Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

Christmas as a Child

Gary Alan Rose

Remember when we were little, and thoughts of toys raced through your head;

Anticipation held you captive, until you were forced to go to bed.

Mysterious and magical, Santa played within your mind;

Sleep delayed the Sandman, for the presents you might find.

Surely it was sleigh bells you heard above your roof;

The noise up there can only be that of reindeer hoof.

Although you’ve been a little naughty, mostly you’ve been nice;

And the cookies, milk and scribbled note, for Santa should suffice.

Covers flung back and on your feet before the sun could fully rise;

Mom and Dad were hard to wake, with slits instead of eyes.

A milk glass empty, cookie crumbs, and out of place a chair;

There could be no mistake … Santa was surely there!

Hold your breath, slow your pace, Santa knew what you would like;

Fingers crossed, galloping heart … a shiny new green bike!

With joyous screams you proclaim, the best Christmas you have had;

Then rush to hug your parents, a smiling Mom and grinning Dad.

Christmas is for “Dreamers,” and here’s what I must say;

Never let that flame die out, dream-on … dream away!

Cowboy Romance

Frank Garshak

John was raised on a farm where his dad worked. When he graduated high school he was a good fit for the job he got on a large ranch. He had a love for horses and also had a knack for mechanical repairs. He was only 18 when the ranch owner recognized his talents and hard work ethic and gave him a full time position as an all around handyman with a nice pay raise. Being a cowboy at heart, he enjoyed country music and 2 step dancing that went along with it. This is where he met his fatal attraction, Rhonda. She was a couple years older than John but he was smitten in spite of learning that she had a three year old daughter. They were married by the time he was 19. The ranch owners considered him as such an asset that they provided a house available on the ranch as part of his compensation.

This was a good start for raising a family and in short order they had four more children. Rhonda did all the basics in providing for the family but didn’t show much caring beyond that. The ranch was worth more for converting their property to housing developments so their existence as a working ranch would eventually end in the near future. What to do when the house and job ended? Unexpectedly, Rhonda suddenly disappeared and John learned that she had joined up with a traveling carnival. Over a year passed since Rhonda abandoned the family, so Johnny got a divorce and full custody of the children.

Another cowboy type activity John had is called Gymkhana. That involves horse lovers competing in riding and roping. He would take the kids with him and was great entertainment as they watched their dad and others compete. Laura was one of the better riders who owned an exceptional horse. That horse interested John which led to his interest in Laura. After a time their mutual interests led to a closer relationship. Laura was a pediatric nurse and loved the work she did in getting sick kids well. She was not dissuaded by John’s five children. Laura cared about the kids and was surprised at their lack of thrills most kids had about the Christmas season. They knew little about Santa Claus and a decorated Christmas tree. They were happily learning these joys thanks to Laura.

But Laura had a problem! Her dad did not want his daughter getting too serious with a man 10 years older with five kids. When she wanted to bring John and his children to visit her parents on Christmas, Dad’s objections were overruled by Mom, a nurse herself. He was not aware that Laura and his wife had bought presents for each of the kids. All the kids arrived to see what a festive decorated house and tree looked like. Dad behaved himself and stayed out of the way. He didn’t realize why there were so many wrapped presents under the tree until each child found one with their name on it. As they unwrapped presents, each child’s face lit up showing a joyous love. So much that it even penetrated Dad’s heart resulting in a divine intervention of caring love.

A year later John and Laura were married and Dad even gave them a beautiful reception. There were about 60 guests, of which about half of the men wore cowboy boots and hats, including the groom. In spite of the challenges Dad was afraid of, their compatibility proved their love. They have since celebrated their 26th anniversary.

The Element of Surprise

Lee Murray

When someone says they have a surprise for you, you’ll likely think it is something positive. Especially if they ask you to close your eyes ahead of time because then it usually means a treat, a gift, or something else to make you happy, like tickets to a concert or sports event.

And of course, the qualifier “big” before the surprise generally ups the ante meaning something entirely different like a raise, jewelry or maybe even a new car.

On the other hand, an unexpected surprise doesn’t necessarily mean something good. It could be a cold-water moment surprise. Your son or daughter just wrecked your new car. If it’s from your boss, it most likely will be served up as “I have news for you” followed by, “that you’re not going to like,” especially if it’s delivered with a grim face. “The company is downsizing and we’re going to have to let you go. Here’s your severance check. Nice working with you.” Thanks boss.

