Monday, January 3, 2011

Do something cool this year

I’ve got big plans for the new year.
I am going to do something cool.
I haven’t decided what cool thing I am going to do yet, but rest assured, it will be cool. In years past, I have always told myself to do something specific like go to the gym, not go to the gym or try to talk in a pirate voice for an entire year — but I was only a young child for that last one....OK, I was 23.
Either way, they never worked out. Therefore, I am going broad this year. I am going to do something cool. At the end of the year, I will surely be able to pick out something and qualify it as cool. I may learn to do a backflip or get really good at wheelchair racing when I break my back trying to do a backflip.
That is the great thing about saying something broad. If one thing doesn’t work out, another thing is sure to present itself as a viable replacement.
I know what you are thinking. “Why am I still reading this? And, Luke, you already do so many cool things all the time. Isn’t this sort of a cop out?”
Well, I appreciate the support, but there is always more to be done. There are mountains to hike and arguments to have with my wife about why I don’t hike up mountains.
While I hope to do something cool that people can see and point at saying, “Wow, that is so cool.” I also hope I can do something cool for people behind the scenes.
I recently discovered a secret about a member of my parents church. He is well-known in the church for blowing his nose loudly during the service and always wearing his suspenders. However, he does a lot more than that during the week.
My parents church has a large number of African refugees who have escaped almost sure death to come to America. When they get here, they often don’t have a place to live, food to eat or a job to earn money.
Enter loud-nose-blower-wearing-suspenders guy. This retired man finds jobs and homes for these families and helps them get settled in a new place. He doesn’t tell a lot of people, unless he is asking for them to donate something to one of these families.
Most people will only ever know the man because his nose-blowing has made them chuckle during the church service. But there is a group of people out there who will always know him as the man who changed their lives and helped them in a foreign land after they knew nothing but fear and danger.
That is a cool guy.
I hope I can do something for someone this year that makes their life a little better. I don’t need any credit or kudos — I just need to have the feeling that I helped someone’s life.
That will be pretty cool.

Luke Harris is the editor of the Burleson Star. He hiked up a mountain once. It was pretty cool, but not cool enough to warrant a near heart attack. He can be reached at

Gift giving in the family

A few hours after writing this, I am going to be boarding a flight to Oregon to spend Christmas with my wife’s family.
While many people may not be excited to go see their in-laws for the holidays, it is always a very happy time of year for me and Sarah. I was fortunate to marry into a family with lots of children and a similar dynamic to my own family.
I come from a family of three children and she comes from a family of five so dinner goes about the same in both families — people speaking over each other and a lot of laughter. There are, however, some differences in the various Christmas activities.
For example, I am of the thought that if you want something, you should tell me so I get it.
When I married Sarah in the summer of 2007, I was of the thought that when it came time for presents — birthday, Christmas and anniversary — she would tell me what she wants and that is what I would get her. In my experience, me guessing what people want had turned out well only a small amount times.
My mother is one of those who enjoys guessing what people want and she is pretty good at it, but there have been a few times where it backfired on her. One year she bought my uncle lots of candy — only to find out he is diabetic. The next year, she bought the same uncle a scented candle — only to realize he had lost his sense of smell in a motorcycle accident.
So you tell me, and I will get it for you. Sarah and her siblings, however, have always guessed what the other ones wanted and have been successful, but I am still warry of the whole idea.
On my first birthday while dating Sarah, she told me she was thinking of getting me running shoes. I then asked her if she had met me and it would probably be better to buy me something like a Lazy Boy or a movie. We have, however, found a compromise. She will guess on some of my gifts and get others that I ask for and I will choose from a wide variety of shoes she has looked at on Amazon.
The other great thing about the Oregon Christmas is the weather. Growing up in Texas, we didn’t get many white Christmases, but in Oregon, you get it all the time. Not only do you get it, but you get to see all the snow on all the beautiful landscapes in the northwest portion of our nation.
It is gorgeous. I sometimes just sit and stare at the snow for minutes on end (I don’t have hours to waste staring outside so I have to take it down to minutes). Then I get to relax by the fire and that is always a good time because I am also a slight pyromaniac.
One thing both families do is go see a movie on Christmas day. It is something my family has always done and it combines two of my favorite things: movies and spending time with my family. It is going to be a good Christmas in Oregon and I can’t wait to breathe in that Oregon air.

Luke Harris is the editor of the Burleson Star. If he were to ever move out of the best state on earth (Texas, for those of you who don’t know) he would probably move to Oregon because it is pretty. But who would ever leave Texas? He can be reached at