Rings On My Finger

I am a chronologically old woman, 7 decades measured and counting. Growing up in a nurturing protected neighborhood, that mythical village, my siblings and I shared the blessing of never having quite enough, of always being required to try harder.

Political correctness came long  years later and our discipline included the occasional ‘good spanking’ to teach a lesson.   The culture of that time believed in ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’, especially in questions of attitude.  Mom and Dad struggled as the country climbed from the depression, giving us the best that was theirs to give.

We received our early formal education and training from women of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.    Jesuits and Benedictines handled a large part of our college educations.  Discipline and humility held up the foundation.

Two marriages to two good men gave my life balance, reality checks and the richness of ‘for better and for worse’.   Each marriage extended my  family and I am grateful for what I have learned from each member of that very large group.

Marriage gave me the most precious gifts of my life–my five children.  Each of them fills me with awe and appreciation.  Their gifts are strong and enduring.  Life situations have not always treated them gently, but they handle what happens and they move through it.

My education provided me with a paycheck for doing what I would liked to have been able to do for free.  Teaching was a 28 year ‘fire-in-the-belly’ that never banked.

Through my time from childhood to crone I have often been overwhelmed by the generosity of  friends, colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances.   These past four months are powerful life lessons in the blessings of enduring support.

And now?  Now I am Grandma/Nana.  No one could be more blessed by the lives of the five grandchildren who gave me my new titles.  With my wedding band, I wear a five stone mother’s ring given to me about 30 years ago.  Next to those two rings,  I wear a five stone grandmother’s ring that I gave to myself 18 years ago.

Rings on my finger, blessing of my life.

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Thanksgiving

Outside the glass, moonlight covers the  neglected yard with a beautiful look of snow sprinkle.   Doe and yearling stir near the giant Halloween tree, a huge Walnut that has gifted the squirrels with years of stash.

Snug in an afghan, alone, I watch for the sun to change that snow look to the sparkle of early morning.  Toys and books cover most horizontal surfaces, markers of the joy of grandchildren.  Albums opened beside me evidence years of family time, reminders of our passages as we came to this now.

This now is a quirk, a trick of time, a fixed thing but lost in a vastness that won’t give up its secrets.  Now is a month used up in a flash but seeming to go on and on— right into the now of forever.

At 3:32 this November 21, I awoke staggered with all that is mine, my very own and very personal joy, sadness, grief, comfort and my tomorrows built on this now.

My family, my adult children, their spouses and my grandchildren closed ranks protecting me with a fortress of their love, concern and their physical labor handling the details of this passage.

Friends reached across years and miles defining friendship with words and gestures of gentle comfort, the safety of our history together.

Enough.  I have enough of what handles the comfort of the body;  work, warmth, food,  safety, books, places to walk, a to-do list that marks both accomplished tasks and the beat of time.

Abundance.   I have quoted Dave Ramsey’s, “Better than I deserve” when asked that rhetorical standard, “How are you?”  And I am. So blessed, so much better than I deserve in the abundance of family and friends.

Thanksgiving marks this amazing gift that is my life.

 

 

Sweet and Sour

For days, I have thought about this blog.  Words appear in the box, and quickly delete for one of two reasons…too much syrup or rock hard cynicism.  Admittedly, I love the syrup— the Norman Rockwell/ Currier & Ives ride to Grandma’s house.  Teaching years spent with children taught me that delight is the key.  Paper bag turkeys and  cotton ball Santa beards stayed as fresh as anticipation on a five-year old face.

Despite our differences, the family gathered to celebrate our common history.  We learned to avoid the topics that pushed away from conversation to the brink of argument.    The adage about religion and politics in this era of anger and entitlement is usually honored.   At times, the joy might seem forced a bit but the effort was there.   Civility and the hope of a connecting (or reconnecting) were part of our thankfulness.

Cynicism has come  late in life and I still balk when the evidence is there.

Before Halloween, stores were decorating for Christmas supposedly celebrating an important holiday.  Thanksgiving doesn’t get much in the way of public decoration or retail acknowledgement.  Wonder if that could be that we don’t  really honor gratitude?  Could it be that money spent on gifts isn’t part of the Thanksgiving deal?  And if the so-called Christmas spirit of giving comes early enough, we spend more.

I know.  The economy needs our money.  If we spend, we circulate the dollar so recovery happens.  Stimulus, right?  Bonus time.  Fine, if the money stays low—down where the job seekers, the hungry and the employed but uninsured live.  Down where homes and cars and businesses are foreclosed because we bought the bubble.  Trickle down?  The pool at the bottom looks dry.

Cynicism?  Maybe.  Reality check?  I hope so.   Once upon a time, Christmas was one of the world’s religious celebrations honoring a particular tradition of beliefs.  Once upon a time, Christmas had to do with a celebration of the connections in a community of believers.  Once upon a time, the symbol of the stable held some sway over mounds of gifts under the tree.

All that being said, I love Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas—most of all Christmas.   I love being part of a faith community that shares tradition.  I love the twinkle of a single string of porch lights, a Charlie Brown tree in the living room, cinnamon in the air, the delight in grandchildren, the gentle civility and graciousness of adult children.  Syrup trumps again.

 

 

 

Giving Thanks

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, 2009, the newspaper printed paragraphs of personal reasons for experiencing gratitude.  It was all there—family, friends, health, home, country, food, work, education, earth—blessings often so familiar we take them for granted.

Beautiful holiday and the tag line is ‘giving’.  Not the giving of gifts that can crowd out the reason for celebration, but the giving that goes eye-to-eye and says, “I care and I appreciate.  My life is better because you are with me as I make the journey.”

We hold back assuming that our loved ones know.  Not a good plan.  Speak the words even if they choke a bit coming out.  Could be that the words might be  received with a hint of  discomfort.  Still it is important to say them.  The   discomfort will dissolve in familiarity.

As a personal addition to the gratitude list, I  thank you, Gentle Reader, for being part of my journey.  I appreciate you.

 

 

 

Not Just For Today

I forget.  When I think about it all, I can bog in the down side.  Never, ever will I discount what teeters us towards the ugly.  And sometimes, I do forget.

I forget what is stunningly beautiful in our balance.   Could be I take it all too much for granted rather than actually forgetting.

Today I received an email from my friend, Tim,  in  South Carolina describing his share of the cooking responsibilities for holiday meals.  He does make me laugh.

Pounder.  Tim is the pounder, smushing food to such thinness that all calories disappear— right along with any friends who might otherwise accept dinner invitations.

OK.  Maybe my brain is on the shallow side, but such fun is just what I need to bring me back to understanding how important gratitude is to every single day.  Kudos to the pounder!