Made Doing The Right Thing Look Cool

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shirley temple memorial statement copy

* http://www.shirleytemple.com/guestbook.html

Shirley Temple Black died Monday and finding out today touched me more deeply than I would have imagined. She was grown and her child-star movies were old by the time I was born, but I came to know them well as TV movies. Every Shirley Temple movie was “G rated” and more wholesome than a typical Disney family movie.

She was called “American’s Little Darling” for a good reason; she deserved it and was adored by kids and adults alike. President Franklin Roosevelt one said “as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right”.

Except for some cause based television work, Shirley Temple Black left acting by adulthood and went on to distinguished life including many years as a U.S. Ambassador.

The world has lost a sweet soul and caring human being who made a difference. I will always be grateful for the positive contributions Shirley Temple made to my childhood. In her movies and how she lived she made doing the right thing look cool.

Watching a peaceful death of a human being
reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights
in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment
only to disappear into the endless night forever.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Virginia was the daughter of Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  In answer to her question “is there really a Santa Claus” her father suggested she write to a New York City newspaper called The Sun.

Virginia’s letter found its way to one of the paper’s editors named Francis P. Church who wrote the now famous response.   His answer to Virgina remains today as the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any English language newspaper.

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon

September 21, 1897
Virginia,
Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds,Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah,Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now,Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Many have questioned if Virigina’s original letter actually ever existed thinking it was only fiction created by Francis Church as a basis for his editorial. However, the original letter written by Virginia O’Hanlon was authenticated in 1998 by an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow and valued at $20,000–$30,000.

I’m grateful for the swell in my chest the little boy inside finds in reading Church’s reply to Virginia over a hundred years ago.  The spirit of Santa Claus will always be with me.

There’s more to the truth than just the facts.  ~Author Unknown

First posted here on December 19, 2011

So We Don’t Forget

Like Thread Through a Needle
(First posted one year ago on December 16, 2012)Father-Shadow

Even just the thought of what I am about to write makes my eyes well up. Last evening watching a performance of “The “Nutcracker” there was a point I was unexpectedly moved and that feeling has grown since.

Tulsa is blessed to have had a wonderful ballet and symphony and last night’s presentation filled me with the spirit of Christmas. Seeing the young children who played the parts of the mice and clowns especially warmed me with a sense of the season.

My feelings became deeply melancholy (here come the tears) at curtain call when the kids who played the mice were lined up in front due to their small size. For some reason I counted how many in the line and came up with twenty. Instantly I was hit with the realization that was the number of children who were killed in Connecticut two days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It is not within my grasp to imagine how painful it is to lose a young child and in the circumstances of a few days ago is unfathomable to my heart and mind. The sorrow has to be unspeakable and indescribable. For strangers I will never meet my heart is laden with grief for your pain. I can do nothing but pray for you and let you know here that I care; that millions care. In no way will it make it any easier to bear the anguish and woe, but maybe someday realizing an entire country cries with you will bring some comfort.

My Mom, she tells a lot of lies,
She never did before.
But from now until she dies,
She’ll tell a whole lot more.
Ask my Mom how she is
And because she can’t explain,
She will tell a little lie
Because she can’t describe the pain.
Ask my Mom how she is,
She’ll say “I’m alright.”
If that’s the truth, then tell me,
why does she cry each night?
Ask my Mom how she is,
She seems to cope so well.
She didn’t have a choice you see,
Nor the strength to yell.
Ask my Mom how she is,
“I’m fine, I’m well, I’m coping.”
For God’s sake Mom, just tell the truth,
Just say your heart is broken.
She’ll love me all her life,
I loved her all of mine.
But if you ask her how she is,
She’ll lie and say she’s fine.
I am Here in Heaven.
I cannot hug from here.
If she lies to you don’t listen,
Hug her and hold her near.
Taken from ” Ask My Mom How She Is” – Author Unknown

I am grateful to be touched and able to shoulder a tiny, tiny bit of the pain and grief of the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers and families who will not see a child open presents on Christmas morning. I cry for you.

Your absence has gone through me
like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
W.S. Merwin

Unrestrained Innocence

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When we are children we seldom think of the future.
This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can.
The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
Patrick Rothfuss

Before there was maturity, adult ways, sexual attraction and worries of the world the uncorrupted simplicity of childhood filled me. A good while prior to “liking” a girl, studying for tests, giving book reports or choosing sides on the playground was the beautiful naivety of a child.

I am reminded of myself long ago by stories I am told by my best friend about one specific grandchild. This young man daily exhibits the unrestrained innocence of the first few years of life better than most. One particular habit of his is laughing fits before bed, brought on especially when he is tired. Over time it’s been noted when a strong laughter episode overtakes him before bed he sleeps even better than usual. I suspect the world would be a better place if all of us had a genuine laughing fit before nodding off each night.

Clearly I recall how ‘grown up’ and happy I was to take breakfast to my father. I was four years old. My Dad, Mom, little Brother and I lived in the country where my parents operated a small store and gas station. The little two room house where we lived was down a dirt road about a hundred yards away. That day I had the honor of walking breakfast over to my Father who opened the grocery very early each morning.

In a small box with the sides cut down to about four inches high my Mother had placed a plate with aluminum foil covering scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Black coffee was in a pint canning jar. I was told to be very careful and walk slow. That’s exactly what I did and felt so very proud to be trusted with such an honor as taking my Dad his breakfast. Carrying the box hid the immediate view in front of me and I stubbed my toe badly. I dropped the box and the coffee jar broke. I was so disappointed and humiliated plus my toe was hurt and bleeding.

The breakfast was held on the plate by the foil and that is all I arrived with to give my Father through my tears. No one got on to me. I was not in trouble. I was only disappointed with myself. It was the first of such a feeling I can remember and a little of my innocence was lost that day.

I am grateful to remember…

Sometimes,
I miss so much the person
that I was before the world
tore me up in so many places.
C. Joybell C.

I Finally Got Even

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Once upon a time there was a little boy. Although his family was poor, life was good and he enjoyed his life. His Mother and Father did not get along well, but he did not notice much.

One day his Daddy ran away, leaving a note that read, “I’m gone for good. Don’t try to find me”. The little boy did not understand. He was very sad and became even more confused when his Mommy told him, “You’re now the man of the house. You gonna have to take care of your little Brother”.

After getting divorced his Mother was not around much, even though the little boy and his brother lived with her. His Father never came around. Mom was either working or going out with boyfriends all the time. The parade of different men confused the boy.

A man the boy did not like became his stepfather when he was ten. Mother said, “_____ has asked me to marry him and I’ve said yes. Is that okay with you?” So badly, the boy wanted to say, “No, he is a bad man.” but instead because he loved his mother and wanted her to be happy he replied, “It’s okay”.

Life for the boy and his brother worsened. His new “Father” was mean and treated the two boys as just being in the way. He got angry about the smallest thing and dished out painful physical punishment almost daily. The boys lived in fear and were made to work long hours every day after school, on weekends and during the summer.

The boy was growing up to be a man. Just before he was sixteen the new “Dad” drew back his hand to hit the now teenaged boy. Having had enough, in great anger the boy said “Go, ahead. I’ll stomp you until you’re a grease spot”. He meant it and would have tried to hurt the stepfather as badly has he could have.. Fortunately the older man saw that, never touched him again, but threw the boy out on the street to fend for himself three weeks later.

The teenager was homeless. With money enough for only two nights in a motel, he called the birth Father he barely knew saying, “I have no place to go. Can I come stay with you?” His Daddy said “yes”. And there he lived for a year while he and his Dad made the best peace they could.

Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love. Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner’s love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.” Bell Hooks

A walk though the majority of his adult life shows the boy became like the description above. How could he have known the effects of surviving childhood would have so much to do with shaping his life? If we are born without the colors of life already painted, then it is childhood where the adult we become gets colored in.

I was that boy and I am that man. My gratitude overflows that in recent times I have been able to let go of most of it. And I finally got even with my evil stepfather; I became happy in spite of him!

You know all that sympathy that you feel
for an abused child who suffers
without a good mom or dad to love and care for them?
Well, they don’t stay children forever.
No one magically becomes an adult the day they turn eighteen.
Some people grow up sooner, many grow up later.
Some never really do.
…just remember that some people in this world
are older versions of those same kids we cry for.
Ashly Lorenzana

Image by Ruby Blossom
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubyblossom/with/5993608893/

Too Much Work and Not Enough Play

rudolphEleven days off work has turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in ages. Once again I am reminded that too much work and not enough play dulls my senses and washes the color from my life.  In the spirit of that statement I have taken the liberty of re-posting today from a Christmas past.

Originally Posted on December 22, 2011

Yesterday day at work I recited to someone an alternate version of a favorite Christmas song he had never heard.  With it fresh on my mind, I tried it out on two others who it turned out had never heard it as well.  So today it is getting shared here for the “betterment of posterity”.

