Laughter in Any Other Language Is Just Not Funny

When I was in high school, I played on the volleyball team. During one practice session, I forgot to bring my sneakers. Not thinking much of it, I just played anyway.

During the practice, I stepped forward to protect the player on the front line and when he jumped, he came down on my right foot. The consequence was he smashed my big toe.

That little incident put me out of the volleyball team for the rest of the season. I had to go to the doctor and have him fix my toe. I had to go several times for him to fix it. Consequently, my toenail on my right foot grew in crooked. It has been a painful thing ever since.

For years, I took care of it, but not too long ago I was doing more damage than help and I did not know what to do about it.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage suggested that I go have a pedicure.

Looking at her, I said rather sarcastically, “A pedicure is for girls.”

“Well,” she said rather slowly, “if you go to the doctor it will be about $300. A pedicure is around $25. Now,” she continued, “you do the math.”

I must say it took me a long time to do the math on that one. I knew I had to have some kind of professional help with that toe. I was doing so much damage that it hurt just to walk. And, I’m not old enough to hobble around.

After a long evaluation I thought that I did not have anything to lose except, $275.

Not far from us was some kind of a Nail Salon. I went to it at least five times before I finally went in. It was a very humiliating experience for me. After all, I’m not a “girl.”

When I went in, finally, I noticed they were not speaking English. It turned out to be some Vietnamese family running this nail salon. When I walked in nobody was smiling, but as soon as the door shut behind me, everybody looked at me and started smiling. What’s that all about?

Somebody started speaking in Vietnamese and then everybody looked at me and started to laugh. I too laughed.

I had a moment of hesitation and I was about to turn around and go outside as fast as I could. It must have been the owner or manager of the nail salon who come up to me, greeted me very graciously and took me back to a chair where I was to have my pedicure.

A very nice young lady came and said something to me that I could not understand. Then she pointed to my shoes and said something else I could not understand. I believe she wanted me to take off my shoes and socks.

I did so and while I was doing it, she got the hot water in the pan in front of the chair I was to sit in. As soon as I took off my shoes and socks, she pointed to my feet and said something and everybody looked at me and started laughing.

She said something in English that sounded like, “Too long.” Then everybody in the salon began to chuckle.

I honestly did not know what she meant. I did not know if my toenails were too long or if I waited too long to come and get a pedicure.

Then she started the process of a pedicure. I started feeling like a “girl.”

She was rather gracious, and knew exactly what she was doing and did a wonderful job with the pedicure. She cut my toenails like they have never been cut before. And, there was no blood!

I never had a pedicure before and really was not sure what to expect. Not only did she cut my toenails, but also she massaged my foot and my toes and they never felt better.

Every once in a while, she would say something in Vietnamese and everybody in the salon would look at me and then laugh. At first, I was laughing along with them. I do not know what I was laughing at. I do suspicion that I was laughing at myself.

It began slowly to dawn on me that perhaps she was making fun of my foot. Could it be she’s never seen a “non-girl foot?”

I was feeling a little strange and thought to myself that this will be the last time I ever come here. Then when they were laughing at one point, I thought of the money involved. By coming here to this nail salon, I was saving $275. It was then that I began to laugh, and laugh very loud.

When I went to the check out to pay for the pedicure the manager said to me, “Come back soon?” I just nodded my head thinking of the $275 I was saving. Going out the door, I found myself still laughing.

How to Live With a Veggie-Holic

In our house, not many conflicts expose themselves. For the most part, it is a very quiet and serene home occupied by two lovebirds.

I am not saying we are perfect. For we are not. The imperfect side of this marvelous relationship is Yours Truly. I was born imperfect and I have honored my birthright ever since.

I do not care what some may say about crazy people, I have enjoyed my craziness all my life. When you are perfect, you have to be careful that you do not make any mistake or act crazy.

When, however, you are imperfect and tilt towards the crazy side of life, your life is a joy. If you make a mistake, well, that is part of life. But on the positive side, when you do something right, you become the amazement of people around you.

So, our relationship in the Parsonage has been a very wonderful relationship. At least, from my side of the room. What the other resident says may be quite different.

We do make a great team, though. I can break anything and she can fix anything. How much better do you need to be?

When I make a mistake, she can correct me even in front of people. Now that is what I like. I would hate people to think I am stupid, crazy is one thing but stupid is something altogether different. And it is the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage that consistently rescues me from being stupid.

