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Monday, December 24, 2012

True Prosperity - Real Wealth





In a recent post, New Year's Resolutions, the quip was made that I would mention various forms of prosperity; this is it.  Sorry, I am not plugging another get rich quick scheme.  There are enough of those con jobs in the world; we don't need any more and, if you are expecting that, you will be disappointed. Also, if you think that I will reveal a clue about how to win mega-bucks in the lottery, stop reading this post and turn on the Cartoon Network.  Listen up:  true prosperity has nothing to do with the size of your bank account.

The media has zonked many people into thinking that big bucks and ownership of a fleet of automobiles, a half-dozen mega-homes, and a yacht or two are the signs of real prosperity.  If anything at all, those things are lead weights around the neck of true prosperity.  And, when people become immersed with the material world, they lose sight of what's really important.

1) If you are in great physical and mental health, you hold true prosperity within you.  It is a gift not to be wasted, taken for granted, or ignored.  If your children are healthy and well, that is a cherry on top of your prosperity sundae.

2) The awesome love of a spouse is worth more than all the gold and silver in the world.  Love moves mountains, and when mountains are moved, treasures are revealed.  If you have this blessing, you are indeed prosperous.

3) Good family ties are like having a room with an awesome view.  It lets you paint a picture worth a thousand words.  That picture helps you to reflect on your life's blessings - a virtual gold mine.

4) A true friend is a real bonus in life; true friends are as rare as fresh water in a desert.  If you are fortunate to have a true friend, you are rich man.

5) If you can pay your bills, buy good food and decent clothing, have a roof over your head, and can put a few bucks away for a rainy day, you are prosperous.  And, if you can go to a ballgame, movie, or a show, you are doing quite well.

These are some of the simple things in life that many people blow off in their rabid quest for material wealth.  How many automobiles can you drive at one time?  How many houses can you live in at one time?  And the yachts?  Remember, all the stuff that sits around not being used still requires maintenance in one form or another.  And that maintenance costs money.  A person can spend more time taking care of material stuff that what is really important is left to rot.  This is what happens when we judge prosperity by how many toys we own.

Where a man lives does not determine the quality of life being lived.  The type of vehicle driven does not determine the size of a man's heart.  The price-tag on a man's clothes does not make the man; that is up to his words and deeds.  Peace of mind, love, family, and true friends are priceless.  If you have these things, you are prosperous.

                                              Copyright @2012 Terry Unger    

     
















    

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Winter Night's Dream

   
The Season has begun, but I did not want to wait until it was over to post this 'old chestnut' of mine.
                              

                                                             Yule Musings

                                            Yule is over, but not without thought,
                                            Of memories bright and not store bought.
                                        On the First of Twelve, my log burned Red,
                                            Too early I thought, to retire to bed!

                                            A faining I wanted, to honor the Tide,
                                            In my hallowed space, no need to hide.
                                            At this time, honor the Always Past,
                                            Doing in the present, to make it now last.

                                           That Eve's fire burned brighter than ever,
                                             My soul took flight, free of its fetters.
                                        Was it the flame, alcohol, or new herb burning,
                                        That made my soul seek, and wont for yearning?

                                           The snow, I saw, was crisp and bright,
                                         But no cold I felt, on this winter’s Night.
                                        The wind picked up, and howled with rage,
                                             Just like a wolf, bound up in a cage.

                                           In the distance, along with the wind,
                                         I heard voices, calling, we are your kin.
                                       In the lead of this throng, no fat man in red,
                                    But an eight-legged steed and a thin man instead.

                                          His hat was large, and flopped it did,
                                          A patch over one eye, a cover, a lid.
                                  At his side rode two beauties, decked in gold and blue,
                                     The stars reflected on them, with sparkling hue.

                                        As they drew closer, the howling increased,
                                        At the moment, I thought, my life would cease!
                                         The One Eyed Leader, sensing my fear,
                                        Looked at me with longing, making me dear.

                                He spoke to me softly, as the Host howled its might,
                                        To those unaware, to cower in fright.
                                     My name is Wodan, the Tru` Northrn’ King,
                                       It is to my people, real freedom I bring.

                                     He placed his huge hat, up on my head,
                                       Covered me full, but I felt no dread.
                                 I was under the Cloak, how long I’ve no note,
                                   But saw many things, some worthy of rote.

                                   Ancestors many, their struggles I witnessed,
                                  Down a long blood line, survival of the fittest.
                                   So many did come, and presented to me,
                                  I understood, I was them, and were they me.

                                  I saw the triumphs, and trials of the past,
                                   Knowing now secrets, revealed at last.
                              The hat, then removed, returned to owner’s head,
                                An arm now ‘round me, with fullness of stead.

                              The Wheel of the Year turns ‘round and ‘round,
                                   From its’ turning, real Truth can be found.
                                  Wodan spoke as I woke, from my slumber,
                                    I need your help, to put so much asunder.

                                   But how, said I, a poor man at most,
                                 Help you, All-Father, head of Asa Host?
                                  Listen now, and listen well, he replied,
                               Even a poor man has riches, he cannot hide.

                                  Build you a temple, as Fahrenkrog told,
                                 Within your heart, and you will be bold.
                                  It is within your heart that we gods reside,
                                   Brick and mortar, we cannot abide.

                          With this boldness of heart, your courage will flame,
                             Speak one to one, and then none remain the same.
                                  Stand then, with us, your Oldest of Kin,
                                   Bl`ot and Sumbel, let the new light in.

                                 Light the Yule Logs and Bale Fires too,
                              Practice the Old Ways, new life given to you.
                            But remember, my son, your words, and deeds,
                                For Urda’s well threads all, and so the seeds.
                          My mind drifted slowly, back from All-Father’s words,

                               Back to my place, in our strange, weird, world.
                                     In my lap, a bouquet of flowers blue,
                                         To my delight, fresh and new.

                                   Are the gods real, you ask to yourself?
                                  For me you can put that away on a shelf!
                            We honored them once; it’s time to honor again,
                    What are you waiting for, oh northern soul, a ride on Sleipnir?


First appeared in my book, Beneath Valhalla – Opinions of an Iconoclast copyright @2009
                       Re-edited for my blog, copyright @2012 Terry Unger







Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Yule To All










                                           Have a Merry Yule and a Prosperous New Year

                                        And May the True Reason of Yule Dwell Within You.

                                                 Plant Your Seeds and Nourish the Soil,  

                                              Pull the Weeds and Harvest Your Dreams.    







