Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

I Hate Holidays

I just realized that for the most part, I can’t stand holidays. I have grand visions of how I want them celebrated and 95% of the time, it doesn’t work out how I envisioned.

For instance. 4th of July. On the 4th, and not the 3rd and in no particular order, we’d see a parade, have a party at our house with awesome food and drink and the kids would play. Or maybe we’d go hang out at a local festival and listen to music, visit craft tables, eat corn dogs and have coke in a cup with ice, a lid and a straw–no cans. Then fireworks. We’d go to a park with 40,000 other people, put down our blankets and watch the professionals light off awesome fireworks–including ground displays of the American flag. The town employees would take up a collection through the crowd to help pay for the fireworks show. We’d battle traffic on the way home or gloat as we pull out of our friend’s driveway–the friend that lives 2 blocks from the park–and easily make it home. Then the kids would wash up, put on pjs and go to bed. They would fall asleep without screaming, crying and having to “duck and cover” under the sheets thanks to the neighborhood pyrotechnic amateurs. We’d all be happy. ER docs would be bored. No arrests would need to be made.

Don’t get me started about New Year’s Eve, Memorial and Labor Days, or Christmas. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go call the  police on the “over served” lighting off something a few houses down.

















The ultimate volunteer

One of my favorite passages on Good Friday:

Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”

 22His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”  25Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

 26Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.   “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. John 13:21-28

Note that Satan did not make a move without Jesus’ permission.

Too Early For A Recap?

Valentine’s Day 2009

Since Doug and my wedding anniversary is Feb 17, we usually don’t do much for Valentine’s Day itself. Our first married V-Day, we couldn’t afford celebrating both Valentine’s Day and our anniversary. We opted for the anniversary. Now Feb 15, everything romantic goes on clearance. So on Feb 17, Doug came home with a bouquet of flowers, a round cake(to symbolize the cake top we ate the week after our wedding), and a bottle of “champagne” declaring, “and I got it all for less than 10 bucks!” Sweeter words were never spoken to this cheap frugal wife.

As in everything else, the presence of children changes the status quo of Valentine’s Day. Doug gives cards to each of us. One year I cut out heart chains and taped them to the kitchen wall. Every heart declared something cool about each kid. This year I made banners saying, “I Love You, (kid name here)”, signed it Love, Mom, Dad, and paw prints from Champ. I taped them across their bedroom doorways while they slept. They knew Dad would be at the radio station this morning but vowed to pop out and surprise him before he left. Don’t think that happened. He leaves pretty early. However, they did wake me up early so they could finish a couple secret projects. Maddie made an even larger banner this morning saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day Mom and Dad” and signed it Maddie, JD, Annaliese, paw prints from Champ, and taped it across MY doorway. I had to crawl under it to get out of my room. I can’t imagine how early she woke up to do that! I picked up heart-shaped cookie cutters ($1.40 total) to make pancakes for breakfast. Two out of three kids thought that was fun. One would much rather have french toast because she “doesn’t like pancakes” and was highly disappointed. I decided to appease her picky heart. Partially to stop the complaining but more so because one day, she will understand the value of the little things parents do for their kids that get little recognition. And she will (hopefully) learn that sometimes you do things for your kids out of love whether or not they deserve it. Hopefully she will look back and better understand grace.

Dream realized?

On this the official observance of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I am hearing media comments regarding the correlation of the holiday with Barack Obama’s inauguration calling it “the realization of Dr. King’s vision”.  Is it? Was the election of a black president really Dr. King’s dream?

According to a CNN poll, many feel that way.

“The poll found 69 percent of blacks said King’s vision has been fulfilled in the more than 45 years since his 1963 “I have a dream” speech” 

I guess my thought is that people who are satisfied with the election of an African American to the presidency are setting their sights too low. Now this election does reflect a man elected more on his merit than his race–that people of all races supported this candidate and came together with a common goal. That seems to be part of the dream realized but there is much more to do.

Our churches are still segregated. Our children still hear their grandparents and parents use derogatory and disrespectful language toward a variety of races and economic classes. Jokes are still told. Many who don’t like the jokes may comment, “oh you’re so bad” with a wink and a giggle. And so on.

There is progress. My daughter takes for granted that her 2nd grade class is diverse. She can’t comprehend that blacks and whites used to use separate bathrooms and drinking fountains or that a 15 yr old girl was arrested for not giving her seat to a white man. I wish she could be blissfully ignorant of the past so it wouldn’t enter her mind there are options to treat people poorly. Yet I know it is important to know your history to avoid repeating it.

I believe race relations at its core is a heart issue not a political one. Sadly our hearts have not risen to the task of love and for the protection of others we have had to legislate our actions. So perhaps this next generation can organize movements of compassion and mercy and selflessness. Maybe we can use our resources of education and religion (no, I’m not going to disclaim the word, get over it) to serve each other out of love and perhaps that contagion will spread faster than “you have to or else there is legal ramification”.

