that Leonard was doing 60 years ago at Christmas - as a soldier in World War II. I heard the story many times, as I retell it I hope that I have my facts straight. It was nearing the Christmas holiday and their division was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge - driving to the North Sea, believing if they could divide the German army, they could win the war. My dad and his soldier friends had set up temporary barracks in enemy territory. He told that when they woke up on Christmas morning, they saw several inches of new fallen snow on the ground. As they got out of their tents, they witnessed foot prints in the snow all around them. The steps were those of German soldiers, not those of the Americans. He would tell that he never understood why they were not killed or captured, while they slept. The rest is, as they say, history. We went on to win the war and defend the freedoms of our country and all of the countries which enjoyed similar freedoms.

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, the date when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, in 1941. And today, as we once again defend our country against world terrorism, we are reminded that "freedom has never been free". We had to fight to get our freedeom during the Revolutionary War and we have been called on many times during the 200+ years of our history to defend what was begun for us by others.

For a third time, I would like to share from the book I received from the Weld Cousin Reunion this fall, "God Bless America: Prayers & Reflections For Our Country".

From the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  July 4, 1776

First Amendment from the Bill of Rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  Approved December 15, 1791

Written by Mother Theresa:

"Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.

Jesus came to give us the good news that God loves us and that He wants us to love one another as He loves each one of us. And to make it easy for us to love one another, Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of me, you do it to me. If you give a glass of water, you give it to me. If you receive a little child in my name, you receive me. So whatever you do to the least, you do to me."

And where does this love begin? In our own families. How does it begin? By praying together. The family that prays together stays together, and if you stay together, you will love each other as God loves each one of you. So teach your children to pray, and pray with them, and you will have the joy and the peace and the unity of Christ's own love living in you."

And from the Bible:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."   John 15:13 

Printable Issue 433  Today is Wednesday, December 8th, 2004; Karen's Korner #433

Several short thoughts to start the new day:

Forwarded to me from the Dan Cramers:

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life;
and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.
       -- Confuciius (551-489 b.c.)
 
 
A quote by Corrie ten Boom,
who endured the suffering of life in a Nazi death camp:
 
If you look at the world, you'll be distressed.
If you look within, you'll be depressed.
But if you look at Christ, you will be at rest! 
Printable Issue 434  Today is Thursday, December 9th, 2004; Karen's Korner #434

Christmas! Time for gift giving, note sending, sharing time with family and friends. "It's the most wonderful time of the year," says the lyrics of a Christmas  carol.

And in many to most cases that is true!

In some instances, nothing could be farther from the truth. Sometimes we have to deal with losses. And they glare at this time of the year. We might have a new reality for Christmas 2004:  a new health condition, a broken realationship, a different financial situation, a job loss, a move to another community, loss of a loved one.

A broken family/friend relationship might be the hardest to bear. You know the kind. The one where mom/dad have done nearly everything imaginable to help the young adult, but he/she announces it wasn't enough and they aren't coming home this holiday season, maybe never. Or maybe "ma" and "pa" had no choice but to deny that young person's request because it would hurt them and not help. The 'family will' that was left in a shambles and now the siblings aren't getting along. The once cheerful family celebration is but a memory. A friend misreads your good intentions and lets you (and maybe a good portion of your world) know, in no uncertain terms, what he/she thought of your efforts. Now your calls or notes to correct the situation are not returned.

If your generous heart and spirit are being crushed, remember a thought that I think God gave me a while ago when I bumped into a situation I would like to have changed:  "Hurting people hurt other people."

Why is it that if someone hurts us our immediate reaction is to hurt them back:  unkind words, defending ourselves, telling everyone else of the misdeed done to us. We need to even the score.

This Christmas lets change the scene. If amends can be made, do it.

If that isn't possible, don't allow that other person to continue to hurt you.

A retaliation or grudge holding doesn't work, even if it is justified. Ask God to change the situation or the person who is detracting from your Christmas joy. Ask Him to change you through the situation. Ask God to help you see that other person as He sees him/her. And among other things, ask God to start to change your thought patterns. The kind of thoughts that you can't change on your own.

If you can't change your situation, allow God to change it for you!!

Will every relationship be made over? Made new? Probably not. But how you think and feel about them can be!!

Printable Issue 435  Today is Friday, December 10th, 2004; Karen's Korner #435

Since it is the Christmas holiday, some of our pass around emails center on the celebration at hand.

