Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Time!

I am really enjoying this Christmas season! I hope you are too. In other years, the holidays have worn me down to the point that it was hard to even feel the joy and peace. It was hard to be worshipful. It was hard to move through my days, even! I was exhausted!

I am not a person who can bake a variety of cookies, and pies, think of beautiful, inexpensive gifts for everyone I know, shop without dropping, send dozens of cards (on time), keep my home company-ready at all times, and plan a wonderful Christmas dinner. Frankly, I don't believe anyone does all that.

How many times over the years have I heard the question, "Do you have your Christmas shopping done yet?" And felt little nag of guilt or inferiority because no, I didn't have it done? In fact I wasn't sure when it was ever going to be done because there always seemed to be one more thing that I needed... or else I would find one more thing that would make the holiday even better, it seemed. And by the way - does shopping for Christmas dinner groceries count as Christmas shopping? What are the rules for this question, anyway?

Here's the thing. That whole concept of getting your shopping done? It's a fantasy! It never happens! In our society, with constant advertising, you will always think of one more thing to buy. Or six. If you were to actually get gifts for everyone, then there are always more people who you can shop for, more decorations to buy, more food, and on it goes.

No one can do everything. We have to make choices. One year I might make a nice dinner, and another year, I might send out a family newsletter. I don't hand make gifts. I buy them. I don't send out cards every year, only when I have the time and energy. Yesterday I addressed about 6 cards. Just 6. Not 50, or 60, or 100. Just six. They might get into the mailbox today. Maybe. We'll see. I just cannot allow the demands of the season to stress away the joy of it. I hope I love on people the rest of the year. If they don't get a card I hope they know I still care, I just can not cover everything that I would like to. This year it mattered to me to bake cookies, which I never do... It's been so much fun!!

I spent an afternoon baking with my daughter. We had good times. Then later, I decorated a few at a time. And we shared them. That was fun. It gave me a chance to get creative. So far, the holidays have been so much fun this year! And yes I am tired and some things are not gettiing done... but I am having a good time and not forgetting what the season is really about:

Worship. Family. Love. Joy. and Peace. (Remember peace?)

I wish you all of these things today. And the restful moments in which to savor them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

Today we are remembering Pearl Harbor, the lives lost, the loved ones who grieved, and the sense of patriotism that attack engendered. The way people felt when Pearl Harbor was attacked must be a lot like I felt when the World Trade Centers came down. Shock, horror, fear, anger, confusion.

I have been thinking about the 1940s a lot lately. I wasn't there, but it seems like those times played a big role in who we have become today. The grief over men lost, the sense of loyalty to a cause, the big band sounds that kept up morale while women stayed home and worried for their men. All that fantastic music and the great dancing were a part of an overall picture that included war!

My parents would have been young adults then. Those times shaped them, and consequently, shaped us. I love to hear the stories and see the pictures from their lives then. I can't imagine the way life must have felt during that war. I wish I could go visit those times, and then come back here. I guess that's why I love old movies and stories from then.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convince that then or now, people are people. We have always had certain things in common. We shop to find the best price on groceries. We worry about bills. Young ones look for fun, find dates, and fall in love. We complain about the weather and politics. People start families and settle in to life. We want the best for our kids. We help them with schoolwork. So many things do not change. Our daily lives contain most of the same tasks, same concerns as ever. There are good neighbors and bad ones everywhere in every time. Friendship always nourishes. Bad things happen and our choices remain pretty much the same in how to respond.

I think maybe we can identify with the generations before us a lot better than we think we can, if we just stop and think about it. Maybe there is less difference than we imagined.

If you have a chance, find someone who lived through the forties and listen to them. Swap stories. Learn what is common to us all, and how individual differences play into the overall picture of life and history. Listen to the stories of their daily life, and write them down if you can... when these people are gone, we won't be able to hear first hand accounts any more. That will be a great loss. We need to savor it while we can. Their history is our history.