Friday, December 26, 2008
It was a very blustery day in Menlo Park. On days like that you can pretty much count on tree branches falling and power going out somewhere. This was our day. At 10:00 a.m. the lights went out. Power came back on at 2:00 in the morning. The in-between time would become one of our most memorable... and blessed... Christmases ever.
Thankfully, we had plenty of candles, lanterns and flashlights. I prepared our traditional spaghetti sauce by flashlight, and while it simmered on the stove all afternoon (thankfully, our gas stove still worked), we visited around the fireplace, napped, read, went for a walk and played with Lori. In the evening it started to get a little cold, so we bundled up and played charades and other guessing games in front of the fire. All day, all night, it was just us, enjoying each other's company and getting to know each other even better.
I hope your Christmas was as special as ours!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It was a great evening: burgers, a football game on in the background, and a lively game of poker. I'm a pretty marginal player, so I was out of the game soon enough, serving from then on as card shuffler and student of the game. As I looked around the table, which included Ryan's father, Dale, I was reminded of how important it is for dads, especially new dads, to be surrounded by good friends and role models.
No matter how well you prepare for parenthood, no matter how much you learn in advance, you'll never know what it's going to be like until you're in it. Because the biggest unknown is your child. You've got to learn as you go. That's why books are important, expert advice is invaluable, but having friends who can come alongside you, encourage you and support you... well, that's priceless.
I've seen Ryan with his niece, Lori Hernandez. If that's any indication, he's going to be a good father. And with a circle of quality guys around him, he'll be a great one.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I've watched this person for many years and think I've figured out the secret. Here it is:
- Get to know the salesperson. Start with their name, but don't stop there.
- Create opportunities to learn more about them (in other words, shop there often). Find out about their likes and dislikes, their family, etc. In short, know their story.
- If you're in the store on their birthday, wish them Happy Birthday. If their coworkers aren't doing anything special for them, go and buy them a cake and have it decorated with their name.
- If it's their anniversary, give them a card or a little something for them and their spouse to enjoy.
- If they're in need of a job connection, make some calls.
- If they're a single mom who's struggling financially (as many are), give them a little gift at Christmas, and one for their child.
I've got a long way to go to live up to my friend's example, but I'm hopefully taking a few baby steps in the right direction. The guy who picks up the trash and recycling at work is named Alberto. He lives in San Jose. Fred delivers our Fed Ex packages. He's studying nights to be a paralegal.
It's a start. Many more steps to go. Blessings to all this Christmas season.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I'm not going to share any sage advice in this post, though I know what's worked for us. Today, I'm just going to celebrate what I've got now as a result of that one "I do" so many years ago:
- A wife of both inner and outer beauty, the "jewel in my crown," who has grown and changed in countless ways over the years, yet in so many ways... in all the right ways... remained the same
But wait, there's more! I've also got...
- Two grown daughters who, while different as night and day, share the same tender heart and caring nature
- Two fine sons-in-law, gentlemen both, who have blessed my life in countless ways and rounded me out as a father and as a man
- Two awesome grandchildren, one just beginning to explore her world, and one awaiting his arrival into this world early next year
- A fabulous extended family that, like my own nuclear family, continues to grow in number and character
- An abundance of friends who have accepted me, enriched me, challenged me, forgiven me and generally "done life" with me
But this is my anniversary card, and it's from the heart. Happy anniversary, Trudi!
Friday, December 12, 2008
These photos say it all. Dana and Jorge, it's time to baby-proof the house!
This little table is one of Lori's favorite "tunnels." It seems that any time she crawls from one side of the room to the other, she has to climb through this table. Go get 'em, 'retta Joy!
This is supposed to be a baby seat, though I don't know if it got much use that way. But it will get plenty of use as "Baby's First Trampoline." Hey, Lori, how about a one-and-a-half gainer into the laundry basket!
I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Christmas!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Several years ago, I was looking for a Christmas "fake book" that had lyrics and chords to all of my favorite holiday songs. Not finding one, or rather, finding some that were incomplete and others with arrangements I didn't like, I undertook to create my own in Microsoft Word. Yeah, I know, kind of a nutty task.
I gathered song sheets from multiple sources and then began the time-consuming task of typing in the lyrics and chords. As I did this, without the accompanying music in my ears, I was able to reflect on the lyrics in a way I never had before. No, not songs like "Little Saint Nick" or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," though these fun tunes are in my song book. I'm talking about the yuletide songs of the faith, like "Angels We Have Heard On High," "The First Noel" and "Angels We Have Heard On High."
I ended up with over sixty songs, including church hymns, traditional carols, popular tunes and novelty songs.
Among my very favorite carols to read as poetry is the simple yet beautiful "O Little Town of Bethlehem":
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
The last verse is a sweet prayer:
"Emmanuel" - "God with us." I can't think of anything this troubled world need more, both now and every season, than to know the love and peace of God. That's my prayer this season.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
That'll do for a start. Tell me about your favorites!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Yesterday, Trudi and I put up the lights across the front of our house. They're the icicle style lights, and I wish I'd invented them. Makes our house in-yo-face festive! I think Trudi and I are getting this down to a science. Climbing up and down a ladder a bunch of times and crawling around on the roof are way down on my list of fun things to do, and I can sometimes get a bit testy. But this time things went really smoothly. Long as I was up on the roof, I cleaned out the gutters, which had filled up with leaves from the birch trees, and brushed off moss that had begun growing in some of the shadier spots.
I also played my Christmas playlist on my iPod yesterday. Just let it run in shuffle mode. I've got well over a hundred carols, ranging from instrumentals and contemporary to Cajun and R&B. Every year I try to pick up a CD or two.
We'll get our tree this weekend, probably at the Nativity tree lot, which always seems to have a good selection of noble firs, which is the style of tree that we like. Lots of sturdy branches for hanging ornaments, and after 30+ years, we've got a bunch of those. In years past, we had to hang the breakable ornaments up high, out of the range of our lab's tail. This year, we'll have to protect the tree from our mobile, insatiably curious and determined granddaughter, Lori! And speaking of Lori, we may well go a bit light on the inside decorations this year... at least the ones that would be in reach of the kid. I just saw a video clip of Lori starting to climb up on things. Yikes!
More to come, including favorite movies, CDs, recipes and Christmas traditions.