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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How cold is it? (c)

Fwd: How Cold Is It?

> How Cold Is It?
> I've concluded my extensive scientific survey on how people are dealing with, or what they've experienced during this cold snap. When asked 'How cold is it?' I have found people to be very resourceful, observant and inventive in their pursuit of internal warmth.
> The following are my observations.
> It's So Cold.....
> Religious leaders are worried. Congregation feels some things said about Hell are not really that bad.
> Hitchhikers are holding up picture of thumb.
> A flasher ran up to old Mrs Ferguson and described himself.
> City Halls approval rating has spiked! From52% to 85% once the wind chill is factored in.
> Teddy bears are being shoved from beds in favor of electric appliances.
> Kids are playing outside only as far as electric cord will go.
> I'm wearing so many clothes that when I slipped on the ice and fell over I had to wait for someone to roll me back home.
> I eat all the wrong foods with the hope of heartburn.
> I'm kissing people with the flu virus with the hope of coming down with a fever.
> My grand kids thought I grew a goatee. Turned out to be frozen drool.
> Groping on city busses is now accepted as long as your wearing woolly mitts.
> Bedbugs promise not to bite as long as you let them cuddle in your jammies
> Smokey the Bear grabbed a box of matches and ran into the forest.
> Silly Putty turned serious!
> P Diddy while visiting our fair city changed his name to Frozen P.
> It's no longer the finger...I got the mitt while driving.
> I went to shower....I got hail.
> Firemen can't get to burning buildings. It seems crowds want to hang around someplace warm.
> I won't drive my grand kids to school any more. I've decided they don't need an education.
> I don't use my seatbelt in the car anymore. Who needs a belt when you're frozen to the seat!
> I've found sitting on a smoldering compost heap is not that bad.
> All the ornaments I've hung on the Christmas Tree have all crowed around the top to get warm from the glow off he star!
> Bob Niles

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fwd: The Not So Merry Christmas

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: The Not So Merry Christmas
From: Bob Niles <>
Date: December 21, 2014 at 12:12:09 PM PST

