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25 things about Jamsco’s Christmas

1. Our family drove to beautiful Arkansas for Christmas

2. To get there we drove through a Wind/Snow Storm in Iowa.

3. We counted 81 cars in the ditch.

4. Two of them were upside down.

5. My wife saw a car out of control going down the highway sideways – it managed to stop while still on the road and kept going.

6. Arkansas is the “Natural State”.

7. We climbed around the woods of the Ozark mountains, jumped over creeks, and climbed rocky paths.

8. Our kids had fun with their cousins.

9. Twelve kids from two families (ours and theirs) age 2 to 11.

10 They slept in two bedrooms. Boys in one room, girls in the other.

11. We sang lots of Christmas carols not just because the adults wanted to, but because the kids kept asking

12. I turned 40 on Christmas day.

13. I received a Birthday card handmade by my 5 year old niece.

14. We ate tomales cooked in corn husks – and I, a big baby from the Midwest who eschews foreign food, liked them.

15. This is a traditional meal for Christmas eve for my brother in law.

16. He’s an MK from Honduras.

17. We drank fresh cow’s milk.

18. . . . and ate homemade ice cream

19 . . .  and homemade Caramel popcorn sweetened with real maple syrup

20 . . .  and homemade cranberry rolls.

21. We had our 78th picnic of the year (breaking last year’s record by 1!) on an island in the creek.

22. On the way home God protected our family on the way home by alerting us to a very bad tire – with a three inch in diameter gash of open tread – before it went flat.

23. We also drove through fog so thick that to find an exit (when I wanted to get off the highway to clean off the windows) I had to find a spot where the white line on the side of the road bent off to the right.

24. Throughout the week we thanked God for His incarnation and explained it more fully to our kids.

25. I love Christmas.

You may expect a lessening of posts for the next week or so. But in the meantime . . .

 Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned from Luke 2

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. ***  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ***  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

***  

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Have I mentioned that I like Pastor John’s Poetry?

No? Well I do.

 It’s a pretty good story, too.

Did you hear about the two New Jersey prison inmates who broke out and escaped through an 18 inch hole they had carved out. Notable is the ending of the note they left:

At a news conference Monday, Romankow read the note found in Espinosa’s cell, saying it represented the “arrogance of these two men.”

“Thank you officer ——– for the tools needed, you’re a real pal, Happy Holidays,” the note read, with a smiley face drawn next to it.

Did you catch that? Happy Holidays!

So, I say, go ahead, wimp out and avoid the word ‘Christmas’ when you greet people this month . . . if you want to be like a MURDERER!

Okay now, really – what could have been the inmates rationale in using this closing to their taunt, I wonder?

I have a few suggestions:

* A Fellow inmate – and of course this message is going to get around the prison – is Jewish and they didn’t want to offend him.

* . . . Or Buddhist.

* They knew this would be big news and wanted to fosters the opinion that they were rogues and rebels. They knew that “Happy Holidays” offends good and decent people around the nation, so they went with it. The heinous smiley face included in the note lends credence to this theory.

* In prison lingo, “Happy Holidays” means something unspeakably offensive.

* Officer ——, on his uniform lapel, continually wears a pin in the shape of a Christmas tree or a Santa, so they knew he is partial to Christmas.

* They were sincerely grateful to officer ——- and knew he was a kwanza celebrator.

* “Happy Holidays” was simply the first greeting that came to their mind. . . . Yeah, right!

Give yourself permission to not spend a lot on your kids Christmas presents. There are more important (and more joy-giving) things you can do.

I have made it no secret that I like pop music. I can also state that during the month of December, I listen to a great deal of the All Christmas Music stations. And I sing a long – at the top of my lungs. But just like there are lame pop songs the rest of the year – there are also lame Christmas songs. Today I will discuss “Where are you Christmas?” by Faith Hill. Here are the lyrics for those of you who stay away.

Where are you Christmas
Why can’t I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can’t I hear music play

My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I’m not the same one
See what the time’s done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I’ve found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love

And My Comments:

1. Okay, now. Did she write this when she was in Junior High?

2. “My World is Changing – I’m Rearranging”? I think we can all agree that if you are borrowing a rhyming scheme from the Brady Bunch it’s time to reevaluated your song writing methods.

3. Here’s a tip. If you’re writing a song about Christmas – put in something that has to do with Christmas – and it doesn’t have to be real Christmas stuff (Baby Jesus, Manger, Bethlehem) it could talk about winter or December, or decorations, or presents. Do a little brainstorming.

4. Notable: If you replace the word “Christmas” with “Happy” in the entire song – it makes just as much sense – and has just as much meaning – which is to say – not very much.

5. I haven’t experience much in the way of sadness around the holidays, but I know this is a very significant problem with many. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there are people who are depressed during the month of December who’s problems aren’t going to be fixed by being told “Christmas is here if you care”

6. For better songs that display Christmas induced angst – I recommend two:

A. “We need a little Christmas”
Which has as part of it’s second verse:
For I’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder,
I need a little Christmas now.

