Faith: December 2008 Archives

Christmas 2008

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Christmas 2008 so far:

On the way to work the morning of the 24th, I spotted water flowing out from our street onto the nearest arterial. I doubled back and saw that the source a couple of springs emerging from cracks in the concrete. I called my wife, who called the Mayor's Action Center. She had everyone get an early bath, washed dishes, stockpiled water in pitchers and bathtubs, figuring we'd be without water for a day or so while the city fixed the leak. In fact, we never lost water -- upstream from the leak, evidently. When I returned from shopping, they were excavating across nearly the full width of the street. By the time we got back from church, the leak was nearly repaired. By the time the children were in bed, they had temporarily filled in the hole with mud and gravel, and it was open to traffic. Kudos to the city workers who got the job done quickly and with as little disruption as possible.

I left work early that day and did some last-minute shopping. I needed to go to Best Buy for a camcorder battery and a couple of other things. Rather than head to 71st and US 169, the nearest store to the office, I opted to visit the newest Best Buy in the new Tulsa Hills shopping center. It was a longer drive, but the traffic wasn't as bad and the stores, while busy, weren't absolutely packed. While there, I stopped at Lowe's for a couple of gift cards, at Radio Shack, and at Books-A-Million. Books-A-Million is new to the Tulsa market, well-organized, open late, and has an in-store coffee shop. I picked up a book for each of the kids, as well as a cool world map puzzle which has separate pieces for each country.

We went to the 6 pm service at Christ Presbyterian Church. Scripture readings were interspersed with carols. Carols were accompanied by our orchestral ensemble; my wife was the lone violin. The pastor offered a brief Christmas eve meditation. After the service we chatted with friends before heading home.

The kids opened their Christmas pajamas and robes -- it was a Christmas tradition when I was a kid to get new PJs on Christmas Eve. After getting dressed in them, they finished hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree and helped tidy up the living room. Just before bed our 12-year-old read the Christmas story from The Advent Book, a beautifully illustrated book with a page for each day, showing a door. Open the door, and you see a part of the text of the Christmas story, with pictures. It was a gift from my parents a few years ago, and it's now a part of our family tradition.

Little Brother and Big Sister serenaded us, too:

Our almost-three-year-old left some sugar cookies on a plate for Santa, which we placed on the hearth. (He made the sugar cookies with grandma at her house a couple of days earlier.) The kids were finally in bed at about 10:45, with the understanding that they couldn't come into the living room until 9 the next morning. The two younger ones went to sleep to Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas album.

And so to bed... for the children anyway.

The next morning at 9 or so, the kids came in to see what Santa Claus had left in their stockings. Rather than making them wait until after breakfast, we let them go ahead and open the gifts under the tree, too.

We spent the afternoon at my parents' house, where we had Christmas dinner (ham and sweet potatoes) and opened more presents. Little Brother got Grandpa to read him his Cars book.


Our almost-three-year-old is good at expressing gratitude. Several times, unbidden and unprompted, he said, "I always wanted a [whatever he'd just opened]," followed by a kiss on the cheek to the giver.


Before we left, Dad showed us a gift from his brother: A DVD transfer of 8mm home movies from the late '50s and early '60s. Although most of the film was shot before I was born, the people and places and activities hadn't changed that much by the time of my earliest memories a few years later. My grandmother (she wasn't in many shots, so I assume she was running the camera) captured a lot of family times together: Playing croquet in the yard, eating homemade ice cream on the patio under the shade of the pecan trees, celebrating birthdays, Christmas, and Easter, watching parades in downtown Nowata. Of course, there were plenty of shots of Dad, then a skinny 20-something, clean-shaven and with a crew cut. Quite a contrast with the guy who can today pass for a certain right jolly old elf.

Next stop was my sister's house and a chance for my kids and hers to spend some time together. It was exciting to see my dad in a photo on the front page of the daily paper. A story about him was in last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly, and he had been on KVOO Tuesday morning, hearing what listeners wanted for Christmas. The story in the Tulsa World was about generous giving to the Neediest Families Fund -- a program started by the late, lamented Tulsa Tribune -- and how donors had helped meet specific needs.

