Snow in the South

Well, the South is in for a time. It snow yesterday but wasn’t too bad. Today – by 10 a.m. – the roads in my subdivision are snow-covered. The predictions call for anywhere from three inches to 12 inches. That is a disaster  in the South because we don’t have this often and we have no equipment to deal with it.

If I were to hike to the grocery store, I’m sure the shelves would be free of bread and milk and maybe wine and beer. We see it as an excuse to hunker down, maybe have a party or maybe have an attack o f the crazies.

Right now, the world seems so silent and peaceful as the snow falls and nothing is moving (actually I hear some vehicles on the main road but not many). If this last more than today, it won’t be such a peaceful scene.

Besides that, after the snow falls, the forecasters are calling for ice. Now that is something we Southerners have no idea how to deal with. So we get in our cars and a demolition derby results.

All you folks used to snow, send a good thought our way – hoping we can tough this out.

Christmas lasts past the day

Christmas is nearly over. Of course, I consider the season to last through Jan. 6, Old Christmas. My mother remembers celebrating that day rather than Dec. 25 one year as a child – everyone was sick. And I don’t feel I have missed my holiday card deadline until Jan. 6 (I have a few more to send).

After three days of celebrating – Gabe’s birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, I am done in. Christmas Eve I went to a Family candlelight service at 5 p.m. and an 11 p.m. service at my church. They were both beautiful and both different.

Presents were opened Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (after reading the Christmas story in Matthew) with Santa thrown in (He still comes to my mother’s house although he has a different helper than he did when I was little). In addition, I had a little studio gig going (for free) while I shot family portraits of varying folks and combinations of folks.

Today is a day of rest. Saturday is another birthday party – this one for a woman turning 50 instead of a little boy turning 3. New Year’s Day I have friends coming over for the traditional “good luck” holiday meal.

The definition of Christmas

Christmas is …

Love of God, of family, of friends, of the world.

Peace among all people and throughout the world, even if that peace comes only in small moments.

 Giving of oursleves to those we love and those we do not even know. It’s presents under the tree and helping those less fortunate.

Light from candles, from a lighted trees, from stars and the moon, from our heart.

Music from carols ringing, organs chiming, bells pealing, tiny voices whispering love, joyous shouts, strong voices raised to Heaven.

God  whom we love, who protects us, who supports us, who loves and saves us.

This is Christmas all around the world.

Celebrating the holidays

Christmas is nearly here and I’m celebrating with my mother, who is 97 years old. That’s a lot of Christmases to have under your belt – sparse ones when she was a child, ones where she spent her money on her children to make their Christmas great and Christmases now, when she is dependent on others to help her buy gifts and cook. But Christmas is a time of peace, hope and joy no matter how she celebrates it.

The tree is lit and decorated. The presents are under it. She’s finishing up cards (I have to do that also). We’ve sung Christmas carols. I’ve been to church. A friend died yesterday. She’s sad about that, happy about having her daughter with her, missing my brother and his family.

She’ll spend some time with her great-grandson, who turned 3 on Friday. We’ll have a little party here. But his grandmother, her stepdaughter, is the one who decided how the party would go – not my mother. That’s a shame. My mother is the type who could plan a party that would be fun for a 3-year-old. Oh well, that’s how things goes in families.

 

More Christmas doings

I’m leaving soon for a concert – Celtic Women – with Cindy, a friend. I listened to a Christmas concert they did on PBS several days ago. I really enjoy them.

Yesterday I mailed my last packages, these to my brother. The Texas package went a little earlier – fewer presents, les angst. I tell you – shipping costs are out of sight this year. But the post office is less expensive than UPS. So I went PO for all but one package – that’s the one I figured out how expensive shippng has gotten.

Still wrapping a few things. Making more Russian Tea mix (by my mother’s recipe). I think I finished my major Christmas shopping today. Now it will just be stocking stuffing t hings.

The weather here in South Carolina does not fieel like mid-December. It was 56 degrees today – and sunny. Am I complaining? I guess not. But Christmas should be cold! Although I’m sure I would complain about the temperatures then, too..

Christmas is coming

I’m beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Can’t you just hear me singing (I hope not).

I had an annual Christmas dinner with two friends tonight – we have been doing this, lo these many years. Small gifts were exchanged, They gave me a book of Mary Oliver’s poetry and a journal. I gave her a  journal and small notebook and him an owl chime.

Friends make life worth living (along with family).

I wrapped and tagged and did all those kind of things today. Tomorrow I buy one last present and make Russian Tea mix for my brother. It’s a tradition of my mother’s and I’m carrying it on since she no longer cooks or does things that require long periods of standiing. I also picked up my major gift for my mot her, brother and sister-in-law and nieces. So I’m nearly ready for Christmas.

Besides all my Christmas stuff, I went by the newspaper to wish Chris Weston well. He is retiring Dec. 27 and plans to start a new chapter of his life. He is managing editor of the newspaper through this month. Then we’ll see what he does.

