As some of you know, my first book has finally hit the market. It was a lot of work, mostly rewriting, and of course editing. While you have put up with my horrible grammar, terrible syntax, and lousy spelling over the years in rushed articles for my blog, I can assure all that that's not the case in my book. My publishers made sure of that.
Some of you have written to ask how's it doing since hitting the market? Well, I've heard from a few of you, and I can't tell you how much it means to me that you like it. It is something that many of you have encouraged me to do, and I simply can't thank you enough for your support. As for Book II, it is already in the works.
As for Christmas, I hope your Christmas was good. I hope it was spent with family and friends with all enjoying every big and small pleasure that could be had. I truly hope that you got into the spirit of the season. I hope you ate well, laughed as much as you could, remembered those you love who couldn't be with you, thought about our heroes serving our great nation, thought about those who have less, and of course gave thanks that Christ our savior was born on Christmas Day.
If that sounds like a plateful, it really isn't.
When I was a boy, my family had a traditional Portuguese dish on Christmas Day. It is called "Vinha d'alhos." The name "Vinha d'alhos" means "meat with wine and garlic." It is a Portuguese marinated pork dish that I looked forward to at Christmas. Sadly, because of the passing of generations, that is just a sweet memory of days gone by.
Today, for me, Christmas dinner means ham, roast beef, or a turkey. And while I feel blessed to have and enjoy all, I still remember my mother and grandmother working in the kitchen on Christmas. They chopped the marinating pork, cut up the garlic and bread, and the kitchen smelling of vinegar and garlic. Just thinking about them making Vinha d'alhos at Christmas brings back wonderful memories.
One of those great memories has to do with my big family. As with most, my love of Christmas started when I was a little kid. For me, I remember how my grandfather dressed-up as Santa. I remember how my siblings and I would watch him in amazement. All smiles, and never a question, I loved it. Of course, I have to admit that I grew up thinking Santa always smelled of Bourbon and Seven. But frankly, since my grandpa did too at times, I figured Santa must have been one of my grandfather's closer friends.
You can call me a little naive if you want, but I did not make the connection when I was a little kid. I just didn't. I did later, but by then that made my grandpa an even bigger hero to me.
As for you who will write to say Christmas is only for kids, you're wrong. My friends, I've worked the door in some very interesting honky-tonks. I've had my nose broken twice, my jaw broken once, and my right hand completely demolished in fights. I've rode out a rank horse or two, tangled with nasty mama cows during brandings, been thrown a few times over those dreaded blue tarps flapping in the wind as well as the sound of a rattler in the weeds. So really, when it comes to Christmas and wanting to see children experience the joy and wonder of it all -- I'm all in. I'm there for them.
Why you ask? Because having sweet memories is what children should have. It's up to us to ensure that happens. If for any other reason, so that they can one day reminisce about how things were once better when they were kids. It's up to us to allow them that opportunity to sit on a porch and think back to a nicer time. Kids should have a kid-time to look back on and smile about.
And for the record, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm one 350 pound guerrilla who says "Hello" when a little kid hands me a toy phone. I will do it every time they want me to. It doesn't make me less tough to do it. It makes kids happy. And frankly, I see nothing wrong with happy children.
As for my end of year rant, here goes! Thinking about this, this really is my attempt at answering some of your email pertaining to something that a lot of you have written about which I never really address. It has to do with our public schools today.
Sadly, because of social agendas being forced on children in public schools, too many kids today are being pushed to grow up too fast. Yes, faster than they are capable of in most cases. And no, I don't mean growing up fast as was the case out of the necessity of having to go to work to help put food on a table as took place during the Great Depression. I'm talking about treating undeveloped minds as if they were adults. I'm talking about teaching kids things in school that puts un-needed stress, worry, and concern in the minds of children.
Where these social agendas come from is no secret, but they are there. And fact is, unlike what children are being told, there are only two biological genders. No matter what children are being taught today, we are not all going to die in 12 years because of changes in the weather. Fact is, life is not at bad as schools are making it out to be. Whether some want to admit it or not, children have a lot better chase of being hit by lightning twice a day than they do experiencing a school shooting. But frankly, you'd never know that today.
The way I see it, children shouldn't be brainwashed into fearing the future. Those who are scaring children just to fulfill their political and social agendas should be charged with child abuse and horse whipped! Yes, taken out and lashed in the public square! And while a few will read that as my being harsh, I believe emotional abuse is still abuse -- and those who do it should understand that there are consequences to doing such a thing to kids.
I get a lot of email about this from my readers. Many have asked if there was ever a time that compares to such fear-mongering in our schools? My response is that I can't find another time when public schools were consciously used to instill fear in American children. Our children should not be made to worry about the future. They should not be made to worry about things that they have no control over. They should not be made responsible for pollution in China, over-crowding in India, or a hoax called Climate Change. They should not be made to see a bleak future.
Children should be encouraged to learn math and science, history and English, and create and dream, and develop their imaginations. They should be encouraged to invent, because imagination is what creates inventors. We need less bleak and more inventions that serve a positive purpose. Optimistic attitudes win. Pessimism is defeatism. And yes, children should be taught that fact of life.
Schools should focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic -- which scores show they are not doing. Schools should be encouraging positivity and hope. Schools should not be in the business of political indoctrination, or spreading lies about Socialism and Communism. Saying that they have never been tried, or are not responsible for the deaths of millions around the world is the worse lie of all. Schools should stop hiding the truth about how Socialism turns citizens into slaves of the state.
Yes, children should be motivated to learn and strive. They should be made to see the promise of achievement and the benefits of hard work. They should understand that stepping up to the plate and swinging your heart out is what life and baseball are all about. That's American. Losers sit in the stands and bitch about how the game is lost before it started. That's un-American.
