The Christmas Spirit (including its namesake) Part II

In reply to a piece I wrote the other day (Click here to read it), my friend Kent Harrop (a minister within the American Baptist Faith and a wonderful writer in his own right wrote the following…

Joe, I appreciate your comments through the lens of 1960’s Catholicism. As one who continues to be a Christian (American Baptist) I agree that the Christmas story has been watered down by consumerism. Yet, I’d suggest that there is a social justice ingredient that is often overlooked. Often the Christmas story ends with the Magi in Matthew’s Gospel 2: 1 – 12. Follow the story however, in 13 – 23 and we learn of the infant fleeing with his parents to Egypt. There they find refuge (probably in Alexandria) with hundreds of other Jewish refugees fleeing the vengeance of King Herod. This then is the story of Jesus, the Son of God, beginning his early years as a refugee. What is the relevance to today’s world? That God is in radical solidarity with the poorest of the poor. Tof secuahat God is with those fleeing war and violence and poverty. And, if we believe this to be true, then we as followers of Jesus are to stand in solidarity with and advocate for those on the margins. The story of Christmas, if one really delves into the story, speaks into our time. As parents grieve in Israel, as bombs fall on Gaza, as refugees gather on our southern border. Joe, you say that the story of Christmas is mythology. But I offer this: ‘the Bible is true and some of it even happened.’ Merry Christmas Joe to you and your family. And, keep writing and encouraging us all to think.

Kent Harrop

Now when someone prefaces their remarks with the statement “I appreciate your comments…” it of course means they disagree in a civil manner. Which is precisely why I write these pieces, to stimulate such discussions on matters both great and small.

After re-reading my original piece, I think I failed a bit to effectively argue my point. In more basic terms I think there is a clear separation between the secular, Ho Ho Ho, Jingle Bells, Chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire Christmas and the more traditional religious aspect.

And I think that is fine.

Kent argues well that the bigger picture of Christmas with an element of social justice is a more profound way to embrace the season through the lens of Christianity. It is here where we reach a bit of disagreement.

There is no question most people who embrace their faith do so without resorting to arguing or acting against those of different faiths. But a review of history would show the sinister and often tragic effects religious motivations have inflicted on society.

As Kent mentioned, my experience of faith is colored by my Catholic upbringing. Such experiences, which occur at a time when memories are so fully encoded by young minds, cannot help but have a lifelong effect.

Many of those deep-seated memories, the Latin Mass, Gregorian Chants, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, lurk just below the surface this time of year. Perhaps this discussion stems from my own internal struggle to balance the joy of such memories with the realities of life and the different view I now hold about religion in general.

Kent is right to point out the Biblical stories of social justice and the refuge offered to those in need. But there is the reality that the very land Jesus and his followers walked are now free-fire zones of death and destruction. History would show they have been for the two centuries after the birth of Jesus, not to mention the centuries before.

Yet, has Kent so well said, “The Bible is true and some of it even happened.” Now that is a doctrine worth considering, some of it even happened.

In my original piece, I “quoted” a common misquote by J.D. Salinger from Catcher in the Rye, “If Christ could see Christmas he’d puke.” I don’t think that’s true even if it is a twist of Salinger’s words. I think if the Christ of Kent’s faith could see Christmas, he’d embrace that which brings joy to children and be thoroughly disgusted by how those who profess to believe in him have twisted his message.

That might very well make make him puke.

So Kent and I both “appreciate” each other’s comments. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let’s all keep Christmas in our own way and let others keep it as they would.

A Holiday Massacre

With the holiday season, the annual decoration mania has descended upon us.

There is everything from houses with lights tossed on one bush with apparent abandon, plugged in, then left there until spring to houses covered in so many lights they can be seen from the International Space Station.

All that’s missing is some rainbow colored chalk outlines around the bodies.


In the colder climes, leaving the decorations up long past Christmas is understandable—who wants to freeze to death undecorating?—but here in the land where 50 degrees Fahrenheit is dead of winter, there is no excuse.

I can forgive the procrastinators who, after the effort of decorating, chose to leave them there past the holiday season up to a point. But there is one decoration trend, be it timely or not, that troubles me; inflatable displays varying in size from elvish to full grown T-Rex. 

The displays themselves are fine when they are functional and upright. It’s when, either for conservation of energy or other reasons, they are allowed to deflate.

