Friday, December 31, 2010
September, brought us the joy of welcoming into this world our grandson, Ryan William. A second-time grandmother, I am truly blessed. We get to do it all over again. Nathan will turn five in January. They are truly my joy.
November, my husband surprised me with a brand new car, for my birthday --a Honda Accord. This vehicle was so different from my SUV, that I had to learn all over again. I still reach for the handle --where it is no longer. It has the emergency break and gears in the center, and not on the wheel and floor. They are like night and day, especially the long front of the car, vs practically none at all. I feel like I'm driving very low to the ground. All new things take time. It barely fits in the garage.
November also was the month that I became officially retired. Since my husband is scheduled to work for another twenty years, it proves that there is no rest for the wicked. I will never be "fully" retired, and maybe that's a good thing. There will be no discussions about moving south to Florida, like some of my other friends have done.
Activities have increased, if anything. Beside enjoying my family, I spend much of my time in the gardens, both the church and mine. I've done my share of community activity, especially with the "free community meal, shortly to become meals, once a month at our local church. Cantering at prayer services are a priority, cooking for my shut-in mother-in-law and on occasion, sewing and cleaning for everyone, especially on Tuesday when the family gets-together. We've enjoyed participating in facilitating in the coffee house, once a month, at the church hall. Chairing the Adult Church Christmas Party for the past four years has me running around looking for Christmas gifts, and as well, coordinating dinner and plans with the cook. This year, for the gift bags, I made my mother's five minute fudge and sugar cookies, which came out just like her's, amazing!
What will I do in the New Year? Probably more of the same, besides enjoying my home, exercise, reading, traveling to my favorite festivals and ocean spots, shopping and dining with friends, and taking adult courses at the church, as we're never too old to learn. They'll be more bake sales and of course the church pic-nic. (Mary and Martha), my friend and I, are planning a new social outreach program. We have tentatively tossed it around for several years, scheduled to begin in January.
I have special goals in mind, among them, learning to sing and play new songs, practicing on my organ. I will become a better listener, friend, and there for all who need me. I'll write and share ideas on my blog and, to all who have taken the time to read this, I wish you love and happiness in the New Year. Thanks for your caring and comments. May all your hopes and dreams come true.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Walking makes you hungry, and the food always tastes better when you've earned it, by exercising, and taking in the cool air. I wouldn't mind this routine every day, but once a week in the winter would be fine, if it were as nice as today. There aren't too many days when I find winter so agreeable. It was great! Conversation made the walk zip by and lunch, in one of our favorite places, was fabulous. I chose a cup of beef barley soup with buttered homemade bread, spinach tomato quiche, sugarless tea and topped it off with a small piece of carrot cake. The atmosphere is quaint, and each small table is set with cottons of baby flowers and dainty linens. Ahhh! the soft touch.
We went shopping after lunch and I never expected to find just the right wall picture, black framed, wheat, with golden hues with a white mat to match my dinning/entertainment room and, at a going out of business price. What a find, what a day, all around.
You can only experience happiness if you open your heart to receive it. Make your own fun. Some of my best days are found during the winter, unexpectedly!!! Especially, when your with the company of friends to warm your heart. So get out there, maybe there is a surprise waiting for you, too.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tonight, I was just doodling and having fun with words, sort of relaxing before bed and this is what I came up with. It would be fun to keep it going...that is, add to it.
C is for Caring, cherish, candy, canes, candles, Christ, child, caroling, creche, church, Christmas
H is for Holly, holy, heavenly hosts, heart, home, hope, handmaid, herald, holiday, hay, humble
R is for remembrance, reason, ring, revelation, room, relatives, redeemer, ruler, reign, ransom
I is for Icicles, igloos, iridescent, infant, Immanuel, incense, innocent, inn, illumine, incarnate
S is for Santa, Saint, sharing, sleighs, sled, star, snow, shelter, Saviour, staff, swaddling, straw
T is for Tinsel, toys, tots, travel, transcendent, Timeless One, Three Kings, tree, turkey, taxes
M is for Mary, merry, mistletoe, Magi, moon, manger, miracle, mankind, music, mother, myrrh
A is for Angel, awe, amazing, adorable, announcement, asleep, afar, animals, awake, appeared
S is for Scene, song, silent, shepherds, Son, season, salvation, sleeping, sheep, scripture
Each word pondered on brings to life the story in some way of Christmas.
There is only one way to persuade me to suffer through exercise and that is knowing the good doctor will soon be measuring my blood sugar and weight. Even though I have been somewhat good, as far as my lifestyle diet, the pounds are packing on, just being indoors. Who doesn't cheat a little now and then, especially during the holidays? This time, I did not make my appointment at the first of the year.
Yet, I have a joy within that allows me to feel like it is springtime, which after three months of lessened sun, I am looking forward to warmth. I enjoy being outdoors. Especially, when it all comes to life again.
I have Christmas and green plants who are also suffering the loss of sunshine, along with me. I have come to realize that I need more light and how much sunlight does affect my disposition.
I recall after a trip to Atlanta one year, having experienced their beautiful outdoor flowers and bright colors, what a difference it made in me. When we landed in Connecticut, the colors were gray and wine, amongst the bare forests and lifeless surroundings, it was like living in a death-like state.
That year, I changed the color of my home interior, replacing dull fabrics with colorful, pastels and brilliant prints and sea green carpeting. Couldn't do much for the office interior where I worked, but I did put and few happy things around.
The hardest part of living here in New England, with all the dark and cold days is to keep the home fires burning, once the holidays are over. This is important if your going to physically be well, that is , it starts in the mind. So, here goes some important tips. Take an example from kids. They play all the time, and that is what helps to pass the time quickly. Play in the kitchen, or make bubble baths, or soak your feet and use great smelling lotions and soaps. Take time to dress up, as if you were going somewhere "special". Make the areas that you live in cheerful and bright. Sing, play happy music, share jokes and funny stories. Write poems, and read good books. In other words, take the time to pamper yourself. When you feel at your best, you can give your best to others around you. Woman are usually the ones that set the tone in the home.
There used be a central spa where everyone hung out. I think It was popular because of the jokes the owner used to tell, when people came for breakfast or lunch. When was the last time someone told you a joke? Perhaps, you need to set the example.
That' a good New Year's resolution....telling more jokes, that is, if I can remember them. Don't forget the exercise of laughter, it is good for the soul.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Today, I was obedient. My husband told me not to go out and shovel, I do not usually listen to him and do it anyway. Not today.
I had to be the strong one taking care of my brothers and sister, while growing up in my family. I learned to keep things in control and was really their second mother, while mine worked sometimes sixty hours or more a week. When they got hurt I took care of them. I raised my children with little help, until my second marriage. My second husband's mother was very demanding and controlling toward her baby and only son, and husband. She is still very much the same at ninety. He didn't marry his mother. He gets enough badgering just from her alone, he doesn't need more. I observe his reaction to her demands.
It can be hard for me to be the woman he really wants, one that can rely totally on him. I like most woman, like having my own way. My ability to accomplish things that most woman would not do, and that he cannot do, makes him feel put down, and defeated, even if I do not say a word. A man that feels like a failure, will translate to a problemsome marriage. Today, I saw a show on Dr. Phil's. I was like the woman who constantly corrects or bosses her husband around, as I know better. Even if I do, one must be careful to spare someone else's feelings. Correcting, and scolding can make your husband feel badly about himself and can destroy a relationship. Some turn to other distractions or vices. I don't like it when someone does it to me, as I am learning.
Scripture says woman was made for man. There is great wisdom there. Becoming a better woman, will produce a better man. I finally get that. His happiest times are when my husband brings me things, reaches for something I can't get, or takes me to a play or dinner. When I'm sick he takes care of me. (He likes to call me his little girl). He is a great guy who has loved me for an eternity and has always been there to pick me up, when I fail. What did I do to deserve such a wonderful man?
Love is when someone sees something special in you even when you don't see it. There is always room for growth and change. Love does not focus on anything but the positive, ignoring the small imperfections, which sometimes, they are not even aware of.
Baby steps may help you to make your New Year's resolution, real and lasting.
