Happy holidays from the Flis'

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
Reaction score
'twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the place,
not a rocket was stiring.
Not even the Tres.

As I write this, on the *morning* before Christmas, I reflect on the fact that it is also 9 days past Chanuka and 2 days past the Fast of 10th of Teves. It is also the 24th day of December and the 359th day of the year 2004.

So many ways to measure the passage of time. We can measure it by the passing of days, by the accumulation of aches and pains, by the growing list of hardships or the equally growing list of blessings.

Hardships and blessings. An interesting mix and one worth exploring at this time of year. I say that because my experience has shown me that many (most?) people tend to have a laser focus during the holiday season. This is true of Christian and Jew, Hindu and Muslim and even the atheists among us. There is something about the holiday season that makes you reflect on your life. The concern is that for nearly every person who is focused on their blessings there is someone out there who has focused on their hardships.

It took me a long, LONG time to appreciate hardships. There were times where I hated some person because of a hardship driven my way by that person. Times when I hated God for not being able to understand why I was singled out. Times when I hated myself for all my faults and misdirection. As I reflect back on these hardships, and there are many, I realize that for lack of any single one of them, I would not be who I am today. And for all my faults and frailties, I like who I am today.

Some of that is growing up. Each year I pat myself on the back for having "grown up" finally. Without fail, the following year I reflect on some childish thing I did the year before and am thankful that I am now "grown up". Finally. It will happen again next year, of that I am sure. It's called "growing up" and it is an endless process.

If you have chosen (and it *is* a choice) to ponder your hardships, remember these simple things:

- A hardship today may very well make a great story tomorrow.
- Everyone has hardships and your hardships are never worse than everybody else’s.
- All (each and every one) of your hardships mold the person that you are becoming.
- The measure of a person is in his reaction to hardship, not that (s)he has *had* a hardship.

At this moment in my life I am president and CEO of a growing and exciting company that amounts to somewhat of a dream of mine. I am joined by my wife and two lovely children to help make it a success. Succeed or fail, it will be a “success” because I gave it my best shot, and I can’t do more than that.

My wife and I are deeply in love. My children are respectful, successful and very well adjusted. I have a nice home (mortgage *almost* paid off!) in a nice town, close to much family and many friends. I could go on, but you get the picture of the many blessings that I hold very dear to my heart.

When I was 13 years old my 18 year old sister Monica died with her fiancé on the night of their engagement due to a faulty exhaust system in his car, right in our own front yard. This so devastated my mother that 3 months later, she uprooted her entire family and moved us all to Florida. Devastating. Absolutely.

At about the same time, Kathy's father suffered a crippling heart attack and he was ordered by his doctor to seek a more temperate climate, so they uprooted their entire family and moved to Florida. Devastating, really.

More hardship than a young person should be exposed to.

6 months later, Kathy and I met for the first time. We fell in love, I proposed, we moved back to the north east. We got married, we bought a house. We raised a family. We walked both our kids to the bus stop on their first day of kindergarten, attended their graduation and have seen our son through college and our daughter into college.

More blessings than one could hope for.

These blessings and more would have never been…

…had my sister Monica survived that horrible night and my then future father in law had avoided that particular heart attack.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are prayers he never answers.

During that time I have buried another sibling, my brother Bob. I have buried my father, Joseph, my mother in law, Mary, and father in law, Charles and several friends. I have lost my job, lost some friends and lost my temper. I have lost my way on more than one occasion and even lost my wife for a whole year before we both came to our senses.

Each of these events have helped to shape me. Each of these tragedies has become memory, a lesson learned and a lesson to teach. Each one has, in some odd and mysterious way helped to better me in some small way. I no longer morn the loss of my brother and sister. Rather I treasure the memory that I have of them. I no longer fret over the year I was separated from my wife, rather I revel in new found love. I no longer despair over the “attitudes” from our smart aleck children, rather I treasure the lessons they have learned and take comfort in the fine young adults they have become.

I am reminded of a song by Garth Brooks, “The Dance”.
Our lives,
Are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain,
But I'da had to miss the dance.

Full lyrics can be found here: https://www.lyricsbox.com/garth-brooks-lyrics-the-dance-9676l8c.html

Don’t miss the dance.

If you focus on your hardships this holiday season, take a moment to put them into perspective. Your children will grow OH so fast and the frustrations of the moment will become treasured memories of the past. The knot in your stomach from a recent horrific event will help to humble you for treasures yet to be. The Originating Mystery, whether you call Him God, Allah, fate or something else entirely, presents us with choices. Choose to learn, love and grow.

If you focus on your blessings this holiday season, take a moment to realize how many of them were formed by hardships of the past.

