Tuesday, December 20, 2016

So, Just a Couple of Things

Warning:  I'm about to be like that friend who just had her first grandbaby and you see her at the mall and she traps you in the Dillard's shoe department forcing you to look at her slew of pictures and listen to her go on and on about every detail.  I mean.....just so you know. 

So, Davis' retirement party was so nice.  So much food.  Good ol' southern food that went on for what seemed like miles down the tables.  Let me tell you, there's not much better in the whole world than 9x13 Pyrex dishes stretched out in the deep South topped with an assortment of fried onions, corn flakes, Ritz crackers, and melted cheese......oh, and a brisket so tender that it melts in your mouth like a wedding mint.  There were people there from his current co-workers all the way back to some who worked with him when he came on board at 22 and in his words, "had no idea what I was doing." After the food, they presented him with a plaque, some cards and gifts, and his retirement pin.  I mean, everyone looks forward to the day when they can finally get their hands on a coveted retirement pin, right?  I'm sure he'll wear that everywhere.  The best part- they had so many kind things to say about Davis.  Words like integrity, faithful, steady, and dependable kept coming up and they made me proud with their stories of how he always does the right thing.  That's the Davis we know at home, too.  There's no doubt that what he'll miss most about his job are those friends who he considers to be his second family.  Having that kind of comradery at work is a real blessing.

So, you might think that the Millers' big news stops there but you'd be wrong.  The day after Davis' retirement party, Blair and John Samuel got engaged!  They'll be getting married sometime next fall which is the start of Carson's senior year of high school.  Clearly, they have all conspired to induce in me some sort of emotional breakdown by cramming as many life changes as possible into a short time frame. 

No, really Davis and I couldn't be happier!  Isn't that the prayer of parents of daughters from the time their little pink bundles arrive?  That, somewhere in the world, there are parents who are teaching their little boy to be kind, forgiving, and faithful.  That they're taking him to church and reading to him about Jesus.  That they're teaching him how to be a man and how to treat a lady.  Urging him to be independent and responsible and a hard worker.  And that when they've done their job that God, somehow, would let that little boy find your little girl in this big, big world.......hoping that you've taught her all that she needs to know, too.   

Through the years, there have been young men come to our door to pick up our daughter for dates.  They've come to take her to the movies, ballgames, dinner out, and proms.  They've come dressed in blue jeans or in formal wear with a corsage box in tow.  They've all been polite and said, "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir" and nervously opened the car door for her.  They've shared meals with us and joined us on trips.  Different personalities.  Different backgrounds.  Different goals. 

As it goes with parents, we've trudged along with her through the years of dating and the heartaches and crushes and everything that goes along with the process of elimination which we all have to endure.  Then, there came John Samuel and something was different about him.  The difference was on his face when he looked at her.  It was a love that I recognized because like I told him when he asked for our blessing, "You love her like we love her.  You take care of her like we take care of her."  

John Samuel is another blessing our family received from Davis' job.  John Samuel's dad works in the same office as Davis.  The two of them would discuss their college kids and give and receive updates around the water cooler, so to speak.  Funny story.  At some point, it was decided between the dads that their kids should meet and so when John Samuel came home for Christmas, two years ago, he gave Blair a call at his father's urging.  He asked her for a date and they went out the night before they had to go back to different colleges at the end of Christmas break. 

I remember their first date.  It was raining.  No, not just raining.......it was like a deluge of Biblical proportions.  Blair had gotten ready ahead of schedule which is almost unheard of and she was trying to decide if she should be in the back of the house when he got here or if she should be in view when he arrived.  So many things to consider when trying to execute a successful first date. 

The doorbell rang and a tall, dark, handsome young man stood there at the door....with raindrop marks all over his shirt.  He came in after shaking the rain off of himself.  He was a little nervous which is understandable considering he was meeting his date, her parents, her brother, and their old, ornery dog for the first time......and all at once.  You'd have to have nerves of steel to not be a little uneasy about all that.  He shook Davis' hand and said all the appropriate things expected from a young southern gentleman.  After a few minutes of conversation, they were gone.  Out into the stormy night. 

Well, the first date led to another and another and here we are two years later.  Not many couples can thank their fathers for finding the love of their lives. 

Of course, John Samuel did it in grand style using the southern backdrop of the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation.  He's had the proposal planned for months.  He even arranged for her sorority little sis to be there in hiding to take pictures.  After things settle down a bit, I'm interested in enrolling Davis in John Samuel's course on romantic event planning.  I feel he could benefit from some refresher classes.

