Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scary Santa

     Chris has been around here since he was in high school. So much so, we became "Mom2 and Dad2." He and our son, Josh, are best friends and throughout the past ten years they've spent many days together whether here or at college.
     We usually have a Christmas party and the first year Chris came, he wore a smile all night. He loved the cookies, the people and the festive decorations... but later, I learned there was one decoration he wasn't so happy about. My Santa face. The one I grew up with in my childhood home. I always thought he looked so real. Just like the magical Santa of the story.
Not Chris. "He's scary! I hate looking at him."
     Just last week, Chris was on his honeymoon when I decorated the house. I couldn't help sending him a holiday text with a picture entitled, "He's baaaaack!" I hope Chris' wife finds the perfect place for this when I'm gone. Maybe above the bed?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Orphans

"I wish we had a big family."
That statement comes from one of our mouths every Thanksgiving. There are four of us in our family if you don't include the dog. Three of the grandparents are waiting for us in Heaven and the last to remain here is locked away in his own world of repeating memories that don't always include us. We have cousins in various places, but we never knew each other well. So, when holidays appear, we do our best to include our "other family."
I'm known as the cook, so it only made sense to invite holiday orphans to our house each year. We've hosted close friends who didn't travel, transplanted young families who couldn't go home for turkey and sometimes even set the table for just the four of us. On Thanksgiving afternoons, when it's just us, we' ve made a movie our tradition while others are playing games in rooms full of overstuffed stomachs.
Not this year. This year, we loaded the car and got on the road with all the other holiday travelers. I've heard the complaining about traffic, but I found myself grateful to be on the interstate with all those cars. It made us part of the gang. It meant we had some place to go and people to share with. Our son now lives in Nashville, an easy three hour drive. And, he works retail, so anyone familiar with "Black Friday" knows what that means for him. It was impossible for him to come home for the feast, so we volunteered to take it to him. I cooked all day Tuesday. Wednesday,we packed the cooler with goodies, picked up our daughter after a half-day of work and got on the road. Stopping at McDonald's for a break and a splurge on hot chocolate, I found myself humming Over the River and Through the Woods. I wasn't harried and impatient. I was smiling.
When Josh was hired by Apple to be part of their local sales team, he met some great new friends transplanted from various cities. It seems a few of their families were trekking to Music City for the day as well and at the last minute, the boys suggested we all do turkey together. We had enough food to feed 30 people and recipes from Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio and Kentucky. We included others from the gang who couldn't make it to their hometowns but were part of the family they've established in this groovin' town. They're all young, hip, relaxed and full of laughter. People you'd want to spend time with.
The families meshed together easily. No awkward moments. We all had a common goal - to enjoy Thanksgiving with our kid. The other families had left gatherings of 20+ in order to support one loved adult child far from home. It worked seamlessly. We ate, we sighed, we took pictures outside and then, when the sleepiness settled in from all that turkey, we started the game.
Apples to Apples was the entertainment choice. (How ironic is the name considering their employer?) Any uncomfortable inhibitions were tossed aside and we became a family of sorts. We laughed and made new inside jokes for this thrown together group.
"It's 'TAKING a shower, not TALKING!'
"That baby cry was sooo real!"
"Was there a melody somewhere in that humming?"

Later, we said goodbyes with hugs and promises of meeting again. As I settled into the hotel bed, I was thankful. For a place to celebrate, a kitchen filled with abundance, hugging and laughing with my family and for a special group of Thanksgiving Orphans.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Latte Gospel

“I just adore everyone in here. You guys are so special to me.” The woman standing at the coffee counter spoke in a loud voice that filled the room. It echoed off wood floors and stark walls. Her frizzed dark hair sat limply on a zebra print coat. As she walked to the condiment bar, her high heeled boots clicked strongly.
“Every day, I wake up and think to myself, ‘Ok, it’s time to put what I want in the closet' Ya know? I mean, it’s not all up to me. I think God has a plan and all I can do is make the best of it.”
“I agree,” said the young tatooed girl tamping beans while soulful indie music sang over the speakers.
“Do you? I know some people think they can control their destiny. And, of course, we do to some extent. I’ve given this so much energy. I mean, thinking it through and everything. It’s so deep. But then, isn’t everything?”
The coffee maiden nodded eagerly and simply answered, “Yeah.”
“All I can do is do my best. I try everyday to make a good impression on the people I encounter. I mean, what else can I do? If I try and talk about God to people, they’re just going to turn me off like I’m one of those intolerant obnoxious conservatives on TV. Oh my gosh, no way! I have my own understanding of what God is all about and I’m not about to force it on anyone.” She picked up her to-go cup and moved to the cash register.
“But, you guys get it,” she said.
“Aww,” The maiden responded.
“That’s why I love you guys so much. Everyone who works here is fabulous. Really. You’re like family.”
She paid for her double soy latte and clicked her heels towards the door. The busy city street lay in wait while she raised her hand saying, “See you guys next time.”
And with that, she carried her witness out the door.
A few moments spent in a new coffee shop. One placed smack-dab in the bohemian neighborhood of my city where mostly twenty-somethings and leftover hippies strive to live the politically correct, environmentally friendly and conscience awakening lifestyle. Where people are encouraged to be free, live without worrying about image and “find” yourself.
What I find instead is a pseudo community. Filled with people searching.They aspire to be deep and give approval to others in their quest, yet all seem to be empty and disconnected. Because they are still searching.
Searching people dwell in all communities, whether they are surrounded by head bangers or country club blue-bloods. Regardless of where I encounter them, I leave sad. I want so much more for them. And so did He.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10