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Sunday, November 30, 2014


When we celebrate Christmas we think of the exchanging of gifts which many times entails the mad rush of people in stores to purchase gifts for those they care about. In addition we think of Christmas time as being a season of joy, of peace, and of love; when Christmas Day arrives, children arise early to rush to the Christmas tree bedecked with beautiful ornaments and lit with scores of lights intertwined among the branches, in order to open the packages from their parents, relatives and Santa Claus with expressions of glee that can only be evoked by children. In a Christian family, the parents and children may attend religious services to  celebrate the birth of a baby named Jesus in a manger 2000 years ago. In a non-Christian family, just as in the Christian family, a Christmas party involving the celebration of friends and family with the exchanging of gifts is of great importance.

Many times, after Christmas has passed, there is a mix of feelings ranging from great satisfaction in having a successful Christmas celebration to a feeling that all the effort put into having a great celebration has been tiring and now it’s time to get on with other things that are of everyday concern and importance. In other words to some people Christmas is simply a time for celebration of family and friends and not much thought of a deeper nature is given the experience.  For some, Christmas Is a time of sadness and pain because of dark thoughts of loss of friends, family or desires not accomplished that cannot be compensated for by some great party of celebrants full of laughter while having a jolly time. It is said that not just a few commit suicide during this time because of the sadness in their hearts and minds.

Having a perspective on the true meaning and importance of Christmas can be a help in making the experience of celebrating Christmas more beneficial to those wanting a good experience of Christmas.

A good place to start is in the beginning, with the Genesis account in the Old Testament of the failure of the first man and woman God created to perfectly fulfill the plan God established for them. Adam and Eve were put out of a garden of paradise into our world of suffering and pain because of this; But God promised them a Savior who would restore them and all their descendants for all time to God's favor lost by their failure.

That Savior is Jesus Christ who was born just over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem of Judea; this is the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the son of God, whose mission was to sacrifice his life on a cross to restore man's favor with God lost by Adam and Eve. Jesus, through his perfect sacrifice is known as the second Adam, because he fulfilled the plan which Adam and Eve did not.

So the real meaning of Christmas is the joyous celebration of the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. We celebrate his birth given by his mother, the virgin Mary, who was greatly graced by God, in the humble circumstances of a Manger surrounded by the various animals located there. He is visited by shepherds in the field who had been invited to see the newborn babe by a chorus of angels. He is also visited by the Magi, three Kings who had followed a star which led them to the babe in the manger.

Christmas is a time of great hope, that through our love and honor of God, we will share in his plan of peace and fulfillment during our time on earth and afterwards an eternal paradise of no more pain and suffering, but rather an eternal bliss wrapped in the love of God.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday.  The original Thanksgiving was held in 1621 when immigrants called pilgrims came to America on the sailing ship Mayflower to escape religious intolerance in first England and then in Holland. They came to America to start a new home where they would be free to practice their religion without such intolerance. They settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts and with help from the native Indians who showed them how to grow corn and other crops successfully, the pilgrims had a successful harvest.  They wanted to give thanks to God in prayer around a table with all kinds of delicious foods; they invited the Indians to share in their feast. The first Thanksgiving then in America was a Thanksgiving of prayer to God for a successful harvest while enjoying a Thanksgiving banquet.

However Thanksgiving was not established as a yearly affair after the original Thanksgiving. Through the years there would be occasional Thanksgivings of prayer along with a feast. In 1777 George Washington called for a day in December of that year to be an occasion of thanksgiving to God in prayer for the recent victories in the American Revolution, in particular the success of the Battle of Saratoga against the British who were trying to divide the colonies. It was that battle which brought the French into the war against England on the side of the Americans.

It was not until 1846 that Sarah Hale, a 19th century writer who was the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb”, wrote letters to successive presidents of the United States petitioning for the last Thursday of November to be a day of Thanksgiving each and every year. It was not until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln, responding to Sarah Hale’s petition, established the last Thursday of November of every year to be a day of Thanksgiving. Thus began the holiday of Thanksgiving as we know it today to be a day  concentrated on the expression of thanks through the feast of good food on the table surrounded by family and friends while the expression of thanks to God through prayer was not included.

In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt decided to change the date in November for Thanksgiving to a week before the last Thursday in November so as to lengthen the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to better serve the retail market and thus improve the economy. As a result, Thanksgiving as well as Christmas became secular holidays which marked the beginning and the end of a shopping season for people to purchase gifts and food for these festive holidays.

However this change in the day in November for Thanksgiving caused confusion because many states refused to comply with the new Thanksgiving date and stuck with the last Thursday in November as being the proper date for Thanksgiving. Happily Congress came to the rescue and in 1941 established the 4th Thursday of November as the one all states would adhere to for Thanksgiving from then on.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An Extraordinary Background

My wife and I went to dinner a few nights ago with an elderly Japanese friend of ours. We thought he was purebred Japanese but we were to find out otherwise during dinner. It turns out that his father, a Japanese, went to Holland during the 1920s to work with some colleagues including Albert Einstein. He himself  was a research physicist; he then traveled to England and met a blonde blue-eyed woman who was a Norman since her ancestry dated back to the time of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. They married and moved to Japan at the beginning of the 1930s.

Our friend was born shortly thereafter; from his looks at the current time he looks as though he is totally of Japanese ancestry but he is really half Japanese and half English as we found out. Our friend lived with his parents in Japan until 1952. He survived the war years with the terrible bombing of major Japanese cities and was present through the 5 years of the Reformation of Japan under Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

In 1952, a colonel in the American Army helped him secure a scholarship at the University of Maine in Maine, United States. He studied engineering and secured an engineering degree from the University. In 1956 he was hired by one of the big automotive manufactories in Detroit, Michigan. He was a great contributor to this company in particular because he was bilingual in both English and Japanese. He made a number of trips back and forth between Japan and the United States becoming well-versed in the design of upcoming Japanese automobiles. He married an American nurse while in Detroit and had several children.

