Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Resolution: Kill Political Correctness

My New Year's resolution is a continuation of one I made previously; to fight political correctness whenever I see it.

Political Correctness has garnered us the following:

A complete breakdown of our national moral foundation.  For example, for fear of offending Hispanics we must not be critical of their massive invasion of our country.  For fear of offending Hispanics, we must continue to allow the 14th amendment to be bastardized in order for tens of millions of illegal Mexicans to invade and drop their anchor babies here in order to secure free medical care, welfare benefits, Section 8 housing, free child care, free public schooling, free WIC  benefits and free Food Stamps.  We must never cite the explosive Hispanic crime rate as a problem because if we do we are racists.  To further garner Hispanic voter support we must provide a free national hotline so that Hispanics can file a "discrimination" suit against any law enforcement officer who, in the process of executing a citation, or criminal arrest, are deemed exercising prejudice against said illegal alien.

We must continue to allow Jessie Jackson to spew Jewish hatred while calling all whites racists.
We must continue to allow Al Sharpton to host a political show on MSNBC, even as he is indicted and convicted for tax fraud and continues to owe the IRS $1.3 million dollars in back taxes.  We must continue to allow Congressman Charlie Rangel to serve in Congress even after he was convicted of hiding over $10 million dollars in earnings from the IRS.  We must continue to allow all of the above to play the race card more than 45 years after the Johnson administration instituted raced- based racial preference program and generously handed out over several trillion dollars in welfare benefits.  After all, they are simply "victims".

We must continually believe that big government is the answer, even as big government has run up $16 trillion dollars in government deficits, committed ten trillion more in deficits over the next decade and amassed over $70 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  Any effort to stem this spending orgy will result in your being called a racist, uncaring "one-percenter".

We are never politically correct when we allow any mortgage holder to foreclose on a home, even when no effort has been made to make a mortgage payment in a year or two.  We must forego compliance with contract law and manipulate contract law to please the "big government" voter.

If we are to be politically correct we must never accuse any government agency of being guilty of waste, fraud and abuse.  Doing so automatically makes you an uncaring heartless demigod.

We must never criticize our black President lest we be accused of racism.

We must never be critical of labor unions (who contribute billions toward the re-election of liberal supporters) lest we be deemed an enemy of the working man.

We must never be critical of the explosive crime in the black ghettos.  We must never ask why black women have abortions at five times that of whites.  We must never ask why blacks draw welfare and medicaid at four times the rate of whites.  After all, they are victims of their environment.  Most of all we must never denigrate their "reasons" for any of these failures.

To achieve political correctness we must enlist in the army of liberals who have declared class warfare on anyone who is paying their bills on time, built a successful business, put some money in the bank and are obeying the country's laws.

So, as the new year dawns, I resolve to fight every aspect of the political correctness that is destroying our country.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Republicans Snatching Defeat From The Jaws of Victory

Barack Obama has to be the luckiest guy in the world.  Despite dismantling free market capitalism, ruining any chance for economic recovery, running up 5 trillion dollars in additional deficits in three short years, and committing the federal government to another 10 trillion dollars of deficit spending over the next decade, it looks like he's going to get re-elected.

Last spring I wrote of the dearth of viable Republican candidates, and the plethora of idiot Republican candidates, and forecasted then that Obama is likely to get re-elected.  First we had the Donald Trump run, then we had Michelle Bachman's rise and fall, then Rick Perry's explosive rise and immediate fall when they heard that George Bush twang and inarticulate rants.  In the last few weeks we've had Newt Gingrich's surge and fall.  We have a Ron Paul who might carry Iowa but is quickly done soon after...a familiar pattern in his previous presidential runs.  Finally, we have Mitt Romney running as a conservative, and failing to instill much trust from Republicans.

