Off to college . . . one last time

college-clip-art-9czrjGRcE

Tomorrow marks the 13th time I’ll send one of my kids off for another year at college.  Thirteenth!!  Not that I have 13 children, of course, but 3 kids times 4 years each plus an extra year just for luck (or to finish up, as it were). It’s gotten easier as the years have gone by, but it still always makes me feel a bit melancholy.  As much as I don’t think I could live through those “little kids at home” years again, I’m looking with sad eyes at the backpack-laden little ones getting off the school bus in my neighborhood.

For all the first time sender-off-ers out there, my heart goes out to you.  Thankfully I’ve never known the actual pain of someone stabbing me in the heart with a sharp object, but that’s a bit of what it felt like the first time I went through this process.  Somehow or other my husband always seemed to be away on business when it was time to bring a kid to college, so I have done it alone a bunch of times.  Most of the times, actually.  It’s probably a good thing, though, because I turn into a lunatic as soon as I start driving away, my college kid waving at me in my rearview mirror. It’s probably best I’m alone.

Leaving Maria up in Savannah at SCAD about did me in.  That was my first time doing this.  We had a nice last couple of days together, getting her moved into her dorm.  We stayed at a lovely local hotel, had dinner at “The Chart House” overlooking River Street.

Oh, did I mention that her roommate was a very scary girl?  She had a flickering light above her bed that said “Bate’s Motel.” (This did not help to calm my already frazzled nerves.) But Maria was so determined that it was going to work out OK.  I tried to believe it too, as I looked at the finished product before me:  One dorm room – half with Bible verses on the wall in pretty calligraphy, the other half with horror movie posters and the aforementioned neon light.  Half with pastel colors and flowers, the other half black.  Half of the clothes hanging in the closet colorful and happy, the other side, again, black.  All black.  Not even a hint of steel gray or navy blue.  You couldn’t find two more opposite personalities.

The anticipation of the “good-bye” is the worst thing ever.  You don’t want it to happen, but you know it’s going to and that it’s going to hurt and you just want it over with.  I can still see her standing in the parking lot as I drove away.  I bust. a. GUT. trying not to cry in front of her.  I think I managed pretty well, too, as did she.  But as I drove back down to South Florida that day, I bawled my eyes out. I’d regain my composure, only to lose it again shortly thereafter.  Like when I got off of highway 16 and on to 95.  Bawled.  Then I calmed down, but then got out of range for the Savannah radio station, so I again, bawled.  Next, crossing over the border into Florida, bawled.  Each step marked being farther away from my daughter.  I had to stop at least three times at gas stations or rest areas to rinse off my contact lens because they got so cloudy from my tears.

I didn’t wear eye makeup for two weeks.  I knew I’d just cry it off anyway.

Maria grew to love her college. And that made me happy.  And then it was time to do it all again with Sean.  And a few years later, Teddy.  The first time bringing each of them up to Florida State was also a tear-filled event.  Wasn’t I just taking them to preschool?  How did this happen so fast?

I can’t speak for Dads, but Moms, I’m telling you to go ahead and cry.  Cry in the aisles of Publix.  Cry on your way to the mailbox.  Sob on your neighbor’s shoulder.  Wail to the guy making your sandwich at Subway.  Let it all out.  I promise it will get better and that “heart hurt” will soften after a while.  College is such an amazing time for them.  The last hurrah before entering the real, adult world, never to go back.

Wish me luck! Tomorrow is my last time down this road.  Lucky 13. I may need to only stop once to clear off my contact lenses!

 

 

good, good father

When I was a little girl and got a stomach ache (which seemed to happen a lot), my dad would say, “Do you want me to put my ‘magic hand’ on your belly and make it feel better?”  He’d then take me onto his lap and he’d put his (what seemed like at the time) giant hand on my scrawny belly.  (I was a skinny little thing.) I’d lay my head on his shoulder and without fail, my stomach ache would subside.  I remember thinking that my dad really did have a MAGIC hand because it worked. Every time.  I suppose it had something to do with the warmth from his hand, or the total security I felt in his arms, but to 6 or 7 year old me, it was total magic.

