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Here is a fun table or parlor game for friends and family members of all ages.
Christmas was almost here and Mother RIGHT was finishing the holiday baking. Father RIGHT, Sue RIGHT, and Billy RIGHT returned from their last-minute holiday errands.
“There’s not much LEFT to be done,” said Father RIGHT as he walked into the kitchen.
“Did you leave the basket of food at church?” asked Mother RIGHT.
“I LEFT it RIGHT where you told me to,” said Father RIGHT.
“I’m glad my shopping is done,” said Billy RIGHT. “I don’t have any money LEFT.”
The telephone rang and Susan RIGHT LEFT to answer it. She rushed back and told the family, “Aunt Tillie RIGHT LEFT a package for us RIGHT on Grandma RIGHT’S porch. I’ll go over there RIGHT now and pick up the package, and Grandma RIGHT,” she said as she LEFT in a rush.
Father RIGHT LEFT the kitchen and brought in the Christmas tree. He placed it in the stand in the family room.
By the time Susan RIGHT returned, Mother RIGHT, Father RIGHT, and Billy RIGHT had begun trimming the tree. The entire RIGHT family, including Grandma RIGHT, sang carols as they finished the decorating.
Then they LEFT all the presents arranged under the tree and went to bed, hoping they had selected the RIGHT gifts for each other.
Now I hope you have the RIGHT gift for yourself because that’s all that’s LEFT of our story except to wish you a Merry Christmas. Isn’t that RIGHT?
Celebrate with Christmas cookies and eggnog or cider. Enjoy!
This month I’m going to post some Christmas-related items that I rediscovered in my files, a couple you may have seen before, and a couple new ones.
Today I’m posting an essay that my deceased husband Charles wrote in 2010. It’s never been published so I decided to ‘publish’ it here. I hope you enjoy it as I have. I miss you Charles and love you still.
I asked myself, “Which Christmas was the most meaningful to me?” Then I realized it was the Christmas when I was alone—for the first time.
It was December 1973. Earlier that year I had traveled from the East Coast to California. I’d left my home and family on Long Island for a woman I thought I wanted a future with. Apparently she had other ideas, even though it was she who offered the invitation—and she who dumped me months after I arrived.
I’ve spent a lot of years condemning myself over those actions. But the real turn-around started where the truth usually starts—at the bottom.
About mid-afternoon in Los Angeles, on Christmas Eve that year I was headed home from work. I’d hosted my departmental managers to a lunch, a bit of alcohol, and a whole bunch of silly banter. They were my office friends, my only friends, and in a sense, at the moment, all the family I had.
At this juncture of my life I didn’t do anything but work. I was a full on work-alcoholic and very close to becoming a full-on alcoholic. I put myself, along with my pain, to bed every night with a glass jammed full of ice, and scotch or vodka poured to the brim, and some nonsense book. Along with my work and alcohol addictions I had become addicted to this woman—who by then was out of my life.
Later as I sat in my shabby one–bedroom apartment, a far cry from my home out on Long Island, remorse consumed me. I was in that in-between place, not here, not there, not anywhere. I no longer had a home, a family surrounding me, people who loved me whom I could hug and hang onto. But far more, and just as important, I didn’t have myself.
I slumped onto one of the worn sofas of my “furnished” apartment, tired of myself, tired of life. I was so out of touch I couldn’t even say I was lonely for that woman. But surprisingly I wasn’t angry with her. I was angry with myself. Really angry! It always came out that way. I wasn’t enough. I’d never been enough.
Now I’d hit bottom … or close to it.
The gray December afternoon settled in. It matched perfectly what was going on inside me. My dis-ease and loneliness spread into my deepest parts.
I started to see that I was there by my choice, by my decision, even if I had unconsciously caused it. I was grateful that I was at a point to start moving toward the most important thing in my life–finding myself.
As the late afternoon light faded into the gloom of a California early winter’s evening, I was coming to the end of a long retreat, and in some small way the beginning of my recovery from a lifetime of allowing life (or my attitude toward it) to squeeze me dry.
At that moment I realized that all I had, would ever have, was the person I am. There was a little something of the real ‘me’ left. What I didn’t know then was the Lord was with me. The woman may have deserted me, and I may have deserted myself, but God hadn’t.
Suddenly I got my tired butt off that tired sofa, pulled on a jacket, and got into my Fiat Spider. At Sears I found a tree, lights, garland, glass balls, candles … all the Christmas stuff I could carry, and fit into my little car.
