Joy to the World

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…”

A Saviour to “…bring peace to His people on Earth.”

I did have here a rather long discourse on my journey to what I call “the real meaning of Christmas.” Perhaps another time; it is getting rather late to knock it into some semblance of sense. In brief: We are humans. We have always been humans. Humans are cantankerous, disputatious, and, above all, stubborn. It has only been some two millennia since the memo was delivered – hardly the blink of an eternal eye. The world is a better place than it was when I was born – and far, far better than the times in which the story of the Christ child is set.

I leave you with another video. A not so very wise man once said a very wise thing about “a thousand points of light.” Those words have been spindled, folded, and mutilated over the years, as such words always are – but there is truth in them. There are far more than a thousand points of light out there, each of them kindled by another; sometimes a bare dim spark, sometimes blazing like a supernova. Be one of those points; shine as brightly as you can manage. There will always be more darkness, but we can make it less forbidding by remembering the lesson of “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…”

Merry Christmas!

The Giving of Thanks

Giving thanks at the feast*** It has become a tradition in my family that, on the two days of the year when we sit down to a specially prepared feast, that I make a short speech about the holiday. I don’t know that it is a hallowed tradition – certainly not when I consider the “shut up and let us eat” looks I get – but it has continued for a few years now. Oh, and this post was drafted nearly a week ago, and was supposed to be edited over the weekend; however, I don’t seem to be any faster at preparing for the feast than the Puritans were. They were also preoccupied for at least a week. Sigh… – RS ***

This is the day in the United States of America* when we give thanks.

But… Thanks for what? And to who? These are the two questions to which I think many have misplaced the answers – or never received them in the first place.

So – answers. Or at least my answers. Yours may be different, or you may have additional reasons for giving thanks on this day. Absolutely nothing wrong about that, if such is the case.

First off, this is a day of giving thanks for the sheer abundance that surrounds us. Here we sit in a warm house, at a table with enough food on it to satisfy the hunger of every person here (even that of the Marine Corporal – or so I hope). The Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were celebrating the very same thing, and it had a special resonance with them, after that first terrible winter spent on a cold and damp ship, with insufficient food, watching as a full half of them died without ever setting foot on the soil of their new home. We have an abundance that they would have been incapable of imagining, but we give thanks for the very same reason.

The second reason for giving of our thanks – well, this one, to me, is the more important one.

We give of our thanks to those who made this abundance possible. Thanks to our ancestors, wherever they came from, and whenever they came. Their work molded this country into the cornucopia that it is – a cornucopia that exists nowhere else on this planet. Thanks to the people already living in the lands where a ragtag band of Puritans fetched up, the Wampanoag who welcomed that rather odd tribe, giving freely of their hard-won knowledge of how to survive and prosper in their new home.

We give of our thanks who continue to make this abundance possible; those who farm our food, mine our resources, make the goods that we (almost literally) have pouring out of our ears, ensure that those goods reach us**, and keep us safe on this day and every day.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

Finally, and this may not apply to all of my readers today, but the celebrants of the “First Thanksgiving” had another one to thank. You may not believe in a Creator, or not the same Creator as those Puritans (actually, I don’t either) – but we should remember that the days of feasting were also dedicated to giving thanks to that being. It is not a wrong idea for us to do the same. So, we give thanks to the ultimate Creator of what we have been given in the past, what we are given on this day, and what we shall receive in the future.

* Our Canadian friends up north also have a Thanksgiving Day – which has already passed. Being the sober and rational people they are, and seeing not much to be thankful for when various body parts are in the process of freezing off, theirs is on the first Monday in October. So a very belated Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers out there.

** This applies especially to two of the people at my table this day – may they survive and retain their sanity tomorrow, on Black Friday!

*** You may have noticed some anachronisms in the photograph that I used here (kindly supplied by by Timothy Borkert on Pixabay. My first reaction was “What? Pilgrim and Wampanoag children eating off of cafeteria trays with stainless steel cutlery?” I thought again – and decided that it was appropriate; the giving of thanks is for all times.

Here’s to…

Mug of beer

Here’s to… the men and women who, in bases all over the nation, stand ready   to repel the desolation of war. Training, always training, for what they would rather not do – but see as their duty to be ready to do. Here’s to the active military personnel – Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.



