So I missed a day (or two) again. We’ve had head colds, vomiting, jewelry shows, phone interviews, articles to write and oh so much more in the past few days. Even though some of those are good and some are not, I am grateful for the last three weeks. God has offered us enough good stuff to keep going. And, as my Daddy would say, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always a train. That’s some Arkie optimism for you there!
We’ve been struggling with all the changes here at home. Each of us grown-ups is looking for a new place to fit. Neither of us has done anything new in at least ten years so it’s a big, but very welcome change. Sometimes we’re excited by it, sometimes we’re downright afraid of it and it’s always in the back of our heads. The added pressure of the holidays seems to make it a bit more pointed. But for each of the last three weeks things seem to get progressively lighter and we’re not so encompassed by the darkness. It’s like our own personal tide is starting to turn. And I keep wishing for it to turn faster!
We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, “Why did this happen to me?” unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way. ~ Author Unknown
Several people have posted this quote on Facebook this week and that kind of explains what I’m thinking. You get a little of everything. We’re going to get a break but it isn’t ever going to be rosy all the time. It’s life, it’s not supposed to be. So we bear up under the weight when we need to and take some big deep breaths when the stone isn’t so heavy. So thanks to God for knowing when I need a little break from the weight and lifting it enough for me to catch my breath, lower my head and plow on, even if on means uphill.
16,000 children die every day of hunger related causes. I’ll wait while you read that again. 16,000 a day. 1 in 8 AMERICANS faces food insecurity. Of the 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007), 32.4 million are adults (14.4 percent of all adults) and 16.7 million are children (22.5 percent of all children). And yet I am, like many Americans, overweight.
I have never known true hunger. I say things all the time like “I’m starving” or “My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut” but I’m not suffering from hunger daily. Heaven knows everyone at my house from biggest adult to tiniest kitten is well fed. So today I’m thankful for the blessing (and curse) of food.
Growing up on a farm we had our own milk, beef and vegetables. But there were times when I was growing up that we were on food stamps. And we still never went hungry. My mother was resourceful and thrifty. She could squeeze a meal out of the most skimpy of leftovers. She could make a casserole out of just about anything if she added Velveeta as a binder.
I am not that good of a food manager. We throw away an appalling amount of food in this house. It saddens me to clean out the fridge and see what we didn’t finish. But it’s hard to cook for three people. And I don’t like leftovers, maybe a nod to my resentment of them from childhood. I have been doing better and I do make chicken stock out of my chicken carcasses and try to reinvent my leftovers into something new we can eat. And none of us look like we’re hurting for a meal.
But there are people who are. There are kids whose families will be in a pinch come the holidays because the school isn’t providing lunch for the kids. People who won’t have a turkey or a ham to fill their holiday table. This is the case all year, not just at the holidays.
We sent a bag of food to school with Madeline for her food drive. At Ukrops there used to be a big bin at the exit and I would try to buy an extra can of whatever was on sale and throw it in there every time I went. Now that we have no Ukrops I make sure I get the free items from Wegman’s even if it’s stuff we won’t eat so I can donate it. It’s not enough. I know it’s not enough.
What is enough, what can be done? I don’t have great answers. I think teaching some kind of cooking/food budgeting in school wouldn’t hurt. Not that school isn’t taxed enough with things to cover. But Home Ec needs to not be making cookies and sewing pillows. It needs to be doing your laundry, taking care of your home and how to make a food budget based on a menu of healthy choices. We need more access to AFFORDABLE local food. Our farmer’s market takes food stamps now which is a start. But do most of the people on food stamps know how to make healthy food choices for their families? I don’t know.
So I’m going to do the one thing I can do. Put down my fork. Take less. Eat less meat. Eat less period. I know that won’t put food on someone’s table but if we all took just what we needed and no more perhaps the strain on the food system would be less. And maybe less pressure in one place would result in more abundance somewhere down the line. Of course I’ll be starting this right after I gorge myself on turkey and dressing because around here you only get that once a year.