Rudolph, Santa, Yukon Cornelius, and Frosty all dead on the ground.  Hardly the most joyful of holiday scenes.

Whenever I pass one of these display disasters all I can think of is it looks like a holiday massacre. All that’s missing is some rainbow colored chalk outlines around the bodies.

Please, for the sake of the children, keep them inflated. There’s no need to add explaining another tragedy of our making to kids. We’ve already given them enough.

A Nascent Christmas Tradition

ginger letter cookies composed with fir branch during christmas holiday

Tradition: noun, the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice:

Five years ago, I reawakened an old memory from my time as a young boy in Cumberland. Back then, the Pawtucket Times—a local newspaper rivaling the Providence Journal—published a serialized story over the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

In that pre-historic, pre-instant gratification time, one had to accomplish two monumental tasks. You had to sit and read each chapter and, as unbelievable as it may seem, you had to wait an entire day for each chapter to arrive.

There was no streaming or on-demand. One had to learn patience and to live with anticipation.

I decided to resurrect the concept. Little did I know that the response would be both heartwarming and encouraging. At the tender age of five, I’m uncertain this qualifies as a tradition, but I will continue to write it as long as time allows.

And so on December 10, 2023, the tradition will continue with the first installment of this year’s Christmas story called “The Secondhand Elf.”

As in the past I will write the story each day as it occurs to me. The only thing planned is the title. Where the story leads will be something we all experience as it happens. The only advantage I will have is I will see it evolve moments before you, my dear readers.

To prepare for the event, here is the link to the beginning of last year’s story, A Christmas Tale. I do hope you’ll take some of your precious time and read it again, or for the first time, and I hope you’ll enjoy this year’s saga.

JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services. Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into reality.

The Christmas Spirit (including its namesake)

A misquote attributed to J. D. Salinger in the book Catcher in the Rye goes something like this.

“If Christ could see Christmas, he’d puke.”

But like many “quotes” attributed to famous people—to give them the weight of intellectual or literary authority—this is not what he wrote as dialog for Holden Caulfield. What Salinger wrote is much more aligned with the rest of this piece. Here’s what Caulfield said in the book after seeing a Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall,

“I said old Jesus probably would’ve puked if he could see it—all those fancy costumes and all.”

J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye.

Those with another purpose then twisted Salinger’s words, that the historical Jesus would have been offended by “those fancy costumes,” into the more erudite, “If Christ could see Christmas, he would puke.”

I think in either case, it misses the mark completely.

Assuming for the sake of argument there was a historic figure, Jesus of Nazareth—leaving aside the whole virgin birth, son of god, risen from the dead elements. And assuming the elements of the faith he preached about doing undo others as you would have them do unto you is an effective summary, I don’t think he’d puke at all.

“I said old Jesus probably would’ve puked if He could see it—all those fancy costumes and all.”

J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

While one can make an argument about the distortion of consumerism and the glitz of the decorations, that same consumerism puts food on the table of those who produce and sell those goods. And the act of giving gifts to others, paid for by those jobs, meshes pretty well with the elemental spirit of “old Jesus.”

Perhaps if they had just created a few bumper stickers for their camels or roadside signs on the road to Jerusalem instead of writing the bible, more people would have understood the message and not twisted it to their own purposes.

As a young boy, they subjected me to a Catholic upbringing. I became Catholic not by choice but by virtue of the geography and lineage of my birth. Richard Dawkins compares the spread of religion to that of a virus. Your parents, or guardians, are the host spreading the virus onto their off-spring who do the same thing.

In the entire time I attended the Catholic Church and while growing up in Cumberland, RI, I met no one whose religion differed from their parents. It was remarkably consistent.

Which brings me back to the concept of the Christmas Spirit. Inevitably, over the coming weeks, one will see those very effective bumper stickers that say, “Put Christ back in Christmas.”

I would argue he was never out of it. That time and society has drifted away from the purely religious mysticism and turned Christmas into a holiday of Jingle Bells, Ho, Ho, Ho, and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer are a sign of progress.

We don’t need religion to teach us the fundamental philosophy of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. A fat guy in a red and white suit riding the magic of imagination accomplishes the same thing in a much more effective way.

Now that’s not to say religion, for many, doesn’t have its place. The story of the wise men following the star is so ingrained in my psyche that every year, as Christmas approaches, I often think one star appears brighter than it does other times of the year.