Being a non-perfectionist, I can enjoy every day of my life, no matter what happens or what doesn’t happen.

I cannot imagine what life is like for that person who is a perfectionist, like my wife.

She sees something that needs fixing, and she is busy trying to fix it.

If something is out of place, she is the first one to put it in its place. She has put me in my place for many years.

Few things we disagree on but there is one thing on top of that list. They can be boiled down into one word, Vegetables.

My wife loves vegetables almost as much as I love apple fritters. I do not think since the day she was born a day has passed without her consuming some kind of vegetable. She knows vegetables like I know apple fritters. There is not a vegetable known to mankind that she has not consumed.

Even for breakfast, she likes to sneak in some kind of vegetable. With my oatmeal, for example, she likes to sneak in a carrot. What in the world do carrots have to do with breakfast?

Her response to this is simply, “Vegetables are good for you and it’s good to start the day off with a vegetable.”

For her sake, I will grudgingly put up with some vegetables. Some vegetables, however, I will not put up with, I have made my stand strong through the years and I have not moved. Leading the list would be Broccoli.

Yes, I know all of the benefits of eating broccoli. My wife has told me this over and over throughout the years and I can repeat it verbatim.

My problem is, I do not believe what anybody says about broccoli. First, broccoli looks like a miniature tree that has not grown up yet. Who likes to eat trees?

There is no way to prepare broccoli that my wife does not already know. For years, she tried to entice me and con me into eating broccoli. I will fall for just about anything, except broccoli.

Every once in a while my wife will say, “What would you like for supper tonight?”

I do not pause, but immediately say, “Anything but broccoli.”

I have the same apprehension for broccoli as she does for apple fritters.

I believe that an Apple fritter is basically “a fruit.”

Once when I was trying to explain to her that an Apple fritter was a fruit she replied in disgust, “Anybody that believes that is just fruity.”

What she does not realize is, I do not mind being fruity. I would rather be fruity than eat any broccoli.

The question here is how do you live with someone who is such a veggie-Holic?

There could not be any bigger span of separation than between a veggie-holic and an Apple fritter fan.

Recently we have come to an amicable agreement, which simply is, she does not talk about broccoli and I do not talk about apple fritters. She does not believe what I say about apple fritters anyway. And, I do not believe what she says about broccoli.

So, we have learned to respect each other’s differences. That is what makes a relationship good. The only question I have is, and I don’t bring it up very often, does an Apple fritter smell as bad as broccoli cooking on the stove?

Looking back over our relationship very few things we disagree on and the things we disagree on are not that important that it should affect our relationship.

I love what that wise old prophet in the Old Testament said, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

It is not what we disagree on; rather, it is what we agree on that is important. If you are going in one direction, you must have the same opinion that it is the direction you are going.

Where’s Sherlock Holmes When You Need Him?

I, like so many people, love a good mystery. I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the Father Brown stories and other good mystery novels. I just like trying to solve a good mystery.

A good mystery does not reveal the mystery until the very end. All the way through the story, importance evidence points to that person and the other person and so forth. However, you must read the end of the story to find out the answer to the mystery.

Mysteries do not just exist in novels for short stories. In my case, mysteries are all through my life. I cannot manage one day without some kind of a mystery.

It is not because I am getting older either. As I remember my younger days, it too was filled with mysteries.

I remember that one Christmas Eve when I was going to solve the mystery of Santa Claus. I heard about this mysterious person, but I had never seen him and this Christmas, I promised myself, I am going to see who this Santa Claus really is.

That night my parents sent me and my brother and sister to bed early because it was Christmas Eve. We had our little party around the Christmas tree and admired where all the Christmas gifts should be come morning.

Then at the strike of 10 o’clock, we were sent to our bedrooms to await the coming of Santa Claus and the Christmas gifts. I decided to stay up and just see how Mr. Santa Claus worked his mystery on Christmas Eve.

Hiding in the shadows, I could see my mother and father around the Christmas tree drinking some Christmas punch, talking and laughing. They seemed to be having a good time. I was a little irritated because they were having a good time at my expense.

Then I heard my mother say, “Don’t you think it’s about time?”

My mother and father looked at each other and giggled one of those hilarious giggles. My father said, “It sure is. Let’s go and get them.”

At the time, I really did not understand what he was talking about. What were they supposed to go and get? Why won’t they get out of the way so Santa Claus can come and do his “thing?”

They soon disappeared and I got excited because I figured the next person coming into the living room would be Santa Claus himself.

