Monday, December 16, 2019

A December day in Texas

‘Twas  a dark and stormy night—oops, no. I got carried away. It was a cold morning, slightly damp, and most discouraging. Another good day to stay in. Makes me think how fortunate I am to have that choice to make and to have enough “busyness” at home to keep me happy.

Though I confess I’m not that busy. A neighbor posted a picture of herself making a face on Facebook—not a happy face—and wrote that was what she thought of folks who have their Christmas shopping done, presents wrapped. Shhh! Don’t tell her, but I am one of those. There are still a couple of presents that have me biting my nails to see if they’ll arrive in time—one for a gathering tomorrow night, and I’m losing hope on that one even though the tracking says between the 16th and 20th. Another gift I thought perfect for old and dear friends in Omaha has apparently disappeared into a black hole. It may brighten their days in the dark of February.

Jordan and I are compulsive list makers—it’s a gene that Megan happily confesses she missed. But we have lists of groceries to be bought tomorrow, groceries at the end of the week, who’s cooking what when we all get together, what we’re having for dinner each night that all seventeen of us will be under one roof—yikes! Melanie even did a spread sheet, and to my alarm it read, “Breakfast on your own.” I asked Jordan to put cottage cheese on the shopping list.

Meanwhile, today I did odds and ends—some author-like chores, including looking for a picture I’ve had trouble locating and getting what head start I could on my neighborhood newsletter—but mostly Christmas. I’ve wrapped the last three presents (excluding those not yet arrived), written a few Christmas cards, figured out what to do about the last person on my list. My wrapped Christmas presents are pitiful—if you’ve seen that ad where a youngster about five holds forth in a hardware store and in one climactic moment hands a customer a clumsily wrapped gift with paper going every which way, you know what my packages look like. I strive for tight, neat corners, but somehow, I never get there. My daughters’ packages are always neat and square with fantastic bows, while I confine myself to red yarn. And, really, I like gift bags the best.

A lovely letter from an elementary school friend—we also went to church together for years—cheered me today. She and I share a love of Lake Michigan, and we’ve reunited on Facebook—one of the great pleasures of social media—but we’ve never directly communicated before. Now we share hip troubles—she is scheduled for January surgery—and I have been encouraging her about the benefits, not negative aspects, of a walker. She wrote of her appreciation, and I was grateful. It’s the season for spontaneous and unexpected communication, whatever we can do to bring a little joy into someone else’s life—not just those who need joy, but those who don’t expect to hear from us. The unexpected always brings special pleasure.

Tonight I ate the last of the coffee beef stew—even better tonight. The recipe called for three bay leaves, and by golly, I got all three in my modest portion tonight. And then Scottish shortbread from the gift basket the neighborhood association brought me in appreciation for my work on the newsletter. It’s also a bountiful season.

As we move into Christmas week, I am continually struck by how timely the theme of the message from our church is: “Be not afraid.” The words of the Angel to Mary, and the words to Joseph as he considered marriage to a young woman already pregnant. Those word have great meaning in our day and age, when fear is all around us, and we must fight to prevent it from shaping our lives. Be not afraid—the Lord is with us.

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