Archive for December, 2011

“Kids Say…” 2011 Rewind

Fathering a handful of kids gives me a front row seat to the classic things they say. Consider me an everyday Art Linkletter, the entertainer who made a name for himself interviewing kids in the 1950s and 60s. Bill Cosby followed suit in the 1990s with the CBS show Kids Say the Darndest Things.

For this final 2011 edition of American Dreaming, I offer the most hilarious lines my progeny uttered this year. Please remember their mother is at least half responsible for each.

From the son who turned eight this year…

“Can a player fire a referee?”

While walking past his school garden: “Can you plant marshmallows?”

“Brother has two teeth and sister doesn’t have any because he’s older.” (Brother and sister are twins; brother is technically one minute older.)

When I gave him permission to swim shirtless: “But people will see my nibbles!”

After he prayed to win a soccer game, I suggested that he pray for something more divinely neutral like the health of all the players or for it to be a sunny day: “I’ll pray for it to be partly cloudy.”

From the son who turned five this year…

After watching the music group Black Eyed Peas perform in the Super Bowl halftime show, “Do you like the Black Beans? I do.”

In a hotel pool during spring break: “Splashing is my superpower.”

“Can I marry my sister?”

“Can we go to Toys 4 Us?”

“Grapes turn into raisins. Does cheese turn into Cheez-its?”

“Is ‘urinate’ Spanish for ‘tee-tee’?”

“Are hot dogs the cows’ weenies?”

After receiving a punishment, “I’m in jail! I’m in jail!”

While I filled out a batting order for his brother’s baseball team: “Do you put the good players first and the bad players last?”

“Were you playing a game of golf last night or just a round of golf?”

After I asked him what we could do for a boy who lives in a difficult family situation: “Test him?”

Vocabulary notes: he calls facial hair not ‘whiskers,’ but ‘splinters’ and he calls golf ball elevation devices not ‘tees’ but ‘picks.’

Finally, from the son who turned three this year (the linchpin, as I call him)…

When asked how many brothers he has: “Two.” (In fact, he has three.)

When asked to identify a five-cent piece: “That’s a pickle.”

“There’s the ice cream shop. It doesn’t have a playground.”

Mom: “You need to go potty.”
Son: “Can I have a piece of candy?”
Mom: “No, but you can have breakfast.”

Dad to son eating a cookie: “Did Mom say you could have a cookie?”
Son: “Yes.”
Dad: “Mom, did you say he could have a cookie?”
Mom: “No.”
Son, handing me the cookie: “I’ll just have one tomorrow.”

And as I was leaving for work recently: “Bye, Daddy-boy.”

Bye, 2011-boy.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Contact him at kevin@kwt.info.
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A Christmas night dream

It is said that in any dream, the dreamer identifies with and even personifies each character in the plot.

The Christmas story in Luke 2 is no dream. Or perhaps it is humanity’s dream come true. Either way, the Savior-child, the all in all, plays every role in the drama.

“Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

Jesus like Caesar is royal. The King of kings, the Lord of lords. In charge, he issues decrees and things happen. Demons flee, the dead rise, the disabled see and walk and run.

Like Augustus, he counts all people worldwide, even their hairs for that matter, for they matter to him. He counts because they count.

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem…”

Jesus is like Joseph, the faithful father. He is the very representation incarnate of the Heavenly Father. He impregnates those he loves with life. He fertilizes their dormant potential.

He guides and provides and, at times, carries. He is the loving protector, the helper, the feeder, the discipliner.

“Joseph went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Jesus is like Mary, the giver of life. He is ever nurturing, always caring. He is the merciful one with the heart for the outcast; the tender one who wept at the passing of a best friend. “As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you.” (Isaiah 66)

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

Jesus, the Lord, is my shepherd, of course. I shall not want for anything: food, warmth, direction, protection. Though I am dull, I am important to him.

He keeps me within his staff’s reach. I will not be left behind. He will leave ninety-nine others to come after me. Yes, the Good Shepherd cares for the one.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

Like an angel, Jesus was transfigured on a mountaintop. He radiated the piercing brightness of the Almighty. The glory of the Father was upon him. Paul writes that “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4)

Was that terrifying? Yes. The Aslan of God, the lion of Judah, is fierce. In the words of C.S. Lewis, he is not safe, but he is good. As the angels were that night in Judea.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”

Ahhh. Jesus as himself. The firstborn of all creation. The image of the invisible God. The one by whom and for whom all things were created.

Jesus, the humble, born in a shed. He did not consider being God himself something to hold vigorously to.

Instead, he made himself nothing, a slave, in fact, willing to enter by lowly birth and exit by lonely death.

So, Jesus portrays his traits through every character in his arrival story. But a question remains: Will the character of Jesus be on display in the reader, as well?

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

A real, live Clark Griswold

A grandfather who treats his grandkids to an annual round of Christmas light viewing tipped me off to 108 Cedar Street. It’s hidden down an underdeveloped road in the center of town.

108 Cedar is a regular rental house 8 months out of the year, a full-fledged project zone 3 months out of the year, and every kid’s Christmastime dreamland 1 month out of the year.

“Dad, it’s for you. It’s about the lights,” Jimmy Sartain’s teenage daughter announced with a certain degree of ho-hum-ness when I knocked on their door. From the sound of things, she may not carry on the family tradition Mr. Sartain acquired from his father, who passed away earlier this year.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to do the light display this year,” Sartain said with a tear in his eye. “But when I told a neighbor that, you’d thought I’d just stepped on his baby chickens.”

