New Year Prayer

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

. . . Rhinehold Niebuhr

Happy New Year!

Black Mamba

I got the inspiration for my latest cartoon from an old saying that I’ve heard since childhood; “he speaks with a forked tongue.” I was researching serpents with forked tongues, and came across the description of the “Black Mamba.” This is it! I said to myself. This serpent describes exactly what I want to convey to my readers. The Black Mamba is from Africa. It is the deadliest snake in the world, and in a single bite he can inject enough venom to kill twenty adult humans. The symbology was there.

Our current leader has African roots, and he is changing the country in a way that will kill many of us with a single law sold under the guise of improving the world. His message is two-faced; he speaks with a forked tongue. On one side he sells the cool aide to the masses that they are underprivileged. They need government health care. From the other side of his mouth he preaches that the seniors have too much health care, and need to give it up to finance the needy.

Well, I’m  here to tell you that Medicare was an invention of  Lyndon Baines Johnson, a democrat president that wanted to have as his legacy to be the great benefactor of seniors in the country. He sold it to us by convincing us that it was “insurance.”  That is why we pay into it. If it’s insurance, why is it always going broke, and why is it seen as the current nemesis entitlement?

Our new president wants his legacy to be that he saved mankind by giving them free health care. He is proposing to finance the plan with funds from Medicare. He does this at the time when seventy-six million baby boomers are joining the system. Does that make any sense to you? He says we won’t lose anything. In my mind, my doctor just took on a whole bunch of new patients. Now, when I call for an appointment, it won’t be in three weeks, it will be in three months. That is, if he still accepts me as his patient. At his current patient load I am lucky to see him for five minutes because he is running so far behind. His argument is that he gives his time to the really needy patients.

I can’t wait for the improvements to begin under the new socialized- liberal- progressive health care reform to kick in. How about you?

Saint Francis Invents the Nativity Scene

This little piece of history is copied from Saint of the Day website.

Christmas at Greccio
 
 
What better way to prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child than to take a brief journey to Greccio, the spot in central Italy where St. Francis of Assisi created the first Christmas crib in the year 1223.Francis, recalling a visit he had made years before to Bethlehem, resolved to create the manger he had seen there. The ideal spot was a cave in nearby Greccio. He would find a baby (we’re not sure if it was a live infant or the carved image of a baby), hay upon which to lay him, an ox and an ass to stand beside the manger. Word went out to the people of the town. At the appointed time they arrived carrying torches and candles.
One of the friars began celebrating Mass. Francis himself gave the sermon. His biographer, Thomas of Celano, recalls that Francis “stood before the manger…overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness…” For Francis, the simple celebration was meant to recall the hardships Jesus suffered even as an infant, a savior who chose to become poor for our sake, a truly human Jesus.
Tonight, as we pray around the Christmas cribs in our homes, we welcome into our hearts that same Savior.

Comment:

God’s choice to give human beings free will was, from the beginning, a decision to be helpless in human hands. With the birth of Jesus, God made the divine helplessness very clear to us, for a human infant is totally dependent on the loving response of other people. Our natural response to a baby is to open our arms, as Francis did, to the infant of Bethlehem and to the God who made us all.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

Oh Christmas Tree

     Which is my favorite tree this year? Once you see what I am talking about you will understand why I selected the one I did. Every year for the past ten years I have taken my grandchildren to see the big trees in Chicago. The first one is always the Marshall Field’s (Macy’s) tree in the Walnut Room. We ooh and ahh about the beauty of the thing, have breakfast, take pictures, tour the store, and then view the windows on State Street.

     I thought the last two Macy’s trees were outstanding, one done by Martha Stewart, and the other by Tommy Hilfigger. This year, the Macy’s designers did the tree themselves. In my opinion, Martha and Tommy should hang it up. Macy’s outdid themselves with a stunning design that makes previous year’s pale in comparison.

Macy’s theme ornamented the tree with four words, “Dream, Imagine, Believe, Wish.” 

     A short walk west, and we arrived at the Daley Plaza to visit the Kris Kindle Market and the Chicago Christmas tree.

     It drizzled the whole time, but our Christmas spirit was not dampened. Usually, the Chicago tree is a huge live-artificial tree. It is constructed on site by inserting dozens of cut trees into steel tubes on the steel stem. When it is completed it is outstanding. This year, the Mayor insisted on a cut tree. It is a fifty five foot tall spruce, cut from a yard within the city. Are you missing a tree? If so, you can view it in the Daley Plaza. It is adorned with red, white, and green LED lights.  The Santa House is still there, but the G-scale train layout gave way to more market space.

