Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Holiday Carols Update

Holiday Carol Update
Here's the response from the Marketing Director at the local mall to my last post:
All of our shoppers celebrate the holidays in different ways. We want
to wish everyone a special holiday wish...and the use of Happy Holidays
crosses all religions.

I appreciate your comments. Thank you

I appreciate her prompt and proper response, but she missed the point of why this sign was so hilariously PC - the awkward paraphrasing of well-known Christmas song. I've been thinking of other songs that could be sanitized for the season:

Silent Night, "Wholly" Night
"Higher Being" Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Oh Come, All Ye Spenders

The First "Shopping Season" the Angel did say
Hark the Herald "heavenly beings that some believe in" sing
Joy to the World, "someone" was born
We wish you a Merry Solstice

OK, you get the idea. Any contributions?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Happy Holidays

The length merchants go to avoid the term Christmas is absurd. I drove by Glenbrook Mall this afternoon and the big sign said:

"It's beginning to look a lot like the Holidays"

Oh yes, let's change the words of a Christmas carol to avoid mentioning the reason why millions of dollars are being spent in your stores. I sent Glenbrook an email suggesting they may be interested in this post. Perhaps knowing that the buying public is laughing at them may change their policy.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My First Thursday Three
Not being a southerner (not even a smidgen), I've read with interest the Thursday Threes which usually have a southern theme. But this time, Possumblog gave me something that transcends the Mason-Dixie Line.

1. The ol? Tannenbaum--fake or real? When does it go up? And when does it come down? Not only is it real, but we grow the trees ourselves so they look real. The last time we bought a "real" Christmas tree, it had been spray painted! It goes up Thanksgiving weekend and comes down quickly after Christmas. I cut the branches off it and use them to protect my garden over winter.

2. Shopping--fake or real? Oh, wait, that?s the last question. Here we are--do you wait until the last minute or plan ahead? Do you give gift cards? Both. I bought two dolls for my nieces last summer in their own satin lined boxes (coffins?) but I can't find them anywhere. I have truly tore the house apart. So I'm substituting my favorite book to give and to receive - books. Gift cards have become the gift du jour for inlaws since they have everything they need and could possibly want. Of course, this year one son suggested a $2000 gift certificate to Dell Computer!

3. And finally, where do you carry out your celebrating, of whatever sort it might be? At your house, at a relative?s house in the area, or out of town? For years, we have spent Christmas Eve with my inlaws followed by the midnight candlelight service at church, Christmas morning at home, and then left in the afternoon for the 12 hour drive to my mothers. Then my brothers and sister and our families meet the Sunday before or after Christmas. This year things are a'changin'. Mom's moved home and inlaws decided to celebrate Christmas Day. So Christmas Eve at home with a special request dinner of Cornish rock game hens followed by church service. Christmas morning at home (Santa still comes to our house). Christmas afternoon at inlaws. Day after Christmas, 30 odd (take that any way you wish) Bishops will converge on my house for our celebration.


Happy Birthday to Me
And it has been a happy birthday so far. Mom surprised me at Tuesday morning's Bible Study by bringing in these unusual rolls which I remember her making fresh on Christmas mornings. I remember because we could open our stockings before breakfast, but we had to eat before opening the rest of the gifts.

Crispy Cookie Coffeecake
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 cup water
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk, scalded
1 T. cinnamon
In small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. In large bowl sift flour, salt, lemon rind and 1/4 cup sugar. Cut in butter. Combine eggs, milk, yeast and add. Combine lightly. Refrigerate overnight. Divide dough in half. Roll each piece 18" by 12:. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixed with cinnamon. Roll up tightly. Cut in 1 inch slices. Place cut side up on greased baking sheet and flatten with palm of hand. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Ice. (Mom pipes on icing in a lattice pattern by putting all the rolls next to each other and making large thin lines of icing across all rolls.)

