Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dreams

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. It's late evening of the Christmas of 2008, and I, full of cookies and kidnoise, am taking a minute to write.
I am at my niece's house, and have watched my three grandnephews and one grandniece tear open presents and make a cheerful mess. Everyone should have kids around on Christmas morning. If you haven't any or yours are grown, go borrow some.
The word "glee" seems to best describe their faces as they tear into the pile of presents. Their parents stand by grinning, as well they should, for they are making memories, magic.

My parents knew how to make the magic. They loved playing Santa, and I think were disappointed when we were finally too old to believe. Our stockings were flannel, homemade and filled with hard candy (which always stuck to the cloth and was slightly fuzzy), fruit ("Santa Claus" apples were the big red ones) and nuts in their shells. The stockings drooped on a chair, for we had no fireplace to hang them on. The rest of the armchair held all the presents that Santa had left. I remember specific presents, the ones that stood out. One year a Chatty Cathy doll, once a doll dressed in the same flannel pajamas my mother had made for me ( a collaboration between her and Mrs. Claus, no doubt), once a jewelry box with music and a tiny twirling ballerina, once a beautiful three speed bike, always books and some clothes. My brother and I had to line up behind the closed hall door, dancing with anticipation, before being allowed to run into the living room and find our stuff. Each year, the proof Santa had been there was obvious; there on the coffee table was the half full cup of coffee and the one remaining half cookie with his very teeth marks.
Christmas Eve had its own ritual - the reading of the Nativity story in Luke, followed by 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, then the singing of Christmas hymns. I still love those hymns and sing them in the car the whole month of December.
I will always love my parents for the Christmas dreams they encouraged and fulfilled. They had very little money, but they made our happy morning the best they could. When I finally asked the question about Santa, my mother explained gently that, well, no, there wasn't actually a jolly old elf, but that he represented love on Christmas. That parents played Santa for their children because of that love. Somehow I was not disappointed, but understood and loved them for it.
I loved playing Santa for our sons.
Love begets love. If one is loved, one learns to love. I hope you've loved a child this year.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Look up this word online and you will get thousands of links (18,500 on Google). Gratitude quotes, journals, even dances.

What does the word mean to you?

Gratitude - being grateful, being thankful - seems to some to mean an onerous obligation, like when your mother prods you to say, "Thank you," to a great aunt who's given you an ugly sweater. Or it may feel like you have to pay it back, quick, so you won't be the one stuck receiving something instead of giving. The verse in the Bible about it being more blessed to give than to receive has turned out way too many pain-in-the-ass people who can't accept help, compliments, or gifts. It's really ugly to never need anything from anyone. Puts your friends and relations in the position of having to feel like beggars because they can never help you. But looked at another way, are you not giving someone a gift when you accept their help or gift? You are giving them the pleasure of giving, the feeling of having done something for someone else. I still remember when, after visiting my Grandfather and Grandmother in Florida when I was sixteen, I tried to give them a small gift out of gratitude for the visit. I had noticed that they liked a particular mint candy, so I bought some for them. I shyly handed the box to my Grandmother. She handed it back to me saying, "No, thanks, dear." I was hurt and confused. I'm sure she meant well, but it smarted. They had given me a week of their time and things, but refused my gift? Even if they hadn't wanted it, it would have been kinder to take the candy. It took years for me to be able to offer freely after that.

Yeah, I was very sensitive. Painfully so. Daydreamers can be so far into their own navels that they can't see daylight. Scared of rejection, scared to give, afraid to love.

I am grateful I am past that, for the most part. I am grateful for friends who taught me the give and take of friendship. I am grateful that I have finally learned it's not always about me.

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


The longer I stay on this planet, the more I realize that none of us has a clue as to what we are doing here. We join churches, political parties, sororities, fraternities, and civic groups in order to pretend we are not clueless. We form elaborate theories, do research and publish volumes of studies, debate endlessly and still end up - clueless.
That would not be a bad thing, except that in so doing, we hurt each other. We exclude people from our special groups, we claim to have the way, the truth and the RIGHT ANSWER. We, at best, only have a partial answer to what humanity is doing on this Earth and how we should behave while here. But that doesn't stop many of us from claiming to have figured it all out. The best among us kindly want to share our vision of the truth and thus reach out in ministry. The worst of us kill those who do not share their "truth".
I have recently become a Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church. That scares me considerably. As a Lay Speaker, I can minister to the ill and elderly, teach Sunday School, and even - and this is the part that scares me - give sermons. I have spoken three times at services in nursing homes. I spoke on passages from Scripture, the third chapter of John to be exact, and prayed that I understood it enough to speak about it.
In the end, all I could really say is this: We are created beings, created by a loving God. We are supposed to help each other figure this life stuff out. Wouldn't it be wiser to put our individual pieces of Life's Great Puzzle together, instead of jealously holding on to our little tiny piece while insisting it was the whole puzzle? Sheesh.
Pretty much, my theology doesn't get much deeper that the two Great Commandments.
I summarize them:
Love your Creator.
Love His people.
Now go forth in peace and hug someone.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What I Do For Money

I drive a truck. No, not your little cute compact truck - an 18 wheeler. Turns out it's the perfect job for a daydreamer. Don't worry - a major part of my mind is occupied watching out for major death threats like four-wheelers, but the rest of my mind is - MINE! I write poetry, think about stuff, listen to the news or music or audiobooks, plot my novel - I'm writing about a kid who is stuck riding with her Mom in a big rig. I'm up to chapter 15.
I'm just not cut out for desks and co-workers. And especially not cubicles - what incredible idiot invented those? Co-workers can be nice, and I sometimes miss talking with women, but they can really bring out the worst gossipy side of oneself.
And clocking in and out? No thanks. I pick up a load in one city and drop it in another - in between I am my own woman. Only constraint is that the load has to get there on time. I'm grownup enough to figure out how to do that.
All this and I am making more money than you'd believe.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daydreamer is Born

Sitting in that hard wooden desk, clutching a fat red pencil with no eraser, staring at a worksheet filled with repetition, not able to get up and walk away - well, that's my definition of hell. That's how I became a daydreamer. At first I tried very hard to finish each worksheet, but then I noticed something. The faster I did one, the sooner I got another one. So - I slowed down. I couldn't leave my desk except to go to the bathroom or sharpen my pencil, and there were limits on those trips. So - I left in my mind. Here's a poem about it:

Staring into space
(Special space)
Wandering mind
(Wonder place)
Drawing pictures
(I am there)
Not doing your work
(Saved my life)