Cloud of Uncertainty and Conflict

“For Tom, life went on as usual except for the cloud of uncertainty and conflict hanging over his home and neighborhood.” For me, 70 years later, another cloud of uncertainty and conflict are hanging over my home and neighborhood.

For Tom, it was World War 2. For me…

This is the point where I leave you guessing for a minute about what comes next.  Given the economic status of our country, you could say that the cloud of uncertainty for me is economical.  Given the political unrest in parts of the world, you could say that the cloud of uncertainty could be focused around another war.  Given the outcome of the latest elections, you could say that the cloud of uncertainty could be focused around the status of our country.  But no, it isn’t any of this.

It’s Black Friday.

So many stores, so many sales, so many choices.  What to do, where to go, how to pay for it?

At the beginning of this week I knew that I would not be participating in Black Friday sales this year.  I wanted to avoid the stress and chaos that I have felt the last few years.  So guess what happened?

No, I didn’t go shopping on Black Friday (in fact, it is almost Noon and I am still in my PJ’s).

On Wednesday my mother-in-law picked up a paper with all of the Black Friday ads included.  I rummaged around and searched every page of every ad.  Yes, there were some deals that I just couldn’t pass up…yet I still didn’t want to go out and shop at 5:00 am in the cold.  Then I saw the Walmart ad.

Gray Thursday!  Starting at 8:00 pm…and they had some things I wanted to get.

What is the justification for going?  I was feeling bad earlier in the week for all of those retail employees that would have to work on Thanksgiving because their employer wanted to get a head start on the sales.  Now I was going to have to compromise my feelings for their plight and instead offer a theoretical “too bad, so sad” attitude when I walked in the store.

Could my conscience handle it?  Was my integrity at stake?

You can see the cloud of uncertainty and conflict hanging over me.  Tom only had to worry about war.  I had to worry about post-Thanksgiving retail crowds. I think some of the battles in Walmart, specifically in the electronics section, have been worse than some of the combat skirmishes in the Europe.  And no, I am not making light of a war in which many people have died.

In fact, I am making a statement on the fall of humanity in the name of saving a buck in the pocket and making big bucks in the cash register.  And I participated in it.

There is one thing that helps me feel a little bit better about it.

On the way out the door at Walmart, a Marine stood sentry to a box.  The box was labeled “Toys for Tots“.  In his hand was a can with a slot in the lid for money to be donated.  And one of my children was with me.

The same military that has risked their lives for me to be able to participate in all this retail foolishness was passively asking us to sacrifice a little to help those children who are less fortunate and may not be receiving much for Christmas this year.  And it seemed that 95% of the people just walked by without even noticing…or caring if they did notice.

I made it past the front door and into the parking lot and didn’t feel very bad.  I didn’t have a toy to donate and I didn’t have cash on hand.  But I only made it 50 feet.  I paused, opened my wallet, and saw a $5 bill.  It couldn’t sit there, especially after I had just spent hundreds on gifts for family members.  It was all the cash I could donate, but I could still donate it.  Or save it to pay for lunch one day next week.

There was another cloud of uncertainty and conflict hanging over me.  But I was able to rationalize the shopping.  It should be much easier to rationalize the donation of a small amount of money.

I took the money out of my wallet and gave it to my daughter.  I asked her to run back in and give it to the Marine inside the door.  I don’t know how she felt doing it, and I don’t know who will benefit from it.  But the Marine said “thank you” and I felt good for giving.

As my daughter and I walked to the car, I told her that if she ever has an opportunity to give when someone else is truly in need, she needs to give.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be money.  It could be food, it could be service, it could be time.

We are all faced with uncertainty in life and we all face some form of conflict, even if it is only internal.  But when we have a difference to make, will we make it?  Will we see the selfish follies of life and forget about the needs of others?

Tom saw the uncertainty and conflict of his time.  People were in need…their lives were at stake.  Tom joined the Navy and served the USA during World War 2.  Since then he has given his life in service to his community, his nation, his planet, and his God.

