Tag Archives: Christmas

Hope for the Holidays

Totally vegged out tonight on episode after episode of “The Office” with my husband and daughter in the cozy living room, by the fire and lit holiday tree. Consuming the entertainment to excess, with chips, dark chocolate, and apple cider. Back of my mind says, still not writing? Answer, don’t have nothing to say. Do–what about what’s going on with school and stuff–that could be something. Or just get one word down after another, maybe prose, maybe a poem. So just before I head off to bed at an appropriate time, though not tired because of the latte I made myself a few episodes ago, and not doing anything to get myself tired–no exercise, no anger or frustration, and very little conflict, I opened up the blog of a writer I know and respect, and there it was, all these layers of experience as a teacher laid out in words, with the passion, the doubt, the questions, the commitment. So I opened up my own blog to get to work.

Swim meet today, watching my youngest son alongside my husband and two of our adult children, also both swimmers, feeling so full, proud, glad, to see youngest part of a team, with every reason to believe he’ll make some new, important friends, gain confidence, experience success, along with all the character lessons the experience will bring. Glad that his siblings are a hundred percent behind him, care about each other, and we can all enjoy being together, with lots of good conversation. Because it’s tough sometimes with us–getting offended and being insensitive being part of us too. Just not today. From yesterday, even, when my daughter, who always comes to the airport, and I picked up our oldest son. No, from last Sunday, when I called him on his birthday and we talked about teaching, learning, social change, philosophy, spirituality, growing up, feelings and thoughts and how they serve and lead us.

Whenever I share stories from my teaching, my son listens with great interest and makes comments that show he really gets why I love teaching, and that he could possibly head that route too, even if it means a pay cut from working in software. Not that he’s had much pay yet, graduation being still five months away and no time to work, being a full time students and college swimmer.

Feeling cautiously optimistic in regards to my second daughter too, who is making a great effort to share with me her plans for a road trip she has decided to take with a friend and two dogs down to Oregon and back. She’s hoping for some extra funds from me, as usual, but asking nicely and providing an itinerary is new. Still, I want to install a cell phone disabling device before she goes, to cut down on temptations to use the phone while driving. Couldn’t get the account to work when I tried it out on the other daughter’s phone, so it’s stuck for now, and when I ask for Daughter Two’s phone to install it there, I dread the conflict it will bring up, as she sees it as overly controlling. She would not be moved by the claim on the package, “if you are opening this box, someone care for you very much.” Still, I am persistent, too.

All these grown children being still pretty connected to us made us finally make the decision to buy a hot tub, hoping it will provide a good place for building community among us (as well as helping out with aches and pains). It comes in five days and there’s a lot to do to get ready–electrical, and laying down the base. I never really wanted one, because I rarely feel like soaking in hot water, but the last year I have wanted just that, a place to get the chill off, the tension out after a log day, and knowing that all six of us have strains and -“itis”es and tightness from this or that condition or injury. Several other families told us it was a blessing for them, bringing members of the family together, and sometimes the kids’ friends around. That’s what we’re hoping. We might even try some of our sons’ role-playing games in there, with a floating tray for rolling dice. It will be cool to look up at the night glory as we float there, get out of my head.


1 Comment

Posted by on December 17, 2017 in Parenting & Family, Places & Experiences


Tags: ,

Borrowed meaning

Meet me at the bus stop, Jesus. And if you have anything for me to add to my luggage, make it your own home brew.
I don’t want to consume that ready-made any more, though I’ll keep that fact to myself a little longer.
Just like depression, most people don’t want to know when you’re losing your religion.
Borrowed that story about you for so many years, and it wasn’t even yours. Second hand from some other emperor, maybe a tribal chieftain too.
Mistranslated, double switched meanings (literally!). Not your fault, as usual.

It’s true the more you learn, the less you can admit to knowing.
Then why don’t learned people teach less and less, instead of more and more?
Hoping to tie things up for the next generation, fix a temporary stake, to slow the backsliding they felt in their times of midlife crisis

Dark and light, equinox and blazing glory, peach and good will (now to all genders).
I always knew about the glory.
But no need to light up a tree or ring them bells for that–just look out the window at those chickadees,
And that’s on the darkest day of the year, all in shades of gray,
Tiny beetles under delicately curling bark, pupae asleep in the mud, lilies already pushing up points of green.
All those selfish gene propagation machines can’t hide the glory.

