Tag Archives: Christmas

If only Trump were ‘good’ at lying; he isn’t

Donald Trump is setting some sort of unofficial record for lying, prevarication, misstatements muttered, uttered and sputtered from the White House.

One of his more recent, um, lies takes the cake.

The commander in chief stood before troops in Iraq the day after Christmas. He went to the war zone with his wife, Melania, and told the men and women assembled before him that they had just gotten the first pay raise in 10 years. Lie!

Then he said he fought for a 10-percent pay increase, even though others wanted to grant them a considerably smaller pay raise. Lie!

Our fighting personnel have gotten raises every year for more than three decades. As for the 10-percent raise this year, it didn’t happen. Their raise is considerably smaller than what the president described to them.

Here is what troubles me greatly: Donald Trump’s incessant barrage of falsehoods seems pointless, needless, foundationless. It is gratuitous. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie.

The Washington Post has been keeping track of the president’s lying/prevarication/misspeaking. The newspaper’s total now is past 7,500 such statements — and this is before the end of the first half of the president’s term! His lying is accelerating as well!

I should be more circumspect in calling these statements outright “lies.” To lie is to say something knowing it is false. Some critics have suggested that Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about; therefore, he doesn’t necessarily purposely lie to our faces.

However, Donald Trump has told us repeatedly that he possesses a level of intelligence that few men have ever had. He knows the “best words.” He went to the “best schools.” He got the “best education.” He surrounds himself with the “best people.” Doesn’t all of that suggest to you — as it does to me — that the president should know of which he speaks when he opens his mouth?

The president is a liar. Now he’s gone before the men and women he purports to “love” and revere — our warriors in harm’s way — and lied to their faces!

Amazing.

Trump shows smallness with Christmas greeting

Presidents of the United States routinely offer Christmas or other holiday greetings with an ample measure of good cheer and happiness. They wish us well, perhaps inject a little faith into their greetings. We feel good hearing from our head of state.

What did Donald J. Trump do today? He fired off a Twitter message that talks of the “disgrace” that infects our political world . . . but then offered a Merry Christmas greeting. It looked for all the world like a throwaway line.

He said: “It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in this country. But other than that I wish everyone a very merry Christmas.” Warm and fuzzy, yes?

I want to suggest that the tone and tenor of the president’s message today reflected a smallness, a bitterness and a pettiness in the man who holds the nation’s highest office, who commands the world’s greatest military and who (supposedly) represents the world’s most indispensable nation.

I wish he could have just — for once! — followed the norm set by all his predecessors. He could have simply offered his fellow Americans a heartfelt holiday wish and saved the political malarkey for another day; I’d even settle for him returning to the fight the day after Christmas.

He didn’t do that. He invoked the fight that has shut down part of the federal government. He suggested the “disgrace” is augmented by his fight with members of Congress over construction of The Wall he wants to erect along our southern border.

Oh, and then he tweeted this message on Christmas Eve: I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!

The more he claims to be a big man, the more he sounds like a small man. The larger the boast, the smaller he becomes.

Donald Trump is one strange dude.

Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump sort of offered a mixed Christmas wish to his fellow Americans.

He wrote: “It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in this country, but other than that I wish every a very merry Christmas.”

Geez, thanks, Mr. President.

His greeting kind of reminds me of how someone might have greeted Mary Todd Lincoln: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

The “disgrace” Trump referenced is the border wall standoff and the partial shutdown of the federal government. I get that it’s a disgrace what is happening, except that he’s a principal party to it occurring in the first place. He insists on $5 billion for a wall that stands as a waste of money that the government doesn’t have; we are in debt up to our armpits, after all, right?

Trump once promised/pledged/committed to forcing Mexico to pay for the wall on our southern border. It ain’t happening. That means you and I could be stuck with the tab.

Still, the president’s Christmas greeting offers the faintest of good wishes.

I’ll accept the “Merry Christmas” part of it with some reluctance. The “disgrace” element? Well, that’s on the president as much — if not more so — as it is on everyone else in government.

And now . . . for a bit of Christmas cheer

Francis Pharcellus Church immortalized a little girl in 1897.

Virginian O’Hanlon was 8 years of age when she wrote Church, the editor of the New York Sun, asking him if Santa Claus exists. Her “papa” told her if she wrote The Sun, that she would learn the truth.

Church responded all right. His editorial to little Virginia has become a Christmas classic.

I have shared it with you before in this blog. I cannot share it enough. It makes me smile and it fills my heart with holiday joy every time I read it. I hope it does for you, too.

Merry Christmas.

***

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Ready for the next ‘war on Christmas’?

