Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A True Christmas Stofry of Love and Courage (I post this every year)

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty

apartment window into the chilly 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 was the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being

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 and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job

as a copywriterat 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 to

make one--a storybook.

Bob had created the 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 about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The

character he created was an 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


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 the book 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 the Red

Nosed Reindeer. 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. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a

song adaptation of Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such

popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene

Autrey. "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 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.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ten Things That Make Me Happy #6

I love to travel.  I admit I'm not an adventurous traveler.  I don't hike or ski or go many places on my own. 

When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to trips.  We'd get up early, in the cool just before summer dawn, pile into our car and head off...through the prairies to visit relatives in Omaha, to the beginning of the Rockies in El Paso, across the desert to Los Angeles,  We visited museums in Chicago, gazed in awe at New York skyscrapers and at Niagara Falls.  Along the way on these journeys my sister and I fought over who would get to lie down in the back seat and who had to sit and look out the window.  Once we got into a fight at Gettysburg because I, a civil war aficionado, wanted to walk through the battlefield and she, thinking about her current boyfriend at home, wanted to move on.  She hauled off and slapped me.

We made occasional train trips.  On one memorable one we slept together in the top bunk and, tossing in my sleep, I hit her and gave her a black eye.  My mother was mortified.

The lure of travel persists.  My husband and I took a cruise to my number one dream destination, Antarctica, land of ice and penguins and, I reminded him, no shopping.  We went to Alaska, to New England for fall foliage, to Hawaii for a speech pathology convention where he took scuba lessons and I actually attended lectures. 

I've been to Troy, the top place on my bucket list.  I took Latin in high school from a teacher so inspiring that her students raised the money to send her on a trip to Rome.
My sister and I no longer fight; we enjoy traveling together and have an ongoing Scrabble tournament for down times.  Next spring I'm hoping to join my daughter at a convention in Banff, another place I've always wanted to go.

Travel gives me the chance to visit iconic places, see how other people live, shop of course, learn about history and politics and penguins and llamas.  Mention a trip and I'm ready to go.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ten Things that Make Me Happy: #5

I looove ice cream, especially Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream.  Feeling lonely, sad, under the weather...ice cream cheers me.  Feeling happy, celebratory, elated...ice cream adds to the celebration.  I grade airports by whether they have a Ben and Jerry's in the concourse I'm in.  I actually found a Haagen Dazs shop at DFW and ate a scoop of coffee cream for breakfast.  I've eaten gelato in Italy, sorbet in France.  I've eaten Blue Bell pumpkin spice at Thanksgiving peppermint at Christmas.  Nothing compares to coffee.  I highly recommend it, but I do suggest you not binge on it like I do.  I can easily finish a pint in a sitting.  Not good for the waistline but perfect for your spirits.  Enjoy.  And check out the Haagen Dazs gelato commercial on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quote for the Week

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
General George S. Patton

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ten Things that Make Me Happy #4

When I was a kid, I was afraid of cats.  That changed many years later when my daughter, who was out on the street training her dog to heel, heard a little meow behind her and found a small tabby kitten who was obviously lost.  We brought him inside and gave him some milk, and the next day I took him to work with me, hoping that someone would take him home.  But by the end of the day I'd fallen in love and he came home with me.  We named him Ringo and he was the first in a long line of wonderful cats who shared our home. 
My beloved Toby, a tuxedo cat who comforted me through my husband's illness and my widowhood, died last year, I said I didn't want to think about another cat. After a Sunday brunch for my birthday my daughter remarked that she'd like to go and visit an dog adoption place whose director she knew.  Right next door was...surprise...a cat adoption place.  She suggested I go in and look around and that's how I met Mango, the newest love of my life.  (He had me at "meow.")
As you can see, he's an orange cat, hence the name he came with, and he likes to roll over on his back, put up his paws and meow.  That's how he lets he know he's hungry.  Like most orange cats, he's very friendly.  He's pretty cuddly, too.  He'll lie in the crook of my arm purring and reach a paw up to touch my face.  So sweet.
So once again I have a cat in my life to keep me company, make me laugh and seemingly on his own, support the company that makes Fancy Feast cat food.
Take care, and stop back next week for #5.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Website Review: Writing it Real

Writing It Real, website of Sheila Bender, is a treasure trove of information for writers.  Sheila offers articles, videos, contests, personal coaching and (my favorite) classes on writing.  I've taken her personal essay class three times.  It's on-line so I can take it in my pajamas, with no make-up and my cat on my lap on a bad hair day.  Sheila has a unique style of critique for her students to follow as they read one another's writing:
1. List "Velcro words--words or phrases from the essay that stuck with you;
2. Mention what you liked about the essay, how it affected you;
3. List questions that may guide the writer in rethinking or adding to the essay.
Whether you're a beginning writer or one with extensive experience, you'll find something of value in this website.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quote for the Week

                              Enthusiasm is contagious.  Be a carrier.    Susan Rabin


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