A Chicago Christmas

Although I only spent 5 years in the city of my birth…I remember it well!  There was a snow on the ground and more in the air, as mom announced that she had retrieved Laughing Santa…and that I must come to see him!

Before me was the little, stuffed, Chief Elf…with his brightly painted face and the crank on his back.  The more that mom turned the crank…the more heartily Old St. Nick laughed.  I watched his antics and reveled in his laughter and wondered how he was able to be so human and yet…seemed not to be so?

There were many, uniquely wrapped, gifts under the 8 foot aluminum Christmas Tree.   Pointing at the shiny artificial  Tannenbaum was a rotating light with a cover of multi-colors that diffused the spectrum of color of the subsequent glow of the beam.

We had returned from our excursion into the city where we saw the new release of Walt Disney’s movie, Lady and the Tramp.  And, the information overload for me, at 3 years old, was tremendous…and ‘visions of sugarplums danced in my head!’

Soon dad and me and mom sat under the Tree as a, mysterious visitor, took our photo…’and that is the rest of the story.’

It was after dark and our outside Christmas lights were lit…and we heard a terrible commotion on the roof of our house in Sauk Village.  It sounded like someone had been on the roof and fell off.  As dad answered the door, I heard him proclaim…’Why come right in!’  There before us…was Santa Claus in all of his red suited, and white bearded, and pipe smoking glory!

Santa laughed, a lesser laugh, than what I had expected…and he wondered if he could use our phone to call Mrs. Claus?  He went on to say that he and the Missus had been involved in a spat when he left and he needed to ensure that there was a home for him to return to…when the Christmas Eve work was completed.  Dad showed him our one phone in the hall…and he began to dial.  We gave him his privacy…he looked like that he needed it.  We heard him say, ‘but…but…but,’ on several occasions, and then he joined us in the living room.  Santa said that he had patched things up and inquired was there anything that he could do for us…before he resumed his journey.  Mom responded that she would like for him to snap a family photo of us under the Christmas Tree.  Santa took her camera and took two pictures…in case the first one did not come out right.

Dad poured the, ‘spritely old elf,’ some eggnog and asked if he wanted something stronger in it…and he smiled with the rosiest of cheeks and said, ‘absolutely!’

As Santa left, on our carport were the reindeer and a bright red glow…from Rudolph’s nose.  Donner and Vixen called out to Santa and asked, ‘where’s ours?’ referring to the spiked eggnog.

So, that is how the Brooks Family Photo…was taken.

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‘Waiting For Godot’

‘Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett.’    Wikipedia

”The play is a typical example of the Theatre of the Absurd, and people use the phrase ‘waiting for Godot’ to describe a situation where they are waiting for something to happen, but it probably never will…’    Wikipedia

So, I often say that I am, ‘waiting for Godot!’

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Aren’t we all waiting for many things in our lives…that have not exhibited themselves ever…or at least not on a semi-regular basis We wait for Godot when we seek justice and fair treatment for all peoples…not just the majority or those who are favored by the political class.  We wait patiently for our elected leaders to care more about their constituents than their own interests.  What a treat it would be to witness a concerted focus to address global warming!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We live in a country that, by all available measurable criteria, live in multiple realities.  There was a famous book, many years ago, that was entitled, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  This book demonstrated the difficulty in men and women communicating with each other and understanding and empathizing with each others point of view.  Today points of view are dictated by the television news network that you receive your news from.

When I was a teenager, men simply understood that they were going to be drafted and be sent to Vietnam.  My cousin, Billy, was drafted.  The only reason that I was not drafted was due to President Carter abolishing the draft before I became of age to go!

We all watched Walter Cronkite on CBS or Huntley and Brinkley on NBC and we basically received the same news.

We wept when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm, central standard time.  Somehow, we understood that we would never be the same…and we have not!

We are told by our parents and our elders to work hard and ‘pay-our-dues’ and seek to excel in our careers!  We are assured that if we will apply ourselves…we will climb the ladder of success…and we will be another example of the American Dream!  We are told that anyone can be President of the United States and anyone can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company…the Horatio Alger story of rags to riches…is ours for the taking….

But, what if the person who is doing the hiring…does not play by the rules?  What if it is not…what you know…but who you know….?

Institutions agonize regarding their low morale.  They engage is studies….and consultants….and large committees…too investigate and conduct in depth research into the quandary of ebbing excitement about the work-place!

The answer is simple….we all wait….much as our Jewish friends wait for the Messiah…or justice and equity and fairness…and recognition of consistent hard work and a passion for the job….and someone who has placed their heart and soul into their career….being recognized for their efforts…rather than being passed over for a friend of the boss!

We are still, ‘Waiting for Godot!’