 

what is Christmas?

Christmas for me has always been a time of magic.

It’s a time when peace is on the lips of all – even when it’s in the actions of just a few.

The season is a period of joy and quiet, or even exuberant, happiness as the timeless tale of the nativity is told again or viewed through the eyes of children..

Did you see that sheep lose it’s place. It happens all the time in pageants. And towels only look like headdresses at Christmastide.

It’s Christmas trees, the tannebaum of Germanic lore, and bright lights glimmering and silver bells ringing.

Christmas is the manger with a donkey and a camel as well as Santa Claus kneeling in front of it.

The holiday is also a holy day.

It’s a time of reflection (all of us should do as Mary did and ponder many things in our hearts).

It’s a time of giving, the one time of year that people try to think of others more than themselves.

It’s family, those that gather round the fire or the Bible and those in far-off places who gather with us in our memories and imaginations. It may also be crying babies and squabbling adults. But it doesn’t really matter. We’re all in it together.

Children all pray for snow, a glistening whiteness covering all the dreary darkness of the world.

What I like most about Christmas is that it’s a time of new beginnings: We have another chance to be the best we can be.

Let’s try it out this year.

More gratitude

Took a while to get this up:

Nov. 15 – I am grateful for my education. I loved school and enjoyed (mostly) what I learned. That education gave me the ability to choose a career that was satisfying. But even more, it gave me the ability to think through issues and make my own decisions. It gave me strength to handle challenges. I think education is about much more than finding a well-paying job. It is about living a well-rounded life.

Nov. 16 – I am grateful for weekends, time to slow down and relax without worrying. When you’re retired, you can treat every day like a weekend. But I don’t – I work during the week and rest on the weekend although I spend half of them in Brevard rather than Greer.

Nov. 17 – I am grateful for chocolate. This is one of those days when chocolate is what I need to enhance my mood.

Nov. 18 – I’m grateful for extra space in my house. For the past year, I have been trying to get rid of “stuff” (which unfortunately includes some books). Sunday I cleaned out my linen closet and am donating half of the towels and sheets to Goodwill. I hope somebody will get good use from them. I somehow had many more than I would ever use. Thankfully, I can tell the difference in my space (not as crowded).

Oops, where has the day gone? Nov. 19 – I am grateful for a new deck, new screened-in porch, a railing on the front steps and a renovated bathroom. Just one more step – black plastic under the deck and porch to keep the weeds down. Everything is gorgeous – and I’m so glad it’s done.

Nov. 20 – I am grateful for a good hairdresser – one who listens to me and then cuts my hair to make it work. Vanessa, you’re the best. (Do a good job today!)

Nov. 21 – I’m grateful for times that I can sleep a little later than usual without feeling guilt. That’s one of the things retirement has done for me – as well as allowed me to choice the projects I work on, have time to renovate my house, keep up with family and friends and all the other little things that often get lost in workday living. What retirement has really done is give me choices.

Nov. 22 – I’m grateful for memories, the sad as well as the good ones. This is a time to remember Pres. John F. Kennedy, the first president I had any interest in. He and his family were my heroes. But I also am thankful for good memories – family trips, memories of growing up and all the little pieces that make up a life.

Nov. 23 – I am grateful for my mother’s friends who continue to care about her. A former doctor came by to check on her medications and how she’s doing since she’s ready to come to South Carolina for a week. She’ll be with me during Thanksgiving. What a blessing that is.

Nov. 24 – I am grateful I live in this great nation, even when it ignores its founding principles. But I still have more choices than in many countries and many others pray to join us here. I am grateful for those that protect us on the national, state and local level.

Nov. 25 -I’m grateful for writing. It soothes me, encourages me, challenges me. It helps me relax and it winds me up at times. It makes me use my mind and my imagination. Writing is my life.

Nov. 26 – I am grateful for warm food on this cold, rainy, icy morning. And I’m thankful that food is plentiful and readily available – I wish that were true of everyone. I’m also grateful to have someone to share that breakfast with this week.

Nov. 27 – I am grateful for the scurrying around and cooking you do for guests. That means I’m thankful for the guests, thankful to be able to prepare and thankful to have all of us together. Let Thanksgiving arrive.

Nov. 28 – Thanksgiving day – I am grateful for my life and for all those those people and objects that make it richer and more varied. Thanks to all of you, no matter where you are.

Nov. 29 – I’m grateful that the big day is over, that we had good food and good conversation, that left-overs fill my refrigerator and that today I’m resting (not shopping). It’s good to have a holiday that centers around family and friends rather than presents. But I pray for those without families or friends, those with abusive families, those who can’t be with their families and those who don’t share the plenty for whatever reason.

Nov. 30 – The last day of my grateful project. I am grateful for the air we breathe and the sun that warms us, the winds that cool us and the flowers, the vines and the trees. I have seen the world in the maple tree in front of my house. The natural world brings me a sense of tranquility and peace not often found in the man-made world. This project could go on forever as I am blessed in so many ways.