Psst… Guess what? There’s only 19 more days until Christmas!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!
Happy December, Friends! As of today, there are twenty days until Christmas. Just twenty! And including today, that leaves only three Throwback Thursdays until the day we’ve all been waiting for.
We’re sure many of us feel the whirr of December flying by us and also the sting of the high prices of all the Christmas presents we have to buy on our list, and the feelings of anxiety to get everything on our checklist completed. But, today, we’re going to discuss an alternative Christmas.
Remember when you were a kid, the wonder of Christmas? How it felt to anticipate the moment when you would wake up and see what Santa left for you under your tree? Or the feeling throughout the season in the days and weeks leading up to the big day, when we would hide in our bedrooms and work on handmade projects to give Mom and Dad? The smell of the house when Mom baked Christmas cookies and we ate them with homemade hot chocolate? The fun we had when Dad brought home a Christmas tree and Mom got out all the decorations we had made over the years. She had a story about each and every ornament. Sometimes, we got to string popcorn garlands (and eat popcorn garlands), hang candy canes (and eat candy canes) and sing Christmas carols while we decked the halls.
But now, how many of us long for those days of yore as we whip out the credit card, go on Amazon, and run up the tab to fulfill everyone’s (expensive) desires. We complain that things aren’t what they used to be, that Christmas is too commercialized, and that kids today don’t appreciate what they’ve got. But whose fault is that? It’s ours!
It’s this writer’s belief that in today’s society, one where we have more technology than ever, in a time when it takes less time than ever to accomplish more things (i.e., sending a mass Christmas email rather than handwriting and addressing individual cards), we’re spending even more time working and less time with our families. And even when we are with our families, all of us have our faces in our cellphones and are too busy communicating with people other than who are in the room with us!
This writer also believes that as parents, we feel guilty about the time we don’t spend with our kids, so we try to make up for that by buying them the best gifts ever. And then we complain when they would rather play a video game than spend time with us when we do have extra time to budget.
That’s why, starting today, through the rest of the Throwback Thursdays until Christmas, we’re going to be sharing some ideas to make an old-fashioned Christmas.
First up, if you have little ones who are just learning to read or who don’t quite yet read, it’s a fun idea to head to your nearest used bookstore and pick up a basketful of children’s Christmas stories. Wrap them each individually, and place them in back in the basket. Then, each night until Christmas Eve, let your kiddos select and unwrap one book that you can read with them, or they can read to you. (This idea is known as a literary advent.) (The books are not as important as the quality time you spend together reading them.)
If the kiddos are older, select five Christmas-themed chapter books (such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol), and rotate each family member reading one chapter per night out loud to the rest of the family.
Another early-in-December family activity is to sit down together (with a big mug of hot cocoa and some Christmas cookies) and handwrite a brief personal note in each of a box of Christmas cards, then mail them out in the post. People love getting Christmas cards in the mail and often display them in their home all month. But sadly, so many Christmas greetings these days come in the form of a mass email or text full of emojis rather than words.
(While we’re on the subject of how to make someone’s day by writing them a short note in a Christmas card, sitting down with the family and having every one handwrite thank you cards then mailing them is also a lost art that’s genuinely appreciated by the gift-giver, and also a good practice for everyone in your family to do.)
Next, it’s important to teach our children (and remind ourselves) that Christmas is about giving. (Not so much about receiving.) There are many ways you can make your own Christmas Countdown advent calendar, only instead of filling each day’s envelope with sweet treats to eat, load it with a different project for the entire family to do that will serve others. After you make the calendar, you just print the activities on small slips of paper and tuck them inside. (Remember, the kids aren’t the only ones who should be doing these activities.) Some examples include:
After each day’s task is complete, have a family discussion about how doing the task for others made each of you feel. It won’t take long to realize just how much the gift of giving is really the gift for the person doing the giving.
That’s it for today, folks. We hope you join us in creating an old-fashioned Christmas for your family, and we look forward to seeing you back here again next week! Remember, there’s only twenty more days…
It’s “Tuesday Newsday,” the day when Dean Burnetti Law brings you news of recalls, legal or political events, other important happenings, or just uplifting stories that make your heart smile…
Today is another triple tissue day, with our three stories that are sure to warm your heart – and bring tears to your eyes. First we’ll kick off with a story you may remember from 2016, but which has grown much bigger since then…
It’s the quintessential “Friendsgiving” story. You may remember four years ago in Mesa, Arizona, Wanda Dench was trying to text her grandson to invite him to Thanksgiving, but she had the number wrong and unknowingly texted Jamal Hinton, a stranger she had never met.
Jamal, from Phoenix, was a high school senior at the time, and he replied to that wrong text asking for a photo of the sender to confirm it was his grandma. She obliged, then Jamal sent his photo, confirming that she wasn’t his grandma, but it didn’t end there. “You not my grandma,” he texted back, adding a laugh emoji, then asked if he could “still get a plate.”
