Thursday, December 21, 2017

Signing Off for '17

Sorry that I stayed gone longer than I'd planned. Davis' mom passed away, last week. As you probably know, she had Alzheimer's disease and had broken her hip over the Thanksgiving weekend. Even with all those things plus 87 years working against her, we were still caught off guard as she seemed to be doing ok.

Davis and I will have our 26th anniversary in February and we dated a year before we married, so Mrs. Billie (or Granny as I've called her since the kids were born) has been in my life for 27 years. The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is one which is often described as the lioness and the antelope.....but I can't say that I've ever been able to relate to that. I can't nod my head in agreement when my friends tell me about their mother-in-law woes. I've never gotten the mother-in-law jokes. I even told someone at her visitation that, in 27 years, I can't recall a time when I was ever angry, resentful, aggravated, or the least bit perturbed at her. Honestly, I can't. She was just that kind of sweet, gentle person who never provoked anyone to have any sort of ill feelings.

I hit the mother jackpot when I was born but what are the odds that I'd win it again when I married Davis? What a precious lady. Our humble, kindhearted, selfless Granny. We're so happy that she's free from the heavy weight of this world and is with Jesus, but we surely will miss having her sweet presence here with us.
The holidays seem like an especially sensitive time to have to process grief. All this has had me thinking about Christmas and how it changes. It's always evolving and moving along with the current of our lives. We've all got our favorite memories of Christmas. From the years of dinner around grandmother's table and lying awake on Christmas Eve to quietly assembling a Barbie Dream House and Bob the Builder tool bench at 1:00 in the morning. From year to year, the landscape of Christmas can look just a little different. Santa only visits our houses for a season. People fade from the home movies and the family pictures and new ones come on the scene. Traditions may require adjustments. Children grow. Settings are altered. Some to accommodate happy changes. Others to adapt to loss.

When I think about the eventful year that's about to close, I know a lot of people who are facing a Christmas that won't look like any other they've ever had. For whatever circumstance, this holiday won't live up to the warm memory of Christmas past. There will be one reason or another why the joy of the season won't pour over them like it's done in years before. An anticipation for Christmas to come may be replaced with an anticipation to see it go. So, if your family is nestled in a place in time where all is cozy and right with your Christmas, well, don't forget to pray for those who are missing pieces to theirs. Give thanks and soak up every minute of Christmas present. One day, it will be the Christmas past that you'll look back on with misty-eyed nostalgia.         

I do hope you have a wonderful time with your family over the next couple of weeks. Whether you're grieving or transitioning or have it just the way you want it, the hope of Christmas remains, year after year. The hope that no matter what has happened since our Christmases past, our Christmas future is secure because He went from the manger to the cross for us.

So, I'm done with my shopping......except those things that I keep picking up because I just can't help myself. Davis says it's not a good thing that I start my shopping early because I just buy for longer. You know how you have those years when you think you've hit it out of the park with gifts and you can't wait to give them?  Well, I think I'm having one of those years but only time will tell if anyone will ask if I kept the receipts. Bought my Christmas groceries today.....selling a kidney tomorrow to cover those. Saturated fats seemed to be the overall theme of my shopping cart. Decided a while back that New Year's cards would be more realistic than Christmas ones, so I have a few more days to ignore that task. Tomorrow is the last day the gift shops will be open before Christmas, so we'll have about 4,500 men come in around 3:45 and start thinking about their gifts. We have 4 consecutive days of Christmas family gatherings coming up, followed by a birthday celebration on day 5 and so I'm on track to be back to my pre-wedding weight by day 6 if not sooner. And as a random, unrelated, and unsolicited piece of information, if I hear one more My Pillow commercial, I'm going to snap. Just sayin'.

I'll see you after the New Year! With everything going on, I've got my plate full with family business, thank you notes to write, and New Year's cards to address and so I'll start 2018 off with a resolution to blog more consistently. Maybe '18 will prove to be a little quieter than '17 was for me.  Whew, it was a doozy!

Thanks for spending time with me, this year! I may have limped along with my tongue hanging out, but we made it. 

I appreciate you more than you know! Really, I do!

Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year!!


Monday, December 11, 2017

A Bunch of Random Stuff

Well, about a week ago, I got our house decorated for Christmas. Who knew that there was some kind of Christmas tree shortage, this year, and so, by the time I got to the tree lot, well, it was a tragic situation. Something about a bad growing season, blah, blah, blah. From the parking lot, I thought they all looked quite small and one of the first things I ask of my Christmas tree is that I not look down at it. However, in the distance, my eye was drawn to some fuller, taller trees which sat off to the side and so, as I walked through them admiringly, the tree lot attendant informed me that they were all sold and that there were only two left in that height range. He told me to follow him and we walked for what seemed like forever, all the way to the back of the lot to the section where they take people who wait until the last minute. The island of misfit trees.   