There is plenty of room for change, now that the New Year is upon us I will begin to take baby steps to work on myself. I don't like being told what to do, even when it is good for me. So, if he wants me to wear flannel nightgowns with teddy bears holding balloons, is that too much to ask for without complaint? This world is busy telling us that their is no difference between men and woman. Even I know that is ridiculous. I hope someday, I will be the woman that he wants me to be. All I have to do is trust him and be obedient. His dad once called me a strong woman. He was right and I was proud of it, then. Now I know that it is time to stop leading on the dance floor, and follow.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Was this a romantic love story, like that portrayed in the movies? A young carpenter, who has a crush on Mary, becomes engaged and after marriage, and a sexual consummation, experiences the birth of a son? No, it was not.....It was anything but. But what it was instead, was real love.
There is a big difference. Most people have such a warped understanding of the meaning of love. It is a far cry from the worldly view of self gratification. Joseph was a devoted husband to Mary and her Son, Jesus.
The story was, that of all the staff's gathered around of single and available men of all ages, from Joseph's came a flower. I would have thought that story and how Mary became Joseph's bride, ridiculous at one time, but I witnessed a plant growing from a plank of wood, which I once thought was impossible. She was of age to marry and that was their custom. No talk of love, she was espoused, a duty bound wife to be. What of him? What the movie would like you to believe was that it happened the way it does today. Boy meets girl, then comes marriage, and then comes baby in the baby carriage. We've all heard this one...
The reality of the scene was that Joseph, was depicted as a very young man and she, was just entering womanhood, by our standard, a child. The truth was that Joseph had other children from a previous wife. The film shows the hardship of the two as they make their way to Bethlehem. His job was to protect her and provide for her, by keeping her warm from the harsh elements. One concern he had was, and still is today, "the vehicle". Today, it would be "I hope that the car makes it or I hope that we don't run out of gas." Joseph, was probably worried that the donkey would not be strong enough to make the trip. Then what? He on foot with a pregnant wife and all the distance, what would they do? Would they have enough to eat? What of stormy weather? It could not have been easy caring for two under those circumstances. Yet, I know he loved her, and she grew to love him even though they were not intimate. Love is, a caring and understanding even without words, given to two individuals by God Himself, that just is. Some people refer to it as "love at first sight," for a lack of a better way to describe it, you just know...It's the kind that they had, which grows and endures.
So here is Joseph on the way to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, "his betrothed wife, who was with child." A child he knew that was not his, as he "knew her not." I can't even begin to guess the feelings that were going on within them. The movie narrates the tongue lashing, and impending stoning of Mary, for her believed crime. Joseph loved her enough to take her into his home, having filed no charges against her, as betrothal was binding in the Jewish tradition. They were also shunned by family members, and fear gripped Mary's parents, as well. Did a loving God put them through this trial while they were just getting started on their journey as husband and wife? Yes He did. Joseph received information from an angel in a dream, and he began to understand that the circumstances of Mary, even though she accepted them by agreeing to be the Mother of God, were not going easy for her either. He protected them, and I imagine that she grew to love him for it.
They finally arrive, and the picture is painted for us once again. They show him delivering the baby and wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, because there was no room in the inn. The Inn part is true, but other accounts dispel that Joseph delivered Mary's Son, Jesus. Handmaidens, on the scene, are shown at the bottom of the Icon of the Nativity, washing Jesus. At the same time, Joseph, perplexed on the opposite side or left, was being tempted by the Old man.
Divine intervention once again, sets the couple on the road to Egypt, as Joseph is warned about the impending doom and death of the innocent children by an Angel. Jesus was saved from this dread account by the wisdom of one man, sent to be His non-biological father, and step-father, the husband of Mary His mother. The one who walked a great distance, and unconditionally did all that was humanly possible to fulfill the will of a Divine God, suffered as love demands. The unsung hero, who raised Jesus, and was the man in her life, was Joseph, the carpenter.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The prophets foretold and waited for the "Son of God" to come, revealing through scripture where and why and of what lineage the Saviour of the world would come from. Mankind would receive it's gift, Christ the Lord, Prince of Prince, Lord or Lords, who shall reign forever and ever. In you, O Bethlehem, city of David.
This conceived and anticipated plot, which developed to fulfillment, Thousands of years ago is what we now call Christmas, the birthday of Jesus. There were many signs and wonders, announcing His coming, such as the Virgin Birth and the angels, whose message proclaimed His coming to shepherds in the fields. Soon after, there would be Simeon in the temple, and a widow of about 84 years who prayed and fasted day and night, speaking of Him to all those who looked for the redemption, in Jerusalem.
Each aspect of this story is phenomenal, but the eyewitness of the three Kings, who were following astronomical signs and a star that lit the sky confirmed for all time by their three expensive gifts and, who travelling over 100 miles were wise enough to know that someone special was to be born, came to Worship Him. Having found the baby, they acknowledged and understood His greatness, deciding to hide their finding from Herod. The extreme measure of trying to destroy the Christ, by killing all innocent male babies, leaves no doubt in our minds of Herod's fear.
The gifts of the three kings further verify what they believed about Jesus, and their revelation of who and what this Holy Child is, born in a humble abode, is infact, God incarnate. Gold; King of Kings, Frankincense; Priest of Priest; and Myrrh for His sacrifice and embalming used for His burial. These gifts presented, summarise for all the perfect gift given to mankind, the son of Mary.
It is believed that their journey, which took them over two years, shows all that they were convinced of it's importance. In seeking they found. That's why we call them the "wise men."
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The right atmosphere plays an important part of Christmas. It will be Ryan's first at Grandma and Grampy's house, and I want to be sure it will be grand. Nathan is already amused with the Christmas Village Scene, which he continues to make personal, with added toy cars. There is a huge gold star on top of the large tree, with mostly gold balls. I have added my ocean collection all around, having many ornaments and shells, gathered from sea ports. There are sport balls, Currier and Ives. I have some chubby angels and lots of miniature white lights, and a Christmas heart that reads. "Our first Christmas."
The coffee table sports the nativity scene with one of three white Pointsetters plants, and a large white, Yankee Candle, cupcake scented. A white robed rendition of St. Nicholas, the Bishop from Myra, is on a shelf, and there is an empty glass candy dish and lid, waiting to be filled. It was my first husband's grandmothers, and a family heirloom. The room is filled with anticipation. Like Joseph and Mary, we wait, hopeful.
Christmas, a time old and new, and forever. Each item placed in our Christmas room reminds me of people that I love, have known and places that I've been. There presently are no gifts under the tree, as we ponder Christmas present, without distraction.
Tomorrow evening is Christmas Eve. and we will be transported back in time to another place where all of creation will rejoice with us. Adding our little prayer for "Peace on Earth, and Good Will toward men, we will Worship Him and sing praises to His name, Emmanuel. God is with us... then, now, and forever. And, you are there too, in my heart.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Going green, people are doing various things, such as biking to work, often taking their lives into their hands. I imagine not all are fit enough to endure a 45 minute commute on a bike, especially in the dark, icy or on hilly conditions. It has been suggested that perhaps, you could bike to someones house and commute the rest of the way. Or, take a bus, train or other means of transportation. Where I live, we do not have options. Instead, most of us have more than one car. And, we are trying to be as efficient as possible, due to increasing gas prices.
Children no longer walk to school and are bused everywhere. Additional programs mean more dollars spent on transportation. Are we to give up safety? So much for " going green". Car pooling is not realistic when moms have early morning commutes. How many soccer moms are home today preparing the evening meal? Most parents are employed out of necessity. It's fast food, canned or microwaved food for dinner.
Then, there was talk of installing sun panels, have they ever been in New England in the winter? I have skylights which do not see much of the sun filtering into the house most of the time due to icing on the roof. Most people already keep their heat extremely low due to the cost of rising oil. We have all the modern conveniences yet, conserving finds some of us us in the cold and in the dark.
Windmills are great if you have wind, otherwise, that is a waste. We all have recycled for years now, and our small kitchens are full of "clean trash." So how are you doing with "green"? Do you grow your own vegetables, that is, if you have the time. Is your garden large enough to meet the need of your entire family? Do you have land to grow on, that's a start, many still rent here.
Conserving is the answer, and we are all responsible to do something. What that will be is determined by what you can, and are willing to do. Some people are drying their wash indoors. That's okay for jeans and linens but if you have to start ironing, it sort of defeats its purpose. Where are all those close lines of the past, that I don't see any anymore?
There is always a downside to some good ideas, like saving water when dish washing a full-load of unrinsed dishes, such as: rotting waste odor and attracting rodents and insects. Sometimes solutions create other problems. It is a losing uphill battle. I certainly have the water bills to prove my trash is clean. Where is the saving there?
