Monday, November 30, 2009

A Few Thoughts about Christmas

It's here...the Christmas season has arrived. I don't know how it managed to barrel in so fast, but it's all around us now. The stores have had trees lit, decorations on display and Christmas music playing since the Halloween things were taken out. A few of the neighbors have had some of their outside lights and wreaths up since mid-December.

However, for me, it's too early if all this begins before mid-December. I like to enjoy the anticipation, but then I like to have it linger 'til at least mid-January too. Most of the people we know dismantle the decorations the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.

I tend to purchase gifts all year long, and I'm usually finished with the buying in me time for wrapping, for making my Christmas cards and getting those out in the mail within a reasonable time. Then, around the middle of December we drag out all of the ornaments and garlands and lights and greenery. Since we still cling to our old tradition of a real, and fragrant, cut evergreen tree, it can't be placed in the house too early, as can the artificial ones.

Artificial...hmmm. It has suddenly occured to me that most things about Christmas these days are somewhat artificial. Yes, the trees, the garlands, the lights which used to be candles. Some of that is for safety reasons, of course.'s views of Christmas tend to be out of whack, in my opinion. It seems to be all about what to buy, how to meet the financial strains, giving out of obligation, rather than a truly giving heart. And...what about the REAL reason for the season... the birth of Christ, the God-man who came to bring salvation and love to a world lost in its own way? When I look around and see what happens at Christmas, I feel that many of us are still lost in our own way.

It would be so nice to hear "Blessed Christmas" and know that the words mean what they say. It would be wonderful to lay aside the day where we would really focus on the gifts that God gave to us on that very first Christmas night. It would be so different if we sacrificed the spending for presents, and chose, instead, to dream up real gifts of giving: time, services, talents. I think it would seem more like a true Christmas season if everyone did that.

Please don't misunderstand. I enjoy Christmas, all aspects of it...the lights, the smells, the busy days, the thinking of what to give or buy for someone. I enjoy it, yes, I do. But the best part of it all for me is a candlelight service at church, totally devoted to the holiness, the mystery, the wonder of the true Christmas story. The hymns with words that tell of the coming of the promised Savior, the songs that proclaim, as the angels did, "Glory to God in the Highest. Peace and Good Will to men".

There are some who would disagree with some of my thoughts here, and they are free to do so. This is my blog of my thoughts and opinions, and certainly, I give my reading audience the right to have their own views. After all, it is the season of giving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Families near will gather round
Friends will join us too
Food and drink will abound
And there is much to-do.

Enjoy the gathering kinship
And relish the special day
But don't forget to include the worship
And to give thanks in a special way.

Count the blessings we've been given
Count each one with prayer
For there would be not one given
If not for God being always there

From His hand these gifts come
From His heart, with love.
Whether you're near or far from home
Today, thank the Father above.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Thanksgiving Memory

The week of Thanksgiving, 1985 was a gloomy one. My father, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years before, succomed to the disease on that Monday evening. The days following were a whirl of activity, getting my brothers to NY from SC, making sure my children were cared for, being Mom's constant companion, making funeral arrangements.

Since our pastor, Carl V. S., was away for the holiday, we had the added chore of finding someone else who would officiate over the service. Fortunately, a phone call to Fred Jones, in Georgia, brought success. Fred had been the pastor of a small Baptist church in EH where Mom and Dad had attended before Fred and his family were moved to Georgia. Fred had ministered to my father while he was sick, and led Dad to his salvation in Christ. It seemed fitting that Fred would be the man for the farewell services, and we were so thankful that he would leave his duties and family holiday to meet our needs.

Through the week, I seemed to be running on nervous energy. I cleaned Mom's house, comforted her, made phone calls, and basically took care of business. Thanksgiving dinner, and also my birthday that year, was the last thing we worried about. My brothers arrived, taking up residence in their old bedroom. The Pastor arrived, and we put him into the guest room. My husband returned from his trip and took over my child care duties.

Thanksgiving dinner was pulled together without much thought, but I remember it being the same foods we have on the table annually. It was not the joyous gathering we'd enjoyed in other years, but it was a family gathering, none the less.
I found myself thanking God for having the opportunity to know and love the wonderful man who'd lived only 61 years. My heart ached to have him back at the head of the table. I longed to hold his rough hand as we circled in our thanksgiving prayer. I hurt so much that I couldn't cry.

The funeral services were held on Saturday, much later than we'd have liked, but due to the holiday and travelers, as well as scheduling at the morticians, it couldn't be helped. I remember that it was a 'good' service, as funerals go....honoring Dad. I don't remember much of what was said, however. I was catering to my mother, who seemed to be in a deep fog for most of the week. At the cemetary, I made sure that my brother was at one side of her, and my husband on the other. It's a good thing, as her knees buckled, and she would have gone to the ground, had they not been there.