Still, is it to be avians and asteriods only on the tree, felted and embroidered, from now on?
Are we keeping the manger and decorated camels for old time’s sake?
Must have the lights, at the very least–starved for light I am, these days.
And of course, one must have the balls.


Tags: , ,

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and I fell apart

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and I fell apart

Weeping in my husband’s embrace on December 22nd. Reminds me of last year, but without the embrace–under the pressure of getting ready for Christmas gift giving. Pressure I’m putting on myself–it’s too much, and I need release. Again I have disappointed myself and not got packages mailed in time to my family back east. Not shown them I love them enough to plan better, not shown myself to be a put-together daughter and sister. And too much time taken on all that anyway perhaps with so many family members to think of here. I discover that my gift piles are lopsided and I have more for my older kids than for the younger. The daughter who actually begins getting disappointed before she even sees her presents, to get a head start, and the son who wails at any perceived injustice or sense of personal injury, are undergifted. Will I have time to finish the special school-colors blanket for her? Can I find a decent Lego set for him in the time remaining? Should I add up the totals and give extra money to make things even? Or just give the warning my mom used to give that it might not be everyone’s year this year, so be prepared.

I’m also sad that we have not read any Christmas books or scriptures, sung any songs, made any crafts together. The tree is up, lights hung, nativity scenes in place, but I’ve left it to the others to ask for anything special beyond that, and no one has cared. No advent calendar doors with candy, even. No working at the food bank, helping with Angel Tree, inviting stranded student in for the holidays. Just a few charity checks in the mail. This isn’t Christmas, I moan.

Then there’s the extended family gifts. White elephant and an exchange, which for us adds up to twelve presents. I grumble that it’s too much, and they’re all adults and can each buy their own, while I have to help my kids choose, or at least drive them to stores. Will the bath salts my son bought from a big box store really suffice for a dear grandmother? Will my niece appreciate the earth tone, locally made mugs, or should I switch out for the bath salts? I’m told I made my father-in-law a hat last year, so that plan is shot. My sisters-in-law and their very organized children were done weeks ago, I’m sure.

No pretty plates of cookies or even boxes of chocolates for the neighbors, who have watched my animals, taken in the mail, and shared their salmon catch with us, and I really wanted to show appreciation. Will they be hurt?

My husband leaves his paid hourly work on the computer, listens, holds me, rubs my back and says the equivalent of “There, there; it’s going to be all right.” He doesn’t argue that I’m being unreasonable, or demand that I pull myself together. He offers to find my father-in-law’s gift and our son’s Lego set, take the girls to shop for what they need, asks what else he can do, and pretty much comes to my rescue. Of course I realize I need to pull myself together, and after letting myself receive his comfort, I do. Of course I know I’m being unreasonable, and manage to invite some more sensible thoughts to the forefront of my mind after I calm down. Yes, I’ve probably had too much coffee and too little regular food, so I sit down and eat some leftover rustic chicken pizza I had the sense to pick up the night before. I don’t have to get up early tomorrow, I can stay up and sew, mail the packages tomorrow, and do what needs to be done, which is less than I think it is in my perfectionist frenzy. It’s going to be all right.


Tags: ,

Week of Christmas

Out again in town filling time, for the love of a girl who loves horses. She’s riding along the snowy trails and working in the ring with a leased mare on trotting, loping, barrel racing. She’s decided she’s content to lease and not own a horse, as long as we buy a new house in our current school district, which is too far away from pasture. Says she can’t stand to live in that house any more. She and her sister are sharing a room in the semi-converted garage, and the space heater can’t quite compensate for the cold air seeping through the two garage doors. And she claims that her sister is unbearably messy. Perhaps a self-fulfilled prophesy by now–she struggled, she was nagged at, she gave up. It takes an impeding loss of privilege to move her in that direction now, even though her desire to have order still exists. Just discouraged. Ever feel discouraged like that? Like all the key observers have judged you inadequate, so what’s the point of making efforts that probably won’t be noticed as improvements if they still fall below standard? None of them have the wherewithal to come alongside and mentor you through it and show you what you’re doing right, which is surely what’s needed.

So I remind myself, NO NAGGING. I remember reading a definition of nagging once in a parenting book. It was saying the same thing repetitively, especially in a higher, more intense, or irritated voice. Requests, directions, reminders are okay. I tend to nag people when I’m failing most myself. The undercurrent: I can’t get myself in line, so at least could you improve my life by fixing what I see is wrong in yours? I try incentives: those who have their rooms clean can open a gift early.

I’ve picked up a cartload of poly fleece remnants at the big box fabric store to make more hats and mitts, maybe socks if I can learn to flatlock seams. For now I’ve slackened on sit-down meals at the table in favor of sewing on the dining room table. For meals I facilitate the provision of heatable leftovers or easy-fixings, encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables, check on protein quality of plates taken to the living room. Until weekend, when I try to make a special effort for my husband’s sake. I like them too, but with schedules, the difficulty of pleasing everyone, and the knowledge I’ll be left with the cleanup, I’m less motivated than I used to be.

I buy a few more things–a cool swim cap, a new pair of swim jammers for my youngest son, who will be working out with a swim club soon. Then take forty-five minutes to injest some Woods Coffee and write (aware that some are boycotting Woods, but I already bought the card and haven’t been convinced yet that the owner is particularly deserving of disdain. My son said he heard they only hire good-looking women as baristas (which, I am glad to see, he considers unfair), and I say that’s a common problem in the industry–haven’t seen even a token plain barista in a coffee chain in a long while. Woods coffee is weak (though not burnt-tasting like Starbucks), so I have them add an extra shot of decaf to create enough flavor. When the coffee card’s empty it’s back to the independent place near the college for me. The barista there might be called middle aged and dour, but I’m guessing has a dynamite personality hidden away for those who make the effort. If I can only charm her into turning up the heat a tad…

I guess I’m doing my part in keeping the economy growing. When I wanted to help slow it down.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Places & Experiences


Tags: ,



It’s been a long time since I saw my mail had been checked. The first time was in Togo in 1987 during a coup, the second was in Israel during the 2008 war in Gaza. Now I’m in my home town, and it happens. It’s an invitation card from my church to participate in the now international movement called Advent Conspiracy. The word “conspiracy” could be tagged as a possible security threat, to be sure. But that was on the inside of the card. Outside, just name of church, our name and address. Maybe a scanner read what was taped inside: “Advent Conspiracy: Worship fully. Spend Less. Give More. Love all.” A Threat? Unpatriotic? Countercultural, yes.

Worship fully. God, not country, God, not security, God, not economy, God, not culture. God, not self. God, not doctrine. God, not tradition.

Spend less. Definitely a threat to the American economy, as seen by the measurers of “economic growth.” Economic growth depends on continuous and increasing consumption. Which depends on production, but not production as in nature, as one stage in a cycle using recycled materials. We all learned about that in elementary school.  It goes like this:  production of energetic organic material by plants using free and essentially unlimited sun’s energy along with surface materials and atmospheric gases -> consumption of plant material by animals and the like, to obtain essential energy and nutrients for life processes -> decomposition of bodies and waste with the aid of organisms, releasing solid and gaseous materials and waste heat  -> production by plants using sun’s energy and these recycled materials…

Our economic system: Specialized extractors use refined fossil energy sources to obtain finite fossil energy stores -> Energy stores converted to refined energy sources and other materials, releasing waste heat and waste materials -> Refined energy sources transported to consumer-producers, using refined energy sources as fuel -> Specialized consumer-producers (manufacturers) use materials obtained through the use of specialized materials extractors (using refined energy sources) to assemble consumable products, using refined energy sources -> Products transported to markets, using refined energy sources -> Consumers “use” products, often  without obtaining energy or essential nutrients -> Used products discarded, or reused then discarded -> Wastes transported, sorted and stored, dumped or recycled, using refined energy sources -> ?

Give more: If people just give, how can other people make a living by selling goods and services? And how can recipients of gifts be motivated to work so as to be able to consume market goods? What about the decreased tax revenue due to charitable giving (possibly balanced by less need for government social programs)? If the food is not locked up and sold in installments, what will happen to the economy then?

Love all: Even people that don’t keep buying things to look good and keep up their homes to the standards set by fashion? People content with their simplicity?

We call it Advent Conspiracy for a reason. Con=against, spire=breath or wind. Conspiracy goes against the prevailing wind. Conspiracies are counter-cultural, in opposition to powerful forces which may be from within as well as without, and carried out by people working together against the wind. Worship fully. Spend less. Give more. Love more.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,