I struck gold when it came to dads.  Not only was my own dad one of the best, but somehow I’ve found myself surrounded with some other treasures as well.  I realize what a gift this is as I can count on almost all ten fingers people close to me that had not-so-great or absent fathers.  When I hear someone talk about her dad and the less than stellar example that was set, I can’t even quite imagine.

Let me tell you just a little bit about 4 great dads.

Dad and Alia

My dad and my cousin’s daughter, Alia

1.)  My own dear dad.  He was gentle, kind, funny, a great dancer.  He loved to whistle and he was whistling or humming or singing almost all of the time.  There was some swearing involved, though, when he tried to fix something and it wouldn’t work.  He loved to fish and “hunt the buck” (as in deer, not dollars).  He absolutely adored kids and kids loved him back.  I could write about him for days.  I wish I could say the darling little girl in this photo is me, but it’s not.  This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad, though.  You see that sweet look in Alia’s eyes, looking up at him?  That’s how I felt for the first 18 years of my life.  Lucky me.

Kevin kissing Olive

My hubby, Kevin, and our middle granddaughter, Olive

2.) My own dear husband.  And I hit the jackpot again.  I’d say Kevin was a very different father than my dad, but still, one of the best.  My dad was not the kind that struck fear into us as kids by a glance or sharp word.  Ummmm, Kevin?  Scary.  Not in a bad way (well, too bad) but he definitely has that intimidation factor working for him.  (Voted “Most Intimidating Dad” by one of our kid’s friends.)  He works harder than anyone I know and has always provided for his family.  He’s our rock.  He doesn’t often show his more tender side, but those three little girls that call him “Grandpa” have gotten him to soften up a bit.

Danny & Libby

My brother, Dan, and his beautiful daughter, Libby

3.)  My own dear brother.  So my brother is pretty much a carbon copy of my dad.  He has that same gentle, kind manner.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard him raise his voice, but I live in Florida and he lives in Wisconsin, so it’s possible that may occur and I’m not privy to it.  He has been the most loving father to his daughter Libby . . . oh my goodness, there’s no doubting he is “crazy about her.”  And she about him.  Lucky her.

Jared and girls going to church

Jared taking his girls to church

4.)  Last but not least, my own dear son-in-law.  The newest dad of the bunch.  Not even into his thirties yet, he’s the dad of three girls.  THREE GIRLS!  Jared lavishes his girls with love.  And can strike “awe” into them when they’re acting up.  Best of all, he loves their mom with all of his heart.  I just love this picture of him hauling all three girls off to church, not an easy undertaking.  (Maria is there, too, I imagine she’s taking the picture.)  And this happens every single Sunday.  Way to lead, dad.

Because of these devoted dads, it’s been fairly easy for me to understand how much my heavenly Father loves me.  I know so many others that can’t begin to imagine that there is some “so-called” God that loves them since their own earthly father didn’t do such a hot job.  If that’s you, I wish I could share my dads with you.  But we do share a good, good Father that loves us – whether your dad here was a good one like mine, or not that great, or awful, or not around.  God is better than the best of the best earthly dads. The song “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin says . . . “love so undeniable and peace so unexplainable.”   Yup.  That’s our Dad.

Lucky us.

Wishing all dads a very Happy Father’s Day on June 19!

 

 

deer feet

I’m not sure how I came up with this idea, but when Maria was pregnant with my first grandbaby, I decided to pick out an animal that would be my special secret-but-not-really-secret animal I’d have with just that child.  Winnie became by “owl” baby.  I picked out owl decorations and made her a stuffed owl and an owl blanket.  It just so happened that owls seemed to surge in popularity about that time.  (I had no idea I was such a trend-setter!)  It’s difficult NOT to buy every cute owl thing I see, and there’s plenty to be had.

When Winnie turned one, we heard there was a new baby on the way!  After pondering a few things in my heart, I decided this baby would be my “fox” baby, and so Olive became that.  And just like clockwork, foxes are now cuter than ever and just about everywhere.  Look around, if you haven’t noticed them before, I bet you will now.  Olive has received plenty of  fox-covered finery during her 4 years on earth.

