From ‘The True Story Book’ by Andrew Lang. Illustration by L. Speed. Copyright 1893, Longmans, Green, and Co.,London. Original caption,’Grace Darling’.
My friend, Kim, lives in the country in a cozy, and I mean really cozy, cabin-home. The day I went to snap pictures of her Christmas decorations, it was snowing big flakes. It was a real life Christmas card.
When I visit here, I never want to leave. You’ll see why..
I was a young kid in the early 1960s, living in a small town. When Minnesota winters can be sub-zero and Jack Frost leaves his artwork on every window, it’s nicer to stay inside. Winter can seem like a long season when one is indoors for most of it. For the housewife, there was plenty to do with the housework and taking care of the family. If she wanted a break, she could watch a soap opera on TV, or telephone a friend, but by spring, she was ready to get out of her abode and catch up with the other cooped up ladies. When winter was over it was much easier to go back and forth to the neighbors to visit. No need to bundle up and step over snow banks.
The theme for Woman’s History Month (2013) was ‘celebrating women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics’. The names of famous women who’ve done impressive things is too long to list here. But I can think of several women in my personal history who are worth a mention when talking about outstanding females.
I think of my Grandma Frieda who made homemade root beer (science), fetched water from a hand pump (technology), made rag rugs on a loom (operating engineering), and had to budget every dime (mathematics).
She was born at the turn of the 20th century to Swedish farmers, spending most of her life near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border where the Rock Creek bends and turns through beautiful country. A typical girl of that time and place, she lived a simple life on the farm, then as a young adult married a local man.
I drove around taking pictures of church steeples.
I walked up the steps of a big old church to get an artsy shot and there sat a young man who looked like he’d had a rough night, a real rough life. He was waiting for a bus.
He didn’t give me any eye contact. I stood right next to him as I took steeple shots. I was in his space now so I said to him, “I’m taking pictures of steeples today.” He looked at me like ‘ok whatever crazy lady, who I don’t know who just got out of her car while I sit here and wait for a bus.’
Then a few moments later he spoke up,”Any reason why?” I answered,” Yep, sometimes I pick a theme and just go with it. I recently did old steps that lead to nowhere, also shadows, stuff like that.” He didn’t say anything as I snapped a few more pictures. I was sure he’d lost interest in our conversation. Then as I was leaving he said,” You could do waterfalls.” I turned around and said, “That’s a good idea!” Then he added in an upbeat tone in his voice, “..or tree stumps!” “I hadn’t thought of that one.” I answered, “Thanks for the good ideas.”
He gave me a nice smile and sat up a bit straighter. You know, I think I did go to church today.
My loved ones are far away, yet I still find myself almost giddy with joy. I do feel blessed to have the love of family and friends. I have a home, a job, and all my needs are taken care of. All this makes me happy. But I feel such an overwhelmingly deep joy that can’t compare to anything else in life, that I’d be a fool not to share it with others and let you know how to have it too. Christmas is a great reminder of the source of my joy.
This time of the year can be crazy and stressful or beautiful and meaningful. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Solstice , Kwanzaa, Christmas or something else, there is so much to do.
December is busy for me. I celebrate not just Christmas, but also our wedding anniversary and several family member’s birthdays.
I’m older now and more relaxed about a lot of things but the first few years as a young wife, I wanted to have the perfect Christmas.
i am writing this out of a deep frustration…
…at how the obvious is not noticed and the endless piles of mud are tossed..all the deep and lovely words about time and space and truth and beauty are raped by those who have put up a wall so high and so thick that no miracle or magic can be seen or heard through it……on our short journey through this life experience there is no place for these solid walls…
That’s just me hangin’ out by the jack-o’-lantern waiting to go trick-or-treating. It was 1961 and I was 5 years old. (Notice the dog face to the right of the pumpkin. I wish I could say this was a ghost dog that appeared when the picture was developed, but it’s nothing like that, it’s just our dog, Lassie.)
My mom had taken me to the five and dime store to buy my costume.
ON THIS DAY
(I spoke at my mother’s Celebration of Life service on August 29th, 2016. Here it is.)
For the past several years my mom was living her life in a wheelchair unable to do much of anything, losing the strength to hold a book or spoon, stay awake very long or to even speak.
This could be frustrating at times for her, this once independent, active person. And, I’m sure when she thought back to her prime years, that she found joy and satisfaction in those memories.
Sometimes on my visits I would read from one of her old journals she’d so faithfully kept for most of her life, and we’d both marvel at how much she used to do in one day. As her memory failed, her own written words from years past were interesting and enlightening to her.