Monday, December 17, 2012

New Year's Resolutions





It's that time of year for us to be honest.  No matter how you shake it or bake it, the Holidays bring out the best and the worst in people.  On Thanksgiving Day, friends and family gather around a feast and give thanks for all that they have.  The following day, Black Friday, many of those who gave pious thanks the day before, are willing to beat the hell out of others just to get what they perceive as some kind of bargain.  And that buying frenzy continues until midnight, December 24th.  On New Year's Eve, it seems that all the amateur drinkers hit the streets and cause all sorts of mayhem (see my post - My Top Ten Reasons To Stay Home New Year's Eve, 9/3/2012).  Then sometime between December 25th and January 1st, many folks attempt to do something worthwhile for themselves and others; they make New Year's Resolutions.  

For a few reasons, or, maybe because it's just the end of one year and the beginning of the next, people resolve to make course corrections in their lives.  While many people do this, there are some that are cynical enough that they just don't bother.  Those that do want to lose weight, become a better parent, spouse, a better person, or make more money, etc.  Unfortunately, most of those resolutions fall woefully short of their mark.  I believe that this happens because of either poor planning or the lack thereof.  There are two times a year when good planning helps us reach our goals, our resolutions for improvement.


For people who understand the real meaning of the Yuletide season, the keeping of a true Yule involves the reviewing of the past 12 months and the planning of a prosperous new year; it is a true heartfelt effort.  This prosperity can take on many forms, too many to mention in this post.  The real point is that proper planning is essential or the resolution is nothing more than empty words.  The second period of review and planning comes during the individual's birthday cycle/season (see my post - Life Cycles - 5/28/2012).  The planning and execution are the same for both seasons and, one season can be used to reinforce the other.  But all in all, there is a thing or two that are needed for success.

A person needs to be honest about his or her personal review.  Here, honesty involves not just deep reflection, but taking ownership of all short-comings.  The next step is the want to and resolve to do better.  The final step is the actual planning.  Again, honesty is necessary.  The truth is, you will not succeed in one giant leap; that thinking is a recipe for failure.  Something that I refer to as step planning and working within your personal realm of availability is required.  Understand that when you advance your personal realm of availability you advance your plan.  

When we put a man on the Moon in July of 1969, we did so by taking one step at a time, learning from our successes and our sad failures.  We did not just put three guys on the top of a rocket, blast off, and hope for the best.  It was step planning and working in the realm of availability (the realm that we have attained through the execution of the plan - we grew).  When it comes to our personal rectification and goals, we must do the same.  Step planning and working within our personal realm of availability is a recipe for success.

However, it does help to have a bit of intestinal fortitude.  You may be stalled in your forward progress; do not be discouraged - it's normal.  We humans do not know when the cross-currents of life will affect us.  Look at it in this manner:  that stall/setback tells you that a possible adjustment to your plan is needed.  And, that is not a bad thing, so chuck the discouragement.  It's also a great time to remember how the Yuletide and your birthday cycle/season can help you.  So why be discouraged by words that lack positive action?  What's the popular saying, " Just Do It!"  So, plan it and do it!

                                            Copyright @ 2012/2016 Terry Unger              

















Tuesday, December 11, 2012

History Yule Love





Many people find history boring, which is something that I do not quite understand.  They dismiss past people, places, and occurrences as something not needed to know.  But, they are wrong.  When we ignore the historical past, we can repeat some of the past's negative happenings in our present.  Moreover, learning from the past by studying it should not be considered boring or a joke, but one of the few things that can lead us to a better life.  In our time, history is aided by the scientific disciplines of archaeology  anthropology, and entomology.  These three sciences give the 'color commentary' to many historical periods; they help bring the past back to life.  And these disciplines shine light into some of history's darkest corners.

There is a postulation held within the social sciences that it takes only three generations for a population to forget its culture and folkways.  When massive social change is forced upon a man, he unwillingly (in most cases) swallows it and practices his native social ways in a more private manner.  His son is born into the change and does benefit from his father's practice of some of the old ways.  The problem is that the new order has taken root and suppresses the native culture.  By the time that the grandson is born, he will experience nothing but the new, foreign social order.  What survives in memory becomes known as folk-lore.  A classic example of this is the Christianization of southern and northern Europe and the creation of the Christian festival known as Christmas.

Centuries before the supposed birth of Christianity's founder, the pagan south celebrated the feasts of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus.  Both of these holiday feasts were held usually between December 20th and the 25th, and involved gift giving, merriment, and the celebration of the re-born Sun.

In the heathen north, the folks celebrated Yule, a twelve day festival centered around the Winter Solstice.  And guess what?  Yule featured gift giving, merriment, and the celebration of the re-born Sun.  It's now a good time to mention that there were several pagan/heathen gods supposedly born on or about December 25th to a virgin, lived, suffered and were killed, only to rise from the dead on the third day as the savior of men.  We know this because of  history that is backed up by the sciences of anthropology, archaeology  and entomology.  It is not a fairy-tale, wishful thinking, an attempt at state building, or any form of blasphemy (oh please!).  It is historical fact backed by solid science.  But in order to survive and then thrive, Christianity grafted on to itself the previously mentioned festivals (and many more) and made them their own, while at the same time doing its best to suppress the festival's origins and practices.  They had a much harder time suppressing native customs in the heathen north.

If you enjoy burning a Yule log and decorating a fir tree, thank those ancient heathens.  If you like all the holiday greenery - the ivy, the holly, and the mistletoe, do likewise.  If you enjoy the gatherings, the eating, the drinking, singing, and other good things that come with this season, don't thank the Church, thank those ancient heathens.  And if you take your kids to see Santa, understand that Santa too, has his origins in the heathen north, and not coca cola.


                                               Copyright @2012 Terry Unger











          















       

Monday, December 10, 2012

On Toothpaste, Chocolate, and More



The other day a friend of mine told me about a commercial he saw on television.  The advertisement involved the selling of a new toothpaste and came with the warning that many of the foods we eat contain acids.  These acids, as the advertisement tells us, eats away at our teeth's enamel, so we should buy the toothpaste to protect our teeth.  That night I saw this commercial while watching late night news; it is a piece of work.

Let's get serious.  Many foods that we eat contains acids of one sort or another and going without them is not a smooth move.  I believe the manufacturer of that toothpaste does not want us to stop eating those good foods, but really just wants us to buy the toothpaste.  On the other hand, I am old enough to remember when eating a few things were considered a no-no because of how those foods adversely effected our health.

Many years ago we were told that egg consumption was bad for our health.  The reasoning was that eggs contained bad cholesterol and this bad cholesterol contributed to heart disease.  In response, a few products were developed that just contained egg whites.  That was many moons ago.  Now, eggs (the entire egg) are being hailed as a great source of protein and vitamins.  What has changed with eggs?  Not a damned thing.  It is still the incredible egg.  What has changed is medicine's understanding of cholesterol and how it really works.