This is not a harmful belief unless I forget it is based on something other than reality. Perhaps back then a supernova shone brightly, coinciding with the myth of the birth of Jesus. Perhaps the lapse of time between the writing of the story—decades after it allegedly happened—wrapped the truth with wishful fiction.

But it doesn’t alter the reality of what Christmas means to many outside of its religious origins.

If one wants to understand the spirit of Christmas, all you have to do is watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas. It covers the gambit of topics from the consumerism and the glitz—Snoopy’s winning the decorating contest—to Linus reciting the story of the Angels announcing the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the field to the whole group singing around the simple Christmas tree Charlie Brown embraced as only a child could.

There are a lot of things that might make “Old Jesus” puke in this world. Many of them are done in his name. But Christmas isn’t one of them.

JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services. Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into reality.

In a Cool, Calm, Cogent Manner

Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss, but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.
—William Shakespeare

As many of you would suspect, I am troubled by the early poles showing Mr. Trump’s significant lead over other Republican candidates (well, at least a couple) and the statistical tie between Trump and Biden.

I have tried to divine the reasoning behind this but so far have failed. So, I come here seeking enlightenment.

Would someone, anyone, in a cool, calm, and cogent manner, explain why it makes sense for the American voter to choose to return Mr. Trump to office?

Please don’t focus on what you may perceive as the failings of President Biden. I want a rationale discourse on the benefits of a change of administration, not the idiotic, childish nonsense of Let’s Go Brandon. Leave the moronic sayings aside.

I want to know with specifics what Mr. Trump accomplished in his term that positively affected the country and the world. I want to know what a second term for Mr. Trump would look like and what to expect.

Please be specific and cite verifiable sources for any contentions, be they diplomatic, economic, or defense-related matters.

I will publish the piece here in its entirety without comment other than an author credit disclosure.

I look forward to someone explaining the benefit of a second Trump administration and the, at least for me, hidden value of the first four-year term.

Do They Dream What I Did?

Way back in 1972 one of my best friends, Tony Afonso, introduced me to the music of Neil Diamond, in particular the song “Brooklyn Roads.”

This was accomplished by the incredibly technical act of placing a vinyl album on a turntable then carefully placing the needle arm on the particular cut, in this case the fifth one.

Why we didn’t listen to the ones before that song may have been a criticism of the quality of those earlier tunes, but the truth is lost to time.

Since then, along with a myriad of other Diamond tunes, at least the ones before Forever in Blue Jeans, I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times. Whenever I have my older grandson (the newest one is still a bit too young) to myself in the car, and thus full command of the music selection—after the Sesame Street Playlist of course—I introduce him to quality music.

Everything from Gregorian Chant (something I got his mother to embrace), Led Zeppelin, Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel (both solo and together) to Bach, Holst, and Mozart.

So the other day was Neil Diamond. And Brooklyn Roads came on first. As we listened, the lyrics jumped out at me. Diamond sang of a different time in America when families tended to be less scattered to the wind. When young kids used just their imaginations more than technology for entertainment. When, it seemed, times were a bit simpler.

The reality of some of this is the ameliorating effect of nostalgia, but there are several lines which resonate with me to this day as I have many memories of doing the same thing.

I built me a castle with dragons and kings
And I'd ride off with them
As I stood by my window
And looked out on those Brooklyn roads

Diamond’s view was of a city, mine was the sky above Cumberland, Rhode Island and the woods surrounding us. Different views, similar imaginations.

In the last verse, Diamond sings of a different world. He, like I, long gone from that first home.

Does some other young boy come home to my room?
Does he dream what I did
As he stands by my window
And looks out on those Brooklyn roads?

I hope several more generations of young people will look out their windows and “dream what I did.”

I hope we have not lost our ability to imagine, surrendering to the lure of technology. If I accomplish nothing else in my life, in the end if I can look back and see the gift of imagination still living in my daughter and grandchildren it will be a life well lived.

Brooklyn Roads by Neil Diamond

If I close my eyes, I can almost hear my mother
Callin’, “Neil, go find your brother
Daddy’s home and it’s time for supper, hurry on”
And I see two boys racin’ up two flights of staircase
Squirmin’ into Papa’s embrace
And his whiskers warm on their face, where’s it gone?
Oh, where’s it gone?

