In December 2001, my father sent his first-ever Christmas card to me.
He even signed it, “Love, Dad.” Unprecedented. Throw some tinsel on my head and watch me sparkle like a snow globe; that’s how happy I was.
Dad came from the “show, don’t tell” school of parenting. He supported his family and shoveled the snow from the walkway before any of us were out of bed. His love was to be understood.
His postscript on that 2001 card made clear that despite the arrival of his one-time-only Christmas greeting, nothing had changed.
“I got a card from the wife of a man I used to work with,” he wrote. “She was at the church when you spoke, and she said you were the best they ever had. Don’t get the big head.”
What he didn’t mention was that he had attended my speech, too, delivered in the church of my childhood. He also skipped the part about how he had grinned through the whole darn thing.
Each December, I pull out Dad’s Christmas card and prop it up on my desk. He’s been gone for six years now, and the sight of his cramped handwriting makes him feel a little less far away. His admonishment about this head of mine is a reminder that in his own way, he loved me very much.
I spent way too much energy wishing my father would just come out and say it. Well into my version of adulthood, I’d end every phone call with, “I love you, Dad.” His response: “Yep.” Sometimes he’d mix it up by saying, “OK.”
Once in a while, I’d push back. “A-a-a-a-nd you love me, too?” His response every time: “Well, if you already know it, there’s no need for me to say it.”
When he finally wrote “Love, Dad” on that card, there was no victory. It was his second Christmas without my mother, and his heart was broken. How I longed for the days when Mom was still around and Dad’s “yep” was code for what he meant to say. Some things we learn too late.
This has been a long year for many Americans. Even if our own lives bobbed along without incident, it was hard to ignore the suffering of those around us. We did what we could. We attended funerals and hospital rooms, wrote checks and volunteered, worried ourselves sick and bowed our heads in prayer. Some of us smiled for no reason, and strangers felt a little less alone.
This Christmas season, the tragedy in Newtown, CT, altered the holiday for all but the most hardhearted among us. One minute we were shopping for stocking stuffers; the next minute we were trying to remember to breathe. Twenty young children and six adults who risked their lives to save them were dead. What? What? It was that horrible, that unbelievable. We never will be the same.
And yet, Christmas came.
Now the new year barrels toward us, a force of promise and uncertainty. May we welcome it with gratitude that we are here to greet it.
As I write this, snow is threatening to bury our house here in Ohio. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend spent the morning on cellphones, trying to reschedule canceled flights home. Halfheartedly, I try to hide my joy.
They are in a hurry, but I’m old enough to be on the other side of that impatience. All of our family was happy and healthy this Christmas. I know that kind of luck runs out.
I also know that my daughter’s heavy sighs mean only that she is young, with plans that did not include two more nights with her mother. I will not misread her signals, nor will I complain. Her love is understood.
For that, we can thank her grandfather for a lesson once learned too late.
By: Connie Schultz, The National Memo, December 26, 2012
GOP leaders in Congress who can’t stop talking about family values are proposing an array of deep cuts to food stamps, child tax credits, healthcare for the poor, and even block grants that help states with daycare and adoption assistance. Left untouched are military spending that has ballooned over the last decade and tax breaks for the richest Americans. This isn’t courageous or pragmatic. It’s fiscally irresponsible and morally wrong.
Religious leaders are not letting Rep. Paul Ryan—architect of the GOP budget proposal—get away with the fiction that this budget reflects the values of his Catholic faith. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent a series of letters to GOP-controlled House committees arguing that these cuts are “unjustified and wrong.” Bishops wrote this week that “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons” and bluntly conclude that “the proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test.” Catholic leaders have called for “shared sacrifice,” putting “unnecessary military spending” on the table and—in a pointed critique of Republicans’ fiscal fantasy that we can balance the budget by cuts alone—reference the need for “raising adequate revenues.” When Representative Ryan recently spoke at Georgetown University, almost 90 professors and priests at the Catholic university urged him to stop distorting Catholic social teaching to advance his radical ideological agenda. Expect faith leaders to keep challenging budget proposals and economic policies that undermine bedrock principles of justice, compassion, and the common good.