So, we have a wedding to plan and we couldn't be happier!  For 20 or so years, I helped brides and their mothers plan weddings......the flower part, at least.  I'd meet with them and take notes of their likes and wishes and preferences.  I worked with all kinds of brides and all kinds of mothers.  All sorts of mother/daughter dynamics. All kinds of flowers.  All types of venues and budgets.   I was familiar with most of the caterers, photographers, rental businesses, and churches in town.....basically, all things wedding.  I could plan other people's daughters' weddings with little problem but now it's hit me that WE'RE going to have a wedding in 2017 and I'm like.......
You know, like I don't have a clue what I'm doing or where to start.  I'm sure this is just a temporary condition brought on by all the excitement of the moment.  Yeah, that has to be it.

So, all of these life changes should give me plenty to blog about in 2017.  I can't wait......I think. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. I appreciate your time and loyalty to my blog.  I'm greatly humbled by it.  You'll never know how much it means to me. 

May God bless you and yours this holy season. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What's Going On?

1) Well, tomorrow is Davis' retirement party at work.  Because Davis is not one who enjoys the warmth of the spotlight, he insisted that they not make a big thing out of it and so his co-workers are going to have his celebration in conjunction with their district Christmas party.  As his loving wife, of course, I'm invited.  The retiree's spouse is not a role I've ever played before and so I will be forging new ground tomorrow.  After working for the same agency for 33 years, this is going to be quite an adjustment for him........and if I find him loafing around the house unshaven in his pajama bottoms very often, well, it's going to be an adjustment for me, too.  Davis has never been a loafer so I don't expect it to be a problem.  I do look forward to him having more time and flexibility to be with us, his adorable and irresistible family.  I'm sure I'll have pictures and stories about the retirement party that I'll force you to look at so don't go too far.

2) Like you, we've been so, so busy!  This was our first night at home in a while and so I was able to finally put up some Christmas adornments outside.  You'll be happy to know that we don't look quite so atheistic to passing cars now.

3) We've covered a lot of Christmas party ground since we last talked.  So far, we've eaten a lot of saturated fats, played our share of Dirty Santa and got to visit with people we love.  But, one of our very favorite treats is always celebrating Christmas with our dear friend of 25 years, Mrs. Wright.  She was one of our very first neighbors as a married couple and we've kept up with her through the years even though that was two houses ago.  Mrs. Wright is only a few days from turning 92 and if I'm.......well, alive at her age, I will consider it a blessing and if I'm still as active and engaged as she......well, mercy.  She's something else!  

I don't know what it is about Christmas that makes us more emotionally aware of the preciousness of those around us but it sure does.  Everyone seems to have a heart that sees the value in others at Christmastime.  Eyes that can see the treasure they possess by having that person in their lives.  That's how we were feeling about Mrs. Wright, the other night.  She's tossing around the idea of a move to be near her children which would take her away from us and so just the thought of that may have produced a tear or two as we were all reminded of how much we cherish being part of her life.

4)  Christmas is such a fun time of year but there are a lot of people who are hurting, too.  Our sweet friend, Barry, just lost his mother and I know that there are so many others who are grieving and trying to navigate the holidays for the first time.  It's just a hurdle that has to be overcome and it's not the least bit fun.  Like we talked about, the other day, Christmas has so many memories attached to it that it just brings those we're missing to the surface of our minds over and over again.  I'm praying for all those who are sad in the midst of all the merriment.  Those who have something tugging at them so hard.  Someone they're missing at the table.  Something that's weighing down the light spirit of Christmas for them.  God, be close to them during the holidays.

5)  Well, my sweet cousin, Amy, took some pictures of us for a Christmas card.  We were ill and void of color when our appointment with the photographer came around and so, after the plague finally subsided,  Amy was kind enough to work within our 1 hour time frame in which we were all available at the same time. 

So, I sat down to design the card on the computer and I started thinking about addressing all of them and mailing them out and I talked myself right out of doing cards this year.  I guess I'm suffering from a lack of motivation.  It could be a lingering effect of the virus but I'm taking the easy way to Christmas Day and I'm kinda liking it.  So, if you would have received a Christmas card from us, it would've looked something like this......
Merry CHRISTmas from the Miller family! 

Wow, so much easier. 

6)  One more thing before I go- I wanted to share a sweet Christmas song by a group called Track 45.  They're siblings and they're precious and so talented and from right here in my hometown.  As an added bit of trivia, their granddad was my pediatrician when I was a child and, as I recall, ordered many-a-penicillin shot for my little derriere but that is neither here nor there.  Hope you enjoy their beautiful rendition of "Silent Night" as much as I did. 

I'll check in next week before Christmas!  Y'all enjoy this sweet season and squeeze all the goodness out of it that you can! 

See you soon.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Like I Remember

It's true.  There are a lot of perks to being an adult.  No bedtimes.  You can eat what you want to eat.  Nobody's telling you to eat the green beans if you don't want to.  You can buy what you want to buy.  You can drive where you want to go.  No studying or sitting in class.  You can plan trips.  Watch as much television as you want to watch.  Wear what you want to wear.  Stay out as late as you want to stay out.  Make decisions for yourself. 