                                    The Not So Merry Christmas

50 years in the future

"Yes it's in the original box, and some 40 years ago it would have added value. But so many of the Frozen dolls were sold and unopened that they have, unfortunately for you, flooded the market. It's probably not worth what you paid for it. But thank you for coming to the Antiques Road Show today"
I can see it all now! Doll after doll, action figure after action figure, all still hermetically sealed in the box they came in will flood 85% of the antique market in the future. And why is that? Cause they never could get them out of the dang blasted box!
Why you can't even call it a box. It's an environment. Little Elsa is frozen in time and space. All entombed by a blister pack and then tied, taped, and suspended into a winter wonderland. Each arm and leg, neck and torso are painstakingly tied from the back of the plasticized cardboard scene. And each tie is then taped as if to make sure she can't get away. Then the cardboard environment is placed in an equally attractive windowed box that is sealed with far too many pieces of invisible tape
It would be easier to get a guy out of Guantanamo Bay Prison than this doll from that box. A box that has become the prison she's attached to. A box so incased in plastic that it would seem that this toys country of origin (China) is ridding  its self of non recycle-able  plastic by plasticizing everything it exports to a ridiculous degree.
It all starts with the windowed box. And every one of them is different. You push then pull on spots where you think would be an entry point, but your wrong. Flaps are  discovered for access where only an Ikea designer would think to look.
More pushing, pulling and then discover the flaps are covered in invisible tape. You pick away the tape from the three flaps, then discover there's four flaps. It's after you attack the fourth flap with barred nails and flashing teeth that you're made painfully aware that they've taped all the edges too. To the point it's as if they were trying to rid the factory of this invisible tape.       
Success! Windowed box breached. Consider yourself proud for having achieved this level in entering it's plastic domain on the same day and without swearing.
But describing it as a plastic domain isn't entirely correct. It's must be a carbon fiber/plastic domain. Because you can't rip it, or bite your way through it like you could do if it were plastic. You need harden German steel found only in you wife's expensive kitchen knives. These have to be sharpened to an operating rooms edge so to gain entry into this gilded prison.  Plus you have to back up your blade with wire snips and scissors as your tools of the trade to unlock Christmas Day.  
And the physical properties of the carbon fiber/plastic, prison the toy is encased in, change when stabbed. At first you push and push with the blade, careful not bending it too much as to break its point off. You know the tip will break because you've done it to three knives already. Then, once through the plastic it's like a hot knife through butter. And now the stabbing blade is coming directly at the place where you plan on digesting a pound and a half of turkey later that day. But wait, you're  saved! Saved  from a self appendectomy by the carbon fiber/plastic cardboard thats prisoning Elsa. It's now here that the once hot knife through butter scenario changes. Now using the knife to free little Elsa from her plastic cell is like trying to cut tough leather with a dull hammer. Why?
So you now try birthing the toy by pulling it through the hole you've made with the now fourth pointless knife. You yank on her blond hair, head and arms with the two fingers you can fit in the hole. No luck! Elsa is still a prisoner and you're cut up from the carbon fiber/plastic edges, bleeding all over Christmas. It's then you discover little Charlottes toy is wired and tied half a dozen times to the appendectomy saving cardboard.
Now at this point you want to swear. You should swear. You've sworn at less. But your surrounded by children and elderly relatives and dear old mom. So you bite your tongue and smile . And it's through that smile you note that each knot and twist is then blessed with more of the almost invisible tape. To which you then remember Jesus at Christmas by audibly but unknowingly ask him for help.
And so it is with bared teeth, nails and divine help more dang blasted tape is removed.  
Then with the attention of one disarming a bomb you note wire or twine. If she's just tied with twine, you can use scissors to free her from her six anchoring points.
Please note; scissors,not a knife to be used here. Some years ago I used a knife and wound up looking like Jack Nicholson in the movie Chinatown.
If plasticized wire is assessed, you could try twisting it counter clockwise. And if that doesn't work, clockwise. Then repeat. And repeat. Then you swear. You don't care who's in the room at this point.
Help is now required to gain entry into poor little Elsa's toy prison. You ask some relatives kid named Bobby or something to go to the garage and get the wire snips from your toolbox for you. Then after four unsuccessful trips by, 'Are-you-kidding-me!', you pull yourself up with the help of the Christmas Tree which goes quickly from vertical to horizontal.
Snips acquired, and tree righted, you cut the six anchoring points and the left hand off the once treasured Elsa doll.
Now the blond curly haired, seemingly angelic, patiently waiting for her doll, Charlotte, swears. This brings the total to four people with potty mouths today. Myself, the wife when I pulled the tree over, the not so angelic Charlotte and  Are-you-kidding-me' when I yelled at him for not being able to find the snips.
Right handed Elsa is now free. But by this time they have found someone else to carve your turkey, and everyone has abandoned you. The whole bunch of turkey-eating- unbelievers who thought I couldn't free Elsa before dinner, started eating without you. Well I  showed them,...they were right?  Oh well at least that's one freed. Now four more to go.
"Hey! You turkey-eating-unbelievers, do I recycle this carbon fiber/plastic cardboard or just throw it away? Someone?.... Anyone? No really where does it go?.....Are-you-kidding-me that was really rude."

Bob Niles

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fwd: 'Twas that day before Christmas

     'Twas that day before Christmas

'Twas that day before Christmas
As I looked out my house,
"This rain's never ending!" or so said my spouse.

"Get outside, hang the lights round the chimney with care,
Get it done! Hurry up, before Nicholas gets there!"

The children are no help all sleeping in bed,
No visions of sugar plums, but iPads instead.

While Mama dictates I put on a cap
I slip on my boots and a coat with two snaps.

I opened the door and stepped in a puddle.
Then slipped on the lawn and now I see double.
My wife's in the window she doubles and laughs,
I staggered and tumbled, tripped over the trash.

My keys pierce my breast ,as I've fallen you know.
The wind how it blusters then swirls and blows.
My eyes start to water, some would say tear,
I've fallen on Rudolf and other reindeers.
I'm a little old mind you, but lively and quick,
I'm up in a moment all covered in sh...shtuff?

The poop from a beagle had made a large stain.
And I yelled and I shouted and called it bad names.
Dog- gone - it, dang- blasted that dog of the Nixon's!
Uncommon, dumb stupid, ah darn it I'm freezin'.
I hobble to the porch then lean against the wall,
Ah-choo-a, ah-choo-a, I sneeze, almost fall.

"Change to dry clothes! You'll catch a cold and die!"
My wife how she shouted. Her voice how it flys.
So into the house, off trousers and boots,
My coat with two snaps all covered in poop.

