Do you remember when each holiday had its place, and stores and commercials focused on that holiday in their displays and items for sale? Then you must be nearly as old as I am.
This year, on the day after Halloween, Walmart had its large Christmas section open and fully stocked. Same with Home Depot and, most likely, it was the same in every other store.
And for those of us who enjoy home entertainment, here we are, barely after Halloween and closing in on Thanksgiving, and all we see, when we’re not zipping through them on recorded shows, are CHRISTMAS commercials. Of course, we’re bingeing on Hallmark and other channels showing Christmas romances, so what can we expect? They make for a nice distraction from the rest of 2020 madness.
Perhaps the intent is for us to forget Thanksgiving, or at least diminish it somewhat in order to discourage our getting together for a large family meal. I get that. Turkey wouldn’t taste the same when you’re watching someone else eat it on Zoom. I know. We attended a Zoom birthday party, and the cake tasted like air.
So, do we ignore Thanksgiving? My answer is a resounding NO! However we choose to celebrate it, we must. What do we have to be thankful for, especially in this crazy pandemic year? Perhaps this excerpt from Reflections of a Misfit will put it into perspective for you.
Thankful for Manifold Blessings
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. My heart is full of gratitude. I wouldn’t know where to begin, so I’ll share someone else’s thoughts, instead.
On November 4, 1963, President Kennedy issued his annual Thanksgiving Proclamation. He died eighteen days later–six days before Thanksgiving. That year, President Johnson urged all the nation’s churches to share Kennedy’s words in their Thanksgiving services. Here is an excerpt.
“Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for mani- fold blessings–let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals–and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.”
“On that day, let us gather in our sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.”
Amen. Let our gratitude become love in action. Happy Thanksgiving!
Veteran’s Day is my opportunity to celebrate the men and women of our Armed Forces from the perspective of one who grew up in a military family.I was born shortly after the end of World War II to an Army Major and his German bride. Thanks to my sister Sharon’s research, we know details of our Dad’s service which he would never have shared with us. Some of this story is how I imagine things happened, based on facts.
Robert W. Tracy joined the National Guard in 1930, where he served until he entered active duty in the U.S. Army in 1942 as a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1943, he was promoted to Captain and served in the European Theater of Operations.
In 1944, he was assigned to the First Special Service Force, a combined unit of U.S. and Canadian soldiers trained in guerrilla warfare. These men comprised the first special forces unit ever formed and served as a model for the Green Berets that followed.
The Germans called them the Black Devils, the mysterious force that raided the enemy supply lines at night with their faces blackened for effect and, of course, camouflage. They ‘liberated’ everything they could from the enemy, including food, equipment and a herd of cattle. The 1968 movie The Devil’s Brigade honors their exploits.
When the unit disbanded, our father became the company commander of a battalion formed with the remnants of the Rangers and the First Special Service Force. These men pushed through northern France into Germany, stopping at Hohenfels at the end of the war.
In August 1947, Dad was assigned to Newfoundland, where he served for five months. On October 21, he witnessed a U.S. Navy plane go down in the waters of Argentia Harbor. Without hesitation, he dove into the icy waves and swam to the fiery wreckage. He spotted a raft through a wall of flames with two survivors struggling to hang on, and swam through burning debris with no thought for his own life. He cut the raft away from the sinking aircraft and swam, pushing it in front of him into open water where a boat picked them up. Our Dad was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for Heroism, although he’d never have considered himself a hero.
Dad and mom met and married after the war. Mom, a feisty German woman, kept his life far more interesting than Army training had prepared him for… but that’s a story for another day.
In 1955, Major Tracy was sent to South Korea as Senior Advisor 20th Division ROKA at the personal request of General Park.
When he landed in South Korea, the base commander had sent a jeep driven by a young corporal to transport him to the base. On the way, they were blocked by a slow-moving vehicle that weaved across the road every time they attempted to pass. Our dad, tired, a bit cranky, and completely unfamiliar with local customs, exerted his position as Major Tracy. He insisted the driver pass that blankety-blank SOB and get him to his quarters ASAP.
“But, Sir, that’s a honey wagon. We’re better off waiting until he leaves the road.”
At the end of his patience, Dad replied, “I don’t care how much honey that thing’s carrying, get past it!”
“Yes, Sir!” The corporal laid on the horn and tried to squeeze past, but the wagon swerved directly into the jeep’s path. Unable to stop in time, they plowed into it, breaking it open, and spilling its contents directly onto Major Tracy, who discovered that ‘honey’ was a euphemism for manure.
The guards smelled them coming a hundred yards out and ordered the newly assigned officer and the corporal into the nearby river to clean up.
A few months later, when Dad heard that a small Korean church needed an organ, his stateside church donated a small pump-organ, which made music when the player pumped a pair of bellows with his or her feet.
