Monday, December 30, 2013

A Gracious Response to the VA

So the boys' school made headlines both here and in the national media. Here's the scoop:  Students arrived at our local VA hospital to sing Christmas carols and were handed a list of twelve, VA approved, secular songs, and were informed that those were the only songs allowed. The principal chose to take our students back to school.

There's been some outrage.

And then some outrage in response to the outrage.

They should have stayed! They were right to leave! And my favorite: What would Pope Francis have done?

I know the principal -- he's a friend, my former boss, a co-worker for many years. When I've done some small service for our school, I've received a thoughtful thank you note. Any time in the hurly burly of teacher-principal relationships things became tense, I'd expect and get a kind word in short order. So this I know: Dan is a gracious man. He arrived at the VA intent on bringing a little joy and levity to our veterans, not planning to ignite controversy. And I'm sure he handled it all with tact and decency.

I remember Christmas caroling as a child. We lived in a family-friendly neighborhood with a slew of small houses. My sister and I would team up with our two best friends, Adrienne and Susan, and spend hours copying out song sheets by hand. Those were the days when copy, cut, and paste was the real deal -- loose leaf paper, scissors, and tape. Sheaves of paper in hand, we would wend our way around the block singing Christmas tunes.We did it for the love of singing . . . and because indulgent neighbors usually handed us cookies or, better still, a handful of change.

I recall the night we stood in someone's foyer, began to sing, and then noticed Happy Hanukkah strung across the window in blue crepe paper and a Menorah sitting on a nearby table.

For a moment I thought of six-year-old John's response when he sees two people kissing: Awkward!

But it wasn't awkward.

Because the women listened and smiled and handed us I don't remember what, quarters or brownies, and thanked us for coming.

She was gracious.

We weren't there to insult or to convert. We were a bunch of kids spreading a little Christmas cheer. We were not there to offend, and she didn't take offense.

What is so sorely lacking in this world of ours is this sort of graciousness, a simple, humble tendency to think the best of others and to resist reaching for a memorandum or a pitchfork and a torch every time things don't go exactly our way.

We've attempted to teach our kids that being passionate about your faith does not require disdain for the faith of another person. It helps that they've grown up in an ecumenical community and have been raised along side Jewish cousins. That doesn't mean it's been a slam dunk in any respect. Children are black and white thinkers. If what I do is good, and you do something different, then, logically, that different thing must be bad, right? And then there's boys being boys. They have this innate need to pick, poke, and prod at every single thing -- braces, weight, glasses, zits, whether you say You Guys or Y'all, and, yes, the lengthy list includes religion.

We were heading for the dairy case at Food Lion one December night a few years back when I heard my older boys chuckling and then spotted my visiting nephew furiously texting. We had just passed the meat section and wouldn't you know my guys just couldn't resist making pork jokes to their Jewish cousin. Where oh where can you pick up a thumb screw when you need it? I hissed ominous threats while trying to reach my sister whose husband had already talked to his son and basically told him this: Lighten up and learn to take a pork joke or two.

It was a lesson in being gracious.

A lesson for all. of. us.

We can arms ourselves with lists and legislation. We can rattle virtual sabers all over Facebook and Twitter. We can continue to attempt to draw a hard line between church and state, between the secular and the sacred, between what happens on private and public property, between Christian high school students and aging VA patients.

And the society we produce will be more sterile and less engaged, comprised of cold, compartmentalized, homogeneous entities who can neither share nor celebrate with one another -- in short, a society that has forgotten how to be gracious.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rent a Four-Year-Old

Everyone needs a four-year-old on Christmas morning.

So said my friend Holly on Facebook.

She's spot on.

Add a six-year-old boy for an extra dose of holiday cheer.

They love it all.

They can't wait to see baby Jesus in the manger. And, boy, was John disappointed that the manger was still empty after 6:00 p.m. Mass. They love the lights. John loves the Christmas station  -- I'd bet he knows thirty Christmas carols by now, and he walks around the house singing them. (And nothing beats his rendition of "Walking Around the Christmas Tree".)

And then, of course, there are the gifts. I know, I know -- really, I know -- it's not all about the gifts, but little people in the house make the gift giving so. much. fun.

Everyone needs a four-year-old on Christmas morning.