Bill O’Reilly doesn’t have a national cable news network these days from which he can lambaste what he has labeled the phony “war on Christmas.”

The Fox News Channel kicked Bill-O off the air after he was accused of sexual harassment. But . . . his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who continue to suggest that the “liberal mainstream media” have declared “war on Christmas” by promoting the dreaded “happy holidays” greeting instead of “Merry Christmas.”

That’s all ridiculous.

The so-called war on Christmas has commenced. My wife and I took a gander this afternoon en route to a Thanksgiving dinner with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter at the “troops” lining up outside a JC Penney store at the Fairview Town Center Mall.

There will be other such lineups occurring later tonight and throughout the next few weeks leading up to Christmas.

Yep, the war is being waged not by the media but by retailers who sucker people into stores to do battle with each other over the latest trendy toys, the latest video games, the latest gadget, outfit or . . .  whatever.

I’ve never bought into the bogus notion that the war on Christmas is the figment of the “mainstream media.” The reality lies in the minds of corporations seeking to parlay our lust for material goods into a Christmas frenzy that will play out in stores across the land.

I will not suit up for this war, thank you very much. It’s not that I am better than anyone else. It’s just that when I was much younger I had a brief encounter with a real war in a far away land. I don’t want to take part in any phony rendition of the term here at home.

So, let the real war on Christmas commence without me.

I’ll reserve my energy for the real thing in just a little more than month. Others of you can just knock yourselves out. Just don’t let me hear about fistfights — or worse — at the mall. Deal?

Happy Trails, Part 85

I’ve heard it hundreds of times in my life from friends: Autumn is their favorite season of the year.

You won’t hear that from me. We are now entering my favorite season. Spring portends a season of hope. Of renewal. We are coming out of the type of darkness that winter has blanketed over us.

It’s a season of change. This year particularly brings immense change for my wife and me.

Winter in the Texas Panhandle has been a challenge, to be sure. It’s been the driest winter we’ve ever experienced here. We’ve been through 22 winters on the High Plains and none of them has been as tinder dry as the one we’ve just endured.

From what I hear the dryness is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as well. But the coming warmth is going to awaken the dormant grass and assorted flora around here.

This post, though, isn’t really about coming out of the barren and dry winter. It’s about the change that we have initiated.

A big move awaits. It likely will occur soon. We have sold our house. We have moved completely into our recreational vehicle. The roof over our heads is perched on four wheels, which we tow behind a muscular pickup.

Our destination is somewhere in North Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,, near our granddaughter. We have no definite plan lined out just yet, but one is coming into a little sharper focus as we ponder the next big step in our life together.

We won’t sever our ties to Amarillo. We intend to remain highly mobile, even after we resettle in North Texas. We intend to be frequent visitors to the city we’ve called home for 23-plus years.

The spring of 2018 will be unlike any season we’ve ever experienced. Of that I am absolutely certain, although the winter of 1996 was a beaut as well. We took possession of the house we had built in southwest Amarillo the day after the Winter Solstice and had a delightful Christmas opening boxes and rediscovering possessions we had stored away for nearly two years.

That was then. The next season of big change is at hand. It’s my favorite time of the year.

Actually, ‘Merry Christmas’ never went away

Donald J. Trump is taking credit for “leading the charge” in bringing back the “Merry Christmas” greeting.

I want to inform the president of the United States that the greeting never went away. It never became uncool to say. It never became a greeting that fell victim to some phony political correctness allegation.

The president is entitled to take whatever credit he desires. He can do that now. He’s in charge of the world’s greatest nation.

However, he has made an unprovable statement. He said some movement — presumably on the left — declared war on Christmas. That’s not true, either. No one went to war against the holy holiday. No one said it was no longer in vogue to wish people a Merry Christmas. No one issued any such decree.

It’s been those on the right who made it an issue in the first place. Bill O’Reilly routinely ginned up some mild hysteria on the right by calling attention to the phony war. He’s off the air now. So he has bequeathed that battle cry to others. I guess the president has taken up the issue as his own.

Trump tweeted: People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Thank you, Mr. President. Merry Christmas to you as well.

But … there’s been no “assault.”

Who needs Christmas ‘trappings’?

I have made another discovery, so I’ll share it with you here.

The discovery is that Christmas does not require one to become enveloped in all the festive trappings associated with this joyous and holy holiday.

How do I know this? Because we are living it in 2017.

We have no tree. We have wrapped a few presents, which we’ll exchange with family members in the next couple of days. We’re holed up in our recreational vehicle, getting ready to hit the road very soon.

