The National Holiday We Ignore

September 17th is one of the national holidays we choose to ignore. It’s Constitution Day. It’s the day Congress has set aside to honor the United States Constitution and commemorate its signing on September 17, 1787 by the delegates of the Constitutional Convention.

We all know about the Declaration of Independence when our founding fathers proclaimed that we had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all know about Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, reminding Americans that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The United States Constitution is the document that guarantees our rights and answers the question: What kind of government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

And despite everything we might think, it’s pretty easy reading. It’s only 7591 words long which means it can be read in an  hour.

Just to get you started, here’s the Preamble:

 

And though we haven’t always lived up to those words as a country, they still inspire us to be better.

I have learned two things about the Constitution. As we have added Amendments to those original words, we have asked the Constitution to do two things:
1.Limit the power of Government, and
2.Expand the Rights of Americans.

When we lose sight of those two things, we have go astray. Consider the 18th Amendment. It was the Prohibition Amendment that banned the sale of alcohol. in 1933, we had to admit “Ooops, We made a boo-boo” and ratified the 21st Amendment which meant the 18th Amendment was no longer law.

Today is the 234th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. Maybe as a birthday present to the Constitution, we might read it. I know I will.

And if you’re looking for some helpful reading on the Constitution, here’s three excellent books:

The U.S. Constitution and Other Important American Documents (No Fear) by SparkNotes (A modern reading of the Constitution)
The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk
The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide by Linda R. Monk

Guitar Man

Finally got it. Been wanting it a long time. It’s been on my wish list for God-knows forever. Santa came through this year. It was all wrapped up in green holiday paper and a nice red ribbon. Even had a bow. It’s a new, six string, electric Zephyr Breeze, the best air guitar ever made by the hand of man. Now that’s what I consider a big wow.

All those years of singing in the shower and practicing “Still My Guitar Gently Weeps” in my bedroom have paid off. I am ready to go public. I may not be good enough to stand next to Spinal Tap but I am pretty good doing what I do.

If Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson can do it, why can’t I? Do what, you ask? Be You tube guy and have a career in my chosen endeavor. What do those guys have that I don’t? Oh, sure they’re ever so cutesy-wutesy. So, big cheese. I’d die my hair blonde if I had hair. I can be the first bald-headed teen idol. And once I get all that fame, I can be the next train wreck the way the Biebs is doing.

Besides I have something going those two don’t. I write my own songs. And I do know who the Beatles were. Last song I wrote started off with these lyrics:

“Other guys have girl friend troubles.

Me, I am lactose intolerant.”

Now I’m a ready teddy. I really know how to boogie. And tune my guitar. My next step is to get in the groove and start my own band. I plan on playing lead and singing. Already I have recruited four others: an air bass player, an air rhythm man and an air drummer. The fifth in the band will be a woman on air keyboard. We’re going to really rock.

Were going to call ourselves Air-o-smith but that sounded like another band. So we’ve come up with something even better. We’ll be Pluto and the Plutonians. I will be Pluto and I plan to scream out the lyrics on “We want our planet back”.

CHORUS:
We want our planet back, jack.
You don’t give it back
We’ll give you a great big whack
Put you in the black.

1. I’m way out in space
In the Nothing Zone
Minding my business
Leaving others alone
Circling ’round the sun
With my five moons
Nix, Hydra and Styx
Kerberos and Charon

2.Sure, four other planets
Have a whole bunch more
And some have not one
But I’m not keeping score
Along comes this guy
Says that I do not
Deserve planet status
Want to say, thanks a lot

3.All this time and more
I’ve been holding up
My end of the system
And not passing the buck
Stopping all those rocks
Some kind of a crowd
All those big asteroids
And meteors earth bound

4.Taking more than my share
Of the many lumps
And now you’re treating
Me like some kind of chump
So won’t you pretty please
Give me some good cheer
Make this a great season
Give me Christmas this year.

Should be a hit, don’t you think? I know I do.

The year Santa lost a Ho

Merry Christmas to one and all.

The missus and I had just finished our afternoon tea when we received a surprise visit. It was Blitzen, the Old Graybeard of Santa’s Reindeer. He was accompanied by Donner and his young apprentice, Randolph. Blitzen and I had run together in our younger days before the missus and I took up with each other. And it had been some time since we caught up.

To allow his great antlers into the house, we opened the french doors. Still they barely made it into our home. We poured our guests three large mugs of our best cider, threw a log onto the fire and settled in for some news.

Seems the rest of the Reindeer were down with reindeer-itis. As they say at the Pole, when it hits, it hits hard.

Blitzen and Donner were using the free time to get the Rookie, Randolph, up to snuff on sled-ology. They didn’t want a reprise of the fiasco two year’s earlier when Comet stopped in the middle of nowhere to take a good gaze at the moon.

Blitzen, in his deep reindeer voice, went to the subject at hand. “Earlier this year Santa lost one of his Ho’s.”

The wife said, “No.”