I’ve found both owl teacups and fox teacups so I can have animal-appropriate tea parties with each girl:

owl cups

My owl cups for Winnie – I got these at a wonderful gift store filled with Scandinavian things – – these were made in Finland.

fox cups

My foxy cups for Olive – they’re from Target.  Not as fancy, but I still love them!

So along came baby #3!  After careful consideration, and a bit of back-and-forth-ness, Molly was to become my “deer” baby.  She recently turned one year old, and I’m still waiting for the popularity boom of the deer to hit, as the owl and fox did . . . no such luck yet.  I have found the occasional adorable stuffed deer and did manage to make a pretty cute deer blankey.  (It did have a few other forest creatures on there, too, but beggars can’t be choosers.)

Now comes the cool part.  Well, and the scary part.

Around the time of Molly’s first birthday, Maria noticed she hadn’t started to make any attempts at crawling.  Not such a big deal, lots of kids skip that phase without much concern.  But she also noticed she was never attempting to pull herself up on furniture, or ever put her feet down in an attempt to bear weight on her little legs.  Having had two kids already, my daughter knew this was a normal “baby” thing to do.  So at Molly’s 12 (ish) month check-up, Maria mentioned it to her pediatrician.  The pediatrician looked at Molly (who is so darn cute, btw . . . here, take a look . . . .  ) Molly's eyelashes

and said she did seem to have “low muscle tone” in her legs.  She suggested she be seen by a pediatric neurologist and just get checked out.

Since a young mom doesn’t hear the words “your baby should see a pediatric neurologist” every day, let’s just say it caused my daughter extreme stress.  Not because of anything the doctor said, actually.  I think she was actually really nice.  It was the googling that did Maria in. You can find out great stuff when you google, and you can read stuff to make you feel like your worst nightmare is coming true.  My poor daughter worried herself sick that something really serious was going on with her sweet little Molly.

Fast forward to neurologist appointment . . . . “big, serious stuff” pretty much ruled out.  It could be a couple of things, but the first course of treatment was physical therapy, which she’s still doing.  Some days at PT she’s a champ and does all the things she’s supposed to do.  Some days are just plain tough and she cries and Maria cries and it seems like a complete disaster.

It just so happens that one of my favorite Bible verses is Habakkuk 3:19 that says “The sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” Or it says the same thing in Psalm 18:33.  (I don’t know who said it first, David or Habakkuk.  Not that is matters I guess as it was Divinely inspired.)  But think of it . . . . Molly’s animal is the deer and her little legs and feet  need to be strengthened so that she’ll be able to go on the heights!

We may not see the deer become the latest cutesy trend, but it doesn’t matter. That God would lay it on my heart to choose a deer for this little girl makes me feel sure He’s working this all out.

Molly is perfect, no matter what.  My sweet little deer.  I love you.

deer & verse

Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.”

Molly holding deer

 

A Song for the Summer

Autumn Leaves and Exodus

This is the last week of piano lessons.  I thought I’d be a slightly modern teacher and send each student home with a simple arrangement of a current song, just to establish the fact that I am still young and hip and “totally rad.” (Wait, is totally rad a good thing? Cuz I’m not quite sure.)  My first problem, I don’t know any songs that are currently popular as I don’t tend to gravitate towards those stations on the radio.  So what does any red-blooded American piano teacher do when they need to know something nowadays?  They google it!  And, thus, I googled “current pop hits 2016.”  (That may be the only place you see the words “thus” and “google” used in the same sentence.)

I found a list.  Some singer’s names I even recognized.  (Even dinosaurs know who Justin Bieber is, for pity’s sake.)  The songs were all foreign to me, so I did a little listening and a bit of lyric-reading.

I now need to pour bleach into my ears.