B.

I can hardly stand the wait, please Christmas don’t be late
- The Chipmunks

* “When it’s time to change you have to rearrange who you are and what you’re going to be! Shananananana nananana!” – And yes, I watched entirely too much television when I was a kid.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From Calvin – Part 6 

Oh, you know Dad. He’ll get mad no matter WHERE we dig. *** Boy, I’m in a bad mood today! Everyone had better steer clear of me! I hate EVERYBODY! As far as I’m concerned, everyone on the planet can just drop dead. People are scum. WELL-L-L? DOESN’T ANYONE WANT TO CHEER ME UP?!? *** PLEEAASE snow! Please?? Just a foot! Ok, eight inches! That’s all! C’mon! Six inches, even! How about just six?? I’M WAAIITING… RRRRGGHHH DO YOU WANT ME TO BECOME AN ATHEIST? *** Mothers are the necessity of invention. *** OK, Dad. I’ll just stay here quietly growing up at an unbelievable rate, never spending much special time with my own Dad who’s always working. *** I don’t understand how Santa runs his operation. How can he afford to give toys away? How does he pay for the raw materials he uses to make the toys? How does he pay his elves? There’s no income to cover his costs. How does he do it? Sooner or later it’s going to catch up to him, and then where will I be?! *** Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery. *** I’ve been good all day so far. Christmas is getting near, huh? You got it. I’ve been wondering, though. Is it truly being good if the only reason I behave well is so I can get more loot at Christmas? I mean, really, all I’m doing is saying I can be bribed. Is that good enough, or do I have to be good in my heart and spirit? In other words, do I really have to BE good or do I have to ACT good? *** I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone’s expectations. *** I say it’s a fallacy that kids need 12 years of school! Three months is plenty! Look at me. I’m smart! I don’t need 11 1/2 more years of school! It’s a complete waste of my time! *** There’s nothing prettier than new fallen snow on a clear freezing moonlit night. …through a window, that is.

As I have mentioned, I am a database guy at work and a few years ago I wrote this quiz for a departmental holiday party. I would say ‘Send this to the Database Programmer in your life!’ but I don’t want to limit it to them. At the party, my wife, who has no programming experience, did very well – like she tied for first for the most correct answers or something. So . . . send this to the Christmas-loving person in your life!

A Very SQL Christmas Quiz

Name the Christmas Carol being referred to by the SQL select statement. Hint: Some of them are very easy.

Sample: Select instrmnt_type from vbnd03.Chime_makr_tab
Where Per_chrt_elmnts_symbol = ‘AG’

Answer: Silver Bells

1. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 25 and pers_mood_colr = #00FF00

2. Select Maml_Sub_type from VCrtr01.Anml_namd_rudlf
where Nasl_colr = #FF0000

3. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where holly_ind = 1 and Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 25
group by 1,2 having sum(Jolly_fctr) > 150

4. Select natn_country_key, count(*) as person_count from Vgosa_prson
where roylty_ind = true and pers_gender = ‘male’
Group by natn_country_key
Having person_count = 3
 
5. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 25 and grnd_colr = #000000

6. Select Cretr_key from VCrtr01.Fictnl_Pers_namd_Frsty
where eye_mtrl = ‘Coal’ and nose_srce = ‘button’

7. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where Julian_calndar_date between 360 and 365 or
Julian_calndar_date between 1 and 6

8. Select Hour_nbr, Day_date from Vgdw_Time_per
where hour_nbr in (20,21,22,23,24,0,1,2,3,4) and nois_fctr = 0

9. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where merry_ind = 1 and day_size < 0.5 and Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 25

10. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 24 and hour_nbr in (18,19,20,21,22,23,24)

11. Select Day_Key, Date_Date from Dgdw_Days_dim
where Mnth_nbr = 12 and Day_nbr = 25 and year_nbr = 0

12. Select Persn_key from VPers01.Fictnl_Pers_unnamd
Where age <11, gender = ‘male’, hght_in_feet < 4 and instrmnt_type = ‘percussion’
 

In which I shockingly agree with Vox.

We have a yearly tradition of going out cut down our own Christmas tree (Here’s the spot – we recommend it for those in the Twin Cities Area) putting it up and our kids enjoy putting the ornaments on it. . .

Fake is Fake. It’s Fake!

Next year, relegate the plastic to the basement living room and go buy something with real branches, real pine needles and real fragrance.

Despite the fact that I am more than half Swedish I have never tasted Lutefisk. Today I took the opportunity at a scandinavian buffet. It is abhorant.

Enclosed please find an article written by April, a friend of mine, for our local paper, in which she takes to task the superintendent from the school district I graduated from for a fairly unwise statement he made:

“Our residents know their property values are closely tied to our schools’ reputations. Who wants to buy a home in a school district that offers only math, science, English and social studies?”  

Now you know I am generally in favor of public schools and the (sometimes increased) funding thereof. But there are better reasons than this. 

Please read carefully. I think this may get at the heart of one difficulty in the general debate.