I was puny today and spent most of the day lying on the couch trying to find a way to breathe without using my nose. Since I don’t normally watch a lot of daytime TV or TV anytime really, it gave me a chance to see all the commercials that I’ve been missing. Commercials aren’t normally my thing, I love DVR because I can fast forward through them. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that more and more Christmas commercials have started to appear and these are the ones I really enjoy. So today I’m grateful for a little crass commercialism.
I should tell you that I believe that Christmas should be confined to December and your tree needs to be down before you go back to work. When I was a little girl we didn’t put our tree and decorations up until well into December. Even now I would like to wait until no more than ten days before Christmas to get all the junk out. I just can’t appreciate something that drags on forever. Never mind the logistics of keeping a dog and five cats out of the tree and keeping it alive with constant watering. And by the time Dick Clark rings in the New Year my fingers are starting to itch with the exciting and dreaded prospect of de-decorating. I’m ready to go to Target and buy storage totes. I want my house back. I’d prefer Christmas not drag on forever. But since it starts earlier each year I guess I need to find a way to get on board. So I’m sticking my toe in the water with some touching commercials.
I saw the Pampers commercial with the sleeping babies and Silent Night playing a few days ago. It always gets me. The babies are so sweet and the music so soft. I remember when my little person was still little. Those fat cheeks, the cute little sleepers, the tiny little breaths. Not a care in the world. Truly at peace.
I also love the Folgers coffee commercials. Some prodigal child is always returning from the war, the Peace Corps, a college so far away that he can only get home for Christmas. Brewing a pot of coffee and catching up. It reminds me of the good feeling you have when your family shows up for the holidays. You know, the part when you still are glad they’re there and not wishing they’d take their kids, pets, weird bathroom habits and irritating mannerisms right back from whence they came. Those few moments of fuzzy holiday bliss.
The commercials that are so, well, commercial I can’t take. But give me Santa on a sleigh with some puppies and elves and babies or a zippy Norelco whooshing through the snow and I’ve got my holiday spirit on. Just please, no more gag-me “every kiss begins with Kay.” Anyone worth his salt knows you can’t pass off an engagement ring as a Christmas gift.
I’ve been a slacker and not written for a few days. Not because I have nothing for which to be grateful. Just because the weekend overwhelmed me. So I’m going through the handful of posts I had in my brain and amalgamating them into one big post.
We had a pretty good week last week which is what I was grateful for on Friday. So much so that we went to Carlos O’Kellys (or Sarlos as we affectionately call it) for dinner. But we went without MaddiO so, so shhhh, don’t tell her. I’ll never forget it if she finds out! We had an article published and each made some headway in some other areas. We needed a week with a little less, well, just less in it. And we got it so that was great.
Madeline was with her Grandma Faye for the weekend so on Saturday we took Winnie and headed to White Oak Canyon for some hiking. You would think that having grown up in that county I would have been there before. But I had not and it was nice to see it with Brenton. It was a beautiful day, warm enough to not need a sweatshirt but not hot enough to be icky. We hiked aways, had lunch and came back down. For dinner I made a new soup and we hung out on the couch, a good kind of tired. Even Winnie was exhausted.
There are people like us who spend a LOT of time working on the yard and the house, and then there’s everyone else. I have friends in both camps so I’m not judging. But we do work REALLY hard in the yard and it was finally time to put things to bed for the winter. The fall garden is in and doing well, soon the tiny broccoli will be big enough to eat. There were still some leftover summer plants that had to be put out of their misery. Brenton mowed and mulched the leaves. The elephant ears and cannas were pulled up and saved for spring. We planted about a million daffodil bulbs (seriously). I was tired of squatting and pushing the bulbs into the little holes but after a long, cold winter I know it will be thrilling to see their little green shoots forcing their way above the snow. And many are on the warm side of the house so they’ll be up extra early.
Okay, that’s a lot of rambling I know. The gratitude part is that we were able to enjoy a weekend outside together in the middle of November. Not something you get all the time. We had fun hiking. I’m not particularly outdoorsy, but I like being outside. When it’s not hot and there aren’t bugs. The yard looks great. We have greener, thicker grass than we’ve seen all year. We’re so very fortunate to have a home that we love, one that’s a safe place for us to be. It keeps us warm and dry and, for the moment, nothing is in dire need of repair. For many years I had to go it alone on the yard and house. Or pay or beg someone to come and help me. I am very thankful for the strong back that works alongside me. One that doesn’t expect me to crawl under the house with those horrible high-jumping crickets but is also thankful that I will get out there and work alongside him. Often in the unpleasant temperatures of summer. Of course I’m usually in charge of water and snacks so that adds to my appeal!
Today it’s back to being cool and cloudy. There’s rain in the forecast which will undoubtedly bring down a bunch of new leaves onto my lush green grass. But Madeline’s home and Brenton’s still here. There are cats everywhere and Winnie is woofing outside. And if that’s all I get at then end of the day that is WAY more than enough for me.
I’ve been accused of not being patriotic enough. Probably not because I refuse to deck myself out in red, white and blue on the 4th of July. And probably not because I don’t display the flag year-round or even on patriotic holidays. I have friends and family who have served and died fighting for America. I go to sleep and wake up with someone who made it his work for fourteen years. I am so very grateful for these people and the rights that they protect. I’m not a crazy anarchist building my underground bunker. Usually I get in trouble because I shoot off my mouth. But I think that’s the most patriotic thing I can do.
Patriotism is NOT: going to parades, hosting holiday barbecues, wearing flag lapel pins and/or tie tacks, going to sales on Memorial Day or putting your hand over your heart when the National Anthem is played. Nor is it agreeing with everything the president/government/political party says and does. And this is usually where I find myself in trouble. I once asked a young man in the military at what hypothetical point he would refuse to do what he was asked because he knew it was wrong. It was an innocent question not really meant to provoke. I was just curious. Suffice it to say it was not well received.
We talked in Sunday School this week about whether you should follow a ruler because he was appointed of God even if he was doing things that conflicted with what you think God would have him (or you) do. I piped up and said that here in America it is your absolute duty to speak up when you disagree with what is going on in your country. It’s what the country was built on. Ever heard of the REAL Tea Party? Or that familiar “Give me liberty or give me death” speech? THAT my friends is patriotism. Patriots stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Patriotism is being able to watch idiots burning flags and support their right to do so even when you disagree. But it’s also piping up when a grown-up cuts in front of a little kid in the grocery store line. It’s righting wrongs where you see them and supporting good so it can flourish.
That’s part of what’s missing here now. I watched a video about a cheating scandal at a Florida university today and the student in the video says that everyone in college cheats, it’s how the world does business. Patriots don’t cheat and furthermore, they blow the whistle on others who do. Patriotism makes you know your country is better than its lowest moment. It’s stumbling and recovering by owning up to your mistakes and still trying to keep fighting for good. And while a great many men and women do fight for good we’ve still not come so far that we’ll allow openly gay people to fight. We encourage them to live in the shadows, to lie even in the face of their own willingness to die as patriots. We’re still not as great as we can be. We still have far to go. <a href=”http://abcnews.go.com/Business/widespread-cheating-scandal-prompts-florida-professor-issues-ultimatum/story?id=11737137″>
You won’t find me sticking 1000 flags in my yard or agreeing wholeheartedly with everything one party says. But if you want to stand in front of the White House and fight for your right to speak freely, assemble your weird, creepy friends, stockpile arms or even (and don’t comment because I know I’m going to hear it on this) have an abortion I will stand with you and fight for those things. I won’t endorse your flag burning and I will highly recommend that you exercise your right to some free birth control, but I will stand with you while you are heard. Because that’s the kind of patriot I am and I’m secure enough in my love of country to say that I’d like to hear less God bless America and more God bless the whole wide world.