lilacs in bucket

lilacs in bucket

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter's Maven strides in tonight, dressed in full white, a hooded cape masking her beautiful white face, snow flakes flurrying around her. She rakes her icicle fingers down Lady Autumn's back, a private signal for Lady Autumn to retreat in submission, to retreat back into the mysterious seasonal world from which she came. Gathering her green and gold wrap around her, Lady Autumn bows to the Winter Maven and walks quietly away. Her time is gone now and she retreats into the netherworld to gather her most comfortable things around her and to wait. To wait for her next season.

Our time now, this season, belongs to Winter's Maven. Here is how she is.

Winter's Maven is visceral and often unyielding; she is a formidable foe. Winter's Maven brings cold winds, feathery snow, snappy ice. She doesn't ask for anything, she demands, and her demands are huge. You must be on your guard with her for she will twirl you about until you're dizzy and she'll move you on uncertain ice at that, she will buffet you with fast, icy winds, and she will make you hungry.

So. Bring your wool-lined mittens, gather your firewood, salt your meat, put the bread dough out to rise, chop the vegetables for soup. Winter's Maven is hungry and she'll take what you have to give her, and don't be surpised when she wants more. Because she will want more. Winter's Maven is the most demanding of seasons and the most unforgiving.

Light your lamps, read by the fire, create your stews, casseroles and wonderful breads. Drink dark wine or other spirits, bundle up for the times you have to venture out of doors, greet your friends and loved ones during this time, and remember to rest.

Draw hearthside and snooze. It's a good thing.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

To New Friends and Wonderful People!

Good evening, folks. I'm sitting here, trying to think of a title of this post, and I wanted it to be something moving, something genuine, something glorious, and all I can think so say is...help your brother.

My family and I, we have a lot of stuff. You know, you have a lot of stuff too, and if you are honest about your stuff, you know you have a lot more stuff than you will ever need or want and there is no reason for you (or me) to gather even more stuff. Stuff will end up in a yard sale a year from now with a casual price tag of a dollar swinging off the item, and we're gonna feel good about selling the thing, whatever it is, but who needs that?

This year, my family and I said, it's ridiculous to keep this holiday season all to ourselves, we need to do something besides gather more stuff. We don't need or want any more stuff and there are people around us who don't have the luxury of saying, we have more stuff than we need. So, that's where it started, this feeling of let's do something for other people, people we may not know but people who don't have the ability to gather all this stuff.

I believe in charity work. I believe it in wholeheartedly. And so...

We adopted a family from Springfield Victory Mission, and I can say, it's been a wonderful walk with this family, such genuine, sweet people. Travis, Rose and Grace, in the middle of the photo there. These are our new friends, our new loved ones.

Merry Christmas, Travis, Rose and Grace!!! We are so happy to know you!!!

It's always better to do for others...it really is. This is the good stuff of life. I'm so pleased to have been given a part of Travis, Rose and Grace's life this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Christmas Memory

Look at where we find ourselves, December, the most glamorous month of the year. Savor the parties, the sparkling lights, rich food, shiny ribbons and bows! Viva la Christmas!

Well, sure. But let me share with you one of my favorite Christmas memories, and it's a humble one. It's sepia-toned, for sure, a little ragged around the edges but, nonetheless, here goes.

Here is what I remember. My father (the pastor) urged our church youth group to go Christmas caroling. He, of course, knew each and every address he would have our youth group to travel to; some were nursing homes (where we went inside), but, he also took us all around town in Worthington, Minnesota, to anyone he knew of who might be a shut-in, or unable to travel, or simply old and forgotten; any person who could not make Christmas memories on their own, that's where he had us go.

At the time, I was uncomfortable, standing outside in -10 degree weather in my parka and mittens, standing in my frozen boots with mounting winds assaulting my ears, pastering stray strands of hair to my face, and I wasn't happy about spending my evening being corraled by snow mounds, singing weakly to Christmas hymns for people I didn't know. That's youth for you. I really didn't understand.

I remember one house we stopped at; an elderly widow lived there. I'll never forget the tall, slender widow woman, gray hair gathered up in a bun behind her ears, how she stepped outside of her tiny home when she heard us start singing, gathering her sweater around her, dressed in a housedress and slippers, the warmth of her home silhouetted in yellow behind her and her closed screen door as she stood on her porch stoop and listened to us sing every Christmas hymn we knew. She would have stood there all night, I'm pretty sure, so long as we kept singing and she was so happy to have us there in the first place.

I'll never forget that moment and how much she appreciated hearing the songs she must have loved all her life. This, now, is one of my most treasured memories of this holiday season and I have to thank my father for forcing me through something I didn't have the foresight or the inclination to do at the time, but I now so appreciate.

It's best to do for others. Always.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?