Too many thoughts, not enough segues. Time for the all inclusive "Random Post" post.
Darn you, Karen Carpenter. This is the first Christmas without my Gram. We lost her in February, which seems impossible because it still just plain hurts. I never totally understood why people who had lost loved ones seemed to grieve more around the holidays...until now. (My gosh, was I stupid.) Of course, most of my Christmas memories involve my Gram and extended family, and even though Mark and I have lived far enough away for years to exclude us from being there physically, I still feel like the holidays are about family. I always loved Christmas shopping for my Gram, too, because she was the one person for whom Mark and I never set a money limit. I could buy her anything I thought she'd like, which sounds grand, but is actually difficult when the recipient was 95 and in those 95 years she had received most everything that had ever been made. For those of you who have been around the blog for a few years, you know we also celebrate "Kitchen Christmas", which was started by my Gram. It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the children get to decorate a tree in the kitchen with home made ornaments. Again, most of my generation has scattered all over the US, so Kitchen Christmas has been different in my adult years, but we would all call and check in with the smaller group gathering at Gram's house. Until this year. Somehow my cousins and I got through the day yesterday, but there was no call to Gram to hear her, "Rello?" when she answered her phone.
I thought I was doing well with it, all things considered. A dear friend and her children came over yesterday afternoon and celebrated with us, and our tree looks downright festive with a touch of gawdy sparkle. (My favorite motif.) I didn't cry. My throat burned once in awhile as I thought of my Gram decorating a tree in heaven with the children who have left this earth too soon. (Maybe not Scriptural, but if it were, I could totally see it happening!) Then today...driving home from the grocery store...Karen Carpenter came on the radio singing "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays". And my heart broke again. It manifested as a combination of the ugly cry and an ironic laugh. Ugly cry because I miss her so darn much. Ironic laugh because she would totally smack me upside the head for squalling. My Gram may not have been famous or a rocket scientist or a head of state. But she loved well. She loved her family so very, very well. And that's an indescribable legacy.
(And if she were still alive, she would be watching the Steelers play right now while muttering naughty words under her breath as Kansas City gets yet another first down...)
(Really, she loved Jesus. She also just happened to really love the Steelers, too.)
Speaking of the Steelers Have you seen the new Head and Shoulders commercial with Palamalu covering the guys head with his hair? I know I am partial to all things Uncle Procter, but that is pure marketing genius!
Christmas Planning Well Underway Of course, I say this and you watch - I'll be the girl in the "self check out" line at midnight on December 24th. Mark and I got down to business this year and made a very detailed spreadsheet for Christmas gift buying (OK, those of you who know me know MARK made the spreadsheet. Excel = tool of the devil. I could barely stand to look at it without going to the Dark Side.). I went out mid morning on Black Friday and got at least half of our list taken care of. Bam! We are really trying to be strategic this year with it being Alina's first Christmas with us. Add to that her birthday is on the 23rd, and it is going to be a lot of stimulation, commotion, and hyped up emotions for her. We want to plan as best we can to give her a holiday that is emotionally calm (see above paragraphs and please pray for me), not too busy, with enough down time and quiet to catch our breath. We also want to continue some special family traditions and maybe even start some new ones. It is going to take a lot of pre-planning, wisdom, and intentionality to keep a peaceful tone for our house.
And If You Feel Like Holding Me Accountable (Don't. Just kidding. But be gentle.) It has been brought to my attention by the Holy Spirit (via a sermon, my dear friend Ang, and daily, irrefutable evidence) that I need to make some changes. You need to know I am about as good with the "Change" word as Fonzie was with the "Sorry" word. I stutter, I falter, sometimes I even foam at the mouth at the mere mention of change. The list of things that needs addressed is long and daunting, but let's start with a few basic ones. I need to rise and shine. Earlier than I feel like. I need to get up, get in the Word, and get me some Jesus before I start teaching my dear, impressionable children. I need to eat better and feed my family better. This one scares me. The kids and I made an all vegetarian lunch the other day. One out of three dishes was digestible. (We should have known when one of the recipes was called "Phoney Macaroni and Cheese".) Changing our diet will take a change of heart and a change of palette. (That's a lot of "change" in one sentence. Gulp.) I need to step away from the computer and anything that isn't about what I need to be about right now. I need to take care of my business. My focus needs more focus. (The Karate Kid quote. Appropriate, huh?) Change. As Sheryl Crow says, a change will do me good.
What Centers You? Today we heard a sermon on "Rest". ("Can I get an 'Amen?'", said the exhausted Southern Baptist.) We were challenged to follow God's pattern of 6:1, 6:1, 6:1, etc. - six days of work, one day of rest (lather, rinse, repeat). There is something deeply significant about having a day of rest - God knew we would need it. We were asked to think of what fulfills us and helps center us. What would we do on a day of rest to help us be still, recharge, and hear from God? Uh... I don't know. I have been pondering this all afternoon. I know that I thoroughly enjoy sitting on my swing in the back yard with a good book. I love to blog. (Yes. I know I went silent for months. But in my head, I was cranking them out.) But I don't know what will really help me hear from God. So I am going to do some investigating. I'm going to try some things and see what helps. And to do so, I am soliciting suggestions. (While Mark is cute, he is not helpful. He recharges and gets centered by playing paintball. And while that surely isn't in The Message version, I have observed this and found it to be true for him.) So what centers you? What helps you get your feet back underneath you? When you have a free hour, how would you choose to spend it? If you read this (both of you), post some ideas in my comments section. I need help. Plus, I like comments.
So that is the November 27th edition of "Random Post". Lather, rinse, repeat.