Three hours later I celebrated my first Christmas alone. The apartment was no longer shabby. It was “bright.” Perhaps not so “merry” as I would have liked it, but it was one step, along with many I’d have to take, toward the happiness I now have. Indeed I’d given something to myself, but far more, to anyone who would share life with me … wife, children, friends, work associates … even those I would unknowingly pass by.
I had started being … me.
“My purpose is to give you life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
Over the last several weeks the pastor at the church I attend (Twin Lakes in Aptos, California), has focused on the topic of generosity–which seems to be a natural extension of gratitude. The more we give thanks the more we see we have to be thankful for, and hopefully that perspective will lead to a growing spirit of generosity.
He reminded us not to assume that he was talking about money–though certainly being generous with our income (which is actually God’s) is a worthy action. But there are so many ways any one of us can give generously on a daily basis:
A word of kindness
A listening ear
An invitation to something fun
and so much more. I’m reminded of that spirit often so evident in children. Recently I attended a community outreach project at a local Christian school where middle grade students had put their feet to the ground as they ministered to various organizations in our community and then reported on them with photos, videos, oral presentations and three-fold posters that displayed their efforts–from feeding the homeless to cleaning up the beach to making surprise gift bags for kids in a cancer ward, to serving homemade cookies to senior citizens in retirement homes, to cleaning up graffiti on public and private buildings–and so much more.
I came home feeling inspired by our youth–our future adults who I hope will carry on this important service when they enter the workforce some day. More than ever our world craves young people who look for a need and then meet it with a generous and loving spirit. Last week they were an example to me and I was inspired.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
I’m grateful that our country pauses each year in late November to give thanks for all our blessings. We’re especially in need of giving thanks this year, a difficult one for the United States, politically, socially and economically.
Shootings, lootings, mass murders and numerous kinds of other abuse have kept us on our knees in prayer and weeping with compassion for victims and their loved ones. At such times It’s hard to find reasons to be grateful and yet there are–mountains of them and it’s important to find them and focus on them.
God is good–all the time in all situations in every circumstance whether or not we see or feel God’s presence. At such times we can rely on the Lord’s promise to never leave nor forsake us.
I feel compelled to list a few verses here so we can carry on knowing that God will work all things together for good for those who live according to his purpose.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 | NIV |
One day recently a group of senior hikers from the Sierra Club walked along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, California to visit a Monarch butterfly reserve that is part of Natural Bridges State Park.
It was one of the highlights of my year–as it is every year on this annual trek. The Monarchs were there by the thousands, flitting from tree to tree and in between. The temperature was just right–well above 55°F degrees or they wouldn’t be able to fly. They can’t even crawl below 41°F. So our timing was just right.
Groups of school children in their matching t-shirts crowded around the site where a park ranger held their rapt attention as she shared details about these beautiful creatures that fascinate people of all ages.
We had a blue-sky day and a leader who knows about all things related to the Monarch so we seniors had our own special guide.
It is on days like this that I am especially grateful to my parents who taught us kids to appreciate nature, wildlife, insects, and all manner of life in all its forms. How blessed I am, as well, to live in a state that respects God’s creatures and protects them.
Hi everyone. Several of you dear followers have suggested I put a LIKE button on my blog so you can click it on days when you don’t have time or inclination to post a full comment. Well I heard you and I checked with my web master. It seems inserting this addition is costly and complicated. So I’m not going to do it. However, I do have a solution.
If you are one of subscribers and you receive a notice each Monday in your email inbox about my blog you’ll see a small ‘like’ icon in that email–just below where it says ‘read more’ or ‘read in browser.’
You can click there after reading the remainder of the blog. It means going back to your email but it’s a small step.
OR at the end of each of my blogs on my website you’ll see the following:
I remember as a kid walking up and down the neighborhood all dressed up for Halloween. We were taught in school that we should never say “Trick or Treat” but rather “Halloween Treat.” According to our teachers, that was the polite and Christian way of approaching people.
And so we adopted that greeting and it sticks in my mind today–even though I no longer dress up or stretch out my hand with a bag for candy.
Now I just enjoy parading through the streets with my grandchildren and great grandson–who at two-and-a-half is just beginning to get what this holiday is all about.
We start the evening gathering at some friends’ house for soup and salad and bread and end the night at another house for cookies and tea. It’s become a lovely tradition and I’m grateful to be part of it.
