Thursday, December 31, 2009

The reason why this blog has been so quiet....

We were hibernating with Papa Bear's family in the state from whence he came..


I should probably apologize to you, Cyber Bears, for neglecting you so. But, did you just see those pictures? Yeah. They were taken from the deck of our cabin. I feel amazingly unable to apologize after enjoying that view on Christmas Day.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas. Here's to a great New Year together.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bah! Humbug!

"External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was better than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty."

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

A Letter to the "Local" Theatre Company Producing their Annual Performance of Dickens' A Christmas Carol:

I love Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's a lovely story of redemption and renewal. But the real reason I love it, is because of my family. Let me explain.

As many Christmases as was possible growing up, our family of 5 drove 2 hours west to see A Christmas Carol performed by the Theatre Company in "the big city". I remember each experience vividly. The anticipatory drive into the city, the fancy red velvet seats in the theatre, the bigger than life actors, and - of course - the amazing story of Scrooge.

When my first niece was a cub, My Daddy Bear decided that we needed to renew our tradition, and pass it along to a new generation. When Brother Bear arrived, we inducted him into the now annual tradition. That was seven Christmases ago. That's right - do the math. We brought our then 3 month old cub to see the performance. Sure, we had to take him out at points. We were always considerate of the other patrons, and never once received a negative comment or a dirty look. Not once. Not even last year, when I brought my then 4 month old cub AND five year old cub to the performance. We had a perfect balance of kindness to fellow patrons as well as welcoming a new generation into our wonderful family tradition. It worked very well we thought.

"...for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself." A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

This year was my first year to order the tickets myself (My Daddy Bear had previously taken care of these details). I called the number for the "Local" Theatre Company and was greeted by a representative for the new "INSERT CORPORATE NAME HERE Performing Arts Center". I guess now that the city has this wonderful Performance Hall, there is one central phone system for it all.

I noticed on their website, as well as on A VERY LARGE BILL BOARD on A VERY LARGE ROAD IN THIS TOWN that they were offering "Youth Tickets" for $15. That's great! Since our family was hoping to spring for the tickets this year, that would be a nice savings from the $45-$65 adult tickets.

So, I first asked the representative if my now 16 month old cub needed a ticket since she would be sitting in someone's lap the whole time. Her answer was a resounding YES. "EVERY PERSON who enters the theatre must have ticket," she tells me emphatically. Okay, no problem. While it seems a little overkill to me that my lap sitting, sixteen month old needs a ticket, I figure we can afford the extra $15 required for a youth ticket. I then tell the representative that I need 4 adult tickets and 2 youth tickets. I was then put on hold.

"Bah! Said Scrooge. Humbug!" A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

"I'm sorry ma'am. There aren't any Youth Tickets available," she says when she returns. Not any available? They were advertised ON A BILLBOARD. And your website says that "Youth Tickets available are for children under 18 years old with the purchase of an Adult ticket only". I'm buying 4 adult tickets, so I should be able to get my 2 youth tickets. I was then put on hold.


The representative returns again to tell me that there are only TEN youth tickets available for each show, and those ten tickets are gone for this performance. Huh? That fine print seems to be missing from the website as well as THE GIANT BILLBOARD ADVERTISING YOUTH TICKETS.

Now I'm a little frustrated. But I'm still intent on continuing the now beloved family tradition. So I tell the representative that I would now like to buy SIX adult tickets (gulp) starting from the end of the row so we can have easy access should we need to exit the theatre quickly. I was then put on hold.


For a while.

This time the representative told me that she was checking with her manager to see "if there was a minimum age requirement" for the performance. There wasn't. (Um, if she'd asked me, I could have told her that SINCE I'VE BEEN ATTENDING THE PERFORMANCE EVERY YEAR WITH MY BEAR CUBS FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS!) But she did, however, need to inform me that I would need to make sure that my bear cub behaved - and I might be asked to leave if she didn't.

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!" A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

And that was about the time that I ended my conversation with the representative of the "INSERT CORPORATE NAME HERE Performing Arts Center". Okay. So maybe it was after telling her that I have taken bear cubs to this performance for SIX YEARS, and knew how to keep them in line, and what to do if they didn't behave. But I knew that I needed to end the conversation quickly after that. Because I was terribly frustrated at that point, and was NO LONGER THINKING LOGICALLY. (And, if you know me - if I keep speaking past that point it isn't pretty).

"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefor, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good ; and I say, God bless it!" A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

After calming myself down, and sleeping on in for a few days, I recognize that this representative was just doing her job. The problem is that she had a job to do. And what I mean is, it seems that in all the fanciness and impressiveness that this "INSERT CORPORATE NAME HERE Performing Arts Center" has become, they have forgotten the beauty of Dickens' tale.

A tale of a man who is so focused on money and wealth to point of ostracizing family, friends, and anyone who comes in contact with him that he has nothing left but his money. A man who, haunted by ghosts of the past, present, and future finally sees the light. A man who is redeemed from the world of greed.

It's a tale that I see every year because I need the gentle reminder. It's a tale that I take my bear cubs to see, because I want to teach them about what is most important in life: gentleness, kindness, charity. It's a tale that, despite the experience I related above, we'll see again this year. I maybe a little jaded, but I'm not above offering a little redemption either.

It's also a tale that a few folks in corporate need to see this year too.


Mama Bear

" 'God Bless us every one!' said Tiny Tim, the last of all" A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Lookin' Good"....And other runner's lies

I am running my 12th marathon tomorrow. I actually have the honor of pacing a new friend to meet his own personal best. This guy survived a heart attack in 2003. He has conquered much - now he's going to conquer this beast.

I love running marathons. What I love more is seeing people feel the accomplishment that running 26.2 miles gives you. It gives you a faith in yourself that (I think) nothing else can.

This quote was in this month's Runner's World magazine. I thought it was really funny. Hope you enjoy.

"Lying is NOT something we normally endorse. But it's perfectly acceptable to tell a runner that he (she) is looking good at mile 19 of a marathon when, in fact, he (she) looks like an insomniac who's trying to sneeze, and is confused because someone has switched his (her) running shoes with replicas made of concrete. The go-to lie is 'Lookin' good!' Or you could say, 'If I weren't so awed by the apparent ease with which you're navigating this course, I might be angry with you for nearly knocking me unconscious with your very awesomeness!' The key is to SAY SOMETHING. Even a zombie appreciates encouragement."

So, if you are out there tomorrow, please make sure you SAY SOMETHING to the runners. Every single one.

We need it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The Holidays are stressful on everyone, but none more so than The Four Bears family pet. He's been known to be very naughty during The Holidays, and has often received only a lump of coal as a present. There was one particularly bad Christmas where he ate: a pan of brownies, a cookie sheet worth of gingerbread men, several ornaments, a doggie carrying case (not his), a doggie brush (not his), a pecan pound cake AND multiple pieces of the cake stand he broke in his attempt to liberate the pound cake.

Clearly, he has unresolved issues surrounding The Holidays. But a little doggie Prozac and aging seemed to work in our favor the past few years.

Until this year:
Yep. That is (what's left of) the Virgin Mary from our "Little People" Manger.

He'll be receiving another large lump of coal in his stocking for sure. And from the looks of it, he will be going to Hell as well.