Beer mug

Here’s to… the men and women who leave their homes all over the nation for so many days out of the year, training to back up their compatriots in active service and join them when called. Here’s to the reservists – again, Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.



Mug of beer

Here’s to… the men and women who patrol our borders and our shores – an impossible and dangerous job, but one that needs to be done, and one that they do to the best of their ability. Here’s to the people of the Border Patrol and Coast Guard.



Beer mug

Here’s to… the men and women who are overseas, far from their family, their friends, and anything like a “normal” life. You are the teachers to those who would take our freedom that it is really not a good idea to try. Most of them never learn, but you keep on repeating the harsh lesson. Here’s to every one of those who are on the sharp end of the stick this day.


Poppy field at sunsetHere’s to… the men and women who have seen the full and horrible desolation of war, defending our nation wherever it was threatened – who have lost some piece of themselves, whether body, or soul, or both – or their very lives. For you, I will also raise a beer this Veteran’s Day, but it will be watered with my tears.

For all of you – a heartfelt “Thank you” is not enough – but it is all that I have, other than my prayers. You are in my thoughts on all days of the year, but especially so on this day.

(Images courtesy of Pixabay. Beer image by Alexander Lesnitsky, and poppy field by Enrique Lopez-Garre.)


Richard Skinner

Eighteen years ago today. Actually just about eighteen years ago to the minute, as I sit down to write this.

I had flipped on the television to see what the weather was going to be like; we sometimes have our summer rains well into September.

Standing there. Standing there. Flames roaring out of the side of a skyscraper. Hearing voices on the television, but not comprehending them. Then a plane comes into the frame and rams straight into the other

That finally shocks me out of that disbelieving space, the this cannot be real, must be the wrong channel, this is a movie space.

Walk out the front door. I’m the only one home, getting ready for work, but I don’t remember to lock it behind me. Get in the car; drive around the corner and up the street, meeting the wife as she is walking back from
taking the two youngest to school.

Slam the brakes on, roll down the window. Scream out of it for her to GET IN! THE BASTARDS JUST ATTACKED US!


Okay, my story is not much different than the stories of anyone in this country (and some others) that are old enough to remember that day, that terrible day. But, of all of those stories, the stories that differ in a
million details, there is one absolutely common thread for Americans, wherever they were, whatever they were doing. THE BASTARDS JUST ATTACKED US!

Not “just attacked New York.” Not “just attacked those rich elitists in their cushy offices.” Attacked US. Attacked OUR kinfolk, OUR brothers, OUR sisters, OUR children — OUR shared nation.

This is what should be remembered most, now, after the horror, the grief, the hot rage has passed for the majority of us. (Not for all; there are still families grieving their lost ones, there are still families watching
their beloveds die from the aftermath.) WE were attacked. ALL of us were attacked.

There are serious divisions in our country today. There have always been serious divisions in our country. But when we are challenged by disaster, whether it is by the evil of those who hate us, or the uncaring of
nature, those differences, for most of us, are burned away by the flames, washed away by the floods.

Myself, I’m a “flyover.” A “deplorable.” A “Trumpkin” (although I didn’t vote for him in the primaries). But I am an American. I remember that the “coasties,” the “snowflakes,” the “woke” — the vast majority of you
are Americans. The walkers in New York that ran away from the boiling wall of concrete, glass, and smoke as the towers came down — and then, pulling their chic shirts over their mouth and nose, ran back into
the settling mess to help those who didn’t run quite so fast, or had too far to go. The boat captains on the East River that cast off and ferried hundreds of people to safety, without regard to any “rules” that got in the
way of doing as much as they possibly could. The firefighters and cops — good union members all — who ran into the buildings, up the stairways, to get the people out — and died with them when time ran out.

You are my kinfolk. Whether you like to admit it or not, I am your kinfolk. Kinfolk don’t have to especially like each other. We can have different ideas about… just about everything. But we are there for each
other when the carp hits the fan.

I implore you, my kinfolk — whether I like you or not, whether you like me or not — remember that day. That terrible day. That glorious day. Never forget. Never allow those who would split our kin into warring
tribes to succeed.

