Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Watching QVC's Christmas in July

QVC ran its annual Christmas in July promotion last week. I've never bought anything from QVC (or any TV shopping channel), and I've rarely watched QVC, but I watched it, fascinated by my odd, detached feelings. It was surreal and a bit melancholy to eye shiny, strange ornaments, realistic fake trees and fiber-optic madonnas with blue & green flashing backlights. But not because it's July or the holidayana was tacky.....(which it was).

Christmas, as a family holiday, marks change when your children are no longer young, and it feels like a loss. Our near-30 daughter and her husband recently moved to another state. They long to enjoy their first home at Christmas. She broke the news last week. Of course. We understand.

But it's sad for us. No gathering round the dinner table, savoring the feast as a family. No eagerly opening gifts with them, paper and ribbons flying. No Christmas afternoon movie while a fragrant turkey simmers in the oven. We treasured every corny minute.

And my son and his wife are devoted parents now to a delightful newborn daughter. Yes, we'll be deeply blessed to share her first Christmas, but we'll be fortunate to enjoy her for a few hours. She'll be leaving to join other grandparents, too. Of course. We understand.

Our college student son will share Christmas Day with us. He just wants money though. Frankly, there's nothing he needs or wants. He works hard, goes to school, saves, does well for himself. We admire him, love him, care for him. But he's self-sufficient. Of course. We understand.

And our youngest is 14. No longer a little girl excited to lay out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. No longer our sweet young child eagerly anticipating the dawn of Christmas morning. Her gift list will include an iPod, Old Navy clothes, a cool cellphone and a cooler printer......not dolls and legos, not pretend kitchens with adorable little pans and ovens, not story books to share with us. Of course. We understand.

We've been successful parents. Roots and wings. They're educated, self-supporting, faithful, optimistic and happy, clean and sober, are good citizens and know God ( in varying degrees). And we miss them. And we miss being needed by them.

QVC's holiday merchandise was fiber-optic and modern, campy to my eye. But if QVC sells it, it must be popular. It must be the new style of Christmas....instead of pretty decor with a homespun, country air. Like our decades-old, carefully-stored decorations.

Apparently, Christmas styles have passed us by. And our children have grown and gone on with their lives. They have their own Christmas traditions, or soon will.

Watching QVC's Christmas in July, I felt like I didn't even recognize what had always been our favorite family holiday. I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

And it feels like a loss.
But we understand. It's God's plan.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Thoughts of Babies, Price of Plane Tickets & Too Much Reading

Seems fitting that the first pic I ever upload onto a blog should be of two great loves.....Andrea, our youngest, and our first grandchild, Gabriella, born May 28. Aren't they both simply beautiful?

Spent part of yesterday embracing, feeding and playing with Gabriella. She fell asleep in my arms. Is there anything more peaceful than the face of a baby at rest?

She's precious and sweet. God's grace personified. There I go, gushing again like a new grandmother.....
We bought plane tickets to visit our daughter and her husband in Portland, Oregon next month.

Now I know why air travel is down: we paid the awful sum of $940 on no-frills Southwest for three tickets from Southern California to Oregon. Not four tickets. Not traveling cross-country. Just three of us flying on odd days (Tuesday & Thursdays) along the West Coast.

Part of the cost......$175....was for federal, state and local surcharges, levies and taxes, including $10 each for some sort of federal terrorism prevention fee. Translation: additional taxes.

It's ridiculous. Guess we need to get more excited about local tourism.
Two neighbors figured out that I write political commentary during the week while sitting here in my home office, gazing out onto the front yard. They're not internet-savvy, but are intrigued the idea that I am.

And they're also intrigued at having their two-cents heard, which both differ from mine. So if I'm in the front yard pruning roses or fetching groceries from the car, they amble over to give me their viewpoint. They like me, and feel an urgent need to straighten me out. Make sure I've considered all the factors.

Just think......I hid my gig successfully from the neighbors for six months. I suppose I should celebrate that as a glass-half-full victory......

I don't post as often here as I once did. It's not out of lack of interest....I adore posting here. It's my true confessions....the real me.(Family even reads this to learn what's on my mind.)