 

 

As We All Journey Joyfully Together

Here is a wonderful Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

I finished reading a great book the other day titled The Hilarious World of Depression. The author of this book, John Moe, also hosts a popular podcast by the same title. The book was released earlier this month and I ordered my copy about four days after its publication date. It’s one of my favorite books read so far this year.

The book is a memoir with stories from guests on the podcast also. The podcast and the memoir are about talking about mental health issues that are difficult to talk about. I love books that address mental illness with hope and optimism and humor. I’ve known I have bipolar disorder (manic depression) since I was age 19. Since that age and revelation I’ve studied up on bipolar and I’ve continued to fight hard to have a happy life and share this joy with other fellow life travelers. Oh…

View original post 189 more words

As We All Journey Joyfully Together

Here is a wonderful Jonathon Brooks Blog!

jonathonbrooks

I finished reading a great book the other day titled The Hilarious World of Depression. The author of this book, John Moe, also hosts a popular podcast by the same title. The book was released earlier this month and I ordered my copy about four days after its publication date. It’s one of my favorite books read so far this year.

The book is a memoir with stories from guests on the podcast also. The podcast and the memoir are about talking about mental health issues that are difficult to talk about. I love books that address mental illness with hope and optimism and humor. I’ve known I have bipolar disorder (manic depression) since I was age 19. Since that age and revelation I’ve studied up on bipolar and I’ve continued to fight hard to have a happy life and share this joy with other fellow life travelers. Oh…

View original post 189 more words

We Will Never Understand Each Other…If We Do Not Listen To Each Other… — The Jazz Man

It is another pristine day on the back porch. Zoom church was especially enriching this morning. I am proud that I am still batting 1000 in zoom church attendance, as I open my computer and join the meeting! We walked on campus earlier today and I, once again, enjoyed seeing families out…and some with lawn […]

via We Will Never Understand Each Other…If We Do Not Listen To Each Other… — The Jazz Man

Let’s Be Reader Aficionados

Please enjoy an eloquent blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Books have been good to me. I became an enthusiastic reader around age 19. As a boy I did not value books or have a great desire to read them. I suppose I was too busy making the mistakes of boyhood and thinking I knew so much already that I did not need books in my life’s story. At age 36 I need books like oxygen. I need the knowledge and pleasure and entertainment and wisdom that comes from books. My life’s story is in desperate need of books.

I’m always in search of my next great read. The next book up could be a memoir or a young adult novel or a science fiction tale or perhaps a story of inspirational Christian faith. It is exciting to me, just like the reading of books, to always be planning the next book to be read. My home is full of…

View original post 298 more words

Let’s Be Reader Aficionados

Please enjoy an eloquent blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Books have been good to me. I became an enthusiastic reader around age 19. As a boy I did not value books or have a great desire to read them. I suppose I was too busy making the mistakes of boyhood and thinking I knew so much already that I did not need books in my life’s story. At age 36 I need books like oxygen. I need the knowledge and pleasure and entertainment and wisdom that comes from books. My life’s story is in desperate need of books.

I’m always in search of my next great read. The next book up could be a memoir or a young adult novel or a science fiction tale or perhaps a story of inspirational Christian faith. It is exciting to me, just like the reading of books, to always be planning the next book to be read. My home is full of…

View original post 298 more words

I Have a Good Feeling!

5e909532886ad.imageIt is a picturesque day in Carbondale, Illinois.  Jonathon and I walked the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and drank in the riches of its splendor!  I am seeing a lot of happy people as they enjoy the reopening of our restaurants for al fresco dining with social distancing.  Old campus had families laughing and enjoying the richness of a perfect spring day!

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Dr. Austin Lane has been named the chancellor of SIUC.  I had the opportunity of watch a zoom Open Forum with Dr. Lane.  I was struck with his ability to connect with everyone that he spoke with.  His natural ability to not only communicate effectively, but to also give the person that he is talking with a feeling of importance to the mission of Southern…was extraordinary!  I have been a chancellor watcher for over 40 years.  During that time, and many chancellors, I have not witnessed a more immediate connection and heartfelt belief that this leader demonstrates that every member of the university community is vital to the success of the Saluki family and the institution.

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The university is one of the most important elements of my life…and I have been retired for nearly 10 years!  I spent my entire career working in the custodial department of SIU…in Building Services at the Physical Plant.  Over those years I learned what many have failed to understand.  There is no us and them…for our school to succeed, it takes all of our efforts.  The Building Services staff took their mission as vital to the success of our SIU!  We not only kept our buildings immaculate…but we mentored our over 200 student staff.  When they were homesick…we were their surrogate moms and dads.  When they wanted to drop-out…we talked them out of it.  When they were hungry…we fed them.  They were our kids and we rejoiced in their success…with tears in our eyes!

During their last few years of my career I was privileged to be the president of the civil service council, for 5 years.  During that time, and before, I became friends with several chancellors…and 1 president.  I have longed for a campus leader that has the ability to bring us all together, and when I say us… I am speaking of not only the university community…but the entire Southern Illinois region.  Little Egypt is thirsty for a leader that will call us to arms…and let us know that we are essential to the success of our most prized possession…our jewel…SIUC!

