Woodchuck chuck

cartoon of a man interrogating a woodchuckI’m not sure which came first; my idea or the Geico commercial. But both make me laugh after all this time. Now after playing the commercial, I have a voice to go with the little critter. 

Taking Playground Safety Seriously

Cartoon of a business man jumping off a swing

Cartoon of a business man jumping off a swing. The caption says, “Playground tester, Cyrus Kolter demonstrates his graceful form as he jumps off a swing.”

My dad is an insurance guy. He spent his career as an underwriter. He sees safety hazards wherever he goes. Sometimes, that didn’t make trips to the playground fun. I didn’t realize the curly slides could be such a death trap.

All the same, he taught me to pay attention to my surroundings. Too many times, we assume a playground, a school or any public place is safe. While officials like Cyrus Kolter do their best to make these places attractive and without hazards, It’s always a good idea to pay attention and survey the area instead of plunging right in to that merry-go-round of misery.

Have fun, people! But play it safe too!

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Seven Easy Tips to Nurture Giving in Your Child

Christmas cartoon of a boy at a fast food restaurant

Cartoon of a boy at a fast food restaurant. He asks a worker, “My dad hates gift cards. Can you wrap up a hamburger in festive paper and a bow?

Our children are assaulted with a flood of commercials this time of year. They have seen so many toy commercials, they could probably quote them back to you verbatim. What do you do when everything around your children screams greed and you want to teach them to be giving?

My local paper had a great article by Kathy Schwartz entitled 10 Perfect Gifts Parents Can Give. That got me thinking about ways parents and teachers can teach how to be giving.

Here are seven easy tips:

  1. Volunteer at a community center.
    1. Perhaps there is a soup kitchen, homeless shelter or women’s shelter that would welcome your help.
    2. Be sure it is okay to bring your kids. Also you will need to discern if your kids are mature enough to be a help instead of a distraction.
  2. Find a service that gives gifts to those less fortunate. Two great ones are:
    1. Operation Christmas Child
    2. Angel Tree.
  3. Have your children participate in gift giving for relatives. The family can brainstorm what a grandparent, aunt or uncle wants. It doesn’t have to be store-bought. A homemade ornament can be just as meaningful if there is some thought put into it. (try to get beyond gift cards. It’s just too easy to grab a handful of these guys. Wrapped hamburgers also aren’t a good idea!)
  4. Have the family make and decorate Christmas cookies for the neighbors. The kids can decorate Christmas cookies with icing. The kids can also help deliver the gifts door-to-door.
  5. Team together with a family or with your church to sing Christmas carols door-to-door. Your church or religious institution probably has a list of elderly members that would love to hear some Christmas cheer.
  6. Attend a church service to remind everyone the reason for Christmas. Many churches have a Christmas Eve service.
  7. Read the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-20.
    1. Talk about what the stable would have looked and smelled like.
    2. Why would the king of the world choose to come to earth in such a humble way?
    3. What would Mary and Joseph have felt when all these events occurred?

Try some of these techniques to get the focus off of the gift-getting and onto being generous.

 

Why Christmas plays are hard work

Cartoon of a boy in a shepherd costume and a teacher at a Christmas play

 

Cartoon of a boy in a shepherd costume and a teacher. The boy says, “You call this a Christmas play? There is no playground and you’re putting us to work!”

I am a big fan of A Charlie Brown Christmas. We’re the same age. We both came to this world in 1965. I’ve been in my share of Christmas plays and they always seemed as chaotic as the one Charlie Brown is directing. And I’ve always been tempted to break out of character and just dance in the middle of the play.

Christmas plays are hard work because you have to act A LOT when you’re in one. You have to pretend that boy who you know is a practical joker is Joseph. You have to pretend the girl who kicked you in the shins during recess is Mary. Then YOU have to pretend you are somber and just seen a platoon of angels when you know full well it was the Smith triplets in bath robes.

Christmas plays are also hard work because we can’t get our head around the notion God came to Earth as a baby to a poor family and was born in a barn. Lets face it. If we were God, WE wouldn’t want to be born in a barn and we’d want more than some smelly shepherds to visit us that first night.

Those Christmas plays are just hard work!

 

 

How can you be good at Christmas?

Cartoon of a boy and an annoyed girl

 

Cartoon of a boy sticking out his tongue and an annoyed girl. The girl says, “How do you expect me to be good for Christmas with him in the same room?”

It’s not easy, is it? I’m ashamed to say I was probably that antagonist to my sisters a few times. If I could go back in time thirty years ago and advise my sisters, I’d say, “Just stay away from that guy. And if he persists, remind him he’ll be on the naughty list before you will.” If he believes he is already on the naughty list, remind him there is grace. Yes, Santa gives grace to, but don’t push it!