Thanks

I haven’t posted a gratitude list since 2013. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I feel like I should post one every year day.  A lot of the time I choose to bitch and moan instead. But today, Christmas Day, I’m sitting by the fire next to one of my favorite people, Nyla, the middle little person. The day has been filled with laughs, cuddles and love of family. I’m blessed. So here is what I’m grateful for today;

I’m still here

I’m here for another Christmas

My family doesn’t mind being with me

I have the resources to provide Christmas dinner

My grandkids are happy even without gifts

My home is warm

My home is safe

I’m at peace.

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From the back of the littlest person’s winter concert program

So that’s what I’m grateful for this Christmas Day. And as fellow blogger Ann Koplow reminds me in her daily posts which always end in gratitude, I’m also grateful for the folks who read this blog. Thank you. I hope your holiday season has been joyful and peaceful and happy new year to you all.

 

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Btw, do you notice I decorated the snake lamp? The grandkids said the face isn’t very jolly. LOL!

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I Don’t Know but I Have Faith

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Image from Wikimedia

I was reading in the newspaper today about the recent sectarian violence in Turkey and Pakistan. I was thinking about how much tribal, factional, “us” vs. “them” violence still happens all the time all over the world. It doesn’t just happen in places where we Americans can point and say, “What’s the matter with them?” It happens in this country too. (How many gay youths have been bullied or beaten recently and remember the massacre of six worshipers at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee?) I guess it’s been uppermost in my mind lately because a spiritual practice group I belong to is having an event in remembrance of Dr. King in a few days. There will be discussions during the event and two of the themes are, “the goal of interracial, global Christian fellowship” and “the pursuit of justice as a holy calling.”

In light of the violence, I asked myself if true interracial, global fellowship (Christian or otherwise) and therefore peace, is actually possible.  And given peoplekind’s penchant for using  “otherness” as a reason for inequity and for that matter, elimination, can the pursuit of justice ever be consistent with a goal of peace and fellowship?

Sometimes I fear, in my more pessimistic moments, that the only way we’ll have peace and justice is by the “Day the Earth Stood Still” model; that is if we’re forced into it by beings much wiser than ourselves.  That would achieve peace and begrudging justice but that couldn’t be called fellowship, could it? It’s more than just my being disheartened and saying, “Oh, the fate of the world!” It’s because I belong to a faith community now and if we’re going to talk the talk I wonder if it is really possible for us to walk the walk. Do even people of faith fear deep down that our human nature negates the possibility?  I was around during Dr. King’s ministry and at that time many people were fast and loose with the use of the words peace and justice. They became rallying cries for assorted social and political agendas. Unfortunately, many times those agendas didn’t include “others”. Are we still throwing the terms around?  Are these discussions really meaningful to us in the context of our modern world views?  Are we simply having them because it’s MLK’s birthday and we think it’s what we’re supposed to talk about at the interfaith events and prayer breakfasts?

Image from Wikimedia

I went to one of my favorite sources of lucidity and insight in these matters, Richard Rohr. (https://cac.org)  In his book “Breathing Underwater” he says, ‘…a system of retributive justice (author’s italics) …has controlled the story line of 99 percent of history. It seems history could not see what it was not ready to see; but in our time more and more are ready and willing to understand. One cannot help but believe there is an evolution of human and spiritual consciousness.” He goes on to say that there are many theories (like Spiral Dynamics) that describe the evolution and they “are recognizing that history is moving forward, even if by fits and starts, and even many steps backwards.” (pg 39) I wonder if Dr. King would believe that now. When I think about his agenda I wonder if he would think the fits and steps backwards are too large to move past. But then I think, of course he would have the kind of faith Fr. Rohr has.

I want to have that kind of faith. I want to believe the theories and research are correct. I want to believe that the conversations my community is having aren’t just because it’s MLK’s birthday but because they are a manifestation of our evolution.

I guess that has to be a component of my faith, believing that the process of working toward peace and justice is important even without the expectation of witnessing the eventual success.

Soup’s On Heaven’s Menu

Gray day in Alexandria, VA
Gray day in Alexandria, VA

The holiday season is winding down and I don’t have any delicious food left. It’s cold and damp here and it’s a little depressing because it seems as if the holiday cheer is spent. So I’m going to spend this weekend in the kitchen and make some soup. Winter soups are a great way for me to add back some of the warmth it feels as though I’ve lost after holiday celebrations. I can cuddle up with a big mug of soup and relive the good times I was fortunate to have with my family and friends. One of my favorite winter soups is Butternut Squash & Apple With Pancetta. It’s a great recipe and I’m sharing it with you on my recipe page today. You’ll also find other winter soup recipes on Heaven’s Menu that brighter and warm a bleak day.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Jingle All The Ways???

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused at Christmastime
Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused at Christmastime

It’s a hallmark (pun intended) of this season to say “I can’t believe it’s holiday time again already!” I know it always seems to come around more than once a year to me! Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through a lot of them and I’ve done Christmas (which is my family’s tradition) in every way possible.

It started after I had my first kid and I wanted to teach her the true meaning of the holiday. It was one of the many mistakes I made while child rearing. Anyway, in my search for a way to “authentically” celebrate the holiday I’ve tried a lot of different approaches , the first of which was,

IMG_1096The Purist Way: It involved a real tree with only wooden ornaments and strung berries. I wanted to put candles on it but my husband grumbled something about our homeowners insurance. I wrapped our homemade gifts in brown paper. I insisted that the only bought gifts were given to the poor. My family didn’t see the virtue in this approach, especially my kids who were in elementary school at the time. Everybody ridiculed me for months which prompted me the following year to try,

The All In Way: That was the year I got a six-foot tree and decorated it with so much stuff it took until February 1st to take it down. I also watched as many holiday movies as I could, left my car radio on the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station, tailored the gifts to the individual recipients and baked like it was my job. Strangely, it was also the year I suffered from a severe feeling of emptiness and had to be prescribed an anti-depressant. My mood was stable but very serious after that which led me the following year to,

The Religious Way: I refused to put up a tree and limited the decorations to an antique crèche on the mantle. I researched the history of all the secular traditions associated with Christmas. I “shared” the information with my family at the annual Christmas breakfast and I admonished them for not keeping to the true spirit. I then led them in a very long prayer while the food got cold. That was the year they banished me to a tray table in the corner and threw my gifts at me.  After that I lost my mind one year and tried,

IMG_1099The Martha Stewart Way: I maxed out a credit card and risked divorce trying to look like someone I’m not.  Now I have pink and purple plaid ornaments and oh so tasteful bows along with a hostess gown, matching apron and oven mitts that are useless. I started an eBay box with them.

There were other years and other approaches; the Give Till it Hurts year, the Who Cares year etc., but now I just go with the flow.  I’m grateful when I get to see another holiday so I try to enjoy them. I’m grateful for the family members still here and I love the excitement in the eyes of the new members who have joined us recently around the tree. I want for nothing and use the last few days leading up to the holiday as an excuse to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies, guilt-free.

So, here are my very best wishes for a very merry Christmas to you and yours if it’s your tradition.  If it’s not, a very happy, blessed New Year.

BTW– There are some gift idea ads I haven’t seen on TV this year. I miss them for their entertainment value and I wonder what happened to them. Where are the ads for; the Ov Glove, Isotoners, Chia Pet and Norelco (with Santa riding the razor)? Have you seen them?