In the Shadows of Christmas Eve

Shadows marched back and forth in the hall . . .

Such a dark room; I wasn’t asleep, and I wasn’t alone.

Were the others also open-eyed and alert, faking slumber?

Who were the others? Memory fails me. All of the California family on my mother’s side had gathered for Christmas on the ranch. Or, as I called it when a child, “Grandma and Grandpa’s farm.” On that way-back-when gathering, all the west-coast siblings were together. For me, they were the best aunts and uncles in the world. My cousins were also there. Our collective numbers challenged the limits of our grandparents’ house.

Who was jammed into the room with me?

Was it just us guys? Did the girl cousins have their own room or were we kids divided by age or matched by happenstance?

I can’t remember.

But who cares about roommates when it’s Christmas Eve? What I do recall is that I was a “loser:” no bed for me! Instead, in my jammies, and with a full tummy after one of Grandma’s endless meals, I was delegated to the floor. Continue reading →

Advent’s Beginning Again

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ . . .”

In my beginning . . . I wanted to be a cowboy.

Enthralled by Roy Rogers’ heroics, I longed to ride horses and lasso the bad guys.

The Roy Rogers I wanted to emulate lived in a black & white televised world between his ranch house and the “wild” outdoors where dangerous events (like bad guys doing nasty things) happened. But all was resolved in a tidy half-hour. Yup, pardner, I sat transfixed on many Saturday mornings in the 1950s, figuratively galloping across the west with Roy. He, astride Trigger. Me, at the edge of the sofa.

Giddy-up! Continue reading →

The Dude With the Official Card

Several years ago, I earned my official card.

But, then and now, I hope the time to use the learnings from my earnings never arrives.

The card? It’s similar to a regular business card or like one of those coupons a pizza joint provides for a free family-sized pie after ten purchases. It has a white background with tiny black lettering. There’s a distinctive red symbol on the left side. Underneath Larry Patten (yes, my name) and next to the Red Cross’ red cross are the fancy words, “has completed the requirements for CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and the Healthcare Provider.”

After an 8-hour Red Cross training session, I can perform CPR. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. And I know how to use the AED device. Automated External Defibrillator. The AED—modest in size, mighty in purpose—sends an electrical shock into the body. Used properly, an AED can be the literal heartfelt difference between life and death.

At least, that’s what the card with smallish print claims is now part of my skill-set. But I beg you, please don’t collapse onto the recently mopped floor of the local mall, unconscious and unresponsive while doing your holiday gift buying. Yikes! Other shoppers might gawk or scurry away. But I’m the dude with the official card.

Or would that be dud?

I did pass that test! I do know the drill! Continue reading →