Christmas Toys

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I spent the last few days surfing the internet for vintage toys.  The truth is I have very distinct memories of specific Christmas presents but I knew there were many more memorable gifts I’d received over the years.  So I searched images to jar my ever decreasing memory.  And boy, did I find some doozies!

I wish I could pinpoint the year I received some of these toys but alas, I cannot.  I’m sure they’re all from the 70’s because that’s when I was in true “toy playing” years.

One of my earliest memories was when I was in elementary school.  I desperately wanted a bicycle for Christmas and even though I knew Mom and Dad couldn’t really afford it I was hoping Santa Claus would come through.  On that cold December morning, as usual, I woke before dawn waiting to hear if my Mom and Dad were stirring.  We weren’t allowed to go downstairs until they were up so we always waited to hear them first.  After what seemed like hours, I finally couldn’t take it any more.  I tip-toed to their room, gently knocked on their door and whispered, “It’s Christmas.  Can we go down stairs?”  I was relieved when I heard my Dad say, “Stay right there we’ll be out in a minute.”  They walked out complete with pajamas from “A Christmas Story” and we went downstairs.  I turned the corner and there it was.

My beautiful, red Huffy bicycle with a banana seat was just what I wanted!  I couldn’t wait to try it out in the alley behind the house.  After opening the rest of my presents, and donning my winter apparel, I cruised out on to the street.  I’ll remember that day as long as I live.

As I got older I got into the Radio Shack years.  One glorious year I got a Woodburning Kit.

Another year a 150 in 1 Electronics kit!  I had hours of fun with this!  Since my Dad was an electrician and had lots of experience with electronics, he and I had hours of time together making some really cool things.  Including a cyrstal radio.  It worked too!

But the “radio shack” gift I cherished most was almost a foreshadow of what I eventually spend 20 of my adult life doing as a career!  And I had so much fun with it!  A Panasonic Cassette recorder!

I used to do all kinds of different voices.  Rich Little was a favorite comedian of mine and I tried in vain to mimic all the accents and voices he did!  I used to the watch the Flip Wilson show too and like Flip, I did my best to pretend to do “Geraldine”.  So when I figured I had all the practice I needed, I sat down with my handy dandy cassette recorder, my comic books and I proceeded to record my first “audio comic book”.  I wish I still had some of those tapes but over the years and all the moves, they’ve disappeared.  I also pulled the “Peter Brady” trick on my sister Fanny.  Actually I’m not sure if I ever told her this so perhaps by reading this I’m admitting something that happened many years ago.  But I thought it would be funny to push record, sneak into her room, slide the cassette recorder under her bed, and record what she said on the phone when she was on with her girlfriends.  Isn’t that an awful thing?  🙂  What’s funny is, I never heard her say anything bad.   She was and still is a good sister.

A year or so later I got engrossed in all the Planet of the Apes movies and yes, I had all the figurines!  I was also a big fan of Steve Austin.  For those of  you who know, his character was played by Lee Majors.  You know, the fellow that had the honor of being with Farrah Fawcett for awhile!  Yea, I had that poster later too!  But Steve Austin, he was the Six Million Dollar Man!  And on Christmas, I was thrilled to find this under the tree.

As the years progressed, board games where always the present of choice.  Yes, I had Monopoly, Life, Concentration, Gnip Gnop, and others but in Middle School I started looking for “brain games”.  And I wanted this game really badly one year!

Finally there was high school.  Toys were no longer under the tree…well, maybe a few “older” toys.  But at this point I was dying to be in style.  Growing up in a financially strapped household, I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes.  I’m not complaining because we were always clean and clothed.  But, one year I really wanted a new pair of Lee Jeans.  They were in style and I was so excited when I opened the box, uncovered the tissue paper and found a pair of jeans like this in the box.

What’s funny is, the weren’t even that comfortable!  Ha!  I think this was the only pair of Lee jeans I ever wore again.  But at the time, I loved them!

I know it’s not what you get that makes Christmas special.  But I don’t think it does any harm to recall some wonderful memories from childhood either.  I remember many wonderful presents I’ve given over the years too!  But honestly what I remember most is the smiles and laughter with family and friends.  I also recognize the sacrifice my parents made to try and make our Christmases wonderful each year.  Even on the scarcest of years, I always loved waking up on Christmas morning and spending with my family.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this.  And I hope it jars your mind and brings up some happy Christmas moments of your own!