And then in a twinkling I knew what to do,
For hanging and dangling of lights from my roof.
I'd wear tightie whities that's all that I'd wear!
Outside on the ladder I just didn't care.

It's only tightie whities on my birthday suit,
As I climbed up the ladder midsts laughter and hoots.
'Twas the neighbor named Floyd who lives just out back.
"Hey Santa!" he said "Where's your clothes and you sack?"

My eyes they were stinging, the rain made them blurry.
My cheeks were like roses, my nose like a cherry.
My fingers were freezing, my toes were so cold.
As I worked from the ladder, hang lights, as I'm told.

The ring of a hook I held tight in my teeth.
My hands worked the cord the lights and the wreath.
I hold tight to the ladder with my face and my belly.
The ladder it shakes! It's my wife and she's yelling.

"Hey chubby! Two lights, both match, you need help?"
And I laughed as yelled "A go #%*%#€ yourself!"
With the blink of an eye I've set the screw head.
Hang green lights together her anger I dread.
She spoke not a word, didn't go berserk.
Then I climbed down the ladder ""I'm finished work!"

Then laying her fist aside of my nose,
It felt rather odd, then my face met my toes.
I then sprang to my feet, gave Floyd a whistle.
We hopped in the car, drove to town ore the trestle.

And I heard her exclaim as we drove out of sight
"Two green lights together, together green lights!"

Bob Niles

PS. #%*%#€ spells bite kids. It's an old ancient spelling.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fwd: The House Special

                                           The House Special                      by Bob Niles

R I N G  R I N G  R I N G
"That's it Gems and Germs last call! You don't have to go home but you can't stay here," Angel shouted as she rang the big brass bell over the bar. "And have a Merry Christmas!"
"IIIIILLL,..havvve another House Special me good lady." Slurred the lone occupant sitting in the corner of the bar.
"Mr. Shepard you've had a few too many already. Let me phone your wife or a taxi to come and pick you up. You should be home with the wife and kids."
"I don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon." he said to Angel as she collected his glass and then wiped his table with a cloth smelling of vinegar.
"Nah one more Angel! One for the road! It's Christmas lets celebrate. It's still early."
"It's Christmas Eve and I've got my family at home waiting for me Mr. Shepard. You know you do as well." Angel zipped up her coat and collected her purse from under the bar. "Come on now, you can catch a cab with me. I'm just three blocks further down King St. than you. Come on,....Please? Come with me."
"Alright! Alright I'm going! But I'm not going with you. I'll walk."
"It's snowing." she pleaded.
"Even better! I'll lie down on the sidewalk every ten feet  and swish my arms and legs and make pictures of you all the way home."
"Whatever" She said as she directed him through the door and turned off the lights behind her. Angel pulled tight on the door once outside and locked the two locks on the left side. She turned to again offer Mr. Shepard her advice and a stabling arm but he was well off down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. She thought about pursuit but considered the night and his ability to stay upright and with her family waiting,...she headed home.

