My sister, Kathy, and I were just happy to be with our Dad again, having missed him through the summer months while he established a home for us in Madison. He selected a wonderful location on the shores of Lake Mendota about a mile and a half from the campus of the University of Wisconsin. It was a marvelous home overlooking the lake. I now realize that the people who rented the house to our family must have considered our family plight because I doubt if we could have afforded the home on a Captain’s pay. It was truly exciting to go fishing off the pier or take a rowboat to the center of the lake and drop a line to catch perch.
We loved the gentle breezes of Mendota during the late summer and early fall months. When school began in September, we enjoyed the friendship of a whole new group of youngsters. That was one very positive thing to come out of the service. We made friends very quickly because we knew we would not be stationed in one place for very long.
As the weather changed, it became very cold. The snows were beginning to build and trudging to school meant detouring several blocks to avoid the strong winds off the lake. The short daylight hours were frigid and bleak. The realization of our first Christmas away began to settle in. We had become house-bound. There was no escaping the walls that seemed to capture our spirits and drain imaginations. We found things to amuse us, but nothing seemed to take the place of staring out of the windows and wondering what it would be like to slide down the hill to the lake on a sled. We did get outside, but it was so cold, we couldn’t take the chill for very long.
Kathy was almost two and a half years younger than I and was still very much in enthralled with Santa Claus. As her older brother, it was my job embellishing and perpetuating the story of the Jolly Old Elf, and carrying on as if the tradition would last forever. I know I didn’t do a very good job of pretending, but it was difficult for me to sit on Santa’s lap and smile at my sister while doing so.
In our family, Santa always put up the Christmas Tree about a week before the holiday while we were supposedly sound asleep. I had discovered the “Mom and Dad trick” a year or two before. I waited until my sis was old enough to appreciate my observation, and I alerted her to the charade going on downstairs in the living room. She bought that part of the story, but Santa maintained a prized position in her memory for years still to come.
As kids, we had sensed Christmas would never be the same during the war. Away from family and friends; no more decorating the outdoor trees; rationing on many of the basics that created candies, cakes and cookies. For my sister, how would Santa find our new address? I know these images must have entered the minds of our Mom and Dad because Kathy and I observed they were going above normal to prepare us for a Christmas in a slightly different way.
There weren’t as many holiday cards that first war year. My Dad received a number of greetings from his civilian patients. Most of them included a message of spirited patriotism and thankfulness for his service. I do remember getting some cards from classmates, but none from my friends at home. As December 25th drew near, the Christmas carols took on a different meaning than before. The words to “I’ll be home for Christmas,” had significance to me because it stressed the difference our present war time home life was to peace time. Even Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” could bring a choked-up feeling when it was played.
I’m not sure what my sister asked for from Santa that year. My requests were for “Lincoln Logs” ® and “Tinker Toys” ®. These were modest choices considering the seriousness of the war news. Those gifts had a lasting value because they didn’t break easily. I knew that Christmas might never be the same again.
Then, a few days before Christmas, my parents announced a surprise that put us all in the holiday spirit. My Dad’s parents, along with our Aunt Suzie and cousin Ronnie, would be in our home during the holiday. It was instantly like old times. Once again the joy of Christmas seemed to spring forth through our household. The decorations that had seemed bland became beautiful. Even the traditional carols took on a magical luster.
Though our tour of duty kept us away from our home in Indianapolis, from that Christmas on I knew we would make it back and everything would return to normal.
Merry Christmas…and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to one and all…and “May all your Christmases be white!”
I remember you suggesting at one point that we simply sell our stocks and mutual funds and put all the money into gold. Of course, after that Iranian nuclear accident in 2023 caused all the spiders to begin spinning webs of gold the bottom fell out of the market – I understand gold is down to $35 a ton.