I faintly heard from the hall, “Shhhhhh, we don’t want to wake up the kids.”

Then I saw something I never anticipated my whole life. My mother and father came into the living room carrying Christmas gifts and carefully placed them under the Christmas tree. They made several trips and it was not long before the Christmas tree was loaded with all kinds of Christmas gifts.

I just could not believe my eyes. For years, my parents told us the tale of Santa Claus along with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. They told it in such a way that I believed every word. Now, before me was evidence that what they were telling me all these years presented as a mystery, was not a mystery at all.

I just solved the biggest mystery in my life up to that point. My parents were Santa Claus. It was hard for me to swallow that information. It was not the mystery I wanted to solve.

Now I had another mystery on my hands. Do I tell my brother and sister that I had solved the biggest mystery we had in our home?

To reveal the mystery to them would give me great satisfaction.

On the other hand, to reveal the mystery to them would greatly disappoint them.

Now that I have solved that mystery, what do I do? Do I go for my satisfaction or do I protect my siblings from being disappointed?

It was then that I had solved the biggest mystery in life. That being, every mystery you solve presents a bigger mystery you cannot solve. That seems to be the way of life.

I am glad I learned that when I was young because it has been beneficial to me down through the years. I have learned to live with mysteries with no desire to uncover those mysteries.

When I say, “no desire,” I do not mean that literally. Yes, there have been many mysteries I have wanted to solve. But my biggest discipline is to let a mystery be a mystery.

This is so helpful to me, especially since I became a husband.

Every husband knows that his wife, as wonderful as she is, is a basket full of mysteries.

When I first got married, I thought my job was to solve every one of those mysteries. I learned very quickly that solving a marital mystery, particularly on the feminine side, is rather a dangerous venture with no good marks behind it.

Some things are better left in the mystery basket of life.

Financial Tip Of The Week: Pay Attention

Enjoying a casual evening at home, reclining in my favorite easy chair reading, while the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was chatting on the telephone. I seldom pay attention to phone conversations. After all, I only get one side of the conversation, which may be misleading at the very best. I’ve been caught in that trap before with some pretty dire consequences. I am not going to get caught again, if I can help it.

Then an odd phrase caught my attention: “plastic surgery.” My ears perked up and I heard my wife say, “I certainly agree with that article and I’m going to do some plastic surgery myself.”

Well, you can imagine what thoughts were racing through my head. When she hung up the telephone, I queried her about it.

In my book, plastic surgery is a big step.

“You do support me in this plastic surgery plan, don’t you?”

There are times to disagree with your spouse, but as a husband for over 45 years, I have never discovered that time. Forcing a smile, I nodded in the affirmative and told her she had my full support in whatever she decided.

I had to admit that the “time” had finally come to our humble abode. Who am I to fight it? I go by this motto, “He who smiles and agrees with his spouse lives to smile another day.”

I plan to smile until the day I die.

I never really thought about plastic surgery, but perhaps my wife was right. Perhaps she could use a little face-lift. For me to get a face-lift, the surgeon would need a huge construction crane. Then comes the awkward part, what do they do with my face after it was lifted?

Women, more than men, are a little sensitive about their appearance. For a man, “appearance” means he showed up. A woman has an altogether different approach to the term “appearance.”

Some women look in the mirror and see where some improvements could be made. For example, they see bags under their eyes that could not get through the airport carry-on luggage size requirement.

Then there is the problem with their nose, which could stand a little tweaking. For all practical purposes, one of those double chins has to go. Moreover, what woman couldn’t use a tummy tuck and other snippings of the flesh?

Believe me; I never would have brought it up, but if that makes my wife happy, then whatever it costs, we can put it on a credit card. The only problem with putting something like this on a credit card is that by the time you pay it off you need another procedure.

But, she is worth it in my checkbook. I have no compunction whatsoever of writing out that check.

Each day I checked the appointment calendar hanging on our refrigerator to find out when she would be going in for the surgery. Day after day, I looked, but could never find any appointment.

I supposed she was a little sensitive about the whole thing and did not want it staring at her day after day on the appointment calendar. Whatever the reason, she had my silent support, for all it was worth. I am sure she would do the same for me. That is what marriage is all about. Supporting one another in the developments of life, whatever that development might be.

I decided to tuck this little bit in the back of my mind and, however it developed would be all right with me.

