16 December 2011

Dorothy Saves Christmas

I readily admit that the Christmas season kicks my butt.

I get overwhelmed by the pressure of it all, saddened by the consumerism, frustrated by the greed, and worried about spending the money.

Tis' the Season to completely freak out.

But this year, I felt myself compelled to seek out an old friend, a book, actually, by a personal hero of mine, Dorothy Day. The book is The Long Loneliness, and I picked it up this morning and started re-reading it.

"We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community." --Dorothy Day

If I stay with these pages, I think I'll make it to the Epiphany in fine form. Thank you Dorothy.

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09 December 2011

7 Quick Takes: The Christmas List Edition

Seven quick Christmas wishes for my family.


For Little T:  My wish for you this Christmas is that you learn to think first and scream second.   Because that thing you do in the car, when you object to something I'm saying, or something someone else is saying, that blood-curdling shriek?  I think it endangers us on the road and I would like it to stop.  Lest you think this is a selfish wish, I have the best interest of your vocal cords in mind here, sweetheart.  You could probably do permanent damage to them if you keep up that obnoxious behavior.

And I also wish for you that you charge into 2012 with as much joy and verve as you are closing 2011 with.  And maybe a movable stuffed animal puppy.


For Lady E: My wish for you this Christmas is that the adults around you find ways to respond to your bright, inquisitive, lightening-quick mind.  May that brain be lit on fire and may that fire grow and grow throughout your life.  May you remember us little people when you are famous for some fantastic contribution to the life and culture of humanity.

And I also hope that your siblings put several "TEASING FREE DAY" coupons in your stocking.  They are ruthless, aren't they?


For La-La-Loopsie: I wish you so very much, my first born daughter: May you be showered with art supplies and soccer gear, and may you be deprived of mosquito bites, paper cuts, twisted ankles, broken bones, and bonked heads.  We've had enough of those, yes?

And my other wish for you is also a wish for me: that you and I enter your tween years with the best possible mother-daughter relationship.  May we talk and talk.  May your inevitable disgust with me be delayed as long as possible.  May the peace and promise of Christmas become the peace and promise of us, together.


For my 2nd born, Yeller-At-The-Wind: May you live in the land of art supplies and legos all the days of your life.  And may there be Fire-Bellied Toads there, too.   And a life-time subscription to National Geographic Kids.  Sorry, I do not wish for an endless supply of nun-chucks and wii remotes.

But I do hope that for Christmas you receive the gifts of peace and confidence.  Fortitude.  Kindness.  Thinking first, yelling second.  (We could use a family-pack of that one around here.)  May your amazing sense of humor continue to bring all of us laughter and joy.  And perhaps I should also wish for a slight tempering of that sarcastic wit: trust me when I say it will get you into trouble in your life.  This Christmas, let's hope Santa sticks a small box of mellowing agent in your stocking.  And for you, dear son, may all your wishes come true.


And first born, O Great Experiment:  My Christmas list for you, much like your own, is endless.  Like I do for your brother, I first and foremost wish you peace and confidence.  Confidence and peace.  Peace and confidence.  An infinite mantra of confidence and peace.

And so much more.  I wish you parents that learn how to give you that confidence, parents who figure out how to set boundaries with more love than frustration, how to be detached so that you can grow up without us getting in your way but with as much help as we can provide.

I wish for you to be brave and strong.  I wish for you to break your goal scoring record in a single season.  I wish for you to play guitar until your fingers bleed.  I wish for you to rest in the knowledge that you are loved beyond your comprehension and that your presence in the world fills me with gratitude.  You are a light in this strange and complicated world.  May you learn to walk by your own light, and not the lights of the strange and complicated world.


For my dear spouse: As one half of the sacramental We, I wish the same things for both of us: Sleep.  Exercise.  Good wine.  Great beer.  A quiet morning or two.  

And what we need more than anything: Grace.  To see our life with right eyes, to respond to broken dishes, spilled cider, car troubles, children's fights, miscommunications, muddy bathrooms, limited options, 1940's kitchens, and lost soccer balls with grace.  To wake up with the confidence we need to give to our children.  To treat them with the patience we want them to show each other.  To enjoy them.  Every day.


And for myself.  See items 1-6 above.  I seem to have a lot to wish for this Christmas.  And none of it can be found at Target.

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Please visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!  Merry Christmas everyone!

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08 December 2011

The Price I'm Willing To Pay

The other day a friend of ours brought 5 coca-cola cans over for my children.  He was dropping off a bunch of other stuff, and thoughtfully decided to include the sodas so that I could enjoy the resulting caffeine-induced frenzy: THANKS!

This was in the morning.  So of course, I didn't let anyone have a soda that early in the day.  And even though coca-cola cans look exactly alike, and even though it does not matter which one you get, my 5th born child decided that one particular can was definitely hers.   She wanted a label on hers while the cans chilled in the fridge.  She brought me a very small slip of paper and instructed me to write the following on it:
"No one drink this soda, because it's Tallulah's and if you drink it, then after I take it back and drink it I will hit you in the head with it."
She knows how to protect her own.

And no, she doesn't get that violent streak from me.  I am a peace-loving person.  And I don't even like soda.

I don't know where she gets it.  I don't know why she calls people stuck in traffic "suck-ahs" as we comfortably pass them from the carpool lane.  I don't know why she asks her sisters questions like: "Do you want the passcode to my butt?"  I don't know why she screams like a chimpanzee whenever anyone is saying something she doesn't want to hear.

But I do know, without a doubt, that this is one joyful, free, confident, irrepressible kid.

And I know I'm willing to put up with a lot in exchange for a joyful, free, confident, irrepressible kid.

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02 December 2011

You Never Know

My husband used to be a teacher.

Actually, I should rephrase that: My husband is a teacher, and he used to get paid to teach full time.

Six years ago (or was it 7?), he left the classroom for the garden, and began designing native plant gardens for a living.  He's good at it.  He created a virtual paradise for us here, and when other people started asking him for help in their own gardens, he -- we -- took the leap and he changed careers.  He can visualize and then create really beautiful outdoor spaces.

But he's a teacher at heart.

Flash forward six years.  (Or maybe 7?)  The other night, he stopped into a local liquor store to get me, his grateful and lucky wife, some Stone IPA.  There, behind the counter, was a former student.

"Mr. A!  Whoa--that is so wierd!  I was just talking about you an hour ago!"

This was a kid Mr. A remembers well, and was delighted to see.  But an hour ago?  So Mr. A asked him why on earth he was thinking about his high school English teacher one hour ago.  And the kid (young adult) said:

"Because I was writing a poem."

Could there be more golden words to an English teacher?

Turns out, this kid (young adult) works part time at the liquor store, part time at a local hardware store, both of which help him write and play music.  And with the good fortune or Rick walking into his liquor store (the good fortune of Rick having a thirsty wife), he had a chance to do something not many of us ever have a chance to do: tell a teacher that he or she made a difference.  He had a chance to tell his teacher that he has never forgotten the lessons he learned in Rick's class, that Rick was the kind of teacher that a student takes with him everywhere he goes in his life.

He was writing a poem.  And that reminded him of his high school English teacher.

You never know what impact you have on the people around you.  Unless they tell you.

Go tell someone what they mean to you.  It will make their day.  I know, because over the top of my Stone IPA bottle, I could see the light in my husband's eyes as he told me all about this chance, and most fortuitous, meeting.

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