Two floors above the butcher
First door on the right
And life filled to the brim as I stood by my window
And looked out on those Brooklyn roads

I can still recall the smells of cookin’ in the hallways
Rubbers drying in the doorways
And report cards I was always afraid to show
Mama’d come to school and as I sit there softly crying
Teacher’d say, “He’s just not trying
Got a good head if he’d apply it, but you know yourself
It’s always somewhere else”

I built me a castle with dragons and kings
And I’d ride off with them
As I stood by my window
And looked out on those Brooklyn roads

Thought of going back
But all I’d see are strangers’ faces
And all the scars that love erases
But as my mind walks through those places
I’m wonderin’ what’s come of them?

Does some other young boy come home to my room?
Does he dream what I did
As he stands by my window
And looks out on those Brooklyn roads?

They Couldn’t Name this “Controversy” Any Better

*Trigger warning. I will use politically incorrect yet absolutely accurate terms for some people mentioned in the following essay.

The headline caught my eye. “Froot Loops Is in Hot Water.” The cereal producer faces a boycott because “Kellogg’s cereal brand Froot Loops is facing boycott calls for offering consumers a digital library of children’s books that promote equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I).”

Well, of course they do. We can’t let Froot Loops dictate social policy. Who do they think they are? What gives them the right to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion? Why would we want anything like that?

The one saving grace is this is a Canadian story. I hope this causes Congress to redirect the building of a wall along the Canadian Border. We don’t want those Canadian Froot Loops coming across the border. We have plenty enough of our own.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Froot Loops contains a potent chemical from a secret government black site that turns people gay. It would explain how gay people seemed to have suddenly arrived here in the US back in the 60s.

I mean, come on. Do you really think it was a coincidence Froot Loops goes on sale and next we have the Village People?

It is a good thing we have a solid Froot Loop defense mechanism already in place. We’ll fight against this inclusivity nonsense with every prejudiced, judgmental, and sophomoric, yet patriotic, bone in our Red, White, and Blue bodies.

What a bunch of Froot Loops. How dare they try to distract our kids from TV and American advertisers selling all those Chinese made goods. Reading is for sissies; you might learn something, and we know what happens then…

Spooky Things at a Distance

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

My grandson, Levi, loves to pretend we are hunting and catching ghosts. While he tends to push me forward first, he is right there behind me bravely yelling along with me as I pretend to wrestle and capture these ethereal creatures.

It occurred to me that, while in this case it is a harmless and beneficial expansion of his imagination, there are many among us who are firmly convinced of the existence of the great beyond. They see such phenomenon everywhere.

I don’t completely discount the possibility of cross-dimensional travelers, but the idea of spirits of the dead coming back to visit, or haunt, the living is a bit simplistic. It is more likely some “undigested mutton” roiling your dreams as Ebenezer Scrooge would say. That people see these things, or at least claim to, is more a confirmation of the human behavioral characteristic of pareidolia.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term—although throughout everyone’s life you routinely engage in it—pareidolia is the tendence of humans to see patterns, especially faces, in random or accidental arrangements of shapes.

It is why people see images of Jesus in hunks of grilled cheese sandwiches or moldy stains on walls. Although there is not one actual photograph of the person, there is one everyone recognizes. There’s even a YouTube Video claiming to have actual photos so it must be true.

This tendency to see patterns is actually an evolutionary survival technique. Better to think you see a lion lurking in the shadows and run then ignore it. What if it really is a lion? You’d end up the carnivore’s lunch.

The little game I play with Levi also reminds me of those Ghost Hunter or Big Foot Tracker shows that seem to proliferate everywhere yet never actually find anything.

When I worked at Southwest Airlines, there was a group of these paranormal “investigators” who frequently traveled with mounds of equipment. I asked them one time to show me the best image they had of a “ghost.” The best they could come up with was a grainy, blurred smudge in shadows they claimed had moved about the room.

“What, no video?” I asked. “Then why lug all this equipment if the best you can get is a picture that looks like a stain on the road?”

They shied away from talking to me after that.

Now that’s not to say I don’t consider the possibility of something existing we cannot explain. But it’s not Casper the Friendly Ghost or old Aunt Sally come back to haunt you.

I titled this piece “Spooky Things at a Distance.” This is a bit of a twist on a quote by Albert Einstein on quantum entanglement. This involves two objects separated by a distance where the action on one is also simultaneously exhibited on the other. Something which defies the speed limit of the universe, the speed of light.

What Einstein actually said, because this troubled him his entire life after he’d formulated his General Theory of Relativity, was “Spooky Action at a Distance.” I just liked spooky things better to meld with the “spirit” of the article.

