Monday, December 14, 2015

A Word to the Wise

*This is an old holiday post from several years ago. I wish you all a very blessed Christmas.

The desert summer's blistering heat is over!  Yeah!
That muffled noise the mountain folks can hear coming from Arizona's Valley of the Dadburned Sun is the cheering of the summer survivors. 
Now the days are glorious and the nights cool, just as fall is in the rest of the country.
The difference is that we lowlanders are now looking forward to planting season.
In the dead of winter.

Soon the petunias and johnny-jump-ups will roll into the big box stores and we can get to planting. 
Seven months of wonderful are on the way! 
Just yesterday the landscaping crews were seeding the neighborhood parks with winter rye. In a few weeks our parched desert eyes will feast on green pastures. (In December and January by the way.) 
When Christmas comes around we'll hear lawn mowers whirring and smell that fresh, new mown, green grass smell. 

Some people say they just can't get in the mood for the holidays with flowers all around instead of snow. 
Well that's ridiculous! The climate in the Holy Land is more like ours after all. There's no need to be singing about white Christmases and feeling left out and spiritless! 
I've often felt the words to that old song should be changed anyway. What about this?
            Bright Christmas

            I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas
            With every flower pot I pass
            Where swimming pools glisten,
            And children listen,
            To Dad who's outside mowing grass.

            I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas
            With every barbeque I light.
            May your days be merry and right,
            And may all your Christmases be bright.

Same tune with more appropriate words don't you think?

Anyway, the coming holidays bring thoughts of gifts, those to be given and those received. 
During this season one of the gifts I'm most grateful for is a particular counsel Heavenly Father gave to his children in the scriptures. 
The 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants gives lots of helpful info on health. Included is the warning that alcohol and tobacco are not good for man. 
A word to the wise so to speak. And years and years ahead of common knowledge, too.

You see, I'm especially grateful because I grew up in a household with an alcoholic. That's easy to say, but only those of you who have had that experience will know what it means. I've heard it said that there's no hell like the hell of living with alcoholism. Somebody who lived with it probably said it. 

During my youth, Christmas was usually filled with extra-special alcohol induced pain. 
How grateful I am for the loving counsel Father gave us that has spared my children and grandchildren from the same thing. Because of His advice my holiday season has overflowed with family, friends and love for forty years now. 
Even so, it's strange how those dark times sometimes still haunt.

Then too, once or twice I recall being reminded that so many others still haven't gotten the message of that great gift.  Once was back when I was teaching high school. 

I remember sitting at my computer ready to take roll before the second bell. 
Kids were coming in, saying cheerfully, "Hey Mz Dub," as they passed. There was lots of the usual jabber as they made their way to their seats.
I recall that we'd been having some interesting discussions in our "Lifeskills" classes about underage drinking, a common recreational activity among my students.
But despite my best efforts they remained unconvinced of my point of view.

My kids all knew my story and my religion and were not shy about expressing their opinion that I didn't know how to have a good time and that I was too "churchy" etc.
I told them that I did too know how to have a good time, and I didn't need alcohol to do it either.
And "churchy" was beside the point because not only was drinking illegal for them, what might start out as just a little fun often ended up in a thousand different versions of disaster.
I had expounded on many of those versions to no avail.

Anyway, this day as the kids came in I heard snippets of conversation about the latest episode of somebody's favorite TV show, "Cops." 
A student was telling about the usual drunken brawls, beating up of wives and girlfriends and subsequent arrests when another kid walked by and remarked, "I've seen that show. All those fools on it are either drunk or high." 
The first kid thought for a bit and then said, "Hey, you know you're right." Others piped up in agreement. 
Then from across the room a girl chimed in, "Yeah, and their idiot, wasted girlfriends with the black eyes and broken arms don't press charges because they always say "I still love you baby!" 

Well, not being stupid, I stood up, turned around slowly, and called out dramatically to the entire class,
"And let their lives be a lesson to you!" 

They all got quiet and just looked at me. 
No arguments. Just silent stares and contemplation.

Best teaching moment all week.
Who says TV can't be educational?

Another was a few years ago on Christmas Eve. 
We had traveled to my brother Matt and sister-in-law Beth's house for their traditional annual party. 