Again, many years ago were told that the consumption of beef in general was harmful to us because of the saturated fat.  That saturated fat, we were told, contained large amounts of harmful cholesterol that would cause heart problems.  That was then.  Now we know that on half of the fat in beef is a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid - the same fatty acid found in olive oil.  And, most of the so-called saturated fat in beef decreases the risk of heart disease by lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol or, by reducing the total cholesterol ratio, and that's a good thing.  Beef is still a great source of protein, B-vitamins, and the needed minerals, iron and zinc.  Nothing really has changed with beef.  What has changed is our understanding of fat, cholesterol, and the benefits of meat in general.

The cloud of Prohibition still exists.  There is nothing wrong with the moderate consumption of alcohol, especially for those folks over forty.  When you blow away the cloud, you will discover some amazing facts.  The moderate consumption of alcohol helps to reduce the chances of heart disease, lowers the risk of diabetes, and it appears to reduce the risk of dementia (please take note to the word....moderate).  What has changed with alcohol?  Other than more varieties, not a damned thing.  Once again, science has improved itself in another area of our lives.

Personally, I have a hard time if I do not jump-start my day with some coffee.  But, I do remember a time when coffee was rated as a devil; caffeine gave a person high blood pressure, which is a precursor to heart disease.  The facts today show that people who drink coffee are less likely to contract type-2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, dementia, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.  And it has little to do with caffeine.  Coffee, whether it be decaf, half-calf, or all out full throttled, contains anti-oxidants that deal with all those nasty things.  Coffee has not changed, but thanks to scientific research, we have discovered coffee's benefits.

Chocolate still gets a bad rap, probably from the sugar (darker is better).  Sorry, it's been discovered that  moderate consumption of chocolate helps to reduce the risk of stroke, protects your skin, improves mood and vision.  It's the anti-oxidants in the cocoa, silly!  Another triumph from science.

While all of the above can be liberating for many, moderation is a factor.  And since we are all unique, moderation will vary.  Get the facts for yourself and if you think it necessary, consult your doctor.


                                                 Copyright @2012 Terry Unger  











        















  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Kind of Wassailing Song for Yuletide



 I am not really good with poetry.  This is my feeble attempt to give all of my pagan and heathen friends a gift of song for Yule.  And, to all who just like to sing!  I think that the music from the above video is spot on.




                                                Another Wassailing Song for Yule   

                                  The melody is the same as The Gloucestershire Wassail

                             The lyrics are a heavy adaptation from the above by Terry Unger.

                                         Wassail, wassail all over the land,
                                         Our prost is true and our drink’s not bland. 
                                         Our horn is made from a champion bull,
                                         And With this horn, we’ll drink our fill.    

                                        Here’s to Wodan, to his good eye and sound ears,
                                        May Wodan help us to get many good years. 
                                        Prosperous these years, as we’ll ever see,
                                        With our wassailing horn, Wodan, we'll drink to thee.   

                                        Here is to Frigga with her big blue eyes, 
                                        Oh Frigga, do help us to make a great mince pie. 
                                        A great mince pie, the best we've ever tasted,
                                        And with our wassailing horn, none will be wasted. 
                                  
                                        Here is to Thor and to his strong hand,
                                        Lord Thor you help us all over the land.  
                                        With this mighty help for all to see, 
                                        Lord Thor with our wassailing horn, we'll drink to thee. 

                                        Here is to Frey and to his good ship,
                                        Lord Frey, help us to fill our fields past our hips. 
                                        And with crops good and full for all to see,
                                        Lord Frey with our wassailing horn, we’ll drink to thee.  

                                        Here is to Freya and to her long hair,
                                        Lady Freya, give us many days fair 
                                       And with these days fair for all to see,
                                       Lady Freya with our wassailing horn we’ll drink to thee.   

                                       Hail to the returning Sun and to its warm light, 
                                       This promise of life diminishes the night. 
                                       Now these days grow long for all to see,
                                       Mighty Sun, with our wassailing horn we’ll drink to thee.  
            
                                       We praise our Yule with 12 good nights,
                                       It is our season that brings us the light. 
                                       This season Yule grows bright for all to see,
                                       And with our wassailing horn we’ll drink to thee. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Gifting




Every year, the challenge becomes greater.  The media starts to tell us what we need to buy before summer's end.  Our kids are brainwashed with what are supposed to be the hottest toys, while adults are hammered with everything from jewelry, furniture, and automobiles.  And many folks are convinced that they must buy this stuff to make others happy.

Many people feel guilty if they do not spend enough to buy that special 'thing' for someone:  the special 'thing' that will put them in debt for at least 12 months.  But that, I believe, is a carefully crafted conditioned response, meant to empty your pockets, among other things.  I can remember when large jewelry chains used to advertise diamond engagement rings; the prospective groom was instructed that he'd need to spend a percentage of his annual salary - that percentage was not in single digits.  It was done in a way that made the man feel small and inadequate if he did not 'measure up' to the percentage.  Our kids are brainwashed to believe that all those hot, new toys are their right to have, just for asking.  Well belly up, mom and dad!  All of this is shear bullshit, bullocks, and so much more.

Loving and caring for others should not be about the dollar amount of the gift; it should be about the sentiment and meaning behind it.  And so often, that sentiment can be expressed in the simplest of ways.  I suggest a reading of my short story, The Snows of Yule - A Different Kind of Holiday Tale, posted on this blog, 11/28/2012, to gain a more introspective view of gifting.  Also, a read of my post, Thanksgiving, posted 11/20/2012, can only help.  But, there is another idea, another course of action available to help with gifting.

Spend your money locally.  There are artists, craftsmen, and merchants in your town that can offer you many one-of-a-kind gifting opportunities that you will not find in Wal-mart.  When you keep your money local, you support and promote the local talent and merchants.  That can be the greatest gift over the long haul.

                                                Copyright @2012 Terry Unger






      

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Party Animal ???





Yule is almost here.  For many, it is a time of holiness, remembrance, future planning, and feasting.  Everybody like s to have a good time, but I don't know of any person who wants to be in the company of a drunken fool, a glutton, or a moron.  But let's be honest; when enough alcohol is consumed, all of us easily can put ourselves in the fore-mentioned categories   And that would be really bad form.  The Havamal is an old collection of common sense wisdom that many of the ancient northern European  cultures followed and had put to good use.  This wisdom is just as valid and useful today.  Let's take a look.

