"I LOVE Thanksgiving—-

I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the Christmas season with its “peace-on-earth” and ‘”joy-to-the-world” messages and Santa Claus, and elves and Christmas lights and all that comes with the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. Most of all, I love the “reason for the season”—acknowledging the birth of Christ.

I also am fully aware of the pressure and stress Christmastime can bring to so many; the homeless, the unemployed, those with serious illness, and especially the parents with no money who desperately want Santa to visit their house on Christmas Eve. Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the “real world” has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. Single parents have a double whammy. They are missing a spouse to vent with. This I shall address in a week or so. But, for now, it is Thanksgiving week.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. To me it IS the best day of the year. Why? Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. It is a beautiful thing.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher

"Hooray for Kelly Ripa and All You Women Who Agree With Her"

Television hostess, Kelly Ripa, of “Live with Regis and Kelly”, when asked for her thoughts about women picking up the tab after a dinner date said, “I’m sure a lady doesn’t want to pick it up. But because she thinks chivalry is dead already, maybe the guy should impress her and pick up the check. And maybe pull out her chair, too.” She added, “Any feminist who disagrees with me, I am sorry, but it’s gone ridiculous now. We give birth; you pick up the check.” Ripa also said that she tells her husband, “Raise your sons to pick up a check for a lady.”

Within a few hours the women’s website, Jezabel, slammed Ripa for her “antiquated social extremism”. WHAT? Are you kidding me? The writer was outraged, “A woman can buy a man’s meal any damn time she wants to—Ladies DO want to pay. Yours truly wants to pay, likes to pay, plans on paying etc, etc.”

So where do these diverse views from women leave us men in these modern times? How are we supposed to know what will happen to us if we have the temerity to hold a door open for a woman or offer her a seat on a bus or maybe offer to help her with her overflowing grocery cart while she is trying to lift her toddler out of its seat? Are we going to be thanked or cursed? Are we going to be accused of being one of those defiled
 “male chauvinists”? (FYI ladies: there are actually very few true “male chauvinists”. But it is sure a handy stereotype). We men do not know what to expect anymore. As for me, I DO NOT like it.

I come from a world where a boy was taught to do these things. I can remember men walking down the street and tipping their hats to ladies as they passed by. It was a sign of respect and the ladies ALWAYS nodded and smiled. We men view women as needing to be “looked out for”, protected, as wanting a strong shoulder readily available to “cry on”. It is our nature. We are somehow genetically programmed to want to take care of you.  It has nothing to do with mental acuity. In the IQ world many women are smarter than men. Women today are doctors, lawyers, politicians, successful entrepreneurs, accountants, IT experts, etc. Surprise ladies, men respect that. Most men also believe that women should get equal pay for doing similar jobs. But men DO NOT believe that women should become like men and strip us of who and what we were meant to be and mask it under the guise of equality. There are women out there who actually have this twisted notion that fathers are unnecessary. Just go to a sperm bank—who needs a stupid man. WHATEVER. If I were to pull your chair out at a restaurant it would be out of respect not because I would think I was better than you or was trying to control you or dominate you. I find it hard to believe that I  am actually explaining this but this is where our minds have gone.

Lord knows, I NEVER wanted to give birth to any of my children. But I sure loved being there to take care of and protect my wife and to hold my kids and feed them and even change their dirty diapers. I loved watching them grow, playing Santa and wrestling with my boys and teaching them how to throw a ball. The fact is, there are millions of men who feel the same as I do. Consequently, we deserve the same respect that you expect from us. “Hooray For Kelly Ripa” and all you women who agree with her.

Jumbo Feeney: "I'm Giving the Kid a Cupcake"

I got a call from my childhood buddy, Jumbo Feeney, the other day and I knew what to expect as I answered the phone; Jumbo was already in mid-sentence. “Know what I mean, Petie? (he calls me Petie) What’s wrong with a cupcake? Show me a kid who don’t like a cupcake. Know what I mean? Gimme a break, who do they think they are anyway?—“

I almost shouted, “Whoa, Jumbo, slow down. What are you talking about?”

“You’re not paying attention, Petie. I said, no cupcakes allowed. That’s what I’m talking about.  C’mon now, pay attention.”

