Posted 1/17/17 at 8:44 PM | Karen Kramer
The muddy footprints you left behind after breaking into my daughter’s home have been cleaned, the broken windows fixed, and the insurance company will replace many of the items you stole.
But the jewelry box you grabbed held a special gold ring—a lovely garnet with two small diamonds on each side.
You may not be interested, but those diamonds have a story to tell.
My great-great grandmother squirreled away the money for them during a severe European depression.
No fickle currency for her; diamonds meant security.
Eventually the family sought a better life in America. The diamonds sailed across the Atlantic in the hem of her skirt.
In time, she gave them to my feisty, hard-working great-grandmother—another woman born of steel.
My grandfather secretly called her The Battleax—but he admired her courage in hard times. FULL POST
Posted 1/13/17 at 8:46 AM | Karen Kramer
Dressed in shiny black shoes, a flowered knee-length dress, white gloves, and a small hat worn atop her curly grey hair, she seemed to step right out of a 1950’s church service.
Widowed for over a dozen years, the elderly woman lived a solitary rural life. But despite the dated clothes, she knew exactly what her son was up to and it wasn’t good.
Thus, her reason to visit us.
Her son was our nearby neighbor. His life had been a zig-zagging road of challenges. Let’s just say that law enforcement knew his name and location.
But he had a mama who loved him. She knew we’d helped him out a time or two.
Now, she’d driven 80 country miles to see us. She wasn’t asking that we give him money—but could we somehow encourage him and give him some hope?
I felt sorry for this woman; she was far too old to deal with broken lives. She didn’t have the means to pay her son’s fines and bail—nor was she hinting that we should offer. FULL POST
Posted 1/4/17 at 9:10 PM | Karen Kramer
There’s always plenty of New Year’s advice, but I gave my grandson the mulligan lesson.
This is my first letter to you in the New Year! Every year is a fresh beginning and every day is a new start.
As much as you love sports, I thought you might like to learn something about a sport I played. In golf, you can take a mulligan if you blow your first shot.
A mulligan gives you a fresh start if your hit off the first tee is awful. It’s nice because your golf game doesn’t begin badly—you get the gift of a second chance.
In life, we get mulligans too. Sometimes teachers give them if you do poorly on a test when they know you tried hard.
Sometimes coaches give you a mulligan when they see that you have what it takes, even after some missed shots.
Your parents are quick to give you a mulligan if you’re honestly doing what you can to help. FULL POST
Posted 12/29/16 at 6:02 PM | Karen Kramer
It’s not heart disease, cancer or diabetes. By 2020 our greatest epidemic will be depression. Neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengston says the number suffering from depression will be greater than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined.
Why such an increase?
Medical researchers don’t know. It’s far easier to see the connection between diet and diabetes or exercise and heart disease.
Perhaps depression is increasing because of our comparison complex. Can Facebook take some blame for our nation’s depression?
There is a dark side to social media. Beth Moore said,
“Our social media world is training us up for our greatest complex. We think not only do we need to be great, we need others to know it.”
When did we make the mistake that thinking good is not good enough? FULL POST
Posted 12/19/16 at 10:32 PM | Karen Kramer
We are not the United States of California, but in a nation without the Electoral College, we might as well be.
Even President Obama has opined that the Electoral College is a relic of the past.
Democrats are now at work with revisionist legislation for the Electoral College’s demise. But our wise Founders prepared for an eventuality that a regional candidate could dominate a national election. Or in the case of California, a bastion of liberals with enough popular votes could take our nation anywhere it wanted to go.
The liberal media keeps clamoring that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Without California (where Trump wisely saved his money and mostly campaigned elsewhere) Trump won, handily. Here’s the 2016 presidential election without California: Trump won by 1.4 million votes, 58,474,401 to Clinton’s 57,064,530. Trump also won 30 states, earning the 306 Electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.
