Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas is Over for 2008

The gifts are all opened and placed back in their box.
The paper and the bows have all been tossed.
The carols have been sung and the cookie tray is starting to look bare.

We’ve marveled at the lights, the Santas and the Snowmen.
We’ve wished our neighbors and our friends Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We’ve gone to church and listened to the story of Christmas thoughtfully told again.

The dinner has been cooked with love and eaten with pleasure by family and friends.
The house is now quiet and the guests have all gone home.
The sky is clear and the stars are bright in gentle tribute to a baby born thousands of years ago on this very night.

I hope that I’ve grown as a person this past year and learned to care more for others.
I hope that I’ve done something that made a difference and nothing to cause pain.
I stand looking into the sky and wondering how it must have looked that night as a baby lay in a manger sharing the stable with the animals who lived there.

Soon the day will be over and we’ll fall exhausted to bed.
Soon we’ll start to think about our resolutions for the coming year: how we’ll lose weight and quit smoking and stop drinking and all of the other things that we need to change.
Soon it’ll be 2009 and I can’t help but wonder what the new year will bring but find comfort in the constant: that next year we’ll celebrate the birth of Jesus again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Full Circle by Richard Paul Evans

I came across this poem a few years ago and it touched me deeply. I read it every year at this time. I hope that it will make us all pause a few minutes and think about what Christmas really means. Merry Christmas!

Full Circle

By Richard Paul Evans

Our family gathers 'round open script,

A Yule observance yearly kept,

And reads the lines of Bible writ,

The story that all year has slept.

A mother-Mary-in travail,

In search of place that she might birth,

That sin and heartbreak not prevail,

A son to bring into the earth.

And as she crossed

from door to door,

A stranger in

unwelcomed place,

Rejection met with

each implore,

This small

request from

Heaven's face.

And as we, this night, in our warm room,

Two thousand years removed and safe,

Condemn those who sent her away,

Claim we'd act different in their place.

And as yet, we too must make this choice,

As Christmas moves from inn to inn,

If we will hear its gentle voice,

And open up and let it in.

For Christmas yearly asks of us,

The question that it must impart,

Will we grant access to our souls,

Or is there room within our hearts?

We read of shepherds who, in kind,

On darkened night watched o'er their sheep,

Then beckoned once left all behind

To find that holy child in sleep.

At Christmas time we too are called,

To leave our troubled lives of care,

To set aside our burdened minds,

With God and man our hearts to share.

For Christmas

yearly asks of us,

That question sent

on angel wings,

Is there still

room within

our hearts

To leave our cares

for loftier things?

We read of wise men, traveled far,

Their gaze set on a bright new light,

And lifted to exalted star,

Inspired by that celestial sight.

And Christmas too does ask of us,

To raise our eyes to higher spheres,

Believe the best in life and man,

Embrace new hope, release our fears.

And so this scripture read anew

Was not just penned for days all past,

With each new year our hearts renew,

For this, of us, each Christmas asks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I love Thanksgiving: the preparation, the menu planning, the grocery shopping for all the fixings for dinner and the actual cooking. I start thinking about it in October and I even enjoy the waiting for the big day to arrive.

I cook the same things my mother cooked in pretty much the same way that she cooked them. The stuffing or dressing as we call it in the South and the macaroni and cheese and the sweet potato casserole are all based on her original recipes. I’ve modified them somewhat and try not to add as much butter but you can’t skimp too much or the taste just won’t be the same.

As hard as I try to avoid fats, I just can’t bring myself to cook the fresh green beans without the bacon and the pecan pies definitely don’t qualify as health food. There are some things that are just too sacred to fool with and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them. I figure that avoiding all the bad stuff most of the year entitles me to eat however I want this one day. And actually, it’s not the eating as much as cooking it and putting it on the table for everyone else that I enjoy.

I love when everyone sits around the kitchen and sniffs and carries on about how good it smells and how they can’t wait to eat. There’s chitchat about the parade and who’s been doing what and how the weather is cooperating so beautifully. This is what the whole thing is about to me. As I peel those ten pounds of white potatoes and ten pounds of sweet potatoes, I have a lot of time to reflect on the things that I am thankful for. The number one thing on my list is my family.

I am very thankful that my sons and their families live nearby. It’s something that I am used to but definitely don’t take for granted. Being able to see and talk to them a few times a week is a wonderful thing. When my grandkids are in plays at school or playing some type of sport, I can be there. I think about how wonderful that it is that one of my sons can drop by to talk for a few minutes and I know that I am truly blessed and I’m thankful everyday but on Thanksgiving I take an extra few minutes to give my thanks.

Everyday I’m thankful for my husband. He’s my very best friend and after all these years, I still enjoy his company. We were just kids when we got married so we grew up together and I can’t imagine not having him in my life. When we get on each other’s nerves and have a few cross words to say, I know that one of us will walk up and give the other one a hug and a kiss and everything will be all right again. And on Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful that he snaps the beans for me and grates the cheese and really thankful that he puts the twenty-five pound turkey in the oven for me. Sometimes it’s the little things.

I am thankful for our men and women serving our country who can’t be at home in their kitchens cooking a Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by family. We owe them all a debt of gratitude whether we approve of the war or not. I think of them everyday but especially on holidays when we are all enjoying our families and friends.

When dinner is finally ready and everything is on the table and we have all joined hands, I am truly thankful for the little voices saying the grace, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” And after dinner is finished and the kitchen is somewhat back to normal, I know that these same little voices will be out on the patio putting on their annual Thanksgiving show for all of us. The voices will now be a little louder as the show usually entails much singing and laughing. Life is definitely good and I am most thankful.