Going "green" is a great idea. If you want some ideas from the past here are some I remember from my childhood. Flushing toilets were not allowed during the evening hours. Baths were once a week on Saturday, and they were shared or, the water was not emptied each time for each child, using the same water for other siblings. The heat was turned extremely low at night and rooms were closed off, in order to concentrate the heat to a family room, which was warm. Fabric was placed on clothesline to cut drafts. People shared cups and no one threw food away. Usually on Friday, you'd have kitchen sink soup, which was a combination of leftovers.
People did more hand wash, and repaired table covers and linens, jeans and socks with patches. It was not uncommon to have three children in a bed, even using the bottom. Clothes were passed down, most people wore hand-me-downs. Babies used cloth diapers and rubber pants.
The problem is that we have become a throw away society. We can all do something to change our consumption habits without the solution being made ridiculous. The reason is that our markets are saturated with goods to be sold. Manufacturers have made it their business to produce products that no longer last like the good old days, requiring us to keep them in business. That means jobs. My brother still has my parents old refrigerator in their basement, running strong since 1946. My appliances cannot hold a candle to that. Of course, shelf life is pertinent to their thriving business.
Part of the "going green answer" is to think about the quality of our goods. We need to be able to repair and reuse many things that we throw away. What if ....we address how well we take care of what we have? It's Christmas again and time to think about all the toys that will be under the tree. Some will be broken the next day. Others, will not even be appreciated, because our kids just have frankly, too much. All we hear about is shop till you drop, and drop dead good prices. What are we doing to ourselves? The economy is on the brink unless we purchase products to keep it going strong, while "going green" says do not consume more than you need, while keeping vigilant on your resources. Which is it? What if we just open our eyes and really understand what is going on here.
What if, we force manufactures to conform to "green " standards, making it easier for consumers to adhere to regulations? Just a thought. I for one, am tired of bearing the burden of the cost of wastefulness, especially at government levels, by consistent raises in our tax and water bills. It' time to consider "more than going green," isn't it?
The truth is, we're going to pay for it one way or another. The New Year approaches, and we are going to make resolutions. Are those going to make us, and our way of life better? Are those changes going to benefit your pocket, or will your actions help to make life lived the way it was intended to be? Our consumer driven society has consequences that make us less free and consumed with resulting problems. What is your resolution in the coming year?
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Christmas, we will Glorify as did the angels the coming of the Transcendent One, who will appear as a babe in the arms of his mother, having taken His body from her, a sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory from whom God was incarnate and became a child. Her womb was a throne, and her body more spacious than the heavens. It contained God. Who can understand this great mystery? The Son of the ever virgin and mother of God, existed before all ages..
The Kontakion of the feast says that "the earth offers a cave to the unapproachable One." (God who made all creation, and things). The stars, angels, shepherds and Kings will worship Him.
God was born for our sake, as a little child, so we could become like Him, our God. There is no greater love than this......
Will you ponder these things and receive Him....because no matter where you go, dead or alive, He will be there with you; You are His creation. He was born to Love You, a God that has always been and will always be the lover of mankind.
The words that come from the hymn, "O Holy Night" tell us that "His law is Love and His gospel is Peace". A Peace that transcends all time and place, through the Transcendent One. Who can fathom it? Christ the Lord is born to us in Bethlehem; who is placed in the arms of a young maiden, wearing swaddling clothes, and is lying in the manager. Because, there was no room in the inn, where angels and all creation worshiped Him.
Is your heart ready to receive Him?
Friday, December 17, 2010
Christmas magic was what Fr. Peter's Community "free" Dinner was. A meal fit for a queen or king. The happy recipients enjoyed some of the best glazed, baked ham that was ever had, along with rice pilaf, assorted vegetables, cranberry gel and rolls. The minestrone soup was outstanding, far exceeding the best of restaurants. And, you were invited!
The Christmas tree stood alone glimmering with colored lights, while little treats on each place setting added to their delight. Centerpieces of Christmas trees, red and green, decorated with jingle bells, contrasted with the white, round table covers. The meal was served with ease, amongst the chatter of the happy group who were satiated by the home-made extravaganza. Everyone, upon entrance, received a chance to win a gift certificate of $25., which added to the magic of the evening.
Various assorted desserts, including angel food cake with fruit cocktail and whip, topped off the meal with a warm cup of coffee. This definitely is where Christmas was, Romanian Hall, where happy workers co mixed with the group in what was considered to be by many, a very successful endeavor, enjoyed by everyone in attendance.
So sorry if you missed it, perhaps, next time. Where else can you be greeted, seated, served and share in the community that says, "you are special to us, we care about you just the way you are, and appreciate your company." Come and see, feel the magic! The Christmas magic, of course.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
In all the years that I've been alive, this message has had no greater meaning, as we still live in a world where there is NO PEACE. There is no peace because there is no forgiveness, and as we fall into the mire, the love of mankind diminishes.
Will we humans ever get it? Perfect love means to be at peace. Peace be with you, is the message to the world. A world which has not learned its lessons of the past, and has not yet decided to forgive. Are we not all brothers? What will it take us to learn this?
God became incarnate in our human form to teach us how to forgive. He came because He desired to forgive us Adam's deed, which separated us from God. The gospel account is full of examples of forgiveness, healing and peace.
The greatest sign of love is forgiveness. No love, no Forgiveness. The word Love Means to give. Give forgiveness for the sake of Peace. God proved His Love for mankind by His coming and by the fulfillment of salvation for us by means of the Cross and by His Resurrection.
Jesus said on the cross, "Father Forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)Without forgiveness, true and inner peace cannot be possible. Nor, can there be peace on earth.
Mankind has a responsibility to forgive and obtain Peace. The future of humankind depends on our ability to forgive. The bible, in Rev.6:3 makes clear that we must heed the warning. As we approach the familiar words; "Come and See. --Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take PEACE from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword."
Is there room for love without peace? Without forgiveness there is no Peace. Without Peace there is no hope for our world and our lives. We talk about our failing environment, and it is right to care about such things. More importantly, are we ready for the peace that was meant to be? When we learn to stop the fighting, we may just accomplish something great.
Let us accept the "gift" of our savior and Lord Jesus as he departed from this world. "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 15:6). The Orthodox study bible
Bringing Christmas to the world, is a tough challenge for humankind. It must remember the poor, needy, suffering, amongst us and in order to love one another, we are "required" to forgive. In forgiving, may we acquire peace in a new light and understanding. Only then, can we bring Christ to the masses, contagiously.
One my favorite parts of the movie "Scrooge" is when he is confronted with the very happy "Spirit of Christmas" who loves to sip a little, and shares his goblet of liquid happiness, to the grumpy humbug, in the hope that he can be changed. A change that was unexpected, but is well received and now is a happy recipient of Christmas.
Scrooge saw how life should be lived, in a spirit of peace and good will to humankind. And there is no doubt in my mind that he was loved.
Do you want to be loved? Then decide today to forgive, and in forgiving, you will acquire the spirit of peace. And, the world will be a better place because of your change of heart.
Let it begin with me.....This Christmas let us be partakers of forgiveness, love, everlasting Peace -- and joy, the way it was meant to be.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The song says the thing that she wants for Christmas is her own washing machine, but do we ever really get what we want? Most people exchange cute little gifts, or, as I try to do each year, something that will provoke a smile, and laughter. We have a great time just being together.
Speaking of laughter, my littlest grandson is starting to laugh out loud and it is so cute to see that he is enjoying our company. Christmas eve should be fun and I'm happy just to be with my family. If he is looking for a family of jokesters, he's in the right one, he'll fit right in.
We are discussing what foods will have, everyone has their favorite food for grandma to make. Let's see for Steve, it's devilled eggs with ham, eggnog and shrimp dip with sesame seed sticks. Bill wants meat pie and chocolate cream pie for dessert. John's requested meat pie, and cheese cake for dessert, I think. Nate likes cookies and vanilla ice cream. Jean and Angie like pie and pickies. We will have rolled-up assorted wraps. There will be something for everyone. Maybe, if you've been good little boys, even some Christmas fudge to bring home with some cut-out cookies for a treat later.
Just about everyone has food allergies or intolerance. This means preparing foods which are low-fat, low-sugar, no wheat, gluten, peanut, eggs and dairy, and seeds. Don't worry, I've got it down.
We all like our shrimp with cocktail sauce, and watching the kids play. It's about being together after all, isn't it? We manage to have a great time, a few laughs, drinks and we make merry.
