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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Idle Christmas Reflections

Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

I've been relaxing in my upholstered recliner, covered with the warm blanket that my sister, Suzy, gave me last Christmas, enjoying the crackling fireplace on my big television screen, as Christmas music plays softly in the background, and my three foot sparkling fiber optic Christmas tree revolves around before the window of my room.

I sure wish you could see my crackling fireplace and my beautiful fiber optic Christmas tree!

I've been thinking about how lucky I am, and how blessed.

At supper, I went to the mess hall and ate roast beef, noodles, gravy, a roll, pinto bean soup with croutons, bread pudding, and a cup of hot chocolate.

The worms and maggots were kind of bland, but I seasoned them with plenty of salt and pepper.

My comfortable situation, for some odd reason, made me imagine the lives of those who weren't as fortunate.

Yes, I know about the homeless and destitute currently among us.

But, my thoughts turned to even more extreme suffering, in particular, imagining the horrific tribulations endured by prisoners of the Nazis in the death camps, or the doomed inmates in the Soviet gulags.

They were hungry, deliberately starved, freezing, wearing little more than thin pajamas, paranoid lest a fellow inmate betray them, or seeking a chance to betray their fellow inmate, in hopes of obtaining at least one more day of life on this Earth.

Yes, the Jews would be loathe to acknowledge that aspect of the Holocaust, but the bitter fact remains that survivors only remained alive by betraying other Jews.

The deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainians by the Soviet Union exceeded the numbers of Jews who died in the Holocaust, but you won't hear much about that, either.

Nobody knows how many millions of Chinese were murdered by their own Communist government.

And that reminds me of what happened in Cambodia, which is just ONE tiny insignificant country in that primitive part of the World.

There are so many, many more.

Imagine you're a prisoner, whether in Germany or Russia, or some backwater Third World country, and it's cold and you're famished and sick and hurting all over.

From within the guard's barracks and the commandant's quarters, you see the Christmas lights, hear the laughter and music, and smell the roasting sausages, potatoes, puddings, and pies.

What would that do to you?

You have no hope.

The war will never end.

You will never be free.

Even after hundreds of years and millions of dollars in Western attempts to civilize Africa, it still remains a continent of ignorance, starvation, disease, and unfathomable horrors, including cannibalism, slave trafficking, and sexual deviance.

Will it ever change?

Imagine if you were a small Negro child growing up under those conditions.

What chance do they have?

So, these are thoughts which cross my mind, as I relish my undeserved blessings, and loll about in the plush luxury of my room here at the Ol' Soldiers' Home.

Take the case of just ONE of those millions upon millions of unfortunate souls.

There was no one, not a single person, no attorney, and no organization to plead in their behalf, or who even were aware of their existence, and each one of those innumerable statistics was a living, breathing human being, a child of our Heavenly Father, with a brain, and emotions.

Yes, there's a reason I think of these things.

I'm reminded of the terrors I endured as a lad, when I was locked up in a state mental hospital, because I was deemed an ungovernable youth by the local juvenile court.

I underwent repeated electric shock treatments, experimental mind altering drugs, and sexual assault by fellow inmates.

An especially vivid memory is the utter hopelessness I felt, when I was housed in a special locked ward designated for those considered "incurable" and who would never be released.

I was stripped naked, placed in a bare isolation room, and injected with a powerful tranquilizer.

A teenager, I gazed through the window and thought:

"This is the end of the line, and as low as I can go.

There is no hope, and I'll never be free.

This is the end of my life.

I'll never get an education, or go to college.

I'll never have a girlfriend, or get married.

I'll never get to be a soldier.

I'll never travel to another country.

I'll never drive a car or fire a gun."

So, you can see how deep in despair I was, at that time and place.

Miracles do happen.

I eventually was released, although the years had severely affected me, greatly retarding my ability to assimilate into ordinary society, much like the character in the movie, SLINGBLADE.

Still, I was exceedingly blessed, for I converted to The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, passed a G.E.D. examination, and succeeded in being inducted into the United States Army.

Thus, my unimaginable dreams came true, as I got to do all of the things I never thought I would, and even more.

It's better than a Hollywood script!

Why was I so unusually fortunate?

I have no idea.

Maybe my life is a testimony of the unpredictable goodness of God, and how He can so richly bless someone who plainly is not deserving.

Will I still make it to my sister's house for Christmas?

It's iffy.

There's the problem with all the accumulated snow.

Although my truck is a four wheel drive, I don't have any snow chains for my tires.

Do you suppose I can drive over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house?

What about all those police roadblocks?

Do you think I should try and drive around them, or crash my way through in a hail of gunfire?

Of course, with the Arctic temperatures we currently endure, I might not even be able to start my engine.

It'll be hard driving through the frigid blizzards and super high gale force winds in Virginia.

It'll probably take several days to get there.

I wonder if I have enough rations?

If I do make it to Grandmother's house (my sister Suzy is a grammaw), how will I recognize it beneath all that snow and ice?

Will the snowplows smash into my pickup truck?

Also, I'll need to be on the lookout for all those lions, and tigers, and bears - - - oh, my!

After driving over the river and through the woods, when I get to Grandmother's house, I want some roast goose, plum pudding, and a bowl of wassail.

So, what's a "bowl of wassail", you ask?

I'm not sure.

It's in a song.

"Here we go a wassailing among the leaves so green."

Gosh, gee whillikers, if the leaves are green, then what happened to all that snow?

But, as for the poor among us,

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?
What about the treadmill, and the poorhouse, are they still working?"

"If they'd rather die, then let them do it and decrease the surplus population."


"Bah! Humbug!"

"Anyone who wishes a 'Merry Christmas!' should be boiled alive in their own pudding."

"God bless us, every one!"

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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