Herald Journal Columns
Nov. 25, 2002 Herald
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Not quite Christmas without that tree


Two years ago, I hauled my kids into Howard Lake in the evening.

They were unfamiliar with Howard Lake, since I just accepted the job here.

I pulled into town and approached the downtown intersection ­ driving under the suspended Christmas tree.

Their eyes bulged agog, and they twisted around in their seat belts.

"LOOK AT THAT!" exclaimed my son. "WOW!," my daughter said. The excitement was surprising.

They talked about that Christmas tree for weeks, in wonderment that such a thing could be.

After all, not many towns have a Christmas tree floating above traffic.

I will never forget their reaction to that tree. It was wonderful.

Now, this year, the tree is anchored to the ground, north of the library. It looks a little forlorn, and dog-eared, too.

Isn't that where trees are supposed to be, on the ground?

Strangely, I am sad that it isn't where it really belongs ­ in the air, greeting traffic and busy holiday travelers.

It just isn't Christmas in Howard Lake without it.

The little boy union

My son is so gifted that he can make his sister mad without even being in the same room.

He did this feat about two weeks ago, when he arrived home from school.

She was waiting dutifully at home to babysit him.

There he was, fresh from the bus and with his backpack.

He refused to come through the side door when the front door couldn't be opened (we have a tricky lock there).

So there he stood, at our front door, waiting for the maid to open it (our daughter).

Well, this "maid" wasn't going to give him the pleasure of it all, so she let him stand there for a while. Then she called me at work.

I ended up yelling at him to get his derriere into the side door, and stop teasing his sister, but not before she was having a nervous breakdown of sorts.

(Incidentally, yelling at your kids into a little cell phone is a different kind of experience, since I'm not used to them quite yet).

I am sure there is a "Little Boy Union" somewhere, that is secretly measuring the success of that one, and informing each member with notes.

On a much more

serious note . . .

Switching gears, I have been reading books on the Civil War.

"Can you actually sit down and do something?" asked my co-worker Julie Yurek. She knows I'm a squirrel and can't sit still for a minute.

Well, I manage to do it after the kids are sleeping and I wind down at night, before bed. Somehow.

Lucky thing this particular war happened more than 137 years ago, or I wouldn't be able to read it.

Remember, this is the only war where we fought ourselves.

During this war, Christian American farmers were fighting against other farmers (fifty percent or more of soldiers listed farming as a vocation on both sides).

These men used bayonets regularly and would shoot lead balls for bullets. Very destructive and gruesome.

Wildfires happened quite often with the kind of firearms used in those days.

The gun powder and whatnot would cause sparks that started fires that actually burn wounded men to death, while they were lying in the field. . . unable to move out of danger because a musket ball blasted away their body parts.

Remember also that medicine was in its infancy.

In fact, men would regularly cheer each other when they witnessed acts of valor on the other side.

This occurred during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, when Confederate troups witnessed Union men crawling onto a very active open battlefield, trying to drag their wounded back behind lines. They were cheering for the Union soldiers because of their bravery! Isn't that something?

A Confederate colonel tied a kerchief to his gun, and called a temporary truce at this time, because the Confederates could also see that a wild fire started where the Union wounded were lying.

"Come and remove your wounded, they are burning to death," shouted Colonel William Martin to the Union troops. He tied a kerchief to his musket, and there was silence for a small segment of a battle line that was several miles long in Tennessee.

A Union major presented Martin with a pair of matched Colt revolvers in gratitude during the battle.

Then, the battle continued, with Martin being severely wounded soon afterward.

Blessed be their memory.

Quotes that are worth repeating

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being, hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

-Erma Bombeck

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.

-Lily Tomlin

Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.

-Caryn Leschen

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