Friday, December 23, 2016

A Boomer Christmas Memory

Kids the world over are getting ancy.

BUT they are shining up their halos and trying to be "good" for only a couple more days.

In my family, the kids( of whatever generation) couldn't hack it.  Time stopped. Presents under the tree, from relatives "back East," which, growing up in California, was the whole world, cuz West was pretty much water for a loooong ways away.

After the youngest sib found out the jolly old man wasn't really related and thus had no power over us, we began to celebrate the holiday the Swedish way, which is, to open presents on Christmas Eve, because Christmas Day was the birthday of baby Jesus.


No more running screaming down the stairs at 0600 (or earlier) -  and altho the excruciating wait for the morning light was over, my dad, with a twinkle in his eye, found plenty of ways to keep "excruciating" in view.

After a dinner he ate soooooo sloooooowly, all the dishes had to be washed, dried and put away. No such thing as an automatic dishwasher in antediluvian days, my brother and I washed by hand, dried by hand, put away by hand - and, for one day of the year, no dawdling occurred.

None at all.

Then we had to "go get Grandma."

Now, my Grandmother was made of spun sugar - and steel. I loved her Swedish accent and ancient gingerbread cookie recipe, only concocted at Christmas, and decorated with little silver balls that broke your jaws with their rock hard exterior.

No one can make her gingerbread cookies.

All of us got the recipe directly from her.

And all of us agree: she didn't write down the entire recipe.

And no one has figured out what secret ingredient she forgot to include.

But I digress (a touch of excruciating here - just so you get a bit of the feeling)

She, of course, was in cahoots with my dad on the excruciating part.  My normally spry, up for anything, moving right along grandmother was always having a bad day on Christmas Eve.

Altho her eyes were also twinkling, she limped her way in from the cottage behind the main house, accompanied by the traditional Swedish moan of "Uff da!" with every step.

Every excruciatingly slow step.

Offers of "Let me help you, Grandma" were met with brave refusals of help, and in that Swedish accent I so loved, she would say "no, no, I come. I come."

After Grandma was seated, my dad would say, "Where's Mom?" and the search would begin anew. My mother was somewhere upstairs, wrapping a last minute gift, or looking for one she had misplaced, or whatever ex-cru-ciat-ing idea she came up with.

FINALLY all would be assembled and one of my brothers would begin to read the tags on a present and pass them out.

Trying to add a little speed to the process.

Only to have one or the other of my parents say, "Not so fast! Not so fast! One at a time."

Which, of course, would be met with the traditional chorus of our long, drawn out, excruciated Christmas groans.

And so it would go, until we had turned the pile of presents into ripped off sheets of obviously not recyclable wrapping paper, drawing from my mother the perfected, sad Christmas sigh.

Because we were not a wealthy family. My father worked many Saturdays doing painting jobs for a bit of extra cash.

My mother would always wrap a new pair of sox for each of us 4 kids to make the number of presents seem more prolific. She never agreed with my ungrateful, indignant and disgusted comment of "Moooom! Sox are NOT a real present!"

She would calmly smile - and say, "Yes, they are." And that would end the discussion.

The next generation of kids had, of course, one parent that wasn't used to the Swedish Christmas Eve early-opening-of-presents dispensation, so the kids would come over on Christmas Eve and open their presents from the grandparents and assorted uncles and aunt, and then get a second gig on Christmas morning to open stuff from Santa and/or, depending on their ages, their parents.

The generation after that had yet another parent unschooled in Swedish ways, and this one adamantly against this Swedish hocus pocus…. but got bartered into the position of the kids being able, on Christmas Eve, to open ONE single Christmas present of their choice, but they had to choose a gift from one of the non-parent people.

Which never seemed to be a problem.


And now another generation has begun to appear.

Another non-Swede has been added to the mix.

And it remains to be seen how this one will react.

The excruciating experiences of Swedish traditions 60+ years ago are now, seemingly, stowed away with the ghost of Christmas Past. I don't know if the barter will work with this one.

But I'm pretty sure of one thing:

I'll bet the kids growing up would agree with me 100% that sox are NOT a real present.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like ...

…you fell off the edge of the earth?

No landmarks…
No footprints left in the dust…
No trails…
No sign anywhere that anyone has gone thru this desolate place…
Not even - thankfully - a dinosaur track…
No bloody trail - not as a Brit would use the b word, not as a medical person would use the word, nor as an unsuspecting explorer on the edge of a cliff carefully perusing his environment, but never
looking over the cliff, where he would no doubt find a swiftly climbing animal/aborigene/escaped murderer  (and again, noting the absence of such a one with thanks!)