I say if the Republicans lose they deserve it.  Republican voters are a dysfunctional group of people who are going through a revolution within their own ranks.  They are as divided as any group I've seen.  You have a Tea Party that is rudderless and leaderless.  You have a group of rigid social conservatives that demand nothing less than the harsh mandates of Old Testament constraints.  You have a group of political re-treads that profile themselves as "Washington Outsiders" when in fact they are tied to political action groups and lobbyists who are trying mightily to promote their own selfish interests, and not that of our country.

I can think of a handful of potential Republican candidates that are far superior to any in the field today.  Senator Marco Rubio is a fresh face, who articulates conservative values well and who could capture some of the hispanic votes.  Chris Christie is another.  Governor Bob McConnell from Virginia is a well spoken, reasonable alternative to what we have now.  Senator Thune form South Dakota is another.  Congressman Eric Cantor from Virginia and Paul Ryan are both far more skilled at explaining our current financial crisis and propose sound solutions for resolving it.

Defeating Barack Obama this coming year should have been an easy task.  Sadly, the Republicans seem to be able to offer a small army of bumbling, stumbling Presidential wanna-be's that just don't measure up.

The 2012 Presidential election will prove to be a "watershed" year for our country.  If we re-elect Barack Obama our country's move into the European Socialist Model will probably be irreversible.

Sad, Damned Sad.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Honda Motors


I've been a Honda car owner for over 30 years now.  I fell in love with Honda way, way back when I turned the ignition on that early 80's Accord and it ran so quietly and smoothly that I wasn't sure it was running.

I admired everything about this company.  I read of the legendary Honda engine that still runs 24 hours per day at Honda corporate headquarters in Japan.  I loved reading how this little upstart bike maker in the 40's chugged its way to automobile dominance.  My family laughed at my weekend rendezvous with my Accord as I washed and waxed my prize Accord.

So accustomed to the fragility of American car lifespans, I made the fatal mistake of trading my first Accord in for a new one when it reached 80,000 miles.  Silly me.  I soon caught on that I could drive these Hondas for 200,000 miles...and did so.  When one of our late 80's Accords reached 185,000 miles we gave it to our college age son who put tens of thousands more on that odometer.  We soon became a multiple Honda family.

Then, sadly, a few years ago I began to see the cracks in the lovely facade of mighty Honda.  In 2005 I ventured out to the nearest Honda dealer in Peoria to buy a Honda Odyssey mini-van.  Having completed my internet research, to include getting the "fair" price selling price for an Odyssey I wished to purchase one of the last 2005 models as the new 2006 models were rolling into the showroom.  Alas, we ran smack dab  into one of those new car salesmen from the 60's.  After a long back and forth session between "Mr. Greaseball" and the sales manager we could not come to an agreeable price.  Our last offer was actually $500 dollars above what Edmunds was telling us was a "fair price".    This was a "no trade-in", cash offer.

The following weekend we were cheered to complete our purchase at the Avondale Honda dealership.  In fact, we were able to buy a 2006 model, with the same features, for less than was being asked for the year-old model at the previous dealership.  Happily we were out the door at the Avondale dealership in less than an hour.

Our faith in the Avondale dealership was further strengthened when we regularly took the Odyssey in for periodic maintenance.  Each time we brought the car in we were greeted with friendly service reps, fresh coffee and doughnuts and a crisp new newspaper as we awaited completion of maintenance.  Everything was fine in "HondaLand".

Then a couple of years ago I began noticing severe vibration and road roar when my Odyssey reached a cruising speed of 65 mph.  I took the van into the Avondale dealership, jointly rode with the service rep for a road test, and was told that the automatic transmission was failing.   The dealership said they would call Honda to get approval to replace the transmission under warranty.   I was amazed that a Honda transmission would be failing at four years of age!  I left the Odyssey at the dealership and went home and began to research Honda maintenance problems.  I was amazed to learn of thousands of owners who were experiencing similar problems.  I was also amazed at the number of Honda recalls as well as other Honda failures.

Soon I got a call from the Honda dealership and was told that it wasn't the transmission, but was instead a faulty wheel bearing.  They replaced it, but after reading all the scary internet postings on Honda problems I developed a wariness about the the manufacturing quality control of Hondas.