“Of course you can,” Wanda told him at the time. “That’s what grandmas do . . . feed everyone.” The good-humored pair decided to actually make good on the opportunity and have joined forces each Thanksgiving since then.
Over the years, the two formed a strong bond and became anything but strangers. “What we all need to do is love, spread kindness, and break bread together,” an email from Jamal to Wanda read. “You remind me of my mother — she was a beautiful soul.”
“Wanda is a really good person,” Jamal says. “I really enjoy the time I spend with her.” And this is what Thanksgiving is all about,
This year, Jamal, 20, and his girlfriend, Mikaela, hosted Wanda, 62, and husband Lonnie along with members of their extended families. The young couple and Mikaela’s family did all the cooking this year.
Jamal also shared a video of the day including Jamal receiving a gift — a scrapbook of their friendship — from Wanda, then showing it to his family.
“You guys should definitely come by for Sunday dinner,” said a woman identified only as Mikaela’s mom, indicating that this holiday gathering of family and friends would not be the last.
Their friendship has even extended beyond Thanksgiving. Jamal says that the two have become close over the years. In fact, just last month the two couples went on a double date to a local pumpkin patch. “We’ve become really good friends,” Jamal says. “Unfortunately, our schedules don’t usually line up too well and we live an hour and a half apart, but we have managed to have a couple dinners at her house and restaurants.”
Last year, the couples sat down for a Q&A with questions brought from social media. On behalf of their followers, Mikaela asked Wanda why she initially agreed to meet Jamal. “A lot of people were wondering, ‘How could someone be so nice?’ A lot of people . . . thought it was fake,” Mikaela added.
“Absolutely not,” replied Wanda, who said she grew up on military bases. “We moved around a lot, so strangers were not strangers to me,” she explained, adding that it was common for her family to take in other neighbors on the base who had no family nearby. “It was a normal thing for us.”
“Are you basically family now?” asked Mikaela.
“Yes, definitely,” Wanda responded. “Because family is more than blood. It’s the people that you want to be with and that you just feel good with.”
“I feel great here,” Jamal added.
Who here doesn’t just LOVE this story? We have no doubt that if Jamal and Mikaela decide to tie the knot, Wanda and Lonnie will have a special place in their special day!
Wipe your eyes, because you’ll be tearing up again for this next sweet story…
Professional golfer Brandon Matthews missed a crucial putt that cost him the Visa Open de Argentina title in Buenos Aires. As he was taking the putt, a fan yelled from the gallery, which distracted Matthews.
“I got over the putt, took the putter back and heard kind of a yelp or a scream,” Brandon Matthews said of the incident. “I kind of flinched on the putt and immediately knew I missed it. I thought someone had done it intentionally. I was frustrated. Really, I was in shock that that just happened.”
The PGA tournament administration manager then took Brandon aside and explained that it was a fan with Down Syndrome who got excited and could not control his emotions.
And as soon as Brandon was given those details, he immediately forgot about the frustrating loss and asked to meet the fan. “I was around mental disability growing up, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. Those are really special people,” he said. “I felt so terrible that I was even upset. I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel bad. I gave him a hug and I asked him, ‘Hey, are you doing OK? Are you having fun?’ I just wanted to make sure he was enjoying himself, that he had no hard feelings, that he didn’t feel bad about what happened,” Brandon said. “I didn’t want to anyone to be mad at him. I didn’t want him to be mad at himself. I wanted to make sure he knew that I wasn’t mad. That’s all I wanted to do.”
For Brandon Matthews, what happened Sunday superseded winning or losing or any other career concerns. “Some things are bigger than golf,” he said, “and this was one of them.”
Is that not the sweetest moment ever? Hold on for the last tear-jerker…
In a tribute that was 102 years in the making, the grave of an NYPD cop killed in the line of duty more than a century ago finally received a headstone —courtesy of some modern-day brothers-in-blue.
Patrolman John Flood was bludgeoned to death with his own nightstick inside an Upper East Side tenement on July 3, 1917, after a woman, Kittie Connors, approached him, stating a man was in her apartment threatening to kill her. The man in question was Bronx prize fighter Milton Bleier.
The Bridgeport Evening Farmer (July 5, 1917) explained the boxer’s reason for being in Connor’s apartment: “Bleier is alleged to be a white slave cadet. [Cadets were men who abducted, threatened, or otherwise coerced young women into human trafficking, often bringing them to “houses of ill fame.”] Yesterday the young woman who gave him her earnings was threatened with a beating if she did not give up more money. Miss Connors told the sordid story of her life to Patrolman Flood and stated she was weary of supporting Bleier. She asked the policeman to arrest the pugilist who was waiting at her home for money.”