Nope there will be no Christmas Underwear under this tree, I think...You hear me Santa?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On Sunday, we saw the likes of Scrooge and everyone knows his story, one of bitterness...He made all the wrong choices in life, with his obsessiveness to money, nothing else mattered to him, succumbed by avarice, he was already the "living dead." The message was, you are never to old to change your ways with a change of heart, and you'd better do it before it is too late. That state of emptiness, requires divine intervention, and the good spirits led Scrooge down an enlightened path. But what of us? Are we to be so lucky?
This morning, I read someones comment on face book. She just couldn't get into the Christmas Spirit. Is what we go through an act? Do we dread it each year repeating the same doldrums? Is there depression, sadness and emptiness? If it weren't for the concerted effort of the shopkeepers and commercialism to sell their goods, in order to meet their anticipated sales quotas, would we be in the mood? Or, are we putting on a act, while hiding what we truly feel within? If so, isn't it time for a change?
What are you enthusiastic for, or, has the lamp grown cold? You can get children all excited about elves, Santa, and magical, holiday movies. But what about the real Christmas? Where is Christmas? We make so much to do about the unessential, and forget the real meaning.
A commenter on the post, answered with an invitation for the woman to involve herself in meaningful activities, those that give to others, with the hope that it will "ignite that spark". That sort of is how Scrooge, in the play, changed to make his life, "a gift" to those around him. Did it change the lonely man, entirely? We're not told that. The real change would be though, when he finally went to his grave, someone could "miss him" and remember his "kindness." His chance for love and his own family were lost because of greed. (Me, myself, and I). We cannot look back. It is too bad the "ghosts" didn't serve him "notice" when he was young enough to enjoy life fully.
The other characters in the story, Bob his employee, would not give in to the impending gloom, celebrating Christmas with his children and wife, even with the loss of his livelihood. Tiny Tim, and the other siblings found joy in small things and along with mom, would be appreciative for what they had, basically a roof over their head and each other, not all in the best health. A whisper of the"impending death" of young Tim, was heard by the prediction one of the ghosts.
How do you fit in this season? Maybe you feel like the saddened and jilted fiancee? Or, Jacob Marley, with a warning to change your ways or earn a fate worse than his. It was a great play and had a great message. My dad and I saw it on television many years together. The ghost knocker and the chains rattling always scared the living out of me. At the end of the movie the narrator always stated that Scrooge learned to keep the Christmas season well. He had become a benevolent, and changed man.
It isn't that he became "happy", but in his merryment, he wasn't the same old "humbug" that he was. Christmas was never about "things." Scrooge gave, possibly in taxes to prisons and workhouses, as we all do our share. It takes so much more. Generosity should be an individual decision, which comes from a heart that has not grown cold. There are many charities to choose from.
We are living in a time where there is much need. At the same time their is a focus on self, becoming oblivious to the other. The problem is that we've come from an era not of want. How do you go from there to here? Are you depressed again this year? Do you worry about how your going to give your spoiled kids "all that they see commercially, what their friends are going to bragging about getting"? It wasn't always this way. Why did we, and do we allow this to continue to happen? What are we teaching our children? What are we, ourselves?
Yesterday, I put a DVD on for my grandson, it was the Nativity Story. He showed absolutely no interest. I left it on and explained to him about the star in the sky, which the three kings followed, as he enjoys hearing about weather and the sky. Later, he told me, while having his snack, that he saw the kings coming to see "Jesus." The movie showed the light, and the wonder." I could envision it all as I tended to his little baby brother. I told him he was such a smart boy, and how did he know that it was "Jesus" that they had come to see? He replied, "you did, grandma". That is as simple as it gets. That is where Christmas is, past, present and future. You can't make Christmas, because Christmas is a "real" place. Christmas is in your heart.
The difference is not where, but what are you expecting? Do you have Christmas in your heart, or is it something else?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The staff wore tuxedos, serving the crowd with ease. The Castle was fit for a king and his queen. After a quick prayer, by Fr. Peter, we all enjoyed our salad, rolls and dinner of choice. Dessert, a cup of coffee and apple crisp with cream, and we were quite content.
While we were waiting for the table reset just prior to dessert, gift bags were handed out to all. Christmas time is for sharing, telling others we care about them in every way possible. They are small gestures of kindness which snowball toward December 25th. the blessed remembrance of a "real king" born into this world for all humanity, in every generation.
It was a nice time and today, some recollections warm the spirit. People enjoyed the fudge, that my mom used to make every Christmas, that I hadn't made for years. I had the pleasure of thinking of her and how much she enjoyed Christmas. The cookies that I baked and Linda and I frosted, turned out to be a great day spent of much mess and laughter. As well, the gift of the soap to the ladies was handmade by our very own Monestary and monk. Best of all, we had the pleasure of inviting a guest who later revealed that she had not been to a Christmas Party for twelve years.
While we are making merry this year, look around. Is there someone that you know that has not tasted the joy of the Christmas Season for some time?
Christmas is for sharing, caring and for all. Won't you invite them in to your heart.
Friday, December 10, 2010
About three years ago, we bought a tree with the lights already on. You simply plug it in. There is no stringing of the lights. It was portable, and just the right size for the amount of decorations that we wished to display. Easier all around in so many ways.
Last year, my son bought a nice artificial tree like the rest of us. It is so good not to have to clean the pine needles off the floor. They look so real, that it is hard to tell the difference. Real trees are very expensive, and you don't even get a chance to keep it, unlike some of the potted ones that you can plant in the Spring, that is, if they last and you have the room for one in your yard, if you have one.
I can appreciate now the work my poor father went through to get us a real Christmas tree. He would go into the woods, cut it down, wrap it up and drag it home on a sled. Then, the base of the tree had to be sawed, evenly, to fit the holder, which had to be watered constantly. I can still see it as a very fond memory, in the hall. Years later, they bought an artificial one where you literally had to, piece by piece, stick the color coded branches into the notch in the round stick until you filled the three layers. Once the bubble lights were strung on to the branches and the tinsel was added, along with their favorite balls, no-one would even guess it was an artificial nightmare to put together.
The biggest problem was keeping the cat away from it to prevent it from toppling over. The stand was similar to the real tree one, except, we didn't have to keep watering it, and when the cat tipped it over, the water didn't get all over the place. There were no gifts under the tree until Christmas so we didn't have to worry about the items getting wet. Cats will be cats...And, kids will be kids. We always had to play carols while the family decorated the tree together.
My dad always sang "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas," and then would cry, thinking about his mother, and I knew that they had little, but the love of each other. He told us that his mother used to wash her laundry in the river, skin the rabbits his father caught and fish, for Sunday dinner. She made their clothes, and walked to church, all up and down steep hills. They did not have indoor plumbing, and were well familiar with an outhouse, hen house and garden. She made the weekly bread every Saturday, and she would toast it for him over the cast iron stove, and serve it with hot chocolate. Their primitive life style, produced a close-knit family. Like my mother, delivery of the children was at home. I recall hearing one of the children, weighing two pounds was placed in a shoe box behind the stove. She is still going strong at ninety. He referred to those days, always as "the good old days." I never met either of my grandparents, but know them fondly through the eyes of my dad.
I wonder what he would say if I told him that the tree I bought a few years ago, and only used a few times, did not light entirely and met its destination in the trash today? The one he had, lasted so many years and it was passed down. So much has changed in our throw-away society, where with great ease, I went to the store, purchased a new and better one, brought it home, removed it from the box and plugged it in. Bingo it worked beautifully. It's even nicer than the last one.
So much emphasis is placed on the tree. So many memories surround the tree on Christmas Eve and day, yet, the tree has little to do with the "real Christmas" but, your presence.
There is someone out there who needs a "Little Christmas Now." Won't You Be there.....
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Of course, it helped the big brother who was anxious to show off his new swimming skills, to know that his baby brother was looking on. I got a chuckle watching his red goggles, which seemed to need adjustment, often. Someday, he will be a fantastic swimmer. Seeing him in the pool brings back memories of another time, over thirty years ago, of his dad learning how to swim with his friends, in the same pool.
Luckily, he was getting a one-on-one, with the instructor, a skilled mom, observing each and every stroke, often giving him pointers, gently. She even has him singing twinkle, twinkle little star for his brother, while letting him go. Floating alone on his back, for just a bit, unaware, as he concentrates on his song. Of course, once he finds himself swimming alone, it's a different matter.
It is not everyday you find the kind of mother he has, as she makes sure he develops to a well-rounded young man. And, it can't be easy to accomplish all that she does with a nursing infant, husband, home and full-time -job commuting to Boston.
