Winter Comes Knocking

Today is the last day of November, and that means that tomorrow is the first day of ... You were thinking "December," weren't you. Yes, that's true: Tomorrow is December first. But did you know that it's also the first day of winter? Yes, winter. "Not by my calendar," I can hear you say. "Winter starts on December 22. Any fool knows that." Any fool but a meteorologist. The weatherly astute have a different method of reckoning the seasons, based not on the astronomical calendar with its solstices and equinoxes, but on the meteorological calendar. According to it, the different seasons commence on day one of every three month segment. Meteorological spring begins on March 1; summer, on June 1; autumn, on September 1. And meteorological winter starts on--by now you've figured it out--tomorrow, December 1. Why this arrangement? Because it corresponds better with how the seasons actually play out climatically. By the time the winter solstice arrives, winter is normally well underway weatherwise. Here in the Great Lakes, snow has become the precipitation du jour, and it's probably covering the ground. Telling us northerners on December 22 that winter has arrived is pointless. We have, like, kind of already guessed. We've been shoveling it off our driveways for several weeks now. So meteorological winter just makes sense. It's more realistic, it gets the job done faster, and it gets us into spring sooner. Meteorological spring, that is. The snow may not be gone by then, but you can sense change in air. But that's for another post three months from now. Meanwhile, get ready. Winter is knocking on the door.  

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it truly is a happy one for you. For many, today will indeed be a day of richness--of family, feasting, and laughter. Yet I know that for others, today inaugurates a holiday season that will be marked more by pain and loneliness than happiness. So perhaps it is wiser to wish you a Blessed Thanksgiving, whether it is a happy one or not. God's blessings keep us regardless of our circumstances. During the times in my life when I have struggled--and those have been many--the one constant I could count on was God's love for me, and His care in ways I often knew nothing of. Today my friend Julie will spend her first Thanksgiving without her beloved husband, Chris. It would be foolish of me to wish her a happy Thanksgiving. But a blessed one? Yes, that is something I both pray she will have and trust she will have.

Blessings of comfort and peace, knowing that death does not have the last word: that belongs to the Alpha and Omega, and He decrees Life.

Blessings of family, with two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandchild with whom she will no doubt spend this day.

Blessings of memories, bittersweet, precious, and--remembering what a nut Chris was--often funny.

Most of all, overarching and undergirding all other blessings, the blessing of God's presence: the arms of a knowing and loving heavenly Father holding Julie in the midst of her grief--yes, even when it seems like no one, not even God, can touch the raw wound of a loved one lost. May the "peace that passes all understanding" be hers, and may grace carry and strengthen her on her journey.

Today I am thankful for my sweetheart, Lisa, who is busily preparing the turkey. I am thankful that today we will eat that turkey, and plenty else besides, with my dear 86-year-old mother and my sister, Diane. I am thankful for my family members who will be observing this day far away--for Pat in Washington State; Terry in Sweden; and Brian, Cheryl, and my nephew, Sam, in Dallas. I am thankful for some wonderful friends, and for health, and for my cluttered but clean and comfortable apartment. I am thankful for the gift of a simple life (though by no means one that is devoid of interest). There is much I find to be thankful for. Most of all, I am thankful for my Savior and Teacher, Jesus, who has walked with me and often carried me for over 30 years. I am a blessed man with much to be thankful for. Today, whether your circumstances are happy or difficult--or, as is the case with most of us, a mixture of both--may you recognize God's blessings in your own life here and now. May you go through your day with a heart of gratitude. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. Bob

Copywriting Quick-Tip: Begin with the End

That perfect, grab-'em-by-the-lapels opener that you want for your copy could be hiding at the tail-end of your rough draft. Every copywriting project needs to get airborne some kind of way. You slap down a sentence, follow it with another one, and off you go, gathering height and momentum. Maybe you've noticed, though, that the takeoff isn't always as smooth as the landing. So once you've completed your first pass, take a look at your wrap-up. It just might make a better lead-in than the one you've got. Personal observation: When I'm writing, my brain synthesizes information in a creative process that I won't even try to describe. It usually takes time for me to hit my stride. No surprise, then, that my closing lines frequently turn out to be exactly the engaging, benefit-rich statements that make for a great lead-in. See for yourself. When your opener needs refining, try starting at the finish. (Yeah, right--then you've got to come up with another close, which might make an even better opener than your first close, which is now your new lead-in. This could go on all night. My advice: Take a pill. You'll be okay.)