gifts, 2

So the first round of gifts were store-bought. My favorite shortbread cookies, packaged chocolates. I included a lovely card with my name and address with the festive bags. Yet the second round of gifts were received much more readily than the first.

IMG_0332.JPG

These included homemade sweet banana breads with walnuts, and delicious cookies from a blogger family I follow who often post wonderful recipes. Here is a link for the ones I made which were raved about. I recommend you visit their blog. Always informative and interesting:

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Anyway, these treats went to a nearby fire station and my local post office. The best thing about these kinds of presents was the look of happy surprise when I handed them over.

IMG_0338.JPGhappy ladybug resting in the notch of a small tree

I still have one more delivery, a pecan pie and a festive box of Hershey’s treats to my other local fire station. I will take these on Christmas Eve because they are there working on Christmas Eve. Not with their families. Maybe the firefighters there that day are all unmarried people and volunteer to work over the holiday, but maybe not. Beside, it makes me happy.

IMG_0339.JPG

So whatever your plans, whomever you will have near and hold dear, whatever you celebrate I wish you love, joy, peace, and wonderful friendship.

 

external-content.duckduckgo.jpg(from pinterest.com)

 

 

 

Visitors

Not like Amahl’s visitors but visitors just the same. My son and his girlfriend are coming to spend Christmas day with me as a starting point for a marathon of visiting family.

I know I should be flattered but I kind of blew it when I raised my son. I knew he was “on loan”, enough churchy friends were more than happy to remind me, many times. I was fiercely independent but unfortunately that doesn’t buy food or pay bills. So I got a job.

Several jobs, actually. One year I laughed so hard at my 1040 form because it literally fluttered with W2 forms, I’d had so many jobs. But the most important one I saw as an inconvenience.

I often hear flattering compliments when people meet my son. How handsome, how nice, pleasant, polite, interesting… and I laugh and say yes, he grew up in spite of me. There may not be another mom in existence as hard on herself as I am but honestly? I truly believe this. While my parents were alive (and we were on speaking terms) they were the ones to go to my son’s plays, pageants and parents’ days. Oh I always went to the teacher’s meetings but I missed all the fun stuff. My dad was good about taking pictures but it’s not the same.

So my son’s life growing up was not unlike mine. My mom enjoyed DAR, junior league, bridge club, garden club, book club and filled her free time with golf. My dad commuted from NC to NY Sunday nights and was gone all week. Usually once a year they took a trip out of the country and as a family we did spend a week at the beach.

Carbon copy for me, only for all their activity I substituted all those jobs.

You miss so much when you are trying to fill someone else’s shoes. I wanted very much to please my parents. Finding that this would never happen I became disillusioned, right in the middle of raising this precious child of mine. It’s amazing how sons and daughters think their moms and dads are heroes.

Until they don’t.

When my son went to college everything changed. He needed me for… nothing. He had his own car, knew what he wanted to study, even had an (only one) episode of trouble his freshman year like everyone does and got through it without me. I think there is nothing so awful for a parent to discover….. that their child no longer needs them. Maybe never did.

But there it was. Even his breakups he didn’t need me. He gets through everything without me. So when he said he wanted to come here for Christmas this year I truly did not get it. Why are they coming? To make fun? Out of a sense of obligation? Sweep me in a collective family visit dustpan? He feels guilty for some obscure reason? I honestly have no idea. The dynamic now, between him, his dad’s family (not unhostile towards me), his girlfriend (with whom I have never established a connection) is total disharmony. So I think I must be something to be checked off the list.

I even went so far as to try and make this dinner fun, texting my son to tell me what they might like for dinner. They got a pretty good laugh because he came back with complete un-festive things, off-hand, non-special ideas. So I texted back and asked about vegetables.

Nothing. No response.

I have no idea where they are even staying.

Makes me want to just scream at them: “Why are you even coming here??”

But then I’d look totally nuts. And his girlfriend is a social worker. Wouldn’t want her having me put away.

Wish me luck. No idea how this is gonna fly.

Any ideas??

The most wonderful time of the year

It almost spoils it when Christmas stuff starts showing up in stores and people’s front yards the first of November– those funny one-dimensional wooden deer with red bows or wreaths around their necks, and the blooming cactus, baby Norfolk Island pines, amaryllis, poinsettias and decorations all over the stores. Usually the funny, larger-than-life snow globes don’t appear till later, or the inflatable carousels that even play music.

