I grew up in the ’50s with very practical parents. My mother, God love her, washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it.
My father was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused.
Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other.
It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence.
Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…never to return. So, while we have it… it’s best we love it… and care for it… and fix it when it’s broken… and heal it when it’s sick.
This is true for marriage… and old cars… and children with bad report cards… and dogs with bad hips… and aging parents… and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
A man named Robert L. May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.
His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing.
Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer.
Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?”
Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears.
Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.
Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys.He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.
Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days
before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.
Again and again, Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book.
Wards went on to print, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.
By 1946, Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph.
That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
But the story doesn’t end there either.
Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”
The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.
* MERRY CHRISTMAS *
I wish the very best for you and your family.
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”
“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
“Well, no,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now, let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
“Umm, no, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about my friend, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left—the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really.”
“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”
Two geese were about to start southward on their annual migration, when they were entreated by a frog to take him with them. The geese expressed their willingness to do so if a means of conveyance could be devised.
The frog produced a long stalk of pond grass, got the geese each to grab an end with their beaks, while he clung to it by his mouth in the middle. In this way the three began their journey. Some farmers below noticed the strange sight. The men loudly expressed their admiration for the travel device and wondered who had been clever enough to discover it. Whereupon the vainglorious frog opened his mouth to say, “It was I,” lost his grip, fell to the earth, and was dashed to pieces.
Moral: When you have a good thing going, keep your mouth shut!
There was a boy who found a terrapin, more commonly known as a turtle.
He started to examine it but the turtle pulled in its head and closed its shell like a vice. The boy was upset and he picked up a stick to try to pry it open.
The boy’s uncle saw all this and remarked, “No, that’s not the way! In fact, you may kill the turtle but you’ll not get it to open up with a stick.”
The uncle took the terrapin into the house and set it near the fireplace. It wasn’t but a few minutes until it began to get warm. Then the turtle pushed out its head, then stretched out its legs and began to crawl.
“Turtles are like that,” said the uncle, “and people, too.
You can’t force them into anything. But if you first warm them up with some real kindness, more than likely, they will do what you want them to do.”
One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.
As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said,
“Okay, time for a quiz” and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class yelled, “Yes.”
The time management expert replied, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?”
By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted.
Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life, time with your loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these big rocks in first or you’ll never get them in at all. So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.
Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her.
Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.” When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”
Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.
That’s the way it is in life. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But when we trust in the hands of a Greater Power, our life’s work truly can be beautiful.
Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”
By: Author Unknown
According to legend, a young man while roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey he presented the water to the old man who took a deep drink, smiled warmly and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart.
Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container. The student challenged his teacher: “Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?”
The teacher replied, “You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of loving-kindness and nothing could be sweeter.”
I think we understand this lesson best when we receive innocent gifts of love from young children. Whether it’s a ceramic tray or a macaroni bracelet, the natural and proper response is appreciation and expressed thankfulness because we love the idea within the gift.
Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. Unfortunately, most children and many adults value only the thing given rather than the feeling embodied in it. We should remind ourselves and teach our children about the beauty and purity of feelings and expressions of gratitude. After all, gifts from the heart are really gifts of the heart.
Two men were traveling together, when a Bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he would be attacked, fell flat on the ground.
The Bear came up and felt him with his snout. Then he smelled him all over. The Traveler on the ground held his breath and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could.
The Bear soon left him, for it is said that bears will not touch a dead body.
When he was quite sure the Bear had gone, the other Traveler descended from the tree and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the Bear had whispered in his ear.
“He gave me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger.”
Today you know more than you did at this time yesterday.
Today you are one day closer to becoming the person you were meant to be.
Today you have more experience and more wisdom than you did just one day ago.
So what’s the best thing to do today? More!
You are more today than you’ve ever been before. What a waste it would be to ignore that! What a waste it would be not to make full use of it! Now that you’ve become more, it’s time to do more.
Right now, you have what it takes to put more effort into your work, more love into your relationships, more discipline into your actions, and more passion into your life.
The tools and opportunities available to you have grown.
So use them to make your results and your life grow, too – not next week, not in a few days, but right now.
What can you improve just a little bit today? Those little improvements add up, compounding on each other until you’ve soon forged your life into a masterpiece.
You have more today than ever before. So go out and make more of this day than you’ve ever done.
Today is truly golden, and you have what it takes to make your life shine more brightly with each passing moment.
You really can do it!