"And I suppose you're locking up too! Accused Mr. Shepard as he passed another establishment.
"Well I was going to but if you'd like I could open and we could go in. I'm sure it would be okay,... I  know the owner quite well. He wouldn't mind, especially tonight." The young man pushed the door open and hit a few lights to to pull back some of the darkness. "What do you need?"
"Well that's more like it! Give me the House Special my good man. And make it snappy! I'm suppose to be home by now, it's Christmas Eve, and well I should be home I guess,...I'll sit right there." Mr. Shepard pointed, and then sat where he pointed on a bench under the light. "What is the House Speciality anyway........? What did you say your name was? You look very familiar to me."
The young man looked almost boyish. He took off his coat and just dropped it on the floor.
"I didn't tell you my name. It's John, John Shepard."
"Shepard? That's my name too! Who'd of thought two Shepard's on Christmas Eve. Say if it wasn't snowing maybe we could look for a bright star."
They both shared a easy laugh at the irony of their meeting.
"First name's Haust. Got teased in school as the Lost Shepard. Haust Shepard- Lost Shepard,....rhymes?
"Kids will be kids." Said John as he took a bench across from him. "So you want the House Special do ya?"
"Sure do!" Haust said rubbing his hands together. "I got cut off form your competition around the corner there."
"Yes it does seem we're always battling each other for people walking through our doors. So are we celebrating something or trying to drown it tonight? You must be celebrating! It's Christmas Eve!"
"You're not a very good bartender are you John?"
"Didn't say I was."
"You never ask a guy why he's here, he's just here away from what he wants to be away from." He doesn't need to be reminded of perhaps the hurt or loss or how abandon he might feel. Maybe it's been a bad year,...couple of recent months he's gone through of pain like he's never known. A gift given and then snatched away!"
"My bad! Sorry...... It's just you asked for the House Special and you know its always done unique to each patron, depending on their needs for that day Haust Shepard. You've had it before."
"Don't call me that cause all I hear is lost Shepard! And I am a lost Shepard. I had the perfect flock. My wife, son, daughter-in-law and their new precious lamb, granddaughter Sophia Morgan. And now I'm alone,..I've lost them all."
"Where's that drink John I'm hurting here. This House Special  had better be pretty good! I need a shot of something for the pain. And then something for loss and sorrow maybe one for guilt. Oh ya and then two more shots for the fear of my tomorrow. You don't want my tomorrows John. Waking up in an empty quiet house that creaks and moans for yesterday. Bearing another 90 hr. day of what use to be, what could of been."
"Where'd you go John!? Are you even listening to me?"
"I'm here Haust. Im listening. I'm just warming up this coffee in the microwave for you. It got a bit cool, been sitting for a while."
"Coffee!? You didn't hear a word I said, did you John? And turn on some lights in here! No! ....Come to think of it turn them all off. Turn my light out too. What's the use in another day. There all gone John. We lost little Sparkle, our Sophia Morgan to some sick ba#%*rd from down the block. You never know who these people are John! After that my son and daughter-in-law moved away, and then soon  divorced. The wife took sick, I say because of what she went through,....died the third of this month. Yippee it's Christmas."
John returned from the shadows with steaming coffee. "Take it" he said as he held it in his little hands in front of Haust. "There is no drink that can ever get you through that Haust. And someday I hope you'll realize it, before your light dims completely. But you do need our House Speciality."
"And that is.....? I've been waiting,....what's the House Specialty John?"
"Don't you remember this houses specialty? Do you know where you are Haust?"
"Ya, your bar or Inn or whatever other kind of place this is that will give a guy a drink on Christmas Eve. You know John you must be as bad as me not to be home tonight with family. What's your story?"
"Oh I have no story and my family is here. Don't get me wrong I use to have a story. I got shot up real bad in Vietnam, and because of that I guess you could say I lost my wife there too. Hospital machines, drugs and anger filled up the better part of five years."
"I thought you said your family was here! Yer confusing my muttered mind John. Probably the drink. Speaking of which,..give me that House Special will ya.......gettin sleepy.
"I can't give you the House Special Haust you've already had it. You accepted it, received it and experienced it. You really enjoyed it."
"Sounding kind of New Age-y John. Or like some special bottled water commercial that's going to change my life if I only drink, accept it receive it experience it. Spoooooky Living water from a spring that renews life. Let's charge $10 for a bottle and make them believe, accept, receive and experience a whole new life."