Sartain did leave some attractions grounded for 2011: a Santa-bearing helicopter that rises above the tree line, icicles cris-crossing over the road.

“Still, small aircraft think I’m an airstrip,” asserts Sartain who works at the Boerne Stage Airfield.

Despite the scale-down, a train still chugs, a chimney still smokes, a holiday hot air balloon still inflates, lights still flash to Carol of the Bells or another of twenty-nine Christmas tunes that broadcast on 104.9 FM. A virtual Santa speaks to your kids on another frequency.

“The look on the kids’ faces is priceless when they see him. Even parents do a double-take,” Sartain explains.

Sartain’s spectacle by the numbers:
100,000 lights
30,000 watts of electricity
1,500 visitors
92 electrical switches
9 miles of extension cord
6 Light-o-rama “brains”
1 computer

And the electric bill?

“It’s kinda high,” Sartain understated. “It was $1,500 three years ago. It’ll probably be around $700 this year.”

Hence the need for the donations box beside row of candy canes Sartain puts out for the kids. “I’ve gotten about 60 bucks so far this year.”

And what do the neighbors say?

“They pretty much call me Griswold,” referring to the character played by Chevy Chase in the 1989 cult classic Christmas Vacation. In true Vacation fashion, an RV adorns the premises.

“That’s Santa’s cabin,” Sartain says. “It holds a lot of the switches.”

To maintain good relations with the neighbors, Sartain switches off the festivities by 9 p.m. on weeknights and 9:30 or 10 p.m. on weekends. He mows one neighbor’s grass for the right to stretch his colorful kingdom across her otherwise dark domain.

Sadly, some visitors aren’t so neighborly. An empty space sits where once laid baby Jesus in a lighted nativity scene.

“I heard some kids were having one of those scavenger hunts,” Sartain theorized. “Somebody needed a baby Jesus, I guess.”

Particularly somebody who steals one.

How does Sartain support himself and his high voltage habit? He’s an electrician, of course. His late father was a postman.

Fitting: one generation delivered kids’ visions to Santa. The next delivers Santa’s visions to kids.

From Main Street, take Blanco east. Then take the first left past Plant Avenue, Oak Lane. Cedar Street will be up on your right.

The street sign will say “No Outlet,” but don’t believe it. There are actually many outlets, all being put to very good use.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Subscribe to his articles at http://www.kwt.info.

Yes, We Cain’t

Herman Cain suspended his presidential campaign last week. He chose not to disband it entirely so that he could continue to traverse the nation espousing his tax and foreign policy proposals. Maybe he can hitch a ride with Sarah Palin who appears to be on Minute 14 of her proverbial 15.

Cain’s departure from the race comes on the heels of an unemployed Atlanta woman’s announcement that the two have engaged in a 13-year affair. Though Cain denies the accusation, his line, “I am at peace with my wife,” and subsequent surrender make one think otherwise.

In the meantime, Rick Perry has shown the world what some of us Texans already knew: good hair follicles can sometimes come with good folly. The governor has appearances on Letterman and Leno to prove it.

After lackluster debate performances, Perry readily admitted that debating is not his strong suit. But what is politics if not a perpetual back and forth of ideas and solutions?

Speeches and rhetoric poured forth before friendly crowds have put us in gridlock. We need debate and decisions to get us moving again.

And then there were two: Mitt and Newt. Sounds like a show on the Cartoon Network. What shall we do with them?

Mitt has held fairly steady in the polls as contenders have surpassed and receded. But his award-winning unflappability has shown signs of cracking. Gov. Perry stuck a few debate burrs under his saddle. He responded condescendingly and patronizingly.

Last week, he showed impatience with Fox News’ Brett Baier for asking him to reiterate his position on an issue. Again, what is a campaign if not a constant repeating of one’s ideas? Oh yes, Mitt’s from the private sector where executives speak once and action happens.

He’ll get some rest and return to his clean cut, straight-laced self. He’ll go back to delivering rapid fire bullet points. He’ll again speak in applause lines and sound bites.

Newt, on the other hand, doesn’t speak in sound bites. Therein lies his appeal. He listens to the unfolding debate and speaks in context.

Once, after Cain and Romney argued over the intricacies of Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, Gingrich was asked why Cain was having trouble selling the idea to the America people. “You just saw why,” he offered.

In the debate on national security, he was asked by a defense hawk if he’d pledge to make no cuts in defense. He declined.

“Some things you can do in defense that are less expensive…If it takes 15 to 20 years to build a weapons system, at a time when Apple changes technology every nine months, there’s something profoundly wrong with the system.”

Then come the intangibles of ego, leadership style and relationship skills.

Newt views himself as an historic figure. Mitt sees himself as a turnaround artist.

Newt is known to be difficult to work with. Mitt can be goofy and somewhat aloof.

Newt has dumped his wives every couple of decades. Mitt is supported by his wife, five sons and, most impressively, five daughters-in-law.

San Antonio minister Max Lucado once told a group of authors, “You will never write better than you live.” The axiom almost certainly has a corollary, “You will never lead better than you live.”

Best wishes to Republican voters in discerning which candidate lives, and therefore leads, the best.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Subscribe to his columns at http://www.kwt.info.

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