The importance of raising children in a loving family cannot be underestimated. It takes daily commitment, and reinforcement, tight scheduling, and more pep than I remember having. My mom used to say that she was very strict with the first child as the younger ones would be imitating them. So, we are sure that the baby will do just fine. If he is anything like his big brother, he will be every bit as successful.
The baby was very excited seeing the Christmas tree and all the lights everywhere, just like Nate did. Nate was thrilled to add his vehicles to the Christmas scene, with his red-pickup-truck centered, with a tree in the back. Other cars were parked near restaurant scenes, his favorite items were signs of Main Street, and the American flag. He promised that when he comes over to grandma's house, he will be playing with the setup some more. He learned to turn the lights on the village scenes "off and on" from the start, our little engineer, who has to know how everything works.
While rocking baby Ryan, he was so taken by the afghan on the back of the chair, which is yellow, orange and green granny squares, put together with black yarn. Color is his world right now, and I recall his brother doing the same thing at the same age. He is already fond of a little stuffed reindeer and all the fish located on his play-yard. At three months, he is trying to communicate with us, making sounds and laughing as he is amused by the experience, showing an expressive face, dimples and all. When he is not sucking on his "Binky" pacifier, he is chewing his hands, or blanket, which he moves up and down, proud of his achievement.
These are the same hands that like to pull on your earrings, especially the hoops, which he won't let go. Grandma knew better this time, forgetting the last time we were together. His brother did the same thing, which I had forgotten, and put them soundly away. Next, he'll be pulling my hair.
Life is surely different, than the time of Jesus and His birth in Bethlehem. There is little connection, but the love story will never change between family, then or now. It is said that the three kings arrived, following a star. A journey which took about two years. I wonder what the reaction of Jesus was upon seeing them and their gifts. Do you ever wonder about the whole event? This is a time of advent, preparation....and Wonder. Ponder on Love. Love is a gift, and He is the Gift that lasts for all eternity.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Love has little to do with age. I didn't feel this much love as a teenager. How did I know that he loves me, without words? It was in his eyes. His face lit up like a pumpkin, and I could tell he wanted me to be with him. He didn't take his eyes off of me until I acknowledged his presence.
He is a little heart breaker. It's funny how I haven't lost my perception, a sort of communication that allows you to understand what the need is, without conversation. Most woman have that special gift. I think the love began the moment we met.
I wonder if it was like that with the Mother of God and her son, Jesus. I'll bet it was. Love is a very special gift, the forever kind....
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Finding Christmas is not a simple journey, it is a lifetime of "little things" that are placed before us repeatedly to help us find the "secret" path to "life." Picking the sand dollar up in my hand, reminded me of the vastness of the ocean and of vastness of God's creations, in all generations. Who can comprehend this one fact? No, it's not the incarnation alone, nor the star, supernatural as it was, light and all, nor all the other created material things that brought us to that place, Bethlehem, then and now.
We did not suddenly become adults, we had to learn to walk first. To discover first, to see things through the eyes of children, first. The wonder of Christmas, first. The joy of discovering is an important aspect in finding the "real" meaning of Christmas, eventually. Or, is it really a rebirth in us? A re-kindling of the only hope that we will ever know, and that which is necessary to thwart off the state of our fallen humanness, in our failure to love others. Are we redeemed, this time of the year, from our hardened and cold heart, as Scrooge, finding joy and love as we allow the "Spirit" to take hold of us willingly, to celebrate in love, all of creation which comes alive to us, through a loving God, whom no one can completely comprehend, and who loves us more than we deserve? How are recharged....?
We are born babies, completely dependant on another for sustenance, and life itself. What does that teach us about our relationship with God and humankind? What was His relationship with His mother, as He depended on her for His life? I think that babies love their mother's so much. I'm sure Mary loved Jesus that way, too. A love given to her from Him who is love. And her love to Him, which He himself created. The bible says, "God loved us first, we are created by Him. We have a great capacity to love, if we would only let go of self, and once again, trust. Isn't that where it begins, complete trust? There can be no love without, trust. Gift giving is the fruit of love that flows from our hearts. We do not need presents when we are loved, as everything we experience is a present to us. Love is all we will ever "really" need.
How can you experience Christmas without love for someone else? Ponder deeply, who is holding you? Do you want to be loved? What stops you from receiving the love of Christ, given through another? Mary held Jesus close, nourished Him, and kissed Him while heaven and nature sang, each in their own way. And, the wise men and shepherds worshiped Him. You cannot experience love, if you reject it, and are unwilling to receive it. God does not force Himself on other's. He has given you the gift of free will. God forgave. We need to forgive, also.
I am not a scholar, for if I were, I would have missed out on the lessons which do not come from anything written, but are experienced from within. Intellectuals, sometimes, in seeking to develop with their mind, look for the hidden things in a cave, and fail to find Him in the lower abode of the heart. With knowledge comes the understanding of Christmas, with love comes the joy. There is no Hope in knowing where God is without both. But of all these, only "Love remains," as knowledge will pass away.
This is the season of advent. A time to tell someone else, that they are loved more than they'll ever know, and that there is a secret meaning hidden in the cave of your heart.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Before leaving, I wished the priest and his family a blessed Christmas and we talked about some of his postings on face book. Finding Christ in nature and in His creations, we all can share beautiful thoughts about who, where, and the wonderful things our God has, and is doing for us.
The time to ponder on this is during this season of advent, when we naturally think of the days of old, our forefathers, and our many memories. The seasons add to this reflection, as they color our world and teach us about our Creator and His love for us.
It is a love story of a maker, fashioner and our God, who purposed us to share in the joy of knowing and loving Him.
He is the apple of our eye, and we are the apple of His, the bridegroom and His bride.
In Deuteronomy 32:10, He tells us that "He provided for him in the desert, in thirst of heat in a waterless place. He encircled him: He instructed him: He guarded him carefully as the apple of His eye."
Proverbs 7:2 "Keep My commandments, and live, and My law as the apple of your eye."
"Of all the trees of the woods, the "apple tree" gives nourishment with sweet fruit. In scripture, the apple is a symbol of favor. His commandments are sweet to those who thirst for the living Word." Taken from the Orthodox Study Book
Song of Songs 2:3 "As the apple among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I desired to be in his shadow and to sit down; and his fruit was sweet in my mouth".
2:5 "Strengthen me with cakes of raisins; Refresh me with apples, for I am wounded with love."
2:14 "Show me your face, and cause me to hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is beautiful."
We are the Bride (the Church), exalting the Bridegroom, those who thirst for the living Word, made flesh. He was, for our sake, born in a stable in Bethlehem; Be born in us today.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I love this photo because it shows what we have a lot of here in New England, the apple. Each fall we head to the many orchards to purchase, pies, and many varieties of apples because we believe that the apple is one of the best fruits you can eat. Nathan and I have spent many days together and many days I would peel him an apple for a treat, instead of cookies.
Many expressions are associated with the apple, like an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Or, you are the apple of my eye. The apple has special significance to me reminiscing Christmas past, when we would race to see what Santa brought us in our stocking. We always had an apple in the top of the hung stocking, followed by nuts, then an orange in it's heel. The stem of the sock always had coloring books and crayons, small toys and a candy cane. The reason we were told that we had an apple in our stocking was because there was a hidden message within.
The story goes something like this. The three wise men, who were told to report back to King Herod upon finding the Christ child, instead kept it a mystery. They were led to the cave by a bright star. The apple is a special gift to mankind, just like Jesus is. When you cut the apple in half, a mysterious and hidden star appears within, to remind us of the Star of Bethlehem and baby Jesus, hidden in a manager.
Grandmother was full of stories. She could tell great stories all about the wonder of Christmas, angels, sleigh rides, and boy could she tell funny jokes . Remember that song, "We need a little Christmas"... Why? Why did we need Christmas? Because of Adam....
The Genesis story tells us about another event where there was Eve, the apple and Adam , which brought about destruction and death. "Adam is a type, a prefigurement, of Christ as Head of humanity. Adam's decision brought about death and the law of sin; Christ brings life and the law of the Spirit, righteousness." Taken from the Orthodox Study Book commentary.
Sing all together..."We need a little Christmas Now".
Sophia left a young daughter who is doing fine. All Sophia wanted in life was to live long enough to "church her." Sarah is a very sweet girl, Sophia has done a great job raising her in the short time that she had.
Sophia and I used to have discussions about our faith and I know that she had a very deep love for God. I will always miss her.
As I was awake early today, thoughts of her came to me, all because of the bell, which had an angel on it. She was an angel and her concern was for the souls of the lost, always looking to introduce others to her beloved faith, Orthodoxy.
One never knows what the future brings. I wonder if the Virgin Mary knew what would happen to her Son, Jesus, beside knowing that a "a sword will pierce through your own soul also)."Luke 2:35 The Orthodox Study Bible. The words came from Simeon as Jesus was dedicated in the Temple.
Not to long ago, I came across a song that shared some beautiful thoughts. Here are some of the words.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water...
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters...
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new...
That the child that you've delivered...
will soon deliver you....
In this advent season, these are some of my thoughts. How special the vocation of motherhood is...How special it was for Mary.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Mary received the Word in her womb, and He took flesh from her, Mary, His creation. Jesus was both human and Divine and was born almost two thousand years ago, of a woman.
God did not transform Himself into flesh, but took on human flesh, growing until fully formed in the womb of His mother. Some Icons show that from the angel Gabriel and upon Mary's acceptance, out of respect for our gift, freewill , the Word, upon hearing, entered in through her ear.
In our humanness, it is difficult to understand these concepts: A Virgin, received God. This is true because the Divinity is above all transformation. God Himself has said, 'For I am the Lord, I change not' (Mal. 3:6). So one can understand the position of the Theotokos, God Bearer, to be one of greatness in all generations.
This is a great mystery. The fact, that God dwelt in a womb of a woman. She was made spotless at her decision. And in agreement, she became the Mother of God for all time. The same child, Jesus, born of the Virgin, is the only begotten Son of God, and God.
St. Paul, makes it clear that He Himself became substantially and truly man. (Gal. 4:4,5) "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.: (Gal 4: 4,5)
The Title: Theotokos, correctly given to the Virgin Mary, was a guarantee of the unity of Christ, Perpetually.
When you come to the stable, this holiday season, will you see The Christ, the Son of the Living God, who will be a small human baby, the son of Mary?
If that is all you see? look again, "For He is the Son of God who saves the race of men, the One called, Jesus. The One who we await His coming for the second time.
St. John (8:58) Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, in the words of Jesus "Most assuredly, I say to you, "before Abraham was, I AM."
This week I read about Christians dying for their faith. The article told of countless victims and their stories. One stood out.
Entitled: A Catholic Survivor of Iraqi Church Massacre Speaks - International - Catholic online, By: Giulia Mazza 12-2-2010 (www.asianews.it/)
"When at one point I heard a voice I do not know who he was shouting to ...the terrorists: 'We die, we die, okay. But the Cross lives.' "
Yesterday, I went to the jewelry box where my cross had been placed, and I put it on. This will clearly tell all where I stand. And , that is for Christ. The same Christ in Christmas.....
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Christmas preparation for the coming of the Christ Child also includes the reminder that He is coming for the second and final time. I found a web page whose focus is on Christmas Carols that have been dedicated, to this end. For an example: "And He shall reign forever and ever." Maybe you can guess where those lyrics come from?
This morning, I left the prayer service with this thought, as every generation did before us, right up to this one, the belief was that Jesus was coming in glory in our very own time. The reason given was that it is what God wanted us to believe, and he did this on purpose. In this way, we always would be preparing and looking for Him.
Since we do not know exactly when we will see Him, there is always a longing and hope for all restoration, a hope that has been with us, since the day He left the earth.
Christmas preparation is very serious business indeed. More important than shopping and frivolous occupation, which causes us to miss the reality and deep meaning of His coming. It is a time for reflection, and anticipation. A joy for all the world to comprehend and experience.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Today we again hear about the conflict going on between North and South Korea. Experts are looking to past events, to predict its outcome. One knows for sure, the same feeling of walking on pins and needles. Yet today, we read from Rumor Roundup: "Has NASA, (National Aeronautics Space Administration) discovered Alien Life?" Who doesn't want to know?
The word "heaven" can be described also as a "heavenly experience, or other worldly". We can get our minds around that concept by looking at the example of: The Angel Gabriel, who is said to have come from heaven, appeared to the young maiden, and virgin Mary, some two thousand years past, with news that would affect our future. Yes, our future, as that news, prepared the way for the incarnation of Christ the Lord. The Word, was made flesh and dwelt among us. You may remember it best when you think of the town of Bethlehem, and Jesus lying in a manager in a stable. All of nature rejoices with the heavenly account, of angels and shepherds. The sky, illuminated the star which predicted the coming of the King of all. Leading three Kings, who came to find and adore Him.
How curious are we to find the Christ, hidden in the manager of our hearts? How are we preparing to welcome Him? What signs must we look for? What are you willing to believe based on the historical accounts of non-believers?
Everyone has heard of the famous Nostradamus who is thought by many to be credible. "In 1947 Henry Roberts took Nostradamus to be warning of: "...a tremendous world revolution..." to take place in the year 1999, in the seventh month, with a complete upheaval of existing social orders, preceded by world-wide wars." Particular interest was placed on July 1999. The 'King of Terror' prediction would be fulfilled --and 185 books were written and appeared in Japan. He was believed by 20 percent of the Japanese, while in England, on Saturday July 4, 1999, TV Channel 4 featured this non-stop focus on the subject from 8:30 pm to 3:20 am. This information comes from the book written by: Ian Wilson, Nostradamus, The Man Behind the Prophecies. Wilson was featured on the History Channel's 2007 documentary on Nostradamus. A well-known author of highly acclaimed bestsellers The Turin Shroud, The Blood and the Shroud, and Jesus: The Evidence, and Murder at Golgotha.
Ian Wilson has a degree in history from Oxford University. I think we can count him among the knowledgeable and curious. I'm always curious about what others say about the author's book. Publishers Weekly, says the following:"Wilson (treats) Nostradamus as a man rather than a mysterious presence." So true...
What happens when nothing expected happens? Does that render a prophetic guru totally and utterly discredited as it should? Of course not. Not in the case of Nostradamus....
What of the prophecies concerning the future? I can say with complete accuracy that we will celebrate the Birth of Christ on December 25th. History reveals the birth, death of Jesus, and was documented by non-Christians and Christians alike. There it is, a mystical birth, a death, the glorious Resurrection, and the prediction of the second and great coming! How much are you ready to believe? Are you just a tad bit curious? Then come to the manager, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and I think that I can predict the outcome.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Most of my life, having the surname of Peter, I was aware that he was called "foremost disciple". But what I didn't know was that the Apostle Andrew revealed Him to his brother, Peter. Andrew heard the voice of the Forerunner and was the first to follow Jesus. Enkindled by His love, Andrew obeyed the Lord with fervor. He was united to Him and was called "O Godly-wise Andrew." Saint Andrew has lead many to Jesus.
Saint Andrew was the "first to meet the Christ". Andrew brought the faith to Romania, in which our church shares it's roots. He was crucified for his faith, thus the X appears on his flag, proudly displayed from the parish house.
To honor Saint Andrew and his feast day, the headscarf that I wore was the official tartan of Saint Andrew's Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This sash was given to me by my children as a birthday present. I am a most humbled to wear it in his memory.
We rejoiced in his holy memory and believe that he stood with us in our midst, while through his prayers, we received blessings.
Saint Andrew, your heart was enlightened with the perfect brightness of His divinity. By your prayers may we be granted enlightenment, purity of our hearts and salvation of our souls.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Some of my "turkey meal" memories predate the twenty-fifth of November, like the many meals that were served at our church hall, and the cheerfulness of the fall gathering of friends, and neighbor.
Our town usually has a bonfire, which was not allowed due to the weather this year, where the teens gather in celebration of pregame activities of the traditional football rivalry. Others come back to town to see friends who have graduated, joining them for a drink or two. It is a time for class reunions and catching up. My son and his wife were among them. They had a great time, unable to get out much lately, but we had a better time than they did, spending it with our grandsons.
Families gather for the holiday, sometimes celebrating both Christmas and Thanksgiving at the same time, as they will not be able to be together on the "real" calendar date, as traditionally enjoyed many years previous.
It is a time of reflection, of years and events which have gone by and all our loved ones, who we miss and think about. Yesterday, my husband and I shared our turkey dinner with my brother, his wife and our nephew. My eldest brother surprised me when he brought over a home-made chocolate cake with white frosting, as he is recovering from pneumonia. There is never talk in our house about shopping on "Black Friday." Some people wait an entire year to buy something at a "good price" that they ordinarily could not afford. This is not a high income area for most, who live paycheck to paycheck or who run short when there are five weeks in a month.
