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Saturday, December 25, 2010

To: Char, From: Mike

Sassafras. Even the name is delicious. Sassafras. Just say it over and over. Sounds like Jazz. Dig that sassafras. Take the root and make nectar of the gods. Root beer, beautiful liquid sweetness. Love it.

Many of you are now asking, where is he going with this? Can’t a guy just state his passion for a particular libation without being judged? Well, you are on to me now. Isn’t it obvious?

Ok, so it isn’t so obvious. A few years ago, my sister-in-law, in order to live a healthier lifestyle, gave up a few of her favorite things and we are not talking about raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens. She had to give up some of her favorite foods.

As I thought about Char, I thought how difficult this must have been and I thought, what could I do that could at all relate to this. Thus my ode to Root beer. I gave up one of my favorite things as a sort of Lent-like sacrifice for the month of November.

It was a trial, my own Mount Everest, but I conquered. Six times that month, we had pizza for dinner. Pizza without Root beer? Are you kidding me? Sonny without Cher? Simon without Garfunkel? U2 without Bono.

Twice that month I had the opportunity to take advantage of some home-made Root beer. Twice, I stood up to the temptation. Three times, while eating out, I had the opportunity to push that silver lever dangling from the Root beer nozzle. Three times I opted for a mix of lemonade and sprite. Grueling? Yes. Worth it? Every penny.

And thus comes the service. I made a sort of root beer fast offering. Any money I saved by not spending it on Root beer went to the Ronald McDonald house, a favorite charity of Char’s. Ok, so I am not quite that cheap, it was a generous offering.

Our Stake here in Cary holds an annual Crèche exhibit. It is very well attended by the community and a nice missionary opportunity. Here is the thing, personality wise, I am blue, very blue (or whatever color that is not social) (Editorial note... he means white).

Char, she is as yellow as the sun. So when the Stake calls for volunteers to help host, well Char is kind of like Monica, she would make a great host. Me? Not so much. But the service guilt kicked in and Crèche host I was. Several years ago, we had the opportunity to host (hey look at that, I have hosted before) Char and Bill and their children in our home in Las Vegas. I saw something special that I have not forgotten. And when I drew Char’s name, I thought about what I saw several years ago.

Each night I was amazed at the routine they had to go through to put Cole to bed. Each night, I was impressed by the patience, love and tenderness they manifested when feeding Cole and giving him his meds.

Recently, I have not been patient with my own children. It is sometimes difficult after a long day at work to put aside my own comforts and make sure my children get the father time they need and deserve. I rush them to brush their teeth, I rush them to get into their pajamas, I occasionally get angry with them when their timeline does not mesh with mine.

I am so grateful I drew Char’s name. Thinking about the way she was with her children several years ago gave me perspective that I was lacking. Over the last two months, I committed to serve my children. I committed to be more patient, more loving, to give them the time that they need. For me personally, it has made a big difference. I am a better father because of Char and Bill’s example and because of this opportunity to think about serving others.

A couple of weeks ago, the Elders Quorum sent out a notice for a service opportunity with the Town of Cary cleaning up a park. I thought I could ignore it. I thought the nagging feeling would go away. But then Char appears in my head like the ghost of Jacob Marley and rattling her chains says “Goooo, dooo service.” So I went. I am no longer haunted.

Merry Christmas.


  1. Mike, this post made me miss you SO much! I really did find myself aching for some good Mike time! I love that you just kept on... as you said it... giving into the hauntings of Charise no matter how many services that involved. I mean I was impressed with the sassafrass Ronald McDonald donation alone... let alone the others you kept adding on! I miss you big brother! I have really enjoyed reading your services both years. I will say you were a hard act to follow for dad this year! Who can beat a Heffer huh?

  2. Great service and wonderful imagery of Char as Jacob Marly.

  3. Oh, I am so fahklumpt. I how great was this! Are you going back to drinking root beer?

  4. I love Mike's posts!!!!! What a great writer! And what meaningful and great service Mike! You did an awesome job this year! Not just one thing, but many!

    And I too, just love your imagery!

  5. Great service Mike. Coming out of your comfort bubble isn't easy so way to go. Lots of wonderful service.

  6. Mike, I am so touched by your service! My very favorite is the Sassafras! Giving up Root Beer, I know how much you love a good Root Beer. And Homemade... it is so good!
    Thank you for such a thoughtful gift. And to donate to Ronald McDonald House. I really choked up, it just means the world to me.

    I feel such joy at the thought that small and simple acts of love are being given throughout the world on behalf of our family. It is a really great feeling to be a part of this.

    Mike, thank you for doing this for me. I really love you and I appreciate all of your thoughts and efforts.

    And let's be honest, there IS NO U2 without Bono!

  7. I have to say...the homemade root-beer was a killer for him. I mean it has been YEARS since I had homemade root-beer and in that one month, we had the opportunity TWICE!!! Also, I promise we don't always have pizza 6 times for dinner. It just happened that Papa Johns had a fantastic deal that month and I was pretty sick many nights and that and Salmon are about the only two things that all 3 of my children eat w/o complaining.