Song #1 has words including “I’m sending pic after picture, I’mma get you fired.”  OK, I know what kind of pictures she’s sending.  Nope, that song won’t do.  Let’s try song #2:   “I’m a real big baller cause I made a million dollars and I spend it on girls and shoes.”  Well, not the exact ideas I want to send a child home with over the summer.  Next, please!  “If you like the way you look that much, oh baby, you should go and love yourself.”  Ummmm . . . no.  Not that one either.  There’s a song called “Pillow Talk” but don’t be fooled, it’s NOT the Doris Day version.  Scroll down some more . . . oh, here’s one . . “Let It Go.”  Whoops, not the one from Frozen . . . but it actually starts out kind of sweet and then SKKKIIIIIID . . . . “From nervous touch and getting drunk . . ” Nope, nope, nope.  Can’t use that one.

Perhaps the icing on the raunchy-lyric cake came at my next discovery. . . Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman.”  (Isn’t she a nice gal from just down highway 95 from me, down Boca way?)  I’m not sure why this song in particular rankled me more than the others.  But she says things like “All girls wanna be like that, bad girls underneath like that.”  Seriously?  First of all, I don’t agree.  Secondly, do we really want to give this message to all the teenage boys out there?  When we tell our kids that “No means no” and then wink and say, “but actually all girls want to be ‘bad’ so go ahead, she really wants you to.”  Are we really still in this place??  Little girls (and little boys) are soaking up this music like little dry Bounty paper towels and they are dangerous messages . . . maybe the song title really does fit.  But when did we go from Carol King feeling like a “Natural Woman” to this celebration of being a “dangerous” one?  God help us.

One of my girls came with a note from her mom – her grandpa had requested she learn how to play “Autumn Leaves” and “The Exodus Song.” Thank you, Grandpa.  I could hand those out with nary a care.

No current songs for the rest of my kiddos.  I may hear 10 versions of Fur Elise come September, but as I always say, “You can never have too much Beethoven.”  I think that officially puts me out of the running as “Coolest Piano Teacher.”

And that’s totally fine with me.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

blurry car

Do you ever feel like the world is trying to run you over?  Man, I do lately.  And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

I think I must annoy most of Palm Beach County with my driving.  The whole of West Palm Beach and surrounding communities is trying desperately to get out from behind me whenever I’m out on its roadways. And may I say, though I’m by no means proud of this, that I’ve acquired two speeding tickets and a verbal warning during my driving lifetime, proving I’m no slowpoke.  At the very slowest, I drive the speed limit, but usually I’m in that “area of grace” above it – you know what I mean – fast enough to still be safe and react quickly, but not too fast as to get a ticket (well . . . . obviously I misjudged that once or twice.)

Maybe I’m noticing it more in the last few years because I drive a car with virtually no backside.  My VW bug has a tiny backseat and an even tinier trunk (one might actually call it a “trunkette.”)  If a car is right on my tail, I can practically reach back and touch it.  It can be a bit alarming when I look in my rearview mirror and see nothing but grill.  Still, I love my little car, named Imogene.  (Her full name is Imogene Camille Carlisle.  I really have no good reason why, just that it suits her.)  Because of the close proximity to the cars behind me, I can see each “oh my gosh, get out of my way” gesture going on back there.  There’s the “I’m going to swerve over a bit so I can see if there’s anyone in front of you to see why on earth you’re going so slow.”  This is usually followed by the “hands flying up in the air and then slamming down onto the steering wheel in complete disgust” move.  Sometimes I can even see the driver’s eyes rolling.  And sometimes, in complete defeat, after they realize they just can’t get around me for a while, there’s the “place elbow on the door and rest one’s head on one’s hand as though they could just take a nap” move.  This one shows complete and utter disdain.

It used to be I just avoided driving on 95 and all other highways were fair game.  Nowadays I avoid 95 like the plague.  I’m pretty sure there might even be notices at each on-ramp through West Palm that deny my access onto it.  “Congestion ahead, drive carefully.  Patti Thomas, don’t even think about merging on here.”  Used to be I could take the turnpike for a less crazy commute, or 441 for a downright casual drive.  Not anymore.  I’m blown of the road pretty much equally on all three.

I’m afraid the drivers of Palm Beach County have not heard “The 59th Street Bridge Song” by Simon & Garfunkel, exhorting people to “slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last . . . ”  Palm Beach County, your drivers are definitely not “feeling groovy.”