Sure enough, a few months later I began to experience the same type of road vibration and noise from the Odyssey.  I again took the van in, described the problem, and was told it was only "tire balancing".
After buying a new set of Michelin tires, and after paying a couple of hundred dollars for tire balancing, I drove away only to find that within a couple of weeks I was still getting steering wheel vibration when the Odyssey reached cruising speeds.

During this period my wife's Honda Accord Ex's dashboard began lighting up like a Christmas tree.  One maintenance light after another began appearing.  Then we began getting recall letters on her Accord.   The latest Honda recall came just this month on faulty air bags.

So, after limping along with our lest than trustworthy Hondas, we are no longer in love with once mighty Honda.  Worse, as the economy sank we began getting telemarketing calls from the Avondale dealership. I have had no less than 50 of them, despite emailing them and voicing our irritation at this cheesy telemarketing.

Now, we change our oil at Walmart, afraid to take our Hondas to a dealership with a real fear that a dealership lacking business might not be below pulling a wire or two to run up the maintenance bill.

Sadly, last week I read that Consumer Reports has failed to crown the Honda Civic as a "BEST BUY" because the company has dumbed down the model and citing the cheap materials used in the manufacturing process.  Honda has vowed to change out the model next year.

I say "too late".  Like the Toyota fiasco, once you have created doubt in the mind of the consumer, once a customer has been burned by a dealership, you have lost that "warm and fuzzy" comfort so necessary for maintaining loyal customers.

My wife's Accord is due to be replaced.  Rest assured, I'll be looking elsewhere as this 30 year Honda customer has seen the light....and too often it's the light on a Honda dashboard.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011; A Progress Report


Merry Christmas World.  This is the season that normally brings out the best and worst of us.  How are we doing so far?  Well, from what I've seen, we need to applaud those who have chosen to listen to their better angels, and remind those who see Christmas as a time to "get" that "giving" will bring more happiness.

To Wit:

On the day after Thanksgiving we saw a Mexican woman in Riverside, California pepper spray her fellow shoppers because they were crowding her out from an opportunity to get a bargain on a gaming system.

Yesterday, at a mall in Atlanta, we saw a hundred plus urban blacks stomp and maim each other, while tearing off a mall door, in order to be the first to buy some Air Jordan basketball shoes.  A similar riot occurred in Seattle, Washington.  Police had to swing batons and use pepper spray to calm the mobs.

Early in December flash mobs broke out across Maryland as hundreds of urban blacks "mass-robbed" a number of convenience stores to score free Twinkies and Red Bull.

In Phoenix at least a dozen families had all of their Christmas yard displays stolen.  Numerous home invasions occurred and victims were shot and beaten to reveal where their valuables were hidden.

Yesterday afternoon a young man, out on a shopping errand, was shot in the hand as he was caught between two mobile gang wars.

Last week a young hispanic boy in Phoenix was sitting on his couch in his own home, playing an electronic game with his young cousin.  A gang banger drove by and began spraying the neighborhood with automatic gunfire.  One of the rounds came through the window, sped through the Christmas tree and lodged two inches from the young boy's heart.

At least a dozen Phoenix residents were victims of hit and run this month.  Some died and some were only maimed.

....And yet, there were grand displays of human kindness too:

"Lay-Away Payoffs" became the rage as hundreds of thoughtful people went into Walmarts and K-Marts and paid off lay-away balances for hundreds of families.   Some of the recipients were so overwhelmed by this kindness that they "paid it forward" by paying off someone else's lay away balance.

Yesterday morning a disabled Vet was provided with a home, thanks to an organization that is committed to helping the long term homeless.

A group of good samaritans carried on the Secret Santa tradition by handing out hundred dollar bills to the needy throughout Phoenix.

Though not publicized, thousands of people volunteered at hospitals, hospices and food kitchens.

One family here in Phoenix gathered around the kitchen table and discussed how they might better enrich their Christmas experience.  They agreed to forego all presents for each other and pooled their money to buy gifts for the needy.