Yeah, adulthood is a pretty good deal, I have to say.  We even spend a good part of our early life wishing for it.   

But, there could be a time of year when being a child might have the advantage. 

Yeah, I'd definitely say so. 

It's Christmas.

At Christmas, there's no contest.  It's better to be a kid.  Before the innocence is gone. Before the anticipation wanes. Before the busyness crowds out the wonder.  Before the mysteries are all solved.  Before something simple is turned into something so complicated.     

I remember the building suspense leading up to Christmas when I was a child.  It was so strong, sometimes, I just thought I would explode!  By the week of Christmas, the butterflies in my stomach were in full flutter mode and I didn't know if I could wait another second.  I'd remember all the things I'd circled in the Sears catalog and I'd imagine what I'd find under the tree.  There was always an item or two that I really hoped would be there.  A Barbie Styling Head or an Easy Bake Oven or a Merlin electronic game.  And time just seemed to stand still.  Like really, really still.  And those days after school let out were brutal in their snail pace.  The days in December just lumbered along while I slowly went insane with anticipation.   

I remember there being a coziness about home during the Christmas season.  A lot of music and movies and food and decorations and Bible reading.  We had some Christmas albums that played on the stereo almost non-stop during December.  My favorite was a boxed set we had.  It was a treasury of Christmas music and it will forever be the sound of Christmas to me.  It was a time when there were special homemade candies and lots of really good food that we didn't get any other time of the year.  I remember helping Mama roll the pecan sandies in the powdered sugar and using a fork to crisscross her little cheese wafers before they went in the oven.  Mmmmm.  Those were special things reserved only for Jesus' birthday.  We'd decorate our real tree from the grocery store as a family.  Usually with a Christmas cartoon special playing on the console TV.  Daddy would put the lights on the tree and we'd hang all the ornaments plus the ones we'd made at Sunday School usually featuring our school picture, some felt, sequins, and a lot of Elmer's glue.  I remember it being a warm, fuzzy time of year.  Daddy would read the story of Jesus's birth from Luke and something about his deep voice reading those words seemed to officially declare it a holy time of year....even to us as little kids.  I just remember there was more being together at home than usual.  I liked that and so much else about Christmas.    

And the night before Christmas, well, that was generally a sleepless night.  I mean, who could sleep at a time like that?  You were on the brink of the biggest event of the whole year, Christmas morning.  The thrill of the unknown.  The mystery of Santa.  The smell of new baby doll plastic and the pleasure of ripping cellophane off a new board game with all the pieces.  The excitement of looking over to see what your brothers got, too.  It was enough to make your heart pound.  All night long.     

There are a lot of wonderful moments in life.  Times that our minds go back to and wrap us with the warmth of their recollection.  But, not much in this life can rival the memories of being a child at Christmas. 

A lot has changed about Christmas since then.  The month goes by a lot faster.  It's here and gone before you know it.  It's definitely picked up the pace since I was young.  Now, the thrill is found more in giving than in getting.  The anticipation is for the reactions of those that I love.  There are people missing at Christmas now and some traditions have changed.  The stress and bustle of the season can dull some of the sparkle.  Christmas is more complicated than it used to be.  Sometimes, we can feel like we're backstage handling all the ugly details while the real thing is taking place on the other side of the curtain and we're missing it all. 

Like you, I'm waist deep in all things Christmas.  The gift shops are in the middle of their busiest season.  Until next Wednesday, tonight was the last night we had without a social commitment.  I've yet to put one single, solitary decoration outside our house.  Currently, from the road, we look like the neighborhood atheists in need of a salvation track.  Appearances is the only thing drawing me to put them out at this late stage of the game.  And after a solid couple of days in stores and post offices and two nights in the middle of the floor, I've finally finished buying, wrapping, and mailing our gifts.....including the last minute additions and the stack of dirty Santa gifts we'll arm ourselves with for our various parties. 

The joyful, innocent spirit of the holidays can get lost in the stampede of the season.  There's so much to do.  So much to think about.  So much to prepare for.  So many expectations to meet. So many boxes to check off. 

I can easily let the childlike wonder of Christmas get buried in the details.  But, I think Jesus wants me to keep His birthday pretty simple.  Just like I remember it being.  So long ago. 

With the wonderment of a child.  With the joy of a child.  With the heart of a child. 

Y'all have a great weekend celebrating!                 

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Perfect Family Christmas

Well, Carson and I went out to grab some lunch on Saturday.  I needed to run a couple errands and I used the promise of food to bribe him to come along.  That illness really messed with our appetites and there was almost nothing that sounded good but I was thinking a grilled chicken sandwich might hit the spot so we stopped in at a local restaurant while we were out and about. 

