Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Last Plea

The week after Christmas has to be one of the worst times of the year for me.

That's when I'm bombarded with requests for tax-deductible gifts to various environmental, health, wildlife, veteran and charitable organizations. I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, or the late Andy Rooney,  because I give to these groups -- and more -- during the year.

In fact, it's almost a curse to give to organizations because they then have your name, telephone number, address, and who knows what else, to make their plea for more donations -- the week after Christmas.

I try to be polite with the telemarketers who represent these groups, but they call at all times during the day. They seem to catch me during my grumpy mornings or while I'm eating dinner at night.

And yes, I have caller I.D. but that doesn't help because they call and call and call, day after day after day until I answer. These folks can't take a hint!

Furthermore, they don't seem to want to take "No" for an answer, no matter how polite you are with them. So sometimes you have to resort to being rude -- to a degree. 

While their pleas for money get on my nerves, I'll still give to some of the organizations but it will be after the last week of Christmas because I know they do a lot of good for humanity.

Until the next time...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Memories

Another Christmas has come and gone but that doesn't mean it has to fade from memory.

While reading The State Journal this morning, I found "The Family Circus" cartoon (one of my favorites) that showed the Dad and Mom watching their children unwrap gifts under the Christmas tree. The father says, "They won't know till they're grown, but their BEST gifts are the memories they're making."

I use my camera to make memories. Christmas is one of the few times in the year -- sometimes the only one -- where the entire family gathers to celebrate.

Back when I was growing up in the 1950s, my parents didn't take that many photos. We had one of those Kodak Brownie cameras -- using black and white film most of the time -- and they generally forgot to buy film (back then you couldn't find stores open on Christmas). The digital cameras of today make it so much easier.

Some of my best memories came when my sister Sheri would invite the family to her house for Christmas. We had a boatload of young kids and it was a great time. My in-laws, Russell and Lou Alice Frederick, did the same and it was joyous occasion for my wife's side of the family.

I've used Super 8 movie cameras, camcorders, and now a digital recorder for holiday memories. I still prefer the still images.

We've tried to carry on those kinds of traditions with our children -- and now grandchildren. I was telling one of my sons that I was taking photos for my granddaughters and future generations so they will have a sense of family as they share memories with each other.

Until the next time...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cards

Another holiday tradition that appears to be fading is the sending of  Christmas cards.

I remember not too long ago when we'd receive 50 or more cards during the holidays -- and we sent out as many. That's almost cut in half now. Perhaps people are too busy to take the time to sign and address them. Maybe the cards are too expensive to purchase and mail. 

I like Christmas cards. It's nice to open them up and read the notes about what has transpired in their lives for the past year or look at the photos they share of their family. I had a friend who always put her children on the cards and it was interesting to see how much they grew from year to year.

We still receive cards from friends we've had for nearly 40 years. In fact, probably most of the cards we get are sent by baby boomers and older.

I suppose some folks prefer sending e-cards. I get a few of those -- and to be honest -- I send a few as well. They're not quite the same but I guess it's the thought that really counts.
So thank you to all those who took the time to send a card -- by snail or email.

Until the next time...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Out of Books

My wife asked me to take her to Fayette Mall in Lexington this weekend, and being the dutiful husband that I am, I agreed. Fayette Mall is the largest mall in Kentucky so you can imagine the traffic it draws from Lexington and surrounding areas. I hate dealing with traffic.

I'm not much into shopping. When we walked inside she said we could meet somewhere after she made her rounds. In the past, I'd go to Waldenbooks and browse. She'd know where to find me when she finished her shopping. And I was content to wander among the books by Kentucky authors, magazine rack, bargain books, new releases, and everything else they had to offer.

But there is no longer a Waldenbooks in the mall. There is no bookstore among the hundred-plus stores. Period. In the space once occupied by Waldenbooks is an Apple store.

So while she went to the various stores, I sat down at one the rest areas. And it got me to thinking as I people-watched.

There are a lot of people who probably don't give it much thought that there isn't a bookstore in the mall. Some may be so young that they never knew there was a bookstore and won't miss it in years to come.

They'll be content to browse the Apple store. Maybe they'll purchase an iPad or some other device to store their music, videos, photos, and perhaps even a book or two.

Until the next time...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Where Have All the Presents Gone?

We've got a tree up now but it's nothing you'd see in Better Homes & Garden magazine or on the Martha Stewart Show. It's small with a few ornaments and a string of lights. And we have a wreath on the front door and two lighted trees inside the doorway.

But my wife and I like it so that's all that matters. Simple, but elegant.

As you grow older -- at least in my case -- the Christmas season changes. My two sons are married now and they're establishing their own traditions, much like my wife and I did about 40 years ago. And that's the way it should be.

We no longer need to have a large tree because it would look rather barren under the branches without the abundance of presents we had when the boys were growing up. Fortunately, we have two granddaughters -- Lily and Lola -- that we can splurge on this time of the year. But those wrapped gifts will likely be opened under their tree.