Earlier in the month, there was a story about Margie Edwards, an 11-year-old girl who used to receive visits from Santa every year, but her Santa, her stepfather, had been shot and killed this summer. A Santa in California had gotten wind of the story and contacted my dad to see if he could visit Margie this year.

The story about Santa's visit to Margie, written by Jarrel Wade, was well done and accurate. Wade wrote: "After reading about the family's struggles in the Tulsa World, an anonymous donor made sure Santa knew to visit Margie this Christmas to bring her presents." But the caption under the photo read: "A concerned donor from California called and paid Santa to show up at the Reeds' house."

While Dad is compensated for his work at private parties and public events, he would never accept pay for humanitarian appearances such as this one or his visits to the children's ward at the hospital. He sent a polite e-mail to the reporter to let him know about the inaccuracy and received a reply that the a correction would run, which happened the next day. Dad wasn't too bothered by it, but at least one employee of the paper was rather troubled by the mistake. Understandably so: One inaccuracy of that sort by a line editor erodes the credibility that other employees are working hard to rebuild. It wasn't just an error.

Even if Santa had been paid to appear (which is not the case), it's unnecessarily ugly to say so bluntly. Saying that the donor "arranged for Santa to show up" acknowledges the donor's thoughtfulness without raising questions in young minds about Santa's financial dealings.

But the matter was quickly passed over, as the kids went upstairs to play the new edition of Guitar Hero. My sister and I got roped in to do vocals with the band. The vocalist has to match the pitch of the original (although they seem to be ok with raising or lowering it an octave). She did a creditable job on "Beat It." I got 93% on "La Bamba" (the Los Lobos version), but didn't do quite as well on "On the Road Again" and "Ramblin' Man." I considered trying The Doors' "Love Me Two Times" -- I thought I could match Jim Morrison's croony baritone -- but I thought the lyrics might be too suggestive for the audience. I tried my hand at drumming on "Sweet Home Alabama" but stunk.

We had a great time playing a game called "Bananagram." Like Scrabble, it involves letter tiles and building crosswords, but there's no board. You work independently, arranging and rearranging your letters to use them all up in a connected set of valid crossword words. I ruled at this, winning most of the hands, but I had tough competition. I was especially proud of using "oxcart," "goiter," and "quince" in various puzzles. (The word "quince" was acquired from a Reader Rabbit game -- they used it in a game as a food that started with the letter "Q". "Quince -- it's a fruit.")

More later. Hope your Christmas was merry, too.

There are over a million orphaned children in Russia. One of them is named Losha Sokolov. He is 12 years old, and he lives in an orphanage in Chuvashia. As a 10 year old, he came on his own to the orphanage, where he hoped to have clothing and food.

A Pawhuska family hosted Losha early in November for 10 days as part of a program of the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project. Jacky and Marie Payton had two boys of their own, then six years ago they adopted two brothers and a sister, all under the age of three. They had no intention of adding to their family when they agreed to host Losha, but the whole family fell in love with him and are seeking to bring him back to Pawhuska for good.

There's a catch: $45,000 in adoption-related fees and another $15,000 in travel expenses.

They raised over a thousand dollars at a fundraiser over the weekend. Their oldest boy, Garrett, is willing to sell his palomino horse and auction off the '65 Mustang that his father has been saving for him in order to reach the goal.

You can learn more about the Paytons and how you can help them bring Losha home on their website, There's a blog where you can follow their progress.

MORE: The Paytons and Losha were featured in this story in the Bigheart Times and in this article in the Tulsa World.

Several Russian orphans will be coming to Tulsa for a 10-day visit in January. If you'd like to host one of them, contact the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project for details.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from December 2008.

Faith: November 2008 is the previous archive.

Faith: January 2009 is the next archive.

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