My Christmas Wish…..

Oh such a lovely day.

Absolutely shimmering with love and light, much like the fire I’m sitting by right now.  In much the same way as the sunlight danced on the water at the fishing pond this afternoon.  And just like the candles that lit the lovely old room where we shared stories and celebrated the life of St. Lucia this evening.

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Our folks out fishing, waiting on Santa to arrive.

The littles welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus

The littles welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus

Light in the darkness honoring St. Lucia--sharing stories and cookies to remember

Light in the darkness honoring St. Lucia–sharing stories and cookies to remember

Our girl as Santa Lucia

Our girl as Santa Lucia

 

A day filled with good things–visiting Santa at the Go Fish Education Center and fishing off the bridge while we waited for his arrival.  Listening to a precious conversation that Santa and Mrs. Claus had with our Princess and Cooter.  Reading the kind words my oldest’s godfather had to say about her.  Hugs and a visit with Mess Cat–those don’t come often enough.  The sun shining, the breeze just right.  Baking cookies from Maemae’s recipe for Swedish Ginger Cookies to share with people tonight at the St. Lucia Day service.  Putting together a wreath last minute from things around the house for our Princess to dress up as Santa Lucia.  Laughter and sharing stories over good food with great friends.

All of it–really, really good.

My heart is full to bustin’.

And yet I feel like weeping.

I feel…..sad.

Stories are overwhelming me–stories of families in need who can’t give their children the magic they would like to on Christmas morning, let alone put food on the table.  Stories of children in homes that aren’t theirs, being asked for the very first time to dream and wish and the list is oh so heartbreakingly long.  Imagine no one ever asking what you want under the tree–ever.  And then one day someone finally does ask.  Children.  They’re only little for just a little bit–we only have one chance to get it right, to make this world a safe place for them.  And I say we, because it’s up to all of us to care for the little ones of the world, whether we have little ones sleeping under our own roofs or not.

So much hope lost, so much brokenness, so many children without someone gazing on them with love and joy.

I was at the grocery store this morning (yes on a Saturday–but it was a quick in, quick out–it was SATURDAY after all), and I saw a Mama and daughter shopping together throughout the store.  The daughter wasn’t much older than our Princess.  At one point I saw the Mama throw her head back and laugh and then hug her daughter with a side embrace. As she looked down at her girl, love shining in her eyes, the Mama told her precious girl, “Oh you are so funny!”

It was enough to bring tears to my eyes.  The love in that Mama’s gaze.  I’ve seen that.  Every time my Mama looked at me.  Right up to the last time, when she wrinkled her nose in her “I love you” language, unable to say those three words out loud.

My Mama firmly believed that every child should be wanted and loved.  She loved each of hers so very much, and I don’t see how any of us could have ever doubted it.  Oh she fussed and she gave us one more chewing out on more than one occasion, but I never doubted my Mama loved me.  Ever.

And the fact that there are children who do have doubts–who cannot be sure that they are loved–and the fact that there are parents who love their children so very much but cannot provide the basic necessities…..

My heart and mind aches.

It’s like having the flu, but it’s in my soul.

And there doesn’t seem to be a cure for it.

I like to peruse the titles of books.  Sometimes I go to Doubleday’s website and just look at book covers and titles and wonder how the writers chose the design, the fonts, but mostly the words in their titles.  What about those words encompassed the meaning they were trying to convey?

Tonight I saw a title of a book that gave me pause.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon.

I have no idea about the story, though I have read some of her books.

This is about what those words said to me.

Somewhere safe with somebody good

somewhere where there is enough food,

where love is plentiful, and there is enough so that just enough dreams

that float around through those little ones’ heads and hearts

can come true–

just enough so that hope is not lost forever.

Somewhere safe with somebody good,

someone who will fight tooth and nail and lion, tiger, or bear

to provide for and keep the little ones safe.

Somewhere safe with someone good

who will always gaze upon them with love,

so that even when the one who loved is gone,

the ones left behind will still feel the warmth

of that love.  Always.

Somewhere safe with somebody good–

that’s my Christmas wish.

For my little ones and for all little ones, young and old,

who share this earth with me–

somewhere safe with somebody good.

So that the doubts and fears and hunger pains

and sorrow over dreams that never came to be

will dissipate and never be a part of this life for the

precious little ones again.

That’s it.

It is all so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start.

And so I pick up the one starfish I see, and I throw it back in the ocean.

And I pray that on Christmas morning the little one will look around

and know that he is loved,

that she is treasured,

and the seed of hope will once again be planted

in their little hearts and souls.

I pray that there will

always be a caring someone there to tend that seed and

help it to continue blooming and growing.

May we all get a chance to plant a seed of hope for someone today.

Love to all.