Several of the "hot emails" this year talk about our U.S. troops. The one I have included today is from Jim and Candee Bossard. If you have a loved one who won't be home for Christmas this year because he/she is serving in our military and defending us from terrorism, let them know we haven't forgotten them:

The Sands of Christmas

I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
and looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.
The laundry wasn't finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Dolphins lost by six.

And so with only minutes till my son got home from school,
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.
The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
and so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.

I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.
And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
eight hummers ran a column right behind an M1A.

A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens,
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.
They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.

Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again.
There wasn't much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease,
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MRE's.

They didn't have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn't need an ornament-- they lacked a Christmas Tree.
They didn't have a present even though it was tradition,
the only boxes I could see were labled "ammunition".

I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side,
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I cried.
I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.

There's nothing wrong, my little son, for safe we sleep tonight,
our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,
to worry about the things in life that really mean nothing at all,
instead of wondering each day if we will be the next to fall.

He looked at me as children do and said it's always right,
to thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write.
And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
to thank the many far from home, and this is what we wrote,

God bless you all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you're not alone.
The gift you give, you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can't repay.

Have a very merry Christmas!

Printable Issue 436  Today is Monday, December 13th, 2004; Karen's Korner #436

"Joy to the World" is a popular song for this time of year. Jesus was born and with his birth came 'joy to the world'.

And when Jesus becomes part of our lives, He brings with Him..........His joy.

Philippians 4:4 says, "Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!"

This was written by Paul to the church in Philippi.

My Bible Commentary says, "It seems strange that a  man in prison would be telling a church to be joyful. But Paul's attitude serves to teach us an important lesson--our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in this letter, Paul urges the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this. It's easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you haven't been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective. Ultimate joy comes Christ dwelling within us."

I heard a Christian speaker (Joyce Meyer) say several weeks ago that she has been in Paul's prison cell. It is a small, dingy cave. And at the time, he wrote telling 'us' to always rejoice, the city sewer ran through the prison and he was probably standing knee-deep in raw sewage.

Do you suppose that sometimes we can't rejoice because 'things aren't going the way we like'.

Can't rejoice? Or do we 'choose' not to?

Printable Issue 437  Today is Tuesday, December 14th, 2004; Karen's Korner #437

Because the war on terrorism continues in lots of places around the world and because we have soldiers in lots of places, several 'hot' emails for the Christmas holiday say somethings about these young men and women.

This is an email that we received last week from Jim's sister, Melvene:

Guarding Christmas................

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

 

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

 

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep

in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

 

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,

But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

 

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

and I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

 

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old .

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

 

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear

"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

 You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

 

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,

to the window that danced with a warm fire's light

then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

 

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,

that separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

 

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December," then he sighed,

"That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.

" My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

 

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red white and blue... an American flag.

 

"I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home,

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,

I can carry the weight of killing another or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers

who stand at the front against any and all, to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

 

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright , your family is waiting and I'll be all right.

" "But isn't there something I can do, at the least,

 "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?

 It seems all too little for all that you've done,

For being away from your wife and your son."

 

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

"Just tell us you love us, and never forget

To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

 

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

to know you remember we fought and we bled

is payment enough, and with that we will trust.

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

 

 

 
Printable Issue 438  Today is Wednesday, December 15th, 2004; Karen's Korner #438

It's Christmas time! Time for lights, gifts, parties, families, and friends! Everything is holly, jolly, and bright!

We had our annual Marys and Marthas (M & Ms for short) meeting last night. We are a group of gals that "help the sick and the poor of the world; congratulates the successes of others".  I came home from the meeting feeling drained. Dozens of people in my world that have major needs this Christmas season.........illnesses, family deaths, cars that don't run, houses that hardly house people, kids in hospitals instead of in school. Easier not to know of the "troubles" around me. More fun to concentrate on happier things....

Some of the needs would take hundreds of dollars. Instead our group could give them twenty dollar bills. Made me feel bad. I wanted to do more. I am sure others in our group may have felt the same way.

In the night, a Bible verse came to my mind, "If anyone gives us much as a cup of water because you are mine.......", Jesus said.

The thought was a sign to me that He is happy with what we did and were able to do for others.

So this morning I am looking at our list with a different set of eyes. Tweleve families or organziations have checks, dollars, or a couple of movie passes from the M & Ms. And another sea of people will have notes and cards from the us gals remembering them and to let them know that they are special to somebody and to God. I will type up what we did and email it to dozens of M & Ms, so that they know, too. Maybe they will know someone who knows someone and even more people will be helped.