We should not pit national security against economic security. An effective military and a responsive government that doesn’t turn its back on vulnerable families are both achievable if we move beyond false choices. The working poor struggling in minimum-wage jobs, the elderly, and a squeezed middle class did not cause our deficits. They should not be asked to bear the greatest burden.
By: John Gehring, Washington Whispers Debate Club, U. S. News and World Report, May 10, 2012
Most people do not look forward to changing their baby’s diapers. Not everyone. But most people. Which is understandable — it’s not a pleasant experience. You never know what kind of noxious, exotic things you’re going to find in there.
But Mitt Romney, in particular, really despises diapers.
We were reminded of this yesterday when Romney, at a town hall in Ohio, went off on a tangent about his family:
“Grandkids are fabulous!” he said. “You don’t have to change their diapers and, and they love you.”
This is telling. When describing the benefits of grandchildren, Romney places the absence of diaper-changing responsibilities — a seemingly minor factor — on par with unconditional love. It’s like saying, “Being president is incredible: There’s a bowling alley right in your basement, and also, you get to shape the future of the world.” It’s also unclear whether Romney would still find grandkids fabulous if they offered him love and required diaper-changing. Grandkids, under that scenario, might be “just okay.”
The funny thing is, Ann Romney has praised her husband for teaching her how to change diapers when they first had a baby. According to a December 2007 AP report:
Ann Romney traveled with her husband Saturday, testifying to the little-known qualities she believes make him the preferred Republican presidential contender.
She said … that her husband taught her how to both change a diaper and feed a baby, experience she lacked when she had the first of their five boys.
It turns out that before he had children of his own, Romney was wiping and powdering on a regular basis, as Ann testified:
“I did not grow up in these big Mormon families and all these kids and everything; I really grew up in the country in Michigan, and I never held a baby until I had my own.”
Romney had experience in holding, feeding and cleaning babies from taking care of his nieces and nephews.
“So, he comes in handy,” his wife said.
Well, not that handy, actually. After teaching his wife how to change a diaper, Romney — apparently scarred by years of changing diapers for his entire extended Mormon family — stopped doing it himself, save for the most tolerable cases:
I was willing to change the urine-soaked diapers, but the messier types gave me dry heaves,” he told GQ magazine in 2007. “So my wife allowed me to escape that.”
Dry heaves? A bit dramatic, no? The man who promises to get tough on China and do whatever it takes to stop Iran from going nuclear also cowers in the face of baby poo?
By: Dan Amira, Daily Intel, March 1, 2012
We talked yesterday about the latest conservative activism against the Girl Scouts: Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris’ (R) strident opposition to the group, which he believes has been “radicalized” to promote abortion and homosexuality. Morris added that he believes the Girl Scouts have been “subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values.”
After controversial remarks by one Republican lawmaker attacking Girl Scouts as a radical group that supports abortion, House Speaker Brian Bosma made his feelings clear Tuesday, one Thin Mint cookie at a time.
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, pointedly offered Girl Scout cookies throughout the day and munched them as he presided over the House. [...]
Bosma … clearly wanted people to know he didn’t share Morris’ views. At one point Tuesday, he told House colleagues he had “purchased 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies in the last 48 hours.”
And when time came for the House to adjourn, he asked all lawmakers who had been Girl Scouts — and seemingly every female legislator stood — to give the daily motion to adjourn.
When a conservative Republican state House Speaker is making fun one of his own caucus’ members, it’s clear even the GOP in a reliably-red state was embarrassed by Morris’ antics.
For his part, Morris was asked for proof yesterday to support his claim that the Girl Scouts support abortion rights. “They’re not against it,” he said. “If you’re not against it, you’re for it.”
Deana Potterf, director of communications for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star that the organization does not address issues regarding homosexuality, abortion and sex. “Any kind of those issues are best left to the girls to talk with their families about,” Potterf said.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 22, 2012