The Gift of Distraction

Ah, early January. It is that time of the year again. Time to focus on…

If you thought I was going to say it’s time to focus on your New Year’s resolutions, you are sadly mistaken. Everybody knows that resolutions fall by the wayside faster than that gigantic ball in Times Square.

Nope. It is time to prepare for an important upcoming holiday.

That’s right: Christmas.

Now I don’t want anybody to panic, but there are only about 352 shopping days until Christmas.

I know, I know. It’s right around the corner.

Fear not, though. Black Friday deals are almost upon us. I think they start on Valentine’s Day this year. Try not to get too caught up with the fact that Valentine’s Day is actually on a Saturday.

Not to brag, but I’m just about ready. I’ve even got my outdoor Christmas display set up ahead of schedule this year.

IMG_1112 IMG_1119

Yet, there is one part of the Christmas holiday with which I struggle every year.

Gift wrapping.

Just thinking about it makes me want to grumble. Too often, the gifts I’ve wrapped end up looking a bit ragged. You’d think that I ran the wrapping paper through a shredder first, or cut it with a dull chainsaw.

For all you gift wrapping challenged folks like me, please allow me to offer a solution.


Lately, I’ve turned to battery-powered mini-LED lights to draw the eye away from the wrinkled paper and excessive scotch tape. The brighter the better.

Here’s a classic version:

Gift - Lighted

This past Christmas, (that took place months ago, right?), I even added a little poetry to the mix.

Keep in mind that my idea of poetry consists of epic works like this:

Roses are red,

Violets are purple.

I drank so much soda I started to burple.

Hey… it gets rave literary reviews, and guffaws, from six and eight-year-olds.

But I digress. Here’s a picture of this year’s gift to my brother-in-law, before the built-in switch was flipped.

Gift - Before

And here it is after the switch was flipped.

Gift - After

I suppose it kind of ruined the surprise, but I’m hoping the four-pack of Ommegang Gnomegang beer was a  good choice.

So, just remember: if you can’t wrap, distract. Or befuddle, amuse, divert, and bewilder.

If that doesn’t work, you can always replace the wrapping paper with duct tape. Silver and red are quite festive!


Quiet Emotion

Sometimes, it’s the little moments that are so surprising and so meaningful.

Like today.

It started as a typical Sunday. We engaged in the usual morning routine all in preparation to get out the door and headed to church. A short drive later, we pulled into a parking lot more empty than full. The church sanctuary was warm and a bit humid, hinting at the summer to come. Like most Sundays, I set up the PowerPoint presentation, today noting that much of the church congregation was away, traveling this holiday weekend. The service was a bit shorter than usual, but still fairly typical.

After the benediction, I started my usual process of closing the PowerPoint presentation and shutting down the computer. Today, though, I stopped mid-stream.

And I just listened.

The organist had started to play “America the Beautiful.” Softly, gently, I could hear the words. It started as no more than a whisper. Congregants stopped and turned toward the music. My ears strained to hear the song. My voice quietly joined the others in a melodic thank-you for all those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy.

A beautiful, emotional moment for a Memorial Day weekend.

What stirs our patriotism, our emotions, our gratitude this holiday weekend? The brass band playing a Sousa march? The crack of a 21-gun salute?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s the quiet flutter of a flag in a gentle breeze. Perhaps it’s the silent salute of the veteran, just a hint of a tear in the corner of his eye.

Or maybe it is the soft whisper of “America the Beautiful” drifting through the morning air.

Can you hear it?

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas to all my readers.

I hope you all are enjoying this holiday season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Please enjoy the video below.

The renditions of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are, well… unique.

Merry Christmas!

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