Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Sitting on our steps, as we came home tonight was THE box. Just in the nick of time!

In an earlier post, I talked about family traditions. And how some are planned and how some happen naturally.

Homemade Christmas cookies all the way from the kids' Grandma and Grandpa, living 2,000 miles away, are one of those organic traditions.

This is now the third year, since moving to California, that my mom and her husband have blessed us with their delicious creations, filled with love.

On Christmas Eve, after getting home from church where we sing songs of praise, having dinner, lighting the Advent candles, and before reading The Advent Book, we sit down for hot cocoa, and homemade cookies.

As the kids get older and more aware, this evening, this season of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, becomes increasingly special and meaningful for me.

As I sit here staring at my tree (I've been doing that pretty much every night since we got it on the first of the month), my heart bursts with thankfulness. Thankful that He came not just for a select few, but for all of us. Otherwise, I'm pretty confident that I wouldn't have made the cut.

"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Christ, the Lord.'"

Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spoiled Silly

Today, a friend sent an email to his entire address book, which includes me. (I'm a fan of the Blind Carbon Copy field, by the way). He was forwarding an anonymous email from a disgruntled customer of a well-known retailer.

Side note: If you are going to take the time to rant and complain and trash a company, at least have the character to sign your name.

Apparently this customer was unaware of the store's 14-day return policy, capped by a 15% restocking fee on opened items.

Even though the policy was written on the back of the receipt, you know how we humans are: we don't like to take responsibility, and prefer to blame another person for not paying attention to or inquiring about the rules. Or we don't agree with the rules and start to challenge their validity.

As I pondered whether to respond to the email, I had an epiphany as to why I was lacking empathy. It’s because the scenario rarely, if ever, comes up for me. Much of my everyday shopping is with a company that has a 180-day 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee return policy--Amway Global.

As a customer of Amway Global, I have been spoiled silly—I can try any product with zero financial risk. I can use a product for up to 180 days. If I don't like it, I can return it--and they even pay for the shipping back, supplying a self-addressed postage-paid label with every order.

As a customer of Amway Global, I give them my loyalty because they have earned it by placing a high value on me and millions of other customers.

And as a business owner of, which contracts exclusively with Amway Global and its affiliate stores, I am proud to offer that same return policy to my clients. How great it is to work with a company that stands solidly behind its products.

In an increasingly impersonal business climate marked by a short-sighted, dismissive mindset, Amway Global stands miles apart.

Even more impressive is the quality of their products, which enables them to offer such a generous return policy. In over a decade as a customer, I’ve seldom had to take them up on their offer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Start Paying Attention, America

I usually stay away from politics because I live in a suburb of Chicago that is so passionate about politics that mini-wars seem to break out if one offers a different viewpoint.

But today's events involving the pay-to-play arrest of our governor has pushed me over the edge. The 78-page complaint, here, is shocking (to those not familiar with The Chicago Way), to say the least.

I hope this wakes up the people of Illinois, and I hope this wakes up the people of the United States of America.

Rod Blagojevich was elected in 2002 under the banner of change. Sound familiar? Who helped Blagojevich get elected? According to Rahm Emanuel (Barack Obama's Chief-of-Staff-to-be), Emanuel, Obama, Blagojevich's campaign co-chair David Wilhelm, and another Blagojevich worker "were the top strategists of Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial victory," meeting weekly to outline campaign strategies.

We Illinoisans were sold a bag of lies. During Blagojevich's first term, there was no change from the previous governor, George Ryan, who is currently serving a paltry six-and-half year sentence for corruption which, among other things, led to the death of six children of the Willis family.

But even though there was tons of smoke all around Blagojevich in the form of criminal convictions and newspaper exposes, led by the Chicago Tribune, what happens in 2006? Obama endorses Blagojevich.

Also that year, Obama, to the dismay and disgust of anyone paying attention, including the local news media, endorses Todd Stroger, for Cook County President.

Do we learn? No, again the majority of Illinoisans voted for Blagojevich, as well as Cook County (which includes Chicago) voted for Todd Stroger, a completely inept candidate, a political hack, replacing his corrupt father.

Cook County's budget is bigger than most states. And rather than get rid of the patronage to balance the budget, Stroger increases sales tax, pushing Chicago's to a whopping 11%.

Two years later, again, rather than get rid of the patronage, Stroger is pushing for a $700 million loan to balance the county budget.

When I bring up the Chicago Machine to neighbors, when I talk about Richard Daley and his corruption, what do I hear? "Well, he has beautified the city." What? Are you kidding me? And if I start to talk about the lunacy of such a remark, I get an onslaught of "how much he's done for Chicago" and blah blah blah.

The only thing Chicago's mayor has going for him is that he's craftier than his governors.

Why do we have such a high threshold for corruption?

And now that Chicago and Illinois politicians are moving to Washington D.C., will things be different? If you voted for "Change You Can Believe In", pay attention.

Now all Americans are on Red Alert to see to what degree Chicago and Illinois politics are played out on a national scale.

What are you going to do, America? Are you gonna excuse it like Chicagoans and Illinoisans have? Are you gonna shrug your shoulders as you say, "Well, that's just how things are done." Are you gonna bury your head in the sand, stick your fingers in your ears singing "la la la la"? Are you going to be afraid and not come forward when you know there is wrong occurring?

If you want to embark on the path to awareness, and not just hype, then follow Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass who has been following Chicago and Illinois politics for 25 years.