Thanksgivings come every year, and the memories do, too. These days I trade the sad memories for happier ones. I remember well the man I made a Daddy on the morning after Thanksgiving 1947, who worked hard to provide for his little family and for the future of his wife. I remember that he was a patriotic veteran of WWII, serving in Italy and in North Africa. I remember his smile, and his hearty laugh, and some of his comical sayings. I remember so many things about him. I remember....and I miss him.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

The coming of Thanksgiving each year always sets my mind in motion, stirring up memories as easily as I stir up the foods for the table. Memories can be sweet or they can be sad, and this special season brings both.

1963...I was a Junior in high school. I sat in Mr. Marley's history class when a knock came at the door. Mr. Marley spoke with the teacher who'd come to deliver a message, then he closed the door and reported to the class that President John F. Kennedy had been killed by an assassin.
The Junior Prom was scheduled for that night...obviously it was postponed.

The next day I was off on a British cruise ship, bound for Bermuda. The activities at departure were somber in honor of the late confetti, no parties, nothing 'fun' until after the church services on Sunday. As it happened, my 16th birthday was also that week and fell on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The ship had planned the Captain's Dinner for that day, as well, and the food and festivities were wonderful. It was a semi-formal occasion, and I wore my prom dress...a sleeveless dress that I loved. It had a red velvet top with a cinched waist with a lace-up at the front for looks. The skirt was white organza over fell softly and swished when I walked.

The ship's orchestra played in the dining room, and when my Aunt Sis and I entered, they were tipped off of our arrival, and they began to play "Ain't She Sweet". Our waiter, Tom, had requested it and dedicated it to me. (I had such a crush on him! My knees would actually shake when I saw him at each meal, and could hardly eat!) The Maitre D' made a big 'show' of bringing me a flaming baked alaska with a red banner on it that read "Happy Birthday Kathy" written in icing. I don't know how the ribbon managed not to burn!

It was a fantastic way for me to spend my Sweet Sixteen birthday, and I treasure those special memories. Each year, I silently send a special 'thank you' to Aunt Sis who is no longer with us, for taking me on that birthday cruise. The week was a special get away to a tropical place, with an aunt that I thought the world of.

I've had many Thanksgiving days in my lifetime, but that year was probably the second most memorable. You'll have to wait for another day when I'll share the one that is highest on the list of Thanksgiving thoughts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Article

Yesterday my husband brought me the "Living" magazine. It's sent out monthly by our electric company, and it's contents include energy saving tips, calendar events of the month and other such things of interest to the Blue Ridge customers.
I almost never even look at the magazine, but perhaps I should.

There is an article written each month by a very humorous woman who sounds as if we'd get along famously. I discovered this when Mike thrust the page under my nose last evening and said, "You have GOT to read this." So, being the obedient and obliging wife that I am, I stopped everything I was doing, and without argument or reply, began to read. There was no stopping once I started. I giggled my way through each sentence...and even called my mother to read it to her. It was so ME!

The writer is a crafter too. She says that craft items such as clay, paint, glitter, baskets, flowers, wire, etc. are to a crafter as important to life as oxygen. Yes, indeed...I must agree. She says that she hasn't thrown anything away since 1973 because somewhere, someday, someone is going to need a glittered clay basket of flowers. Oh. yes, we MUST be the sisters separated at birth!

I immediately liked this woman. She encouraged me to continue my saving for future projects. Now I have an ally. She'd never say to me, as my kids do, "Mom, you have too much STUFF. Get rid of it!" She'd never ask "How long are you going to keep that thing before you use it?" or "WHAT are you going to do with THAT?"
She'd tell me to put on the ear muffs and ignore all those non-crafting neatniks.

It seems to me that we'd have a grand time shopping together for stamps and inks and papers and paper mache boxes. She'd understand the overwhelming urge to buy a hot pink and cool lime feather boa for some crazy notion I might get while hyperventilating in the aisles at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. She'd join me in my excitement and breathless race to the dollar bin filled with spools of ribbon. Nobody else does, but she would. We'd be fast friends for life, if only I could meet her. We could spend hours together in my craft room or hers, painting and gluing, tossing glitter into the air and wiring beads to anything that will hold them. She might even have a creative thought for the milkbox full of ceramic tiles I've had for ten or twelve years! Oh the joy of such a thought!

But alas, I fear that I will know her only through her words. I must hunt up all the old copies of "Living" so I can read all of her articles. They've been saved since we moved here, because Mike tells me that I must read this or that. I never seem to get around to reading much, and since he reads everything in print, I wouldn't get anything done if I read all that he suggests. I'm far more interested in doing things than reading about someone else's adventures. However, I think I can manage to read my new friend's monthly article.

I wonder where that stack of magazines is? Let me go move the teetering pile of blank cards and tape and scrapbook papers off the coffee table. Maybe they are there.

