Tag Archives: Christmas

I’m dreaming of a grey Christmas. . .

I’m dreaming of a grey Christmas. . .

A grey and cloudy vista can be morale boosting or demoralizing. Personally I have no real preference. I like clouds. I can’t imagine a bright sunny Christmas day in the northwestern prairie where I live.

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Effie’s first Christmas garment

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My and Effie’s very dear friend Jane made a marvelous little kerchief/cape for Effie. Even the envelope delighted us, addressed to “Miss Effie” in my care.   Effie now has a special Christmas garment, and she looks like Cat Supergirl. Thanks from our hearts, Jane!

 

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Lord, is it I?

21 Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
23 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
–Matthew 26:21-25, New King James Version (NKJV)

In light of reading this text for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time, I thought. . . Lord, is it I? Judas asked the same question, but he calls Jesus “Rabbi,” not “Lord”–and correctly. Jesus was most certainly his Lord; He was Lord of All, but it was not given to Judas to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord. Judas was never of Christ’s true flock.

If the true Apostles could ask their master such a question, they must have known such a thing was possible. Of course it was. And of course it is for me. It isn’t even a matter of conjecture. It’s a matter of fact. I betray my Lord every day. Of course I do; I sin because I am a sinner.

Judas betrayed the Lord, turning Him over to those who crucified Him. Ah, but Christ died for my sins. My sins put Him on that cross as much as Judas’s betrayal.

But Judas and I are not similarly situated. I am a repentant sinner; Judas was not. By God’s gracious mercy, I was blessed with the gift of repentance; Judas was not.

God’s mercy in granting repentance to sinners so that they may repent their sin and be forgiven, is an infinite gift of grace we should truly celebrate. And ideally, it is why we celebrate Christmas.

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Effie has no sense of sin; she lives under the curse of the Fall, because all Creation fell under the curse with original sin. Effie has no guilt and very little accountability. That is probably why she can fall into relaxed sleep, any time, anywhere.

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Give me Christmas at home any time

Highlights of my best Christmas ever:

My husband’s cataract surgery the day before Christmas Eve went extremely well. Even with a two-hour delay in another patient’s procedure ahead of his, our excellent surgeon completed Vic’s laser surgery before 2 p.m., enabling me to drive us home from Moscow with a little daylight to spare. He chose to forego anesthesia and did fine. Pressure is normal and inflammation is gone. He was on the surgery bed a scant half hour, and got off coherent and conversational.

I enjoyed our cheery call with my mum-in-law, and with my daughter and grand-daughter, and my sister. It’s rare that we’re able to connect with family in Oregon, Alaska, and Connecticut within a day. Next time we’ll have to add Vic’s sisters in Seattle and Montana.

We loved all our presents, and everyone loved our gifts to them. Vic and I have a perfect way of ensuring this. We authorize one another to get ourselves what we want. My mum-in-law loves what I pick out for her, and I assure her that her chocolate-raspberry jam is always in style at our house when she asks what she can send us.

See how easy Christmas can be?

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Sending off Sarah

A nearly incredible number of decades ago, Sarah lay in her Ideal box under our Christmas tree, her blonde saran glued-on wig of hair framing her face, her hazel eyes closed, her red mouth enigmatically neutral. Her party dress had a pink bodice trimmed with white lace and a green skirt with a gold pattern. She was a Toni doll, but I named her Sarah, after the girl in a story Mrs. Mary Lou Thomas was reading to my nursery school class. I was three, and this was my third Christmas.

My first words, on tearing open the box and beholding my new doll were, “This isn’t the doll I wanted!” Sarah, as I mentioned, was blonde. The doll I wanted had brown hair, like mine.

I was already programmed to discern my parents’ feelings, and their shocked disappointment was palpable. I knew I needed to fix this.

“I love this doll and she’s just the doll I always wanted!” My declaration was one part truth and two parts aspiration. I wanted to love this doll, I really did, because world–at least my world–peace and harmony depended on it. It is no mercy that I remember this so clearly.