But deeper still is the meaning of this traditional holiday.
“Halloween is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve,” and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known today as All Saints Day. (Hallow, as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, hallow means to make something holy or to honor it as holy.) Both the feast of All Saints Day (November 1) and its vigil (October 31) have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome.” (by Scott Richert http://tinyurl.com/yb8ya3gu).
Some parents and grandparents are concerned about the commercialization of this holiday but I see no harm in the tradition of going house to house, enjoying the fun and festivity with friends and family and sharing the origin of this event without giving way to the dark side.
So if you tag along with your grandkids or your young neighbors through the streets of your community, I hope you enjoy the connection it brings among families and friends enjoying a bit of fun together.
And finally a couple of photos from our neighborhood Halloween party for seniors on Saturday afternoon.
Neighbors who won the costume contest: Wendy from Wendy’s Hamburgers and her pal (and husband) Jack in the Box. They made their own outfits and they were sensational.
Today it’s just me, myself, and I–alone in my house getting ready to clean, dust, vacuum, water plants and do a little puttering on my computer before taking a walk and then relaxing all evening with a book and some TV.
Ah!!! It feels so good to be off a schedule, to do what I feel like doing and some of what I need and want to do.
Sometimes it’s just really nice to be quiet, to think my thoughts without interruption, to work and play at my leisure, and to allow some time to be mellow.
The older I get the fonder I am of peace, quiet, and time alone. Not that I don’t love and enjoy my family and friends. I sure do! But ‘down time’ allows me to refuel, to ponder, and to pace myself so I can then return to my active life refueled and retooled!
So that’s what I’m up to today as I type this message. How about you? Do you like time at home alone? Or do you prefer to be on the go?
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)
Living in a land of plenty or should I say ‘excess’ presents a challenge for me. Aggressive advertisers tell us our wants or rather their wants for us—a new outfit, a nice car, a theater ticket, a second house, yet another t-shirt, hat, or sweater.
While on vacation in the Canadian Rockies (see my August 28 blog for photos if you missed them) I walked in and out of more souvenir shops than I can count. Granted, I didn’t have to go inside but curiosity got the best of me every time––and it was something to do in the few moments remaining before reboarding the tour bus for our next adventure. I learned a lot from my walk-throughs and observations.
I soon discovered that if I’d seen one, I’d seen them all. The only difference being the stitching on the sweatshirts and the printing on the coffee cups. When in Whistler, so said the shirts and cups. When in Jasper . . . and when in Banff National Park . . . and in Victoria . . . You know what I’m getting at.
Not that there is anything wrong with selling or buying these and myriad other items, but the amount of ‘stuff’ made me think hard about the millions of people on the planet without a shirt to wear or a cup to drink from, let alone one that is neatly monogrammed and for a price that most couldn’t afford ever.
I’m rethinking my priorities this week. Sitting quietly in prayer for a moment or two will calm my anxious heart and set me straight again. A walk and a cup of tea feels about right. A day with my great grandson and his mom will be pure delight. Diving into a cozy mystery sounds like a great way to end my day.
And when I do have to shop–whether for food, or clothes, or gifts, I want to remember what matters most to me–a simple, uncluttered life where my old car still runs perfectly, sweaters and pants from three years ago are still just fine, and enough food for a few days instead of several weeks is all I need.
I can’t solve big problems like world hunger and housing shortages and politics gone awry but I can keep a short account in my own life so I have money and goods and love to share with others who may be less fortunate than I.
I like Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12 … “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I hope to keep this verse firmly in mind during the week ahead. What do you think?
A few weeks ago I joined a group of senior men and women for a morning’s hike at Wilder Bluff just north of Santa Cruz, California. What an experience it was. A perfect day with a blue sky and warm sunshine and a lovely little breeze to keep us comfortable.
What more could we want? It’s at times like this that I am reminded of the wonder of God’s creation and the beauty that is available to us if we look for it. And so often at no expense.
After our five-mile walk along the bluff we enjoyed a picnic lunch at nearby Wilder Ranch State Park. I came home refreshed, energized, tired (in a good way), and so grateful for these simple gifts from the hand of our loving God.
Where do you go to enjoy a respite in nature? Let’s share our experiences.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you . . .” (Job 12: 7-10)
“The poetry of earth is never dead.” ~ John Keats from “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”