Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thursday to be Thankful For...

Popular culture dictates that we should list one thing on Facebook every day this month that we are thankful for. We should out-perform even Martha Stewart with the Thanksgiving table. We should score the best deals at door-busting sales. We should dress up the fam for Christmas card photos and trek to the earliest open Christmas tree lot to get started on the holiday cheer. If you did not know by now, I don't play This Game by the same rules. Heck, I'm not even sure sometimes if we are even playing the same Game.

My Thursday was spent with my family, that much we do have in common. And for that I am indeed thankful, because so many souls have no family to spend any day with, much less a holiday. So many people have neither the means nor the physical ability to travel the distance to be with family who are far away. So many folks have "family" which are no family at all... or so toxic and unsafe as to warrant keeping your distance. I have none of that. I have two of the most delightful daughters anyone could dream of - both close at hand, two men who loved said daughters right out the door, and two precocious and hilarious grands to top off my Most-Amazing-Honey... making my holiday and my every day something I never take for granted, and am ALWAYS thankful for.
Three people who make my life a living JOY

One thing we did not do was spend money. We did not bust down any doors. We did not, by any of our activities, compel any other person to give up their time with family or friends to stand behind a sales desk in order to witness hordes of people grasping over imaginary "deals".

We watched children talking to chickens, people experimenting with new flavors and recipes, not worried about getting things "perfect", dogs getting underfoot in the kitchen hoping to get lucky, people working together and laughing, pushing back from the table and groaning, and after all that, we gathered to watch a movie that we had all seen probably 100 times and could all quote the lines to.

Then we dragged our tired bodies home in silence and tired reflection about how very blessed we have been and are, and so I am going to bed filled with much thanks tonight.

I am so very thankful for two sets of parents who set the standard high when it came to putting value on the truly valuable. It is not our country. It is not our jobs. It is not our portfolios. It is each other. We are richer than rich in the things that truly matter. We have love and respect. We laugh together, we cry together, we support and encourage each other, and we cherish each other.

We are the most blessed of families every day. And today we paused and said it out loud.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Day in the Life...

So, the day before Thanksgiving and my car is in the shop, I'm at work about to walk home where I will commence decorating for Hanukkah tonight, cleaning up the kitchen, and planning out my strategy for tomorrow's cooking.

DH made this swell window-safe Hanukkiah for me!
Thankfully, DD#2 is hosting this year's TG shindig, so I have been relegated to:
  • Brocolli/mac 'n' cheese-y goodness
  • Rice pilaf-y mushroom something
  • Some Dutch oven cobbler dessert (which will hopefully be cherry crisp, if I can get to the store.)
  • Lemon-Ginger kombucha for the Littles
I am also wallowing in thinking good thoughts about the rest of my Fam, who are scattered hither and yon on this holiday weekend. I have officially spent over 2/3 of my life apart from them - which does not prevent me from missing them and wishing we were closer. 
Thankfully, we were together this summer!
MY DH has been commissioned today with picking up our "race packets" for tomorrow's annual Run For Food which I wouldn't miss for the world... ok, maybe a little rain... but something that has turned into something of an iconic event for our little town.


He also has been sent to fetch yesterday's groceries from the trunk of my car (which is holed-up at the repair shop), and take the interior front door panels from said car to the body shop where they will hopefully be given a fresh lease on life and I will no longer have to cope with crumbling foam adhesive getting stuck to my clothes every time I get in and out of the car. (Yeah!)

Oh, I just started reading The Law and Grace by Todd Bennett. The mind blowing has now commenced.

So yeah, things going on. Life as usual. Carry on.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Happy "Whatever"

This seems to be the time of year when people can get a little wound up about friendly greetings. I see it all over social media these days... I tend to refer to them as "guilt trip posts."


So, just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a little number crunching research...

How many "religions" are practiced in the United States
(where I happen to reside), and how many of those religions
observe a holiday during the winter season?

According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, there are quite a number of folks who self-identify with the "Christian" religion. (I would statistically fall within that category, but by no means do I share any number of practices with the rest of the folks who fall in that category.) And let's say for sake of argument that Mormons generally consider themselves to fall within the category of "Christian." That would come to (as Gallup claims) 77.3% of the U.S. population that prefer the label of "Christian" when describing their religious preference.


And, even though their numbers do not total 100%, there are still 4.9% of the U.S. population who affiliate with another religion. (I am not exactly sure where Pagans, Shinto, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Bahá'í, or Rastafarians fit into that dynamic.) I never could determine how many religions are actually practiced, but I think it is really beside the point.

But from what I can gather just online, these U.S. citizens also celebrate holidays during the Fall and Winter months.

According to http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/tools/calendar/, holidays or celebrations observed by other religions between the months of November and January include:
  • Jews - Hanukkah/Chanukkah and Tu Bishvat.
  • Hindus - Dhan Teras, Diwali, Kartik Poornima, and Makarsankranti / Pongal.
  • Muslims - Hijra - Islamic New Year, Ashura and Milad un Nabi.
  • Sikhs - Guru Nanak Birthday, Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom, Guru Gobind Singh Birthday, Maghi - Lohri, and Guru Har Rai Birthday.
  • Buddhists - Bodhi Day, and Mahayana New Year.
  • Shinto - Shichigosan (7-5-3 festival), Niinamesei, Oshogatsu (or Shogatsu), and Seijin Shiki (Adults' Day)
  • Bahá'í - Birth of Baha'u'llah, Day of the Covenant, and Ascension of Abdu'l-Baha, 
  • Pagans - Winter Solstice
  • Rastis - Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I, Ethiopian Christmas Day.
  • African-Americans (of any or no particular religion) - Kwanzaa.
Add the above to the 20 Holidays / Feast Days / Saints' Days that are celebrated by the "Christian" church (in all of its incarnations), and you can see why I think it is absurd to take it as a personal affront whether others say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" around this time of year.

How is a perfect stranger supposed to know 
what you do or do not celebrate?

Folks, we Christians did not invent the concept of a holiday. And if you want to get quite technical about it, let's start a discussion about why the Christian church celebrates holidays that are not even in the Bible... especially in light of Colossians 2:16 - Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
(And there are thousands of Messianics / Hebrew Christians / Netzarim who identify with Jesus/Y'shua as the Jewish Messiah, but eschew the current popular observances of "Christmas" to be pagan in origin. So, where does that leave them?)

Can we stop with the arguing, already?


When someone says "Happy Holidays", just smile and take it in the manner it was intended: a friendly greeting. Period.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Life and Death... Redux

I posted recently about Mom being ready to go home, of a time when one gets weary of being on this ride.

We said good-bye to Mom last month and send her off to be with Jesus. With Dad. With Mawmaw and her sis. She was ready to go, and we grudgingly let her... but not without a tear or two.

What a blessing, though, to see things through to the end. What a gift to be able to say "good-bye". It does not escape my notice that many do not have that privilege, and so it was with great sense of honor that we sat and held her hand as she walked though that door.

Now, when we take the Grands to visit GiGi after church, this is what we mean...

Hopefully they will also learn that death is not to be feared, but the next step in the great adventure of life.