California politics are virtually Republican-free. No Republican ran for state office and none ran for the congressional districts. California’s Democratic tax and spend policies have been firmly entrenched for decades. California won’t become a Red state in our lifetime. FULL POST
Posted 12/19/16 at 10:24 PM | Karen Kramer
The whole Santa thing started before I could walk or talk. My parents felt that a little storybook make-believe at Christmas just made the season even more special.
It didn’t take long for my young self to get acquainted with the big jolly guy in the red suit.
You won’t find any pictures of me crying on his lap. I must have connected the dots that this guy made things go well on Christmas morning.
Santa and I seemed to develop a friendly rapport. It didn’t matter that there was a dreadfully long line to see him every year. I could whisper my wishes with confidence and he’d ALWAYS remember.
The specialness lasted but a few years and then like all good storybooks, the ending comes.
When I asked my parents, they told me the truth about Santa and his magic elves. While the magic had been fun for my childhood fantasies, something quickly replaced it that was far better. FULL POST
Posted 12/13/16 at 11:18 AM | Karen Kramer
Hannah carefully brought out the boxes that she’d stowed away only eleven months ago. But it seemed much longer.
Gene had slid further into his own world. She had watched it as if little pieces of their lives disappeared a week at a time.
Yes, it had been a very long eleven months.
Gene sat in the recliner staring out the window as he did for hours at a time.
She gingerly unwrapped the decades old glass ornaments and placed them carefully on each branch. All that could be heard was the crinkling of tissue paper. FULL POST
Posted 12/7/16 at 1:16 PM | Karen Kramer
The children’s book was read to me 50 years ago, but the story never gets old.
Long ago, back when Christmas brought wide-eyed wonder, Mom read me a story about Christmas miracles.
Throughout the colorful pages, unexpected goodness came to those who needed it most. The vibrant illustrations showed empty cupboards and lonely faces.
Holiday decorations were absent in the bleak homes.
How could anyone have Christmas like that, my young mind wondered.
But then came the quiet miracle workers—as the pages turned I could see how others prepared good food and made gifts to deliver to unsuspecting people’s homes.
A knock on the door and they quickly ran away.
On the next page, a weary woman opened the door and saw a basket brimming with ham, eggs, bread, cheese, apples, and candy. Next to it a wooden crate held boxes tied with ribbons—gifts for them all.
As the page turned again, another knock on a door and this time an elderly man answered. A group of smiling faces sang a carol. They offered cookies and cheer, and the forlorn man had one less evening to be alone. FULL POST
Posted 12/1/16 at 11:23 AM | Karen Kramer
When I asked God for better hearing, he gave me someone to listen to.
Until our new septic system is finished, I’ve been making weekly visits to the laundromat.
One afternoon, a former student at the school where I volunteer came in. I recognized him immediately.
His long, somewhat scraggly hair hadn’t changed, nor his grunge-hippie styled clothing.
He carried in baskets of blankets and clothes while his girlfriend quickly loaded several washers.
“Aren’t you from the school?” he asked me.
So, he had recognized me, even after all these years.
We chatted about insignificant stuff, and then quite suddenly he said that he was sorry our mail had been stolen and some of our checks had been forged.
Seeing that I wondered how he knew, he told me he’d been living with the perpetrator at the time.
He moved out after that happened, and has been couch surfing since. But as we talked, it became less about the crime and more about the reality of drugs ruining lives. FULL POST
Posted 11/28/16 at 4:49 PM | Karen Kramer
Grandpa had once been a United States Diplomat in post-war Germany. Hand-picked by the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, he led a year’s worth of top secret missions as the Iron Curtain draped itself over Eastern Europe.
He went to the grave with the secrets he’d been sworn to keep. But he knew the evil of political revolutionaries and communist governments.
As a teen, I’d see him reading thick books and espousing on events half way across the world—a world he’d personally explored and studied.
He’d pound his fist in anger over brutal dictators and the wars they caused. Not interested in running for public office, he’d chosen to rant to a captive audience—students in his college courses and me—since I’d ask questions that would get him riled. FULL POST