At our meeting, someone told of a gal named Angie who had an accident with her 'beater' car going to and from Fort Dodge to work every day. She was feeling hopeless now. Since she had liability insurance only, she has no means for another vehicle. Neither do we! But Kelly popped up with, "I go to Fort Dodge every day to work. Maybe we could ride together." Might work. Kelly and Nancy are going to find out!

Lots of problems. But lots of solutions, too! When you put us all together with our community fundraisers and many hands, hearts and caring people. After all it is hard to tell what Jesus can do with a "cup of cool water which is given to Him........."

Printable Issue 439  Today is Thursday, December 16th, 2004; Karen's Korner #439

Do you know why little kids are so much fun? We learn so much from them!

This is yesterday's "Chicken Soup for the Soul" email:

The Other Reindeer
By Carrie Powell-Davidson

     Taking the children to visit Santa has always been a highlight of the season but no visit was so memorable as the year the big guy presented each child with a pair of cardboard antlers.
     Delighted with their new headgear, my daughter, Courtney then age four and son, Colton, age one, raced frantically about the house pretending to be reindeer.  While I was busy with Christmas preparations, the two snuck into the kitchen and acquired some much-needed supplies.
     After an uncomfortable length of silence had passed, I put down what I was working on and turned to go check on my little hoofed ones.  As I turned, I was greeted by two beaming sets of big brown eyes and smiles as proud as you please.  My daughter had donned her treasured antlers and with the aid of a red, felt pen, had coloured the entire center of her face.
     "I'm Rudolph!" she announced with admiration for herself, little chest thrust forward.  Holding very tightly to her hand was my young son, also wearing his antlers but with a large crumpled-up piece of tin foil adhered to the center of his face.
     "That's nice," I said.  "And who is your little friend?"
     Courtney's regimental stance drooped as in with disgust by the mere mention of any confusion.  "Mommy!" she clarified, "He's Olive.  You know, Olive... The other reindeer!"

 

Printable Issue 440  Today is Friday, December 17th, 2004; Karen's Korner #440
Continuing on from yesterday with the thoughts from kids and the joy that they add to any holiday season.
 
Most of my 'pass around' emails, I read, enjoy, and dump. Too much stuff to save. But once in awhile I save something for a long time. Then forget I have it in my 'inbox'. This is one that I received from my neice, Colleen, five years ago when she was 14. Hope that you enjoy it:
 
What MONEY can buy.....
 
Money can buy a house, but not a home.
Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.

Money can buy a clock, but not time.
Money can buy a book, but not knowledge.

Money can buy food, but not an appetite.
Money can buy position, but not respect.

Money can buy blood, but not life.
Money can buy medicine, but not health.

Money can buy insurance, but not safety.
You see, money is not everything.

Therefore, if you have too much money, please send it to me at once.
I need it for Christmas.
Printable Issue 441  Today is Monday, December 20th, 2004; Karen's Korner #441
I mentioned several weeks ago about ordering "In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart" by Ruth Graham, Billy Graham's daughter. Divorce, teen pregnancy, difficult choices--some sound and other not, are all a part of her personal family history.
 
This is how the book opens:
 
"I wound my way up my parents' steep, mountain driveway in western North Carolina, unsure if I would be welcomed or rejected. I was broken by the choices I had made. Stubborn and willful, I had followed my own path, and now I would have to face the consequences. I had caused pain for my children and loved ones. I feared I had embarassed my parents. It seemed I had wrecked my world. The shame was almost unbearable.
 
"I had driven sixteen hours from South Florida, stopping to pick up my youngest daughter at boarding school, and now I was tired and anxious. The familiarity of my childhood environment did little to subdue my fears. The February mountain air was crisp and clean. The bare trees--maple, poplar, and oak--lining the drive up to my parents' house afforded a view this tme of year, but I was too absorbed to notice.
 
"What would my life be like now? I had gone against everyone's advice. My family had warned me. They had tried to stop me. But I had not listened. I needed to do what was best for me, I had told them. And now my life was a shambles. I was a failure in my own eyes and certainly would be in the eyes of others when they leraned what "Billy Graham's daughter" had done. I feared I had humiliated those I held dearest. How would I be able to face them?
 
