Tony A. Smith

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Priceless Gifts

priceless-gifts

Christmas is a time for being with family, good food, giving gifts, and celebrating the birth of Christ. Let us not forget though, that some of the most meaningful gifts we can give come from our heart and need not cost anything at all.  Here are a few of those …..

– Shovel snow off your neighbors sidewalk and driveway.

– Rather than give advice to someone, ask for some.

– Open the door for someone else.

– Read stories in your local library to children or seniors who can’t.

– Help in your local nursing home by  just visiting and talking with some of the residents there who never have anyone to come and visit them.

– Let someone go on ahead of you while in line at the store.

– Give away some of your secret and most favorite recipes to your friends.

– Visit the Humane Society and adopt an animal if you can.

– Smile whenever you can at others. You never know how much you may change their day or outlook on life.

– Save up some fabric scraps and give them away to someone who quilts.

– Write a letter to the editor agreeing with his views on something.

– Volunteer to be a bell-ringer at your local Salvation Army.

– Write a letter to your friends you haven’t talked to in a long time and see how much it means to them.

– Say please and thank you whenever you are given the opportunity.

– Pick up after yourself around the house, and give others who usually do it a break.

– Say you’re sorry when you need to and forgive others when they do the same and are sincere.

– Call your family members on the phone just to tell them you love them.

– Tell someone you are proud of them.

– Be a mentor to a young person and show them the way to go.

– Take a cancer or dialysis patient to their treatments if they have no one who can help out.

– Volunteer to babysit for parents with a newborn baby to give them a night out once in a while.

– Pray for those who need prayer.

– Bake a cake or pie and take it to the new neighbors on the block.

– Don’t hold a grudge more than 12 hours and try to reconcile differences before the sun goes down each day.  It will give both of you a good nights rest!

– Give yourself a gift by not worrying.  It ends up getting you nowhere in the long run.  Most of the stuff we worry about never comes to pass anyway. Worrying is just a changeless proposition.

Family Time

around-the-dinner-table

Have you ever heard people say that the family who sits down to eat a meal together around the table sticks together through thick and thin?  Too often we are so busy being busy with work, running to soccer practice, or dance, or baseball, or football, or another meeting, or shopping, or playing on the computer, or talking on the phone, or texting,  or combing our hair, putting on makeup, or whatever, that we don’t take the time to sit down at the dinner table and reconnect with each other.  There are many who never sit down together and break bread due to overwhelming schedules of life.  It’s a pretty sad shame too, since there are many benefits to eating together as a family if you can fit it in your schedule.  Now I’m not talking about sitting around the television in the living room with a television tray full of food.  I am talking about honest to goodness “Pass me the potatoes please, and how was your day”? conversation.

There are so many benefits that result from being able to eat together and look one another in the eye and actually hear each other breathe.  There was a study done by John Sandberg and Sandra Hofferth entitled “How American Children Spend Their Time,” which was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family which found that having family time meals on a regular basis results in fewer behavioral problems.  According to an article published in 2006 in “New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development”, family time dinners are even more important from a vocabulary standpoint than being read to.  It was found that young children learn 1000 rare words at the dinner table in comparison to only about 145 words from parents who read books out loud to them.  It only makes sense that there is more focus at the dinner table and obviously more comprehension.  No television, no phones, no computers, no noisy noise for a few minutes…. Sounds too good to be true……..but something you might get used to… right?

Being able to sit down and eat together as a family gives you a sense of belonging, and reminds you that you don’t have to face this old world on your own. It’s important especially for young children to give them that sense of security as often as we can.  So if you want to do something good for your family that will last and last, encourage everyone to try to sit down at the table at least for a few minutes, at least once or twice a week if you don’t already. It will make all the difference in the world. Children will remember those times for years to come, as they try to instill the same values, and quiet times in their own families that they were taught and can recall made a difference in their own lives and upbringing. Bind the family together and wrap them with the minutes of together moments forever. “So that’s what breathing sounds like?” Honest to goodness!

 

 

Someone To Listen

time-to-listien

60 Thoughts For My Granddaughter

granddaughter-book

I have been thinking about writing a new book in honor my granddaughter who will be born this May.  The title I am kicking around is called “60 Thoughts For My Granddaughter”

I am not sure where to take it or exactly what to say quite yet, but I know I want to leave some life lessons for her.  I also want to introduce some humor I think for things that new grandpas have to learn along the way, maybe some things they have forgotten and need to relearn.  I am not quite sure yet, but I have been doing some thinking along those lines.

