Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not quite a Christmas miracle

It wasn't quite a Christmas miracle.

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We spent last Saturday early evening at the Santa Cruz Bible Church Santa Cruz'n Christmas, a fun Christmas event that included oxen and lamb keeping time (kind of -- a donkey and lamb actually), an old school Jerusalem village complete with Roman soldiers and a real baby Jesus, carriage rides, cider and hot chocolate, arts and crafts for the kids, baby Jesus black-light puppet show and Santa.

Yes, Santa. They know how to wrangle in the infidels, don't they.

We were having a grand old time until we lost Beatrice. We had finished in one of the crafts rooms and headed out a side door of the building that read "emergency exit only."

Click. There's Daddy, the Mama and baby Bryce -- but where's Bea?

I checked the door but it was locked. I looked through the window and didn't see her among the throngs of people.

"Where's Bea?" I called to the Mama.

She glanced around quickly, shrugged and I panicked. I ran around the building, one of many on this expansive church property, and shot back inside frantically (but cooly) searching out our elder B.

And there she was, a little rattled but intact, holding the hand of a nice lady who said she saw us walk away from Bea and out the side door, leaving her inside by herself.

A proud moment indeed. I kicked myself mentally as I held Bea's hand and guided her back outside to the Mama and Bryce.

Back together again we headed through Old Jerusalem on the way to our car to go home. When we loaded everyone in the car, one of Bryce's shoes was missing. Night had fallen but the Mama was determined to find it, reminding me how nice the shoes were and how she didn't want to have to get new ones. I'm really glad I didn't say, "Leave it. Let's go. We can get more baby shoes." Thankfully she found it.

But neither of these were the "not quite" Christmas miracle I'm referring to. No, that happened on the way home from the event.

I slowed our Saturn VUE as the light turned green, about 30 feet from the intersection. I proceeded across, the Mama turning back to give Beatrice her water cup, and then the pickup turned left and hit us head on.

Surreal. Unreal. Quick.

I braked. The pickup braked. The impact was slow but -- smack -- we all felt it.

I didn't hear anything. I didn't hear the Mama yelling at me. I didn't hear Bryce crying.

I just couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that the truck hit us. At this point I could see that it was a young woman driving the truck, in her early twenties maybe.

And she looked as if she were crying hysterically --

"KEVIN, GET OUT OF THE INTERSECTION! PULL OVER! GET OUT OF THE STREET!"

The Mama's voice rocked me back to life, as if the kinetic energy from the impact had a delayed effect and only now did I absorb it.

I pulled over, we calmed the young woman down, Mama gave her a big hug and we exchanged insurance information. The impact seemed minimal to both vehicles. Mama finally quieted Bryce. Beatrice seemed giddy, even a little maniacal.

But the shaky image of the young woman crying and apologizing to us, telling us she was from out of the area, that her cell phone was dead, that her pickup was now leaking some kind of fluid -- that image became a future glimpse one of my daughters accidentally running into a family of four coming back from a church Christmas event, and that we wouldn't be there to help her.

It wasn't quite a Christmas miracle, but it sure put life's fast-forward view-finder in perspective.

Merry Christmas. Hold your kids close. Amen.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

So this holiday be a warm light to those who have little

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"A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one without any fear." --John Lennon

 

We do our best to not map disturbing statistics onto ourselves, especially during the holidays. Instead we wish them back to the page or the mouths that spoke them, trying to forget them like speeding past dead things on icy dark roads.

But there are 4 women who live with me -- two adults and two girls (Mama, Nonna and the B-hive) -- and according to the CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

1 in 4.

In fact, on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, according to new findings released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women are raped in a year, and over 6 million women and men are victims of stalking. These findings emphasize that sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence are major public health problems in the United States. In addition, they underscore the heavy toll that violence takes on Americans, particularly women.

This violence affects women much more disproportionately than men, but is still equal opportunity. 1 in 7 men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

Nobody wants to live in fear; both men and women who experience this violence report­ more health problems. Female victims, in particular, have significantly higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, frequent headaches and difficulty sleeping.

So this holiday be a warm light to those who have little and help generate awareness and prevention, donate money or gifts/toys to your local domestic violence shelters and women's centers, or volunteer your time.

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Or, pamper yourself and your friends and loved ones while doing some good this holiday season without breaking the bank.

Spa Fundraiser has teamed up with The Pixel Project to bring you the Purple Pamper Package annual holiday-gift program. Each Purple Pamper Package spa certificate buys you a mini face-and-hand spa pampering session worth $150.00 for just $25.00 per certificate.

You can even double the charitable impact of the Purple Pamper Package spa certificate by donating a certificate to any of the thirty (30) women's shelters across the country so they can get pampered.

That's a warm light deal just in time for the holidays.

The Pixel Project is an innovative virtual volunteer-led non profit organization using social media and online strategies to turbo-charge global awareness about violence against women while raising funds and volunteer power for the cause.

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We hold fast our whole lives

It was then I imagined us as them now. My voice broke, tears streamed.

Mom could barely speak. Dad more scared than he's ever been in his life. Both have battled back from diseases and surgeries before. Both of them always holding each other close and praying.

This time it's different. This time the choices of doing nothing with the melanoma-filled lymph nodes in his neck or removing them to be followed up with radiation treatments are like when my grandfather used to hold up his fists in a boxer stance and say:

"Six months in the hospital or sudden death?"

But now it's no joke. It's different and more real than it's ever been for them and for all of us.

Because it was then I knew as I've always known, that moment on the phone with my parents a little earlier today, why I love my wife as much as I do, and why we've always wanted to spend my entire life together.

And why we love our children so. Regardless of anything that's come to pass or has yet to.

From the ring my wife surprising me with on our wedding day all those years ago, the 15th-century French phrase "A Ma Vie De Coer Entier" etched along the surface.

You have my whole heart for my whole life.

To sharing the stomach bug with the B-hive this week, me a world away on a business trip unable to help the Mama.

The world is connected with tenuous tethers that snap with the slightest change in pressure, but for those of us who have the other, we hold fast our whole lives.

Every moment tomorrow will be a prayer for my mom and dad and the timeless love they share.

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