"Driving up the mountain, my fears multiplied. Adrenaline kept my foot on the gas. I felt my hands grip the streering wheel. My mind was spinning. I tried to remember my mothers' insistent tone from our phone conversation a few days earlier:  'Come home,' she had urged. I was desperate when I called her. I told her of my mistake and was trying to piece together a plan when she interjected with the voice of a loving, protective parent. But how would she and my father respond when they saw me? What would they say to me? Would they say, 'You've made your bed; now lie in it'? Would they condemn me. Would they reject me? Despise me? They had every right.
 
"As I rounded the last bend in the driveway, Daddy came into view. He was standing in the paved area where visitors usually park. Rolling the car to a stop, I took a deep breath and prepared to greet my father. I turned off the ignition, opened the car door, and stepped onto the driveway. Then I looked up -- Daddy was already at my side. Before I could say a word, he took me into his arms and said, 'Welcome home'."
Printable Issue 442  Today is Tuesday, December 21st, 2004; Karen's Korner #442
A couple of short thoughts for a busy Christmas holiday season:
 
*  "The only thing you can really control in this life is your own mental attitude."
        - author Barbara Johnson from "Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy"
 
*  "Human knowledge must be understood to be believed, but Divine knowledge must be
        believed to be understood."
            - author unknown
 
*  "Sometimes God calms the storm; sometimes God allows the storm to rage and
        calms His child."
            - Daily Bread devotional item
 
*  "Failure is an event, never a person!"
            - March 1986 edition, Readers' Digest
 
"Christmas, my child, is love in action."
            -- Dale Evans Rogers, actress, singer and writer

Printable Issue 443  Today is Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004; Karen's Korner #443
A good holiday story from a "Chicken Soup for the Soul":
 
Room at the Table
By Vivian Eisenecher

     Have you ever noticed that dining room tables seat six, eight or twelve - not seven, nine or thirteen?  I've been single all my life, usually not thinking much of it.  But on holidays even the place settings conspire against me, rendering a silent rebuke against my single status.
     You can endure holiday dinners two ways if you're single: 1) Bring someone you don't particularly care for; 2) hear the awful words "Pull up an extra seat," a euphemism for either a collapsible chair or one that is too high or too low for the table.  Either strategy leaves you uncomfortable.
     At Thanksgiving two years ago, while my calves cramped from straddling the leg of my brother's dining room table, Aunt Nell took the opportunity to ask for details about my love life, which was seriously lacking at the time.  The event was excruciating.
     Though I enjoy singlehood in the main, there have been times when I've worked myself into a mad frenzy looking for someone to fill a void I thought I couldn't satisfy on my own.  Someone, anyone with a pulse would do.  Over the years, I dated quite a few guys I liked - I was even engaged once, but "till death us do part" seemed a very long time.  I was relieved to be alone again.
     So holidays, especially with the Aunt Nells of the family leave me a little bereft.  One day, noting my frustration a friend of mine suggested we try something different on the next such holiday.
     "How 'bout you and I go down to a homeless shelter and help out?  Then maybe we'll be grateful for what we have," she proposed.
     I had a thousand reasons why this wasn't a good idea, but my friend persisted.  The next Christmas I found myself in an old warehouse, doling out food.
     Never in my life had I seen so many turkeys and rows of pumpkin pies.  Decorations donated by a nearby grocery store created a festive atmosphere that uplifted even my reluctant spirit.  When everyone was fed, I took a tray and filled a plate with the bountiful harvest.  After a few bites, I knew what everyone was carrying on about; the food was really good.
     My dinner companions were easy company.  Nobody asked me why I didn't have a date.  People just seemed grateful for a place to sit and enjoy a special dinner.  To my surprise, I found I had much in common with my fellow diners.  They were people like me.
     My experience that Christmas brought me back to the shelter the following year.  I enjoyed helping others so much that I began seeking more opportunities to serve.  I started volunteering for the Literacy Foundation once a week.  I figured I could sit in front of the TV, or I could use those evening hours to help others learn to read.
     Caring for others has abundantly filled the void in my life that I had sometimes interpreted as a missing mate.  When I stopped trying so hard to fit in, I realized I was single for a reason and found my own special purpose.
     There is room at the table for a party of one.  And sometimes "just one" is the perfect fit.