When you are invited to a person's home for a Yule celebration (or for that matter, any), you enter that person's home as his guest.  And that home is that person's castle, so remember, the host invited you or you would not be there; the invitation evokes a silent trust that puts certain responsibilities into your hands.  The host provides special food, drink, other comforts, and possibly entertainment for your pleasure.  Therefore, it is incumbent on you to do two things:  first, gift the host with something that shows your appreciation for his hospitality.  This does not need to be a thing of a costly amount; sometimes the simplest of things will do.  The second is to discipline your personal behavior.  Concerning these particular behavioral circumstances, we can take a hint or two from the Havamal.*

Verse 7 - A careful guest who comes to sumble (a certain kind of ritual, or for that matter, any kind of invitation) should listen and learn; listen close and look around you, this way you stay safe from harm.*
My take - Here is an opportunity to learn from others by keeping your mouth shut.  This way, you cannot harm yourself by showing your ignorance (or stupidity) when talking about something you know little or nothing about.

Verse 33 - A man should eat early before coming to a feast, or else, he comes and stuffs himself as if he were starving, rudely ignoring the folk around him. (Also see verses 20 and 21)*
My take - Nobody likes a glutton; the host does not have and endless supply of food and drink.  If you behave in this manner, you deprive others who have not had a taste or two.  So, it makes sense to temper your appetite with a small meal before visiting your host.  And, know when the hell it's time to go home.  Your host invited you for a few hours; tucking your host and his family into bed is just not cool, and  rarely does the invitation extend to breakfast.

Verse 12 - Regardless of what you think, too much drinking is bad for you:  the more you drink, the dumber you become.*
My take - Alcohol loosens lips that otherwise should remain closed.  Nobody likes a drunken moron.  If you behave in this manner, you disrespect your host and give him just cause for not being invited back.  All that you can hope to gain from drunken moronic behavior is ridicule from your peers and a DUI from your friendly neighborhood police department.  And really, who needs that?

* All quotes from.....Havamal - The Words of the High One, by James Hjuka Coulter, @2007 Third Edition.  Published by:  Irminen - Gesellschaft.

This is still the best rendition of the Havamal that I've ever read.  Thank you Hjuka, where ever you are.


                                                  Copyright @2012 Terry Unger





 





   

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Snows of Yule - A Different Kind of Holiday Tale

         

                           The Snows of Yule – A Different Kind of Holiday Tale   

What if the season of Christmas, for various reasons, did not exist as we know it today?   What if the season that it replaced, Yuletide, was still celebrated and enjoyed by its adherents?  Maybe something like this short story could happen.  
                                                  
                          
The snow started to fall early on that late December day.  By the noon hour, radio host Arthur Godfrey had warned his listening audience about the hazards of holiday travel in such hazardous weather.  But the kids loved it!  Everywhere the eye could see, snowmen were rising from the Earth, as if some weird invasion had taken place.  That new vacation phenomenon, skiing in the Catskills and Pocono mountains, was having a boom year.  And, this was the third snowfall in an already frigid winter.
Sam Weyland wanted no part of it; no part of the holiday season and no part of the damned snow.  For Sam, a holiday was just another day, and the snow brought back unpleasant memories to his mind.  It was in the Ardennes Forest, during late December 1944, when Sam learned to hate the white death.  Funny thing about war; it takes the farm boys and city boys, rich and poor, and mixes them together in circumstances where only survival is the paramount concern.  In pitched battle, boys are baptized men, leaving their youth scattered on every acre; war draws men close, leaving them bothers in blood.
It was in a snow like this that three of Sam’s brothers-in-arms were taken from him during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest. It isn't fair, he thought; first my parents then my comrades.  As he shook his head in disgust, he wondered if being close to anyone was worth it.  But enough of the unpleasant memories, he thought, as he tried to dismiss them.  Sam had something to celebrate, and planned it for weeks.  He was promoted to Executive Vice President of Manufacturing for Weyland Steel and that was his reason to celebrate.  He had earned that promotion, and never asked for help from any god or man.
As he closed his desk drawer, Sam thought about his planned evening’s activities.  First, a few well-earned drinks at O’Hara’s and then off to his favorite club where he would be served his favorite meal, Prime Rib, just like his mother used to make many years ago.  He allowed his staff to leave early, thereby dispensing with the only holiday amenity that he was responsible for.  Sam left by the rear stairwell and easily avoided the holiday well wishes of those who attended Weyland Steel’s annual Yuletide party.  Once on the street, his only thoughts were that of O’Hara’s and his prime rib dinner.  Sam reasoned that the holidays served a purpose for him; he had a day off to recuperate from a hangover.  And, Sam planned on getting quite drunk.  But he was roused out of his personal bliss when a young voice called out,   “Hey Mister! Hey Mister! How ‘bout a shine Mister!” 
Sam turned and saw the person who had the nerve to bother him.  It was a boy, not much more than ten years old.  Nose running, patched pants, wet with snow and the little imp had the balls to ask him if he wanted his shoes shined - in a snowstorm!  Sam just starred down at the kid, unable to speak.
            “Hey Mister, are you deaf?  I asked you if you wanted a shine. So, how ‘bout it?”
“Are you insane boy,” Sam managed to get out, “how do you expect to shine my shoes in this weather?”  
 The youth countered with, “Hey Bud, I’ll make you a deal.  For fifteen cents, that’s my lowest price, I’ll give you a shine you won’t soon forget! Honest! My momma always says honesty and hard work always pays off! So how ‘bout that shine Mister?”  Sam had enough; he was late for his self- appointed celebration.  “Get lost boy. I’m late for an appointment!”  He turned and started to walk away; he tasted O’Hara’s on his tongue.
“Please wait Mister! You don’t understand!  All I need is fifteen cents more and I can get my momma the gift for Yule she really wants!”   The boy suddenly slipped on the snow packed sidewalk and grabbed Sam’s overcoat sleeve for support.
The sudden pull on his sleeve had pulled Sam off balance. In the process of steadying himself, Sam’s eyes met the boy’s.  Sam had never seen eyes like that!  They burned with an intense something that Sam could not put his finger on.  But he felt that it was something worthy and good. 
 “ OK kid,” Sam said, “you can shine my shoes but be quick about it! I’m already late!”
 In the shadows stood a tall, thin figure, who intently watched the exchange between Sam and the boy.
The lad then proceeded to clean off a bench and instructed Sam to sit down. The boy did his job well; Sam thought it was a great shine!  But those eyes!  “What’s your name son,” Sam asked in a relaxed tone.
“Why do yah need to know, Mister,” replied the boy with some annoyance in his voice.
“Well,” Sam said, “Why not?   I just let you shine my shoes in a blizzard.  You provided me with a service.  People who do business together should at least know each other by their first name!  So, what’s yours?”   “It’s Phillip. Phillip Mann. Now how ‘bout my fifteen cents; it’s gettin’ late.”  “Oh very well,” Sam said as he handed Phillip the required fee.  “You know young man; I have half a mind to tell your father what a smart mouth you have!”
“You’d have a gawds awful time doing that Mister.  My dad’s dead.  He died in the war fightin’ the Japanese.  Killed ten days before I was born so I don’t even know the guy.  But momma and me get along just fine.  She cleans houses for the rich people and I shine shoes.  Well I gotta go! See yah around town!”  Phillip then added, “Have a nice holiday Mister,” as he walked away.
Sam was numb.  Bad memories flooded him with raw emotion; memories of a man who came to the old family home and brought news of his father.  Bill Weyland, Sam’s father, had enlisted in the Army to fight with General “Black Jack” Pershing’s Expeditionary Force headed for WWI Europe.  Bill was idealistically imbued with the idea that once the Kaiser heard that the Americans were coming to fight in Europe, he would surrender immediately.  Fat chance, as history proved.  Sam could still see the man, dressed in a gray flannel suit, as he tried to calm his mother and explain to her that her husband Bill Weyland was indeed dead.  The rest Sam put into an intentional fog.  His father was killed in an artillery barrage and was buried somewhere in France.  Soon after the word arrived of his father’s death, Sam’s mother became sickly and passed on. Growing up, he was told that his mother had died of a broken heart.  Sam’s grandfather became the guiding force in his life, and tried to fill the void created by missing parents.  But that void lacked the nurturing essence that only a mother can give a young boy.  But, there was the money. 
The Weyland fortune was made ages ago when Franz Weyland first set foot in America and traded with the American Indians and early settlers. The Weyland family moved into land speculation, gold, imports and exports, and finally manufacturing.  But with all this money Sam felt that something was missing; his wallet was full but his heart was empty.
            Somehow with all that churning in his head, Sam managed to stumble forward and found his first stop - O’Hara’s.  He surmised that several stiff drinks would wash away those memories, if only temporarily.  But, temporary was good for now.  Sam enjoyed drinking to excess; it put him into a state of oblivion.  It took away the memories - usually.  However, on that December night, he polished off his third drink and could still see the piercing intensity of Phillip Mann’s eyes.  Sam could not understand why they stirred his brain like scrambled eggs.  He glanced at his watch; it was time to leave.  He didn’t want to be late for his dinner at the club.  At least there he could finish his alcohol bath with food.  As he pulled on his over coat and exited O’Hara’s, Sam noticed that there were three available taxis.  But for no particular reason, he chose to walk.    That same stranger, the same stranger who observed his actions with Phillip Mann, followed him at a careful distance, and watched Sam’s every move. 
           The walk from O’Hara’s to the Executive Club was only three city blocks long; not a terribly great distance but just enough to make this exclusive hideaway a respectable habitation for the Lords of Big Business.  Rumor had it, at least among the working stiffs, that the entrance requirements were deep; you needed really deep pockets.  Moreover, the eagles of big business needed a retreat from their labors and a respectable one at that.  Things like public drunkenness and other debauchery could cost a member his pass key and, peer ridicule.  That’s why the club had its “private quarters.”  If a man of means had to have a mistress, he brought her to the club, not Main Street; it was a safe place for the wealthy to be naughty.  Sam had trouble with those made-made social axioms; they smacked of hypocrisy.  Those axioms that condemned certain behavior but “winked” at the same under certain ‘peerage control,’ usually sent Sam into a rage.   He often thought that social strata determined what is right and what is wrong under the microscope of money:  what a rich man could get away with would send a working stiff to jail.  At those times when his emotions flowed, he swore that he was crazy, but an inner voice always guided him to right action.  It was that voice in his head that had told him to duck just before the machine gun spit out its death and claimed his comrades in the Ardennes.  But as usual when his grief and anger were spent, Sam figured out that he wasn't crazy, at least not yet. 