But it doesn’t quite ruin it really, not for me.

Maybe my brain tunes it all out. Maybe I just don’t process it as present-day. Maybe I pass it through a “by-gone” filter so as not to spoil the sweet joy of the advent of a time so timeless that it truly does stay in my heart all year (well, most of the year). Or maybe I realize that’s just how some people open up to what is happening in an over-the-top kind of way.

Since I was a little girl I have loved this time of year and not for presents. People always seemed kinder, happier. People looked forward to something, something they were excited about celebrating. As if something so long-awaited, something that would make everything better, brighter was going to happen. And many of us were anticipating the same thing but even if we weren’t there was an inescapable aura that touched everybody.

My family would have Christmas Eve dinner. One year we piled in the car not only to go see all the houses decorated with lights and candles and wreaths but stopped to visit friends and wish them joy. Then we’d go to our church’s Christmas Eve service.

This was the best part, for me. Almost better than Christmas morning which nearly always got lost in the tinsel, wrappings and bows.

This was the moment. This was the excitement, the anticipation of something so wonderful, so vibrant and alive with hope and love that I have never forgotten how it felt. Singing out those beautiful carols, listening to the lovely prayers, the soft glow of candles and the ageless Bible story of the miraculous birth, a story that never got old.

No matter where my family lived, no matter what we were going through. Something about Christmas transcended our ills, our arguments, our differences, our angers, our disappointments. And more often than not after Christmas day we found we had moved on beyond whatever it was that had got us hung up, stuck.

There was a beauty that touched each one of us. We no longer saw or felt whatever ugliness had our pride reared up in self-righteous rightness against someone or something. It was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Vanquished in the beauty of Something far greater than anything we harbored.

Advent. The coming of something. The brink of a moment. The event that does not end, is always coming, has never gotten old. Every year.

Picture1126161824_1.jpg

Irony

No matter what a person believes, s/he is inclined to be caught up in the festive fanfare of Hanukkah or Christmas, or Kwanzaa. The color, the music, the shopping, the electric excitement. The crisp, sharp cold that swirls with aromatic wood fires. People are happy, have something to look forward to and for a moment forget the horrors half a world away of Christians, Jews and innocents caught in the cruel grip of terrorism.

A Savior is why we celebrate Christmas at least or at the very most, Who came to bring us of all things, peace. This world, torn apart in war, barbaric hatred. He came to bring us love. He was born on this earth like each one of us. He told us Who He was, He taught us what we are meant to know to live in peace.

His undeserved, cruel, beyond description painful death because of His love for each of us, whether we believe in Him or not, whether we Love Him or love at all, He loved us in every way beyond anything we could ever imagine loving. His love is here always, for each one of us, whenever we come to ourselves or Himself or a sense of why or how or Who. Or when we cannot see at all.

Maybe because we are so wrapped up in our lives, in ourselves we can’t imagine a love that is completely emptied for another, for you, for me. He gave us Himself. Forever.

Merry Christmas.

John 3:16-21

Thought, at what price?

I seldom watch news programs and if I do it is generally Fox News. I believe they broadcast with a relevance that is more truth, and that is important to me.

Yesterday there was a very short blurb this group called “Freedom From Religion Foundation”: is promoting this December called Take Christ out of Christmas or something like that. They heartily promote the winter solstice where celebrating nature is expected. I visited their website out of curiosity and was surprised to find they view themselves as free thinkers. Oddly enough this belief is held true only if one agrees with their way of thinking.

At the bottom of their site’s home page are shown some examples of free thinkers, among them Thomas Paine. This man failed at nearly everything he attempted but with the help of Benjamin Franklin was brought to America. He is most famous perhaps for his 2 writings, “Common Sense” and “The Age of Reason”. It is this latter work the FFRF dwells heaviest upon as Paine decried the very Creator that enabled him his freedom to live, in liberty, in the fledgling America. He left, avoiding the Revolution, and was later rescued from imprisonment in Paris by Thomas Jefferson and brought back to America, voluntarily, where he died, friendless.

First of all, there is no Christmas without Christ. He has been the guiding light and force of all that we hold important. To not see this is to have become so hardened and self-absorbed as to misunderstand the entire purpose of His coming to save us.

Celebrate nature, revel in the bountiful goodness of that which the soil produces to feed and nourish. But if you are thankful at all how can it be gratitude to anything other than its Creator?

Thomas Paine: http://www.ushistory.org/paine/