And noting, I confess, it sounds like a 1942 war movie filmed on some deserted island (like Maui) with Bing and Bob…….and if you don't know who this is referring to, I say:WHAT? you never took a basic B&B romp BW movie class or …ahem…WATCHED SOME CLASSIC SHOW IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHEN YOU COULDN'T SLEEP?? (or live in a cave waaaaaay more primitive than Maui?????)

OK, deep breath, tirade completed…

…for the moment…

If you are still with me after all that, I apologize, but when you have cabin fever, tirades, for some reason, seem appropriate - after all, people feel like you did fall off the edge of the earth where the sign is. (you know the place - that cozy little map corner that has a sign when that point is reached - any map worth it's salt has this sign - in flavorful script that flashes red when viewed from the correct angle…)

The sign reads :



Now, personally, I have (thankfully, again) never encountered said dragons, altho I will confess, the people who live with/around me probably have (blush blush). And I agree that cabin fever is no excuse. I am trying to own my crappy attitude and not kick it away, as if to say, "How did THAT get in here?" and "No, it doesn't belong to ME, thank you for asking…"

But alas! The  Holy Spirit of the Sovereign Living God has a flashlight in His pocket that is a little bright for fudging… and my fingerprints glow in the dark in neon colors even without it. So when He turns it on… let's just say, I have nowhere to run.

And I am tired.  Bone weary, cranky, I-don't-want-to-thumb-in-the-mouth tired.

And the afore-mentioned HSOTLG crosses His arms and taps His foot a little…can the Holy Spirit tap His foot? OF course! He's God - He can do anything! So crabby me sits - pouting and shamefaced - before the tapping foot and finally get the guts to look up into His eyes, with tears oozing out of mine tho I am trying not to let them drip, and when my eyes finally blink the blurry stuff out of the way, I''m stunned.

Because the disappointed look in His eyes that I was soooo expecting, and steeling myself to accept - is nowhere to be found! Honest!!

All I can see there is Love.  Capital L love.

And I feel myself being lifted to my feet, and in the tenderest of whispers,  Love says," Let's try again now, shall We?"


*In case the meaning of this Hebrew word has slipped your mind, "Selah" can mean anything from "How about that!" to "Sit quietly for a moment, and ponder that thought…"(I generally favor the latter.)

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'm back again - for now

It's taken awhile to get back here - obviously. My illness waxes and wanes, and right now it's very active. So I've not been posting a lot or doing just about anything.

No sketching - no painting - no blogging.  Even tho the materials needed are right at hand.

I can't seem to gather enough energy for a simple sketch.

It's an odd situation. I haven't been this sick since it first started in 1988. I am surrounded with the tools of creativity, from pencils to watercolors to yarn. I usually have several projects started and ongoing.  I've been borrowing gorgeous travel photos to sketch, of Italy and Hawaii and Japan - I usually keep them a week and sketch them out - this one, of Venice, I've had for a month.  My perspective is wonky and the times I've tried to sketch turn out lousy.

It bugs me.

And now I think God is trying to get my attention.

He's led me to the book The Daniel Prayer, and there's a list of sins to consider prayerfully, quoted from "an old timer revivalist" that are forming a substantial burr under my spiritual saddle. Anne Graham Lotz shares how this old timer person listed these probing questions - essentially to draw a circle around yourself and make sure everything in that circle is pure. She shares how the first time thru she was a little smug.  "I don't do any of those things," she thought. The second time thru she was uncomfortable. The third time thru she was on her knees, crying.

I've been thru once.

And that burr is digging into my heart and spirit.  I can taste that smugness she spoke of.  And I'm wondering where that list is going to take me.

I have  a feeling I don't really want to try a second time.

Job says that "man is born to trouble as sparks fly upward."

And I agree.

I've set off a few fireworks in my lifetime. And they weren't the pretty kind.

I know somehow I've become so comfy in my "Christian walk" that I've probably rationalized some things - and refused to see others.

So, if you are a praying person, please pray for courage for me - the courage to comb my soul with God's viewpoint, to agree with whatever He shows me and to repent with my whole heart.

Because when I get right down to it, I want to know that inside that circle, all is well. That there's no grey areas, no spots where I have compared myself to another sinner and shined up my halo. I want nothing hiding in my heart, no barrier between my Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty and the deepest spot in my soul.