My family is getting me scrapbook supplies, which I bought on sale and assuaged by guilt for spending so much by giving them to my husband to give to me. He also gave me a bottle of Baileys, a real treat on cold winter nights in front of the fire. I had a long birthday conversation this morning with my girlfriend and another sent me a funny ecard. There will be 15 members of my family at the Christmas band and choir concert tonight so I will enjoy my evening. And I'm spending the day baking Christmas cookies.

This is not quite the celebration that would have pleased me 30 years ago, but I've become wiser with the years.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Chirstmas Semi-Formal

Christmas Semi-Formal
Saturday night was the Freshman semi-formal and both boys attended - Ron in his new suit and Rick in a tux he borrowed for the show choir Christmas program this week. They were so handsome and grown-up. It's hard to believe how quickly they've grown.

Rick had a "date." They went to the dance separately and returned separately, but he bought her a wrist corsage and had their picture taken together. Ron asked a girl but she was not allowed to go.

Rick is on student council so he spent three hours Friday night and another four hours Saturday morning and then until after 1:00 am after the dance putting up and taking down the decorations. Sweet hubby helped transform the gym despite finals looming this week.

One of the chaperones reported to me after Sunday School that Ron was amazing in his ability to mix with adults (from principal to sherioff to janitor) and kids (from cheerleaders to the goths). "He has a future in sales." Ron's response was "I'm not like that, Mom." I'm not sure what his idea of salesmen are, but I pointed out that his cousin is making a good living at CDW and his eyes lit up. Ron reported Ricky acted like he always does at dances. I know what that means. He was a wild dancing man, throwing himself on the floor and generally enjoying himself and embarrassing his brother.

Do the girls know the effect they have on these teenage boys? Ron (Mr. Black and White) told me that most of the girls would have been sent home if the dress code was enforced.
"They wore spaghetti straps, Mom. Their dresses were held up only by
these thin straps the size of spaghetti

Yes, son, I know what spaghetti straps are even if you will never see me in one.
"And then the rest of the girls didn't even have those straps. Their
dresses weren't held up by anything

Called strapless, my son.
"When they danced, the girls had to keep one hand on the the top of their
dresses so their tops wouldn't fall down

Poor girls, when they tried on the gowns, they forgot they had to dance in them.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

This is an email I received from my niece describing her evening with her niece, my three-year old great niece.

Oh, we just had the most wonderful night last night!

First, Morgan came over, and I chased her through the house with the Nutcracker, so she wouldn't touch him for a few minutes, but eventually warmed up to all 4 nutcrackers as long as I handled them. I put them in a conversation position so she could make their "mouths" move and have a brilliant discussion about all the candy they would like to eat, and whether they wanted to go climb the christmas tree. Then one of the nutcrackers called another a "poopie" and I forced them to break it up. So then she played with my nativity set, and seemed to have most of the story down, except for one part where Mary told Joseph, "You're not the baby's father" (perhaps the beginning of a "Cops" episode?). When we left, the arrangement showed that baby Jesus had been left with Jeremiah, the shepherd/babysitter, while Mary went and whooped it up with the wisemen.

Then, we put on our prettiest party dresses and went to the ballet, Nutcracker in tow. At first, she didn't want to carry him (that freak bites, you know) but I had to get the tickets out, so she deigned to carry him at arm's length. However, Nutcracker's social value was vastly increased in Morgan's eyes when she saw the one on stage....after that, she just couldn't cuddle him enough, and held him most of the performance.

Morgan was wearing a beautiful white dress, and carrying around the Nutcracker, and people would just catch their breath and gave her all kinds of compliments on how adorable and sweet she was. She did a wonderful job of watching the ballet, and seemed to understand a lot of what was going on. (I don't know if she necessarily made the abstract connection that most of the people dancing in the second act were supposed to be candy and coffee and tea, but oh well). She even helped me find the car after the show....that child is freakishly sharp. We then went back to my house and worked on decorating the tree a bit, and then her mommy and daddy took her home to bed, just like Clara after the big party.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

My Christmas Story

My Christmas Story
My church asked for Christmas stories to videotape for Christmas Eve services. The following is my story.