One day this week, I went to the Slurp N’ Burp CafĂ© for a quiet lunch. The issue was far from my mind as I enjoyed a delicious lunch. As I finished my last cup of coffee, the waitress brought my bill and I pulled my wallet out to pay for it.

In searching my wallet for a credit card I discovered, much to my chagrin, that there were no credit cards to be found. Somehow, I had lost my credit cards. Perhaps, in the morning when I was getting dressed they dropped out of my wallet as I was placing it in my trousers.

The problem with that theory was that all the other cards in my wallet were intact.

Fortunately, I had my cell phone and called my wife.

“Honey, I’ve lost all my credit cards. I’m here at the restaurant and I can’t find any credit cards in my wallet. Do you have any idea what I did with my credit cards?”

“I cut them all up.”

“You did what?”

“You said you supported my plastic surgery plan, didn’t you?”

“But, I thought… ”

“You, thought what?”

Oh boy.

Dear reader: please disregard the first part of this column. If you happen to read my obituary in next week’s newspaper, you will know that my lovely, vivacious, eternally youthful wife did not disregard the first part and I’m currently Resting In Pieces.

I must confess that my hearing is good; it is my understanding that falls so far short. The only exercise I’m really good at is “jumping-to-conclusions.”

10 Ways to Save on Renters Insurance

When renting a new place there are so many things to think about and arrange, so often times renters insurance does not make the list. In fact, only 41% of renters obtain renters insurance.

Sometimes it is the amount of things already on the agenda that distract from the importance of renters insurance, but sometimes it is due to the lack of understanding. So, what exactly is renters insurance? Renters insurance is insurance to cover stolen or damaged belongings, since you are not covered under your landlord’s building insurance for these things. It also covers temporary living expenses and liability/medical bills.

Choosing a policy can also be confusing, so experts suggest that you take inventory of your valuable personal belongings and estimate their worth. It is also recommended that you round to the nearest 10,000, if possible to have a little cushion of coverage.

This may sound overwhelming, especially the price which is another reason why some renters may stray away from purchasing renters insurance. Here are some tips to ensure that you are getting the most affordable renters insurance.

Install a Fire Extinguisher, Smoke Detectors, Etc.

Adding these to your place reduces the likelihood of fire damage or at least extensive fire damage, so insurance companies are more likely to lower your premium when you have these features.

Invest in a Security System

Making additions to your residence that prevent break-ins lowers your premium. It also maintains your peace of mind as if a break-in occurs it violates your sense of safety.

Use One Insurance Provider

Often times when you stick to one insurer for all your insurance needs, they offer lower premiums.

Use Paperless Billing

Most insurance companies offer some sort of savings if you set up automatic payments or electronic billing.

Stay Claim Free

You may think this defeats the purpose of insurance since you are paying to be protected in the event of a mishap, but most companies offer a significant reduction in premiums for those who have not filed a claim in years.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is a fire, health, and budget hazard. Quitting smoking, although it may not be easy can save on renters insurance premiums, life insurance premiums, and your overall budget since cigarettes are extremely expensive.


A lot of the crowd that is renting right now is the elderly, especially those who desire moving closer to family. If you are due to retire, doing so may help you save. The way insurance companies see this is that you will be home more often to intervene with potential disasters, thus lowering your premium.

Switch Companies

Shop around for insurance to get the best rate, most say that seeking out at least three quotes and selecting the best price for your needs is beneficial. However, some companies offer discounts for sticking with them each year.

Pay for the Year in Advance

By selecting this payment option you can avoid the monthly bill processing fees of companies. If you need to cancel a policy do not fret about refunds, in most cases they refund the amount for the months left of the current year. But, be sure to check this ahead of time.

Increase Deductible

By increasing your deductible, it usually decreases your premium. But, be careful because you have to be prepared to pay this cost.

Renters insurance can be intimidating, but necessary when renting a home or apartment. Keep these tips in mind when selecting insurance to ensure the best price possible.

Not Everything in Life Is Automatic

Two days in the year I don’t like. Somebody is thinking it is my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary.

I worked that out a long time ago. My birthday is two days before the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and our anniversary is three weeks after our birthday. No way can I forget that.

When my wife gives me a birthday card with some gift it reminds me that I have two days to reciprocate. And reciprocate, I do very well. I love it when a plan comes together.

I remember my wife’s birthday and I remember our wedding anniversary, but more often than not, I cannot remember the years. I do not know how old my wife is. At least, that’s my story. And, I am not sure how long we’ve been married.

I know we have been married long enough to work out many things.