My own contributions this year were modest.  I dropped by the nearest food bank and left cans of soup and part of my orange crop.  I sent the Humane Society a few dollars and I made my usual small contribution to St. Luke's Children's Cancer hospital.  It felt good.

As Christmas Eve dawns I have now watched what I believe is every Christmas movie ever made.  I eagerly await The Christmas Story 24-hour marathon which begins later today.

Since I'm alone this year my Christmas dinner will be a Marie Callendar Turkey Dinner, less than some will have but more than many others.

Merry Christmas World.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Arizona Republic News; The New Pravda"

I just saw something ugly today on The Arizona Republic On Line Newspaper.  The Republic was streaming as one-inch  Banner at the top of the page trumpeting The Obama Open Borders Machine report on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's treatment of illegal invaders.

Yes, I knew that The Arizona Republic is owned by the ultra liberal Gannett Corporation.  Yes, I knew that the Arizona Republic has carried on a decade-long campaign in support of Illegal Amnesty and Open  Borders.  Yes, I was aware of the newspaper's active censorship of crime news to suppress reports on illegal criminal activity.  I also knew that this liberal rag hates Sheriff Joe because he is the leading national law enforcement officer trying to stop the invasion.

However, I did not think that the Arizona Republic would ever turn toward bastardizing their first amendment protections and turn into a total propaganda machine in order to champion illegal immigration and amnesty.  When I saw that huge streaming news banner on their news site this morning I realized that they have decided to abandon all effort of objective reporting.

That  big streaming news banner trumpeting Eric Holder's attack on Sheriff Joe recalled the old printing history of Pravda, the old Russian newspaper who published propaganda rot as the press arm of communist dictators.

I stopped subscribing to the Republic after writing them numerous letters attacking their failure to objectively report the news and offered them dozens of specific instances where they actually censored the news to present of more favorable impression of illegal invaders.

Just this week alone we have seen this newspaper fail to report on hispanic crime, close off their community comment to illegal crime reports and write, within the last three weeks, acres of news print  bemoaning the suffering illegals are forced to endure after invading our homeland.

Illegals continue to hit and run down our pedestrians and motorists, continue to drive without a license or auto insurance, continue to saturate our hospital emergency rooms, continue to rob us, continue to invade and burglarize and terrorize our citizens, continue to empty out food banks that are meant for America's poor, continue to use anchor  babies to get WIC, Welfare, Section 8 housing.  And they continue to sap the life out of our school system with their illegal kids who attend without charge.

Now the Arizona Republic is throwing a huge orgasmic party championing the phony federal charges against Sheriff Joe's efforts to run these illegal bastards out of our state.  That huge streaming news banner the Republic ran this morning signaled the total collapse of ethical and objective news reporting in Arizona.

For God's sake Arizona, boycott this liberal rag of a newspaper that is truly more like Pravda as each year passes!

For those who are not alarmed by these events, I urge you to read the following:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Apple Pie For Christmas

I was walking through Walmart's frozen food section yesterday, looking for frozen veggies.  Being a sucker for pies, I stopped to ogle Sara Lee and Marie Callendar when a price point for another pie caught my eye.  While Sara and Marie were hawking their pies for $7 or $8  bucks, a little bakery out of Washington state was offering a huge 40 oz Deep Dish Apple Pie for $3.48 cents!.  Certain that this was not priced correctly I was ready to abandon the pie at checkout should the pricing be wrong.  After all, you can't buy a "piece" of pie in a restaurant for the price of this huge pie.

As I checked out I was on high alert for a different price to pop up on the scanner screen.  But, sure enough, this hefty apple pie sells for $3.48 at Walmart.  I am always thrilled to get a bargain,  but  being skeptical of today's retail environment, I felt sure this pie would be made cheaply and would certainly not taste good.

When I got home I unpacked my groceries and once again marveled at heft of this 40 oz pie.  Since I google everything, I put the pie in the oven and set the oven temperature and  bake time per the package instructions, and set off for google land.