Blitzen continued, “Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m here to tell you that the Ho he lost is not that kind of Ho. It was one of Santa’s three Ho’s in Ho-Ho-Ho. One went missing in action. The middle one to be exact.”

“You don’t say.” I was deeply concerned. This couldn’t happen to a better man than Santa. He was such a jolly, old fellow, him with his red cheeks and all.

My dear wife said, “Poor dear man.”

Donner up and put in, “Just think what Christmas would be without one of Santa’s Ho-Ho-Ho’s. Why it would be an embarrassment to Santa saying, ‘Ho ho.'”

Blitzen added, “Leaves a person hanging, don’t you think? And we couldn’t leave Santa hanging.”

I agreed.

Blitzen continued, “We all decided that something had to be done. But what?”

I wracked my brain, trying to come up with an answer. “I’m not sure.”

Donner was champing at the bit. “I mean, there was no way Santa was to show up at chimneys with only two Ho’s. They’d paid for three Ho’s. Three Ho’s were expected. They’d think Santa was a fake. Oh, my. That just wouldn’t do.”

Blitzen moseyed back into the conversation, “We put our heads together. The reindeer, the elves and Mrs. Santa. Decided we needed a detective. We could afford it. It would be a tax write-off. Business expense and all. So we hired a a real pro. Not one of them Sam Spade types.”

Donner was back in. “We got that Hercules Parrot. He’s the one we’ve heard so much about. And I got his autograph too.”

“Was he available?” I asked. “I heard that he retired and was no longer taking cases.”

Blitzen ignored the younger Donner’s enthusiasm. “Yes, we got him. Monocle and all. Because of the importance of the case, he was willing to come out of retirement.”

I was impressed enough to repeat the word, “Monocle.”

“We had to pay top dollar too,” Donner said with a bit of pride. “But it was worth it. When he arrived, a calm came over the situation. We knew we had the right man for the job.”

“What a coup,” my wife said.

“This is Santa,” Donner said, “we’re talking about. Only the best for the boss.”

A tear rolled down Blitzen’s eye. “He’s more like a father to us than a boss. When Mrs. Blitzen had the twins, we asked him to be their godfather. We couldn’t believe he’d agree but he did.”

“He’s the epitome,” my wife said, “of Christmas charity.”

“While Monsieur Parrot worked on the case,” Donner jabbered on, “the Elves fashioned a temporary Ho. And I helped too.”

Blitzen shook his head and his deep voice added, “It wasn’t the real thing. Didn’t have the depth. And a bit clumsy. But it was an emergency. We needed a stand-in.”

“So? Did Monsieur Parrot save the day?” I inquired, anxious to know.

Donner spoke at the speed of light. So much was his enthusiasm for the detective. “He took each of us aside and grilled us, ‘Where were you on the night of the fifth?’ I can remember how that voice went deep inside me and stirred up all the fear I had ever had. I thought he was going to accuse me. Trembling, I answered, ‘I don’t know because tonight is the night of the fifth.’ ‘Of course, it is,’ he said. ‘You answered correctly. You must not be guilty.’ I was so relieved.”

Blitzen continued, “When he had finished with us, there was one that was missing.”

My wife and I looked first at Donner, then at Blitzen

The two reindeer joined together and said, “Rudolph.

“The red-nose guy?” my wife asked.

Blitzen said, “I’m afraid so.”

Donner slowed down. “Yeah. Rudolph being the hero and all last year. We were surprised.”

“Unfortunately,” Blitzen said in his deepest voice yet, the kind of voice that can only be used when you say unfortunately, “Rudolph made a real mess of things.”

Donner picked up again. “Monsieur Parrot has this special hound, Monsiuer Basset. He tracked Rudolph down. Finally found him hiding in Santa’s chimney, shaking his booties off. Man, he was such a sight with all that soot on him.”

Blitzen continued the tale. “Before any of us had time to comment, Monsieur Parrot stepped forward. ‘Monsieur ‘Udolph, I presume.’ It was a statement, not a question.

“‘Y-y-yes,’ the poor fellow said, shaking from antler to hoof. His pathetic look had turned our anger into pity. He was such a pitiful thing, sitting there in that chimney.

“‘It is not fashionable to wear a suit of soot. I would say you are hiding. Is this not true?’ Monsieur Parrot inquired.

“All Rudolph could do was shake his antlers and red nose yes.

“‘Please step forward,’ Monsieur Parrot commanded, ‘And tell us why you are dressed so unfashionably.'”

Donner now came in. “He was such a poor thing. Rudolph with his shiny young reindeer nose. It was shiny no more.”

“The poor dear,” my wife offered.

Blitzen took out his pipe, lit it and finished the tale. “Rudolph stepped out of the chimney. Beneath him was Santa’s missing Ho, broken into a hundred small pieces. We couldn’t believe it. We just couldn’t believe it.” Smoke curled out of Old Gray’s pipe. It curled into a teardrop, then flew away as smoke often does.