This is my Christmas story. I’m telling this story, even though parts of it are painful, to encourage those who may be having a tough time this Christmas. It is my story but it is also the universal Christmas story of hope.

It was Christmas Day, 1988 and my husband had just left me. My emotional state is hard to describe – despair, shame, grief. I decided not to tell my family and friends so I wouldn’t cause them pain. Sounds unselfish but I suspect an unhealthy dose of pride was involved in that decision.

So I woke up alone on Christmas morning to that special hush and indescribable light of newly fallen snow. Large flakes were still coming down. As the day progressed, I became increasingly filled with despair, grief, loneliness and self-pity. I was heartbroken.

Finally my eye caught the old hymnal, the one we used when I was a child. I had strayed from God after I left home, but He had been calling me home. And He called me again that Christmas morning through old familiar carols.

So alone in my home, on a snow covered Christmas morning, I opened the hymnal and sang every verse of every carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Angels From the Realms of Glory, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and the list goes on.

Halfway through I was on my knees worshiping the God that sent us his son and by the time I was finished I was prostrate before the King.

Eventually I stood, walked to the back window. As I looked out on that pure white morning, the ground was covered with red. Cardinals. Redbirds. I’ve never seen that many cardinals in a flock, before or since. Birds on the ground, birds in the bushes, birds in the trees, flashes of red flitting back and forth. I stood in awe at this remarkable sight. It was as if God decorated the world this Christmas morning just for me.

Finally, I wandered to the front window and there were more cardinals! I laughed and danced from window to window to catch this amazing sight. My house was surrounded with cardinals, God’s sign of hope to me, saying, “Yes, child, I came to earth for even you.”

So if you are hurting this year, let me encourage you. Hold onto God’s promises. Who knows what he has in store for you? A year after the caroling redbird Christmas, I met my husband. We were married two years later and three years after that, He gave us twin five-year-old boys. And my life has not been the same since! As I mourned the ending of one phase of my life that Christmas morning, I was given the only true hope - Emmanuel. God with us.

Christmas List

Christmas List
I asked the boys to make a Christmas list for me and here was the first thing on Ron's list:
Dell Gift Certificate - $50 to $2,000

I'm glad he gave me a range!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Parenting is like a roller coaster

Parenting is Like a Roller Coaster
When I was childless I envisioned family times like we had Saturday night. Ricky was baking chocolate chip cookies to take to church the next day, Ron was separating the materials for our second grade Sunday School class, and hubby was putting the final touches on a project. I flitted between each, helping as needed. Christmas music was softly playing and the tree was lit. The talk was pleasant and fun. I stopped for a moment and soaked in the pure joy of this family.

Then the roller coaster started its perilous descent. I learned from my niece that one son behaved extremely irresponsibly with repercussions not only to him but to classmates that must rely on him. His response to us was defensive, which only served to push our buttons. Voices were raised and his father "walked" him back to his room. (What do single mothers do with teenage boys? They respond so differently to males.) He spent the rest of the evening in his room, his TV and computer privileges are pulled, and he is on a very short leash until he can prove himself trustworthy.

A lot has been written recently about why people blog. My reasons have changed over the 2+ years I've been doing this. Now it is to help me maintain some perspective on parenting during these turbulent teens.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Coz Every Girl Crazy 'bout a Sharp Dressed Man
The twins are involved in support roles with their basketball team (manager and videotaper) and are required to dress up on game days. So one son has decided to wear a dress shirt and tie every day to school. What gives? ZZ Top seems to offer the only logical explanation.

When I was in high school, we had dress-up day. So my friends and I did. I dressed up in a toga and this was long before Animal House was made. We were sent home second period after the business teacher burst into tears at our disrespect of her special day. We weren't even in any of her classes. I do remember my math and science teacher indicating that he thought it was pretty funny.