I know that President Gaga says this recession is simply because we were born this way and if we keep our poker face showing to the rest of the world that we will be on the edge of glory, but since China now owns our national parks as payment for our Treasury debt I’m just not as optimistic as I used to be. Fortunately, that annuity will allow me to retire this year with an income far higher than I ever dreamed and the certainty that it will be around as long as I am...a certainty you were never able to give me.
John, you’ve been a great stockbroker, but I’ve left you for my annuity agent.
All my love,
When it comes to those “one-of-a-kind” family treasures, here’s a fact you might not be aware of: old audio tapes (reel to reel, cassettes, micro-cassettes, and even those “classic” 8-track cartridges) and your family video cassettes (VHS and BetaMax) are deteriorating every single day. At some point, you won’t be able to play them, even if you can find a working machine in the basement or at Goodwill! So, if you’d like to watch your Aunt Martha and Uncle George dance the samba at Cousin Chrissy’s wedding back in 1983, you’d better hurry! The same goes for Little Julie’s first hit in Little League baseball, Junior’s solo performance at the Fall Festival impersonating Elvis, or that surprise birthday party for your mom’s 60th birthday when she slipped and fell, face-first, into her three-layered cake! Or, how about that favorite record album that’s out of print?
Luckily for all us, a small cottage industry has grown up over the past couple decades that specializes in transferring all of these media formats to current, virtually indestructible formats. We can, for example, transfer all of your old VHS tapes to crystal clear DVDs, so you can share those precious family memories with generations to come. We can take your old home movie film – 8mm, Super 8, 16mm, even 35mm – and enhance and restore it so that it looks better than the original in many cases – delivered to you on DVD that you can copy and share with friends and family around the world.
Oh and one more thing. Among the most enjoyable projects I get in on occasion is what I call “Individual Tribute” videos that we produce for a special occasion: anniversaries, special birthdays, retirement parties, graduations, and, quite often, memorial services. For these videos, we transfer all sorts of media to DVD – photos, slides, video tapes, home movies, newspaper articles, yearbook photos, bowling trophies, and audio tapes… just about anything we can scan or photograph, we can put into your special tribute video!
Aside from my “not-so-subtle” commercial message, my point is simply this: Don’t put off transferring those memories to modern formats. Contact me through your Safe Money Places agent or just take a look in your local community for a company that does this kind work. Back in 1991, I helped one of my closest friends start his own business (Home Video Studio) that today has grown into an international concern. Look him up online: www.homevideostudio.com.
And think about this scenario for a moment. What do you think that most victims of home fires try to grab as they’re rushing their family and pets outside? Their jewelry? Their flat-screen TV? Their computer? (Well, maybe their computer!) Surveys show that most families try to save their family photos and videos. Because they are priceless and usually irreplaceable. But, if you’ve transferred all of your audio and video media onto discs, you could place a copy of each one in a small safety deposit box or give complete sets to other family members … or both! You could probably transfer every single movie, video, audio, photo, and slides onto a dozen or fewer DVDs or CDs – about the size of shoebox. And you’ll have a collection that will outlive several generations of your family.
By all means, be sure to take care of your financial legacy by working with your Safe Money Places Agent, but don’t forget those other priceless treasures stored away in a closet, desk, or dresser. That’s as important a legacy as you can leave as anything else
Maintaining records on computers save space and make records management easier. Consider backing up files and keeping them off-site.
Records are stored and managed on the internet, offering possible savings on software, reducing the risk of lost data and providing access from any location.
What Software Should You Use?
The right software can make life more productive; the wrong software may cost you time and money.
When shopping for software, consider:
The size of your organization. Do you want an easy-to-use package, or are you able to hire a dedicated employee to take advantage of a more sophisticated alternative?
What sort of training and support is provided?
Without the right measure of either, your software may not be the productivity tool you envisioned.
Is specialized software available?
The needs of different professions can vary greatly. Specialized software may have capabilities not available with more generic software.
What are its mobile capabilities?
If you operate your business from the road, you may want your software to have robust mobile features.
The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties.