Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas thoughts

What a busy week......! Between a massive 10-hour shopping blitz on Saturday, church on Sunday, and trying to cram five days' worth of work into two days..... well, you can just imagine how it was in my little world!

But now the rush of the season is past, and we can enjoy the actual wonder and beauty of Christmas. And time to send out my Christmas cards..... as I told several of my friends, there was just too much to do to send them out before the 25th. However, the holiday season extends into January for both my religions (Catholic Christianity and college football).... it ain't over till Epiphany or the last BCS Bowl game is played!! So all my friends will be getting their cards a bit late. Most have been QUITE understanding!

One idea I'd like to pass on: our diocesan Bishop has asked all families to light a candle of hope (a white candle to symbolize the Christ-child) during the Christmas season (December 25 through January 5), and during that time, to do an act of kindness or make a stab at reconciliation -- to light a candle, instead of cursing the darkness. In a time when war and fear and terror and hatred seem to be the only things on the news, we're hard-pressed to find hope and peace. Small as the effort may be, peace in ourselves, in our homes, will spread and one day... one day ... lead to real peace in the world. Apparently John Lennon really was right: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one....." So if you feel inclined, do the same in your own home, and in your own family.

Blessings to you and yours in this season -- whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or Kwaanza, or any other winter holiday celebration. May peace truly reign.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Ask and you shall receive...

Here I was this morning, grumbling about a jolted start to my morning, still feeling unappreciated and very "unspiritual" about Christmas..... and lo and behold, I got *such* a boost from someone that I barely know. One of our parishioners called. She is a sweet lady, and I know her by sight (and she knows me by sight), but we don't really know each other well. She needed information, was almost apologetic for even having to ask. It was an easy task, and the information was literally right at my fingertips. Right after we finished the conversation and hung up, she called back to tell me how nice I was everytime she had to call the office, and how she wished all offices had someone like me. I nearly cried, I was so moved.

Then this afternoon, we received the Christmas note from my cousin -- who REALLY should consider getting her essays published, she is SO gifted! I cried reading that one, too -- just very incredibly spiritual and another much-needed boost.

And on top of that, I was at last able to finalize plans for our family's mid-January gathering. I'm so boosted about everything coming together that I am going to sit down and send out my Christmas cards tonight (nothing like the last minute, huh???).

Amazing how things can somehow click together -- thanks God!!

Something burning on an open stove....

I awoke this morning to the smell of smoked sausage cooking. There was only one problem: I was the only person awake at the time..... So where was the smell coming from?

Nothing quite evokes a mood of winter like the roar and hiss of a crackling fire -- discovering it in a water pot on your stove is NOT where you expect it!! We have a gas stove in our house upon which we put a tin of water (for a little extra humidity in the house). A few weeks ago, I had put some mulling spices in a cheesecloth in it for a special touch -- add a little spicy smell to the house. Apparently no one checked the water levels in it last night, and by this morning, the spices were burning, and the cheesecloth was black as tar.

This makes two mornings in a row in which my day has gotten off to a shotgun start -- where all my plans to ease into morning, to creep into my routine, have been thwarted. It's bad enough that the holiday season tends to occasionally Grinch me out... you know, realizing you STILL have things to buy and stuff to do and it's less than a week away. But two rude awakenings are just enough to send the already jangled and jingled nerve endings into a total frizz.......

And trying to find the spirituality present in the holiday season is so difficult, made even more so when you actually WORK for a church. A few weeks ago, on Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor made a remark about how those who seem to work hardest for Christmas are the ones who enjoy it least. He has a point.

Until next time....

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Sixteen tons.....

Just a couple of random thoughts.

1. I have the highest respect for the medical profession -- doctors, nurses, technicians, and so forth -- especially after my surgery this summer. They are wonderful people who do a great job (or at least that holds true for my situation). The medical business (billing, insurance, costs, etc.) is another story. I just found out this afternoon that because I am slightly over the income limits, and worked hard to save back a little for my retirement in 35 years, I now will be spending the next 14 kazillion years of my life paying off this operation. Merry friggin' Christmas.

2. But just as I was feeling my absolute lowest today (just after talking to the hospital's business office), I came home to a WONDERFUL gift! Several of us SPQ gals took part in a Christmas card swap -- and mine arrived today!!!!! These are some awfully creative wimmins, and I'm proud to be part of them! I laughed, I cried (but in a good way), and feel as if I can take on the world again tomorrow ..... just when I felt like thinking, "Why even bother?" Thanks, ladies -- you might have been just sending a card, but what you sent me was hope and love, along with a little faith in myself and in the basic goodness of life. You can't beat that for a Christmas gift!!!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Fidiots at the Holiday Fair

I was going to post this yesterday, but was way too wiped out for it!! Yesterday was our local Holiday Fair -- tons of artisans and handcrafters plying their wares. Most of the wares were pretty neat; a few repetitions, but some really good things and some originals.

Here are some observations from yesterday's to-do:

1. Whatever happened to manners????? I saw more cut-offs yesterday than I've seen on the freeways and interstates for years! I think I said "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry" or other polite comments more often than they were ever said back to me. The most blatant example of this rampant rudeness: At an exhibit for a food product, this one lady cut in front of me several times! There were multiple flavors available, and she was sampling them all. She even glared at me -- guess she thought I was weaseling in on her path to the goodies. Worse, she actually looked a lot like someone who is one of the sweetest women in the world, and I suppose I was thinking that she would behave like this woman too (HA!). In addition, she was making comments about the products. Not necessarily rude comments, more just her observations on them along the lines of "Oh, this stuff is nasty!" (I was sampling the same product and actually thought it quite tasty). Now I'm the type who, if I thought a product was tacky or not to my standards, would not say something about it in front of the vendor.... I simply wouldn't buy, but just walk away. Or if I felt the pressing need to say something about it, I'd at least wait until the vendor was out of earshot. What is it with the lack of manners these days? Conventional wisdom says that today's youth are rude, but based on yesterday's displays, the younger generations were far more well-mannered than this person (several years older than me). I think it goes back to one's upbringing.... children who were raised with parents who taught them good manners and to be respectful of others generally grow up to be respectful, mannered adults.

2. Shuttles and trolleys to the parking areas would have been greatly appreciated! Not so much because the parking was out in BFE, but because it was so darn COLD, with a horrid wind! Even if the shuttle would have just gone to the entrance of the airport lot, that would have been fine. It would have been worth even another dollar or so for the ride! In the past, vendors have parked in the outer lots and left the inner lots for the shoppers. This year, it was reversed. I'm not sure that was such a great decision, but I'm not in charge either.

Okay, enough kvetching for today....... :-)