Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blessed












































 2014 is drawing to a close, and so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on some of my many blessings. This is by no means a comprehensive look at them all, but rather a small fraction of God's goodness to me. I recently heard a Christmas song that I haven't heard in years. The lyrics in part go like this- when I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep,and I'll fall asleep, counting my blessings. I hope that as this year ends and a new one begins, you'll join me in looking back and reflecting on the multitudes of blessings we enjoy. Thank you for your interest in this blog. God bless and keep you, and God bless America. May we return to our roots and once again be a beacon of light for the world.




Monday, December 15, 2014

A Little Christmas Trivia



















  When I was a kid, Christmas was a magical time of year. Shortly after Thanksgiving, ol' Mac would start to receive the Christmas trees that he chose back in October. He owned Mac's Trading Post and was one of the main suppliers of Christmas trees for the area. I've always enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas. In northern climates the days tend to be dark and gloomy and the extra lights and colorful tinsel help to brighten the season. As an adult I still enjoy the the bright colors and whatnot, but even more so I enjoy receiving Christmas cards. You get to hear from friends who you might not have contact with any other time of year. Usually there's always some relative who sends a brief history of what they or their kids are doing in a type-written mass produced letter. It's nice to know what little Johnny is doing...I guess. I just wish they would include some real world experiences. If one were to believe what was written, you would be led to believe that their world was practically perfect, with mom being in charge of the garden club, Dad receiving a huge bonus, the family building a new second vacation home to take advantage of the beach in the winter, and both kids being put on the deans list at college for academic excellence. I'd like a little shot of reality. "Well, we had the annual family get together. Grandpa got drunk and passed out at the table. Grandma forgot to put on her Depends and we spent an hour cleaning the dining room chair. The kids spent the whole Christmas vacation fighting over the remote and the water heater broke down while I was trying to get a shower." That's a letter I could believe. Anyway, back to the Christmas cards. I do enjoy getting them. From what I can gather, the first Christmas cards were developed back in 1843 in England. Sir Henry Cole commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to come up with a design for the cards. Sir Henry was a government worker and I believe he was looking for a way to get people to utilize the new postal service. Horsley received fame for being a bit of a prude, campaigning against using nude models as subjects for art. He was nicknamed Clothes Horsley for his efforts. Some more bits of trivia- 45% of all the cards sent in the U.S. are Christmas cards. 72% of people aged 8- 24 send out cards, while a whopping 91% of those of us over the age of 55 send them out. At least that's the way it was a few years ago. In 2008 the average American family spent $32.43 on Christmas cards. I don't know if that includes postage or not. I seldom buy cards anymore. We receive quite a few from various charitable organizations we support, and even some from those we don't support. I guess they think that if they send me something I'll feel obligated to send them something. Maybe we could just exchange Christmas cards. I kind of wish the folks who make hoochies and King Salmon spoons and other assorted fishing gear would send me some Christmas samples. I'd gladly send them a card in return. While Christmas cards in Europe were taking off, the first commercial American cards didn't really catch on until 1875, when Louis Prang, a German born lithographer started producing them. He became known as  "the father of the American Christmas card."Apparently his cards didn't feature the typical Christmas scenes, but rather different kinds of flowers. They were quite expensive too and he went out of business. Not to fear though, old Louis teamed up with the American Crayon Company and got into the water color business. I well remember the boxes of Prang Water Colors that were part of every elementary school child's supplies. The company is still in business, so I guess he did something right. The other day I bought some Christmas cards at the annual Christmas bazzar at the school. My daughter Jen 's 3/4 class was selling cards to raise money for a little girl in Utah who is suffering with a debilitating disease that threatens to take her life soon. She was featured on CNN and would like to receive cards from all over. We sent her one with a few post cards of Hoonah. I'll try to find her address if anyone out there would like to send her one. Anyway, that's about what I've got. Hope you feel enlightened or at the very least entertained.





Saturday, December 6, 2014

Decorating the House




















Can you believe that it's almost Christmas again? It seems like we just put all this stuff away in the attic, and now it's time to drag it out and go through the whole scenario of shuffling through it and decorating. I remember hearing older people talking about how fast the time goes as you age, and because I was young and days seemed to last forever, I thought they were mistaken, or at the very least pulling my leg. Now that I've entered my senior years, I realize they were so right. We're on a train through time that starts off slow as it leaves the station and continues to gather speed until it's hurtling faster and faster towards our end. Ah well, guess we need to make the most of the time we're given. In any event, back to the subject at hand. At the beginning of the week Jan rooted around in the attic and started digging out the  boxes of "Christmas Stuff." Holy Crow! It looks like the seasonal isle at a Walmart Store. How in heaven's name did we acquire all this stuff? Actually, I know how. I'll be in shopping sometime close to the holiday season and run across the shelves and pegboards stuffed to the gills with all manner of Trim a Tree goodies and I'll feel that old familiar lust for a box of shiny new ornaments. They almost glow as they reflect the fluorescent lights overhead. I'll run my fingers over the soft bristles of sparkling tinsel and feel my pulse quicken just a bit. I'm sure the stuff we have crammed away has flat spots and bare areas and  sections of Scotch Tape clinging to it where I attempted to get it to hang in a window or on a door, and so I buy it, forgetting that in the dark recesses of the crawl space there is enough tinsel to decorate the White House.  Good Lord in heaven, we have at least eight boxes of tinsel and ornaments, wreathes and magi scenes and tree skirts... and lights. Oh man, the lights. They are without a doubt the most irritating part of decorating. Don't get me wrong, I love the colored lights. I'm a real sucker for color. The brilliant sparkling bulbs that shine at night really dress up the drab greys and blacks and whites of a winter landscape, but thuderation, trying to get them strung is another story altogether. I like to string lights outside on the porch. When I was a kid I always wanted my dad to decorate the outside of our house like many of the other houses around town did. We used to go out for a drive at night during the holiday season and ogle the colorful displays. Some people spared no expense when decorating their homes. It was cheap entertainment. However it was always a bit of a disappointment to come home and have to settle for just a tree displayed in the window. Now I see the wisdom of letting someone else go to the trouble of stringing all those lights and bearing the expense. The other day I decided it was time to go ahead and string the outside lights. Regardless of how carefully I try to put away the stings of lights each year, by the time I get them out and attempt to hang them, I've got a bird's nest that would make an eagle proud. Fortunately I'm a fisherman and I'm used to untangling lines, but it's still a challenge. Somehow, in the process of unwinding the mess, there always seems to be a wire that breaks or a bulb that isn't making contact, so two thirds of the lights will come on, but that one third in the middle refuses to light. I shake the wires, I try to tighten the bulbs, I've even bought a cheap tester to find out which bulbs are working, but all to no avail. Shouting and cursing I make my way down to the seasonal isle of the local store and buy more. This year I had to purchase  two sets of green lights and one red. They may be UL approved, but they're all made in China, and if you get two years out of a set you count yourself lucky. I saw today on the news that China surpassed the U.S. in terms of GDP. No wonder. We're spending half of our holiday income replacing the Christmas lights every year. Merry Christmas from the folks who brought you gunpowder... and disposable Christmas lights. Anyway, the lights are strung, the tinsel is hung, the bells are rung and the tree is up. Christmas is in full swing, so go out and enjoy the fruits of your neighbor's labor, and if for some reason about a third of the lights on display aren't lit, don't be critical. Let's blame it on the Chinese.