The two days I’m not very happy with are the days when we turn the clock forward an hour and then turn the clock backward an hour. I still do not know why in the world we do that. We gain an hour in the spring, but then we lose an hour in the fall. What’s the sense in all that?

I finally figured out what the sense of all that is. It is to confuse me, in particular. It is not that I am easily confused, but rather, I confuse easily. If that makes sense, I have a bridge I want to sell you.

Why would you want to gain something and then give it back a couple months later?

I grew up in the non-technical age. I had to wind my watch every day to make sure it had the right time. It was not like it is today worth the time is set automatically.

I look at my cell phone and the time is updated automatically. I look at our TV set and see that the time is updated automatically. I like that.

My problem is that I like it too much. I have become accustomed to things being adjusted automatically.

Now they have cars that part automatically and you can be sure I’m not going to buy one. I am satisfied with the automatic setting of my clock and TV.

When I was in high school, I worked part-time for a woman. I mowed the grass and cleaned inside the house. One big thing she had in the house was about 25 clocks. I’m serious. Twenty-five clocks that all had to be set manually.

The first time I did it, I did not realize that each clock was set differently. You go upstairs and the clocks were 15 minutes faster than the clocks on the first floor so she would not be late for an appointment.

Being my employer, it would have been nice for her to explain that to me. But, as most employers do, they do not explain everything to their employees.

I was the kind of employee that liked to impress my employer with how good I was.

It was in the fall and we were to set the clocks back one hour. I thought she would appreciate the fact that I went around and reset all 25 of her clocks. After all, I was doing something on my own that needed done.

The thing I did not know of course, the clocks were all set different on different levels of the house. I went around and set all 25 clocks to the same time. I was so happy.

I did not tell her because I wanted her to be surprised.

I was anxious to hear her commend me for a “job well done.” I was not prepared for what she was going to do.

When I arrived on her property, she comes out yelling and screaming at me at the top of her lungs. Trust me, she had lungs. At first, I could not understand what she was so upset about.

“Did you,” she said hysterically, “reset all the clocks in my house?”

I smiled back at her and said quite cheerfully, “Yes, ma’am, I did.”

Courtesy keeps me from quoting her right here. It was more than French she was yelling back at me.

I have never been yelled at so much in my life and I did not really understand why.

I stayed away from her for a couple of days and then I was working for her husband at his store. When I walked in, he looked at me and laughed hysterically.

I was not sure what he was laughing at that he motioned me to come over. So, I did.

“My wife,” he said between laughs, “told me what you did the other day.” Then he broke into some more hysterical laughter.

Why he was so cheerful about the incident was beyond me at the time.

Then he sat me down and explained the whole situation to me. I must confess when he finished telling me the whole story, I joined him in some hysterical laughter. We kept this to ourselves for as long as I worked there.

It Was a Gobble-Gobble Kind of Day

I do not know about anybody else, but I truly enjoy Thanksgiving Day. It is not just because of the turkey that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage prepares so brilliantly, although, I cannot think of any other reason.

Of course, there is the idea of family getting together. I enjoy that all the time. I like to hear the stories and get caught up with the latest happenings that have to do with my family.

I remember years ago good old Uncle Bud was my favorite uncle. He could tell a story that was so unbelievable that you ended up believing him.

Even today, I can remember some of the stories that he would tell and I could see now that he was exaggerating very well. I guess it’s in our family.

So, it is wonderful to get together with family and get up-to-date with all the happenings in our family.

However, when it comes to Thanksgiving, my focus is on the marvelous food. Everybody in the family is to bring their special dish to share with everybody else. Some are good at baking pies, some at doing vegetable dishes (although this year we were not allowed to use lettuce), some at casseroles and a host of other delicious delicacies.

Here’s what I like about a good old-fashioned family gathering at Thanksgiving. No matter what the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage says to me, I feel obligated to eat every dish brought in by a family member. After all, I surely do not want to embarrass anybody or shun them.

And, the best thing about this is, I need to have seconds and thirds and sometimes even more. After all, I do not want to offend anybody in my family.

I’m not sure, but I think everybody brought a pie. There were so many different pies on the table that I could not choose which one I wanted. Therefore, being the wonderful family person that I am, I took a slice of each.

My reasoning is simple, if it is a Thanksgiving dinner and the food is brought by family there absolutely no calories attached to it. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Although everything else was rather delicious, I must say that the turkey was magnificent. And, as you might know, my wife prepared that turkey.