“Rudolph dropped to the floor out of sorrow and hunger. He had been missing several days, hiding out in the chimney.

“‘Feed the poor creature,’ Monsieur Parrot ordered, ‘and get him cleaned up. Then we will question him.’

“It took several hours to put Rudolph back together again. But it was much easier to put him back together than it was the Ho. Finally, Monsieur Parrot continued his questioning, ‘Tell us what happened.’

“Even though Rudolph had been spiffed up, he was still down in the mouth. He knew he was about to get kicked out of the Reindeer Brigade. He looked up at Santa, Monsieur Parrot and the rest of us with those mournful eyes of his. ‘I’m so sorry, Santa. I wanted to make an impression. Last year I almost tripped when I led the sleigh with my red nose. I knew I needed coordination and I had read that juggling would help.’

“As he said all this, he was crying. It was very sad. ‘The only thing I could think of to juggle was your Ho’s, Santa. At first, I was careful. Very careful. I became over confident and tried a juggle I should have left alone. I stumbled, and I dropped the third Ho. It smashed. I was so scared. I put the other two Ho’s back and cleaned up the smashed one. I didn’t think anyone would look for me in this chimney.’

Donner chipped in. “I always knew Rudolph was a problem. Him and that red nose of his. Show off. Wanted all the glory.”

“Now, now,” Blitzen said. “You’re not so hot yourself.”

My wife was crying. “I’ve never heard such a sad story.”

Blitzen wasn’t through. “Monsieur Parrot was paid. The North Pole Council of Elves, Clauses and Reindeer held a meeting. Everybody knew the trouble Rudolph had caused. It was going to take a year to order a new Ho and have it shipped to the North Pole. Just as we were about to banish poor Rudolph, Mrs. Claus saved the day.”

“Leave it to Mrs. Claus,” my wife said admiringly. “She is a miracle worker.”

Donner stepped back in. “She scooped up all the pieces of the broken Ho and stirred them into a big pot of chicken soup. She cooked it overnight. When she took the cover off the pot the next day, the chicken soup had disappeared. In the middle of the pot was one complete Ho. And it was as good as new. Then she said to the Council, ‘You can only have this Ho if you forgive Rudolph.'”

Blitzen finished out the story. “Of course, the Council was so happy we forgave Rudolph. With a warning. ‘Never play with somebody else’s Ho.'”

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all

It’s been a rough year. But tomorrow is a time for me to be thankful for all the blessings a good God has given. Though we have suffered through much this year, we can also be thankful for much. For those who have lost someone, for those who have fallen by the wayside, I send my prayers.

And for those of you who are my Readers, thank you.

A Reader is a thing of Beauty. They give writers hope. There’s Someone out there who loves words, loves language, as much as a writer does. There’s Someone out there who is up for an Adventure into lands undiscovered. There’s Someone out there who values their time and believes a little of it should be allocated for the Imagination.

A Reader is a thing of Wonder. They give writers courage. There’s Someone out there who will follow a writer into dangerous waters. There’s Someone out there who will tackle difficult language and even more difficult subjects. There’s Someone out there who will go into a Concentration Camp or a Dungeon on a faraway planet and listen to a prisoner’s story. That Someone may be the only one to ever hear that story.

A Reader is a thing to Love. Without that dear Someone, a storyteller, a writer, mignt never ever be appreciated for her Imagination, for his Creativity. A Reader is that Someone who bears witness to the importance of books.

Without that Reader, there would be no Jane Austen. No Charles Dickens. No Walt Whitman. No Tolstoy. No Dostoevsky. No Thomas Hardy. No Dorothy Parker. No Jules Verne. No Peter Pan or Dorothy or Harry Potter. No Frodo or Lucky Jim. And no Homer or Saphho. No Sylvia Plath or Emily Dickinson.

Without that Reader, the world would be less of a place one wanted to live in. Without that Reader, where would Disney have gotten all those stories for the films he made. Without that Reader, there would be no Narnia. There would be no words to inspire composers or artists for there would be no books. And that surely would be hell.

Sing Me Another Christmas Song

Merry Christmas to One and All. Another Uncle Bardie lyric:

Sing me another Christmas song
Sing me another Silent Night
Hark the herald angels sing
All is calm, all is bright.

The story so big
Wide and full of light
So sing, sing out, friends
Songs of love, hope and light.

They came from the East
Those Wise Men of old
In search of a Song
Through heat and the cold.

So sing me another Christmas song

Snow was on the ground
A chill in the air
On a misty morn
Suddenly a choir.

Heavenly creatures
Angelic singers,
A Joy to the World:
A Child in a manger.

So sing me another Christmas song

A new dawn had dawned
For a brand new day
For the wise and the fool
For the us and the they.

The song once sung
Continues to sing,
“Peace on the earth
Good will toward all things.”

So sing me another Christmas song
Sing me another Silent Night
Hark the herald angels sing
All is calm, all is bright.