Merry Christmas!

The need to be right

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It happened again last evening.  I was sitting in the passenger seat, my wife was driving and my mother-in-law was in the back seat.  It was a chilly, rainy night and driving home was less than ideal.  We had a long, six and a half hour haul ahead of us and because I had driven to our destination my wife volunteered to drive home.  We’ve done it that way for years, but not with my mother-in-law in the backseat.

I’ll leave the life long dissertation on my mother-in-law for another blog because it will take too long to accurately describe her.  Let’s just say she loves me.  But she doesn’t approve of a husband who lets his wife drive a long distance when he’s perfectly capable of doing it himself.  With that in mind, this is the series of events.

We live six and a half hours from my step-daughter, her husband and my grandson.  I’m an actor who travels a lot and I hadn’t seen him since May. And since I’m heading out on the road for 3-months beginning the day after Christmas, I really wanted to drive up to see him.  So, yesterday we left just after 6am and hit the road.  My mother-in-law who’s living with us, took the passenger seat and my wife the back seat.  Like I mentioned, I drove there.  We stayed for a few hours, had a wonderful time and left just before dinner time to head back.  I know, I know, that’s a lot of driving for a 3 hour visit.  But it was so worth it!  When the topic of driving back came up, my wife said, “I’ll drive.”  I thanked her and said, well, if you get drowsy or uncomfortable, just let me know and I’ll take over.  I’ll be  honest, I was thankful for the assist.

After about four and a half hours on the road, in the pouring rain and fog, my mother-in-law says to me, “What’s that in the corner of the windshield?”  I replied, “What do you mean?”  She reiterated, “Up in the corner.  It looks like ice.”  I assured her it was not and we kept driving.  A few minutes later she said again, “That looks like ice on the windshield.  Are you sure that isn’t ice?”  I explained to her that it was not ice, rather dirt.  And it was too warm for ice to build up on the windshield.”  She huffed, “Of course, you would know.  You know everything.  You’re always right about everything!”

What the heck?  I sat there dumbfounded.  Where did that come from?  I breathed.  I smiled to myself.  I kindly said, “No, I’m most certainly not right about everything.  Sorry.”  Then I reflected.  Do I come off that way to her?  Is my attempt at assuring her being misconstrued in some way?  Is my happy, positive, confident demeanor interpreted as cocky, narcissistic and over-confident?  The truth is, I do not know.  If you’re reading this you might think I’m over reacting to the situation.  But this instance is one of many to have occurred in the past 15 years or so.   And yes, I’m quite aware that people will believe what they want to believe.  But this most certainly made me think about how I am perceived.  And I’m convinced that is not a bad thing.

The truth is, I do make a lot comments about things I know something about.  And for some reason I tend to take the opposite position a considerable portion of the time.  Is it because I like to debate or do I like to be right?  I think it’s a little of both actually, but I’m going to make a concerted effort in 2012 to change the way I react.  I do have control over my thoughts, my emotions, my reactions and my responses.  And it’s not important that I “be” right all the time.  When someone brings up an comment that I don’t necessarily agree with I’m going to say, “That’s an interesting perspective.  I never looked at it that way.”  If and only if they ask my opinion I’ll give it as that;  an opinion.

So what about what happened last night?  Looking at at now I see it perfectly clear.  This physically fragile, 71-year old woman is sitting in the backseat while her daughter is struggling to drive in terrible conditions.  Meanwhile, her husband should be saving her from this horrific experience and he’s sitting idly by and not doing anything about it.  She was probably nervous about the road conditions, and was terrified that we might be experience icy roadways.  I could have reacted by saying something like, “Wow, it does look like ice!  Honey, would you like to pull over and let me see if that’s ice?”  That would have validated my mother-in-laws concern, show my concern and once checking would have alleviated her fears.

Now, I know there are no should have’s in life.  And I do not dwell on things like that.  But I am incredibly grateful my mother-in-law said that to me last evening.  One of my resolutions in 2012 is to certainly quiet my ego, let go of the need to be right.  And by listening to other opinions, gain perspective on my own soul.