Lights outside? Nope. Stockings for Santa to fill? Nada.

We are enjoying the spirit of the season.

My wife grew up in a family that celebrated Christmas on the eve of the big day. They sat around the tree, opened gifts, laughed and carried on, then went to church to celebrate the season’s actual significance to us Christians.

My family celebrated the big day the morning after Santa arrived. We, too, would gather around the tree after rousting Mom and Dad out of bed. We’d carry on and laugh as we opened our gifts. We would decorate our house with plenty of lights, a task which yours truly inherited as I grew old enough to climb onto the roof.

Oh, and we would leave milk and cookies for Santa. We awoke Christmas morning to find a half-eaten cookie and a partially consumed glass of milk … along with a thank-you note from Santa for the snack. And we didn’t put together the coincidence that Santa’s handwriting matched Mom’s impeccable penmanship. Who knew?

This year the holiday brings an entirely different meaning for my wife and me. We will attend a Christmas Eve service tonight at our church. Then the next day we’ll share a Christmas dinner in our RV with one of our sons and we’ll swap gifts with him.

Before that, we’re going to strap on aprons at the Salvation Army and serve homeless Amarillo residents. It’s something we thought would imbue some additional actual Christmas spirit into our hearts.

So it will be for us.

I’ve told you already about a memorable Christmas we spent as we moved into a newly built house in Amarillo. That was then. I am utterly certain this year’s holiday is going to produce even more indelible memories.

Even without all the trappings.

Merry Christmas.

Season of joy … and big change

I posted this picture a year ago on Facebook, and the site reminded me of it today as a look back.

Initially, I was reluctant to re-post this image. It made me mildly sad this morning when I saw the Facebook “memory.”

This picture depicts the final Christmas in the house we called a home for 21 years. It’s dark this year. We’re no longer living there. We have moved on — more or less. Our “home” these days is a 28-foot fifth wheel recreational vehicle. It’s parked in a location on the other end of Amarillo. The house? It’s heading for the market, folks.

This is a season of joy for us. It’s also a season of big change that awaits us just down the road. We don’t quite yet know precisely where the road will take us.

Don’t misunderstand. We have a general idea where we’re going to resettle. It will be somewhere near our granddaughter, who’s now 4 years of age. Every friend we’ve told of our plans — and the reason for our move — has expressed total understanding and support for us. “That’s the best reason I can think of,” I’ve heard from many of our friends.

However, as I look at the picture attached to this blog post, I am reminded of one of the precious memories this house brought us.

***

It was Dec. 22, 1996. We had just taken possession of this house, which we had built. We had lived in a one-bedroom apartment since early 1995. Our furniture was stashed away in a storage compartment.

We closed on the house. We called the mover, who then delivered our goods. We unpacked them.

Our Christmas tree that year was a potted live Norfolk pine we brought with us from Beaumont. It stood about 4 feet tall. We found some Christmas lights, strung them around the tree.

We commenced opening our packed boxes and rediscovered the possessions we hadn’t seen in nearly two years.

It was — hands down — a glorious Christmas indeed in this structure that was filled with that “new house smell.”

That, too, was a season of change. To that end, the season has come full circle. We are anxious — and we are ready for whatever awaits.

An R-rated Christmas movie? Really?

I just witnessed a TV trailer for a film the announcer called a “Christmas comedy.”

It’s titled “Father Figures.” Then I was jolted a bit when I saw the text on the TV screen that told me the film is R-rated. That’s one step removed from NC-17, which used to be called “X-rated.”

I asked my wife, “Isn’t it a bit ironic for a Christmas movie to be rated R?” She believes as I do. Yes. It is ironic, indeed.

It’s also a bit weird.

I remember watching “The King’s Speech,” the Oscar-winning film that depicted Britain’s King George VI — portrayed by Colin Firth — struggling to cope with a debilitating stutter. That film was R-rated, too. As I watched the film, I kept wondering, why is this film R-rated?

Then came this scene in which the king started blurting out a stream-of-conscience rapid-fire barrage of “F-bombs” as he sought to cure himself of the stammer. Right there. That’s it. That scene turned “The King’s Speech” into an R-rated masterpiece. It was hilarious to boot!

How, though, do filmmakers turn a Christmas movie into an R-rated piece of art? Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen “Die Hard,” which some folks consider a Christmas movie as well. NYPD Officer John McClane blurts out an F-bomb or two in that one, too. I don’t know that promos called it a “Christmas movie” at the time of its release.

This one, “Father Figures,” puzzles me. I don’t know how a “Christmas movie” — released during this holy holiday — can carry an R rating. Someone help me understand.