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This is a Cryptanalyst Christmas Card.
Hint: Count the letters. Are any missing? What does it mean?
A B C D E
F G H I J
K M N O P
Q R S T U
V W X Y Z
This sounds like a Dave Barry column.
This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas,
when the Three Wise Men -- Caspar, Balthasar and Herb -- went to see
the baby Jesus, and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto
Him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh." These are simple words, but if
we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often-overlooked,
THERE IS NO MENTION OF WRAPPING PAPER.
If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts WERE inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper WAS festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph WAS going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, "Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for
next year!" And Joseph DID rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus WAS more interested in the paper than, for example, the frankincense."
But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:
1. They were wise.
2. They were men.
Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do no understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion: This is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know.
One is my son, Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, "If it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it."
The other is my friend, Gene Weingarten, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle, never takes more than 16 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas," Gene said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs."
I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never COMPLETELY wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it in the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.) If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape.
On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually LIKES wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.
My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills - like having babies -- that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting:
GIFT WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN
1. Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift and neither one of you recognized it, you can claim that it's myrrh.
2. The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. They must be smoking crack.
3. If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:
WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
WIFE: (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
WIFE: I want a divorce.
YOU: I also got you some myrrh.
IN CONCLUSION, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt!
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Gold, Common Sense and Fur
My husband and I had been happily (most of the time) married for five years but hadn't been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and raise it with his word as my guide.
God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, he blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.
My husband thought we'd been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old.
I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, "If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella."
I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn't want to disappoint him.
I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me
nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.
When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess. In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.
While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect mother - I didn't even come close - I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to "wash up" Jesus, too.
Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his "last wife."
My proudest moment came during the children's Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man.
This was their moment to shine.
My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, "We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." But he was nervous and said, "The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes."
My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly. That's dirty, rotten clothes."
A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing. I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, "Mama-mama." Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.
My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, "We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur."
The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation.
"I've never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one," Father Brian laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. "For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur."
"My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing," I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.
By Linda C. Stafford
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Santa is a Woman
I think Santa Claus is a woman....I hate to be the one to defy sacred myth, but I believe he's a she.
Think about it.
Christmas is a big, organized, warm, fuzzy, nurturing social deal, and I have a tough time believing a guy could possibly pull it all off!
For starters, the vast majority of men don't even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. It's as if they are all frozen in some kind of Ebenezerian Time Warp until 3 p.m. on Dec. 24th, when they - with amazing calm - call other errant men and plan for a last-minute shopping spree. Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. (You might think this would send them into a fit of panic and guilt, but my husband tells me it's an enormous relief because it lessens the 11th hour decision-making burden.) On this count alone, I'm convinced Santa is a woman.
Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the shopping bag. Another problem for a he-Santa would be getting there. First of all, there would be no reindeer because they would all be dead, gutted, and strapped on to the rear bumper of the sleigh, amid wide-eyed, desperate claims that buck season had been extended. Blitzen's rack would already be on the way to the taxidermist.
Even if the male Santa DID have reindeer, he'd still have transportation problems because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions. Add to this the fact that there would be unavoidable delays in the chimney, where the Bob Vila-like Santa would stop to inspect and repoint bricks in the flue. He would also need to check for carbon monoxide fumes in every gas fireplace, and get under every Christmas tree that is crooked to straighten it to a perfectly upright 90-degree angle.
Other reasons why Santa can't possibly be a man:
~ Men can't pack a bag.
~ Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet.
~ Men would feel their masculinity is threatened, having to be seen with all those elves.
~ Men don't answer their mail.
~ Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a "bowlful of jelly."
~ Men aren't interested in stockings unless somebody's wearing them.
~ Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment.
I can buy the fact that other mythical holiday characters are men.
Father Time shows up once a year unshaven and looking ominous. Definite guy.
Cupid flies around carrying weapons.
Uncle Sam is a politician who likes to point fingers.
Any one of these individuals could pass the testosterone-screening test.
But not St. Nick. Not a chance!!!
Thought for the Day:
Christmas: The time when everyone gets Santamental.
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Twas the month after Christmas
'Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I'd nibbled, the eggnog I'd taste.
All the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The punch and the candy, the bread and the cheese
And the way I'd not said, "No thank you, please."
As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt---
I said to myself, as I only can
"You can't spend a winter disguised as a man!"
So--away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
"Till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won't have a cookie--not even a lick.
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie,
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore---
But isn't that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!
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"Walking In Doggie Wonderland"
(Sing to tune of Winter Wonderland)
Dog tags ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening.
It's yellow, NOT white - I've been there tonight,
Marking up my winter wonderland.
Smell that tree? That's my fragrance.
It's a sign for wand'ring vagrants;
"Avoid where I pee, it's MY pro-per-ty!
Marked up as my winter wonderland."
In the meadow dad will build a snowman,
following the classical design.
Then I'll lift my leg and let it go Man,
So all the world will know it's mine-mine-mine!
Straight from me to the fence post,
flows my natural incense boast;
"Stay off of my turf, this small piece of earth,
I marked it as my winter wonderland."
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Answer to A Cryptanalysts Christmas Card
Yup. The L is missing.
No L . . .
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Happy Holidays from Spike & Jamie
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