The Value of Pi(e)

Well, here we are.  The Christmas season.  For some, a season of joy.  The decorating, the shopping, the memories of Christmases past are a real charge.  For others, not so much.  The decorating, the shopping, the memories of Christmases past can be a real downer for them.

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

“Please Come Home for Christmas” – The Eagles


The melted Winter with his toy train

Being the Christmas season, it is time for the endless bombardment of  “Holiday Specials”.  I think the Hallmark Channel has 7×24 bad Christmas movies through Christmas Day.  For me though, there’s only one special needed – the 1970 Rankin-Bass classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town. (Well…Christmas Vacation is up there, too). If you are somehow unfamiliar with this stop motion animation classic, it is the story of how Kris Kringle, left on the doorstep of the Kringle elves as  baby, grows up to become Santa Claus.

In the story, Kris’s first toy deliveries are to the children of Sombertown.  To reach Sombertown, Kris must pass through the mountain of the Whispering Wind, which is guarded by an evil wizard, Winter Warlock. One night, on the return trip, Winter captures Kris.  Winter is a towering, menacing presence.  Kris has been frequently trespassing through Winter’s domain to deliver toys, and Winter is fed up.  He is about to do away with Kris, but Kris has one last hope, the only toy left in his bag.  He gives the toy – a train – to Winter.  As a result, Winter’s icy heart melts, and he loses most of his magic powers.  He goes on to be a friend of Kris and the elves, helping them with the toy deliveries through the years.

If you’ve never seen the program or you want to watch it again, Vimeo has it here:


Back in high school, we had a tough assistant principal you didn’t cross – Nancy Griggs. For my old Riverside High friends, I hope the name brings a smile to your face.  Mrs.Griggs was in charge of attendance.  If you rolled into school late, you had to deal with her, and she cut no slack handing out the unexcused tardy slips.  I don’t know if good cop/bad cop was an intentional strategy among school administrators back then, but there was no doubt Mrs. Griggs played the bad cop role well. Academy Award well.   She might have been petite, but she could put fear in the heart of even the biggest football player.

Early on, I was scared of Mrs. Griggs, just like everyone else.  But over the years, I kept out of trouble and arrived at school on time and never had a run in with her. We eventually had a good relationship.  Mrs. Griggs also attended many of my sports events, where she and my parents became good acquaintances.  Then my senior year, I landed one of those time filler “classes” where I worked a class period in the attendance office running errands for Mrs. Griggs.  I always assumed my good behavior and charm won her over.  Maybe it did, but I found out later there was another factor that may have had a bigger influence – a pie.  See, somewhere along the way, my mother made a pecan pie for Mrs. Griggs.  Mom probably slipped it to her after a basketball game, and I never knew.

Like a simple toy train won over Winter, I believe that pie warmed a heart in my favor all those years ago.

It is more blessed to give than to receive – Acts 20:35

Are You Up to It?

So, here’s my challenge to you this Christmas season.  Do something for someone.  A simple act of kindness can make a huge difference in a life. Remember that first paragraph, where I said some people love this time of year and others dread it?  What if the people who love it so much all did something for the ones who don’t love it so much? Would it make a difference?  I think it just might.  I’m not talking about making a monetary donation to some organization or buying gifts for Toys for Tots.  Those are great and you should do those, too.  I’m talking about a one on one, personal act, though.  Rake you neighbor’s leaves. Write a note of encouragement to a teacher. Bake something for an assistant principal.  If you want to start with a pie, here’s a recipe, courtesy of Karo syrup:

Recipe Courtesy of Karo Syrup:
Recipe Courtesy of Karo Syrup:



PS: Giving Tuesday

As I was working on this post, I head about a new movement called Giving Tuesday.  Looks like the group wants to shift people’s thinking after Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending sprees.  Since I generally post on Tuesdays and this post was about giving, I thought I’d mention it here.  You may want to check them out for ideas.  Here is a the description from their website “It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.”


One thought on “The Value of Pi(e)

  1. I loved you very accurate description of Mrs. Griggs. I went to her funeral last year. Not many students were there but, many of our former teachers were in attendance. I spoke with a student from the 70’s who had worked in the office with her. He described a similar experience to the one you had. I never really feared her and I felt the need to go pay my last respects because she was the kind of woman who didn’t realty demand respect as much as she just created it. She was one of a k

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