"Absolutely right Haust Shepard. I guess it's fair to say that the House Special is Springs of Living Water. But it can't be bottled. Soul satisfying Living Water. And it's free for the taking! It's got something for the pain, a little somethin for the loss, a shot for sorrow and two for guilt. And the fear of tomorrow? That tomorrow I didn't have for five years, and your 90 hour tomorrow's? GONE! Just receive, believe, all things are possible when you believe Haust Shepard."
"Alright, alright,...a l r I g h t, I receive, ...I  accept,   I   b e l i  e  v   e    I re-".........  ..
Haust slowly peeled opened his eyes and with some effort opened and closed his mouth twice with his tongue making a clicking sound. The room was well known to him from a time not so long ago. A happy, easy time when life didn't hurt. But the BELLS! The bells hurt! The bells of Christmas Morn. Like they were next door. Hang on! They were next door.
He could remember a bar or....? It was all a blur. Where am I? He knew this room, this isn't the room he was in last night. Where was John and his coat with all the holes. He'd forgotten about all the holes. Then,  ...quiet, the bells had stopped. Now singing! He peeked through the second door of the room he was in and it opened to a small  forgotten sanctuary full of people singing joyous Christmas Carols lead by a long forgotten friend. Forgotten family.
"Too much noise and haunting memories for me!" said Haust, and left through the door, the door that he said he would never darken again.
As he reached for his keys to open the door to his painful world he found a note in his pocket. 'Merry Christmas Haust Shepard' it read. He inserted his key in the lock, opened the door and sat down at the kitchen table just off the back door. Dirty dishes, empty bottles and unread newspapers were piled high all around him. The clock in the living room bonged once which meant it was noon. "Merry Christmas Haust." he mocked. On the back of the note was Dan Burrs phone number, email and cell phone number where he could be reached. Dan Burr, the long forgotten face leading Christmas Carols. Then written at the bottom was 'You and I are family Haust! Please contact me.'
How had he found his way back to his old parsonage? Why did he use his old keys to get back in? And the dream? It was a dream right? The dream of his little brother John as a bartender, or,.... a Shepard? Why didn't he know it was his brother? His head was starting to clear. The House Special? It was not a drink it was ....?  John was just a kid when he went off to Vietnam. Came back all shot up and brain dead, hooked up to machines for five years. Springs of Living Waters hymn? How did that go? 'I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame, and nothing satisfying there I found; but to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came, where springs of living water did abound. His favorite song when he lead Dans flock before his brother died. It was his flock but when his brother died a part of him died too. Two Shepards were lost that day. And then last night, two Shepards looking for that bright star. One guiding the other.
The phone just about jumped off the wall as it exploded into the silence that encircled him. Haust didn't want to but did grab it just to shut it up. "Hello?" questioned Haust.
"Is this Haust? Haust Shepard?"
"Merry Christmas Haust! It's Dan, Dan Burr."
"Im the pastor now at your Dads,...well I guess your old church too. You I guess used your old key and broke to the parsonage in last night. You were pretty banged up and doing a lot of talking to yourself. You fell asleep in the mud room so I placed a blanket over you and let you sleep. I checked on you several times through the night and this morning. And then after the Christmas Morning Service I went to check on you, and you were gone. You were pretty beat up, or maybe you had fallen,....I was worried you had hit your head. You wouldn't go to the hospital."
"Anyway I'm glad I got a hold of you. You were rambling on last night Haust, in and out of what did and didn't make sense. But what was clear is that decision you made last night Haust. You re-dedicated your life to the Lord. You wanted His House Special and you received. That loss, sorrow, guilt and fear thats haunted you has been lifted Haust. He had his brand on you and he would never let you go. That cross you knelt at so long ago has His House Specialty flowing to quench that part in your life that has become so dry. You will thirst no more Haust Shepard! That thirst for what was, or could of been that you tried to drown in alcohol was never satisfied. Now again you will drink that Living Water, His House Special!.........Haust?"
"Are you hearing what I'm saying? Do you know what this means?"
"Ya,.....I'm just a little sick right now, but I know what your saying. What I decided, it's just I've got to lay down. I'll be in touch later,...okay?"
"Promise?......You're not that lost Shepard now! You've found your way back."
"Ya Dan I know. Just, must lay down. And thank you for what you did last night. Merry Christmas."