The world around me is moving too fast.  Our kids grow up too fast.  The time goes by too fast.  “Didn’t this year go by fast?”  Do we ever hear the opposite?  If you take one step out of your front door and into the world, chances are pretty good you’re going to get swept along with the quick current.  It seems to be “normal” to be so busy you can’t keep up with everything now.  It might be normal but I just don’t think it’s good.

My prayer for anyone reading this is that you’d slow down for just a bit.  Savor the silence.  Embrace the quiet.  Don’t believe the lie that faster is better.  If someone blasts past you on the highway, let ’em. To quote another song, this one by the Eagles: “Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind.”  Despite that poor grammar, I believe this wholeheartedly!

 

Pearls from an Older Mom

snuggles

My darlings: Sean, Teddy & Maria – circa a really long time ago

 

 

It’s the eve of my 28th Mother’s Day as a Mom.  My work here is pretty much done.  My two oldest offspring are married and my daughter is a mom three times over.  My baby is 22. At 6’4″ with a full beard, and deep bass voice, he doesn’t look or sound much like a baby anymore.  Each one has turned out to be a wonderful, hard-working, funny, intelligent human being, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.  Not that I’d take much credit; there are a lot of things I’d have done differently, now that I’m a (ahem) “well-seasoned” woman of five and fifty years.  Here’s what I’d like young Patti to know . . . .

  1.  Worry less about what other people think.  I could spend the rest of my life writing about this since it has been such a stumbling block for me. Instead, I’m leaving it at that.
  2.  Teach important stuff more.  I feel like most days I had all I could do to just keep everyone alive.  The thought of actually teaching my kids important principles that they could look back on and say, “My mom always used to say . . . . . ” and then fill that in with some really profound concept, just didn’t happen.  I have a lot of friends right now that are right in the throes of raising their kids.  And they are doing such an incredible job. The things I hear them say they teach their kids . . . I never came close to that.  I managed to keep everyone fairly clean, fed, clothed and loved.  But no profound teachings came from my lips.  I feel like I was more of a “custodian” and less of a “teacher.”  Nothing wrong with custodians.  I just wish I would have been a teacher.
  3. Whoopdie-fricken-doo if the kids are always at your house and rarely at someone else’s.  When the kids were little, it seemed like the neighborhood gang ended up at our house a lot.  Or even when they were really little, it seems like playdates occurred at MY house far more than at someone else’s.  I would get quite severely bent out of shape that the child-sharing wasn’t perfectly even.  Yup.  In a perfect world, you’d watch someone else’s kids and then they’d watch yours.  Even steven.  Get over it.  If it isn’t like that, big hairy deal.  Your kid has friends to play with and you get to  be a part of it.  In about three minutes, they’ll be graduating from high school so just relax and enjoy this time.
  4. Don’t try to fix everything yourself.  How are they ever going to learn how to figure out things for themselves if you fix everything for them?  So they’re sad sometimes.  So they don’t finish first sometimes.  So maybe they lose a lot.  Maybe they get into trouble and have to pay the consequences.  Parents naturally want to make everything alright.  Everything is not alright.  People need to know how to take care of themselves.   It’s called being an adult.
  5.  God’s way is ultimately the way to go.  This ties right back up there with number 1.  Who cares what other people think?  Doing what you know is right in God’s eyes will many  a time elicit eye-rolls and tongue-clucks from others.  To quote myself: Whoopdie-fricken-doo.  If they don’t understand and do things another way, stick to your beliefs.  Fight the feeling to “fit in.”  God has entrusted those particular little people to YOU and you need to shut out what the rest of the world is telling you what is right and listen to the voice of Truth.

In closing, I’ll just add I didn’t bomb this job completely.  But if I had to do it all over again (and I couldn’t, I’m just way too tired for that) I’d heed my own “older self” advice. Maybe that’s why grandmas are so smart.  They practiced on their own kids and can put better skills to use on their grandchildren!   Wait, did someone say grandchildren??  Here are the sweet things that call me “Maga.”

