December 24, 2008

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 10:01 pm

This post is a BizzyBlog Christmas Eve tradition.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Wesley Pruden’s Christmas Classic: The amazing grace on Christmas morn

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 4:01 pm

This post is a BizzyBlog Christmas Eve tradition.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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The malls and the Main Streets will soon fall silent. The ringing cash registers, the happy cries of children, the hearty greetings of a thousand fraudulent Santas will soon be ghostly echoes in shuttered shops and across silent streets.

But the Christ born in a manger 2,000 years ago yet lives. The story of Christmas continues to quicken the hearts of sinners and transform the lives of the wicked, and nothing illustrates the redeeming power of the authentic message of Christmas with greater clarity than the story of a wastrel English slaver named John Newton.

Newton was born 300 years ago into a seafaring family in England. His mother was a godly woman whose faith gave her life meaning, and he recalled as the sweetest remembrance of childhood the soft and tender voice of his mother at prayer. She died when John was 7.

His father soon married again, and John left school four years later to go to sea with him. He easily adopted the vulgar life of common seamen, though the memory of his mother’s faith remained. “I saw the necessity of religion as a means of escaping hell,” he would recall many years later, “but I loved sin.”

On shore leave, he was kidnaped by a press gang and taken aboard HMS Harwich. Life grew coarser. He ran away, was captured and taken back to the Harwich and put in chains, stripped before the mast, and flogged. “The Lord had by all appearances given me up to judicial hardness,” he recalled. “I was capable of anything. I had not the least fear of God, nor the least sensibility of conscience.”

The captain of the Harwich traded him to the skipper of a slaving ship, bound for West Africa to take aboard wretched cargo. “At this period of my life,” he later reflected, “I was big with mischief and, like one afflicted with a pestilence, was capable of spreading a taint wherever I went.” John’s new captain favored him, however, and invited him to his island plantation off the African coast, where he had taken as his wife a beautiful but cruel African princess. She grew jealous of John, and was pleased when it was time for them to sail. But John fell ill and was left in the care of the captain’s wife.

The ship was hardly over the horizon when she ordered him from her house and thrown into a pigsty. She gave him a board for a bed and a log for a pillow. He was left in delirium to die. Miraculously, he did not die. He was blinded, kept in chains in a cage like an animal, and fed swill from her table. Word spread through the district that a black woman was keeping a white slave, and many came to taunt him. They threw limes and stones at him, mocking his misery. He would have starved if other slaves, waiting for a ship to take them to the Americas, had not shared their meager scraps of food. Five years passed, and the captain returned. When John told him how he had been treated, he branded John a thief and a liar. When they sailed again, John was treated ever more harshly.

“The voyage quite broke my constitution,” he would recall, “and the effects would always remain with me as a needful memento of the service of wages and sin.”

Like Job, he became a magnet for adversity. He was shipwrecked in a storm, and despaired that God had mercy left for him after his life of hostile indifference to the Gospel. “During the time I was engaged in the slave trade, I never had the least scruple to its lawfulness.” Yet the wanton sinner, the arrogant blasphemer, the mocker of the faith of others, was finally driven to his knees: “My prayer was like the cry of ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear.”

Rescued, he made his way back to England, to reflect on the mercies God had shown him in his awful life. He fell under the influence of George Whitefield and John Wesley, and was wondrously born again into a new life in Jesus Christ. He spent the rest of his life preaching of God’s mercies.

Two days short of Christmas 1807, he died at the age of 82, and left a dazzling testimony to the amazing grace of the Christmas story. “I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer and an infidel, and delivered me from that state on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me.” Set to music, his testimony became the most beloved hymn of Christendom.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hat h brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.

Auto Bailout ‘Laugh, Cry, Or Bang Your Head?’ Moments Ensue

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:29 am

I suspect the two items I will cite here represent just the beginning of things that will cause readers to wonder they should laugh, cry, or bang their heads against a wall.

Home Depot Ruiner Thanks America, Separately Says He’s Coming Back for More

Here’s a banner ad I saw today at another site:

ChryslerThanksForMoney122408

Well, that’s nice. But just when I was ready to begin thinking about cutting Home Depot ruiner Bob Nardelli (previous posts here, here, here, and here) a break, I saw this at the beginning of a December 19 press release (yellow underline is mine):

NardelliComingForMore121908

He’s comin’ back for more, and he’s blithely assuming he’ll get it.

My prediction on Friday that readers could “expect the ‘it’s not enough’ chorus to begin shortly” had already come true before I wrote it.

UAW: “Concessions, Conschmessions”

UAW Prez Ron “Middle Finger” Gettelfinger said this last week (date of item per Google News is December 17):

United Auto Workers Union President Ron Gettelfinger has said if union members were asked to make additional concessions, then his members should be given an equity stake in the company.

In the bailout deal, they’ve been asked (HT Michelle Malkin):

Most of the terms of the loans were based on a failed legislative effort to give Detroit $14 billion in aid.

But the provision that requires the car companies to match wages at their Japanese rivals was inserted by the White House when it took over the effort to prevent a collapse of GM and Chrysler.

Of course Gettelfinger knew this was in there and had to have signalled to GM and Chrysler that it was okay to take the deal on that basis.

But now that the deal is done, his union is already going back on it:

The nation’s automakers are preparing to ask for wage and benefits concessions from their workers in early January to meet the conditions of a $17.4 billion federal aid package, but labor officials say they will seek to renegotiate the terms of the bailout rather than make those sacrifices.

….. Gettelfinger said that what is being asked of the autoworkers — who agreed to concessions in 2003, 2005 and 2007 — is “unrealistic.” He has said he wants to work with President-elect Barack Obama to remove the wage provision.

This is why bankruptcy courts should be sorting all of this out.

With each passing day, this looks more and more like a bottomless money pit.