Some months later

R I N G  R I N G  R I N G
"That's it Gems and Germs last call! You don't have to go home but you can't stay here." Angel shouted as she rang the big brass bell over the bar.
"Nah one more Angel, one for the road!" Haust mimicked his old self as he entered the bar. "Anyone looking like they need a ride home Angel? Maybe a shot of my  'House Special?" Pastor Haust asked looking to expand his congregation.

Bob Niles

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fwd: Old Man Gordon

This was a story I wrote last Christmas that many (both) of you may like to read again. 
Thank you and a very Merry Christmas to you all (both).
Next week I'm sharing with you a new Christmas story about one lost shepherd. A story about they that are hurting and lost during a time of Christmas celebration. Hope you'll enjoy it and take it to heart.

                                                Old Man Gordon

"911 what's your emergency?"
" The neighbour next door has fallen off a ladder on to the sidewalk! 6580 Elm Crescent. He's in and out of consciousness, knows where he is.............He's 85! .......He was hanging Christmas lights. Same old single string of lights he hangs every year.......His name? Ah, Gordon, Mr Gordon. Don't know his first name never did. Lived in the same neighbourhood all my life never new his first name. Just Old Man Gordon. ........He's  having trouble breathing! Hurry! ........Yes I'll wait."
That was six weeks ago in early December when Mr. Gordon was taken to the hospital. He died two weeks later, just before Christmas, due to complications because of  his advanced age and failing health. Doctor said he would of died right on the sidewalk had I not seen him fall and and called 911. Big deal. Three extra weeks of life, barely conscious, alone in a hospital at Christmas. And your only visitor is a man that has know him all of 58 yrs.,  and only by Old Man Gordon.
In my defense, he never took to anyone. He and his wife stayed alone. My Mom said they never got over the tradgety of their young son dying. And after his wife died he was barely seen at all. Outside of cutting his lawn, the only time he was seen was going for groceries, to church and to put up his, 'every year the same', Christmas decor.
One old energy sucking, fire starting string of 14 multi coloured lights that he hung just over the front door. And in the yard, year after year he placed the first Christmas, manger scene. Ever since I was a boy, he set up and arranged his plywood Christmas scene. And year after year it got more and more faded, chipped and warped. He just let it age. Never bothered to refresh the paint or nail the pieces that were separating from his Biblical characters that were parting like the Red Sea.
And as long as I can remember the Baby Jesus was not even part of the scene. It was just three wise men, a shepherd, one cows, one sheep, a camel, Joseph and Mary. All looking at the ground!
As kids we would always find something to place on the ground that was drawing their attention. An old bike, a wheelbarrow, a basketball, my sisters Barbie, or one time a baby snowman. Us kids all got a good laugh as to what had drawn this collection of plywood people to 'Old Man Gordons' yard.
It became tradition for kids in the neighbourhood to carry on the sinning we had started as kids. Old Man Gordon just left there whatever we left there. If he had of removed the baby snowman we would of replaced it with something just as stupid.
And then about ten years ago  Mary never made it out to the front yard to look at an old red lawn mower the kids had dragged there. Now it was just a bunch of faded, warped guys and farm critters hanging out in the front yard. Could of been any front yard in Alberta. (sorry Alberta I couldn't spell the province on your right)
At the funeral I had mentioned that very fact to Old Man Gordons  ( who's real name was Lloyd Arthur Gordon) sister. She clasped my hand and with a pained smile thanked me for my help tomorrow.
It was early that next day I had walked over to find a car in Mr. Gordon's drive. It was Myrtles ( Mr. Gordon's sister) car. I had promised her to help clear out her brothers house and yard.
We started on the carport and yard. She had rented a large dumpster to clear away a life of  living. Memory after memory, item after item, garbage after more garbage started to fill the giant bin.
Carport complete, I started with the plywood guy-fest in the front yard. It fell apart in my hands! The camels head ripped off. Joseph's staff crumbled into tiny pieces. A sheep with no legs, and ancient men of wisdom, minus heads, and gifts we're all cast into a dumpster of Mr.Gordon's life.
This is how I'm going out too I said to Myrtle as I sipped my coffee in the carport. We had stopped for a break in what was going to be a long day.
My house is filled with so much of my stuff that I should throw out, but,  just don't. She shook her head in agreement and accused us all of the same crime.
This was followed by a long uncomfortable pause, broken only by lips vibrating over the top of hot coffee.
" Why did he never replace the Baby Jesus in his Christmas scene?" I asked. (to fill the carport with something other than silence)
She turned and bent her index finger several times and said "Follow me."
She opened an old screen door and then even an older back door, that both had something to screech about. Then she picked her way down a cluttered hallway of books and papers. We passed rooms filled with his old belongings and now forgotten memories. Ben-gay, old carpet and cat urine filled my nose. I didn't even know he had a cat! Now I'm thinking a dead cat! Is this what I'm going to become? An old man with a cat, in a stinky house.
"Watch your first step down the stairs here. The basement  is where he spent most of his time. His wife Effie had the main floor for her needs and Lloyd kept to the basement, even after she died ten years ago."
Each stair mentioned its age as I tread carefully down a steep incline, all the while thinking, I'm going to have to carry Myrtle back up this ladder disguised as a staircase.
"Let me get the lights." Myrtle said from somewhere in the dim.
Before she could say 'There we go.' out jumped a  four ft. tall artificial Christmas tree, electrified in bright happy splendor. Kneeling to the right side of the tree was our long lost Mary from the front yard. And placed at her knees just under the tree was Baby Jesus. Both beautifully painted and cared for. Our once faded Mary, all tattered and torn, now shone with what looked like a new purple cape and beige dress. She'd dyed her hair and got new head gear too. All thanks to a new coat of paint and glue. The Baby Jesus whom I'd never seen, but was neighbourhood  legend to have been, was as if brand new. Both Mary and her baby lovingly cared for by an old man who seemed to care about nothing.
What...Why said my face and hands as I tried to make sense of such a loving well cared for scene.
"Effie and Gordons baby was taken from them at a very young age." Myrtle started. "He died a crib death in his first year. After that, Lloyd was never the same. It was to be their only child. It was that next Christmas he removed Baby Jesus from the front yard."
" If I can't have my baby, God can't have his." I blindly stated.
"Not in any way!" Myrtle pointed out. "It was more ...., God, I know you're taking care of my only child in Heaven, so I will care for yours here on earth. And then when his Mary died, he vowed the same thing again, for his Mary. I'll promise to take care of yours, and you take care of mine."
A tear that was cleverly disguised, and past off to my allergy  of cats, was wiped away with the back of my hand. I choked back an out of place chuckle and marveled at the love he must of had for his only child. And again silence filled a space we both shared.
I thought the moments silence was appropriate.  
It was after some time, and several failed attempts, that  Myrtle and I got out of the basement, and then back to ridding the neighbourhood of the memory of a man nobody knew. A man that cared for nothing here on earth. Someone I felt sorry for, because he had died alone in a hospital. But, I now know he is where he always wanted to be, holding his only child and wife together forever.
When we die our families and friends treat us as Mr. Gordon treated Mary and Baby Jesus. They take our cardboard cut outs (pictures) and place them in books held with high esteem. Displays of our lives, that are so cared for that  if the house were to catch fire, they would be the one thing that would make it out safe. We guard and hold strong to that memory, knowing with certainty that God is now taking good care of them in heaven.
I asked Myrtle if I could keep Mary, Baby Jesus, Sparky ( the string of Christmas lights) and the stray cat, that I named Gordon. She, I guess also allergic to cats, clasped my hand and mentioned that her brother would of liked that.
 There was one more thing I took of Mr. Gordon's. A film reel marked Christmas 1963-1969. It was most of the 60s documented by Mr. Gordon of the neighborhood kids trying to fill the void in their Nativity scene. He and his wife would film from a darkened room in his home, but, because of suppressed laughter, it had the appearance of a film produced from a quarter horse from in front of a grocery store. Jerky film, narrated  through clenched teeth, trying to hold back an open faced laugh. He knew all of us kids names and every year wished his boy David could of been part of the shenanigans.
Old Man Gordon remembered  His only Son every Christmas and kept Him in his heart all year long.