Followers of Jesus, go first. Perhaps the prayer of Jesus to his Father in John 17“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”  can be a catalyst to vigorously pursue the dream of the man we honor today: 

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every
village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we
will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and
Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of
the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God
Almighty, we are free at last.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.  August 28, 1963

quote source

Why Must There Be A Santa Claus, Virginia?


Why are we so intent on making children believe in Santa Claus? What would Christmas lose if parents told the truth? Why do we want so badly for children to have a surreal magical trance-like experience of Christmas through the wonder of Santa Claus? Do you remember or have you heard of the editorial, “Yes, Virginia. There Is A Santa Claus? An 8-year old girl asked her father if there really was a Santa Claus. He told her to write to the newspaper because if they printed it, it was true. From Wikipedia:

“Is There a Santa Claus?” was the headline that appeared over an editorial in the September 20, 1897 edition of the New York Sun. The editorial, which included the response of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, has become an indelible part of popular Christmas lore in the United States.

Go here to read Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the New York Sun and the response by Francis Pharcellus Church, one of the paper’s editors.

Kids ask parents if there really is a Santa Claus and parents stammer and stutter for what reason? To not have to admit 5-years of lies? Whose loss is bigger for knowing the truth, the parent or child? Even for adults, the Santa story has come to symbolize good will and the Christmas spirit. I have nothing against Santa, but what does it say about our society that we crave magic and wonder and the supernatural? What are we looking for? Did we miss it?

If you do not believe in celebrating or even commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, why bother with Christmas? We can give gifts any time of year, really. What’s the story of Christmas if there is nothing to commemorate? We made up(or embellished) a story and an icon which gives us an excuse to be kind, generous, loving. Why do we need a reason? What’s the point in being kind, generous and loving? Where does that drive for us to do good things come from?

Could there be someone greater than ourselves who created us with a built-in desire for friendship, brotherhood, and community and dare I say, a homing device that draws our hearts to him? What would our world look like if we actually pursued good will and the Christmas spirit for no other reason than out of gratitude to our creator who gives us everything? Ah, but then we would need to believe in this person? Seems we need to believe in something one way or the other.

I know, I know, lots of questions. Tell me, what do you think?

Just when you thought…

Our kids are taught a new virtue each month in their Orchard Kids Wahabu class. This month the virtue is generosity. In combination with the grown up church, the kids are also learning about the clean water crises around the world. They talked in small group about what they could do to help whether it was give something from their piggy bank or maybe give up a Christmas gift and ask mom & dad to donate that money toward the clean water project.

So Doug gets a note from Maddie saying she would like to give up the Panda she was asking for and would we donate that money to the water project?

Of course we couldn’t have afforded the $60 Panda anyway but we will happily donate a portion of her Christmas gift budget.

Moms, gifts, and Christmas guilt

I received a Christmas-themed email survey the other day. You know the ones where you copy and paste it onto a new email, type over the sender’s answers and forward along. I love those. Seriously I do. One question is nagging at me tonight. It was “Worst thing about this time of year”. My answer was “feeling guilty about the things I didn’t get done”.

Tonight, Maddie is having more insomnia. She and I talked in her room for about 30 minutes and along with discovering the source of her insomnia she informs me that she’d like to have a Barbie cruise ship. I believe “Party Ship” is the correct name. She says it has a pool on it, beds, and a buffet. A buffet? Really? Shoot. I’D get a Barbie party ship in that case. $70. Seriously $70. Plus also, she’d like the Alive Panda which is technically called the WowWee Alive Cubs Panda. Um, yeah $60. Aside from being monstrously out of our budget, I know darn well if we were to get one for Maddie, Annaliese and JD would want one too. Well, JD wouldn’t want the cruise ship. Just a missile system to sink it. That’s another story. 

Let’s bring it back to our actual budget. If I get Maddie a Shimmer Princess Belle doll and Annaliese gets an Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) doll, they will each want the other’s doll even though I know Maddie has been obsessed with Belle for a year and Annaliese with Sleeping Beauty. I know full well that if I get JD and Annaliese a couple of Thomas and Friends engines, Maddie will want one — even if she doesn’t like to play with them as much as the younger ones. We can’t get 3 of everything and I get that they need to learn to like what they get(which, really they are always thankful).

What I’m confessing is that in these situations, I don’t want to be the mom. I want to be the fun aunt that gives and leaves. I don’t want to teach anyone about sharing or respecting another’s stuff. I’m tired of the whining. I’m tired of not being able to get everything they want even though I know it still wouldn’t satisfy them. Crap. Now I’M whining. And I know the kids will get over it and move on with their lives but I’m just that neurotic to mull this over in my mind for years about how I failed to give them the coolest toy ever. I can’t take that much guilt and pressure.

OK now that I’ve spewed that out, I will be praying for Santa to actually exist and surprise us all with cool expensive toys that will sit on my driveway some summer with a $2 price tag on it.