Monday, November 9, 2009


The days rapidly approach Thanksgiving, and I think "weren't we just celebrating the onset of September? I completely lost October to the hustle and bustle of many functions, and am in danger of doing the same this month. But I will not allow myself to lose the days.

Like the stubborn leaves which cling to their branches in the cool winds, I will hang on to autumn for as long as she will let me. Her brilliance and comfortable weather invite me to take pleasure in the moments of the day when I can be outside. I relish those times when I may sit on the front porch and stare off into the clouds with mindlessness. I enjoy the free floating hawks on the air streams, and the clouds which billow into fluffy bears or waves of the ocean.

All around me life is changing. Much of the garden has turned brown and looks lifeless, but it is only resting. It will be back in all of its glory when Spring returns.
The last of the roses bloom, not as brightly as they did all summer, but they are tired, and need a rest too. It is coming.

The birds at the birdbath appear to be fewer in number, but are no less chiding when the water basin needs to be refilled. The little gray squirrels chatter as they build their nests and fill them with acorns and nuts from the trees. All Nature is preparing for the coming of the Cold.

While I watch these changes, I think that I, too, am preparing for Winter. My body craves the wonderful vegetables that an Autumn harvest brings....acorn squash and root vegetables. The meals I dream of are heartier and more filling.
I certainly do not need to 'bulk up' in size for the winter, but these foods are most probably meant to add something to keep the body warmer. We will have our heating unit checked by the heat/AC man in the morning, to be sure that it's in good order for the coming months.

The cycles of life bring such gifts with each passing of another season. I will hold on to these November hours and partake in all each has to offer, without thrusting myself too hard into the coming of the next month. Reality tells me that December is just around the corner, and I must give some thought to all the busy-ness that will come with it, but for now, just let me breathe in the wonders of Autum.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marty and Me

We met when I was eleven and she was not far behind. I think I was her first East Hampton friend, although she had younger cousins in town. She was an only child and her Dad was in the military, so they moved around a lot. But, for that summer, she was there, two doors away, at her Grandmother's house.

Marty and I were nearly inseparable. We were creative, too, in our time together. Often we were playing 'tomboy' Tarzan, trying to swing on the vines in the over-grown lot next to her Grandma's house. We'd open our mouths and loudly yell, 'Ahhhh-eeeee-yaaaaa-eeeee-aaaaaah" . If the truth is known, we probably sounded more like Cheetah than Tarzan.

One day our backyard play was a trip....over the earth, through the clouds, and around the world on our flattened appliance boxes that we saw as magic carpets. Other days we spent at the beach together or in swimming pools at places where her aunt worked. Never was there a time that we dove in the water that we didn't sing "Fig-a-ro...Fig-a-ro...Fig-a- glub, glub, glub."

We walked everywhere we went. Sometimes we were allowed to walk to the Village, and Marty, with her allowance, would buy small troll dolls for her collection. Those wide eyed dwarf-like things with the fuzzy, colorful hair that stood up straight from their heads, were the only dolls that Marty would tolerate. I still liked dolls, but by that time, it was mostly Barbie dolls or other fashion ones.

As the years went by, Marty and I remained friends, communicating mainly with long, rambling letters while she lived in Michigan and later, England. She was in the United Kingdom when the Beatles sound first came to the USA. and she sent me two of their albums. The British versions were slighly different from the ones put out for the U.S. They were my prized possessions. (Unfortunately, a bad record player needle ruined them both, and they've long since been discarded. ) She eventually came back to East Hampton, and attended high school there. We were typical teenaged girls, playing records, going to movies together, discussing boys, and eating hamburgers at Speed's little hole in the wall. We had a trip or two to New York City, we went to Guild Hall plays together, and we even went to Shea Stadium for the Beatles concert. We had our times of dispute, but for the most part, our friendship stayed in tact.

It was I who introduced Marty to her husband. It was Marty who was my matron of honor when I married. When my daughter was born, Marty was standing as her god-mother. She was a good gift giver too! Not having any of her own children yet, she doted on mine, and though, when my son was born he had different god-parents, Marty gave as many gifts to him as she did for Kerry.

Since Marty's husband was in the Navy by that time, they left East Hampton. She had 3 handsome sons, and I had had 5 young ones. Our correspondence slowed down to nearly a halt, but there were occasional phone calls or Christmas cards. We'd get together once a year or so, when they went to East Hampton for a family visit. Now, since the advent of computers, we write here and there to catch up on things. We moved away from my hometown, and Marty and I live now in neighboring states. We hope for a visit in the future.

Life brings many changes our way. Childhood moves us into adulthood, and with that some major alterations occur. In both Marty's life and mine, we've had marriages, children, divorce, father's deaths and now, the caring for our mothers. Memories linger, and though we haven't seen each other in years, there is no dissolution of our friendship. When we write, there seems to be no loss for words. We've stored up much to share, and share we will one of these days soon.

Somethings are just meant to last....and this friendship with my old pal is one of them.