I have no exact memory of how old I was, but my favorite uncle taught me this alternate version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” when I was still in elementary school.  It took him teaching me on and off for a full weekend before all the words were indelibly stamped in my brain where they have remained now for fifty years.  Here goes:

Randolph, the bow-legged cowboy
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn about and run.

All of the other cowboys
Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Randolph
Join in any poker games.

Then one day the bank was robbed
And sheriff came to say
“Randolph with your gun so bright
Won’t you guide my posse tonight?”

Then all the cowgirls loved him
As they shouted out with glee
Randolph the bow-legged cowboy
You’ll go down in history!

There are many alternate versions of Christmas carols and poetry of the season, but none I enjoy more than this slightly twisted version of “Twas the Night before Christmas”.  It is a reminder of what the season is truly about.

Tis the month before Christmas, we’re all going nuts;
With so much to do, there are no ifs, ands or buts.
Buy presents, hang tree lights, pop cards in the mail,
Send gift packs, thread popcorn, find turkeys on sale.

Decorations need stringing up all through the house.
And you haven’t a clue what to buy for your spouse.
School concerts, receptions, open houses with friends,
Long lineups, short tempers, tying up the loose ends.

With all our mad dashing, we’re reeling from shock;
Let’s stop for a minute and really take stock.
It’s crassly commercial, the cynical say;
If that’s true, that our fault… it’s us and not they.

Take time for yourself-though hard as that seems—
Enjoy your kids’ laughter, excitement and dreams.
Take a moment out now, don’t get overly riled,
Instead make an angel in snow with your child.

The shortbread can wait, and so can the tree;
What’s important to feel is a child’s sense of glee.
The holidays aren’t about push, rush and shove;
They’re for friendship and sharing and family love.

Hear the bells, feel the warmth, light up with the glow
Of a message first sent to us so long ago:
Peace, love and goodwill, and hope burning bright.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Now is the time of heightened goodwill, of giving, of loving one and all.  It is a time of celebration of children; the ones we adults used to be, the ones we brought into the world and the one who was born in a manger over two thousand years ago.

Aldous Huxley wrote:  Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.  Without doubt that phrase was abundantly true about me during much of my life.  This year I have more Christmas spirit than I probably have ever had and the reason is two-fold and simple:  I have more love in my life than ever before and my gratitude for living is at an all time high and growing.

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Charles Dickens

Yes, Santa Claus, There IS a Virginia

Originally Posted here one year ago on December 20, 2011

Yesterday found here was the well-known “Yes,Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” editorial from 1897.  Thank you for all the positive feedback on reprinting it on the goodmorninggratitude.com blog!

Today this blog features a follow-up piece written a hundred and twelve years after Virginia wrote her famous letter.   From a blog Fortune Magazine’s Stanley Bing writes each day called Bing’s Blog comes ” Yes, Santa Claus, there IS a Virginia”.

“DEAR BLOGGER: I am very old and live at the North Pole. All of my little friends up here say that there is no Virginia any more. Mrs. Claus says that if I see it on the your website, it’s so. Please tell me the truth: Is there a Virginia? Signed, Chris (Santa) Claus, 115 Workshop Way, North Pole.

Monday, December 21, 2009 at 11:35 am
Chris,
Your little friends are wrong. They have been consuming too much media, and have been infected by the material that gains the most attention there. They do not believe that which doesn’t rise to the top of the search stack or get the highest ratings 18-49. They think that nothing exists but that which is measured by hits, twitters and chatter, or makes its way by other means to the top of our collective mind.

You see, Chris, in this world of ours, all attention spans, be they those of children or of adults, are very tiny, very short, and very, very fragile. As we make our way through the vast cloud of information, entertainment, opinion, music, random noise and other forms of auditory, visual, and intellectual stimulation, each human being is a minuscule atom, a quark within the boundless physical and virtual universe that surrounds us. None of us can grasp the total picture.

Yes, SANTA CLAUS, there is a Virginia. She still exists as certainly as love and hope and childhood exist inside every person, as you know they do, shining unaided within each of us and lighting our way to true peace and joy that transcends this time and place.

Good Lord! How gray the world would be if there were no Virginia. It would be as gray as if there were no Santa Claus! There would be no song, no poetry, no rhythm to our existence beyond that which we can do and see and want and buy. The eternal childhood that makes our lives have meaning would be extinguished. Not believe in Virginia! You might as well not believe in quantum physics!