When Flood entered the home, Bleier first punched the patrolman in the face then wrestled his nightstick from him, beating him to death with it. (Initial reports suggested Bleier used an axe or hatchet, but he later confessed to using the nightstick.) Bleier left the nightstick at the scene and fled, but was apprehended 6 months later in Baltimore, Maryland. He confessed to the crime, took a plea deal, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The NYPD mourned Flood with a full-honors funeral service, where he was remembered as the “parish priest” of the 31st Precinct – now the 19th Precinct – for always admonishing his co-workers who used foul language. Flood was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens in an unmarked grave that later came to include his wife and his mother-in-law.
A century passed with Flood in anonymous repose. Then in 2016, a crime prevention officer in the 19th precinct started a project to update and renovate the station’s memorial wall, which paid homage to the precinct’s seven officers killed in the kind of duty. When the wall was re-dedicated, NYPD Officer Anthony Nucchio met Maureen O’Grady, the granddaughter of Officer Flood, who piqued his interest in the century-old case.
A year later, on the centennial of Flood’s death, Nucchio and his two commanding officers went to pay their respects at the fallen cop’s grave, but couldn’t find it. “We finally found the location, but there was just grass,” Nucchio explained. “Cemetery employees told me there was no stone there. I called Maureen up and she told me that there was never a stone.”
Realizing a fellow cop was in a grave with no headstone — or mention of his ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty — Nucchio felt compelled to take action. “We had to do something. Over 100 years had gone by and he’s been laying there with his family in an unmarked grave. It didn’t seem right,” Nucchio said. “It was a no brainer.”
The reason for Flood’s anonymous grave was a longstanding family feud that was still boiling when he died. Angry kin denied Flood’s widow access to the family plot for his burial, so she bought a new one. But the widowed mother of three was unable to afford a headstone for her husband — or ultimately for herself or her mother, when they joined Flood there. O’Grady tried over the years to get a stone for her grandparents’ grave, but was never able to get the funds and paperwork together, she told Nucchio.
Nucchio told her, “You’re not going to worry about it anymore. We were going to take care of it.” Nucchio rallied active and retired officers from the 19th Precinct and raised the $9,000 needed to buy, engrave, and place the headstone in the cemetery. “The marker was in place a week before Thanksgiving — a fitting thank you to a cop who gave his life to the city,” Nucchio said.
“It was a genuine honor and privilege to do this for Maureen and her relatives,” the officer added. “It’s our way of thanking Patrolman Flood for his service and thanking his family for giving him up to the city.
I feel like he was part of my family.”
O’Grady, 75, saw the stone for the first time on Monday. “The cops have been phenomenal from the beginning when they said they were going to arrange for the stone to be put in,” the semi-retired math teacher said. “It’s something I’ve been hoping to do for many years and to see it fulfilled is such a blessing. This is not a monument just to my grandfather, but to everyone in the police department.”
Okay, did we lie? Were there plenty of tears shed for these beautiful people? We hope so!
It’s Monday. Welcome to a new week. Today is the day for “Monday Ministry.” Did you know that Attorney Dean Burnetti went to seminary before he was called to the legal field? The following is a devotion given to you by Dean…
Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Many years ago, I remember shopping for a new yard swing for my wife. There was a gentleman who lived on the highway outside our town who had some of the most beautiful handmade wooden porch swings for sale. I remember the owner coming out from his house to show me the swings. He seemed like a very nice fellow, at least until his wife came outside.
I would ask different questions, and she would make comments about the swing and how nice it was. He then immediately got mad and criticized anything she said as being incorrect, and he ultimately started to cuss at her. It was embarrassing to say the least. Every word that came from his mouth that was directed to her was hurtful and insulting.
Needless to say, I did not buy a swing from that man. I was just so upset over how he beat on her emotionally, and in public.
I must admit that growing up, I developed a very bad impression about God’s relationship with me. I almost thought of God as in constant judgement and criticism over me. I recognized that I needed to feel conviction before I could create a relationship with God. But at some point, I developed this attitude that I needed God to be in constant judgment over me in order to keep me in a right relationship with Him. I never really thought of Him as being my source of encouragement. I thought that with my sinful life, it took all of His time just to keep correcting me.
The truth be told, our God can be our ultimate encourager. His words in Isaiah illustrate that God would much rather spend his time cheering us forward than being our critic.
I’m convinced that our God wants us to succeed in every endeavor and moment of our lives. The cry from heaven is not that we need to get it together in life, but rather that God is proud of and cheering for you. That he wants you to soar on wings like eagles.
Have a blessed week!
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Today, we’re going to hurry through our Throwback Thursday while the turkey cooks, because we know you have other things to get to. We’re sure you probably already guessed that today’s Throwback Theme would have something to do with Thanksgiving, but we’re actually not going to do the obvious and head back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Today, we’re going to give you a parcel of fun Thanksgiving facts that you can share around the table today, and have everyone thing you are the pinnacle of knowledge. Won’t they be impressed?
Well, we smell turkey, so it’s time to being this edition of Throwback Thursday to a close. On behalf of Dean Burnetti Law, we’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!