My old mother would have begun the conversation in one of two ways—1) If that don’t beat a hen a’peckin’ or 2) Ain’t it the “beatenest” thing? Then, she’d set in on detailing the conundrum faced by Americans across the land during these “whiz-by” days—right on the heels of Thanksgiving with Christmas staring us right in the face. We are deflated at the thought of the hustle and hassle that accompanies the yuletide season, but are inflated by memories of delectable foodstuff that crowded our table at Thanksgiving—the season that may have introduced the term “second helpings.” This was centuries before “more Ovaltine, please.” Though grateful for the rich and wonderful grub that has caused belt extension to the very last hole in our Sunday belt, we now yearn for simpler fare. For a few days, we’ll chow down on food most ordinary, like hotdogs, chased down by simple store-purchased snacks….***** “Whadda ya mean, no Wonder Bread hotdog buns?” we ask the guy at the grocery store. He kindly explains that they aren’t baked anymore. On the next aisle, we search in vain for Twinkies and Ding Dongs, confections that we claim fall into the same general category as Jell-O. You know—it’s the dessert there’s always room for. I asked him again, “What gives?” “Haven’t you heard?” he asked. “Hostess couldn’t strike a deal with union employees, so the company is ‘kaput.’ They’ll probably sell the brands to others, but likely in small bites. For a while at least, you’ll have to buy other buns and seek other snacks.” (No doubt he’s an English major working on alliteration en route to writing the great American novel.) Maybe I’ve been under, behind or distracted by a rock, but I hadn’t heard about the bakery closing down. Hmmm, Hostess, formerly “with the mostest,” now is reduced to “Hostess with the leastest.”…***** My intent this day is to focus on what should “pump us up,” if not fully inflate. Texas A&M fans are swelled to the point of bursting. Surely there are many among us who are glad the Aggies are waving our State of Texas flag in the faces of Southeast Conference football opponents. Admit it, even if you are an “orange-everything” Texas fan. The Aggies are “doing us proud” as representatives of the Lone Star State. Who woulda thought they’d conquer Alabama in Tuscaloosa? Or boast a freshman quarterback better known across the nation as “Johnny Football”? Or that this remarkable Johnny Manziel already is being groomed for Heisman recognition? Or that the Aggies would string together two great halves in the same game? Or that they would succeed despite not having their own television sports network? My 100-year-old Uncle Mort showed up the other day in his maroon t-shirt—his “tribute to the Aggies”—never mind his name has never appeared on any university rolls. I doubt if he’s ever set foot on the campus, but he’s got an Aggie banner flying from the golf cart he putts around on. He asked me if I knew what the moon and Texas A&M have in common? I didn’t. “They both control the tide,” he laughed….***** Uncle Mort then took a serious turn. “Two pieces of news last week just about blew me down,” he winced. (The statement brought back memories; that’s how my mother used to express amazement. “Well blow me down,” she’d say.) He went on to lament the adulterous affairs confessed within hours of each other—one by CIA Chief David Patraeus and the other by the incoming CEO of Lockheed Martin, Christopher Kubaskic, who was to ascend to the top post in January. “If crying would help, I’d weep,” he said, almost in a whisper. “And to think they both had such key roles in defending our nation.” I couldn’t disagree with him, and confessed that I hadn’t thought of linking them to the key roles he’d mentioned. I joined him in remorse, feeling “defenseless.” Mort offered a final thought, “Let’s try to pump ourselves up with thoughts of Christmas’ deepest meaning.” Then, he puttered away. As usual, I expressed thanksgiving that my uncle is an incurable optimist. His mirthful optimism is a tonic for us all….***** Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.