Can you find her? Perhaps not by looking with your eyes. You might get your elves to scour the brick-and-mortar malls and online destinations, chat rooms and Facebook pages from one end of the world to the other on Christmas Eve to catch her, but even if they did not see her hanging out in one random location or another, what would that prove? Nobody sees Virginia, but that doesn’t mean she’s not out there.

Did you ever see an aura? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have one. Or karma? Can it be measured? Certainly not. But still it shapes the length and color of our days. How about the Higgs boson? Talk to 1,000 scientists from here to CERN and not one will disbelieve in it, and yet nobody can find a single one, even with a trillion-dollar accelerator.

There is a firewall between us and the unseen world. Only love, kindness, understanding, and simplicity can lift that veil. And in the end, amid all the noise and haste, what lies beyond is really all that matters, all that has ever mattered. No Virginia? Thank God, she lives, Santa, and she always will. Ten thousand years from now, when we have evolved into strange, unrecognizable amalgams of organic material and cybernetic wetware, she will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Through the traditions of Christmas my life has known great joy as a child and then shared with my son as a little one.  I am grateful for spirit of Santa Claus and all the children like Virginia who have believed in him.  Certainly Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, but it is also a celebration of all children, every where, of all times.

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories
and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year
for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Find Bing’s original blog post here:  http://stanleybing.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/12/21/yes-santa-claus-there-is-a-virginia/

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Originally Posted here one year ago on December 19, 2011

Virginia was the daughter of Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  In answer to her question “is there really a Santa Claus” her father suggested she write to a New York City newspaper called The Sun.

Virginia’s letter found its way to one of the paper’s editors named Francis P. Church who wrote the now famous response.   His answer to Virgina remains today as the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any English language newspaper.

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon

September 21, 1897
Virginia,
Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds,Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah,Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now,Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Many have questioned if Virigina’s original letter actually ever existed thinking it was only fiction created by Francis Church as a basis for his editorial. However, the original letter written by Virginia O’Hanlon was authenticated in 1998 by an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow and valued at $20,000–$30,000.

I’m grateful for the swell in my chest the little boy inside finds in reading Church’s reply to Virginia over a hundred years ago.  The spirit of Santa Claus will always be with me.

There’s more to the truth than just the facts.  ~Author Unknown

Like Thread Through a Needle

Father-ShadowEven just the thought of what I am about to write makes my eyes well up. Last evening watching a performance of “The “Nutcracker” there was a point I was unexpectedly moved and that feeling has grown since.

Tulsa is blessed to have had a wonderful ballet and symphony and last night’s presentation filled me with the spirit of Christmas. Seeing the young children who played the parts of the mice and clowns especially warmed me with a sense of the season.

My feelings became deeply melancholy (here come the tears) at curtain call when the kids who played the mice were lined up in front due to their small size. For some reason I counted how many in the line and came up with twenty. Instantly I was hit with the realization that was the number of children who were killed in Connecticut two days ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It is not within my grasp to imagine how painful it is to lose a young child and in the circumstances of a few days ago is unfathomable to my heart and mind. The sorrow has to be unspeakable and indescribable. For strangers I will never meet my heart is laden with grief for your pain. I can do nothing but pray for you and let you know here that I care; that millions care. In no way will it make it any easier to bear the anguish and woe, but maybe someday realizing an entire country cries with you will bring some comfort.

My Mom, she tells a lot of lies,
She never did before.
But from now until she dies,
She’ll tell a whole lot more.
Ask my Mom how she is
And because she can’t explain,
She will tell a little lie
Because she can’t describe the pain.
Ask my Mom how she is,
She’ll say “I’m alright.”
If that’s the truth, then tell me,
why does she cry each night?
Ask my Mom how she is,
She seems to cope so well.
She didn’t have a choice you see,
Nor the strength to yell.
Ask my Mom how she is,
“I’m fine, I’m well, I’m coping.”
For God’s sake Mom, just tell the truth,
Just say your heart is broken.
She’ll love me all her life,
I loved her all of mine.
But if you ask her how she is,
She’ll lie and say she’s fine.
I am Here in Heaven.
I cannot hug from here.
If she lies to you don’t listen,
Hug her and hold her near.
Taken from ” Ask My Mom How She Is” – Author Unknown

I am grateful to be touched and able to shoulder a tiny, tiny bit of the pain and grief of the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers and families who will not see a child open presents on Christmas morning. I cry for you.

Your absence has gone through me
like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
W.S. Merwin