I wish all a wonderful holiday season and most prosperous New Year. Make a difference in your life. Make a difference in someone else’s life. Make a difference.

Warmest regards
The Flis Family,
Jim, Kathy, Joe and Jen.


Papa Elf
Jan 21, 2009
Reaction score
Penns Creek, PA
Deep. Very Deep. Thanks for sharing.

Merry Christmas Jim, and to your family, and to everyone on this forum.


Site Admin
Jan 18, 2009
Reaction score
It's amazing how one thing leads to another.

Thanks for sharing that, it definitly made me think.

Have a good christmas in the Flis household,


arthur dent

Well-Known Member
Jun 27, 2003
Reaction score
The only constant in life is change.Thanks Jim,have a great chrimbo and all the best for the new year and keep those rockets rolling over here to the U.K.:D


Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2003
Reaction score
Thanks for sharing Jim, and even at the young age of 30 I couldn't agree more.

When I was 11, my parents went through a horrible divorce, and drug my sister and me through it for years. At age 15, I had back surgery for scoliosis which still causes me alot of pain. When I enrolled for college my alcoholic dad said to me during one of our many arguments, "Why should you get to go to college, I didn't, do you think your better than me?". To which I replied, "Yes", and then went to college for 6 years and got 2 degrees out of spite, and of course for myself. After college I then went to work as an engineer, and after only 3 years had to quit due to increasing back problems.

Now I wouldn't wish any of this on anyone, but it is what made me who I am, and I am proud of who I am, and what my life is like now.

I am very happily married to a wonderful person. We have three beautiful children, and a nice home only a few miles from most of our family. I know and respect the true meaning of marriage. I think I am a good father. I appreciate family.

I hate dealing with back pain every day, but my back problems have allowed me to be a stay at home dad, and my wife to be a nurse. When I was working, all I really wanted was to be at home with my wife and kids. I now have that. My wife works 12 hour shifts only 3 days a week, so we have alot more family time than most people, and that I am greatly thankful for.

Growing up, of course I thought I was dealt a bad hand, after all, I thought I was a good kid, and deserved better. Now I have everything I ever wanted. I can't say that about most of my friends I grew up being jealous of.

I now am just one of those people who takes nothing for granted, and am appreciative of almost everything.

Happy Holidays to all.



Active Member
Oct 11, 2004
Reaction score
Merry Christmas Jim

I was diagnoses with Crohn's disease back in 95 been in and out of hospitals, I lost count. But if it was not for my wife and little girl I don't know what I too. But you always have to pick up the peaces and keep on going.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Jim and the guys on the rocketry forum.


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
Reaction score
I appreciate the responses here :)

I don't know *why* I wrote that. It's the type of thing that is often percolating in my head and I guess I felt comfortable enough to vent it here.

I get frustrated when folks comment on how "lucky" i've been throughout life. They only see the good and somehow missed seeing the bad. Further, they assume the *good* was handed to me somehow.

I get concerned when I see someone focus all of their energy feeling sorry for themselves and then remember being that very same person OH so many times and wishing I could find the words to help them understand the power of time.

I was venting at my doctor one time and she got fed up with my depressed attitude and she walked me over to the window and pointed at the sun. She said "can you see that?", I said "yes, it's the sun." She said "If you can see the sun then it ain't all that bad. If you wake up some crystal clear morning and look up and the sun isn't there, THEN you have something to worry about."

That has helped me put things in perspective more than once :)


Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Jan 17, 2009
Reaction score
Houston, TX
I am an alcoholic.

In 1986 I lost my engineering job at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics in St. Louis because of that.

In 1987 I had my last (so far) drink of alcohol.

In 1992 I lost the last of a few low-paying jobs in the computer service field, was offered a temporary engineering job in Houston with the company my sister works for, was hired permanently, and moved to Houston. I still work for that company, and so does my sister.

In 1996 I met my future wife online. She lived in Houston too. We have now been married for 8 years and have three little boys who we love dearly even when they drive us (almost literally) insane.

I can't even imagine how different my life would be if even one of these things hadn't happened, or if I had made a different choice in any of these (or many other) instances. Or if my wife had. Or if my sister or her boss had.

I could easily be dead. Or in jail. Or totally alone. Or spritually and emotionally dead. Or horribly depressed. Or unemployed. Or any combination of these.

God has blessed me with so much more than I deserve, it's incredible. I love my wife and she loves me, even on those days when we aren't very happy with one another. We love our kids and they love us. I have a good job with a great employer. We have a house of our own (only 29+ years left on the mortgage!!! <grin>). And so much more.

Jim, thank you for starting this thread. I hope your Christmas went well, and that you and your family have a great new year.

Latest posts