Consider these statements:

One being can cause, ordain, or will that another being do something, without in any way communicating with it. And it might be that the first being will cause the other to do something that the first being thinks is bad. And the second being is still responsible for doing the bad thing.

If God were to come in a way that you believed it was him and tell you these were true, that the first being was God and the second, you – could you believe it, even if it went against what you thought was possible? Or would you say, ‘Nope, You are wrong.’

I’m not asking ‘Do you believe it?’ or ‘Is it Biblical’ (which are both very important questions), I’m asking ‘Can you believe it?’

In other words, is it possible that something that seems illogical or inconceivable to you is nevertheless true?

If your answer is no, then you can stop reading my ‘both ways’ stuff. We are at an impasse. If Vox believes the answer is no, then our argument subject matter scope is greatly limited.

If your answer is yes, however, that limits the complaints that you have about my other statements.

For example – questions and qualms about God pretending to command or faking anger at disobedience should not be brought into the argument unless there is Biblical warrant for it, i.e. a bible verse that says God doesn’t ordain (choose to have happen) something that he is against. Same with :”Well, if God made me do it, It’s not a sin.”
Note: I am not saying that I have proven anything here, I am merely pointing out what is not proof against the omniderigent view.

To conclude and repeat: Saying (in response to a statement about God) ‘that doesn’t make sense to me’ isn’t a viable argument.

Someone tell me where I am wrong here.

I’m saying this because the above statements are very hard to grasp. But the Bible presents other apparent paradoxes – why not this one?

<The Following is Fiction>

Let’s take a quick walk down the holiday memory lane, shall we?

Rudolph the red nose reindeer,
Had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it,
You would even say it glows,

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolf
Join in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas eve,
Santa came to say,
Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won’t you drive my sleigh tonight

Then all the reindeer loved him
And they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the red nose reindeer,
You’ll go down in history!

During this holiday season, you will almost certainly hear this treasured children’s song: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” And when you do, you may wonder why there isn’t a second verse. You might note that as it is, the singer or choir, in order to make a recording long enough to be of reasonable length, is forced to merely repeat the song twice or even three times.

So why no second verse? Certainly the story is meaty enough to carry one.

In any case, this is what I wondered, so I did a little research. And as it turns out, there is a second verse. But there is a reason it has never been recorded. Some might say a very good reason.

As is often the case with artistic types, the author of the original song (both verses,) Ronald Cornblatzen Timerananian (he usually went by R.C.) had issues. And this being the first song he wrote, it turned out to be a bit, we can only assume, autobiographical.

But you can see for yourself. Here is the second verse in its entirety.

‘It’s not enough you love me,’
Thus spake Rudolph the next year,
‘Or that you shout so gleeful,
Or that I’m an historic deer.’

‘I want revenge and justice
I want you to bend the knee
Let’s just go ask old Santa
You know he’ll agree with me’

‘I want you to curse the day,
You ever shamed my nose,
I, Rudolph, with my nose so bright,
Won’t hesitate to make your life a living heck tonight!’

Then all the reindeer learned great discomfiture,
Curse the day? Indeed they do.
To those who laugh and call names,
Let this be a troubling and scary warning for you.

As you can see, R.C. put his heart into this second verse. Perhaps to too great an extent. Astute song critics will note that the author didn’t limit the words to those in a young child’s vocabulary and that at points the meter and rhyming scheme is slightly. . .  disturbed, so to speak. To his defense, the last stanza was to have a slightly different, a more minor, ominous and dissonant, melody.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh in our judgment of Mr. Timerananian. While this verse is wrong-minded, it is worth noting that ‘heck’ wasn’t the first word choice in the third stanza. And that the author, in his earlier notes, showed that he was aware that “shiny nose” rhymed with “rubber hose” and yet had the subtlety to avoid using this coupling.

In any case, one might understand why publishers and vocalists hesitated to employ this verse in what they hoped was to become a cherished children’s Christmas song. I certainly would not recommend that you teach the second verse to your children, if you were thinking about it.

Hmmm. I wonder if “Frosty the Snowman” originally had a second verse.

It is not wise to judge a philosophy or a theology based on the foolish things that a few of its adherents do, especially if what they do is contrary to the philosophy they say they hold. It is, however, fair to judge a philosophy or theology based on what the adherents do as a group.

Six Comments About Shoveling: 

-         A former pastor said in a sermon once that cleaning a home with kids is like shoveling during a blizzard. I did both this weekend. 

-         Of course the final snow depth is half of what they said it would be. That’s part of the deal. 

-         My older three boys (7,8,9) have gotten to the point that when they are working hard they can shovel more together than I can by myself. This is very good. It’s like working with another full grown adult, who can shovel snow better than me. 

-         It’s hard work pulling a kid around in a sled. 

-         You can say all you want “This year I’m going to shovel the driveway before I drive on it, so we don’t have the tire-track packed down snow for two months,” – it’s not going to happen. 

-         If watching the yard go from bare dark green grass and bare tree branches to covered with white doesn’t excite you, you have become an adult beyond all repair. My condolences.

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