Major Tracy, needing a break from his Quonset hut office, decided to deliver it himself. He got directions to the mountaintop church and started out, expecting an easy drive there and back. To his dismay, he discovered the road ended at the bottom of the mountain.
The organ wasn’t heavy, so the major strapped it to his back and hiked. The trail narrowed to a footpath, growing steeper with each step. By the time he collapsed on the church steps, the organ weighed a ton. While he did not get a medal for his efforts, Dad’s reward in Heaven was surely deserved.
It wasn’t until we lived in El Paso, Texas that I became aware of Dad’s true status in the military. When I was nine, my siblings and I were invited to visit our father at his office at Ft. Bliss. I took one look at the sign on his door and felt my heart drop to the floor. Major Tracy was the Executioner.
Shaking, I followed the other kids inside, expecting to see an axe or a noose. Despite the nice assistant who greeted us, and the office being perfectly normal, I couldn’t look at my father.
When we left, Mom took me aside and asked why I had acted so strangely. Reluctantly, I whispered that I hated Dad’s job. When I explained why, she laughed. Only then did I learn the meaning of Executive Officer.
When Lt. Colonel Robert W. Tracy retired, he and Mom took us to live in Germany. While he worked for a civilian company, we went to German school for a year. We relocated to Italy the next year and attended Italian school. Dad landed a job in the Civil Service after that, and we were finally allowed to attend an American school.
My parents are both in Heaven, now. I am forever grateful for them… for Dad’s service and for the life we lived as Army Brats. You can read some snippets of our unusual life in Reflections of a Misfit.
P.T.L. Perrin is the author of Reflections of a Misfit, a Memoir/ Devotional/ Inspirational collection of snippets of her life in light of Scriptures. She has also published the Teen/YA ScyFi Tetrasphere Series of four books about four teens, a Cherokee prophecy, and aliens. You can find her books on her Amazon Author Page or on her website.
As a Mom, I’ve shared many words of wisdom with my kids…like “Don’t run with a pencil in your mouth,” or “Look both ways before crossing the street.” As they grew, I wish I’d had some advice that could help them avoid the pitfalls of life, but I couldn’t catch up with them long enough to impart those gems, and they might have ignored me had I tried.
Kristine Kohut is the author of a fun and insightful book with a catchy title: Big Toe People. I highly recommend it! She and her husband Steve adopted two adorable boys a few years ago. I hope they read their mom’s nuggets when they’re older, and I hope our grown kids read them, too. In fact, these nuggets are for all of us! She said what’s in my heart much better than I could have.
I met Laura Ranger and her fiancé Steve Soderquist at a book signing event sponsored by the Florida Writer’s Association. Both are authors and have written and published books separately and together. During our first conversation, I knew I’d found kindred spirits and that we’d be friends.
They are the founders and owners of the publishing company Foundations, LLC, and have since become my publishers. When you’re on Laura’s website, where she posted this article, explore and check out her books too. They’re wonderful reading.
Here’s a piece of Laura’s heart that she shares with us. Is it any wonder that I love her as a friend and sister in Christ?
I’ve predominantly encountered two types of people; those who have compassion for those imprisoned, and those who have none. Truthfully, I had always been indifferent. I didn’t have an opinion one way or another. I never considered doing any kind of ministry for those in prison, or even jail. It never occurred to me to pray for them. All that changed when I was introduced to a program called Kairos.
I subscribe to several sites where I find important information and help as an author, including A Writer’s Path and The Book Review Directory. What a pleasant surprise to see my book, TERRA’S CALL, featured today!
Reviews mean several things to an author. We know someone has read our book, and we’re happy that they liked it, or we can learn from their critique if they don’t. Reviews can help move a book up the charts, and good reviews can help readers decide to purchase and read it.
It means a lot to me, and to other authors, when someone takes the time to write a review. Thank you, Kristine Kohut, for this one!
The last Kindle Fire giveaway was such a success, I decided to do it again. You have thirty days from today, October 30, 2017, to enter to win a Kindle Fire 7 tablet with Alexa.
Click here to enter today! Don’t wait! You can earn more entries once you’ve registered on the website, and, if you aren’t on my newsletter list, you will be once you enter!
If you want to order Triton’s Call, click here to visit my website. Watch the trailer, order the book, and check out my other books!
Nanowrimo starts tomorrow. That’s National Novel Writing Month, where those of us who sign up for the challenge will write 50,000 words in 30 days.
I honestly did not think it could be done, and signed up the first time just to see how far I’d get. I wrote the first draft of Terra’s Call that time — 50,000 words of it.
Triton’s Call was born during Camp Nanowrimo in April, 2016. Again, the challenge was the same, and the first 50,000 words of the first draft happened.