Printable Issue 444  Today is Thursday, December 23rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #444
Our "Family"
By Linda Snelson

     My daughter Gina was in Mrs. Melton's fourth-grade class.  After only a month in school, she began to come home on a regular basis asking for pencils, crayons, paper, etc.  At first I just dutifully provided whatever she needed, never questioning her.
     After ongoing requests for items that should have easily lasted a mere six weeks of fourth grade, I became concerned and asked her, "Gina, what are you doing with your school supplies?"  She would always respond with an answer that satisfied me.
     One day, after supplying the same thing only a week earlier, I became irritated with her pleading for more and sternly asked her once more, "Gina! What is going on with your school supplies?"  Knowing her excuses would no longer work, she bent her head and began to cry.  I lifted her tiny chin and looked into those big brown eyes, filled now with tears.  "What?!  What is wrong?"  My mind was racing with all sorts of ideas.  Had she been bullied by another child?  Was she giving her supplies to him or her to keep from being hurt, or to gain their approval?  I couldn't imagine what was going on, but I knew it was something serious for her to cry.  I waited for what seemed like an eternity for her to answer.
     "Mom," she began, "there is a boy in my class; he doesn't have any of the supplies he needs to do his work.  The other kids make fun of him because his papers are messy and he only has two crayons to color with.  I have been putting the new supplies you bought me in his desk before the others come in, so he doesn't know it's me.  Please don't get mad at me, Mom.  I didn't mean to tell you a lie, but I didn't want anyone to know it was me."
     My heart sank as I stood there in disbelief.  She had taken on the role of an adult and tried to hide it like a child.  I knelt down and hugged her to me, not wanting her to see my own tears.  When I pulled myself together, I stood up and said, "Gina, I would never get mad at you for wanting to help someone, but why didn't you just come and tell me?"  I didn't have to wait for her to answer.
     The next day I visited Mrs. Melton.  I told her what Gina had said.  She knew John's situation all too well.  The oldest of four boys, their parents had just moved here and when the school presented them with the school supply list for all four grades they were overwhelmed.  When the boys came to school the next week, they barely had the necessities – a few sheets of paper and a pencil each.
     I asked Mrs. Melton for the list from all four grades and told her I would take care of it the next day.  She smiled and gave me the lists.
     The next day, we brought the supplies in and gave them to the office with instructions to give them to the boys.
     As Christmas neared, the thought of John, his brothers and family weighed heavily on my mind.  What would they do?  Surely they would not have money for gifts.
     I asked Mrs. Melton if she could get me their address.  At first she refused, reminding me that there was a policy that protected the privacy of the students, but because she knew me from my work at the school and involvement on the PTA board, she slipped a piece of paper into my hand and whispered, "Don't tell anyone I gave it to you."
     When my family began to set the stage for our traditional Christmas Eve, which was usually held at my house, I simply told them all that my husband, the kids and I did not want gifts, but instead we would prefer to have groceries and gifts for our "family."
     As the girls and I shopped throughout the holiday season, they delighted in picking things out for the four boys.  Gina was especially interested in things for John.
     Christmas Eve came and my family began to arrive.  Each of them had bags of food and gifts wrapped for the children.  My living room was full and the excitement was contagious.
     Finally at 9:00 we decided it was time to take our treasures to them.  My brothers, dad, uncles and nephews loaded up their trucks and set out for the apartment complex address that Mrs. Melton gave us.
     They knocked on the door and a little boy appeared.  They asked for his mother or dad and he ran away.  The guys waited until a young man, hardly more than a child himself, came to the door.  He looked at the men standing there, with arms full of gifts and bags full of groceries, and couldn't say a word.  The men pushed past him and went straight to the kitchen counter to set the bags down.
     There was no furniture.  It was an empty one-bedroom apartment with a few blankets on the floor and a small TV where they obviously spent their time.  A Christmas tree was the result of the kids bringing in a bush they had found in the field behind the complex.  A few paper decorations made in their classrooms made it look like a real Christmas tree.  Nothing was underneath.
     The boys and their parents stood without speaking as the men sat down bag after bag.  They finally asked who had sent them, how did they know them and so on.  But the men just left them with shouts of "Merry Christmas!"
     When the guys got back to my house they didn't say a word.  They couldn't.
     To break the silence, my aunt stood up and began to sing "Silent Night," and we all joined in.
     When school resumed, Gina came home daily telling of John's new clothes and how the other children now played with him and treated him like the rest of the children.
     She never told a soul at school about what we did, but every Christmas since that one she will say to me, "Mom, I wonder what happened to John and his family?"  While I'm not quite sure of the answer, I'd like to think that John and his family were somehow helped by my daughter's gift
.