Which leads me to the appellation by which we refer to strong liquors. We call them “Spirits” simply because we’d invented alcohol before we understood its effect on the human body. Before the fire, after a day’s hunt spent chasing prey and avoiding becoming prey, a good drink of the magic elixir unleashed the “spirits” to take over our minds.

Of course once we had figured it out we came up with the brilliant deduction, “In Vino Veritas.”

For now, I’ll keep the game with Levi a simple one. I hope to be around long enough to talk with him about things like “Spooky action at a distance” but I’m in no rush to have that happen. I’ve become really good at catching ghosts. I haven’t missed one yet, but for some reason I just can’t get a good picture of them.

Maybe someday if the spirit moves me.

JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services. Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into reality.

Demonizing Noble Professions

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There was a time when Cops and Teachers were held in esteem. Cops for their courage to stand against the evil in the world and teachers for enlightening the young through education. But no more. Each of these professions is under attack from opposite political spectrums. And each is doing its utmost to demonize critical and noble jobs.

How did this come about? When we let unregulated money into the political system (i.e., Citizens United), the incentive to focus on being re-elected at the expense of doing the right thing became paramount. Politicians became addicted to the money from sources they no longer had to explain.

A second cause of this has been the demonization of education. Those on the ultra-right constantly criticize the “elites” because of their level of education. They promote the common man’s rise to office as a solution to all our problems. Problems that are so complex most people cannot define the problem, let alone craft solutions, or even understand answers we may already have. While the common person may be the nation’s bedrock, I think we want the most intelligent people with high levels of integrity serving in government.

No one wants the common man as their cancer doctor. You want the most brilliant, most experienced doctor available.

With our level of success falling in our schools, they look for a simple cause. It must be the teachers and their evil unions who are intentionally poisoning our schools in pursuit of their leftist agenda. A “leftist” agenda that seeks to promulgate understanding, compassion, breadth of experience, embracing the many cultural roots of this country, and a factual reading of history.

This castigation of teachers’ unions as the main engine of this decline in education ignores the foundation of the significant success many Americans once enjoyed as union members. It started with sending manufacturing off-shore to avoid paying living wages to American workers. It gained traction as stockholders and management gained a larger and larger share of the profits at workers’ expense.

Think about that next time you get a coffee at the counter in Starbucks and the “barista” turns the screen toward you with the 20% tip helpfully highlighted. It’s not that they are greedy. Its management getting you to fund workers’ wages to maximize corporate profits.

It has now set its sights on teacher and police unions with similar vengeance. It all boils down to control. Control the teachers; you control the minds of those in schools and future voters. Control the cops, and you can get away with anything. And make no mistake about it, it is about control and power no matter how “noble” their exhortations may seem.

The gap between the lower and middle class and those at the top of the economic ladder has far outgrown the semblance of a fair and equitable American dream and has become an engine of greed. And this drive to reduce costs and maximize profits comes at a higher cost than it seeks to reduce.

When teachers’ unions fight for fair wages and working conditions, they are castigated as greedy and stealing from the very students they are supposed to educate. But our society has come to embrace ignorance and demean proper education. There is an unwillingness to fund education since those in power encourage demeaning the value of such education.  Not everyone need have a college degree. But everyone should have, at a minimum, a fundamental literacy in the basics, reading, writing , math, and civics. It is this last one, understanding government and the function of law, that those in power fear the most.

What it all comes down to is this. An educated public might see through this scam perpetrated on America and use their vote and knowledge to change the system. Next time you hear some politician decrying the quality of education and blaming the teachers for it, keep that in mind.

Don’t think Civics has a value? Consider this. The average turnout percentage of voters in a Presidential election year is 55%. 45% of eligible voters don’t bother going to the polls. 45%! Nothing would be more of an anathema to those who have sacrificed so much for this country than the apathy of millions of Americans who cannot be bothered to vote. And nothing is more beneficial to those in power than such apathy.

Now, on the opposite political spectrum, the left is equally guilty of ignoring reality with their idiotic and naive war against the police. They hold some misguided concept of a police free Utopia.  As long as there are people, there will be those who seek to take advantage of their fellow humans and the need for those who would stand against it.

The overwhelming majority of those who choose to become police officers do so to join a noble cause. There is no more extraordinary act than a willingness to sacrifice your life for the betterment and protection of others.