The three block walk seemed to be miles long in the heavy, blowing snow.  As Sam came closer to the intersection, he saw the stately lights of the Executive Club, as they dimly illuminated the street and the surrounding buildings.  Voices, one young and one old, came from the direction of Tom Watson’s General Store.
Watson’s store was the envy of most of the town merchants.  In Watson’s store, a man could find the finest toys, chocolates from Europe, clothing, and various other “nifty” things to place under a holiday tree.  The yelling made Sam think that Watson was being robbed.  Running as fast as he could, Sam did not find a robbery taking place, but young Phillip Mann with a tear stained face trying to persuade a flustered Tom Watson to re-open his store.  “Evening Tom,” Sam said breathlessly.  “Is everything all right?”   “Not in the least,” Tom replied with a bit of anger in his voice.  “Here it is, the last day of business before the holidays, I’m closed till New Years, and this kid wants me to re-open my place!  I’ve got a wife and son waiting for me upstairs with a fancy dinner that’s getting cold!”
           “Now Tom,” Sam said, using his most persuasive voice, “I know this young man, and he can be quite persistent.  It’s very important to him to make his purchase.  Besides going upstairs and having dinner, what’s it really gonna cost you, this weather?   Another five minutes?  Come on Tom, give the kid a break!  Your wife will keep your dinner warm.”  Tom Watson looked at Phillip.  He surmised that the boy couldn’t be much younger or older than my son Bill.  “Oh well, it is the holidays,” he said, and broke in to a huge grin that could melt Jack Frost’s heart.  Sam followed the boy and the merchant into the store.  Those eyes, again with those eyes!  Even filled with tears, they radiated an indistinguishable something that still had Sam puzzled and filled with unfamiliar feelings.
Phillip moved quickly to a counter in the rear of the store.  There, on a table marked ‘clearance,’ he found what he was looking for.  It was a small box, no bigger than four by six inches, and covered with seashells.
“Ah! A fine choice young man,” crackled Tom.
“Yeah, my momma is gonna love it!  She just said the other day she don’t have anythin’
for her hair combs but she sure does now!  Ain't that right Mister?  Hey Mister, HEY MISTER!
You go deaf on me again?”  Phillip tugged on Sam’s coat sleeve to make sure that Sam was aware of his satisfaction.  Sam heard the boy just fine; clear as a bell.  But he was in another world, a world deep within himself.  He swore that he would never, never again become emotionally involved with another person; too much pain and too many rotten memories. 
“Hey Mister, you OK?” the boy managed to blurt out as he yanked even harder on Sam’s coat sleeve.
“I’m alright Phillip.  It’s just something that my good friend O'Hara can quickly cure.”  The thought of a few more stiff drinks rapidly passed through Sam’s mind. 
            Tom Watson finished wrapping Phillip’s gift and crowned it with a bright red ribbon. Both men then watched as the boy scurried off with his prize.  As Tom pulled on his overcoat, he noticed some emotion in Sam Weyland’s face.  Was the guy capable of any emotion at all?  Well, it is Yule, Tom reasoned, and pleasant memories can be made at this time of year with the simplest of things.  Maybe Sam had a heart in his chest after all, Tom mused.  Sam led Tom out the door so the store owner could properly lock up for the holiday.
Then a strange thing occurred.  Sam Weyland, the man who found holidays utterly useless, wished Tom and his family a Happy Holiday and a prosperous Yuletide!  He even said it with feeling. Oh gawds, Sam moaned to himself.  What has that kid done to me?   He’s turned me inside out!
           Without warning, the voice, that same voice that had saved his life in the Ardennes years ago, spoke in his head and told him to find the boy; follow the tracks in the snow and your questions would be answered.  Sam’s experience in matters regarding this inner voice was simple. Go along with it and things work out just fine; like the Ardennes. Go against it and the results were not good.  Dutifully he set out on this quest, not knowing what he might find or where his search would end.  As he rounded the corner, Sam walked into a tall thin man who wore a wide brimmed hat.  The stranger seemed to point to a patched eye with one hand as he grasped his walking staff with the other.  With a gruff voice, the stranger spoke to Sam and said, “Wonderful weather for this Holy Day isn’t it?  And by the way Sam, I hope that you find what you truly want and desire this Yule.”  With a wily laugh the stranger turned the corner.  Sam turned on his heels to answer the stranger but he could not find him in the blinding snow.  Moreover, Sam knew that he must continue to follow the boy’s footprints.  The snow was furious, and the wind had picked up; those footprints would soon be covered.  Finally, he reached his destination.
            Sullivan’s Row stood out in stark contrast to the rest of the town.  The wealthy were not familiar with this part of their world; it was a part of the city that they had chosen to ignore. Streets with names like Front, Race, Wire, and Railroad held within their boundaries row houses that gave this particular neighborhood part of its name.  Sullivan, whoever he was, was lost in memory.  The row houses twisted and turned up and down their respective streets, with a banality that was only duplicated by the sameness of each house.  In all of his days, Sam Weyland had never set foot in this part of town.  He often wondered about life and conditions here.  Sam meant to visit one day and see for himself, first hand, what life was like here for the poor of his community.  A few times at the Club, he brought up his desire to visit Sullivan’s Row to his peers.  His peers chided him, and reminded him that Sullivan’s row was no place for a man of means.  But that night of questing in the snow was different.  In the snow, Phillip’s tracks ended on Race Street, in front of house number 333.
Sam was not one to sit back and wait for things to happen; he made things happen.  That was one of the reasons why he became the youngest Vice President of Manufacturing in the history of Weyland Steel.  The other, of course, was his surname, Weyland.
Sam knew that he must knock to gain the answers to the questions that he sought.  Boldly, he hammered on the plain wood door three times.  A light was lit in the front room, symbolic of the things to come.  A slight figure approached the door and slowly unlocked it, while at the same time searching the night through a small window in the door for the source of the knocks.  Finally, the door slightly opened and a strong but feminine voice asked, “Yes, who is there and what do you want?”
            Sam stepped closer to the door and said, “Good evening, Madam. I was wondering….”
           “You have some nerve mister, it’s the supper hour on a holiday night and here you are trying to sell a poor woman some worthless trash!”
           “Please Madam, I’m not a salesman but…..”
           “Don’t you have a family to be with tonight instead of bothering me?”
Sam swallowed hard; the words seemed to stick in his throat.  But, he managed to choke out a few words and said, “Please, please, let me explain.  I’m not a salesman and I didn't mean to disturb you.  I just wanted to see that your son got home safely, that’s all.  He seems to be a special boy who cares deeply for you.  I’ll go now and leave you in peace.  Oh, and to the last question, the answer is no. I don’t have a family, good night.”   Sam turned and started to walk away.
         The woman in the doorway was not without compassion.  This was a commodity she was known for in Sullivan’s Row.  Many times the poorest of the poor had found their way to her home and were warmed by her parlor stove and ate from her table.  To turn away a stranger was against her beliefs of hospitality and generosity.  To turn away a stranger who was concerned about her son’s welfare on this cold winter’s night or any night, was unthinkable to her.