Gordon Niles   January 30, 1924 - December 20, 1996

Bob Niles

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fwd: Dear Santa

Begin forwarded message:

   Dear Santa

 Dear Santa,

 Hope you and Mrs. Clause and all the elves are doing fine.

 I don't know if you remember me, it's been a few years since I've written. Actually it's been over forty years, and I feel a little sheepish of getting in contact now.

Oh it's nothing you did, or said that was the reason that I stopped writing to you, it was something that happened within me. I stopped seeing Christmas for what it was, and started looking at it for what I could get or what it would cost.

 As a child I would see all the joy and happiness that the season brought. Grandpas, grandmas, aunts and uncles, family friends, all stopped by to celebrate Christmas with us. Christmas Trees and lights, decorations, presents, crackling fires and Christmas music filled the house with joy and excitement. 

Mom's Christmas baking and the roasted turkey with stuffing smothered in gravy was all my Dad talked about for weeks ahead of the big day. This all topped off with pumpkin pie, all served up on a table not big enough to seat everyone present.

 And as I got older I started looking at Christmas for what it could do for me. All the gifts I wanted, then needed because the other kids at school had all the cool name brands. 

Then years later with a family  I looked at the cost of this one day, over celebrated, commercial holiday. The bills that came in January and stayed till November. The house needing a complete cleaning to impress relatives that we saw but once a year. Lights needing to be hung, fireplace cleaned out, Christmas tree bought, extra groceries, gotta be here for this, gotta go there for that, on and on it went till I was so exhausted I couldn't wait for Christmas to be over. 

 I no longer saw Christmas for what it was because I was too busy looking at what it took to have it. All the costs, the wants, the gotta-haves and the work of celebrating a season that's lost it's reason.

