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In Other Words...

A Research Service Of Facts & Humor For Christian Leaders

November 2020   Issue 2

CONFLICT: The holidays have an uncanny way of resurfacing unresolved conflict.  When that happens, pause to think about two great actors from the 20th century.  Early in their careers, Audrey Hepburn and Marlon Brando were seated next to each other at an Actor’s Guild gathering.  When they sat down, Hepburn uttered a shy “Hello,” but Brando didn’t say a word throughout the entire meal.  For the next 40 years Hepburn believed Brando shunned her.  Her son, Ted Kreiter, explained how Brando learned of the hurt and sent a letter while she was in the hospital near the end of her life.  He said he was speechless in her presence that day because he was in absolute awe of her.  He couldn’t think of a single thing to say.  She was shy of him, and he was in awe of her, yet a simple misunder-standing fueled four decades of resentment.  Their story is not dissimilar to many other conflicts that are long overdue for resolution. Saturday Evening Post, May/June 2020, p.91

GRATITUDE: John Kralik wasn’t where he wanted to be in life.  He’d burned through two marriages, wasn’t connected to his children the way he hoped, and was pounding out long hours with little monetary reward in his law practice.  The discouragement caused Kralik to remember how his grandfather emphasized the importance of gratitude decades earlier.  Sensing a desperate need for change, Kralik decided to write 365 thank-you notes in 12 months.  He quickly noticed a significant improvement in his attitude and circum-stances.  A year later he penned a memoir about his experience, A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life.  Among his most useful learning points is this, “The first effects are you realize you have a much better life than you thought.”  Gratitude reminds us that life isn’t as bad as we think. Reader’s Digest, October 2016, p.46

GRATITUDE: Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote, “Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings, Charles Dickens, 2003, p.1

GRATITUDE: Aesop lived in Greece during the sixth century B.C. and his insights are still repeated today.  During Thanksgiving, and beyond, his words about gratitude are timeless and true: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” Beaumont Enterprise, 2020

IDEALISM: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was one of the most memorable artists of the 20th century.  His work captured moments of everyday life and made him a very popular illustrator.  For a half-century his art was featured on over 300 covers of The Saturday Evening Post.  Rockwell’s illustrations made people smile and savor life, in part because he focused on the ideal rather than the real.  The renowned artist said, “I paint life as I would like it to be.”  Happiness eluded him personally so he tried to create it professionally.  Many will sit around a table for Thanksgiving feeling a bit hollow because life isn’t ideal.  But truthfully, life only occasionally intersects with the ideal, and when it does, it’s always temporary.  We will find ourselves far more contented when we can celebrate what is real without requiring it to be ideal. Saturday Evening Post, January/February 2020, p.94

PERSPECTIVE: Laura Helmuth has noted something that should nudge us all toward deeper gratitude and a richer perspective of life.  She reminded readers that the most important difference between life now and 150 years ago is not industrial or technological advances.  She wrote, “We used to live 35 to 40 years on average in the United States, but now we live almost 80.  We used to get one life.  Now we get two.”  When somberness surrounds you, remember this great advantage. Reader’s Digest, November 2015, p.81

THANKSGIVING: James Taylor has won five Grammys and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.  At 72, he’s still making music and still touring.  Before the pandemic took off, Taylor released his latest album, American Standard, on February 28, 2020.  The new work is dedicated to his wife, Caroline, and in an interview he explained the meaning of the Latin phrase he used: Sine qua non (pronounced sinā-kwa-noon).  “It means ‘without which there’s nothing.’”  What a famous man said of his wife can be easily used in a prayer of thanks to God for His indispensability. AARP, April/May 2020, p.18

FAMILY: Autocorrect adds a wrinkle to life that previous generations never got to “enjoy.”  Susan Finnegan texted her brother about wanting to visit but explained how it’d be difficult because of her asthma and the high altitude of the city in which he lived.  Here’s what her brother received: “We have talked about coming to visit you, but between my asthma and your attitude, I’m not sure if that will be possible.”  Some families don’t even need asthma to reach the same conclusion. Reader’s Digest, September 2016, p.36

GRATITUDE: In the Family Circus, Dolly was coaching her little brother P.J. about manners.  She told him, “When somebody gives you something…you wait for them to say, ‘And what do you say?’ Then you say, ‘Thank you.’” Houston Chronicle, 6/10/20, p.D7

OPINIONS: Thomas Edison noted, “You will have many opportunities in life to keep your mouth shut; you should take advantage of every one of them.”  To help us all remember his wisdom around the Thanksgiving table, put a penny in front of your plate.  In 1787, Benjamin Franklin designed the first penny and it didn’t include E Pluribus Unum.  The founding father inscribed, “Mind Your Business.” Reader’s Digest, March 2017, p.129

THANKSGIVING: In 1981, Pam Talbot pitched the idea of having a hotline for people to call when experiencing “turkey trauma.”  It was a public relations strategy for Butterball and it’s still going strong four decades later.  Each year from November 1st to Christmas Eve, over 100,000 calls, texts, and live-chats take place to walk people through questions about the particulars of thawing, preparing, and cooking a turkey.  Over the years people have asked if they can thaw their turkey in the dishwasher, under an electric blanket, or in a backyard pool.  When it comes to turkeys, confusion abounds.  One man was worried his big bird wouldn’t thaw in time so in trying to better understand where he was in the thawing process, the expert asked him, “What state is your turkey in?”  The man immediately answered, “Florida.”  Phyllis Kramer is one of the 50 Butterball experts and has described her favorite call over twenty years of work.  In 2014, an agitated caller complained that the 21-pound turkey they just pulled from the oven barely had any meat on it.  Sensing that the caller may have been enjoying too many holiday cocktails, Kramer suggested she turn the turkey over.  They had cooked the turkey breast-side down (upside-down) so all that was visible was the big interior cavity.  Problem solved! Houston Chronicle, 11/28/19, p.A2


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