I was soon amazed to learn that these particular pies have attracted a cult following.  Entry after entry praised the delectability of these pies.  One pastry chef marveled that the crust was as fine as can be prepared by the finest   bakery chefs in the country.  Other boards lamented shortages of these pies in certain parts of the country and said they tend to buy five or ten pies at a time and hoard them against future shortages.  Many attributed the fineness of the pies to the fact that these pippin apples are picked fresh, sliced, and layered into the flaky pie crust with great care.  One frugal fan praised the bargain price of 8.7 cents per ounce of deliciousness.  Another post griped that this same pie could be had last year for only $3.00 even!

As I spent a good half hour googling and listening to the songs of praise for these pies, I began to pick up the scent of apple and spice emanating from my kitchen.    The combination of rave reviews and kitchen scents soon took the form of "culinary foreplay".   While pleasant I was soon lamenting that I must wait for this apple pie to finish baking, and to further torture me by the prep mandates to wait 30 minutes after taking the pie from the oven before slicing.

Finally, the oven timer  buzzed and I hurried to the kitchen and removed a lovely golden crust pie and set it out to cool.  I loitered around the kitchen just to drink in the aromatic ambrosia of apples and cinnamon, took out the pie knife and made ready for slicing.  I continued the "busy-ness" of waiting by setting out a pie plate and fork.  I carefully folded a paper napkin and set it beside the plate.

At long last the pie cooled to a slicing temperature and I cut a small slice for tasting.  I was fully prepared to add a dollop of Cool Whip on the next slice but wanted to savor this pie in its "native state".

So did the pie live up to all the ethernet praise?   You  betcha!  A delicious blend of tart and sweet assaulted my taste buds and the buttery flaky crust added immensely to this marvelous deep dish apple pie.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to run back to Walmart...hoarding is not always a bad thing!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Christmas Day In The Morning"

In an age where many of us parents would be grateful just to not be told to "go f*ck ourselves" you may enjoy reading of a time when parents were respected, honored...and yes, even loved.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"A Sexist Pig's Guide To Food Network Stars"

I have a love-hate relationship with the Food Network.  I really like that "Guy" guy who does "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives".  The spiked frosted hair, the shit-eating grin and his likable personality makes any show he does fun to watch.

I also like Bobby Flay, especially his "showdown" shows  because you're really watching the best recipes anywhere.  Bobby's approach is straight up and what you see is what you get.  He's also a graceful winner and loser.

Okay, now for the low-down on the female network stars.  Let's get Paula Deen out of the way right away.  Go to my blog search block and type in "Buttering Up Paula Dean".  That pretty much says it all.  Basically, Paula is really trying to kill you.  If you made her recipes for a month you'd be dead from a massive heart attack.  And take a look at her hubby (he appears on the show when anything deep fried is on the menu).  Her hubby, "Mud, Slud" or whatever she calls him, looks like he's getting ready to explode any minute.  Fifty pounds ago Paula herself was probably a pretty lady but her love for  butter has done her in.   That's all on Paula, "y'all".

Next comes the FD's darling, Rachael Ray.  When I first started watching "30-Minute Meals" I enjoyed it.  
Then Rachael got overexposed.  She started pimping cookware on Home Shopping Network, feigned gourmet orgasms on "$40 Dollars A Day".  Just watch her as she takes that first bite on $40 Dollars.  She always has that same mad look as if she's just had the orgasm of her life and you can see her squirming erotically in her chair as she takes that first bite of ambrosia.  Folks, let's face it;  being able to dine on $40 dollars a day is no big deal.  Hell, give me $20 bucks and I'll eat as well as Rachael...and without the drama.  Now Rachael has her own day time talk show.  I watched it for about a week until I reached the "cutesy" gag factor and switched channels.  As to Rachael's appearance, I'm sorry but the lady is built like  a 2 x 8 board and her trailer park outfits do nothing to enhance the image, much too tight for her wide frame.  When she goes the naked  belly, low rider pants route, well, that's just obscene.  I did note that Rachel got a make up lady when she began her talk show and her appearance has improved a bit.  Sorry, Rachel, can't watch you anymore...even for 30 minutes.