I did not see Christmas again till I saw it through my granddaughters eyes last year. At three she  was excited for Christmas to come, it was all she talked about. Christmas with all the grandpas and grandmas, uncles and aunts and Nana. The decorations and lights, the tree with an "anel" on top. Cookies, and pretty wrapped presents, all to the tune of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town".
This excitement then spread through the house to my wife and I. We couldn't wait to see Christmas come.

 Year after year we just acted on tradition with no real enthusiasm for the coming of December the 25th. But not this year, Christmas was back! Brought by a little child, like the very first Christmas.

 So Santa this year all I  really want for Christmas is just to say thanks. Thanks for the chance to see Christmas again through the eyes of a child. I'm still doing all the things I did in years gone past, but instead of seeing all the things I have to  get done for Christmas, I'm seeing all the things I'm already blessed with. Family, old Christmas decorations, and long remembered traditions. All seen anew because of of the life of one little child.

Bob Niles         

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Old Jingles (c)

Old Jingles

Old Jingles

We all have that singing, dancing, repetitive, now annoying Christmas decoration. We were in the store, and on the shelf was this whimsical very amusing, how does it do that, figurine. And somehow, through the magic of marketing it danced and sang its way into our shopping bag. And now every Christmas we have to live with it's annoying talents for a month.
For us, it's a dog wearing a toque with a big old bell on the end of it. You press it's paw and it starts to dance from side to side ringing that annoying bell. Up and down back and forth he dances singing Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. And it's not adults squeezing it's paw repetitively creating the overheard, worn out, if I hear that stupid dog again I'll go crazy. It's one of our four blessed grandkids!
At first it was fun watching the first grandkid on her first Christmas react to the scary dancing dog. Her eyes would get wide and try to make out exactly what she was seeing. By her second Christmas she would laugh a bit and then turn to hug grandpa or grandma because it made her a bit unsure about her safety. And because grandpas and grandmas are 'hug junkies', we would do it over and over again.
By the third Christmas she played with it like its a hot fire. She would cautiously squeeze the spot on it's paw as if it's hot. Then she'd jump back as it started to dance and sing and laugh her head off.
It was all fun when we only had one grandkid. Then the second granddaughter came along. And at Christmas, when we're introducing her to Jingles (the first granddaughter named him) the first one, who is now four, is burning up two double 'A' batteries playing it over and over..... and did I mention OVER again!
Time and Christmases past and our oldest granddaughter is now eight. Two more grandkids have joined the fold. Twin boys, who are now three. THREE!
This year we removed the batteries from Jingles, and lied. Yes lied. Lied to our own grandkids, that Jingles was broken. I know there must be a special extra hot spot in hell for grandparents who lie to four grandkids. But, I couldn't take another year of Jingles throwing his head back and forth ringing that bell on the end of his toque singing at the top of his voice Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
This master, hell bound plan of grandmas and mine lasted but one Sunday visit. The next Sunday, the well schooled eight year old in battery toys, reasoned that it probably needed new batteries.
"Ah,..Too bad grandpa doesn't have any more 'AA' batteries" I lied again. Pour more coals on the fire.
"No worries" Gabriella sang, "I'll get them from another toy."
What! She can't do that can she? I didn't see that coming! I would of removed every battery in the house if I thought she'd grasped that knowledge. Or I would of kidnapped old Jingles and hid him under heavy boxes in the garage. Transplanting batteries! Now I could only hope for a 'AA' rejection between toys.
She went through all the battery toys like my wife at a BOGO shoe sale. Toys flying everywhere. Assessing size, of battery, and if she could live without that toy till stingy old grandpa got around to buying new batteries. Gabriella and Charlotte (now five) both agreed that the 'Little People' castle would still play fine without its two 'AA' batteries.
My only hope was they would put them in old Jingles butt the wrong way. Mix up the positive and negative poles. That's when their dad, who hasn't done anything around here since he was 16, made the girls aware of the laws of polarity. It was at this point I did something that I'm not proud of. Without thinking I said that if Gabriella got it working she could take it home with her.
I have now ruined the boy's Christmas from here on after, for all eternity with this singing blight of a decoration. More coals on my fire.
But my problem is solved. No more Jingles!
So because of the fact my wife was now down one decoration she went out and bought this ever so cute snowman surrounded by kittens that do a squeaky sing song of Frosty the Snowman. The grandkids just love it!

Bob Niles