 

Happy Mother’s Day . . . . if you’re a mom of human kids, kids that bark or meow, or have had a hand in mothering others’ kids . . . . may you feel loved and appreciated!

To Feather or not to Feather, that was NOT the question

70s hair care

Ahhhhhhh, 1970s hair care products.  The stuff dreams were made of.  This photo represents just a few of the shampoos et al that I was quite sure would change my life when I was a 15-year-old budding beauty. I’m using both of the terms “budding” and “beauty” rather loosely here. Truth is, there was very little budding going on and no one accused me of being beautiful as a freshman in high school.  And yet, my three best friends and I were in hot pursuit of finding THEE perfect shampoo/creme rinse combination that was going to make our hair stop traffic and basically, change the world.

Oh, and, by the way, you read that right: creme rinse.  Not “conditioner.”  When did it go from creme rinse to conditioner?  Doesn’t creme rinse just sound fancier? Anyway . . .

Linda, Andrea, Kathy and I considered it our personal assignment to investigate every possible shampoo and determine what was the most awe-inspiring.  And, lest you think we simply used a product straight from the bottle, let me stop you right there.  We added a whole new dimension: mixing.  Like half “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific” with half “Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.”  Or three parts Prell to one part Breck. The possibilities were endless and we were determined to get it just right. The trick was then to remember our “perfect formula” so we could recreate our life-transforming hair.

It was very convenient of Linda’s Mom to have a baby around this time, thus creating a stockpile of baby food jars at her house, the perfect receptacles for our concoctions.  Linda would bring the little jars to school and we gingerly put them in our lockers for safe-keeping. I’m trying to remember if we also mixed creme rinses, but I’m a little foggy there.  I think we left those alone and just concentrated on mixing up the bubblies.

Between the four or us, we had every kind of hair.  Kathy’s blonde hair was silky and straight and fine.  She sported both the popular “Dorothy Hamill wedge” and the “shag” (but not at the same time, obviously). Brunette Andrea’s was super-coarse and thick.  She had a wedge for a time, as well, although her’s was a considerably thicker one than Kathy’s.  Linda’s and mine were the most similar.  Both dark blondes with wavy hair.  Not a single wedge between the two of us, though.  We were so “out of it.”

Wait, is it possible you don’t know what Dorothy Hamill hair looked like?  Let’s fix that right away.

dorothy hamill hair

Isn’t she adorbs?

Here are a few other popular looks in the 70s:

Shag-260x300

Jane Fonda sporting a shag.

This was the page-boy, but we called it “Toni Tennille” hair. My sister rocked this look!

Susan Dey - The vast majority of us fell into this camp.

Susan Dey – The vast majority of us fell into this camp. Middle part, hair straight down and partially impairing our vision.

 But without a doubt, the hair we ALL wanted, no matter who you were, no matter what color hair you had, no matter what side of town you lived on or what you ate for breakfast that day, every girl worth her weight in shampoo wanted to look like this:

Flawlessly fabulous feathers!

Flawlessly fabulous feathers!

I have no words to describe this.  Well, wait, sure I do: “sheer perfection.”  How did she get her hair, I MEAN, feathers to flip in the perfect direction at just the correct angle all over her head like that??  I’ll never know.  No shampoo/creme rinse combination in the world could’ve gotten my hair to look like that.  Not many girls could achieve this look, not for lack of trying.  There were an elite few, certainly.  If you did, you have my utmost respect and admiration.  (Ummm, if you still do, it might be time to consider a change.)

And here I am now, in bad need of having my roots dyed.  (Apparently I did, indeed,”bud” and am way on the other side of that process.)  I may not have ever had hair that came close to looking like a TV star (unless you consider Lassie to be one, which [s]he most certainly was) but I sure had fun playing “shampoo chemistry” with my friends back then.  And waiting for the world to change simply because our hair smelled terrific!

Dear God, please save me from my stuff . . .