     The market which is a German tradition and filled with vendors from Germany has given way to new vendors from South America. Somehow, the market just wasn’t the same. 

     My grand daughters love to chase the pigeons from the eternal flame, but this year, they were mysteriously missing. What? No pigeons in downtown Chicago? Whose idea was that?

      Our next journey was a short walk to Michigan Avenue to pay respect to the “Bean.” It’s real title is Cloud Scape, but no one calls it that. Because of the clouds, and the drizzle the reflections were surreal.

     We parked under the Bean, and retrieved the car with a mere twenty-six dollar parking fee. I think the Mayor taught the president everything he knows about how to steal from tax payers. I digress.

    The slushy ride home brought me to the next cheery Christmas tree, the one decorated by Peggy. Next to Macy’s I like it best, but it is still not the winner of my “Best Christmas Tree” contest.

The winner is the one created by my beautiful little grandaughter Jenna Rose. She crafted a card with love and addressed it directly to me. She knows me all too well; here it is. . .

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Grumpa Joe

The Gift (A serial, Part 8)

The Gift (A serial, part 8)
The tiny apartment was completely aglow with the tree and the nativity creche. His mood was one of anticipation for the party tonight.  Morty’s friends Max, and Gracie  were coming to celebrate. The party would be late because before they could come, each of the angels had to watch over his child’s prayers, and they had to be sleeping. Morty checked Benjamin again to make certain he was dreaming sweet dreams.
When finally the guardian angels knew their kids were dreaming of sugar plums and fairies, they slipped away to Morty’s house.  Their halos turned on, and shining brightly. Their wings glowing as bright as Connie’s lights and tinsel. When all of them were together, they wished each other
“Merry Christmas”
Then without another word  they knelt quietly before the creche and prayed for their children, for peace in the world, and for goodwill toward all men!

Merry Christmas to all, and happy birthday, they said.
THE END

The Gift (A serial, part 7)

The Gift (A serial, part 7)
” Let’s add the tinsel. It adds glitter to a tree,” he told the birds.
“We have to hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the bird nest that is in the top branches near the trunk.”
Morty placed an ornament into the nest. As they hung the strands they continued to hum Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, They stood back and admired their creation. It was Morty’s gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty switched on the lights, and Connie came to
life.
“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.” Morty said to rabbit,  “cover the tree stand to add the final touch.”
The next job was to assemble the nativity scene in a special place. Morty picked a small table right next to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be where he, and all of his friends would easily see it. He cleaned the table, and covered it with his best tablecloth. Lovingly, he placed the stable, and the figures into position on the table. He handled each figure with special care and gentleness. The nativity was complete when Morty put the last lamb near a kneeling shepherd.

To be continued . . . .

The Gift (A serial, part six)

The Gift (A serial, part 6)
Early the next morning, Morty got up, brushed his teeth, combed his curl, and ate breakfast. It was time. He found the tree stand and placed it in the corner of his tiny room. Next, he placed Connie into the stand, and filled it with sugar water to give him strength while he was on duty for the party. Before Morty started hanging the lights, he turned on the boom-box to play Christmas carols just as he promised Connie.
Morty sang with the music as he hung the lights onto each branch, making sure that the spacing was even. The rabbit and the birds helped decorate by hanging the popcorn garland. The sparrow held one end of the garland while the cardinal held it farther down the string. The Chickadee held a third spot. They flew up in unison carrying the garland. Gently, they lowered the popcorn garland onto he branches. The beads came next. Morty could have used Benjamin’s help with these because the beads were too heavy for the birds. Draping the beads to look pretty took great care.
As he worked, he hummed his favorite Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” and taught him the words.
“Si – lent night, Ho – ly night,
All is calm. All is bright.
Round yon Vir – gin Moth – er and child!
Ho – ly in – fant so ten – der and mild,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace,
Sleep in heav – en – ly peace.”
They sang together as Morty, and his friends hurried to finish, because the celebration is tonight. What a happy group it was decorating the tree for Jesus.
Morty was proud of the way Connie looked when the trimming was done. He had one final ornament to place on Connie’s top stem. Morty asked the birds to carry the shiny star to the very top. He told them to place it on the peak of the tree.
“Well Connie,” said Morty, “you can be proud. You are beautiful and will make Jesus happy on his birthday.

To be continued. . . .

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