Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Tis the Season

The airwaves were all aflutter this morning over a local school district's decision to stop a middle school choir from performing a parody of The Twelve Days of Christmas. According to the news reports, some of the parents were uncomfortable about some of the lyrics, namely the parts about shooting the partridge and ringing the necks of the turtle doves.

Plenty of listeners chimed in, insinuating that these parents (and the school district) were uptight killjoys who are taking the matter way too seriously. Perhaps.

I happen to like parodies. I write them myself. My daughters have oftentimes awaken to the refrain of my very own Monday Mornin' Blues. Ask my coworkers sometime about The Spirituality in the Workplace Committee Blues. I laugh with gusto at the twisted lyrics of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. And I want Forest Lawn played at my funeral.

But... there is a big difference between singing off-color lyrics in the company of family and friends and presenting a musical composition to an audience in a community forum.

The holidays can be exhausting, distressing, downright depressing. A little levity can certainly go a long way toward relieving stress.

But... I'm not entirely sure listening to a bunch of 8th graders sing about killing defenseless animals with their bare hands is congruent with the whole "peace on earth" message of the season.

I think it is absolutely a-okay to joke about and laugh at and make light of, well, just about everything - parenting, relationships, the government, even religion.

But... I also think it is better sometimes to err on the side of caution, take the higher road, think before we speak, show a little class. After all, isn't that the sort of lesson we want our children to learn?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Center of My Universe

You may have begun to wonder if my life revolves around my children. The resounding answer is "Yes!" and I am not ashamed of that. I wanted them, I will only have them for a season, and after that I will wonder where the time went and perhaps regret the things I didn't do with them and for them.

As for today, I am proud of the young women they are becoming. They were fitted for their first pairs of pointe shoes recently. This is a huge milestone in the life of a serious dancer. They have put them on every evening since the ballet mistress approved them, lovingly wrapping the satin ribbons up their calves and tucking the ends.

In anticipation of this event, their daddy converted a bedroom into a dance studio. On pads of high density foam floats a sturdy framework of 2x4's. Counter-sunk screws secure the most expensive sheets of finished plywood we could find. Several coats of polyurethane were applied to the floor, giving it a satiny finish.

The barres and mirror will be added when the bank account is replenished. We agreed on a solid mirror so that there are no seams to peer around - 6' x 8' ought to do it. I don't even want to think about what that will cost...

You know what? It doesn't matter. Every penny, every mile, every moment expended on this 8-year journey has been worth it. No matter what these girls end up choosing as a career, the benefits of dance will serve them. They don't watch a lot of television, they don't sit around playing video games. They know how to act in public. They understand hard work and commitment. They dance.

Something that will serve an even greater purpose in their lives is their love of God and their acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. My daughters made their confession of faith and were baptized in a service of immersion on November 9, 2008 at Trinity Christian Church in Fort Worth. This happens to be the same church in which their daddy received Jesus into his heart in 1991.

I can't describe the feelings I experienced as I watched them enter the water and emerge as new people. As a parent, you know that you have certain uncompromisable duties - food, shelter, safety, education. Some parents do better than others in providing these. But faith is often overlooked, even by professing Christians. If I do nothing more as a parent, I believe I will have given my children the greatest gift possible by modeling love and tolerance and servitude according to God's will.

I know that my work is not done. I still have to get them graduated and off to college. But the foundation for a meaningful life has been laid. And I thank the Lord for allowing me to have a part in the process.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Diet That Works

I am on a "C" Food Diet. "C" stands for "comfort." It works because the only expectation I have of this diet is that I will find solace in the tastes and sensations I love.

Here is a not-intended-to-be-comprehensive list of items on my diet:

cream (Bavarian-, ice-, whipped-, sour-, -cheese, -gravy... it's all good)cherries
chicken fried steak
chicken fried chicken
crab (and you thought everything on this list would be bad for you...)

You get extra rewards if you are able to combine two "C" foods and enjoy them together, like cheese cake or chocolate cake. Triple points for chocolate covered cherries.

Feel free to make suggestions of your own.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm Up Because I Forgot to Set My Clocks Back...

I never was too keen on dressing up animals. They don't seem to like it, and it's pretty silly. But there's nothing like having children to change your outlook on things. The Not-So-Little One dressed as a pirate this year, so her Shiba Inu, Maggie, was subjected to a little matching humiliation.

The Little One always chooses costumes that are creepy. (Last year I had to tell her to quit telling everyone she was Satan.) She was a vampire this year, complete with realistic-looking fake blood. She couldn't find a vampire costume small enough for her Japanese Chin, so Mushi was her little bat buddy.

We had a grand time at work this year for Halloween. Several people in the agency entered the costume contest. We had a picnic, too. Here are a few memories from the day:

We did not have a lot of trick-or-treaters this year. That made me kind of sad. I have very fond memories of panhandling my neighbors for candy. The world has changed, though, and parents are forced to be more protective of their children. Some folks these days shun Halloween, citing religious beliefs. To them I say, "bah humbug."
It was an exciting, albeit disappointing, weekend for college ball. My beloved alma mater lost to their rival Sam Houston State University by three lousy cotton-pickin' points. And the Texas/Texas Tech game about gave me a coronary. The Horns play Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A&M the next three weeks, though, so I think they will be able to redeem themselves.
Today is All Saints Sunday at our church. We will remember loved ones we've lost during the past year. I sing a lot of funerals (I consider it an honor to do so), and this year has been pretty busy.
Hope you've had a memorable weekend yourself, however you chose to spend it. Say a prayer for a loved one. And one for the Lumberjacks, while you are at it...