What do you think?  If you have any ideas or thoughts about what I can include, let me know as I just started to try to build this in my mind now.  I welcome any and all suggestions!

 

Grandpa Thanksgiving

tony-kensington

My wife Denise and I just found out we are going to be grandparents this summer. This has been the best Thanksgiving gift we could have ever received.  GOD is great and we can’t wait to see the new little blessing that is on the way.

This is our first one on both sides of the family so I am sure the little one will get an avalanche of spoiling. I am not quite sure I can wait until summertime though! There are so many things running through my mind about what I want to tell, teach, and do with our new grand baby.

Whether it’s a girl, or whether it’s a boy it makes no difference to me.  We are supposed to have some sort of a reveal party where that information, I guess is revealed? Something about blue or pink balloons popping out of a box. I know GOD has great things planned for this little one!

Someone asked me what I want to be called?  I don’t know, but I have a few months to think about that one.  I suppose I’ll be called whatever the grand baby ends up calling me.  They say the grand babies end up calling the grand parents whatever the first one starts calling them. That’s what happened with our daughter too.  Whatever happens, is fine with me.

We are looking forward to this new adventure in our lives.  I am sure it will be a great ride!

College Education

College Education

He tried to raise cattle. That didn’t pan out that well. He tried his hand at remodeling houses and pretty much lost everything he had back when he was twenty-one years old. Oh well, that’s the past.  And now, oh well, now is all he has left.  That’s all any of us really have is the now.  We can’t live in the past and we certainly can’t live in the future.  Although many of us do try our hand at that even if we can never seem to make it all come together.

He sits there all alone in his creakity old chair.  It’s no different from any other time at two in the morning now.  The only light in the living room is the orange glow at the tip of his cigarette.  Usually says he can’t sleep for one reason or another.  Is it a lie? Well, you figure it out.  He takes a drag – inhales slow, pushes his mouth towards the ceiling and lets the smoke come out in one slow – long – swirl.  Flicks his ashes in the bottom of the rolled up cuff of his jeans and sighs.  Coughs and tries to clear his throat. Inhales  as the glow of his cigarette lights up the dark room once again. That’s been his usual routine for these past five years.

Just a common man without much education.  He’s worked hard all his life – not a paper pusher as he says.  But a man who worked with his hands and made a living sweating.  Not that he has anything against paper pushers.  It’s just he never could understand how someone could get paid to push papers and push buttons on a computer all day long. Never made much sense to him.

Tonight I’m spending the night with Dad.  Mom passed away just this past October.  Dad seems more restless than usual tonight for some reason. As he shifts and turns in his chair I hear every creak and moan of the worn out recliner from a nearby bedroom.  I wish just once he would stay in bed for an entire night!

Well now Dad is making it so that I can’t sleep either tonight. I just had to drive 500 miles from Houston to get here and now this! I wipe the crusted sleep from my eyes, roll over and grab my t-shirt and jeans that are laying on the dresser nearby. I slither them on as best as I can without any light and in the process bang a glass of water sitting on the same dresser.  Ice cold water drenches my bare feet. “Man – that water is cold”.

I latch on to my cell phone and push a button so that I have some sort of light to make my way to the living room. I look through the arched door opening to the living room and see that glow of his cigarette staring me in the face.  “Hey Dad”.  “Hi Son.”, he says.  “Why don’t you get up and go to bed Dad?”  “I would if I could Son.” “I just keep thinking, maybe I should have got a better education in my life so as to take better care of you kids and your mom somehow.”, he says.

“Oh now come on Dad, you worked 35 years down at the steel company every single day. It was hot and hard work!  You gave the best you could to your family.”  “And besides that Dad. Do you know you gave me more by not giving me everything I wanted in life?  You gave us all a roof over our heads and food on the table.  We never once went without food or a place to live.  And you taught us about the LORD – not by just what you said, but by what you did.”  ” If I had it to do all over though son, I would have gone to college.”, he says.

“Why’s that Dad?”  “Oh, to make something of myself.” he says. ” Can I just tell you something Dad?”  “When I was a little boy, I looked up to you.  And even though I’m all grown up now I’m still looking up to you. I am the man I am today because of you, and even though you might not know it, you’ve made something of yourself.  I love you Dad.”