It's just that, with my About.com gig plus normal reading habits, my reading stack is almost sky-high.

As most of you know, I'm usually reading two or three books at a time...different genres, different topics. Escapist fiction, often set in an exotic location...inspiration or theology....a political or business betseller...biographies, often of political leaders, past and present.

But it's the stack of stories here on my desk that overwhelms me. I never seem to catch up. Right now, at this very moment, here's the list of my to-read articles.....

- What Price Love? Museums Sell Out (New York Times)
- Here's a Social Security Plan that's Really Two Plans (again, NYT)
- Why Are There Four Gospels? (Koinonia House)
- It Takes a Pillage (from a fave political blog)
- Who Is Tom Vilsack? (some political site)
- Ruling on Property Seizure Rallies Christian Groups (NYT from a week ago)
- Recipe for Greek-style orzo and shrimp salad (Splendid Table)
- Recipe for frozen tiramisu squares (Betty Crocker email)
- Recipe for pasta with zucchini, ricotta and basil (NYT)
Seriously! I need a vacation......maybe in Portland. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Freshly Homemade Lemonade

If you were at our home today, you could enjoy a glass of freshly homemade lemonade made from lemons off our backyard tree. Andrea and I made it to celebrate.....well, lemons, I guess. And sweet summer.

Here's our unbeatable recipe. Hand-squeeze 4 cups lemon juice, take out the seeds, and pour into a pretty pitcher. Mix in 2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups superfine baker's sugar and refrigerate for an hour, if you can wait. We couldn't.

Serve over ice cubes with a sprig of fresh mint.

And sip under the shade of a lovely, droopy tree......

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Balmy Breezes and Indigo Evening Skies

Ah, the lazy, delicious days of summer with balmy breezes and indigo evening skies, calendar-less days and a slower step.

We just got back from our annual summer barbecue with neighbors across the street, to celebrate her sister's arrival from Texas for a week of vacation. Ten adults, ten kids...chatting, laughing, singing happy birthdays over barbecued chicken, cold watermelon, my sweet-peppery cornbread muffins and gooey birthday cake.

And the local Thursday nights summer-concerts-in-the-park started this past week. We pack our antique picnic basket (a 1948 wedding gift to my parents) with sandwiches, munchies and fresh cookies,and rush to the local park with lawn chairs and the dog for three hours of music under a leafy canopy of trees.

Early July summer is an oasis for the spirit with the promise of endless weeks of vacation, rest and sacred dithering, of deadline-less days and commitment-free weekends. Of dreaming away hours over books, of baseball games and hometown heroes at bat and on mound, of relaxing visits with friends and family. And ahhh... the cooling comraderie of summer backyard barbecues and swimming parties.

Please, indulge me...tell me it'll never end.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Nonsensical Upside-Down Time

It's been a nonsensical, upside-down painful time for my family......Ron, Andrea and me. That's why I haven't written here much lately.

A college sophomore has developed an eery fixation on our recent middle school graduate, and to our surprise, that student has lately sent to our home two rambling, jarringly unhealthy letters. We responded ultra-politely, yet firmly to the first letter.....you know, careful, plain-spoken truth told in great love.

The second letter...three pages of narcissistic irrationality....arrived over the weekend, and deeply shocked and offended all three of us.The purpose of the second letter was to come between Ron and I, and Andrea. To divide us. I first grasped the depth and breadth of this surprising problem about a month ago, Ron did soon after, and now Andrea is absolutely blown away, as they say. (Andrea used the word "desperate." She's right.)

We have nothing more to say to the student. We've said our piece with grace, clarity and intelligence, and healthy boundaries have been set. The student apparently plans to ignore all boundaries, and clearly regards me as an untruthful culprit. That couldn't be more incorrect.....I suppose the truth hurts too much.

It breaks our hearts, but we're forced to change major parts of our lives to avoid this person. But change we will, with heavy, heavy spirits.

We said a prayer this evening for that student. And we have faith that God has a reason for this.

Friday, July 01, 2005