Merry Christmas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas. Let me take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you following me and reading my blog a very Merry Christmas.

My traditional family “Christmas” actually occurred 4 weeks ago on Thanksgiving Day. For the past dozen years or so my family has enjoyed a hearty home-cooked Breakfast, and then shortly after that we’ve opened all of the presents underneath the Christmas tree. Once they are all opened it’s time to watch the Macy’s Parade, and then football for the rest of the day and into the night – pausing for about an hour to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at around three or four in the afternoon.

On the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday”) Christmas is done and over for me. Well – sort of. For the first 3 weeks of December I get to observe and celebrate bits and pieces of Christmas here and there by putting up the Christmas tree and decorations in the church sanctuary, listening to Christmas music on the radio, watching Christmas shows on television, writing and sending out Christmas cards and messages to family and friends from afar, and enjoying several Christmas luncheons with friends and coworkers.

We all celebrate Christmas in our own unique and traditional ways. May you spend this season with your loved ones. Make and share good memories that will last a lifetime. Honor each other. Love one another.

And may we remember why we celebrate Christmas.

And she will have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 NLT)

The LORD saves.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

My November Vacation 2021 Road-Trip

#TravelThursday continues now with Part 4 of my 7-part blog series on my recent 18-day road-trip between South Florida and North Texas.

Last week I left-off on Day 6 in Dallas Texas when I visited the beautiful 66-acre Dallas Arboretum And Botanical Garden. Next time I drive to North Texas I hope to spend another half (or full) day there to see everything. On this visit they were all decorated for Christmas – which was a lot of fun, and it put me into the spirit of the season. I’d like to visit during another time of the year when they are holiday decoration-free. I took 40 photos of my trek around the park. I’ll be posting and captioning most of them onto my Flickr site early in 2022.

Days 7 and 8 were spent hanging out with my family (brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nieces). Day 8 – Thursday November 18TH 2021 – was actually supposed to be another mini-road-trip for me. I had planned to visit the nearby Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, Historic Downtown McKinney (self-guided walking tour), Collin County History Museum, and lunch at the Cadillac Pizza Pub. None of that happened. It was a full-day of fun planned well in advance, and it’s all deferred to my next road-trip to North Texas in a couple of years. (My next road-trip there may be my inaugural post-retirement road-trip.)

So let’s hit Day 9 – Friday November 19TH 2021. This was an action-packed day of fun on my own. It was a cold morning to get started. I headed east to the small town of Nevada. (It’s pronounced “na-VAY-da”.) My first stop was an old roadside diner that’s very popular with the locals – Watkins Country Cafe. I walked-in, and every table was full. Two guys at a table saw me standing and waiting, and they quickly finished-up and gave me their table. (That’s small-town friendliness right there.)

After my Breakfast there I proceeded a couple of miles away to the Military Heritage Collection Of North Texas. It’s a military museum that’s operated entirely by volunteers and funded solely by donations. (There is no admission.) I posted a 5-star review on Tripadvisor. This museum visit was the biggest surprise of my road-trip. This is the type of place that I would volunteer at if I lived in the local area.

From the military museum I proceeded over to the “Dallas” museum – as in the “Dallas” TV series – the Southfork Ranch. This was my 2ND visit. My 1ST visit was perhaps a dozen years earlier with my brother, but I don’t remember much of it. On this visit I took the guided tour – which starts as a tram tour behind the gift shop and museum. It continues as a walking tour inside the mansion (both floors). After that the tour is over, but you are free to roam the grounds of the ranch and walk inside many of the buildings within the compound. You can really spend a good half-day there checking it all out.

I became an unlikely fan of the “Dallas” TV series over in England of all places – over 8 years after its U.S. debut. Me and a couple of my military dorm buddies gathered each week to watch (and be mesmerized by) the latest episode that was being shown on the BBC. I ended-up watching the series until its 1991 ending after 14 seasons, and I also simultaneously caught-up on the reruns of the show from 1978 to 1986. I think I watched every single episode ever made, and I also watched the 40 episodes of the 2012 to 2014 reboot.

I drove an additional 47 miles on that Friday, so that’s 1,451 miles in 9 days of driving to North Texas and while there.

And that’s where I’ll end Part 4 of this 7-part blog series. I’ll continue with my road-trip adventures and experiences next #TravelThursday. I’ll fast-forward a full week to Day 16 – and the start of my long road-trip back home to South Florida.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries

The Legend Of Fluffy The Manx Cat

Merry Christmas to all of my friends all around the world. I wish you God’s abundant love and everlasting peace on this day and on every day.

Today it’s the return of a Christmas classic that’s been featured on my blog before in various forms. It’s the story of the greatest Christmas gift ever – the arrival of a cat.

It started out as a morning like any other, but just a few hours later it would become a morning that forever changed the lives of me and my little brother, and our Mom and Dad.

Exactly 38 years ago tomorrow morning on Friday December 23RD 1983 me (age 16½) and my little brother (age 8½) looked out our living room window at the snow and the ice on the ground of our backyard. It was a bitter cold morning in McLean Virginia 2 days before Christmas, and we were happy to be warm and comfortable inside.

But there was a creature stirring outside that was not warm and comfortable. It was a lonely young cat with no tail that was wandering around aimlessly on our ice-covered backyard patio deck, and it was shivering in misery. Me and my brother decided rather quickly that it did not belong in the harsh elements of the outside at that moment, so we opened the door and she walked right in to our more sheltered screened-in ‘Florida Room’.

We gave her some milk to drink. She loved us for it. We gave her some love. We heard a strange sound coming from her that we hadn’t heard before. It was the friendly and inviting sound of her purring. We let her in to our warm and comfortable home. She never looked back. In fact she refused to leave after that. We pretty much named her ‘Fluffy’ that day, and she instantly became an important part of our family – the missing link if you will.

That’s a young me in 1985 holding a young Fluffy. I was about 60 pounds lighter than I am today.

She was the 5TH member of our family, and she was the start of nearly 30 years of felines in our family. Fluffy loved us all, but she clearly adored me the most. During her younger years she anxiously awaited me to open the basement / laundry room door for her first thing in the morning so that she could run (and beat me) to my bedroom upstairs for a long round of petting and purring. During her later years in Jacksonville Florida when she was slowly dying she literally came back to life over and over again and jumped and loved on me and ran upstairs to my parents’ guest room whenever I arrived for a short visit. She lived a long, happy, and healthy life (until April of 2001), and she provided lots of love to our family starting with that very first Christmas of 1983.

There have been other cats and dogs within our family over the years since then. Fluffy eventually gained a feline roommate with Barney (also known as “the cat that never liked me”). After Fluffy’s death Barney eventually gained his own feline roommate with Pumpkin. Boots was my own loving cat and housemate for 12½ years here in Homestead Florida until his (expected) death on May 17TH 2007. He was the coolest cat that ever lived.

But it all started with “Fluffy The Manx Cat”. She was the Matriarch of all of our family pets (to this day). She was the Queen of her castle. She was the stability of our family. She was our family’s common denominator. She was the center of attention. She was the most lovable cat that ever lived.

Fun Fact: This WordPress blog is a spinoff of my former hit music based massivesmash.com web site that I created in 1995. That web site grew out of a previous web site known as “MANx On The Net”. That first web site was a spinoff of “MANx Cat BBS” (1993-1997) – a dial-up bulletin board system run via MS-DOS typical of its time that was inspired by and named after Fluffy.

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries