Earlier this week, my sister Kathy called me, "Am I correct in thinking that Mom used to send us little kid Valentine's like the ones school children use?"
In grammar school, Valentine's Day meant wrapping a shoe box with brown craft paper, cutting a slot in the top for cards to drop in and decorating the outside of the box with hearts and cupids. Store-bought Valentines were labeled the night before and carefully taken to school to be given away. When the big day came, it wasn't only if you received Valentines that counted, it was from whom, and if they gave you your card first that mattered.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during World War II. Churchill took up painting as a hobby in 1915, after the Gallipoli debacle, where 46,000 allied lives were lost over nine months of the campaign. He went on to paint more than 500 paintings during his lifetime. As wartime prime minister, he took a break from painting, focusing instead on the task at hand - winning the war, no matter the cost.
Enthusiastic, entertaining, energized and eminent, President Obama's demeanor and delivery at the State of the Union belied his political reality. Unbowed, unbroken and possibly unaffected by the recent midterm Republican wave, Obama displayed his great skill by delivering an emotional teleprompter-driven speech that was a throwback to his first election. Varying tempo, pitch, passion and inflection, his speech was more a theatrical performance than a delivery of a prewritten, pre-released text.
As members of the 114th Congress were sworn into office on Tuesday, their party affiliations described what happened last November: 246 of the 435 representatives and 54 of the 100 senators are Republican.
New Year's is the almost-perfect holiday (Christmas takes the blue ribbon). It's a combination of reflecting, celebrating or possibly just being glad of getting rid of the old year - while at the same time looking forward to the potential and possibilities of the year to come. It's the bridge between the past and present, where what has been done is over - but the future still looks bright, if a bit hazy.
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My first paying job was cleaning the bathrooms of the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Ga. This was also my sister's first job. The money we made was our money. We could decide how to spend it: clothes, records, books, eight-track tapes, whatever we decided.
Last month, I wrote a column providing a midterm life update based on a question by David Brooks.
December is often the time of too many events, too many parties, too many obligations, too many gifts and too much family. There are quite a few Decembers in my recent memory where I did too much, slept too little and was worn out or sick by Christmas. This year, prompted by an e-mail message from the principal at my child's middle school, reminding parents that doing less might end up helping more, I'm once again reviewing my calendar. So far, I've cancelled two events, and I'm only through this week.
The first "official" Thanksgiving was celebrated 222 years ago. President George Washington's first presidential proclamation designated the 26th day of November to be set aside for giving thanks.
"What is the meaning of life?" my middle school daughter asked me recently as we were lying on her bed one evening. After a few minutes of contemplation, knowing that the answer was not about acquisition of money, fame or power, and that material items might provide ease in life, but not meaning, I responded that it is "to experience and then to allow God's grace to shine through you to others."
I'm going to take the opportunity this week to write a letter of thanks to our veterans.
It will take more than a generic Republican candidate to defeat President Obama next year. Repubicans will need a leader that can inspire millions to get involved and take action. Enthusiasm, optimism and passion are called for to make the movement work.
Today, everyday citizens find ourselves at a crossroads. Abandon the ideals of the American Revolution, or take control of our destiny. The American people are called to action. Every generation must decide if it wants to leave politics to the politicians - or whether we are ready for our rendezvous with destiny.
In the two hours of the Republican debate Tuesday night, more energy was spent in back-and-forth bickering than substantive answers. At times, I put my head down to avoid watching the candidates talk over each other. Due in part to a fast answer-and-rebuttal format, it felt more like a schoolyard argument than the serious discussion that would help propel the issues forward for the voters.
"It's the economy stupid" is the infamous mantra conceived by political consultant James Carville that underscored the main issue driving the 1992 presidential race. A few months later, Bill Clinton replaced George H.W. Bush (41) as president, and it was the focus on the economy that got him there.
I'm a little bit disappointed that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is not running for the Republican nomination for president. He was sure to inject another round of excitement into the campaign.
Are you frustrated with the American government? If so, then you are not alone. According to Gallup's annual governance survey, you have more company than usual. "A record-high 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed," said the poll, which was released Monday.
I'm finally beginning to tackle the playroom in our home. For years, it's been a large space for toys, toys and more toys. Once or twice a year, when toys threaten to take over, the purging begins. The quantity of toys builds again, and the cycle continues.
We are used to flag-waving in this country, but we have moved to Constitution-waving as well. Small reprints often inhabit the jacket pockets of men and pocketbooks of women. My desk holds a 3.5-inch by 5-inch copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
It was slightly more than six weeks after my second child had been born by way of emergency C-section. Sleep-deprived and tired, I had left my two under the age of two at home with a sitter to get out and get some exercise.