I have been close to chancellors who caused the eyes of those with whom they spoke…to brighten!  I have been witness to chancellors who brought peace and unity and a vision for the future.  Success cannot be delivered by any one man or woman…but their ability to martial the love and abilities of countless people of good will…is priceless!

I emailed Chancellor Lane congratulations…although I considered that he might wonder who was, Jay Brooks, and why would he be congratulating me.  I identified myself as a former, career, employee of SIUC and that I had the opportunity to watch the zoom Open Forum.  I also noted that I had been retired for almost 10 years.  That was yesterday…and he replied to my email after midnight.  Now…that is a sure and certain sign to me that this leader is going to include all of us!

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Smiling Eyes — The Jazz Man

I was reading a cartoon today of a ventriloquist and his miniature associate… on his knee. The ventriloquist remarked that, ‘I think I may really have a shot at this now,’ as he spoke to his wife…through his mask… Also, I read a New Yorker cartoon that depicted a young man sitting under […]

via Smiling Eyes — The Jazz Man

Safety First — The Jazz Man

My first full time employment was at Essex International in DuQuoin, Illinois. Essex manufactured wire harnesses for Chrysler trucks. Throughout the factory there were a multitude of signs that admonished everyone, ‘Safety First.’ In fact the signs were posted in the rest room and the break area. As a 17 year old, I marveled at […]

via Safety First — The Jazz Man

We Are All Connected

‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

A beautiful day for a neighbor

Could you be mine?

Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood

A neighborly day for a beauty

Could you be mine?

Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day

Since we’re together, might as well say

Would you be my, could you be my

Won’t you be my neighbor?’    Mr.  Rogers’ Neighborhood

 

Mr. Rogers iconic song describes us before we allowed imaginations and fear to captivate our thoughts…and before we  learned hate.  It is not us against them when it comes to battling our 2020 pandemic…it is us against COVID-19.

I watched a political operative suggest that 100 thousand deaths in the United States…was not so bad.  He went on to postulate that the coronavirus was like the flu in the fatalities that have occurred…  As I considered the bizarre comparison…I wanted to say…you ain’t seen nothing yet!  We are in the midst of this plague…we are not at the conclusion.  I love literature and novels and science fiction…but I do not live my life according to the creative narratives that the stories contain.

It is a bit of a Faustian Contract to believe that the idea of either opening the economy or staying safe from the virus is the terrible decision that each of us have to make.  We can do both…if we do not allow our emotions or our political affiliations…to blind us from the common sense needed to navigate the troubled waters that all of us are sailing in!

During our stay at home time together we have learned that there is nothing that we humans need more….than each other.

During my 32 years and 2 months and 3 weeks at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, I was convinced that the university required every member of the its community to be a success.  The Building Service Worker was as important as the chancellor to the smooth operation of our beloved school.  The fallible concepts of the lesser and the greater…causes great institutions, and organizations, and nations…to falter and fail.  Churches that succeed in fulfilling the mission of Christ…coalesce together…and every member has an essential role to play and perform!

When Pastor Kerry came to us, a little over a year ago, he mentioned that he was a playwright and that he was going to write a play for the members of our congregation to perform.  As the great comedic actor, Artie Johnson, said in his portrayal on the popular show, Laugh In, ‘Very Interesting,’…I thought.  As I sat in the audience, on the night of the performance, I was gob-smacked with the clear bringing together of our church in the performance.  I had not witnessed anything like the unity that was before me…in my over 20 years as a First Presbyterian congregant.  The smiles and laughter emanating from both the actors and the audience was an object lesson for me…and for life!

My friend, Lisa, remarked to me that she felt that our church was, ‘hitting its groove,’ and I could not agree more.  There is a profound peace and contentment in being a member of a church that accepts everyone, and that loves everyone, and that is actively seeking the voice of a loving God!

Understanding comes from listening.  Listening promotes understanding.  Kindness brings love.  All of us desire others to love us and to experience others concerned about our welfare.  Love is magnetic.  It draws people to its compelling beauty and light!  If I am sad…a cheerful word can make me glad.  When you make another person happy…it makes you happy and your burdens seem lighter and easier to bear…

Antagonism is a trick…and harsh words cause indigestion…  Each of us are members of this human experience…but a short time.  Let’s be remembered for how happy we made others feel…not for what we pretended to know…

 

Thank You…All Veterans! — The Jazz Man

I grew up during the Vietnam War. As I watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and his nightly reporting of how many Americans were killed that day…. I expected to be drafted…when I became of age. My cousin, Billy, who is a bit older than I, was drafted upon his graduation from high […]

via Thank You…All Veterans! — The Jazz Man