As I recall, we were thankful just to get something at all. Everyone had at least one gift to open, and of course, we all got unmentionable items just to keep us humble.
Poverty is a word that means different things to different people. Some feel very rich if they and their family have good health. There is no poverty when you are loved. Things do not bring you happiness, only love does. Yesterday, I did not cook a turkey, but I did make a Thanksgiving meal for my elderly mother-in-law, complete with ramekin sized meat and apple pies. Her meat was ground-up and we have for her squash, turnip, potato and broccoli. I made gluten-free stuffing for my husband and set aside a pie, for a later date.
Today, I will do it all over again, making a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings for our immediate family, which we will share on Sunday. Many people fight about who's house they will go to, some alternate, in keeping a sense of fairness. We are just thankful to get together when everyone can make it, due to the livelihood of our family members. Our newest grandson, Ryan, will not be able to eat turkey, but he is the cutest butter ball of the bunch. Everyone has a favorite, Nathan loves chocolate cream pie, which is traditional. Coconut cream, apple pie, pumpkin, and pecan, will be served for dessert. We try to give everyone what they like, at our house.
The best part of it all is wrapping up left overs to go, as I simply do not want to have "temptations" around, especially the sweet kind, which I usually just sample.
This year "our boys" did us proudly, winning the football game which means we didn't have to eat crow. My dad would have been happy, as he once played as a second string quarterback for the local team. His "gift" was basketball, playing for a semi-professional team in New York City, while he was in the Coast Guard, during the war.
I can still picture my mother wearing a dress, and looking pretty special for my dad, as Thanksgiving was always so "special" with the many faces around our table. I came from a large family, where it was evident that my parents were so much in love, and their happiness will always be one of my fondest memories of them.
On Friday, when we were at my grandson's home, we were looking at a show which featured the Vietnam war and helicopter's--his favorite--eating popcorn. It brought back a flood of memories of another time of Thanksgiving at my in-laws where the discussion was always about her mother's Canadian French stuffing using cinnamon, which differed from my mom's traditional Canadian French sage, Bell's stuffing, but were equally as good.
We are left with memories, memories made by people in our life, here and gone, who love us. It wasn't the Macy's parade, or even the turkey, anticipation of the Christmas season, although it was a part of all of it. It was simply being the lovers of humanity that we are all called to be, even down to the littlest child and baby who has nothing to give but his love.
Would it still be thanksgiving without a turkey or all the Christmas do dads? You bet it would as long as you are blessed with love, you have everything! Savor it...
Monday, November 15, 2010
Advent is celebrated by Orthodox Christians this time of year, which began at midnight, or today, the fifteenth of this month through Christmas. Preparation for a any event heightens it's coming. Our calendar squares indicated by their pink coloring, is our traditional St. Phillips fast. The prescribed exception is Thanksgiving...
This is not a time to celebrate Christmas, as it has not come to pass, yet. That yet is an important word. We had a group who played at out church hall on Friday night. The vocal artist expressed this best when she quoted a bible verse from out of her head, that she used frequently. "I will praise Him, yet." Meaning, even so. Times are rough for many and through many circumstances, even when we do not feel like it, we praise Him. Nothing can or will surpass His deeds. Fasting from simple pleasures and giving to others, will heighten the joy of the Christmas Feast.
Each year, after the leaves fall and it becomes dark, we are reminded of our need for His love, and the need for Him to fill our lives, lest we become as "void" as fall and the impending winter. Some people even go into a state of depression, due to the lack of light. Following Him, demands that we must carry our cross whatever it may be. The needy become more visible this time of year, yet, they are always among us. Somehow the leave-dropping allows us to see our neighbor more clearly.
It is no secret that I have many icons which are hung all over my home, supplying it with it's own type of warmth. The air is filled with the aroma of scented candles and flavored coffee. I'm engaged in music, reading, and actually look forward to this time of quietness. It's a time of prayer and reflection, to what is coming upon us--forty days from now on the 25th of December. One guess, it's not just Santa. Although, St. Nicholas is a real saint, who was born in Myra, in the fourth century, and his feast day is celebrated on December 6th.
Apart from the Birth of Christ, what joy could we possibly be celebrating? The giver of all good things, in His goodness, begins for us with the understanding of why He came.
Ponder that! Then, you will have something to rejoice about on December 25th. Receive the timeless One, and His gift that lasts forever.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
We Christians, walk in the Spirit, which is Love. Love is His gift to us. God is Love...
This is the season to remember those who are suffering and needy. The homeless, hungry, lonely, and hopeless. Give them the only gift that matters, your love. Then, this world will become a better place, and you will have made a difference in someone's life.
Friday, November 12, 2010
You probably have heard the good advise being given to someone recently suffering from a loss, "do nothing now, if you can help it." Things look very different beyond the period of grief. Changes made at this time, may be irrational and regrettable. The tears shed during this time, are natural and necessary to acknowledge your loss, and after a given time, will subside. If not, treatment may be required. Our human response is not the way we should be, but is a byproduct of our brokenness due to the fall. Emotions are a predisposition and genetically inherited condition. Someday, we will be changed, and every tear will be wiped away."
I recall, many years ago, when my eldest son was eleven months old, and having become ill with a high fever and a yellowed skin, I brought him to the hospital for an examination. Being the weekend, I got an attending physician. He didn't know what was wrong, and they would run some tests, after admitting him. I was a wreck, highly emotional and "totally irrational" at the moment, and when asked simple questions, I froze, unable to answer. That is why emotions are not to be trusted. The doctor told me, that even though the baby had not gone out of the house, he contracted Roseola, infant measles. I may have been a carrier, exposed while grocery shopping.
Jesus wept. This was to show his true state of humanity. Weeping for someone else brings out your pain. Pain is a product of our fallen condition here on earth. Jesus used this experience to show us His glory, and as He prayed to His Father, His friend Lazarus was raised to life. It is totally irrational that any of us should die, it was not supposed to be like this, and was not, prior to the lost of relationship between God and man.
Why was Lazarus raised? I think one of the reasons was to show how much God loves each and every one of us. It was a foretaste of the Resurrection of Christ, and what we also will experience some day. Love is an emotion that can cause us to behave irrationally. Words like walking on a cloud, floating on air, and the like, express the giddiness's of falling hopelessly in love. These signs and more, which initially manifest, have the tendency of curtailing with time. The irrational motion is not to be confused with Love which is not self centered, must dwell in a relationship that shares all hopes and dreams, and secrets, which exists to please the other. God is Love. A Love that endures all things, forever. That Love died for us. Love is the only thing we will take with us, and that will remain, (love never dies). God is love and we were created in His image and likeness, having the capacity and freedom to decide to Love God and have love for each other. Love which is not emotional, demands that we "do unto other's" finding God's presence in each and every one of our brothers.
And to love, is the only rational reason for our existance that I know of.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
During the course of the meal, Nathan was so well behaved that one could have said that he was a little man. Ryan tucked into his carriage, was content to quietly suck on his pacifier while his happy parents got a chance to eat without interruption, with the entire family. It was some time since we had gotten together since the baby arrived, several months ago.
It was enjoyable getting caught up on the latest events in each of their lives. As a mom, I am careful to spread my attention around. Nathan, who sets down at the table, could be heard saying, "Grandma" and "excuse me", anxiously waiting to tell me everything, mostly about his toy airplanes. He has become quite the conversationalist.
As usual, everyone wants to talk at the same time. It is hard to believe how smart kids are today. His parents explain everything to him. They grow up so fast....
The time had come to leave and Nathan's mother explained that we were all leaving to go to their house. He had a surprised look on his face, and looking around, he replied, "Everyone?"
I don't think their house is that large. What a wonderful day we all had. What a great family I have. And, it was another spectacular birthday. I am truly blessed to have their love.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The head table, or featured quests and speakers included: the president of the council member's of the church of St. Michael, Spiro Thomo. Our parish Pastor, the V. Rev. Hiromonk Peter Preble, visiting priest Fr. John Daly of St. Nicholas Church, His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae Condrea, and Mr. Walter Haddad, president of the council of Eastern Orthodox churches of Worcester, who in turn, addressed us with a brief presentation.
The meal, organized by Henrietta Panu, delicious and most appropriate for November, was a turkey dinner with all the fixings. Served on eloquent white dinnerware, which included heavy flatware and brown cloth napkins. Centerpieces of colored gourds complimented the other harvest arrangements in the hall, which were provided by Linda Nizamoff.