I think I can do better.  I think if I do, the uncertainty and conflict will leave…or at least greatly diminish.

Can you?

Just another view from a palmtree.



Hey Santa, no sugar for you!

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Image via Wikipedia

What if Santa was diabetic?  What would you leave for him on Christmas Eve?  This is a suggested topic that I saw in an article a couple of weeks ago that talked about blogging during the Christmas season.  I found the topic to be potentially whimsical.  But, I also realize that diabetes is a serious situation that is affecting more and more Americans each year because of unhealthy lifestyles.

Diabetes has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  I don’t have it but it has been prevalent in my family history.  It was one of the contributing factors that lead to my dad dying almost four years ago.  Now it is moving down the generational line.  Each of my siblings and I are genetically predisposed, and unfortunately, so are our children.  Some days I think about it and promise myself that I will take care of my body so that I don’t get it, and in the end, hope that I just don’t get it.

So at this time of year when so many treats are shared between friends, neighbors, and co-workers; when holiday parties bring out the tastiest – and least healthy – dishes, what are we to do?  Enjoy it all and hope we don’t end up with a belly to rival the jolly head elf?  Here is a question for you to ponder: As you partake in the holiday festivities that lead up to Christmas, and when I say partake I mean eat plenty of unhealthy food that tastes so good you don’t care about the calorie count or sugar content, what will you end up leaving for old Saint Nick to eat when he comes delivering to your house?

There have been times at my house that the treat plate left on the coffee table consisted of the left-over treats received from neighbors that my kids didn’t like.  I knew that they would get eaten, so we made sure to set them out.  There have even been times that my kids wanted to leave out carrots, apples and oranges.  They were mostly for the reindeer, but Santa was welcome to help himself too.  Especially since the sweet treats were usually stale or overcooked cookies.

What about some sort of drink?  Would you leave milk out where it could go sour?  Anytime I think about that, I am reminded of two scenes in the movie “The Santa Clause” with Tim Allen.  The first night he goes around delivering presents he is seen by a little girl while at her house.  She asks why he didn’t drink the milk she left with the cookie.  Since he didn’t want to be there in the first place, he quickly responded that he was lactose intolerant.

The second scene takes place one year later at the same house with the same girl.  By this time Tim Allen’s character has embraced the whole Santa thing and gladly goes to drink the milk.  He almost gags because he thought the milk had gone sour.  He says as much to the girl and she responds that it is soy milk because of his intolerance to lactose.  I don’t recommend that.  Maybe a nice juice, or even just plain water.

I would hate to think what the blood sugar levels would really be if the scenario were true.  Can you imagine the number of cookies, pieces of fudge, and other treats that Santa would be eating if he ate at every house he stopped at?  I don’t know how he would get out of my neighborhood without vomiting from excessive sweetness.  But maybe that is the trick.  I don’t know.  I don’t want to even think about it and the visual images it creates.  Oops, too late.

I think that this year I might have to convince the kids that leaving treats for Santa isn’t a very healthy thing to do.  Maybe we will leave a taco left over from dinner.  Maybe we will make him a ham sandwich.  If I were Santa, I would want a nice filet mignon, cooked medium-rare, with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and candied yams.  (Hint, hint.)  Really, isn’t that what he should be eating?  It provides some carbs and protein that will give him energy to go from house to house delivering presents.  And he won’t have an energy crash like he will after eating so many sugary treats.

I think I am on to something here.  If healthier eating makes Santa lose weight, he can stuff his clothes with pillows like all of the other “Santas” you see at the shopping mall.  And if he doesn’t lose the weight, well, at least we can sleep soundly knowing that he is getting a good meal to help him along.  ‘Cause after all, we don’t want to lose Santa to diabetes, and I am sure he doesn’t want to hassle with taking insulin.  Why complicate things?

Just another view from a Palmtree.