And make no mistake about it, there is the real possibility they may die just doing their job. Whether they serve in the busiest precincts of New York or Chicago or in the sparsely populated areas covered by just one or two officers for hundreds of square miles, each carries with it the potential for an on-duty death.

Now, many will spout statistics about how the risk of death is higher in other jobs—police officers are not one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America—the fact remains that those deaths, while tragic, are often as a result of accidents or equipment failures.

Police officers often die at the hands of others who are committing a crime. And those police officers willingly run toward danger, not try to avoid it. While a logger may know their profession is inherently dangerous, they aren’t forced to interject themselves into dangerous situations. On the contrary, they do everything they can to avoid such incidents.

Cops do not have that choice.

Yet today, we face a crisis of our own making with a shortage of those willing to accept the risk inherent in being cops. And this shortage is directly related to the demonization of the police by the media and the ultra-liberal.

That they are bad cops goes without saying. Just as there are bad teachers, firefighters, doctors, lawyers, members of Congress, liberals, conservatives, and every manner of human in this world. They threaten our way of life, but they are not representative of any class or group as a whole.

They are a symptom of a more endemic problem. One with its roots in history and human nature. And one that is best overcome by recognizing its complexities.

Endemic racism, not just between one group and another but across the entire spectrum of people, is something best neutralized by both education and a societal emphasis on tolerance. No one is born a racist; they are trained to be one.

One of the most significant issues we face, one which many on the right would claim is past and no longer necessary to understand, is the long fermenting history of the perseverance of racism within this country. Nothing will change until we come to terms with that reality through an intense understanding of the insidiousness of the infection.

But this focus on blaming an entire class of people—particularly those engaged in two of the most noble processions, public safety and education—is self-defeating and dangerous. No one believes we should protect bad cops or teachers, but any rational person should clearly see we need to support the good ones and ensure those we deem subject to removal from the profession are treated fairly.

One can argue the success of this country was built on the brilliance of the founding individuals—most of whom had extensive education—and the willingness of some citizens to stand up to those who would victimize the innocent.

Cops and teachers are two of the most necessary professions to realize our goal of the “pursuit of happiness.” When something terrible happens, cops will come running toward the problem, even at the risk of their own lives. Teachers are given the care of our most precious resource, our children, and will have almost as significant an impact on their success as the parents, in many cases, an even more significant one.

Each of these noble professions deserves our support. We can hold them to the highest standard—good cops and teachers would expect nothing less—but we also need to be grateful for their commitment to society, not demonize them for the sake of politics, money, or some concept of the human condition so removed from reality as to be foolish.

Keep driving good people from these professions and this Great American Experiment will soon disappear from this universe.

JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services. Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into reality.

A Return to the Ancestral Lands

We recently needed to return to the State of Rhode Island for a funeral (yes, we’ve reached this stage of life) and took the opportunity to drive by places where we’d owned homes. While the last few places were always great places to live, for me at least, wandering through Cumberland is where I most felt like a return to home.

This is a bit strange since I haven’t lived there since 1976(except for a brief interlude in 1979 with a fellow EPPD Officer who owned a duplex near the Boys Club.)

Along the Blackstone on the Cumberland Lincoln Line.

I think it is the depth and breadth of those earliest memories from the age of six or so where things become imprinted in one’s brain. Roads I haven’t traveled in decades still felt like old friends. Places have changed, but it still seems as if they hadn’t.

It is a difficult feeling to express: unfamiliar familiarity, unchanged changes, unaltered differences, a confusing mix of nostalgia and forgetfulness swathed in the fog of time. This time of the year was always one of mixed feelings. Summer was over, full Fall flourishes fading, winter hinting at its arrival with each leave rustling gust. It was always a time when the past and the future fought for dominance. The grey and brown replaced the once vibrant new growth greens of Spring and Summer.

But it was still a joyful experience in the embrace of the once and still familiar places. They (those proverbial pronouncers of wisdom) say you can never go home. And I would agree there is a truth in that. Cumberland was where I set my roots in life, a tap root reaching deep into the earth, yet the branches have taken me far and wide.

I will always consider it home, but it is unlikely I will ever live there again. And that is okay with me. There is a big world out there. Those roots planted long ago remain strong in their connection to my “homeland,” but they’ve given me the freedom to journey far.

If I were ever to find myself homeless, all I need do is find my way back-—walking if I had to, I’ve done longer—and I would be home. I wouldn’t have it any other way.