Giada....Ah, Giada.  She has the best rack on television and she knows it.  98 percent of the time Giada wears low cut  blouses showing cleavage that will make any man put down the remote.  Giada almost always uses a spatula for mixing which causes those wonderful titties  to jiggle madly and sends this viewer into ecstasy, hoping one day one of those boobies will pop right out.  Giada's hands are her worse assets; watch a closeup; her hands look like she's  been doing fish net duty on a commercial fishing  boat. That's okay; nobody's perfect and I'll keep watching just to stay 'abreast' of Giada's cooking.

The Barefoot Contessa..I have never liked her pretentious and snobby manner even before I learned that she had refused to honor a 'Make A Wish' to a child who wanted to appear on her program and cook with her.  She is severely overweight and her whole life seems to be centered on cooking and eating.  When she includes her height/weight proportionate husband on the show she seems to smother him with food, as if that were all she has to offer him.  Ironically, her photos of an earlier time show an attractive lady so it's too bad that natural prettiness is  buried  beneath 250 pounds of lard and miles and miles of snobbish arrogance. know her...she's the one that mixes grocery store ingredients to supposedly prepare gourmet meals.  When she's finished preparing the meal she creates all kinds of party decorations to enhance the presentation of hamburger helper au gratin.  She's educationally ignorant and often tries to 'pass' by mixing formal speech with country cracker contractions.  She's had more DUI's than Mel Gibson and is clearly "trailer trash got lucky".

"Cooking for Real" know..the  black lady with the Dinel Wig that looks like it has never  been washed.  (If that's not really a wig I'm really scared!).  Her meals are simple and easy to prepare but I don't think I could eat her cooking; she looks hygienically challenged.  And, yes, I've seen her "double dip" with the spoon many times.

"Delicioso"...Ms Hoffman is a knockout.  A great grill and rear bumper!  The sexiest lips on televison.  I don't care what she's cooking, I'll watcher her boil water!

The wild looking broad on "Secrets of A Restaurant Chef".  Looks like the female version of Guy on "Diners".  I like her personality; happy go lucky and will tell you to go to hell in a minute.., lots of sass..

Happy Dining!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

                        The Holly Berry Christmas Tree

It was Christmas, 1956.  My dad had not left us yet.  As Christmas neared my sister and brother and I began chattering about Christmas trees and Santa Claus.  Our dad loudly squashed the idea of a Christmas  tree.  I can't remember why.  Despite our pleadings and my mother's urgings, my dad stood firm.

My dad was working at the time but his earnings often went for some new doo-hicky for his late model pick up truck.  As we grew older we were to eventually learn that a new truck took precedence over everything else with my dad. My mom was working at a Chinese restaurant in town, pulling in .50 cents per hour, plus tips, which were meager in our blue-collar little town.

The wonder of Christmas is that kids are more than willing to face the headwinds of reality and continue to wish for presents and Christmas trees.  We were no different.  My brother and I wished for Roy Rogers six-guns and holsters and my sister pined for a baby doll.

As Christmas neared, and no tree appeared, with no signs of presents, we finally began to accept the reality of a sparse Christmas Eve.  As we walked home from school we began peering into the windows of neighbors and admiring their Christmas trees with gaily wrapped presents around the tree.

On Christmas Eve morning arrived we arose excitedly because the local theater was presenting a free Christmas show for the city's children.  As we ate our breakfast oatmeal and talked excitedly about the free movies our mother hushed us, reminding us that dad was sleeping because he would  be working the swing shift at the cotton mill and was already in a bad mood.  We quickly quieted down lest he awake and quash our trip to the movies.

Our mother left for work on the day shift at the China Cafe and cautioned us again to keep quiet until we left for the theater.  We played outside and then about noon we set off for the theater.  Though we had no hope for a Christmas snow in our central California town, the fog had rolled in and we delighted in walking through the whispery fog.  Sounds of traffic seemed dampened by the fog as we crossed the busy highway on our way to the show.  As we arrived at the theater the fog was beginning to dissipate and a weak December sun struggled through the clouds.  We soon joined an impossibly long line of kids awaiting entry to the theater.   The smell of popcorn and chocolate candy permeated the theater lobby as we rushed to claim a seat.  For the next four hours we were entertained by a Tom and Jerry cartoon, a Bugs Bunny feature and two westerns; a Gene Autry flick and a Roy Rogers western.  As my brother and I watched Roy dispatch the bad guys we lusted after those pearl handled six guns holstered in magnificent leather holsters.

As the final feature ended the theater went dark and we began to rise to leave when all of a sudden we heard the familiar "ho-ho-ho" of Santa!  Soon a spotlight shone on the fat jolly fellow on center stage and he carried over his shoulder a substantial royal velvet sack.  Santa then beckoned all of us to line up on each side of the aisle and come down to the stage for a treat.  As my sister and brother and I lined up we were soon rewarded with a small satchel of candy and nuts.

We all happily began walking home with our Christmas treats.  Licking peppermint candy canes we were immersed in the pure joy of Christmas.  As we neared home the winter sun was giving away to the shadows of evening.  As we turned up the drive to our home we saw our mom's car was home and we hurried into the house, each of us bellowing with the tale of a magical Christmas afternoon.  Our mom laughed and hugged us and beckoned us into the kitchen.   As we came into the kitchen she waved a hand toward a two-foot high "Christmas Tree" perched grandly on a table at the kitchen bay window.

Our eyes shone with delight as we gazed at the beautiful little tree.  We oohed and aahed at the little red holly berries which subbed for Christmas tree lights.  Bright ropes of popcorn strings ran gaily around the tree and we squealed with delight at the magical apparition of a tree we had little expectation of seeing at Christmas that year.

The magical appearance of a tree now sparked anew our dreams of a visit from Santa.  As we ate supper that evening we told mom about the wonderful Christmas show and Santa's visit to the theater.  Soon dinner and dishes were done and our mom wrangled us reluctantly to bed.

The next morning we awoke to the scent of morning coffee and mom's traditional cinnamon rolls.  We leaped out of bed and ran to the kitchen tree to see if Santa had visited.  Our hearts leaped with joy as we looked upon the beautiful Holly Berry tree, now made more lovely by brightly wrapped presents which surrounded it.  With mom's blessing we leaped at the presents and madly tore the wrappings to see that Santa had heard our wishes.  My brother and I had our six guns and holsters and enough cap ammo to keep the neighbors alert on Christmas Day.  Our sister received her lovely baby doll.  Throughout that Christmas Day we were joyous and grateful to Santa for such a wonderful Christmas.

The next day I was running around outside, pinging off bad guys with my Roy Rogers guns, when I stopped to look at the Holly Berry bush which grew just outside the kitchen window.   I noted a gaping hole in the bush and soon surmised that our "Christmas Tree" arrived only through the good grace of our mother.  I turned and went back into the house and walked over to the tree.  Peeling  back the aluminum foil at the base I saw that mom had planted our "tree" in an old Folgers coffee can.  In seeing this, some of the magic had diminished from the Christmas Eve wonder that my eyes had beheld only a couple of days before.  Then, intuitively, for that is all an eight year old can understand, I felt a great love for my mom's kindness in giving us a Christmas tree.  I went over and gave her a hug which prompted the question "what was that for?"  I gave no answer and ran back out to play.

At that tender age, I still credited Santa for my present.  But, as the years have gone by,  I have thanked my mother for all the gifts she gave us...but, most of all, I have blessed and thanked her for keeping the dreams of childhood alive for another year...and for reminding me that the joy of Christmas is in giving... even when there is so very little to give.