“Thanks son, today you’ve given me more education than I could have ever had at any college”

 

In honor of all hard-working dads and moms!

My Letters From the Heart

Lawnmowers

800px-MTD_Lawn_Mower

Kids say the funniest things sometimes and most of the time they just say what comes to their mind.  Especially young kids.  Sometimes they say things that make you fall over laughing.

One time while I was visiting my mom in Texas, I took my little four-year old nephew Zach for a walk to the park which was just across the street from mom’s house.  It was early in the summer and a beautiful day to go for a walk and play on the slides and swings together.  The humidity in south Texas can be brutal in the summer but on this day, it was near perfect.

I was holding his hand as we walked and I bent over to tie a shoelace that had come undone.  When I did, he must have seen the top of my head that didn’t have much hair on top at the time.  He glanced at my head which was pretty much in his face, and said “It looks like the lawnmower got the top of your head.”  I almost fell over in the street from laughing so hard.  I guess he was right though.  My head had certainly been mowed down to the nub.  There wasn’t much grass on the top, and there still really isn’t much to speak of now.  Someone said you can use coconut oil tablets to make it grow back, but I’m not so sure it will work.

Kids just say what comes to mind and they really don’t mean anything by it.  I will never forget that day we walked to the park and found out that the lawnmower went off track and got the top of my head!

Ringling Days

Ringling Oklahoma Mural

A week ago I had to travel to Ringling, Oklahoma to attend the funeral of my great-aunt.  She was married to my uncle for more than fifty years and lived in Ringling most of her life.  I have many family members that still live either in Ringling or little towns nearby.

John Ringling

Ringling is a small town with a population at last count of 1037.  The main industry in Ringling is cattle ranching with the secondary industry being gas and oil.  Ringling was named after John Ringling who was the founder of Ringling Brothers Circus.  John was one of seven Ringling brothers and was the fifth of the seven sons.  Five of the brothers eventually merged with Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Ringling Brothers Circus first started in 1870 and the first show cost the grand total of one penny for a ticket.  Ringling Brothers spent some of the winter months in the town of Ringling and often gave away free tickets to the townspeople.

 

Ringling Oklahoma Moore Drug

Probably one of the biggest places to hang out in Ringling is Moore Drug.  There just isn’t a lot to do in the small town of Ringling.  My mom said that back in the day when she was a little girl that she and her relatives used to come to town and just hang on the street to visit with each other – just to have something to do.

Ringling Oklahoma street scene

Ringling is located about thirty miles north of the Texas border and thirty miles to the west of Ardmore, Oklahoma.  It is situated just to the north of US Highway 70 and State Highway 89.

 

Ringling Oklahoma Water Tower

Ringling does have a pretty good football team with state champion teams in 89, 92, 03, and 2012.  I suppose football gives the locals something to cheer about on those lonesome Friday nights when you want to get away from those oil derricks and cattle farms.

I had an opportunity while I was in Ringling to visit with some family members who I had not seen in more than forty years.  A lot can change in forty years.  I was able to spend some time with some of my cousins prior to the funeral and to just generally catch up on life.  One of my cousins asked me if I had a family and what I had been doing with my life.  I told her what I was doing career wise and a little about my family who she had never seen or met.  I asked her about hers.  It really made me stop and think about life, as funerals do sometimes.  We step out of our day-to-day routines and look not at life in the present, but at the conclusion, or the summation.  The preacher tries to say all the good things about a person’s life during a memorial service, where they’ve lived, how many children they had, grand-children, and great-grand children.  Maybe they say something about where they worked or the things they liked to do for hobbies, or what church they attended.  They might even try to get those in attendance to laugh by saying something funny about you.

I wonder how it will be at the end of it all for me?  I don’t mean what the pastor will say or what other’s will say about what I did in my life.  Sure that would be kind of fun to attend my own funeral just to see what happens – like Mark Twain wrote of Tom Sawyer in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.

What I really want to know is, what GOD will say about me at the end of it all.  Did I do the things he wanted me to do in life while I was living in the body he gave to me?  What did I do in relationship to what I knew to be right or wrong in life?  Did I do his will?  Could I have done more? Could I have served him more?  What about you?

 

 

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