A Post – Tomorrow

Richard Skinner

This is not the post you are looking for…

Okay, there was supposed to be a blog post today, for Independence Day. Since I seem to get going only on holidays…

That post will be tomorrow (probably). The main reason is that I decided it is more appropriate for the day after the celebration of our nation’s independence. This is a joyous day, not one for a lecture, which is what the post in question is. The other fiddly reasons (excuses) I may or may not detail tomorrow…

In the meantime, a picture shall have to fill in. I am already running late in preparing the altar for its offerings on this most high holy day. (For the unenlightened, non-followers of the USAian sect, that means I need to get outside, light the charcoal in the grill, then come back in to cut steaks and throw them in a quick marinade.) Also in the meantime, pop over to read Sarah Hoyt’s post for today, which will put you ahead of me (yes, that kind of day).


Picture from Contributed by member “10219,” Creative Commons CC0 license.

Regular Visitors Released

Richard Skinner

Update — Regular Visitors is now in the Unlimited Library. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to enroll in KDP Select before a title is actually published; all of the selections to “promote and advertise” are disabled until then. Sigh…

Three publications now. Regular Visitors (A Tale By The Road) is now (or soon will be) available on Amazon.

This one was two days past my target date, although I had thought I would make it until I got down into the weeds. The cover finally hit the “grudging satisfaction” point very late on Friday night, so I signed off to get some sleep. (The cover was a nightmare, of which saga I may write at a later time.)

Big mistake… When I opened up the manuscript, it was the first draft; notes scattered all through it for absolutely must do content edits. Urk. The afterword was pretty much done except for copy editing, but no blurb, no title page, not ready to start converting.

So content edits were yesterday, copy editing everything was today, and then compiling the Kindle book. On to the release post.

Oh! Wait, I almost forgot something. That dedication, which really doesn’t belong with a short story — but which I did anyway. I meant to provide at least a brief explanation for that…

“Ladmo” was a character on the then independent Phoenix (KPHO) station’s weekday afternoon schedule. Everyone had a local kid’s show then — but, to me, “The Wallace and Ladmo” show was special. I never watched the lady with her puppets. The neighborhood of another show was, frankly, booring…. Every so often, not very often, the Captain would catch my attention. Every weekday at 3:30 PM, though, without fail (unless the family was out of town, or the UHF repeater on the mountain to the west failed), my rear end was firmly planted on the floor in front of the television set.

“Just a kids show” — but it was different from the rest. Never talked down, never sanctimonious, never really tried to “teach a lesson.” Entertainment for children. If you want to understand more, follow the link to the fan site (yes, a fan site, decades after the show went off the air) at

On Christmas Eve, Ladmo would always have a little piece, a simple little piece, where he told the story of The Little Drummer Boy. That little piece (YouTube here) was my official signal that it was really Christmas. (Um, yes, that meant a very short time that I was encouraged to be “good.” My mother took what she could get.)


This is the second Tale — agreeing with Orvan’s advice to call the initial one, the introduction, the “zeroth.” It is not really “in sequence,” though; the next one was supposed to be one called “Fugitive.” It has been an extremely long dry spell, however. For many excuses and a few reasons — about which I will probably not write (at least not here). I did want to get out my “Christmas” story this year, though, which I failed to do last year at this time.

As will be the norm for these, it is rather odd — or perhaps Odd — or even ODD! Did The Road see the Virgin Mary as she journeyed to and entered Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah? If so, what was its perspective on the whole thing? Does it maybe see other things, things that we do not — but could if we opened our eyes a bit more? My mind does wander in strange directions. I try to blame The Muse, but she is shaking her head at me, denying any responsibility whatsoever for these.

Anyway, the cover, which is of course also a link. I’m off to tangle with WordPress to get this published.

Regular Visitors

Even for The Road, there will be an end. Perhaps not, though — as an experience that cannot be explained by cold rationality, but only remembered and contemplated, may indicate that there is something more. Something more for Man and maybe something more for The Road that is his creation.

The Road has been trod by countless many feet, but there was one man, and one woman great with child, that it cannot help but remember every year.

A somewhat different take on the Story of Christmas. Enjoy…