Printable Issue 445  Today is Friday, December 24th, 2004; Karen's Korner #445
Merry Christmas!
 
Luke 2:8 - 14:  "That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them, "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket lying in a manger!" 
 
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God! "Glory to God in the highest heaven," they said, "and peace on earth for all those pleasing to him."
 
 
Commentary on these verses -  "What a birth announcement! The shepherds were terrified, but their fear turned to joy as the angels announced the Messiah's birth. First they ran to see the baby, then they spread the word. Jesus is your Messiah, your Savior. Do you look forward to meeting Him in prayer and in His Word each day? Is your relationship so special that you can't help sharing your joy with your friends?
 
The greatest event in history had just happened! The Messiah was born! For ages the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally happened, the announcement came to humble shepherds. The good news about Jesus is that He comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept Him. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. Don't think you need extraordinary qualifications - He accepts you as you are.
Printable Issue 446  Today is Monday, December 27th, 2004; Karen's Korner #446

I hope that you had a very good Christmas with family and friends!

Even though the day has passed, I have several more good Christmas writings which I would like to share with you this week.

Today's I received last year and I decided to save it until December this year. I thought it might have been a Karen's Korner then, but in looking back I can't find it. So this is either the first time.......or the second time I have included it in the "korner":

   The Giving Trees
 
      I was a single parent of four small children, working at a
 minimum-wage job.  Money was always tight, but we had a roof
 over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs and, if
 not a lot, always enough.  My kids told me that in those days
 they didn't know we were poor.  They just thought Mom was cheap. 
 I've always been glad about that.
      It was Christmas time, and although there wasn't money for
 a lot of gifts, we planned to celebrate with church and family,
 parties and friends, drives downtown to see the Christmas
 lights, special dinners, and by decorating our home.
      But the big excitement for the kids was the fun of
 Christmas shopping at the mall.  They talked and planned for
 weeks ahead of time, asking each other and their grandparents
 what they wanted for Christmas.  I dreaded it.  I had saved $120
 for presents to be shared by all five of us.
      The big day arrived and we started out early.  I gave each
 of the four kids a twenty dollar bill and reminded them to look
 for gifts about four dollars each.  Then everyone scattered.  We
 had two hours to shop; then we would meet back at the "Santa's
 workshop" display.
      Back in the car driving home, everyone was in high
 Christmas spirits, laughing and teasing each other with hints
 and clues about what they had bought. My younger daughter,
 Ginger, who was about eight years old, was unusually quiet.  I
 noted she had only one small, flat bag with her after her
 shopping spree.  I could see enough through the plastic bag to
 tell that she had bought candy bars - fifty-cent candy bars!  I
 was so angry. "What did you do with that twenty dollar bill I
 gave you?" I wanted to yell at her, but I didn't say anything
 until we got home.  I called her into my bedroom and closed the
 door, ready to be angry again when I asked her what she had done
 with the money.  This is what she told me:
      "I was looking around, thinking of what to buy, and I
 stopped to read the little cards on one of the Salvation Army's
 'Giving Trees.'  One of the cards was for a little girl four
 years old, and all she wanted for Christmas was a doll with
 clothes and a hairbrush.  So I took the card off the tree and
 bought the doll and the hairbrush for her and took it to the
 Salvation Army booth.
      "I only had enough money left to buy candy bars for us,"
 Ginger continued.  "But we have so much and she doesn't have
 anything."
      I never felt so rich as I did that day.
 
     by Kathleen Dixon

Printable Issue 447  Today is Tuesday, December 28th, 2004; Karen's Korner #447
I received this writing from my uncle Bud Merwin last year after Christmas and have saved it to use for Karen's Korner during this year's holiday season:
 
The Christmas Doll

Author Unknown

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I sort of wished I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I mumbled to myself at the prices of all the toys, and wondered if the kids would even play with them. I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about 5, holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and held her so gently. I just kept looking over at the little boy I could not seem to help myself-and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman whom he identified as his aunt, and said, "Are you sure I don't have enough money?" She replied rather sadly, "Honey, I'm sorry, but you don't have enoug! h money for it." His aunt told him not to go anywhere, to stay and look at all the toys, that she had to get some other things would be back in a few minutes.