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I always try to live my life being appreciative for all I  have rather than depreciate all I don’t.  In this regard, I tend to pray differently then others.  Here’s an appreciative prayer that has yielded much in my every day life.

“Dear God, thank you so much for giving me this body to house the spirit that lives within.  I am in awe of your love, your selflessness, your constant giving.  As I enter another day, I know you will be with me.  You are me.  You created me so I share a piece of your everlasting power.  The same power that created the universe now flows through me.  Your almighty wisdom will give me all I need to say the right things and make the right decisions today.  I’m listening God.  Flow through me now.  As my human emotions try to take over, I know you will be here to remind me about the present.  I realize that I am a perfect creation.  I am perfect because you are perfect. (Then, with my eyes closed I take a moment to smell, feel and hear all that’s going on at the moment and pray it out loud)  I trust you will continue to provide me with everything I already I have enough of, thanks to you.  I’m here God…right now…and I’m listening.  Thank you again God.  I know you are with me.  And I trust you’re all creating, ever loving power is a part of me now, and forever.  Amen.”

Unconditional Love

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So I started an account with Intent.com today.  It’s an attempt at communing with some like minded individuals.  Have you ever felt like you’re the only person who feels the way you do?  Have you ever talked to people…listened to people…and wonder, “I have no capability of relating to that rationale?”

When I say I don’t care what other people think I really mean it.  I make every attempt to stay centered, commune with my Creator, and to trust the spirit that is me.  But, it does make it more difficult when everyone around you allow themselves to be overwhelmed by their humanity.  Money issues are money issues.  Sibling issues are sibling issues.  Job issues are job issues.  And that’s all they are.  Issues.   And dammit I’m not about to let issues stand in my way.  Besides,  for every so-called negative issue, there are as many or more positives.  

I listen to family talk about how “she” lied to us when she said “X”.  Or, my favorite, “she” shouldn’t be doing this or that.  Yes, I realize that I have no control over what they think but I’m so damn frustrated with that kind of thinking.  Why is it some people have the ability to just love and others get so blinded with negative thinking they are incapable of it.  It hurts me.  It affects me.  Should it?

I’m not sure how it came to be that I’m the peacemaker.  For years I’ve talked to my siblings individually about they others.  My brother talks about my sisters.  My sisters talk about each other.  And I know my sisters talk to each other about me.   In my brothers eyes my sisters are both screw-ups, I’m the dreamer, and he’s the savior.  When he gets upset with my sister, I tell him, “Well, we’re not always going to agree, but we’re family.”  When my sister talks to me about their brother I say, “Well, you know how he is.  He means well.”  All the while I know in the back of their minds they’re all thinking, “what does he (me) know about this situation”.  It hurts me.  It affects me.  Should it?

I just want everyone to get along.  Is that too much to ask?  I never liked conflict.  I think it’s useless.  So when I see it…feel it, I’m affected.  So, what is it exactly that is making me feel hurt?  It’s me.  No matter how much I say what others think doesn’t bother me; it does.  Perhaps not in the way others are affected, but somewhere in my heart I want to make a positive difference in others lives.  And my family is first and foremost in my heart.  I live by example.  And I’m hoping that at some point they’ll appreciate what it is I’m doing and perhaps make some positive changes in their own lives.  And by making changes to their own lives, maybe they can gain some perspective on how they relate to each other.  I just want them to love each other like I love them.  That’s all.  I want them to realize that all their problems don’t rule their lives.  I want them to look at all the good things they already possess.  And instead of asking God to fix their problems; to save them, they should realize that God has already provided all it is that they need.  And the more the appreciate what they have, the more God will send.  And with that new way of thinking, unconditional love flows.

So, I joined Itent.com today.  It was so nice to see others who think like me…feel like me.  And honestly, just but writing and reading what I just typed I know I am so blessed.  Thank you God for giving me the unconditional love I feel for my family.  I will continue to be an instrument of peace between my brothers and sisters.  And I know, although it’s not always apparent, what I do makes a difference.  Because it certainly makes a difference in my heart.