He and his wife made several trips back and forth between Japan and Detroit, Michigan; he worked in Detroit until recently when he retired. While he and his wife never had stayed in Hawaii any length of time they bought property on Oahu for their retirement. After his retirement his wife and he spent several years in their home on the island of Oahu; she passed away within the last year as a result of a fall while she was walking. Our friend still resides in his home and from time to time we go to dinner with him; it was during this last dinner that we found out his extraordinary background and ancestry.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Life

August 28, 2014: 
I am trying to figure out what my status, as an aging adult, in life is.  Am I not still, In spite of the visitation upon me of several serious cancers, an independent soul who is still able to think for himself, is ambulatory and can do for himself many things that are life-sustaining and necessary to fulfill his role that God has designed for him?  

Certainly,  the time needed to reduce or eradicate the physical effects of these cancers, as well as the time taken up in dealing with the permanent physical disabilities resulting from them, have left me with daily time and energy reductions which infringe upon time and energy otherwise available to a normal, healthy individual; nonetheless these reductions have not made it impossible for me to still lead a reasonably fulfilling and productive life.

The primary problems that need to be dealt with in the case of a person not having the available time and energy to cope with daily existence are ones of environment and assistance. The present home environment may call for change; too many stairs or flights of stairs to frequently climb between bedroom and kitchen to prepare meals, as well as carry garbage to containers on the kitchen level may necessitate a change. Likewise, assistance from normal food providers and cleaning and maintenance providers may make the normal operation of the household, in limiting interference to others living in the home, difficult, without some change in environment.

In many cases, the best solution may be assisted living in a facility that provides a private room, housing only the person in need. In such a facility it can be arranged to have cleaning personnel available on a daily basis if needed. Food is provided, if desired, in a cafeteria where 3 meals a day are served.

In addition, worthwhile socialization with people in the same facility can be taken advantage of in a common room available for conversation and activities such as card playing or other games of interest.   Even outside activities such as going to movies or the theater can be signed up for with the participants providing their own transportation or making use of transportation provided by the facility.

If needed, transportation to and from doctor appointments can be provided, thus reducing the need of troublesome and time consuming self parking.

For such an individual herein described, there need be no medical care within the facility. Such assisted living need only provide a new environment in which an individual’s time and effort can be put to better use, while provision for invaluable and needed socialization can be taken advantage of..

The cost of such assisted living, which can be set to provide only housecleaning, meals in a cafeteria setting and vital socialization, is well within the financial means of a person with a reasonable pension, Social Security and any available insurance for assisted living.

Sometimes the only real and remaining problem is the insistence of some family members who may want things done their way without thinking about the needs of the person, who is more than capable of making his or her own decisions as an aging but functional adult.

Monday, August 4, 2014

God in Marriage

Using the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ reminds us of the true meaning and worth of marriage: God created man and woman who are to leave their mother and father and unite as one; and what God has brought together as one, must not be separated.

But God created man and woman, having not only different physical aspects, but also different mental, emotional and psychological aspects. The man is single focused and must use his strength and power to provide for the good of his family and for the good of the community in which he finds himself. His lifelong battle is to stay focused on the good he can provide; he must battle against the innate desire for companionship and union with other women.

The woman on the other hand is not single focused but is concerned with many situations and problems that arise within the family; her battle is not to get herself lost in a seeming overload of emotions in dealing with these many difficulties. The good  wife learns to do this while being provided the security and safety she needs from a well focused husband.

A husband can experience a day filled with anxiety and feelings of worthlessness in trying to keep his focus. When this happens, the good wife, in her respect and love for her husband, reassures him of his worth, of his goodness, reminding him of all the good that he has done within the family, for the family and the community outside of the family. In a case such as this a husband can be brought back to his original focus and sense of worthiness.

But if the wife succumbs to her emotions and criticizes and nags her husband he may yield to his weakness, seeking the affection of other women, even in prostitution, to try to restore his true focus; such a choice can lead to a destruction of the marriage. 

On the other hand, if the husband, being criticized and nagged, does not yield to these instinctive desires, the good husband has no other recourse but to turn to God in weeping and confusion, asking for help in restoring his focus. 

If he prays with faith, truly believing that what he asks for will be done for him, the good husband will receive assistance from the Lord, either through the conversion of his wife from her weakness or by his being given the strength to cope with his difficulty without succumbing to his weakness, with the hope his wife will gradually be restored to her strengths through the love of her husband.

The good wife who receives from her husband the love and respect due her, along with the security and safety of the entire family, is best capable of winning her battle to keep her emotions under control. If the husband does not provide these things for his wife and if she does not, in turn, seek these things from another man, she likewise should turn to the Lord for help which she will receive immediately, in some meaningful way, when she prays as Jesus instructs us, to pray believing that what we ask for will be done for us.

One of the best examples in history of a good husband and a good wife in marriage that comes to mind is St. Margaret of Scotland, who having come up from Hungary in the time of the Norman conquest of England by William the Conquerer of Normandy in 1066, journeyed to Scotland and married Malcolm, the King of Scotland. She loved and provided for the poor in the countryside and provided the love and respect for her husband, becoming the mother of three sons who became kings.  Her love was reciprocated by Malcolm in wanting to do whatever she asked for; she died within days of his being killed in battle.

There are other examples of good marriages as the above where the wife, seemingly in the background and having no other effect than taking care of the family concerns, is in reality the prime mover of good accomplished through her husband, by her respect for and reassurance of his worthiness and goodness in his moments of darkness.