I couldn’t stop there, so that November, I wrote the first draft of Voice of Viracocha, which should be released before Christmas! How could I possibly stop now? I have one more book to write to complete the TETRASPHERE series, and this is the month I hope to get the first draft done.
I’ll ask you to pray for me, as I’ll be praying for everyone who’s taking this challenge. It is not easy, especially during the Holiday season. I thank God for my Daughter-In-Law who will be doing Thanksgiving this year, and for her other Mother-In-Law and everyone else who is bringing goodies for the celebration. We have so much to be thankful for.
Feedback. We writers need it! We love those stellar reviews we get from our readers, but getting those reviews requires writing good books. For that, we need people to help us along the way.
Andrea Huelsenbeck lays out the reasons and the methods for giving and receiving great feedback. Here’s her guideline for critiquing another writer’s work, whether you’re in a critique group or a Beta reader. I’m paying attention! I hope you are, too.
Few things are as unnerving as an approaching hurricane. When we saw the satellite photo of a swirling buzz saw bigger than our entire state heading directly for us, we couldn’t help but feel a growing sense of urgency. My heart screamed, ‘RUN!’ My mind said, ‘Stay. It won’t be as bad as they say.’
‘Stay calm’ I told myself, as the frantic newscasters built a doomsday scenario, minute-by-minute, for days ahead of the storm.
“Stay calm,” they told us, as they showed pictures of empty grocery shelves and cars lined up for miles at the gas pumps.
“Stay calm,” they said, while announcing evacuation orders, one after the other, during the perfect days before the storm, when people were still heading to the beach.
The TV stayed tuned to the Weather Channel, and when we flipped stations to get anything other than hurricane news, all the other stations broadcast nothing but incessant talk about the hurricane. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good thing. Those folks at the local stations live here with their families. They care. They do an amazing job.
We didn’t leave, and when it hit, we had my almost 96 year-old mother-in-law with us, along with my sister and adopted sister from the part of the state that was hunkered down for a direct hit, where Category 5 winds and a fifteen-foot storm surge were expected. Our family still in Naples were in secure buildings, in professional care. We prayed and worried, but knew they would be better off there.
A hurricane is like a roller coaster. The ride to the top is pure anticipation. In my case, I repeatedly tell myself, “You idiot! What were you thinking?” And then there’s the pause at the top of a mile-long vertical drop. At that point, I know I’m committed, and it’s time to relax and enjoy the ride.
My sister brought her adorable little dog who, naturally, had to go outside — storm or no storm. That’s when I realized once again that palm trees are made to dance in impossibly strong winds, and little dogs will not pee in them. I, however, enjoyed being out in it, if only for a few minutes, dancing with the palms.
We survived with only the loss of my beloved ficus tree. It was cut back to the nub, the sound of killer chainsaws grating on my nerves. It will grow again.
I grieve the islands and the Florida keys, wondering how they will ever come back from this devastation. Yet, come back, they will. Like my ficus, the life is there, the strength is there, and in the sun and tropical breezes, we’ll watch it grow and do what we can to help. Texas will recover from Harvey. The Caribbean will recover from Irma. Where there is life, there is hope, and God is with us all.
Emotional pain can be as sharp and bitter as physical pain, and no one gets through life without experiencing it. Is it possible to be happy while you’re hurting? Is happiness a result of circumstances, or is it a choice?
I choose happiness. There. I’ve said it. I choose it. So now what? Does it follow that my choice alone will make me happy? Or must I take action to make my choice a reality in my life? Think about this. You might choose to be wealthy or live a long, healthy life. You might choose to be a doctor, lawyer, policeman or (gulp) writer. You choice is the first step in a process. To reach your goal, you must take the next step, and the next.
This article appeared on my news feed this morning, and my happiness gauge jumped when I read it. I hope yours does, too!
12 Things I See Happy People Do (that unhappy people do not)
—- Rev. Shane L. Bishop
May 22, 2017
I have been thinking a lot about happiness of late, partially because so many people seem unhappy. I think that was my first epiphany upon entering the world of Social Media; people are unhappy and there are a lot of them. Now don’t get me wrong, we all know some people who wouldn’t be happy, were they not unhappy but I am not talking about them. We will just let them be. I am also not thinking theologically here (i.e. juxtaposing happiness and joy), today I am going to err on the practical and pragmatic side of things. With that being said, let’s get going.
I think most people want to be happy; they are just not quite sure how to get there from their present location. Many people honestly believe that happiness is a lucky bounce; a sunny disposition or favorable circumstances but I disagree. Happiness is a choice. I believe the best route to happiness is found by following the footsteps of those who have already arrived.
Here are my observations on the topic that have been formed by watching happy people for decades.