I love to observe people.  I guess I'm a people watcher.  I don't like to brag but I can usually assess what's going on in a group of people if I can just watch them for a little while.  Well, my seat  was facing a table where five women were looking over their menus.  They seemed to be having a pleasant time.  It looked like a mother in her 60's, her two daughters (30's), and two young teenage granddaughters.  Now, since I didn't actually know them, I could've been way off on all that but those were my best guesses.  Anyway, I imagined that they were out having a girls' Christmas shopping day on that cold, rainy afternoon and had stopped to take a lunch break.  Probably, the night before, someone suggested how fun it would be to all load up and get out into the hustle and bustle and enjoy the season together.  I felt sure that everyone thought it sounded like fun and agreed to make a day of it.  Or, at least, that's how it all went down in my mind.      

Well, I looked up from my menu to ask Carson what he was going to order and I saw one of the "daughters" saying something very serious to the "mother"......like she was saying something argumentative or something she needed to get off of her chest.  Maybe it was about something that happened earlier while they were shopping.  Maybe it was a grievance from a long time ago.  Maybe it was something someone said.  Either way, the teenage girls' eyes widened and they looked around their table to take in everyone's facial reactions.  I felt like I was watching something that I shouldn't be seeing.  Like the wreck you didn't want to see but, as you got closer, the curiosity got the best of you and you ended up gawking.  I couldn't help it.  It was like I had to know what was happening on this live episode of reality TV. 

Well, I could see the mother's mouth moving even though I couldn't see her face.  I could see that she was having her turn to reply to whatever was said to her.  And then, it happened.  The daughter's eyes began to tear up.  It was one of those mother/daughter moments not ever mentioned on Hallmark commercials.  The tears were probably a mix of anger and frustration and she crossed her arms and kind of stared off in the distance.  Everyone at the table sat awkwardly.  Not saying anything.  But, in true southern form, it was all done quietly and discreetly.  No scenes were being made.   No screaming.  No storming out.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn't have even known anything was happening if they hadn't been directly in my line of sight and, well, if I didn't have that people watching hobby.  The mother paid the check and got up and walked on out to the parking lot.  The others hung back and slowly followed at their own reluctant pace.  Clearly, their girls' day out had made a serious turn for the worse. 

I thought, "Well, it's that time of year again."  Time for family and crowds and everything that goes along with them.  Sometimes, our Rockwell moments take more of a National Lampoon turn as we try to execute the perfect family Christmas.  Problem is......families are never perfect so it's hard for them to pull off perfection for more than an hour or two.  We have visions of shopping trips and cookie baking and caroling that resemble Thomas Kinkade's imagination but then there are these things called hormones and sore subjects and insecurities and pet peeves and holiday stressors.  Yeah, you get yourself a good case of PMS and put it in a car for three hours going to Grandma's with a low carb diet, a gum chewer, a smacking pet peeve, an incessant talker, and a screaming kid and see what a pretty Christmas card picture that makes.     

Yes, 'tis the season when there will be too many of us crammed into kitchens.  Trapped in cars for long periods.  Sleeping on couches and hideaway beds.  Stuffed into living rooms, dens, and porches.  Squeezed around tables.  Sharing bathrooms.  Packed in stores like sardines.  Suffocating in crowded elevators and waiting areas.  Lost in miles and miles of lines.  Bumper to bumper on roads and highways.     

There will be people tucked into every nook and cranny of our personal space for the next 19 days.

And in the words of Ellen Griswold, "I don't know what else to say except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."

No, not really but it can get a little dicey at times.  So, let's not forget to extend goodwill to each other during the Christmas season.  If you think someone is getting on your last nerve, well, you're probably stomping all over theirs, too.  May we find common ground there as we stand atop each other's nerves and agree to take one for the team. 

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men." 

Y'all have a good Tuesday!     

Thursday, December 1, 2016

They All Fall Down

Well, since we last talked, we've all fallen.  One by one.  To the stomach bug.  Actually, I think this thing is more than a bug.  It's more like a flu.  I'm no doctor but I think the difference between a bug and a flu can be determined by its duration, the presence of fever and body aches, sightings of the death angel, and whether you wake up on the floor not knowing how you got there.

We're all at various stages of recovery.  At various stages of reintroducing solid foods.  At various stages of regaining strength and skin color.  Each terrorized with his or her own last meal flashbacks.
If you'd like to enter our 5 day weight loss program, just come on over here.  Our home is apparently infested with everything needed to guarantee the loss of 4-6 lbs. in just a few, long days.

I'd like to write something but I think my brain is dehydrated.  I picture it looking like a dried raisin you'd find between the couch cushions so I'll wait until it's had time to soak up some more moisture. 

Y'all be careful out there.  There are some nasty, nasty germs floating around.

See you next week.