“Sir, Mister, please wait! Why don’t you come inside for a while?  You must be chilled to the bone!  I’ll put on a pot of fresh coffee to warm you.”  For reasons he did not understand at that moment, Sam accepted this offer over his previous plans.  He followed the slight figure of the woman into the house and felt the warmth of a home.  The wind had picked up and was howling wildly.  “Please forgive me for being so rude.  My name is Catherine Mann.  Please, sir why don’t you sit down and relax.  I don’t believe that you mentioned your name.”
The full light of the parlor gave Sam the opportunity to see Catherine in full view for the first time.  My gawds, he thought.  Those eyes!  She has that something just like her son Phillip. Those eyes radiate, speak things, and are alive with life! The subtle light of the kitchen silhouetted her figure, a figure which any artist would gladly have used as his model. Sam was stunned and he began to mumble.
“I’m sorry sir, I didn't hear you,” she said as she passed him a tray of freshly baked cookies.  “What did you say your name was again?”
“I’m the one who should be sorry,” replied Sam.  “My name is Sam Weyland but please Mrs. Mann, call me Sam.”
“Only if you would please call me Catherine, and now the coffee’s done.  I’ll be right back!”
Another strange feeling overcame Sam.  He felt comfortable with Catherine, like he knew her so well but yet, they had just met.  He also noticed the lack of a Yule tree and log for the fireplace.  It was obvious to him that Catherine could not afford either.  How sad, he thought, for this mother and son to not have any Yule greenery.  The first cup of that black brew tasted like more and before they realized it, the pot was empty and they knew each other’s life story.  Never before had Sam been so able to open up his thoughts and feelings to another person.  In a short span of time the couple drinking coffee knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and desires. Sam surprised himself.  He never cared to discuss his feelings, let alone his life.  But with Catherine, everything seemed just right and natural.  Catherine, who was used to talking to people about various things, felt a strong attraction to this man, a man who she had just met.  She always saw the best in people regardless of their station in life, but this was different.  In front of her she saw a man of wealth and means in distress because of anger and grief.  But Catherine also saw a man who had goodness in his heart but had difficulty in getting it out.  As she looked at Sam she wondered why she felt so attracted to him.  Sam could bear it no longer.  It had started with the first footstep into Catherine’s home.  That feeling grew within him as if it might burst if he didn't get it out.  Finally, he interrupted Catherine by asking, “Please Catherine, hear me out.  This might seem like an odd request to you but please let me do this.  I never had a family to call my own.  I never felt the joy and blessing of Yule as an adult.  Let me go now, but I promise to return.  When I do, regardless of what is with me, or the hour, please let me into your home again.  I know it’s late, but please Catherine, grant me this small privilege.”
She saw the urgent look in his eyes and felt the energy that radiated from him.  Catherine wasn't quite sure what he was talking about, but decided that she could trust this man.  Finally, after what for Sam felt like an eternity, her steady but silent gaze broke and she said, “Yes, Sam, I’ll wait up for you. But go now, it’s getting late and the storm is getting worse.”   Sam reached out for her hand and kissed it.  For the first time that Sam could remember, he was happy. He dashed out of the house, coat, and hat in hand, knowing exactly what he wanted to do.
As he ran, the cold air filled his lungs.  Sam felt like he was purified.  Finding a taxi on a night like this would be difficult, he reasoned, but there one stood, ready and waiting.  The hack driver had the kind of face that Sam had seen so often in the streets; plain without any distinguishing characteristics except for the thick, red hair and beard.  “Hey Cabbie, how would you like to earn a fat bonus for some extra work tonight,” Sam said with some jovial persuasion.
           “Mister,” the cabbie replied, “My job is to take you where you want to go, that’s all.  Now, where do you want to go, Bud?”   Sam reached inside his pants pocket and found his wallet.  He reached inside and pulled out a hundred dollar bill.  He pressed it into the cabbies hand and said, “Here’s that bonus.  No joke!”
The cabbies face lit up like a heat lamp.  “ OK, Mister, I don’t know how with the snow and all but for this I’ll take you anywhere you want!”
“Well alright,” Sam chortled, “First things first.  Let’s find a great Evergreen tree and a Yule log!”  The cabbie earned his bonus that night.  Knowing the streets and people of the town made his task simpler.  In no time at all, the cabbie brought Sam to a street vendor’s shack where he purchased a beautiful six foot fir tree and the last Yule log.  As he got back into the taxi, Sam thought that he smelled goats.  He had no idea why; this was the city and not a barnyard.
The next step on Sam’s agenda was the Executive Club, where he easily convinced the club steward to sell him six pounds of uncooked prime rib.  Sam reveled in the simplicity of it all.  Money was like a tool; in the right hands it can bring benefits to many, but in the wrong hands, it can bring pain and suffering.  Sam was aware of the history of the latter.  In the back seat of the taxi, sandwiched between the tree, the log, and the beef, Sam was oblivious to the cabbie’s ramblings.  The sudden thought of gifts flashed across his mind.  Tom Watson’s face appeared in his consciousness like a cold wave that splashed the beach, and what luck, Sam thought as he smiled broadly.  Watson’s store was just across the street!
Everyone in town knew that Tom Watson and his family lived above his store so that he could be close to his business.  Sam realized that it was late, but he had to take the chance of disturbing Tom and his family. As he stepped out of the taxi, Sam instructed the driver to wait. As he crossed the street, he smelled the odor of goats again.  This was not the time to investigate farm animals in town, he rationalized.  He had to rouse Tom. 
Tom Watson was reading the evening newspaper when he heard three sharp knocks on his door.  Who on earth could it be at this hour, he wondered?   As he opened the door, Tom was shocked.  There stood Sam Weyland, smiling, and Sam was not one to smile, even drunk.  If any other person had asked Tom Watson to open his store for a private purchase on that snow-blind night, Tom would have laughed in his face and slammed the door.  However, this was not just any other man. Tom knew that Sam did not ask for help or look for favors.  But that was not why Tom Watson agreed to honor the request. He saw something in Sam’s eyes that he first saw that afternoon, but now, it had consumed the big man who filled his doorway.  It was as if Sam was reclaimed from hell.  There was a glow about the man, Tom recognized. Something or somebody, a miracle, reached out and touched this man. It appeared to Tom that Sam Weyland had a reason to live and to not just exist.
For Sam, that shopping spree was a new experience.  In the past, he had bought what he needed for himself, but buying for others he found perplexing.  As Tom watched Sam, he thought it was like watching a boy let loose in a penny candy store with a dollar to spend. Watson saw the playfulness and wonder of a child; something we all have, but keep it bottled up. Tom suggested a fine satin dress for Catherine. It was silky smooth with light ruffles on the sleeves and collar.  The blue material would set off the color of her eyes.  That sold Sam on the purchase.  Now for Phillip!  Two pairs of pants, a warm jacket and gloves - yes gloves so that his hands would stay warm.  And, some great flannel shirts to go with the pants.  But what was the Yuletide holiday without some toys for the kids?  Sam bought the American Flyer train set with the whistle and the talking station, and logs, Lincoln Logs, and the Erector Set.  For Catherine and Phillip, Yuletide had arrived in the person of Sam Weyland.
Price was not an issue for Sam, and Tom Watson could not wrap the gifts as fast as Sam bought them.  Finally finished, Tom helped Sam carry the gifts to the waiting taxi.  The two men bid each other a good night and another round of “Happy Holidays.”  Tom felt really good inside.  He felt like he had witnessed the birth of a new man in Sam Weyland, and he could not wait to tell the news to his wife.  Sam gave the directions to the cabbie, “333 Race Street and as fast as humanly possible please!”  The cabbie just smiled at the 'humanly possible' part of the directions.
