Today I’m not only talking about Christmas as I declare “It’s almost here!” I’m also thinking of the end of 2020. Thinking of it as the “year that was” should feel good. And with those… More
Offline for awhile may leave a somewhat indefinite timeframe in the minds of my readers. To be honest, I simply need a break from the online world. This break begins today and ends when I feel ready to open my hands and put them on the keyboard.
I hope that each of you had a joyous Christmas. Let’s look forward together to 2021, and a possible end to the pandemic as the vaccine makes its way to each of us. The past year has been hard on everyone, and sometimes that sense of oppression by uncontrollable forces requires us to hibernate for a time.
Remember how important self-care is, and practice it as you see fit.
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Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt—PRESENT—leads me.
Likely many are thinking of the list of presents they need to buy, wrap, ship, or deliver. In our family, we’ve created a new process, thanks to the pandemic.
However, before I share that with you, I’d like to tell you about the decision my husband and I landed on some three decades ago. Each Christmas I’d make a list of things I needed/wanted, jot down the store where it could be found, size (if necessary), color, cost. Then Bob could take off shopping with a lot less frustration than if he had to come up with the list and figure out where to shop.
After watching his frustration for several years, we discussed a new way to give and receive. We asked what gift could we give each other better than we had given on August 15, 1981—ourselves! And so it has been since that long-ago discussion. We don’t buy each other gifts at Christmas or other holidays, not even our anniversary.
Now to today’s process for our kids, grandkids, and great-grands this Christmas. Since we are under lockdown in Oregon and we’re both immune-compromised, I’m shopping online for gift cards. Each family member who lands on our Christmas list will receive one inside a Christmas card via USPS. Hopefully, they can enjoy the delight of shopping for themselves online and not be disappointed.
However, with Advent upon us until Christmas Eve, present means so much more than I’ve written above. I’m stepping outside the busyness, the noise, and minimizing the financial element and stress of the season, only imposed by society and me. I’m inviting in the Christ Child, Jesus, as the presence I’m seeking this Christmas.
2020 has been a long slow slog for all of us. I think His Presence is what is needed for each of us. Being present with Christ is so comforting, soul-satisfying, and joy-filled. Why not make that the present you give to yourself on Christmas Day, 2020?
Note: Images added outside five-minute time limit.
Rainy autumn days arrived in the Pacific Northwest with bluster. With them, they brought winds that tossed colorful leaves everywhere. Our maple tree left our driveway looking like a leaf mosaic. Bob took the photo above on one of his daily trips to our mailbox last week.
With the change in our weather, the last weekend in November upon us, and new COVID restrictions on Oregon activities, it must be Thanksgiving. Things have tightened up with regard to social gatherings as the number of new cases and deaths have increased here. It is hard to celebrate while so many others are grieving, are houseless and hungry, and struggling economically to keep businesses afloat.
Our mini-forest is one of the best features of our home place. Over the years, it has provided a sense of being outside the city with extra privacy. While we were still working, our location provided ease of access to the church, shopping, and medical care.
One of the drawbacks of living in a mini-forest is the inability to grow certain plants and trees. For example, we don’t get the bright colors of leaves changing on deciduous trees or shrubs. In the summer, sun-loving flowers and plants laugh at us as we place them in our nursery cart. They only last a short time before fading away.
Thanks to our next-door neighbors I can glance out my office window and see a glorious sight. A red weeping Japanese maple. On these chilly, gray days of Pacific Northwest winter weather, that tree is symbolic of a warm campfire, or a thick red blanket, or the depth of love found at home with family.
As I soak up the warmth and beauty of this tree, I am filled with gratitude for God’s creation all around me. The diversity of people I know and see in our community and our church home. The fall colors brightening our environment despite the rain and fog. The gift of friendships committed to staying in touch during this pandemic.
It is my hope that you are fortunate enough to find something for which you can feel grateful despite this year that has often felt dry and devoid of warmth, happiness, and love.
Featured Image Attribution: Bates Nursery & Garden Center
Just a quick word about the things I “sort of promised” in a recent post on October 22, 2020. In that post, I mentioned potential writings in the works as well as some book reviews.
Quoting Robert Burns’s words in his poem, To a Mouse:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.
Clarifying Mr. Burns’s language to modern day understanding, we come up with the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong. Continue reading “A Quick Word”
Most of us have dreams, hopes, and wishes. Some come true; some don’t.
As children, most of us received encouragement to make a wish and blow out the candles on a birthday cake. And don’t forget blowing a dandelion into the air is another way to make a wish. Children learn to wish upon a star from a variety of people, including Walt Disney. Spring and summer are fruitful for finding lucky four-leaf clovers. There are likely other ways of wishing or finding luck.
But did anyone tell us our wishes didn’t always come true? Suppose our wishes caused pain and problems for someone else?
I hear many complain of the pandemic’s inconveniences. And with their complaints comes a list of wishes, such as:
- I wish this pandemic was over, done with, gone!
- I wish we could get back to normal.
- I wish we didn’t have to wear face masks.
- I wish we could get together in large groups like we used to.
- I wish they would open the schools.
- I wish the governor would open restaurants and bars.
- I wish we could hug our friends.
- I wish we didn’t have to miss our friends.
And I could go on and on and on.
While writing this post, my thoughts drifted back in time to a family member making a wish as he headed to bed. And then he awoke the next day to fear and trembling. It’s long in its telling, but I think it has value here.
My younger brother (eight years my junior) never liked school. There were no specific reasons for his dislike of learning. He was bright, energetic (too much so), and strong-willed. He wasn’t a disciplinary problem. Because like his siblings, his behavior fell under the control of our mother’s treatment when she received the news!
On the evening of Wednesday, March 20, 1967, at age 13 and in the eighth grade, my brother grumbled the evening away. He had a heavy homework load; too much homework, according to his thinking. It was the bane of his existence.
As he trundled off to bed, we heard him wishing he didn’t have to go to school the next day. Actually, he wished the school would burn down. Daddy then pointed out in a firm voice he should be careful what he wished for.
The next morning my folks turned on the local news as always. The big story of the day was the overnight fire of none other than the school my younger brother attended. There was no mistaking he would not be going to school that day.
Daddy went to wake him up and tell him the news. The report came back to Mom and me that his boy looked like he was going to pass out.
He trembled at the thought someone would learn he’d wished the school would burn down as he went to sleep the night before. Worse yet, at that moment the news reporter stated the fire was likely the result of arson. We agreed not to tell my brother that bit of news.
This child could be the most Nervous Nellie in the bunch, and this morning he was. Thus, I knew the moment he called me to come into his room that there would be more questions than answers:
“Sis, what am I gonna do?”
“Last night I wished the school would burn down, and it did. All the way to the ground!”
“Yeah, so what? You were home in your bed when the fire started.”
He hesitated — “Well, weren’t you?”
“Sure I was. But will the police and firefighters believe that?”
“Why are you questioning this? Unless they come to question you, and likely they won’t, you need not worry. Are you perhaps hiding something from me?”
“Thanks, sis, I love your confidence in me!”
“Come on. Dad and I have to leave for work or we’ll be late. You have no place to be this morning. Just go back to bed.”
And I walked out and closed the door. I stopped long enough to warn mom she would probably not have a peaceful day with our resident Worry Wart.
The arson investigation completed rather quickly. (No one questioned my brother.) But I don’t remember if they caught the arsonist or not. Yet, to think my younger brother believed so strongly in his wishes still makes me laugh. I concede I couldn’t believe he didn’t have some impact on the whole affair with his bedtime wishes.
When you wish for something, do you ever consider the possibility your wish might come true? Or maybe not?