She began the preparation for our Thanksgiving Day Turkey somewhere in August. There were some turkeys on sale and she scooped them up as much as possible. After all, she wanted to make sure she had enough turkey for everyone. And, according to her, it is against family rules to leave the family dinner without taking leftovers with you.

To prepare for this, the turkey had to be huge. That meant two and maybe even three turkeys to be prepared. It took her days to cook the turkey. Since I have no cookery imagination, I am not sure how she cooked it or how long it took her to cook it. All I know is, the kitchen smelled delicious for several weeks.

Please, do not let this get out. But she had one turkey that was done and she put it on the shelf to cool down a little bit before putting it in the freezer. I looked at it. I thought it looked back at me. I looked at it again and I got to the point of nonresistance. After all, why should I fight with the turkey?

Very carefully I sliced bits of turkey where I thought nobody would notice it and walked away munching on very delicious turkey. My problem was, the turkey was too delicious and I was too hungry. I went back several times and cut off just a little bit so nobody would notice. The nobody that I did not want to notice, of course, was my wife.

I happen to be chewing on a bit of turkey when the wife came into the room and asked the question she always asks me, “What are you eating?”

“Oh,” I said rather hesitatingly, “I’m just chewing on a little bit of meat I found in the refrigerator.” I thought that would solve the problem and for a while it looked like it did.

I just got seated in my chair when she, looking at the turkey, said, “Did you get a piece of this turkey to eat?”

When you’re found out, you’re found out. And trust me, I was found out.

Not all the lying in the world could get me out of this predicament that I was in.

I thought I had come to the end. She had caught me with turkey in my mouth. I was sure I was in some deep trouble.

Then she said something that totally surprised me. “How was that turkey? Was it any good?”

I like to take advantage of situations so I said, “That was the best turkey I have ever tasted in my life.”

With a smile, she turned and walked away. How I got away with that, I am going to have to ponder for quite a few days.

Be Sure Your Grin Will Find You Out

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and I appreciate it so very much. I recognize I’m difficult to purchase presents for because I have my books, my pens, what else do I really need?

Once in a while I get a Christmas present to beat all Christmas presents. This year was one of those “once in a while’s.”

It’s a pretty well known fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself differs when it comes to culinary likes and dislikes. How we got along for so many years is truly a miracle, I suppose.

She, for example, loves vegetables, particularly broccoli. (Excuse me, I need to go and wash out my mouth.)

On the other side of the table, I love Apple Fritters. (Excuse me, I need to relish the thought of an apple fritter.)

Throughout the year, she tries tricking me into eating vegetables. I’ll take so much, but then I draw a line in the sand. That sand sometimes gets a little disheveled and I know who is disheveling it.

I have tried to tell her that a good mother will make Apple Fritters for her family. She dismisses that and says quite emphatically, “No good mother will ever do anything of that nature. A good mother will make vegetables for their family.”

And so the “discussion” goes on and on.

We were watching the news as they were reporting on the funeral of the 41st President of the United States. Someone was giving some kind of a eulogy concerning that president and said something that caught my attention.

According to this eulogy, the 41st President hated broccoli. Let me repeat that, he hated broccoli, as well as all other vegetables.

I looked at my wife and said, “I’m in good company.”

She just dismissed that and went on with her work in the kitchen. I grinned a lot and relished the moment. I just don’t get too many moments like that.

Then, something wonderful happened.
Christmas cards were coming from family members all over the place. I think people send an early Christmas card to make sure we will return a Christmas card. I was opening the Christmas cards and came to one that made my Christmas the delight that it has become.

Some of my wife’s sisters were sending her throughout the year recipes from their mother in their mother’s own handwriting. I didn’t take much note to that because I’m not allowed in the kitchen to do any cooking.

Very nonchalantly, I was opening these Christmas cards and then I came upon “the” Christmas card. I noticed it was from my wife’s sister and as I opened it, there was a little card inside that made my life a true joy.

The sister was sending in her Christmas card one of their mother’s recipes written in their mother’s own hand. You will never guess what the recipe was in that card!

When I opened it up, I could not believe my eyes. My eyes have fooled me quite a bit down through the years, but this time I had to rub them several times in order to believe what I was seeing.

There in their mother’s own handwriting was her recipe for “Apple Fritters.” I had it in my wife’s mother’s own handwriting.

You can hardly imagine my joy. There is no Christmas joy equal to the joy I felt looking at this recipe.

