Friday, December 30, 2011

Being Remembered

As a year comes to a close, news sources remind us of people who have died during the past twelve months, the people just about everybody is aware of, the ones who have reached the public eye. They didn't get such acclaim when they were born. Who knew what they could or would become? But during their lifetimes they did something to get our collective attention. Maybe they entertained us regular folks or committed nefarious acts; maybe they led the masses or designed products we all use. We will miss many of them, at least for a short while, then their names will be relegated to at best a history book, then forgotten with the passing of a generation or two. In my line of work, we see people who are not famous. Matter of fact many are the least among us. Some have lived marginally all their days and can hardly bear life on earth any longer. Today I remember a couple of those who have died this year by their own will. They won’t make any big world list, but there was someone who loved them, someone who will not just remember but grieve for a very long time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


At just two days past, we are still well in the Christmas season. Some of the people I have come in contact with are still celebrating or exchanging gifts, and others are talking about what they did on the big day. It is interesting to hear how different people experience it and what their traditions are. One tradition I have kept through the years is the reading of the Christmas story from Luke, preferably by the youngest reader, before the opening of presents. Unfortunately this tradition slipped my mind this year. I thought of it several times during the day, planned to get out the big old Bible, and wondered who the reader would ultimately be. But when the time came…poof…the first time in forty plus years, amid all the fun, I forgot, and we did not read the Christmas story at any time during the evening. Maybe I needed Trip here to remind me. I apologize to my children and grandchildren for missing this tradition. It has been as important to me as placing Mama, the angel, atop the tree.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Reason for the Season

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

John 1:1 and 12.

"Behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."

Matthew 1:20-21

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Treats

Sally and Caroline made some adorable goodies: these little mice made of Hershey kisses and maraschino cherries and this covered pretzel made to look like a snowman.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Orange Slices for the Tree

I saw these on line and thought they would be about the easiest-to-make homemade ornaments ever. You just cut slices of oranges, place on a baking sheet, bake for 4-5 hours at about 175 degrees. Turn occasionally. Mine weren't dried at the end of that time but I took them out and put string through them anyway. They will finish drying out while hanging. They actually give a pretty little translucent glow.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

And at Christmas, too.

In today's mail was what looked like a Christmas card, but when I opened it, the big blue letters on the front of the card showed that it was from the plumbing company that did some work for us this week. Inside were the signatures of employees and a greeting that said, "We hope we put a smile on your face." A look of shock and disgust would be more like it. Have you called a plumber lately? A downstairs toilet had a leak, possibly, and we wanted to have it checked. The other had a handle that had to be held down for an extra second or two for a good flush. When the plumber said he would go to the truck and come back with a written estimate, I knew we were in trouble. We did agree to some work but not all that the friendly young guy hoped. Good grief. "No," I want to say. "There was no smile." Those sinister people...

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Flower

The pretty poinsettia. It is named for Joel Poinsett who, I believe, had a summer home here in Greenville. In fact, many places around here bear the name Poinsett.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Joyful Noise

In a note in the church bulletin, the choir director said he could use a few more voices for the Christmas program. Happy memories of Christmases past popped in my head and I went to practice that October afternoon. I used to love being in choir. I loved all of it, especially all that went into big seasonal events – learning the music, the anticipation, the dress rehearsals, being one voice among many, and finally the exciting actual performance as we all aimed for perfection. Since I had not done choir in many years, I knew I would have to practice, practice. I knew I would have to dig deep inside to catch a decent note and sustain it. I knew I would have to learn some new music. Could I do it? Though I didn’t get as good as I would have liked, tonight I will be there, one little voice among many. Hopefully I won’t mess up too bad.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fine Wine

When we got home yesterday, we saw a box left by USPS on our front porch. The return address told us that a colleague of the hubby's must have sent him something for Christmas. He opened it and found these two bottles of wine, solidly wrapped. Neither of us is a wine connoisseur, far from it, but I knew I had heard of one of them. A quick search showed that the Lafite is worth a pretty penny. He called to thank his friend, who probably bought them at a wine auction, and eventually discussed its value. "Do what you want with it," the hubby was told. It looks like a good investment. The other bottle is pricey, too, but perhaps not too much for a couple of non-oenophiles to enjoy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Tree Story

Today the Christmas tree is going up. Its branches haven't come to a restful position yet as it has been tied up tightly for who knows how long, but with help it will soon be ready for lights and ornaments. Christmas is a time of remembering, and each year when the new tree is still bare, I remember an event from when I was about nine or ten. Mother, Daddy and I had brought our tree home from the Christmas tree lot and were placing it in its stand in the living room when Mother spotted a folded piece of paper hanging from one of the middle branches. She opened it and read the crudely printed words, "Will you please send me a shirt." That simple plea tugged at our hearts, and we wanted right away to send something warm and flannel to the cold young boy or man we imagined had written them. We wondered where he lived and what the circumstances were of his life, and we wished we could help. Every year since, I have scanned my tree for such a note, though I never found another, and thought of that guy who was outside in the hard winter cutting trees that would bring Christmas joy into people's home. I hope he warmed up and had a good life.

Friday, December 9, 2011


When I was in Israel, one place we visited was the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is believed to be built at the exact place of Jesus's birth. Since we are nearing Christmas, here is a brief account of my experience there.

The bus stopped at a checkpoint when we entered Bethlehem, and from my window, I saw the armed guards motion us through. It felt rough there, a little hostile, but maybe that was just me. Our driver took us up the narrow winding roads to an angled slot in a parking garage filled with other tour buses, and we disembarked and headed up the road to the massive old church. The inside was beautiful, awesome. There were sightseers, pilgrims from all over the world, mostly in groups about the same size as ours. Each seemed to have a leader who occasionally presented a lesson in a language that I did not understand. Pressed together, we the crowd inched along making our way toward the front, and as we did, we became hushed and reverent as if everyone was sensing the holiness of the place. I did not even take a picture inside except for one of the ceiling lights shortly after I stepped in. I just experienced it. In the front, there was a small semicircle of stone steps going down. One by one, each of us, from the four corners of the globe on a single mission, walked down the steps and under a low arched opening called the Door of Humility to reach the site over the grotto where Jesus was born. A metal star on the floor with a round hole in it marked the spot. We could look down into darkness as if it were that night. The sun was setting when when we went back outside, but we saw Manger Square where, we were told, many people will be celebrating on December 25.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Topping off a good hour

I really enjoy the once a month meeting of Republican women and leave feeling inspired, but I also like the old elegance that I find missing in new America. The table is set properly and pretty, we are served impeccably, and everyone has good table manners. It feels so right! For dessert yesterday we had this delicious baked Alaska pie, a specialty of the house. Peppermint ice cream in a chocolate cookie crust, covered by a high meringue and topped with a rich chocolate sauce. I snapped a pic with my low tech phone. Yummy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Arabic Coffee

Something else I experienced in Jerusalem was delicious coffee. When I was offered some, I asked, "Turkish?" because I knew of it, but the vendor, almost offended, answered, "No. Arabic." And I received a delicious, small, sweet, flavorful cup of coffee. I got this half pound bag of the aromatic, brown, powdery grind to bring home, but I have not been able to duplicate the taste of what I had there. From what I read, what makes it Arabic is the specific way it is brewed. In the market, young men were briskly walking the stone streets carrying mesh bags that held round metal trays of filled cups to sell to the public or workers in the stalls.