Of course, in most of urban areas here in California, it's as bad as it comes. You would be surprised at how many parents write to say they are pulling their children out of Public Schools. Most all say the same things. They simply feel schools are not the place to learn how to use drugs, how to have homosexual sex, or be indoctrinated in Socialism or Islam. Many tell me that schools are focusing on something called "gender confusion" while their kids' basic English and Math skills suffer. That should be the case. Schools should not be focused on social agendas
As for social issues, public schools should not be telling children that guns are bad, that America is bad, or that people who have different opinions are bad. Some parents tell me they are pulling their kids out of school because of the hate mongering, the re-writing of history, the out of control Leftist indoctrination, and of course the Trump hate. Scare tactics is defined as "a strategy intended to manipulate opinion about a particular issue by arousing fear or alarm." This should not be taking place in our public schools.
And besides the political indoctrination, I'm told that teachers harass Christians students. I'm told that Christian kids have to hide the fact that they are Christians -- out of fear of reprisal from the teachers. So besides the drugs and violence which is a huge problem in schools today, teachers targeting Christians is giving parents a reason to pull their kids from school.
As for the threat of shootings, I'm told some schools refuse to take that problem seriously. In fact, I'm told very little is done when such a threat presents itself. Some schools refuse to notify their local law enforcement.
As for an economic burden on families, it appears public schools are making things worse instead of helping make things better. I know of a few parents who are having it tough because they have reduced their family income by half -- all because one parent now stays home to home-school their kids instead of sending them to public schools. Frankly, while I hate that they are going through tough times over such a decision, I tip my hat to them for making such a choice to protect their kids from the drugs, the violence, and the Leftist indoctrination.
You've heard me talk about the place that I live in. You've heard me say many times how our "town" of Glencoe, California, is such a tiny place. All we have is a Post Office and our American Legion Post. So if you think we're just a blink in the road, you may be right. Fact is, if you blink, you may miss us.
Our community is made up of families, all being loggers, carpenters, mechanics, truckers, retirees, machinists, a gunsmith or two, many are veterans, most hunt, most shoot, most don't see guns as evil, most don't think spoons make people fat, all praise God, all love their families, all love America.
Most all of the parents here are very active in what their kids are learning in school. Most all of the parents here teach their kids gun safety at home, how to shoot, how to hunt, the rewards of working hard, the importance of keeping food on the table for your family. All are involved in what their kids are being taught in school. All are concerned that their children focus on learning and not social issues. The parents here will speak up and assert themselves if their children aren't getting what they need. From what I can see, they will not hesitate to remove their children from toxic school environments.
Along with home-schooling, the 4H club is big in this area. And it is a fact that most parents assign chores while teaching their kids what being responsible is all about. Most re-enforce manners and respect for others. All teach their children to be good. Some do it with a stern voice. But then again, I have seen a few parents who didn't hesitate to issue a swift kick in the pants to get a kid's attention when needed. Fact is, most of the parents up here understand their responsibility in teaching their children that life has consequences -- both good and bad.
It's called "Quid Pro Quo" in it's basic form. If a kid minds, he doesn't get in trouble with his parents. It's something expected by parents up here. The kids learn very quickly that the advantages of not being in trouble outweigh a swift kick in the pants.
This is a wonderful place for so many reasons, that includes the fact that we have responsible parents up here. They know their jobs as parents, and they ride herd on their kids. Then again, the parents up here are like most parents from rural America in that they are raising great kids. I think the reason for that is sort of simple, parents here are parents first. And frankly, I can think of a lot of kids in more affluent areas of California could use parents like the ones that we have here.
As for the importance of Christmas around here? On December 20th, Santa arrived at our American Legion Post here in Glencoe. On that night, as during other times of the year, during so many other events here, such as Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, and other holidays, friends and neighbors from miles around showed up. And yes, Santa was a big hit with both children and parents -- especially knowing that most of the children here would never be able to visit with him.
I would say a lot of folks here have the spirit of Christmas in their hearts. That's especially true if we take into consideration all of the people from neighboring Railroad Flat, West Point, Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Ranch, and farther, who showed up in Glencoe that night.
This year, as he's done over the last ten years here in tiny Glencoe, from behind his beard, all dressed in red, Santa did his best to fulfill one of the most treasured American traditions of Christmas. He allowed children to sit on his lap, some crying while others were enamored, to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. And while some on the Left in places like San Francisco call it "an illusion," most of us learned to love this time honored tradition many years ago.
As for our community, parents here see it as a gift of sorts to the kids. Seeing Santa is something that is theirs. Yes indeed, those who reap the rewards of Santa's visit are both parents and children. Children for obvious reasons. It is a wonder. As for parents, they see it for reasons that should be praised. They see it as an extension of goodness at Christmas, as a wonderful American tradition. They see their children experiencing the wonder of Santa, just as wonderful as when they themselves did so. All seem to loved it.
As for those of you who know that I haven't been writing as much because of health issues, well I can report that my problems didn't stop me from doing my part in two local Christmas parades. Sore or not, stove up or not, moving slower than last year, all of that didn't matter. I'm proud to report that I didn't shirk my duties when it came to Christmas. And as for Santa in Glencoe, I know first hand that he has watched crying children grow into knowing teenagers who now help out when called upon.
All of what takes place at our American Legion Post is something that we here in Glencoe have grown to look forward to. Not because there's no cost involved, but because it all lends to a peaceful, most beautiful Christmas, with giving and joy. A feeling a goodness that lasts. And that, well that's something that makes Christmas beautiful for all.
I hope you have a Happy New Year.