Category: Holidays

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

–Genesis 3:19

and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

The first time I remember hearing the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” was when Princess died.

Princess was a pet cat, circa 1968-approx. 1971. I don’t remember that much about her other than she was gray, and I don’t recall having a particular fondness for her, although I’m sure I liked her well enough.… Read the rest

A Close Encounter of the Cupid Kind

Yesterday I went to Sam’s, as if on cue, because rumor had it that they had red tulips in a large, festive red pot for ONLY $21.99.

Once inside, I was surrounded by a throng of panic-stricken males, their eyes ablaze in full pre-Valentine’s Day buying frenzy. Keeping my cool, I decided to take my typical detour through electronics to see “Wassup?” before heading over to the tulip department (I am a guy, right?).

Right there, between the Bose speakers and the iPods, was a full display of various women’s perfumes and cosmetic bags. Over by the 60″ plasmas, a large sign read: Guys, this Valentine’s Day, give her what she really NEEDS.… Read the rest

National Signing Day (College Football, Not the Language Kind)

For hardcore Southerners, National Signing Day in college football ranks right up there with Christmas, Confederate Memorial Day and Mardi Gras on the holiday scale.

It’s the day when 18-year-old player prospects, typically endowed with more brawn than brains, play king for a day by holding nationally-televised press conferences at which they very slooowly look over the collection of ball caps bearing the logos of their various suitor schools until finally they reach–or wait, maybe not!–for The One and plop it on the ol’ noggin, much to the delight of their classmates, coaches, parents, siblings and long string of cousins who have gathered for the big event.… Read the rest

Rosa to MLK to JRB–Justice Rollin’ On Like A River

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

–Amos 5:24

Regular readers know him as JRB. He’s a Harding grad like me and the most prolific commenter on this blog, the one whose fervent man-passion for his beloved ‘Dores and his meticulous command of the King’s English often get him into a scrap or two with my Bama-lovin’ alter ego, Mike the Redneck.

And through the power of the written word, a cell phone speed dial and a few blessed opportunities to break bread together, he has become one of my best friends and confidantes in the world and the “little brother” I never had.… Read the rest

Revisting Those Top Ten 2008 Anti-Resolutions

Well, it’s the last day of 2008; tis the season for end-of-the-year reviews. Remember those Top Ten Anti-Resolutions that I made back on January 1st? Maybe we ought to check in and see how much regress I made in doing those things “that I know, absolutely without a doubt, I will never, ever do this year…”

1) Serve on another committee. No problemo, 100% failure on this one. That Machiavellian committee experience back in 2007 got that little itch out of my system for decades to come. I fastidiously avoided large rooms with conference tables and PowerPoint projectors or any situation where more than 2-3 people were gathered together gesticulating madly while arguing over petty politics and personal agendas.… Read the rest

Epidemic Ocularis Hyperlacrimus

If you and your family are casting about looking for something to do this holiday season, take them to see the movie “Marley and Me”–it’s a good old-fashioned emotional flogging they’ll never forget.

Owen Wilson is surprisingly sober, Alan Arkin is a cuddly curmudgeon, Kathleen Turner is downright scary and Jennifer Anniston shows off more range of emotion than skin for once. And Marley (well, Marleys since 22 different yellow labs were used in the film) is a charming rascal of a mutt.

Warning: It may be inappropriate for a large majority of pre-tweeners due to the emotional intensity.… Read the rest

A “Thin Place”–Right Hand Side, Two Thirds Of The Way Back

“Our pew” is on the right hand side, two thirds of the way back. That’s where we always sit when we attend Christmas Eve services at our second church home, Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Huntsville. I’ve written of our experiences there before, and as longtime readers know, that’s our refuge where we occasionally go in order to escape the tyranny of the modern (e.g. PowerPoint!) and surrender instead to the power and holy mysteries of the liturgy.

Picture in your mind the quintessential Christmas Eve setting: an old, storied building topped with a 150 foot Gothic Revival spire reaching toward the heavens, the nave bathed in soft candle light and bedecked with festive, seasonal greenery, a 12-foot Christmas tree near the front, beckoning with a thousand starry lights.… Read the rest

My Facebook Status Update (If I Had One)

My Facebook status update (if I had one) would probably read something like this:

“Mike is really digging ‘Straight No Chaser’ right now.”

Not the drink (although my father-in-law, bless his heart, did slip me a little shot of whiskey last night after I threw out my back pulling down the stairs to the attic), but the a cappella music group which is all the rage after their Youtube video spoof of “Twelve Days of Christmas” recorded 10 years ago when they were all in college at Indiana University (Hoosiers do music?) went hog-viral last year about this time.

That led to a group reunion, a recording contract with Atlantic Records and a new Christmas album “Holiday Spirits” which I downloaded from Amazon Saturday and, as my hypothetical Facebook status says, am “really digging.”… Read the rest

Ancient Fire, Forever Sacred


My first patient was already in the chair at around 8:05 yesterday morning when an electronic sensor at the Monroe Street substation near the downtown library detected a problem with the transformer and proceeded to shut down the power to approximately 20,000 customers, from Monte Sano Mountain in the east, to Research Park in the west and south to Airport Road.

But I didn’t know that at the time. When the power shut down, I’d been microwaving my morning vitamin drink, a staple during the winter months when I’m daily assaulted by the medical dictionary’s worth of viruses that my patients exhale into the office air.… Read the rest

A Very Special “Kitchen Sink Christmas”

I broke through the Marvin-induced writer’s block last week and managed to turn in my last Huntsville Times community column before the deadline.

It wasn’t easy, though. But I just sat down and forced myself to brainstorm through the dusty annals of Christmases past for that just-perfect Yuletide memory to share in what I envision as a sort of coup de grace of a grand finale.

Come Sunday, check back here and watch me wrap up paganism, death, evolution, guns, whoopee-makin’, spittin’, a balding, 40-year-old man armed with a pitch pipe and an attitude, a Bible-bangin’, red-faced Church Lady (think Dana Carvey in SNL), the, ahem, “fruit of the vine” and a “par-tri-udge, in-uh, pear-treeee” into a neat package and top it off with a big red bow.… Read the rest

Iron Bowl Day in Southwest Virginia

It’s Iron Bowl day in Southwest Virginia, and I feel like I’m in a foreign country.

It’s a long way from Tuscaloosa, but I talked with Number One Son a few moments ago and he’s there, primed and ready. He promised me that he will have no voice at the end of this game and that regardless of what happens, he will probably cry.

Here’s to tears of joy.

My heart stopped this morning when I looked at the TV listings in the sports page of The Roanoke Times and saw the Houston v. Rice game listed on CBS instead of the Iron Bowl.… Read the rest

British Emily Gets A Little Cheeky

I’m pleased to report that we made it to Grandma’s house in Virginia, GPS notwithstanding.

I thought I would spice things up a bit for the trip by switching from “American Jill” to “British Emily.” Nothing personal against Jill, mind you, but I’ve always been something of an Anglophile, gravitating toward C.S. Lewis, Manchester United, James Bond and the like.

I felt downright sophisticated traveling up the interstate with British Emily’s smooth, cultivated King’s English guiding my every turn. She practically paid for herself just west of Knoxville when she nailed that Mellow Mushroom, one of our family favorites and the unofficial pizza of Southeastern Conference Football, just seconds before we would have passed that exit by.… Read the rest