Thursday, December 26, 2013

Non Traditional Christmas

There is a group in our village called, "Community of Orphans". Village Voice staff writer Carole Sjolander writes, " They are not  orphans in the usual sense of the word--they simply have no family or none visiting, for the holiday." Rather than celebrate  alone, they join together. Everyone is welcome. The group is always changing.

We are traveling after Christmas this year.  In a sense we too were Christmas orphans.  We were not alone. Several friends gathered for an awesome Christmas Day celebration. Surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations we enjoyed a great meal. More that once bursts of laughter drowned out the Christmas music playing in the background. The hours passed quickly. Although we plan to see each other again soon, no one left before I love yous and warm hugs were shared.

My beautiful hubby, friends, decor and food!

We retrieved a member of our deacon family from the airport.  We were surprised when she introduced us to the unexpected guest that returned with her. Lolly her grand dog came home for a visit with Grandmother.  Lolly is an adorable Scottish Terrier. She was full of energy and the urgent need to relieve herself after the flight. While Grandmother's porter helped retrieve her luggage, we took Lolly for a walk. I dubbed hubby, Dan the deacon dog walking man.  Both Lolly and Grandmother are a joy.

Dan comforting Lolly on the drive home!

So it is. Christmas was not exactly traditional. The absence of loved ones weighed on our hearts. But Christmas is about His birthday.  Celebrating with those who love, respect and need us, two legged or four, is a very blessed Christmas.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” Mark 3:31-35

(Jesus asked this rhetorical question at a time when his actual mother and brothers had come for him.  He answered this by sayting that it is those that do God's will who are His family--not necessarily his mother and brothers of the flesh at all.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Lights

This Christmas has really come quickly! Thanksgiving came late, and the ice storm held us captive for a week.  The last remnants of ice and snow have finally faded giving way to Christmas lights and decorations.

Ice finally melted from one of my favorite trails!
I love Christmas lights. The tradition of illuminating our street is beautiful, warm and inviting. Some neighbors have sadly reminisced about the house that will be dark this year. Those are the homes whose owners have moved up from this world. The Lord willing, those homes will be glowing again next Christmas!

One of the ladies adamant about keeping this neighborhood tradition alive was tardy in setting her luminaries out. She had a very good explanation.  It was her turn to host 12-14 ladies at her home.  She explained if they were placed before the lights would be run over by her guest. Obviously she speaks with a voice of experience. It makes perfectly good sense to me.   That is the reason our luminaries will not run along our driveway.  The danger would not lay with my female visitors but alas the female resident.

Sweet neighbor across the street.
Can you see a dozen women racing up this drive?

While visiting a friend this fall, we were surprised to find her home fully decked for Christmas.  She saw no reason Christmas should not be celebrated anytime, anywhere, or anyway one choose.  She was as perfectly comfortable with her Christmas trees and lights in July or December.  How can one argue that? 

Our Bible Study class members chip in a dollar or so every week to a special fund.  At Thanksgiving and Christmas we provided whatever needs to a family that is assigned to us.  We forget how a little here and there goes a long way.

Santas helpers!
We were delighted to have a family with small children this year.  It was so much fun shopping and playing Santa. It had been too many years since we had this kind of fun.  The Mom picked up the gifts in secret tonight for her babies’ Christmas Eve celebration.

The light of Christmas beams through sharing and carrying others burdens large or small. A little goes a long way! The love, joy and peace that follow are priceless.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Friday, December 6, 2013


Animated winter snow scene with snow falling on Trees

In spite of Dan's usual denial, the ice did in fact come as predicted.  Every time we have a storm warning, he insists it is too warm for any type of accumulation.  While I do appreciate his positive attitude (or denial) we spent the majority of the day yesterday preparing for what was not coming. He checking generators and the like, I making sure the chocolate pantry was well stocked.

Street view from living room

The white landscape is a beautiful backdrop for the Christmas decorations. That beauty that can become treacherous.We pray for the electricity to remain on this year.  Thank you Lord!  We also remain mindful of those who do not have shelter.  We pray they find peace, warmth, full stomachs and the love of strangers. But by the Grace of God there go we.

Being iced in can be a good catch up day.  We had a very good training session via google hang out. With a few clicks of the mouse, we can connect with people face to face around the world.  Truly technology is wonderful when it works properly and appropriately utilized.

Not even through day one, Dan was going stir crazy  He decided to remove and replace the garbage disposal. The removal went off without much of a hitch, but finding a replacement no so much. Then there is you can't use that side of the sink thing. No worries. We will be out and about tomorrow. (That positive attitude again.)  A trip to Lowe's will be in order no doubt.
Dan turning the laundry room into his work shop
When he announced he was taking his daily walk, I thought he had lost his mind.  Everything and everyone was locked up tight with the exception of a bird or two slipping up the drive. Then there were those ingenious children at play. Having not a proper sled, they had taken the wheels off their skate boards and using as sleds.  What do they care?  Kids, ice and snow, complete joy!  So with the other kids, Dan made his walk slowly walking mostly in the frozen grass.  Then he crashed!  Now that's good use of a ice storm day!
Now who could not love this sweet guy!!!  Looks like he barely made it to the sofa!

“Out of the south comes the storm, And out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen.” ~Job 37:9-10

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Revenge of the Thanksgiving Turkey

Last year we were introduced by our church to the tradition of the “Hanging of the Greens”.  It was one of the most beautiful services ever.  We have looked forward to it again all year long. Sunday morning I awoke with the funk. I was to say at very the least very annoyed at missing this much anticipated event.

I was not alone in my misery.  When I dragged my disgruntled self to the convenient care I was told by the haggard nurses while it seemed to be a hundred, they actually had twenty five folks waiting when they opened.  We were all apparently suffering with the same ailment I dubbed -- revenge of the Thanksgiving turkey.  I am well into my antibiotics and feeling better but still wearing my cranky pants. 

Alas all is not lost.  One of the special events is the hanging of the Chrismons on the tree and explanation of the meaning of each. With much effort we finally found Chrismons on line.  One gentleman from Michigan still practices the lost art of crafting these ancient symbols of Christmas.  We spoke by email Thanksgiving Day and they arrived yesterday.  We ordered them unfinished. Dan put down his house trim and front door painting project and immediately set to work painting the Chrismons.  We do not choose to make them elaborate.  They will remain simple as lovingly crafted by their carpenter.  Large or small, plain or simple it matters not.  Each and everything points to Christ. Dan has chosen to paint them with white and gold.  We are exciting to have our first Chrismon Tree.
Mosiac Chrisoms
We received our first Christmas card of the season today from sis Rema!  A beautiful Poinsettia was delivered by a sweet neighbor Mr. J. “This is my traditional gift to the neighbors.”  His sleigh (golf cart) was filled with the crimson beauties.  There was barely room for his reindeer (dog) but they too were happily received. Mr. J filled me in on the neighborhood tradition of lighting luminaries.  We can’t wait to add that to our list of new Christmas customs.

As a side note, I did offer to make an even exchange with Mr. J.  I offered to trade our Christmas candy for his antique sports convertible.  He smiled back, “There is not enough candy in the world!”  Well, maybe we might catch an occasional ride if and only when the sun is shining. He can’t have his girl getting dirty or anything like that.

There are all the little annoyances that come in the form of flu bugs, weather, over booking and such to steal our joy.  But the good news is nothing can stop it. It is still the season of Good News!

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” Isaiah 61:1