My mother, a genius seamstress, made dozens of smart outfits for Sarah, none of which survived the five climate zones and thirty-some homes Sarah has shared with me. I eventually fashioned a Tarzan’s Jane sort of tunic for her to keep her decent, and just let her be a hippie. Then, about ten years ago, I searched eBay for 14″ Toni doll clothes, and connected with a wonderful woman who made Sarah a beautiful red-and-white dress. I purchased socks and panties for her from another sentimental vintage seamstress; and from a vintage doll vendor, I found shoes just like her original ones.

Sarah sat on shelves and dressers for dozens of un-played-with years. When my granddaughter was born, I knew the time was approaching for Sarah to return to active duty. My granddaughter is three; this Christmas will be her third Christmas.

I hugged and kissed Sarah goodbye before I packed her safely for her first U.S. mail journey, to a new girl, and yet another home, in yet another climate zone: Alaska’s boreal sub-arctic.

My granddaughter has brown hair. I hope she will love Sarah, and that Sarah will be the doll she always wanted; and that Sarah will be played with, and served pretend tea in nice cups, for many more decades to come.

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A sinner’s merry Christmas

I didn’t think so much about “firsts,” and seldom recorded milestones when my daughter was growing up. Some parents do, but for some of us, our children’s childhood whirrs by in a blur. I don’t know how the passing of my own childhood was perceived by my parents, but it was all kind of a blur to me. I usually think in terms of places where we lived and my age in those places. I have a few memories of events, like Christmases and birthdays, associated with particular places.

Or maybe I was only there in pictures.

This Christmas is my granddaughter’s first Christmas to which she has any chance of attaching any memories; she wasn’t quite four months old at this time last year. This year, she has interests: she scrolls through her mom’s iPad, looking at baby pictures. Does she know the baby in the pictures is herself? I don’t know. She delights in eliciting different sounds from different musical instruments; she organizes things in stacks according to their kind, and builds pretty complicated structures with Legos.

Somehow, though, I suspect this may be a first and only Christmas in many ways for my granddaughter, and for her attentive and ever-amazed parents. This is her first Christmas as a liberated, fully ambulatory being. She’s already a little woman: she has zillions of shoes. This is the first Christmas she will be clearly speaking more than 20 words in their proper contexts. This Christmas will find her sorting through the wrap and wonders, delighting in the mystery of it all.

At nearly16 months, my granddaughter has a sense that all the wondrous things to be manipulated in her environment are for her and are all about her. She is a competent narcissist. She is a fully evolved, demonstrably accomplished sinner.

She should be. She comes from a long line of sturdy sinner stock. We all actualized our birthright, brilliantly. That’s why we need a Savior.

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Stay well, die young

It occurred to me this morning — and my cynical mind generates such thoughts fairly regularly — that the impossible mission of the new American healthcare system, if something so unsystematic may be called a system, encourages Americans to stay well because the alternative is unaffordable, while an underlying imperative suggests that if you live too long, you will live only to face abject penury, as well as inflict it on others who have also paid into the false security of Social Security. The rationale of health insurance and its exorbitant cost — unless you are a government employee — now matches that of the atomic bomb: we spend everything we have on what we hope to God we will never need to use.

Brought to you by the same sponsors is a ban on the words “Merry Christmas” in banks. I noticed a news clip about a little community bank in Perkins, Oklahoma that received a letter from the Fed, warning the small local institution that the Merry Christmas buttons worn by tellers and some — horrors — religious symbols could suggest the “appearance of discrimination,” and therefore were not permissible in a federally insured institution. Big hands, small brains. Presumably Sen. Inhofe will send the Fed a memo, alerting the awesome powers to the long stream of case law upholding the First Amendment in such things. What next? Someone says Merry Christmas to you, and you immediately suspect discrimination is forthcoming? “Merry Christmas” is more likely to portend discrimination than fraudulent letters of foreclosure being released “by accident” by TARP-funded banks? Okay, so the age of wisdom is behind us….

As I read through the book of Hebrews yesterday, I was reminded of the underlying cause of the criminal idiocy that dominates our news. In every age, men have opposed God, the author of truth, the source of wisdom. As the third chapter of Hebrews so clearly sets forth, opposition to truth is founded in unbelief, and unbelief is disobedience, and disobedience is unbelief. While unbelief prevails, truth is opposed, wisdom is subverted, and the unthinking thinking the unthinkable will dominate the landscape.

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