Another type of employment surprise can be made a little more palatable depending on the circumstances. As in, “I have some interesting news for you, Herman.” This type of news could be served up as follows: “the company has decided to relocate its headquarters. We’re moving to Fargo. I just know you’ll love learning to skate and go ice fishing. Look at the bright side—you still have a job!”

Another unwelcome surprise would be an official looking letter from the Internal Revenue Service saying you’re being audited, and to please meet at our field office next month to discuss last year’s tax return.

A surprise that could be the most life-affecting, is being greeted by your wife when you arrive home from work one day announcing that she is expecting and you’re going to be a father … again. Your first thought is, “haven’t we done this three times before?” Or imagine the shock of answering the doorbell one day and standing outside is a fully grown man with an earring and a goatee, who you’ve never seen before … You say, “can I help you?” His response is, “Hi Dad! I’m the son you never knew you had.”

In the grand scheme of things, surprises are typically good as in a party where someone who cares very much about you decides to get all your friends and family together at your house to celebrate your big day. Just don’t come home wearing that sports jacket that looks like a horse blanket.

While we’re on the subject of surprises, how about finding out the Powerball lottery ticket you purchased on a whim at the local 7-Eleven store turned out to be a big winner and made you wealthy beyond your wildest imagination. And while you’re planning on the big mansion you’ll buy on Camelback Mountain and the vacation homes in West Palm Beach and Santa Barbara, the alarm starts ringing and you realize it was all a dream. Surprise! Time to get ready for work.

Why Should I Use this Coupon?

Barbara Schwartz

Sheila’s husband, Robert, loves coupons: he cuts them from the newspaper, the magazines and he religiously peruses the packages of coupons that come in the daily mail. He simply LOVES coupons.

Sheila rolls her eyes at Robert’s antics. He just does NOT understand her stand on coupons. More than half the coupons he cuts are for products that they never buy. Why can’t he get that? If you don’t use the product, you will save 100% instead of the 50% advertised if you don’t buy it.

But Robert insists that bread is bread and why pay full price for a loaf if you can get a loaf for a lower price.

So, Sheila let Robert make out the shopping list one day. He put everything on his list that he had a coupon for. He was positive that they would save a TON of money.

Sheila went to the grocery store the next afternoon—while Robert was out playing tennis.

She bought everything on his list: salad dressing (save 50 cents when you buy two!) was purchased—even though she had two unopened bottles at home; canned vegetables were only 70 cents each when you bought 10; paper towels were 20% less (they had 15 rolls in the cabinet in the garage); ice cream was on sale AND with a coupon (did he forget that he is diabetic?) and so on and so on. And, of course, all were for brands that she simply did not use or like.

Her bill was more than she usually spent and she was sure that Robert would be very upset with that. When she got home, all Robert did was gloat and announce that he knew that he was right: just look at the products that she had purchased!

She decided to make sure that he knew how awful these products were and when she made dinner the next night, she made sure that almost all of it would be really bad—if not inedible. So she started cooking. She made sure that the meat she cooked was more well done than either of them liked. Overcooking meat was one way to make it perfectly tasteless. The canned vegetables were also cooked to an almost mush like consistency. She used some of the browned lettuce leaves which made her salad totally unattractive to look at and the dressing was one flavor that nobody enjoyed. She used the croutons she purchased with a coupon, of course, and sort of “forgot” that Robert did not like croutons. The dessert was a watery pudding.

Sheila thought that this could turn Robert off of those off brands: she was so right! He ate dinner in silence while she bragged on and on about how this item was 50 cents off and this product was three for the price of two.

The next day, Robert went through the pantry and “decided that this was the time of year for food bank donations” and packed up a bunch of non-perishable foods that had been coupon purchased.

Sheila was delighted with his decision and gave him her lecture about trusting her instincts at the grocery store.

The next night, there was a gourmet dinner that was not just gorgeous to look at, but equally delicious to eat. Robert was thrilled. He even stopped looking at the coupons in the newspaper and the magazines.

But he couldn’t figure out why they were not getting the coupon mailers any longer.

Sheila just looked at the shredder in her office and smiled.