Now, how was I going to present this to my wife and get all the benefit out of it?

I put all the cards back together and laid this particular Christmas card on the top. I invited my wife to come and sit down and look at some of the Christmas cards that had come from the family.

She sat on the couch and I gave her the Christmas cards and then returned to my chair to watch her opening up these Christmas cards. In the meantime, I had such a big grin on my face and I didn’t know how to hide it.

As my wife is opening up the Christmas card, she looked up at me and said, “What in the world are you grinning about?”

“I’m just having a happy Christmas season.”

Then she opened the Christmas card containing her mother’s recipe it her own handwriting for “Apple Fritters.” She just stared at it for a few moments and then looked up at me with one of her classic stares.

“What did you find?” I said as calmly as I could.

“You know exactly what I found.” She was quiet for a few moments as she looked at that handwritten recipe from her mother.

“So,” I said rather slowly, “when can we expect that recipe to be used in our kitchen?”

She looked at me, then look back at the recipe card and spontaneously we both burst out into hilarious laughter.

I don’t think I could have received a better Christmas present than that. Proof positive that good mothers do make Apple Fritters. Maybe there will be some changes in our kitchen.

It Was An Apple Fritter Kind Of Week

Have you ever had a week where everything went exactly as planned? Neither have I. Every week I start out believing this week is going to be different from all the other weeks of my life. If this has ever occurred, I cannot recall it.

Take last week, please! I start every week about the same. I meticulously prepare my weekly to-do-list. This is not to be confused with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage’s honey-do-list. Her list, and I learned this by experience, takes precedence over every other list in the world.

My weekly to-do-list is a very important part of my week. I chronicle everything needing accomplished during the week along with appointments with people that I need to see. With the religious ferocity of the Pharisee, I follow this list throughout the week and dutifully check off each item as it is completed. Then, Saturday evening I can look back with a great deal of satisfaction and see what I have accomplished.

Unfortunately, I can also look back on my list and see what I have not accomplished this week. With a deep sigh, I carry these items over to next week’s to-do-list. Just between you and me, some items I have carried over for 36 consecutive weeks. By this time, I usually drop the whole notion and get on with my life.

My philosophy is, if you aim at nothing; you will hit it every time. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but what I take away from it is simply that if I do not aim to do something I probably never will do it.

I live day by day by this weekly to-do-list. If it were not for this marvelous tool, I would never get anything done during the week. It is my great joy late Saturday night to work out the following week’s to-do-list.

Sometimes my wife will look at me, sigh and say, “You’re not working on your to-do-list, are you?” Then she says something that actually irritates me. Not everything she says irritates me, but this one does. “You know, if you would spend as much time actually doing those things as you spend planning to do them you might actually get something done during the week.”

I developed this to-do-list so I would not have to keep trying to remember what I was supposed to do during the week. They keep me free to think more creatively about things that need that kind of attention. All I had to do was consult my to-do-list and find out what needed to be done. After all, I don’t want to tax my brain too much. Who do you think I am? The government?

Then last week it happened. Something I had feared for many a year.

Tuesday morning I looked around for my to-do-list and the more I looked, the more elusive it was. I took a deep breath, trying to keep panic at bay because I knew that would not help me. Verging on frantic, I began searching the house.

“What are you looking for?” my wife asked. “Maybe I can help you find it.”

Now, I faced a very deep quandary. Do I confess to my wife that I lost my to-do-list? Or, do I forge ahead on my own hoping I will find it myself. Life is full of these deep, dark quandaries.

Finally, I confessed I had lost my to-do-list. Then she said, “Where did you have it last?”

If I knew that, I thought to myself, it would not be lost. I mumbled something along the line that I could not remember. At my age, not being able to remember comes with the territory.

“You didn’t have it in your shirt pocket, by any chance?”

Of course, I always have it in my shirt pocket. I never go out of the house without my to-do-list in my shirt pocket where it is readily accessible to me.

“You didn’t have it in the shirt pocket of the shirt you put in the laundry yesterday, did you?”

With that, she went to the washing machine, which had just finished its cycle and pulled out some of my shirts. She found a shirt with something in the pocket.

“Oh, here it is, in your shirt I just washed.” She pulled it out and began unfolding it and with a tone a little more sarcastic than I appreciate, she said, “My, your to-do-list is nice and clean.” Then she handed it to me.