Sam felt absolutely terrific!  For the first time in longer than he dared remember, he had deep seated feelings for another person; not just one, but two.   What startled him was that he really wanted to care; he wanted to take the chance and let people into his life.  Sam was ready to risk heartache again.  At that moment, he understood that when hearts reach out, past hurts can be put aside, and that a man needed live and love in the present; living in the past was wrong.   
The cabbie had done his job well.  In what had appeared to Sam as a blink of an eye, his driver brought him to the requested address.  He helped Sam clear off the snow from the porch steps, and together they unloaded the taxi.  Sam paid the fare and tipped the driver another fifty dollars.  The cabbie tried to refuse but Sam would hear nothing of it.  “By the way,” Sam said, “what’s your name?” 
“Folks in these parts just call me Don,” the driver replied.  “It’s short for Donnar.  You’re my last fare tonight Bud.  Now it’s time for me to go home to my wife Sibba.  I just know there’s a feast waitin’ for me this night!”  As the taxi sped away the parlor light flashed on and illuminated the porch.
Catherine came to the door and was shocked.  For about one second, the normally vocal woman was speechless.  Finally she managed to say, “Why Sam Weyland! What on this Earth have you done?”
“You promised Catherine, remember?  Now instead of asking me what I did, why don’t you help me get these things inside?  It’s getting really cold out here,” replied a now frigid Sam Weyland.  It seemed like the wind added its own two cents, as it shrieked louder.         
Still numb from all that she saw, Catherine obliged Sam, and together they carried the holiday treasures into the warm house.  Damn it!  Sam remembered that he’d forgotten ornaments for the tree, and began to run for the door.
“And where do you need to go now Sam,” came from the mouth of a very confused Catherine Mann.
“I forgot to get decorations for the tree. I’ll be right back,” Sam said, as he struggled with his overcoat. 
“Now just hold on there big man,” as she gently placed her hand on his chest.  “Come over here and help me.  There is something we need from the hall closet.”  Behind the closet door were stacked two well-worn cardboard boxes.  “This summer I made these, just in case we might get a tree this year.”  From the boxes Catherine pulled out hand crafted tree ornaments, made from paper, cloth, and wood.  How much nicer those are, Sam thought, than the store bought kind.  Those things, he knew, Catherine had made out of hope, the hope for a better day.  Sam was transfixed; he could not take his eyes off of her.  Catherine placed the Yule Log in the fireplace, and it ignited with her first matchstick. Still feeling a little giddy, she thought that she had heard a man laughing heartily outside, but immediately dismissed it as the howling wind.
That night quickly passed, and between pots of coffee and conversation, they trimmed the tree and placed the gifts carefully beneath.   As dawn broke they silently stood together, admiring their work.  Catherine broke their silent tribute by saying, “You’ve been so good to my son and me.  You brought us gifts and a hope for tomorrow.  But we have nothing to put under the tree for you.  It doesn’t seem fair Sam.”  
        Sam was deeply touched by Catherine’s remark.  Here was a poor young mother so concerned that I did not have a gift to unwrap, he thought.  After a pause Sam spoke.  “You’re wrong about that, Catherine.  My gift is seeing that my generosity can bring joy to the recipients and well as to the giver.”  Then Sam took her in his arms; she came willingly.  They shared a passionate kiss that seemed to last for an eternity, only to be interrupted by Phillip’s shrieks.
“Oh man, oh, golly! There really is a Jule Nisse!” (Jule Nisse is an ancient Northern European being who watches over children and the home.  If the children were “good” during the year, the Jule Nisse brought them sweets and gifts.  This is just one of the forms that have morphed into our present day Coca Cola Santa Claus).  But as excited as he was on that particular Yule, Phillip had not forgotten his gift to his mother.  As Catherine carefully unwrapped the box, she knew that it was not empty.  It was filled with Sam’s love.     
            Years had passed since that particular Yule.  The times changed, and so had the luck of many folks; better days had arrived.  Many people said that the person whose luck had changed the most was Sam Weyland.  And Sam, with wife Catherine by his side, had become a dynamic force for good in the community.  After he became President of Weyland Steel, Sam built a new factory that employed most of Sullivan’s Row.   Sam persuaded the city fathers, and his reluctant peers that the community needed a vocational/technical school to educate and train young men and women to enter the industrial world that had sprung up around them.  After he and his wife made a sizable contribution, that school was built, and attended by many.   
The community had grown and got stronger, but, they lacked a public library. Sam and Catherine were well aware of the need for reading.  Within a year of its inception, the community had a new public library, thanks to Sam and Catherine Weyland.
Many folks were amazed at Sam’s generosity and wondered what in the world had happened to him.  One person had the answer.  All you had to do was ask Tom Watson about his friend Sam Weyland and he’d tell you flat out without mincing words.  “Yes sir, Sam’s wife and son, Catherine and Phillip, are the ones responsible for the man he is today.  They just opened the floodgates of his heart and you can see how we all benefit, yes sir!”
This Yule, Sam sat by the fire, absorbed with things past.  Phillip’s Yule gift to his mother of many years ago, the shell encrusted box, was placed neatly on the top of the fireplace mantle.  Catherine was busy in the kitchen, preparing their dinner for Mother’s Night (the day before Winter Solstice - the twelve days of Yule).  The main feature of the night’s feast was prime rib.  Sam had finally accepted the unpleasant things of his past; he did not like what happened, but he realized that those things had helped him to surmount other obstacles, and to understand, that life was meant to be lived to the fullest.  He was happy with his life.  It seemed to him that the more he gave of his wealth, the more he and his family prospered.  The door bell rang. That must be the Watson’s, thought Sam.
Sam greeted his guests and good friends with warm welcomes and huge hugs.  The Watson’s had become as much a part of Yuletide in the Weyland home as the holiday itself.  As Sam guided his friends into the spacious living room, their idle chatter was interrupted when Phillip burst through the door with a few friends. 
“Happy Holidays,” he shouted, with a resonance that filled the entire house. “Hey Dad, I hope you don’t mind that I brought some friends with me.”
“Of course not, son. Your friends are always welcome in our home!”  Phillip was completely transfixed with his father and emulated Sam in many ways.  As a matter of fact, he even took on many of Sam’s facial features and expressions.  A stranger, not familiar with this family’s story, would never have guessed in a million years that Phillip was Sam’s adopted son. After Phillip’s friends were made comfortable, he turned and started out the door, accompanied by Bill Watson, Tom’s son.
“Where are you going now, Phillip? You just got here,” asked his father.
“Well Dad, my friends can’t be with their families this holiday so I thought it would be nice if they had a gift to unwrap!  Tom said it would be OK if Bill and I went to the store.  I just know what to get each of them!”
“Oh, alright, son. Dinner won’t be for a couple of hours.  Do you need any cash?”
“No thanks Dad.  I’m good.  We’ll be back soon!”  Sam watched as his son walked down the driveway. His thoughts flickered back to their first encounter, so many years ago.  Sam couldn't help but love his son.  Catherine overheard the verbal exchange between the two men in her life.  She stood silently and watched them with loving eyes.  Sam felt her eyes on the back of his head.  He turned to meet her and their eyes met.  Still, after all the years, those same eyes!  Silently, as they embraced, they whispered, “I love you so much!”
On the street below the Weyland home, a tall thin man passed by.  His broad brimmed hat flopped as he adjusted his eye patch.  He too smiled, and continued on his journey, his Hunt in Middle Earth.



                         Copyright @1982, 2009, 2012 Terry Unger  

Our Visit to Sutton Hoo

When walking the grounds, you can feel the specialness of this place.  It is quiet, save the wind rustling through the trees.  The ages...