December 31, 2012
On the Eve of a New Year!
It has been so very quiet around here since Martin and Christine took our little ailing two year old home on Friday. Lionel woke up not feeling well but I hear that he has made a fairly quick recovery as children are apt to do. Dani and family drove over the pass to spend New Year's with the Wheeler family and play in the snow. Lucy, their NW Terrier, will be delighted to get back to Jon and Margaret's large snowy backyard. Jeni and Nicole left earlier and joined Ron and Allie who left Christmas night. They all seem to have left me with a scratchy throat and several days to tidy what is leftover from the fun of Christmas. And, to finish all the leftover food in the frig. Other than running over to Dani's to check on the chickens and going to see the new Bond movie, I've kept pretty close to home -- rising late and going to bed early trying to shake what keeps threatening to bloom as a full fledged cold. Considering the fact that Dani & James were coughing before Christmas and Nico after, I think I know where it came from.
There were several wonderful moments during the holiday. Marilyn, Keith, Eulalah, and I went out for Christmas Eve dinner after the lovely 5:00 church service. I joined Dani's family for opening stockings and gifts on Christmas morning. Then, family arrived here around noon and we casually opened gifts over the next few hours. Jeni & Ron did Christmas dinner --yummy salmon and roast and good accompaniments. Dani & Charles did dinner the next day with some delicious chicken and veggies. Martin and Christine brought up some yummy appetizers (we cannot possibly have a party without Christine's crumble!) and they brought some favorite crumpets from the Pike Place market for breakfasts.
Other special moments were playing three late nights of a game called Resistance that Martin brought up for our family to enjoy; watching Nico play so sweetly with his little cousin, Lionel; playing music together and Lionel loving "Silent Night" so we had to sing it multiple times; my beautiful red Amaryllis blooming multiple times; once again enjoying this house that has always been a "Christmas house!" and enjoying how my remodeled kitchen works with multiple cooks.
I went through my nativity collection this year and several of my old Christmas boxes in my effort to begin to pair down my stuff! Unfortunately, I found that I still love so many of the nativities and they have so many special memories, that I kept most of them. I mostly got rid of things that I really never use such as artificial holly or old ribbons, etc. I still have more than I will ever use if I move out of this monstrous house.
So, that was my Christmas. I still haven't written a Christmas letter. I'm not sure I will. After spending some time talking to Martin about writing, I am committed to getting back in a writing groove -- maybe that will be my resolution for 2013. I have the rest of the day to contemplate that. Marilyn, Keith and Eulalah will come over to dinner tonight and play Rummy Tiles. If I know them, they will be gone before midnight!
I can't fault 2012 for what it gave to me. It was a wonderful year of watching my grandchildren grow and being grateful for all I have in my life. I look forward to 2013 with hopes for a year of collaboration and good friends!
December 21, 2012
The past few years we have had a "longest night" service at church. I haven't been able to attend, but I'm aware that it is a new phenomena for me. Before moving to Washington, I was never aware of either seasons or the length of the days. My first Washington experience was waiting until almost 10:00 for fireworks to begin on July 4th, two hours later than we waited in Los Angeles. In fact, my friends were probably headed for bed before our fireworks even began.
The next culture shock was getting up for work in the dark and coming home in the dark. It seemed that it was always light in California. So, imagine my surprise to find that there's not as much difference as I supposed between the two places. Oh, there is a difference. Sunrise on the longest night in Bellingham is 7:55 and Los Angeles is an hour earlier. Sunset is 4:21 here and 4:48 in Los Angeles. It's funny that I never ever remember it being dark so early in L.A. I hadn't heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder before I moved to the Northwest. No wonder some of my friends are headed for Palm Desert, some to Arizona, and one couple to Florida for three months. How else do you find a bit of sun and Vitamin D?
Dani and Charles have gone to two parties tonight and the boys are here. James and Dani have been sick with some kind of cold that has hung on. James also has an eye infection, so I picked him up at the doctor and got him some medication. Then, James and Nico and I headed for Boomer's Drive Inn where the hamburgers are huge and yummy. James didn't feel like going into a restaurant although having a hamburger appealed to both boys. So, we sat in the car and enjoyed our dinner and then came back to the house. Nico and I put together a batch of cookies, James took a long, hot bath and now they are watching cartoons while I am writing this blog. Everyone is very mellow tonight. Christmas lights are shining through the gloom and the sound of laughter permeates the house. It is lovely!
When we were house hunting and found this place, both Jeni and Martin said, "This is a Christmas house!" And they were right. It is warm and cozy at Christmas and the decorations seem right at home with a huge wreath on the front porch and my collection of creches in every nook and corner. It even snowed a slight bit on Tuesday, but didn't stick. I remember my childhood when my cousins and I immediately went outside to try out our new skates or bikes or outdoor toys. I remember hearing Bing Crosby's White Christmas and wondering what a white Christmas would actually be like. I doubt that we will have one this year, but I still find snow amazingly beautiful and exciting. I still hear from my kids when the first flakes fall and the world turns white. All three of them will be here on Christmas day with their families. The older three grandchildren (15, 17, & 19) will be teaching the two little ones (2 & 6) all about the family traditions.
It will be lovely to gather together yet another Christmas. Life is good.
December 16, 2012
Yes, I did get my house decorated for Christmas! I still haven't finished my shopping, and I haven't even thought of attacking the Christmas card/letter -- but then I still have a few days left. Often my Christmas letter becomes a New Year's letter, and I get fewer and fewer each year as people drop me when I don't come through or they begin sending greetings by Facebook or email.
I still like to sit and write something although Don hated Christmas letters. And, he had strict ideas about cards -- no Santas or reindeer or elves or stuff like that. It had to have a religious significance. I'm thinking of using Nico's latest chalk drawing of Santa and reindeer that he did for his cousin, Lionel. It may not be sacred in nature, but the feelings behind him doing such a lovely drawing for his little cousin fits my idea of the spirit of Christmas.
I don't think anyone will be the same this Christmas after the Connecticut shootings. I have been so depressed about them. I pray if that will be an impetus for some semblance of gun control. The whole incident reminds us that it is not important what we buy for each other or how many we have at the Christmas table. The decorations are beautiful, but should only point the way to highlighting the birth of a baby who came to bring peace to the world. I'm sure that all of us will look at the children this Christmas and thank God for their shiny faces and their safety. What more can we do -- fight for gun control, more $$$$$$ for mental health, education and help for disturbed children, know that our world is not always safe, take precautions, and keep those who died in our hearts and prayers.
I have heard that the shooter in Connecticut grew up in a broken home and lived with a mother who loved guns. He had family problems and we don't know how those were handled. But, he also lived in a country where the media are intrusive and and politicians talk hate. He lived in a country where we give bad people their moment of glory. He lived in a country where we have to teach bully curriculums in schools because kids lack empathy for those less fortunate, where the system teaches children to be more competitive than cooperative, where our deaths by shootings far outweigh other civilized countries because we want to preserve the right to kill people. He lived in a country where we are in awe of the wealthy and the famous and scorn the down and out.
I believe sincerely that it takes a village to raise a child. All of the children in this country belong to us. The sweet ones that died needlessly and the shooter that took their lives. The ones that go to bed hungry and the ones that have full tummies. We are their grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. We have to stop hoarding our love and resources and begin to understand that this is one planet, one world, one country and it belongs to all of us. We are responsible. We must begin to take that responsibility.
What better time than Christmas when Jesus came to do just that!