The boy continued to hold the doll. After a moment, I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, "It is the doll my sister wanted real bad for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it." I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said, "No, Santa can't go where my sister is...I have to give the doll to my Mama to take to her."  I asked him where his sister was. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "She has gone to be with Jesus." "My Daddy says that Mama is going to have to go be with her."  My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, "I told my Daddy to tell Mama not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store."


He then asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures that they had taken at the front of the store in one of those quick photo booths. He said "I want my Mama to take this with her so she won't ever forget me. I love my Mama so much, I wish she did not have to leave me. But Daddy says she's going to go be with my sister."

The little boy lowered his head and grew very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out some money. I asked the little boy, "Shall we count that money one more time? He grew excited and said "Yes, I just know it has to be enough." As we counted, I carefully slipped the money in with his. Of course it was plenty for the doll.


He softly said, "Oh, thank you, Jesus, for giving me enough money." Then the boy said "I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll, so Mama can take it with her to give to my sister. And He heard my prayer. I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my Mama a white rose, but I didn't ask Him, and He gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Mama! She loves white roses a whole lot."


In a few minutes the aunt came back, and I went about my shopping. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished what I needed to do in a totally different spirit than when I had started. I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier, about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and leaving the Mother in critical condition, and the family with the decision as to whether to remove the life support or not. Surely this little boy did not belong with that story. Two days later, I read in the paper where the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I could not forget the little boy, and kept wondering if the two were somehow connected.

Later that day, I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. There she lay, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store. I left there in tears, my life changed forever-overwhelmed by the love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother, and how cruel it seemed that in a split second, a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little boy to pieces.


Printable Issue 448  Today is Wednesday, December 29th, 2004; Karen's Korner #448
Day before yesterday's Chicken Soup for the Soul:
 
Santa Redeemed
By Jean Bronaugh

     Typically, young kids start out believing in Santa Claus, then learn later that Santa was just their grandpa dressed in a red suit.  Me, I was onto the truth pretty quickly.  As a savvy seven-year-old, I knew that Santa Claus was just another adult scam.  Anyone could see that.  The problem was that as the two oldest grandchildren, my sister and I were expected to help convince the younger grandchildren that Santa was real.  I went along with this farce reluctantly.  "You ask for what you want, and Santa brings it to you," I would say, dutifully.
     But how could I, or anyone else for that matter - young or old - be expected to believe it?  Life just wasn't like that.  You didn't get what you wanted.  You got what you didn't want.  Look at us.  We had recently lost our dad, and now, after thirteen years of staying at home, Mom had to go out and look for a job.  This was tough.  Mom had few qualifications for the world of work.  She had been raised during the Great Depression, and had dropped out of school at an early age to help support the family.  Not only had she little education, she had limited experience and no special training.
     For months she searched unsuccessfully for work as we sank further and further into poverty.  Mom was unable to hold on to the home that Dad had built, and a relative in another town allowed us to live in a back room of her home for a while.  The family car disappeared into the night as the repo man performed his duties.  Thus Mother's options were further limited to jobs that were within walking distance.
     In our new town, there were a number of bars that could be reached on foot, but Mother believed that her working in a bar would not be good for her children.  So she continued the search.
     As Christmas approached, Mother planned to take my sister and me to the school festival.  Admission was free, and we could walk there.  After we had spent some time looking around, Mother asked us to get in line to talk to Santa, which was the only activity you could do for nothing.  I got in line, just to please her.
     After Santa lifted me onto his lap, he asked what my Christmas wish was.  It didn't really matter what I told him, because I knew Santa was just somebody's grandpa dressed in a red suit.  Naming a toy would only sadden my mother because she couldn't afford any toys.  I decided to tell the truth.  "My wish is that my mother would get a job so we can buy groceries," I said in a bold voice.
     "And where is your mother?" Santa asked.  I pointed her out.  "Ho, ho, ho," said Santa, "I'll see what I can do."
     Why do they always say ho, ho, ho? I thought.
     A few days after Christmas, the phone rang and Mother picked it up.  There was a brief conversation. "Yes...yes...oh, I would love to, yes...All right...Good-bye."
     She turned to my sister and me with a smile that I hadn't seen in a while.
     "I've been offered a job in the school," she said, her voice rising with excitement.  "In the lunch room.  Now we're going to be all right."  She hugged us both.  Then she added, "I wonder how they knew I needed a job?"
     Later I found out that Santa Claus, whether he is your grandpa in a red suit or the school superintendent doing his bit at the Christmas festival, is not such a scam after all.
     And the following Christmas I told the younger kids that if they didn't believe in him they were really missing out.