With my to-do-list expunged, I had no idea what I needed to do for the rest of the week. It was then that I came up with a solution. If I do not know what I need to do this week, I will do the one thing I have been putting off a little too long.

I went to the Publix bakery and ordered myself, not one, but two Apple fritters. One for myself and one for my guilty conscience. That should teach someone a lesson.

Just when you think everything is going your way, something happens to prove otherwise. A verse in the Bible says this, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Thankfully, I always have a backup plan. Nothing takes my mind off the contingencies of life like a warm, freshly baked Apple fritter.

Since 1997, Rev. James L. Snyder has written a weekly religion/humor column, “Out To Pastor,” syndicated to over 300 newspapers and many websites. The Rev. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 30 books altogether.

James L. Snyder was given an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) by Trinity College in Florida. His weekly humor column, “Out To Pastor,” is syndicated to more than 325 weekly newspapers.

I Thought But Then I Unthought

Looking back over my life I honestly can say, giving it a great deal of thought, the biggest problem I have is when I actually think. Thinking can get me into more trouble than anything else I do.

This was no more evident than recently we got a phone call from the bank. I hate it when the bank calls because they never call to wish me happy birthday or wonder how in the world I am doing today. They always have an agenda. Usually, that agenda has to do with my money.

When I answered the phone all I could say was, “Here we go again.”

Much to my relief it was not about my account, but rather it was the bank account of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I cannot tell you the smile that slapped itself all over my face when I heard this.

Immediately I called my wife to the phone and said, “It’s your bank calling you about your account.” Smilingly I handed the phone to her.

For years, we have had separate accounts and it has worked out rather well. I remember when we first were married we had a joint account and it was always getting messed up. We had two checkbooks for the same account, which did not make any sense at all. Everything was messed up and checks bounced all over the place.

To solve this dilemma we decided to have our own checking account in separate banks. I am not quite sure about her account, but the checks keep bouncing in my account and I am not exactly sure why.

The bank was calling my wife because there had been a suspicious activity on her account. I thought about telling them that other activity on her bank account was also suspicious, but sometimes I know when not to speak.

According to the bank, my wife bought a package of wine costing $600 and they were wondering if she was buying it for the church communion service. I heard my wife laugh and figured out there is something going on. We do not use wine in our communion service, we use grape juice. However, the bank did not know why my wife was buying wine.

The only wine in our house is me, who whines all the time and believe me, according to my wife, my whining is very intoxicating. At least to her it is.

We finally had to go down to the bank and try to sort this mess out. My wife tried to tell them that she did not make such a purchase.

I would like to tell you how delighted I was to go to the bank with her and see her in a dilemma that I did not create. I know I create a lot of dilemma in our home. The fact that we been married as long as we have been married says a lot for her tolerance of whiny old people like me.

“We did not think,” the bank manager said to my wife, “that you were buying wine like this. We thought perhaps you might have been buying wine for the church communion service.”

All three of us laughed a very hearty laugh because she knew we did not use wine in our communion service.

However, the truth of the matter was, there was this activity on her account in the amount of $600. My surprise was that she had that much money in her account. I scratched my head a bit and thought, where did she get all that money? Immediately I had to unthought that and get back to the basics of our visit here in the bank.

The bank manager got out all of the paperwork with this transaction.

The first thing of note was that it took place in a liquor store in Southern California where my wife had never been.

My wife looked at me and said sarcastically, “Why are you smiling?”

I thought about telling her, but then I unthought that and got back to the details of the transaction.

In looking at that transaction, the bank manager happened to notice that it was on a particular Sunday when it took place. That Sunday my wife was in church. In fact, the time of the transaction was when my wife was playing the organ.

“Can you verify that she was playing the organ at that time?” The bank manager asked me.

A thought that came into my mind was to tell the bank manager that my wife was so talented that she could be in two places at the same time. After further thought on that, I unthought that idea.

The bank manager finally took care of that transaction and we were able to leave the bank knowing us, or rather she, was free from that transaction. I did not say anything on the way home, but I was smiling on the inside.

Thinking can be a very hazardous occupation, but I was reminded what Paul said. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

I am trying to learn to think about important things and not things that are negative and damaging.

Since 1997, Rev. James L. Snyder has written a weekly religion/humor column, “Out To Pastor,” syndicated to over 300 newspapers and many websites. The Rev. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 30 books altogether.

James L. Snyder was given an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) by Trinity College in Florida. His weekly humor column, “Out To Pastor,” is syndicated to more than 325 weekly newspapers.