Archive for the ‘Christmas in Oz’ Category

fur coat


(Back in 1972 I wrote a Christmas story I included with my Christmas card. It became a tradition.  Just sharing my story for 2017)

Xmas 2017 The Coat



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The recently elected President of the Emerald City delivered his first State of Oz speech before the legislative body of Oz. Following is President S. Care Crow’s speech in its entirety…even the boring parts.

A scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion walked into a bar. The tin man ordered a rusty nail and the cowardly lion ordered a Shirley Temple straight up. The scarecrow abstained because he didn’t want to fall of the wagon and risk having his stuffing fall out.

Enough of my scarecrow humor. It’s time to get serious. Or perhaps I should say it’s time for you ass holes to get together. What a disgrace you are. You run around rasing money so you can get re-elected to a the house or the senate, only yu do absolutely nothing when you take your oath of office. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I know I am ashamed of you. And to think I was the one who didn’t have any brains.

You blowhard Depublicans blame the idiotic Remocrats for the sorry state of Oz. It’s time to get your head out of your ass and take a long hard look in the mirror and see who you really are. The Remocrats think we’d be all better off if we closed the gap between the rich and the poor. The Depublicans think we’ll be going to hell in a handbasket if we allow any form of social reform measures to be enacted.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that less than 1% of Ozians control more than 87% of the wealth.  Far too many Ozians live well below the poverty level. Thousands of little Ozians go to bed hungry every night. But I ask you, will legislation set things straight? Can we legislate what some people define as economic fairness? Is it the government’s job to raise the taxes on the filthy rich?

Look around you. You were elected to serve, but how many of you are being served?  You have constituents who can’t afford a loaf of bread but you men spend $45 on a haircut. Many of you have been in office for so long you actually believe your press releases for God’s sake.  It sickens me to see you turn everything into a photo op. I want to wretch every time I see one of you on camera talking gibberish.

Oz is not a land of equal opportunity, let alone even a land of opportunity. However, we’d be deluding ourselves to believe that we can level the playing field by simply running a bulldozer over the rich. The pockets of poverty are deep and we need to do something about it, but not by filling those pockets with loose change.

We’ve already identified one of the fundamental causes of poverty. A lack of education. But sometimes I think we’re throwing good money away when all we do is spend it only on our schools. Until we change the mindset of those areas identified as poor, our young people will never rise above the poverty level if they go home to buildings where drug dealers rule and where violence is a way of life.

As long as the poor don’t take any responsibility for their poverty, as long as the poor blame the rich for their poverty, and as long as the poor believe they deserve to be taken care of the poor will never take their rightful place in society.  The rich don’t need to be taxed more, they need to have their attitude taxed. Instead of looking for loopholes and opening off shore accounts, they need to believe that by investing in programs that will help eradicate the causes of poverty, we will all benefit.  The rich need to believe that opportunity is not theirs and theirs alone. They do need to shoulder some of the burdens of helping us get Oz back on track.

Tomorrow I will take the first step in enriching the lives of all Ozians. I am going to ask all of you to resign from office and promise to go away. I will then call for a general election where only honest people will be considered for office. Unfortunately the field will be very narrow.

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joy(Photo: www.allwlpr.com)

Neither Dorothy nor any one of her three traveling companions went to see the Wizard to ask him for happiness. In fact, I can’t recall happiness ever being a subject of conversation in The Wizard of Oz.

I was lost in thought and thinking about happiness the other day on the first day of about the umpteenth college class I’ve taught. I looked out at a sea, well maybe not a sea, but perhaps a lake of fresh faces looking up at me with a blank stare. The 20 stares spoke volumes even though not a word was said. Despite the fact that I was being paid to “teach” these students, all I could think about was their happiness.

And then it hit me. I think we make too much out of being happy. In truth it’s not at all what it’s cracked up to be. I think we’ve lost our way our way on the YBR looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I think we are a sad people living in a sad world. And because nature abhors a vacuum, we try to fill in the empty spaces of our life by seeking happiness thinking that we’ll find it by living lives at break neck speed, going from one party to another, by living life on the edge, or by thinking we can find happiness in a bottle.

Because so many of us feel trapped in meaningless jobs we quicken our pace and revile in Friday thinking that over the weekend we’ll be happy. But then it’s Monday again.

To make an analogy. Happiness is like the weather. And we all know that the weather is quite unpredictable. It’s bloody hot when we want it to be cool. It’s damn freezing when we want it to be warm. It rains when we want the sun. And it’s sunny when we crave a little rain.

Happiness is about 76 degrees. Happiness is a blue sky. Happiness is being home in a warm house when it’s snowing outside.  Happiness is something that happens to us on the outside. Our happiness fluctuates because the weather fluctuates. It can be sunny one minute and cloudy the next. Just like happiness.

Happiness is too damn hard to sustain. It takes too much energy to try to maintain happiness 24/7.

But joy. That’s a horse of a different color. Joy is like the weather. It’s climate over time. It’s hours of happiness mixed with times of sadness. It’s moments of laughter mixed with a number of tears. It’s saying hello and it’s also saying goodbye.

Joy comes from within. Joy is what sustains us. Happiness can be overshadowed by the fickleness of life, but joy shines forth because it emanates from our very core.

My recommendation?  Relish real moments of happiness, but don’t go chasing after it at the expense of living a full life. Instead of being a happiness seeker, look for joy. And where do you find it?  Remember what Dorothy said when she was asked what she had learned while in Oz?  To borrow from her response: “If you go looking for happiness, you won’t have to look any further than inside your heart because that’s where joy lives.”

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.  – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Read between the lines of my original Christmas stories (1972-2011) and you will see visions of Oz and the Emerald City. (Cover design by Jeremy Begley)

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