Printable Issue 449  Today is Thursday, December 30th, 2004; Karen's Korner #449
One more Christmas "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which I received a day or so after Christmas. Who says Christmas has to cost lots of money!
 
 
I'm Not Scrooge...I'm Just Broke
By Storm Stafford

     It's said that you can never have too many friends, but Christmas was just a week away and I had five people left to shop for on my Christmas list and only three dollars to my name.  How do you tell your mother, brother and three friends that you can only spend sixty cents on each of them?
     "Let's set a price limit on our gifts this year," I suggested to my best friend, Joanie.
     "That's a good idea," Joanie agreed.  "How about nothing over five dollars?"
     "How about nothing over sixty cents?"  I felt like the biggest cheapskate in the world.
     "I guess this is where I'm supposed to say it's not the gift, it's the thought that counts," Joanie smiled.  "But don't blame me if all you get is a stick of gum!"
     It is almost impossible to buy anything for under sixty cents, so it was really going to have to be very small gifts with very big thoughts.  I'd never spent so much time or effort trying to come up with the right gift for the right person.
     Finally, Christmas day arrived, and I was worried how people would feel about my "cheap" gifts.
     I gave my mother a scented candle with a note that said, "You are the brightest light in my life."  She almost cried when she read the note.
     I gave my brother a wooden ruler.  On the back of it I'd painted, "No brother in the world could measure up to you."  He gave me a bag of sugar and had written on it, "You're sweet."  He'd never said anything like that to me before.
     For Joanie, I painted an old pair of shoes gold and stuck dried flowers in them with a note that said, "No one could ever fill your shoes."  She gave me a feather and a Band-Aid.  She said I always tickled her funny bone and made her laugh until her sides ached.
     To my other two friends, I gave one a paper fan and wrote on it, "I'm your biggest fan."  To the other, I gave a calculator that cost one dollar and I painted a message on the back, "You can always count on me."  They gave me a rusty horseshoe for luck and a bundle of sticks tied with a red ribbon because "friends stick together."
     I don't remember all the other gifts that I got from people last Christmas, but I remember every one of the "cheap" gifts.
     My brother thinks I'm sweet.  My mother knows she is the most important person in my life.  Joanie thinks I'm funny and I make her laugh, which is important because her dad moved away last year and she misses him and is sad sometimes.
     I was worried I wouldn't have enough money for Christmas gifts, but I gave gifts to five people and still had twenty cents left over.  We all still talk about our "cheap" gifts and how much fun it was to come up with a gift that cost pennies but told someone how we really felt about them.  On my bookshelf, I still have a bag of sugar, a feather, a horseshoe and a bundle of sticks...and they are priceless.

Printable Issue 450  Today is Friday, December 31st, 2004; Karen's Korner #450
A couple of lighthearted thoughts to end the old year and bring in the new one:
 
A short "Chicken Soup for the Soul" from a couple of days ago:
 
Keeping the Magic
By Kittie Ellis
 
     Kevin came running from one end of the house to the other screaming with the telephone in hand, "It's Santa, Mom!  It's Santa!  He's called our house!  It's really him!"
     I took the phone and tentatively said, "Hello?"
     I heard my friend Sandra, laughing, "All I said was, 'Hi, Kevin, it's Sandra!'"
     I smiled into the phone.  I was about to speak when I caught the sparkle in Kevin's eye.  In those beautiful blue eyes the magic of Christmas reflected back, with all the hope and excitement that the season brings.  I smiled into the phone and spoke over my friend's laughter: "Yes, Santa, Kevin and Sean have been really good boys.  It was so nice of you to phone.  Thank you."
     I paused a moment as there was a silence on the other end of the line.  "And Merry Christmas to you too, Santa," I said, and then I gently hung up the receiver.
 
****
 
Forwarded to me by Dorothy Reikens:
 
 
My mother was away all weekend at a business conference.   
During a break, she decided to call home collect.   
 
My six-year-old brother picked up the phone and heard a   
stranger's voice say, "We have a Marcia on the line. Will   
you accept the charges?"   
 
Frantic, he dropped the receiver and came charging outside   
screaming, "Dad! They've got Mom! And they want money!"
  
 
 
****
 
And a short thought to take with you into 2005:

 
Life brings simple pleasures to us every day.
It is up to us to make them wonderful memories.
        - Cathy Allen