Friday, December 2, 2011

Deck the halls...

This was taken last Sunday night when we officially started the Christmas decorating. This year Bobby is almost three years old, which puts him right on the cusp of "getting" the holiday. As soon as it was time to begin putting ornaments on the tree, he was ALL OVER IT. This is one of those photos that, to me, instantly warms the heart. I am sure it will be treasured by Jeff, Bobby and myself for many, many years.

Bobby's love affair with the tree -- specifically those shiny, irresistible ornaments -- is ongoing. The first couple of days had him coming up to us, reporting, "I broke another ornament." Sure enough, one of the silver balls would be in slivers on the floor. So, why would we be foolish enough to even put them on the tree in the first place? Good question. You'll have to ask Jeff, though, since I stepped down as "Tree Decorating Coordinator" this year. I felt like for the past several years I've been standing there supervising the kids, making sure no one fell into the tree as they put up their own ornaments. It was so relaxing and fulfilling to sit and watch... even though I felt really lazy doing it. I probably saved myself from being an emotional wreck, since every year when we get the kids' handmade ornaments out, I have to look at each one, remembering the pride with which they crafted them. Shaky, crayon-scribbled signatures adorn the backs of the paper decorations. A few sequins always manage to dribble off some other creation. And the glitter... my god the glitter! Who knew one Kindergarten masterpiece could ever leave our floor looking like Friday night at Showgirl?! But they're all worth it. Every last glittery, sequined one.

This weekend I'll be finishing up the last of the decorating (outdoor). Photos to follow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day One, Part II

It all began with a baby in a stable.
No onesie.
No knit cap for His head.
No flowers for his mother.
No medical care.

Nothing but a new life and those who had faith.

The faithful believed.
The believers became travelers.
The travelers came to see the baby.

But there was no grand reception.
No buffet.
No beverages.
No opulence and shimmer.

Just silence.
Reverent silence.

They stood in the stable,
On the dirt floor, among hay that was fed to the animals.

Witnessing a precious new life, who
Would one day make the ultimate sacrifice for them.
Giving them precious eternal life.

What image is in your mind's eye right now?
Think. Be there.

Now, can you quickly imagine the mall or any retail store right now,
And not almost feel ashamed or embarassed?
The gaudy, overrun, irreverent spectacle.

Go back to the stable.
Return to the silence.
Revel in it.
Stand in awe, in the glory of Our Saviour.
There in the cold, wrapped only in a thin blanket.
The baby.
Because it all started with Him.
A baby in a stable.

Day One

December 01, 2011

I received an email from Jenny with a forwarded message from a blogger (who, as I just learned is a scrapbooker/writer/photographer... so it's like looking at what I want to be when I grow up) with this interesting concept to Journal the Holiday. She prompted this project with a Christmas Manifesto (at left). I'm not usually one to immediately "bandwagon" myself to someone else's manifesto of beliefs -- but this one spoke to me. I haven't had time to fully investigate and digest all the surrounding details, but the idea is to create a daily reflection of the holiday season through words, photos or crafts. I love all three with a passion, so that part should be easy. The hardest part will be finding enough time to do it. But where there's a will, there's a way. And this IS the season of miracles, yes? Hope anyone reading will enjoy the ride with me. This should be fun. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

I just finished eating what will officially be my FINAL meal of Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s been a steady stream of turkey, stuffing, corn casserole and sweet potatoes – in varying amounts/combinations – since last Thursday. We did break for pizza last night, but that was out of sheer desperation. (Long story.) I’ve eaten enough of said Thanksgiving foods that I am teetering on the verge of being disgusted by them. I’ll only need a short break, then I’ll be able to resume enjoying those sweet and savory dishes just in time for Christmas dinner… when the turkey will likely be replaced by ham, but the sides will be pretty much the same.

That said, I have officially switched gears and have my sights set on Christmas. Every year, I hope beyond hope that we will somehow manage to give our family a nice Christmas, while weaving in a meaningful thread of charity/humility/spirituality. (Take your pick.) There has been such buzz lately about “going local” that, once I really thought about it, it made complete and total sense to me. If I was a small business owner, I would be doing everything I could to compete with everyone likes to call, “big box stores.” I get it. They have Corporate America on their sides; and who does the little guy have on his side? Exactly. So, I kind of had it in my mind to start thinking of ways to support local businesses and integrate those items into my gift list.

Then, this past weekend, a very well-known “big box store” royally screwed us over. Let’s just call the store, “Greatest Purchase.” (I know you’ll get it if you think about it for a minute.) Anyway, Greatest Purchase, offered a Black Friday online deal for a video game system that Jeff wanted to buy for our family. Anyone who knows Jeff can attest that he will research a purchase thoroughly before making a move. (If “research thoroughly” means having no less than seven different browsing windows open on one computer at a time, each one with a different review of the same product.) So, once he found the deal he wanted, he purchased this video game system from Greatest Purchase, and opted to pick up the system in person at Greatest Purchase’s store in Muncie, IN. (The Fort Wayne stores were sold out already.) Yesterday, on the way home from Indianapolis, Jeff stopped at the Muncie location, presented his receipt and paperwork, which clearly stated that the item WILL BE HELD well past the November 27 pick-up date, only to find that there was nothing for him to pick up. The store sold out of the game system before someone bothered to pick the item for online orders. Again, anyone who knows Jeff can attest to the fact that he not only took issue with the sales clerk, but the store manager as well. In the end, it was all for naught. They were happy to offer a different game system as a replacement, but would not offer the Black Friday price. Ugh. Corporate America strikes again.

Last night, as Jeff detailed the situation at Greatest Purchase for me, including the conversation with the store manager who repeatedly claimed “there’s nothing I can do,” Jeff posed the question, “Where has the concept of taking responsibility for actions gone?” He’s right. I’ve felt this way for a long time. I have seen more than my fair share of people who – for whatever reason – firmly believe they have no responsibility for their own actions, and repeatedly blame other people, their cars, the weather, cats, dogs, shrubbery, etc. You name it, and it’s the root of all the problems for these people. Personally, I cannot stand that character trait… or, I should say, character flaw. There have been a few times when one of the kids will start in with the whole “it isn’t my fault” argument, and I immediately nip *that* in the bud. There will be no throwing of anyone or anything under the proverbial bus, in order to escape taking responsibility for something. “Have character,” I tell them. “Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Period.”

So, to recap… Buy local. Take responsibility.

Not quite the warm and fuzzy holiday message, but it’s a start.