Family and friends from St. Michael and St. Nicholas parish, filled the Romanian hall almost to capacity. The sunny but brisk day, added to the ambience of what has become a rich tradition which spans many generations. Next month, we will participate in the feast day of St. Nicholas, which usually follows a joint Liturgy and consists of a fish dinner, due to pre-Christmas fasting regulations.
A large screen in the room, entertained us with photos of the more recent happenings at our church, featuring many happy and successful events. Although our church events are filled with mostly seniors and older adults, we on occasion, have amongst our midst visitors of the "smallest" kind. To the right, on my page, you can see Ryan, two months old, taking it all in. He chose to be present with little notice, but we all know, that if he wanted to, he could have made his presence well known. He did not go unnoticed though, and we would like to thank Carol Porra, for the fine photo of him, and the many others that she takes as unofficial or official, photographer of our church.
Spiro said profoundly, as he did last year, that the holiday's are just ahead and wished us well in the New Year.
We have a lot to be thankful for-- each other, and, for a tradition that has brought us together to celebrate the feast day of St. Michael, our parish nameday, our love, faith and, our wonderful church.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
There is an age of wisdom, that is when you can let go and completely trust in God's plan. There are years of planting seeds and years of reaping in life, but there is only one sure thing, and that is His love for His creation, all of us. Cast your cares upon the waters, and believe.
Enjoy the years here, where you have been planted. Feel the warmth of the sun upon your face. Feel the breeze on your skin, and smell the clear air. Drink in the water of life. Interact with all in peace. Find joy and love, and you will know that God exists. He exists for you, personally. When that moment happens for you, and you are thankful for what you have and are, and you are standing in front of the altar of God in church, and you get a funny feeling, a twitching on your nose, that makes you want to cry, you are in communion with Him.
He knows your there because He's always been with you. You realize that all good things come from Him out of His love for you, and your happy. Who else knows and gives you your hearts desire? Who else can fulfill it? Looking back, He was there all along, whether you acknowledged Him or not, and He will always be there for you, no matter what, just like the loving Father that He is.
There is no complexity in it. The church should be full of God-seekers. They will come, not because they are commanded, or forced, but because they feel the warmth of God upon their face, and are "drawing near." Who does not need God in their life walks blindly not knowing where they are going, not knowing where they've been. Who do you think has picked you up thoroughout all your life? Whether we choose to admit it or not, we all need God.
Today is all we have. God reveals what He has in store for you. (Psalm 23:6) Taken from the Orthodox Study Bible, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." He offers us life, and life eternally.
Yesterday, our Archbishop said of the remains of the Saints, Constantine and Helen and St. Dimitri, "that God was not through with them." There is no such thing as "was" to God. What God has done for previous saints, He does and can do for you, when you seek and call out to Him. God has always had what you need, as a loving Father does for His children. Maybe it is a case of timing? What keeps you from Sunday worship? Why would you not choose to seek God's face, is yet another mystery.
Someday, you will be at the end of your journey here on earth. And God, the giver of life and all good things will be waiting...Will it be then that you will be thankful for all the goodness of life He has bestowed upon you? He is calling you today to fill your cup with all good things. How will you respond to His invitation?
This morning, we will gather in a small parish church, where we will worship God, thanking Him for the life He gave us, and the love that we share. This is the gift that God has given me, the fullness of life, and my cup runneth over with Love. Love that comes from Him.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Archbishop had just flown back from Romania to Chicago, then, to Southbridge. He addressed Council members just prior to the service. Tonight to those in attendance, he remarked about his experience while in the "old country," where people kept vigil to see the relics of St. Dimitri, St. Constantine and Helen. "God is not through with them," all we need do is go to God, because He is not through with us, either.
Today was a great day, a day when I had the chance to say "thank you" for all He's given me, sixty-two years of life, and much happiness.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I'm having a very usual day, not one of cleaning--who would want to do that on such a dark, depressing day? No, I'm sipping a cup of French Vanilla Coffee. It was hard to choose from amongst my many varieties, all equally special. One for each mood, and that fits me fine.
I can still smell the chocolate chip cookies that I baked for my family especially my grandson, Nathan. Ryan will have to wait a little longer until he can have grandma's cookies. Also cooling on the counter is a banana bread, that I baked for my mother-in-law. It is hard, for me to just look, but look is all I can do. Instead, coffee is the the allowed treat.
My skin is looking radiant and I can thank St. Columba of Iona Monastery in Southbridge, for the wonderful product that they are now taking orders for, on Facebook. It is made from goat milk and has other known skin moisturizers. Just in time for Christmas shopping and protection from the harshness of winter. I have noticed that the heals of my feet, which were especially dry, no longer are. When I get out of the shower, my skin is beaded something like the wax application on a car. I think that there will be back orders, so I'm going to get my order in early. Most people that have tried a sample of the soap, loved it. I'm sure my favorite will be the one that is heather scented. My birthday is Saturday, this is a hint for my family that never knows what to buy me because I'm petite and a difficult fit. Candy is out, and I still have a certificate for the hairdresser. Let's face it mom, the kids say, "You have everything." "We never know what to buy you." They are right."
We are creatures of habit, so if you have a few moments to spend reading this, you may find some unexpected humor. It had been probably a whole year that I struggled with the thought that my SUV was continually needing repair, in small ways but none-the-less creating a climate of concern, and more recently, had the thought of trading it in. The breaks were not performing well, and the back hatch would not close every time, as it should, unless you knew the "secret spot." The locks were all functioning, except the one that counted most, on the driver's side, requiring me to vacate the car to lock it, on the passenger side. We had just had the breaks fixed, so that spring sound came as a surprise to me, as the pedal would dip down just a little more than I wanted.We recently had the air conditioner fixed as well as the seat which would not fold down, on the driver's side. The tires on the passenger's side were losing air, the battery, which was newly replaced, had a problem with the readout, just below the plus sign, and I was losing patience. The fact that I had much difficulty cleaning it off in the winter, was just a tad bit as irritating as the side step-up, especially when icy, to mount the vehicle, which were both starting to rust, presenting a hazard. My mother-in-law has difficulty getting in, and the inconvenience of only having two-doors proved to not be the car of choice for my grandchildren. Yet, I grew fond of that old car, like a friend, who was an extension of my legs, and big part of over ten years. He served me well, accident and all. But, I traded him in on Tuesday. I had mixed feelings.
Mixed feelings is the word, yet life goes on...He didn't take care of my needs anymore. The new vehicle, also white, was like night and day. On the way home, it felt like I was driving on the ground. I also found that I was like a new driver who had to "learn" how to use the breaks, which were so sensitive, and being a sedan, required but a touch. Tuesday was the night we had to vote and because the line was so long, we went to the dealership where we got the car first, then, to what seemed like "madness," as the lines had not diminished one bit. I waited in the car, (in a full, dark, parking lot), having voted previously. Upon return, my husband could not get in the car, the keys were still in the ignition, so the car could not unlock. The parking lot was completely dark, and I couldn't find the unlock fixtures on the door. I had to start the ignition, to find the lights. The door knob isn't supposed to be where it is, and I kept reaching down out of habit, but couldn't find it.
There is no key-pad in the new car, so I will need to remember not to lock my keys inside, and the lights do not automatically go on and off. It must be done manually, or I'll have a dead battery in the morning. Also, there is a new feature, illuminating the panel, which can fool you into thinking that your car lights are on, when they are not.
I couldn't appreciate the features and package offered by Honda any more but I think that you almost need to be schooled on how to use, especially the windshield wipers. Luckily, my daughter-in-law and husband, who has the option, knew how to turn them off, as you can only play with something so long. Technically so advanced from the simple turn on and off wipers of days gone by, I washed my windshield in the rain, twice. I was glad to put them on intermittently, but when it started to pour, I found that I had to play with the gadget to get the wipers up to speed. A little scary while driving. I'm a fast learner, and I'm totally impressed with all that it offers. No longer do I have 6 cylinders, which I do not need. Just think of all the gas money I will save.
The salesman at the dealership was not sure of the code for being able to open the doors, when the car stops, especially on the driver's side, so were going back for a few adjustments. By that time, we will be "old buddies." We're going to get along just fine...I'm happy with my decision.
So, if your planning to buy me a new car for my birthday, your too late, John did, already. What do I want for my birthday? "Nothing more," your love will do. You make my life complete, just as you are. Because just as you are, you are my greatest gift...