“Jumbo—STOP. Just stop. You always do this. Please start from the beginning.”

Look, I love the guy. We have been close friends since grade school back in the Bronx during an era when you could leave your doors unlocked. But, when Jumbo was hyper, he would always start his conversations  before dialing the phone. “Okay Petie, okay. My grandson, Mikey—ya know, he’s four, well, he stayed over last night and I brought him to his day-care place this morning. You won’t believe this.”

“Won’t believe what?”

“You gonna let me talk or what?”

Smiling I said, “Sorry, Jumbo. Go ahead.”

“So I packed the kid’s lunch and put a cupcake in the bag. When I get there they check inside the kid’s lunch bag and tell me that  cupcakes are not allowed. I mean this girl, who looked like she shoulda been waving pom-poms at a high school football game, is telling me, ME, the kid’s grandfather, I can’t give the kid a cupcake. Yeah, they only serve organic, hormone free stuff, like free-range eggs. What in God’s name are free-range eggs. They only serve organic milk. Snacks are celery or carrot sticks—“

“Yeah, but that’s the way it is nowadays.”

“What’s wrong with you Petie? Don’t you get it? It’s the principle of the thing. I love Mikey to death. What—they think they know best? C’mon man, we ate cupcakes and drank soda and ate salami and we ain’t dead yet, are we?”

“But Jumbo—“

“Look Petie, free-range eggs and organic dairy stuff and hormone free whatevers are healthier than cupcakes, okay. I know that. But it is not their job to tell me what I can and cannot feed my grandson. The only ones who can tell me that are his parents. These people want to give me the information about this health food stuff, great. Gimme a print-out. Then we can figure out.”

“Yeah, Jumbo, sure–but—“

“But nothing, Petie. But nothing. These young parents of today are being stripped of their parental  rights and they don’t even see it happening. And it is all being done under the virtuous umbrella of ‘what’s best for the child’. The parents know what’s best for the kids. Not some kid,  fresh out of day-care school, who probably still has her mommy washing her clothes. And as far as this grandparent goes if my grandson wants a cupcake when he sees me, which is only about twice a month anyway, I’m giving the kid a cupcake. Gotta go.” click

Good old Jumbo. Gotta love the guy.

Being a Parent REQUIRES Saying "NO"

The other day I picked up my four year old grandson, Tyler, from “Kid’s Planet”, one of the millions of day-care, pre-school, baby sitting centers that are spread out across the country. As Tyler and I were leaving we passed a young mom who was pleading with her three year old, “Please Jessica, Please. Do it for mommy. Please.”

The cute little tyke’s response—“NO, I don’t want to. I don’t want to.”

As Jessica’s refusals rapidly transformed into tears, screams and foot stomping (the kid looked like a promising clogger) mommy pleaded some more, “Oh Jessica, please—do it for mommy. Aren’t we friends?”

I don’t know about you but the last time I had a three year old friend I was three years old. Anyway, Tyler just stared at the unfolding drama and  I shook my head and kept on walking not having any idea as to what Jessica did not want and what Mommy did. I really did not care either. What I would like to have seen was mommy say to cute little Jessica “NO!”, pick her up, plop her into her car seat and be on her way. Oh well—.

I don’t get it. Children, especially in their formative years, besides being loved and nurtured, need to be taught that “No” means “No”. They need to learn that they cannot have everything they want and  that there are consequences to refusing to cooperate. Developing these qualities  requires due diligence from their primary teachers— their parents. They need this so that they may develop a healthy fear and respect for rules, authority, and primarily so that they may have a healthy , social existence as adults. I know some kids can be obstinate and stubborn and drive a parent nuts. But–you are the PARENT, the ADULT. You do NOT beg them to be “good” or promise them a reward if they behave (that drives me crazy–you do not reward bad behavior).

So look, don’t be your child’s friend. Friends are people you can fight and argue with, have fun with, share things with and, if one is lucky, a friend can be a lifelong  treasure. Your cutie pie will have his or her share of friends throughout their lives. You are a parent—a unique and profound position you have been blessed with. Along with that position comes the responsibility of saying “NO”. If your little one seems sad or mad or is pouting because they have been told “NO” be glad. It means that you are doing your job and succeeding.