 

 

Another Trip to the Grocery Store

So today was St. Nicholas’ Day.  And as we are learning about holiday traditions from around the world, we read about St. Nicholas and (a day late–didn’t have necessary items in hand last night–ahem) tonight we are putting our shoes out in case St. Nicholas might do a return trip and swing back through here to fill our shoes with candy.

As I mentioned, we didn’t have the necessary things to make this happen, so after our tree hunt today, I asked the Fella to stop and let me run in the grocery store while he sat in the car with the littles.  I dashed in, grabbed the goodies, and (a rare occurrence) was able to go through the express lane.  I could have done the self-checkout but I worry about whether the sale prices will go through and frankly, I enjoy talking with the folks who work there.

Today did not disappoint.

The lovely lady in front of me was purchasing a gorgeous arrangement from the floral department.  It was a plant with a poinsettia tucked in the bowl as well.  BEAUTIFUL.  Really.  So much so that I had to say something.

Which I did.

“That’s beautiful,” I told the lady.  (It just had to be said.)

She nodded and smiled.  The cashier, Quintavious, jumped in and laughed, saying, “I know, isn’t it lovely?  She got it for me.  I am just in shock.”

He was so engaging and delightful that I couldn’t help but laugh and jump in the game.

“Oh yes, the customers here are the best in the world, aren’t they? Buying lovely arrangements for the wonderful folks who work here….” I teased.

“Yeah, I don’t get off until 7 tonight though, so I’m not sure what I will do with it.”  The cashier looked perplexed as the customer smiled and finished making her payment.

“Well,” I said, “I guess you’ll have to let her take it home with her until you can get it home later, right?”

Quintavious looked at me like I had lost a little more of my mind than I actually have.  “Oh noooooo.  It will sit right here, and then when I go home, I will carry it in the house, and my Mama will reach out and say, ‘Oh you shouldn’t have,’ and I will say, ‘Oh I didn’t have…..’ and I won’t be letting go of it.”

I laughed again–it was his intonation and his voice inflection–‘Oh I didn’t have…..’ This young man missed his calling as a comedian.

After we both said goodbye to the lovely lady and the exquisite arrangement, we continued our conversation.

“That’d be ugly, wouldn’t it?  If I went home and told my Mama that?”

Before I could answer, he dropped his tone.  He gestured at the treats I was purchasing.

A little quieter than before, he said, “You know, not many people know about this, but I am a taste inspector.”

Because of his hushed tone, I mistakenly thought he said, “I am a taste and spitter.”  (Which could, in essence, mean the same thing if you really think about it.)  And yes, I probably do need my hearing checked.  But he was talking quietly.  Apparently he’s been certified and it’s a bit hush-hush.

“Yeah, not a lot of people have heard of it.  But it’s a service.  A service here in the store.  I can check these”–he pointed to the chocolate– “and make sure they’re okay.  You wouldn’t want to buy something bad, would you?”

No, Quintavious, no I wouldn’t.

He’s a giver all the way, that one.

If someone hadn’t been behind me in line, someone who wasn’t taking part in the banter, and if I wasn’t thinking that St. Nicholas will drop the whole bags in the shoes instead of individual candies (I’ve smelled the feet that go in these shoes–won’t nobody want to eat them if they go in without the protection of a bag), I would have opened a bag or two right then and had him taste test them.

Because his teasing reminded me of a few things.

First, life is more fun when we are interacting with people.  I could have stood in the line and played with my phone.  *sigh*  Yeah.  I’ve been known to do that.  (When the magazine covers weren’t particularly interesting…..)  But when we talk and say hello and open the door for conversation–oh, the joy that can bring!

Second, grocery stores have amazing floral departments.  At least this one does.  Note to self–if you ever have to take flowers anywhere…..

Third, Quintavious’ story reminded me of my Mama.  When we were little and she’d bake chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter bars (ah the pre-food allergy days) with chocolate chips dropped in–basically anytime she’d use chocolate chips, she would call us in. We didn’t always know why, but once we saw the chocolate enter the equation, we started making sure we answered on the first call.

Mama would hand us each one or two chocolate chips, saying, “Oh I need someone to taste these chocolate chips and see if they’re okay.  We wouldn’t want to use them if they were poisonous.”

Yeah.

She said that.

Morbid, I know.

But at the time, it was delightful.  She played it up big, telling us how necessary it was for us to check them.

And we never had nightmares or anything.  It made us laugh.  And we felt very important.

Turns out there’s a title for that–a taste inspector (though “taste and spitter” is growing on me).

This evening I was making more of Mama’s cookies and, at the request of the Fella who was taking them to a shindig, I used our Star Wars cookie cutters.  Cooter and Princess eventually helped with the cutting out.  They are getting to be quite good at it.  When the first ones came out of the oven, Cooter wandered over and looked at them appreciatively.  He was about to reach for one, and I stopped him.  “Don’t do that.  Those are for Daddy’s get together.”

