Valentine’s Day 2011

Chuck and Jeanette Laird in love
Yes, we went to Starbucks for Valentine’s Day today!

My dad had a favorite Christmas song called “The Real Meaning of Christmas.”  It went:

Oh the real meaning of Christmas is the giving of love every day
Oh the real meaning of Christmas is to give as the Master did say
So when you’re giving your presents, don’t forget as you give them away
That the real meaning of Christmas is the giving of love every day.

Jeanette seems to have figured this out on her own.  There’s nothing she can gift-wrap that means more to me than the love of Valentine she already shares with me every day.  It’s not only what she says and does but what she refrains from saying and doing when I’m not my best.  When I blow it, I get  down on myself.  Not Jeanette.  She doesn’t hold a grudge and she doesn’t pile on.  Jeanette believes in me – or at least is kind enough to convey she does – and overlooks my faults.  That may not sound all that silky sexy but it’s incredibly beautiful and deeply, powerfully touching and meaningful.

Don’t get me wrong.  One doesn’t exclude the other, at least in my marriage!  On the contrary, our moments of private intimacy and romance are so much more intimate and romantic because I know this girl sees me better than I see myself.  I am totally safe and loved by someone who knows that dark side of me and yet refuses to recognize anything but the good.

I don’t know if that’s what cupid had in mind but it’s mighty sweet and wonderfully sexy!

Population 2,965

We moved to Whitefish in 1964 when I was eight.  My dad was the new pastor at the Presbyterian church down on 3rd and Central, a block from the City Park with the big swing set.  From Buffalo, New York across the street for the University of Buffalo campus (it was called “U-B” in those days) to Whitefish, Montana, pop. 2,965.

It was harder on my older brothers than it was for me.  They were use to listening to The Beatles or The Rolling Stones on WKBW radio – “Tom-my Shannon Show, K-B, ra-di-o” (can still remember that little jingle).  Whitefish didn’t have a station but 15 miles south Kalispell did.  Here instead we got Buck Owens and, oh yes, Charlie Pride.  Wade, in particular, just never made the transition from “She Love You” to “Kaw-Liga”.

But in time everybody grew to love Whitefish, a humble little resort town back then.  Small town life with its stereotypical pleasures.  You really did walk to the corner drug store (Haines Rexall Drug).  Church was two blocks away, Central School three blocks (and four houses).  Everybody in town turned out for the big Friday night high school football games, not expecting wins and seldom disappointed.  Our bakery – can’t remember the name – introduced me to maple bars.  Next door was Herb Knuth’s barbershop.  Mr. Knuth was a member of dad’s church so he cut my hair (I think he may have done it for free).

Whitefish is my Mayberry, or maybe even Brigadoon, as humble and charming as it is mythical in memory.  But life was simple.  Do your work.  Help your neighbor.  Respect your elders.  Go to church.  Love your country.  Help the less fortunate.  Be good.  In everything give thanks.  Make us proud.

Now I live in southern California, having pastored five churches in five states, founded a Christian non-profit organization, started a family-owned internet business and wedding ministry, and helping Jeanette build a home-based business/ministry she started three years ago.  I am a Postmodern American missionary driven to penetrate culture with eternal values and God’s love.  This takes form in five Twitter accounts, three Facebook profiles for four Pages, three blogs of my own (Jeanette just started one as well) and dozens of web sites we host, design, and maintain.  Life is rich, exciting, at time turbulent, dynamic, confusing and infernally complex.

Through it all, Whitefish remains home.  I left Whitefish 35 years ago but it never left me.  Dad used to say, “If we can all just love God and love our neighbors, that’s all we really need to do.”  Whitefish simple.  Translating into Klingon.  Now that’s the hard part.

The Web as a City

Great book by DaviThe Web as a Cityd Meerman Scott. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. Love this:

“I’m fond of thinking of the Web and a city — it helps make sense of each aspect of online life and how we create and interact. Corporate sites are the storefronts on Main Street peddling wares. Craigslist is like the bulletin board at the entrance to the corner store; eBay, a garage sale; Amazon, a bookstore replete with patrons anxious to give you their two cents. Mainstream media sites like the New York Times online are the newspapers of the city. Chat rooms and forums are the pubs and saloons of the online world. You’ve even got the proverbial wrong-side-of-the-tracks spots: the Web’s adult-entertainment and spam underbelly.

“If you follow my metaphor of the Web as a city, then think of social media and the ways the people interact on blogs, forums, and social networking sites as the bars, private clubs, and cocktail parties of the city…the places people congregate to have fun.  How do you act in a cocktail party?

“Do you go into a large gathering filled with a few acquaintances and tons of people you do not know and shout, ‘BUY MY PRODUCT!’?  Do you listen more than you speak? Do you try to meet every single person, or do you have a few great conversations?

Sure, you can go to a cocktail party and treat everybody as a sales lead while blabbing on about what your company does.  But that approach is unlikely to make you popular.”

It seems to me Twitter and Facebook and blogs and the rest really are simply doorways into countless possible new friendships.  The key to success is simply and truly being friendly and loving — unselfishly lending a helping hand, a listening ear, encouraging another human soul starving for validation, sharing a good laugh, exchanging random thoughts and ideas and simply spending time together to get to know each other.  Nothing profound and absolutely no agenda beyond friendship.

A wise man lives by this motto: If you help enough people get what they want in life, you will get what you want. The City is crowded with people who have serious wants and needs.  I suspect once we learn the ropes of social media and enter the City and engage its inhabitants, we will discover more opportunity to impact the world in positive ways than ever before possible.