by Sen. Randy Armstrong
This is the time of year when everyone gains weight.
If you don’t own a belt with extra holes, you are going to be in trouble.
Everyone and everything seems to be expanding.
In a fit of holiday generosity, the voters of Idaho chose to expand Medicaid to thousands more of their friends. In the next legislative session, we are going to be asked to expand the use of marijuana. We will expand the budget for education, expand the budget for transportation, expand the budget for corrections, expand the budget for – well, you get the trend. It’s exhausting just notching new holes in the Idaho belt.
With revenues (translation: money from you) currently down, I wonder where all this expansion money will come from. Everywhere I go the first thing constituents say is, “The people have spoken, you had better expand Medicaid!” Did they ever consider that they are the ones who were going to have to pay for this expansion? The only way that I can see for this new expansion of money, is for our taxes to be raised, but I guess everyone will be accepting because, “The people have spoken.”
The session hasn’t even begun and the tensions are already rising.
So I choose, temporarily, to think about Christmas. As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It really is magical and a time to reflect on our magnificent blessings.
Late one Christmas Eve, when I was in my early-teens, my family was sitting on the floor in our living room. There was my mother, my sisters and my brother and me. We were all so keyed up that it was fruitless to go to bed so my mother had us playing some board games. The lights on the tree were twinkling, Christmas music was softly playing in the background, and we had just opened our traditional Christmas Eve present; new pajamas for everyone.
It was about 11:30 p.m. and we were just arguing over whose turn at the game it was when there was a knock on the door.
We all looked at each other, wondering who would come calling this late on Christmas Eve. I ran to the door and flung it open. There on our porch was a policeman. Not someone you want to see on Christmas Eve. He asked for Mrs. Armstrong. My mother came to the door and he then asked if he could speak to her outside. She stepped out and closed the door behind her.
Silently we four children sat. We didn’t know what to say because the policeman had looked so deadly serious. In a few moments our mother came back in. She was crying; sobbing would be a more accurate description.
The policeman came to say that our father was in the hospital. He was in intensive care and not expected to live. My father had been leaving a bar, where he was almost every night of the year. It had closed early for Christmas Eve, and as my father walked to his truck he had been attacked and stabbed, well over 20 times in the neck, back, chest and stomach.
My mother called our Bishop and then told us she would be home as soon as she could and raced for the hospital. In just a few minutes there was another quiet knock on our door. It was the Bishop. He spoke kindly to us for a while and then we went to bed. This good man had left his family on Christmas Eve and then slept on our couch all night. Early in the morning our beloved aunt Evelyn arrived, the Bishop left, and she took command. With her there, everything would eventually be fine.
Word of our situation had gotten out and people started streaming to our home with food and gifts. It made the Three Wise Men look like pikers. A reliable rule of thumb, when in doubt, bring cookies.
My father lived. I think it was because he was fully anesthetized before the actual attack. He continued to live on and spend his entire life and income on alcohol.
That morning a realization came into the heart of a young boy; that despite the craziness swirling around him, God really did love him, and had surrounded this young man with friends, a loving extended family, church members, and most importantly, a tender, caring mother. It now takes a lot to distract my attention from the joy of the season and the miraculous blessings that we all share together.
So, I will probably “expand” a bit this holiday season. The state’s liabilities will certainly expand. The people will be angry at their government during the next three-month session, but we should all remember, that in spite of everything else, we are living in one of the greatest places in the world, and God is certainly watching over us.
Thanks for reading!
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