PareDown2016

Today a Facebook post jumped off my computer screen and bit me in the face (Embracing Homemaking). It was a blogpost from a year ago about throwing out old stuff. I’ve been on a wishy-washy mission to do that, and was doing pretty well back in August, but then life happened and the holidays happened and, well, stuff started to pile up some more. But then, there it was, accompanied by angels singing and lights a blazing . . . . A LIST!!! An actual LIST of things to get rid of . . . 200 items no less. Oh, how I love a list, don’t you? It’s so neat and orderly . . . just begging you to accomplish something and then . . . CHECK IT OFF! So much satisfaction. I scanned the list that this person had put together and found it to be really quite brilliant. There are a few items on there that will be truly difficult. Old books? Yikes. That’s item number 13, but I may knock that down the list a skosh. I may be a bit OCD, but not so much that I HAVE to go in order, or even get something done every single day. I’d like to think I could accomplish this by same time next year. Seems feasible to me.

You see, I’ve been getting this message of “Pare down” for a little while now. And it makes me wonder, “Well, why, God? What for? Am I going to move to a smaller place and need to have less belongings?” Or (of course, since we tend to go to the worst-case-scenario) “Am I going to die and don’t want to leave too much junk for my kids and husband to deal with?” I’d choose the former rather than the latter, but I think that’s missing the point altogether.

The point being: I DON’T NEED ALL THIS STUFF!…….. But the thing is, I sort of love all this stuff.

I could be a hoarder if left to my own devices. I watch that show on TV and wonder how anyone could live like that?!  The horror! And then I walk into my closet and find kid’s art projects from 1989 and purses I wouldn’t carry again if you paid me, but darn, they bring back good memories. Some of this stuff, has to go.

That’s why I love staying in a hotel room. You basically have all you need in life, and not a lot more. (Given there is a coffee pot somewhere in the building.) One can usually keep a hotel room fairly tidy because there is not a lot of stuff to strew everywhere. Because along with loving lots of stuff, I also have a penchant for orderliness. I love to organize things. One of my favorite ways to “play” with my granddaughters is to group all their various toys into their separate piles. Tons of fun for me, but a complete waste of time to them.

Matthew 6:19-21 says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Since I don’t care for moths, vermin or thieves, and would rather my heart be seeking more important “stuff,” I’m declaring a Purgefest. I’m going to make my way through this list one un-needed item at a time, so help me, God. I’m writing this down so someone will keep me accountable. Feel free to ask me how it’s going.

I’m not in the habit of quoting philosophers I’ve never heard of before (or even the famous ones) but this young man (Criss Jami) said it pretty well, I thought:  “The reality of loving God is loving Him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.”  Grateful today for a God who saved me from a lot of stuff and who continues to work on me daily.

Here I go – – item #1 – – CHECK!!

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days . . . .

Day_After_Christmas__NRockwell_1922

The day after Christmas.  When you’re a kid, it’s the worst day of the year.  It’s SO LONG till Christmas Day again.  When you’re an adult, and I have to say specifically a female adult (cuz that’s what I relate to), it’s the best day of the year. Because it’s SO LONG till Christmas Day again.  I think if you turn down the TV, turn off the music and stick your head outside your door, you’ll hear a sweet rush of air.  It’s not a cold front moving in, even though as I sit here in 80 degrees, I wouldn’t mind, but it’s the tired, relieved collective sigh of women all over America exhaling after feeling the weight of their household’s happiness on their shoulders for the last month, finally lifted.  My sigh of relief isn’t as heavy this year, as my kids are grown now, but I so remember feeling that huge sense of relief when all the presents were opened, all the secrets revealed, all the stockings – emptied. Everyone was pretty happy.  Happy enough.  Maybe they didn’t get every single thing they asked for, but they were still well-compensated.

Ah, to be a kid again.  Filled with hopes and wishes and absolutely no feeling of responsibility for anyone else’s fulfillment of hopes and wishes.  The thing about childhood is, you can never go back.

So to all my fellow-adult-females out there, I say “Good work!  Now, relax!”  No more Elf to move, stockings to stuff, presents to prepare, roasts to roast to perfection.  No more cookies to decorate, Pinterest posts to parallel.  No more “out-original-ing” someone else’s super-original-something-or-other.  Take 11 months off!  (Or until the next birthday in your household . . . but no pressure.)