Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, truly one of the best days of the year.

For those with young children, it's the calm before the storm, the few hours before a (hopefully) joyous chaos erupts.

For those of us at our stage of life, who have adult children but no grands yet, it's a relaxed day of preparing, laughing, visiting and eating (too much).

For years our next-door-neighbors have brought us pizza bread on Christmas Eve, and each year it's always the same. It gets to be about lunch time and we all wonder aloud, "Do you think they're bringing the pizza bread?'

"Maybe they're not doing it this year," someone will say.

Thankfully that person was not correct. About 11:45 the doorbell rang and there was lunch. And it was scrumptious, as usual.

For a number of years now we have done an internationally themed Christmas Eve. This year the theme is tropical-island Caribbean, with a menu of jerk chicken, slaw, rice and beans, Cuban pork tenderloin and some other specialties Wife has up her sleeve.

She is in the dining room now decorating, and went to Goodwill the other day to get us all appropriate clothing. It should be a hoot, as usual. I'll report back.

I hope it's all merry and bright for all of you but I am mindful that holidays sometimes bring pain. I'm saying a prayer for all, and especially those who might be hurting at this time of year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A good reminder

 Debby had a really good post recently (well, all of her posts are good but this one was especially poignant) about seeing a man at church hugging his little girl particularly tight after a Christmas pageant. Debby could see tears in his eyes and she wondered to herself what his story might be.
And she offered a prayer on his behalf. Sometimes -- many times -- that's the best thing we can offer someone.
Her story reminded me of a scene I saw in the airport in Mexico last January as we were about to board our plane for home after our New Year's vacation.  I was sitting there at our gate, reflecting on the past week of fun and laughs with my family, when my eyes drifted to the gate next to ours. A man about my age, maybe a little younger, was standing in line with his two daughters and son. The girls looked to be college-aged, or close to it, and the boy looked to be 14 or 15.
As they got close to the entry to the plane, he began hugging each one of them, then got out of line and stood a few feet away from them. They were getting on the plane and he was not. One of the girls came out of line and gave him another hug. She was trying hard not to cry. She got back in line, and then the other two went over to him for another hug. They were all fighting tears. He held them each tightly, one at a time.
As they went through the gate, each of them turned around and gave him a big smile and he waved and smiled too.
"We had a great time, Dad," one of them said. He smiled again and gave one more big wave before  they walked down the ramp and he lost sight of them.
The minute they were out of sight, his shoulders slumped and he walked over to a chair, sat down in it and put his head in his hands. He obviously lived in a different location than they and their departure no doubt offered a stinging reminder of that fact.
I wanted to go over to him and tell him that no matter what might have happened in the past with him and the kids' mom, I was proud of him for spending a few days in Mexico with his children, making memories. I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him what a great dad I though he was and that there was plenty of time to repair any damage that might have been done.
I wanted to tell him that I could see by their eyes that his daughters and son loved him very much and he could spend each day building on that, no matter how far apart they might live from each other.
I wanted to tell him all those things but obviously I didn't know the full story and I had not earned the right to say those things to him.  I don't know, maybe I should have.
But I'll never forget that scene and I'm glad Debby reminded me I should pray for him, whoever he is and wherever he might be.
Because sometimes -- many times -- that's the best thing we can offer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow days bring back memories

This is for the "The More Things Change" category.

When my kids were in school, they loved snow days, the days school would be canceled because of ice and/or snow, or the prediction of same.

When it was predicted, they spent untold time looking with their faces pressed to the glass of the windows, wondering if the stuff would ever fall. Sometimes their wishes came true and sometimes they didn't.

Daughter was probably the most active as she anticipated snow days, looking out the window and listening to the weather reports. She would often ask me if I thought school would be canceled, to which I would respond that I was not an employee of the school district and not entrusted with that decision.

Or I would tell her no, I didn't think school would be called off and she should prepare herself assuming that school would go on as usual.

Both of these answers infuriated her, as if I wanted to dash her hopes.

Now Daughter, age 25, is a kindergarten teacher who lives here with Wife and me, and things are not that much different. Snow and ice were predicted for today and last night she was greatly anticipating her first snow day as a public school teacher.

She asked my opinion, which was the same as it was when she was a student.

On cue, she became miffed. Her dad's still the kill-joy.

But she got the fateful call at 5 a.m. Snow and ice, just enough to wreak havoc on the roads, and no school.

And our resident teacher got to sleep in. Despite what she might believe, I was happy for her.