There they were. The two remaining trees over 5' tall. Oh, what a sight, they were. Sitting next to the tent where they make fresh wreaths. My suspicion is that they'd be hanging on a door by a nail right now if I hadn't come when I did. Anyway, I'm sure it was my imagination but even the trees looked embarrassed.....kinda like you feel when someone knocks on your glass door and there you stand in your pajamas, bedhead, un-showered, and with no bra. You fully recognize that you look really bad and desperately don't want anyone looking you over. Yeah, the two trees looked ashamed like that. But, I'd already been to another store and the contestants there were even more homely, so I had a decision to make.   

There were obvious flaws, yes, like maybe they'd fallen off the truck and then were backed over but that's just mere speculation. One had a large, gaping hole on the side and looked awfully sparse at the perhaps where truck tires had been. The other one, well, it was one that only God could love. So, I decided to go with the gaping hole, sparse bottom choice and paid the man in arms and legs and was on my way. Trees are apparently priced strictly by height. Beauty is not something that is factored in.

I imagined us carrying it home and bringing out its hidden beauty. And I think we did......if you keep the lights dim enough and tilt your head to the left.
So, a couple of days after that, I volunteered to go with our sweet and dear elderly friend to have her driver's license renewed. After all, how long could that take? No matter what we're doing, we have the best time together, so I knew even sitting at the highway patrol office would be a treat with her. She's around the age that my grandmothers would be if they were still living and so I think about that a lot when we're together. How much I miss them and would love to go run routine errands with them.

Well, we get there and take a number and turn to see that there was quite a crowd gathered. We found a couple of chairs together and settled into our seats as we assumed they'd be our home for the next little while. In true southern fashion, she and I both spoke to the people on the other side of us and made their acquaintance. We used the ice breaker, "How long have you been waiting?" as our lead question. Two hours on my side and an hour and a half on hers.

Then, we hear the automated announcement, "Now serving J019 at window 2." We looked down at the number on our slip of paper and, with a little subtraction, knew we had a ways to go.....not only numerically but alphabetically. It's bad when you've got numbers and letters to work through. Periodically, the Siri sounding voice would announce another number and, every time, we'd look down at our paper like maybe it had changed. I felt like we were playing bingo and had a really bad card. 
Wishing I had a wide angle lens to show the vastness of the crowd.
Well, minutes turned to hours and Mrs. Jean kept insisting we leave and that she'd come back another day, but I was in it to win it. You know, sometimes, you cross a certain threshold where there's just no going back. We were too invested, at this point. So, we listened to the numbers and chit-chatted as we stared ahead at the poorly decorated Christmas tree. I thought, at one point, what a shame it would be if we had to spend Christmas there at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Office but with only 2 of the 6 windows open, I wasn't ruling out the possibility. They must use Wal-Mart's equation for figuring windows open/customer ratio. It was then that I was forced to think about how all I had was the half pack of gum and tin of Altoids in my purse that I could give Mrs. Jean on Christmas morning, I mean, if it came to that. I felt so ill-prepared for all the scenarios that were becoming possiblities. 

When the two open windows became one due to it being someone's lunch break, I began to plan our Christmas breakfast through the vending machine glass. Honey buns, powdered donuts, and orange Fanta looked like the most fitting combination that I could come up with and so I made a mental note just in case.

Approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes after we arrived, we heard the most glorious alphabetical/numerical combination ever to fall on the human ear. "Now serving A056 at window 2."  You've never seen a woman in her 90's move so fast in your life. And being in her 90's, she opted for the 4 year license and not the 8 and, after taking a pretty picture, we were on our way.

I thought about how much I'd enjoyed those over 3 hours with her. While everyone else looked down at their phones, we laughed and giggled and had the best time joking about our situation. Even the most mundane things can be fun if you're in the right company. Mrs. Jean is always the right company for a good time.

Today, I went to visit my longtime friend, Michelle, who's recently had surgery. I couldn't be there because of a decorating job, so I just wanted to see her and get a hug albeit a gentle hug. I took lunch and we had a good time together......well, as much fun as you can have with a person with stitches, but still. We enjoyed eating, lounging, and talking. Never let it be said that I will not eat and lounge with a friend in need. They're some of my most sharpened skills.

Anyway, Michelle lives in another that is blessed with a Krispy Kreme and so, as I was leaving town, I saw the red star in the East blinking HOT.
I stopped in to get a dozen for us and a dozen for another ailing friend and as I stood in the checkout line, I saw a nativity scene on the counter. I love seeing that when I go into a business. It's so refreshing! It made the donuts all the more appealing to me. I mean, even aside from the nativity, let's be real, people.....we've always known they were doing some mighty fine works down there at the Krispy Kreme and I plan to do whatever I can to continue to support their glaze ministry.            
And maybe most amazing of all, we got snow way down here in the deep South! Not just our normal once every 5 years, anemic, nappy snow with pine straw poking through everywhere. No, we had 7 inches at our house and it was the only snow before Christmas that I can ever recall. It was a pretty special treat for those of us who are just going through the motions when we sing about dashing through the snow and white Christmases like the ones we used to know. These are things we know nothing about.

Those of you who live in the North, just scroll on down past the snow pictures. These are for the enjoyment of our fellow Bible belters for whom this isn't an everyday occurrence. 

Hope you're enjoying your Christmas season! I just wanted to check in and say hello!
We'll talk soon!