Everyone looks forward to this night. It's always so lovely. The house is gorgeous, the food's superb, and best of all we get to see family we haven't seen in months. My brother Mark from California had been able to make the trip this year which made it even more special. 
We arrived loaded down with packages and food and went in through the crowd hugging all the way. 
I didn't see Mark anywhere but heard his booming voice call for me to come out to the patio where someone told me he was grilling the most enormous prime rib roast anyone had ever seen. I finally spotted him over in a dark corner by a huge grill, surrounded by people gawking at that stupendous roast. Mark takes great pride in his grilling and produces some astounding results. 
I was heading toward him with a smile, he opened up his arms to give me a hug, and just as I reached him I tripped over an ice chest full of his secret ingredients hidden in the shadows. I landed face first on a large saucepot which cracked me hard across the bridge of my nose, causing blood to start trickling down my face. It created quite a ruckus considering that it didn't hurt much. 

Anyway, I was escorted to safety, plied with ice packs and generally made a fuss over. 
Even so, after a remarkably short while my eyes began to swell. People remarked that both were turning black. When they were practically swollen shut I was made to go to the emergency room, as "Kath! You look just terrible!" was pronounced for the hundredth time. 
Larry and I reluctantly left the party to head to the nearest ER. We hoped to make it quick and be back in time for the guitar playing and last chorus of "Feliz Navidad". 

Well, we walked into a jammed packed ER, full of the injured remnants of too much Christmas cheer, certain now, considering the crowd, that this wasn't going to be a quick trip.

After a long wait my name was called and I went up to a weary looking receptionist. 
She took a look at my face and asked how much I'd had to drink. 
I told her I didn't drink at all. 
She said, "Oh, your husband's the drinker." 
I said, "No, he doesn't drink either. It was a prime rib roast that my brother brought from California." 
She gave me a strange look. 
"You had to be there," I replied.
I was sent in to a treatment room where a nurse came in to take my blood pressure. She looked tired. 
After one glance she said, "Been drinking have we?" 
I explained that I didn't drink, neither did my husband and it was my brother's prime rib roast. 
She shook her head and left.

The doctor came in and from across the room said accusingly, "You're nose is broken."

I replied, "I don't drink."

He said, "Tell your husband not to drink either. Do you want to press charges?"
I said, "No, he was in the house, I was out on the patio. It was my brother's prime rib roast from California. I swear." 

He sighed wearily and bandaged my nose.

When they let me go they made me ride in a wheelchair to the still packed waiting room. 
As I rolled in I could hear people gasp as they looked at my black and swollen eyes. I looked for Larry and finally spotted him clear across the crowded room.

I really don't have to tell you the rest, do I? 
It's just too obvious.

Of course I stood up shakily and called out loudly,   "It's okay baby!   I still love you!" 

As I was checking out I heard a kind of scuffle and recognized Larry's distressed voice earnestly explaining to the people around him.  "I swear!   I wasn't even in the same room!   It was her brother's prime rib roast from California!"

As we made our way to the car I could tell he was not amused.

I was amused though. 
In fact I thought it was downright funny. 

But more than anything I was grateful. 
As we walked together to the car on this Christmas Eve.......  Larry scolding,  me laughing.......  I was so grateful for the guidance given in the scriptures by a loving Father. 
That word to the wise.

Grateful that for forty years no hateful, piercing, wounding words have been spoken in our home due to drinking. And alcohol hasn't been the cause of shame, embarrassment, lost jobs, arguments, fistfights, DUI citations, liver damage, broken promises, hearts or homes.  None of us has killed anyone on the highway. Nobody's been arrested, spent thousands on bail, fines and lawyers or contracted an STD while drunk. No one's had one too many and become a parent before a home was ready for a new life either.

None of that has happened at our house simply because we all truly believe that Father said alcohol wasn't good for man. 
Check it out in the scriptures. 
Essentially Father said, "Hey Kids, I love you. It isn't wise to use alcohol and tobacco."  
And He told his beloved children about this long before science finally agreed with Him.

Think of the broken lives that could be avoided if all of us heeded just that one, small bit of Father's counsel. That "Word of Widom" thing concerning alcohol and tobacco.

You're still thinking aren't you? 
That's because that much sorrow is simply too great to be measured. 

So, thank you Father, for the Word of Wisdom. 
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much.
I will always be grateful.
It's one of the best gifts ever.