By: Phillips Sartain
The Banks County News
December 19, 2001
Going down in flames
Most people donıt know it yet, but itıs almost Christmas. I know because my youngest daughter has been giving me some hints. In other words, every fifteen minutes or so, Susanna has been yelling like her hair was on fire.
The first time she suffered from spontaneous combustion, my initial tendency was to pass it off as just more sibling screaming. As a parent, if there isnıt a deafening crash or a copious display of blood, you donıt overreact. But then I wondered how I would explain to my wife how Susu burnt all her hair off while I was watching the ballgame.
Either way, it was halftime, so I broke into a frantic dash toward the den. ³Whereıs the fire?² I shouted breathlessly as I slid sideways into the den dragging the water hose after me. But all I found was Susanna standing in front of the television pointing like a zombie.
³Look, Daddy, thatıs what I want for Christmas. Oh, please, please, please. I wonıt ask for anything else. I promise. Puhleeeasse.² Somewhat relieved, I started rolling up the water hose to put it away. In the meantime, Susu continued pleading. I had no idea that the words ³please² and ³Daddy² could be repeated, stretched, and intermingled so much and yet still be recognizable to the human ear.
³Weıll see,² I finally answered. Itís the same answer I always give. And it has the same effect every time I use it - it sets off a prolonged pout. For some reason, my children believe that saying ³weıll see² actually means ³no.² In all honesty, they might be right, but Iım not allowed to reveal any secrets of the Parental Speaking Code.
To her credit, Susu does The Pout better than her two sisters, who prefer and excel at the ³throw down² approach. In her case, Susanna has the pout down pat - an unrelenting and unforgiving frown, genuine tears of anguish without making a single crying sound, and a lower lip protruding so low that it almost touches the ground. Sheıs an artist.
In the meantime, the guy on the commercial kept droning on and on about the absolute necessity of having this ONE toy for Christmas above all others. ³Now, remember kids, you must get permission from your parents to order.²
Loosely translated, that means go stand in front of your father while heıs trying to watch the football game and yell and scream that your hair will catch on fire if you donıt own the new Credit Card Barbie doll. When his eyes roll up into the back of his head, that means you have permission. ³Call now and get a handy shopping tote bag for Barbie at no extra charge.²
Considering the developmental consequences, I delicately shifted from a ³weıll see² position into an ³I donıt think so² mode. Thatıs when Susanna threw down on me. It was a strategic error on her part - she doesnıt throw down well and it just didnıt move me at all.
Sensing a little ambivalence in my purchasing position, Susanna tried to reason with me: ³Now, Daddy. You know that Christmas is coming. And you have to buy presents for all of us. So you might as well get it over with and buy me what I want now.²
It was a bold move on her part. As an adult male, Iım powerless to resist the logic of logic. I was strong at first, but I ended up conceding to the purchase right in the middle of a fourth and one play from the six-inch line. I figured sheıd never remember all that stuff anyway.
And I was actually dumb enough to think I was home free. The next week, while my wife was flipping through a stack of catalogues, she started to yell and scream like her hair was on fire. I grabbed the hose and ran to her aid. ³Weıve just got to get this new doll for Suzie. Sheıll love it,² she said, holding up a picture of Credit Card Barbie. Thatıs when I turned the hose on myself.
Merry Christmas, Susanna.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
The Banks County News
December 19, 2001
The imagery of the Christ Child being born in a stable beneath a bright star surrounded by both learned Wise Men and humble shepherds is one of the most powerful pictures in human history. Humble by birth, He became a shepherd of men, a king of kings and the light of humankind.
Yet, for all His impact on this world, little is known about the man we call Jesus. Relative to others of his era, his known words are few. And virtually nothing is known of His childhood after the birth in Bethlehem.
Some of that may change. One archeologist in Israel believes he has found the site of an ancient wine press in Nazareth, the tiny village that was Jesusı boyhood home. Excavations could yield further clues as to the nature of the village 2,000 years ago and perhaps shed some light on how the boy Jesus would have lived.
Many of Jesusı parables revolve around the common things He observed, and it isnıt too much to imagine that those well-known stories may have come from the things he saw as a child, say scholars who wish to study the area.
Perhaps it is by design that we know so little about His childhood. But what we know of His later life was destined to change the world.
One unknown writer said it best:
He was born in an obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30.
He then became an itinerant preacher.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didnıt go to college.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the public turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
He was laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man of this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.