As for the boys and their wives, it'll probably be money in a gift card and perhaps a small present. I think most folks prefer it that way nowadays. Hey, I even told one of my sons to give me a gift card. The kids balk when I tell them I need socks and underwear. So with the gift card I'll probably go out and get some socks and underwear.

Until the next time...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Follow the Leader

A while back I had a discussion with a physician friend of mine about leadership.

A college was promoting itself as developing leaders. I'm sure quite a few schools are doing this as well as the military and various organizations. The question she posed was -- "Don't you think a college should also develop followers as well?"

I've given that some thought and I tend to agree with her. While there may come a time when a person should be ready to lead, there are many times when they should be willing to follow. 

We all know natural-born leaders and those who think of themselves that way. The latter are the folks who get in the way because they won't relegate themselves as a follower in situations where they're not qualified to lead.

I suppose it's an ego thing with some folks. They find it difficult to let someone else lead the way. And there are people who don't like to lead; they prefer to follow.  

To me, a strong leader is one who is willing to delegate "leader" responsibilities when they know it's for the best. A strong leader isn't afraid to follow.

And a strong follower doesn't blindly follow the leader. If there comes a time to provide meaningful advice or expert opinion, it is respectfully offered to the leader.

I'm sure you've heard the expression about having "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" (or too many bosses and not enough workers). That can stifle even the best of organizations. You've got to have folks willing to do the actual work.

Followers are just as important as leaders in reaching goals. Do you follow?

Until the next time...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lost Christmases

Sitting in my study tonight I was thinking about past Christmases. And what I discovered is that I don't remember many of them from my childhood.

Oh, there were a few things that came to mind, such as finding presents stashed away in the top of a closet when I was 8 years old. And another when I got a three-speed bike when I was 10. But, for the most part, they're hazy passages in the story of my life.

As I've grown older, the memories have faded as each year has passed by. Sometimes I get flashbacks when I'm with my siblings, but since I'm the oldest, there's a gap between my early Christmases and theirs. Photographs also trigger memories, but unfortunately, many of those were lost when my mother's basement flooded several years ago.

I suppose the point I'm trying to make, especially for younger people, is to write down in a journal those special events in your life before they slip deep inside that gray matter in your head. You can't start too soon.

You won't regret it, especially a few years from now. Trust me.

Until the next time...

Monday, December 5, 2011

On the Record

I know this is probably an age-related thing but I like compact discs and LPs. I recently read an article about the demise of CDs as more people are beginning to download music.

Let me say that I wasn't that happy when CDs made their presence in the 1980s. Yes, they sounded better than scratchy vinyl counterparts but LPs arrived in beautiful packages -- some good enough for framing -- and they contained information about the artist(s) and the songs.

Sure, the plastic cases CDs come in have photos and info but you practically have need a magnifying glass to read any of it. For me, that gets more difficult each year.

As for digital downloads, the music sounds great but that's just about it. I own an iPod but seldom use it except in the summer when I'm working in the yard. Downloads tell me nothing about the artist other than the music. I suppose I can go online and do a search but that's too much trouble.

No doubt downloads alleviate space problems for listeners, and maybe that will be important in the future as the population grows. But for now, I like the experience of taking a CD or vinyl record from its package and placing it in a player, then sitting back and enjoying the music.

I really think the music business is hurting and downloads are a big part of the problem. Sometimes I'll listen to the radio (yep, I even do that in the car) and never hear the name of the song or artist. How's a person supposed to download the songs if you don't have a clue who the recorded the music?

Oh, well.

Until the next time...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ramblings: Weighty Issues

Ramblings: Weighty Issues: The holiday season weighs heavily on me as I get older. It comes around too often, and it's difficult to let go. I'm talking about the food...

Weighty Issues

The holiday season weighs heavily on me as I get older. It comes around too often, and it's difficult to let go.

I'm talking about the food. You can't escape it this time of the year. At least I can't. And when I succumb to the temptations on the platter, I pay for it when I have to loosen the belt a notch (and hopefully not two) on my pants.

I shouldn't blame it all on the Christmas season because it starts with Halloween. That's when you have sweet treats in the house to give to costumed children. Of course, you have a bowl of candy left over, and what you can't consume in between regular meals, you take to the office to share with others who are doing the same. And it takes several days before it's gone -- to your waistline.

Then there's Thanksgiving Day. Need I say more?

And now, with Christmas approaching, there will be parties, folks bringing all sorts of goodies into the office, and getting together with family and friends  for numerous homemade feasts. When I got home from work today, my wife had baked two pumpkin pies. You got it -- I couldn't resist a slice.

No wonder many of us are continually fighting the battle of the bulge. I think the only solution might be is to skip regular meals since I'll give in to the baked goods, candies, and even fruit cakes.

Good luck and don't break the scales!

Until the next time...