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Look at those cookies, just waiting to be taste tested…..

 

Cooter eyeballed Yoda for a long moment and said, “But Mama, I need to inspect it.  I need to make sure they are good enough for Daddy to take.  You wouldn’t want him to take bad cookies, would you?”

See, I’m a pretty proud Mama right now, because apparently, I have a certified taste inspector in my own home. I now know that’s a thing.   Who knew?  Maybe he’ll be able to get a job someday after all.

That’s a relief.

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy of happy memories–even the odd ones like taste testing chocolate chips to make sure they weren’t poisonous.  I love the joy that is in this house when cookies are being made, even when they aren’t for us.  And I give thanks for folks who do their jobs, no matter what it may be, with laughter and a joy-filled personality and who make others feel good when they are around them.

Would it be weird to call the store and find out when Quintavious is on the schedule and plan my grocery shopping accordingly?  That was more fun than a little bit today.  #stalkingnotstalking

As you go forth in your day, may you find joy in what you do and share the light of laughter and fun with all who cross your path.

Love to all.

You’re Welcome, Future Self

Today has been all about doing things for my Future Self.

Way too often I put off things, thinking that “later” will be better.  Or, at the very least, okay.  Like waiting to fill my vehicle up with gas.  Or to put away the clothes.  Or hooking devices up to charge.  Moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.  Or  even starting supper.  Usually this is followed by my Granny’s voice in my head, saying, “Lazy folks always did have the most to do.”  Yes ma’am.  We sure do.

So today I set out not to procrastinate, to “get ‘er done” as Mater the Tow Truck might say.

Mater the Tow Truck is all about getting it done.

Mater the Tow Truck is all about getting it done.

We’ve got company coming in later this week, so there are lots of things to be done in preparation.  For one thing, it’s time to clear the couch of the clean, folded clothes.  Completely clear.  That’s a sure sign someone’s coming over at our house.  *sigh*  Bed linens washed and freshened up, done!  (What, Procrastinator Tara, but you still have at least two days?  You’re welcome, Future Self.)  Kitchen straightened up and things put away, check.

And then the monumental task that had been running through my “needs to be done” list in my mind all day long–grocery store.

It’s not that I don’t like going.  It’s just I fail at finding the right time to go.  It always seems like it’s packed at our grocery store.  Or at least busy enough that I see the same person on each and every aisle and have that awkward moment on each one–do I speak?  AGAIN?  Do I avoid eye contact and keep on trucking?  Or do I skip an aisle in the hopes of throwing the whole thing off kilter?  And I fail at finding the right cart.  Too big, too small, or usually–the squeaky wheel.   If you hear a squeaky cart next time you’re grocery shopping, just come on over and say hello.  It’s me.  Then I almost always fail at lane selection.  I think I have a winner, and then the person in front of me decides to have the bagger rebag something or wants to pay with three different methods or has a zillion coupons.  Nothing wrong with any of that.  Unless you have coconut real fruit popsicles that you are trying to get home before they become mush.  Then, you might desire a quicker checking out process.  (Though they are not too shabby as mush.  Just sayin’.)

So yeah, I dread the whole process.  But as I thought through the next couple of days there just didn’t seem to be a better time.  So the littles and I headed out this evening after supper.  What an odd time to go to the grocery store, right?  You’d think so, but there were many, many folks who had the same idea.  And we were all there.  Together.  Loads of togetherness going on tonight.

But the thing is, it’s done.  Things in the Frigidaire, freezer, and pantry, all waiting to be prepared over the next few days.  It wasn’t fun, but I am so glad it is done.  And I know that at some point in the next couple of days, Future Self is going to look back at me and say, “Hey thanks, that was really awesome that you pushed yourself to get it done when you did.  I appreciate you for that. You are the bomb dot com.”  (At least she’d better! Did I mention there were about four folks I seemed to be stalking through the store?  Awkwardness abounding!)

This morning when I woke up, I thought I might get a nap in today. Chances were good I’d need one, what with getting over the cold and–well, do I really need good justification for taking a nap?  If the opportunity presents itself, I’m at least gonna try.  But as the day wore on, I decided getting things off my to do list was going to be more beneficial to my spirits and attitude than a nap would.  And that’s saying something.

But you know what?  Ask me in a couple of days, but I think Future Self would agree.  Doing these things today will make me a nicer person later on.

Last night I told my littles who were not wanting to settle down, “Go to sleep. This is why y’all can’t get up in the mornings.” To which our Princess responded, “No, it’s not.  We’re just lazy.”  Ahem. Oh-kay, so maybe I was just talking to myself.

And on that note, I think I’ll call it a night.  Future Tara will likely thank me in the morning.