They love it all.

Ainsley has worn her Dora jammies for three four days straight. They are beginning to remind me of my nephew, Nick, and his Batman t-shirt. We had to peel it off him at night and run it through the laundry fast.

John loves his pirate ship. He loves his Batman watch. He loves his space jammies. He loves it all, and he makes everyone around him happier.

The big boys are content as well. Kolbe is thrilled with his Penny Board. Tim's favorite was a board game -- Axis and Allies: The D Day edition. He and his friends played for six hours the other day.

Christmas was a long, quiet, relaxing day enjoying the kids enjoying their gifts and enjoying the special gift of having Dave's parents with us for the first time. I think I got out of my jammies about three o'clock when a priest friend of ours popped by to say hello.

The morning of December 26th found me cruising up the highway headed for the doctor's office with Kolbe riding shotgun (fever, cough, vomiting -- that perfect trifecta of  post-holiday misery). I passed the mall, and it was packed. Not Christmas Eve packed. Believe it or not, I -- a person who doesn't go the mall five times in any given year -- entered the mall on Christmas Eve. JC Penney, see, knows how to get you in the store. Embracing the generosity that makes the Christmas season so special, Penney's sent me a coupon for $10 off a $10 purchase. Funny, they seem to do this every year. And who can stand to let that pass? Free stuff!

The trick is that there are Exclusions. As in almost every single thing in the store is Excluded. This year, however, I scored. I grabbed the last item in the entire store that wasn't on sale -- a red Izod tie that retailed for a steep $16 -- and got it for a mere six bucks.

I think the last time I was in a mall on Christmas Eve was about 1982. Sometime about mid-morning on Christmas Eve, Dad let slip that perhaps -- just maybe -- he hadn't quite gotten around to buying anything for Mom and would my sister and I please bail him out? Enablers that we were, we did indeed bail out dear Dad. So about 4:00 on Christmas Eve, we were standing in the checkout line at Sears in Oakland Mall. The front doors opened. In strolled two teenage boys who proceeded to grab armfuls of coats and bolt back outside to a getaway car.


I don't like shopping on Christmas Eve.

I like shopping the day after Christmas even less.

Many years ago my sister and I used to hit the stores for the post-Christmas sales. Oh, the thrill of the chase! Crate and Barrel was always high on our list of stores to hit. Cute, trendy Christmas decor for a song. I bought my tree skirt there  -- a beautiful tree skirt I love, love, love -- and raced home to to brag to Dave about my savvy shopping.

Me, thrilled: Crate and Barrel had all their Christmas wares 75% off. $38 bucks!

Dave: Great! So what was the sale price?

Me, perplexed: Ummmm, $38 bucks.

Dave: ???

This year the very idea of going shopping makes me feel like I've eaten too much chocolate cake. We didn't overdo this year, but enough. Just enough.

(I'm typing this just before getting a piece of pumpkin pie for lunch. Ironic.)

Anyway . . .
Merry Christmas!

And borrow a four-year-old if you need a little holiday cheer!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Manger or the Mall

So maybe I happened upon a reflection on Advent that had a title similar to this one.

And maybe I rolled my eyes at it.

And maybe I didn't even read the thoughtful, uplifting words the author offered because, darn it!, there was shopping to do!

We have two kinds of Christmases around here: There's At Home Christmas, and there's Go To Michigan Christmas.

This year is At Home and, though I dearly, dearly love my family, I am so, so, so happy that I am not engaged in the madness that invariably precedes any road trip --  inventorying mittens, wringing my hands over the mountain of luggage and gifts that must somehow fit into our a mini-van, eyeing the forecast along I-77 and I-75, fielding phone calls from my Dad who has been eyeing the forecast along I-77 and I-75.

For many years, friends and I attended an appreciation dinner that typically fell on around December 14th. My good friend Anna once quipped, "Can't they appreciate me in February?"

Well said.

I love my family. I can love them next July, too.

At Home Christmas means no weather worries, no random thoughts about swapping the mini-van for a Suburban, no checking caller I.D. to see if my Dad is phoning in an updated forecast.

There is, of course, a downside. Crunch time comes early because everything that would normally go North in our well-worn van goes U.S. Mail instead.

I  have nine  eleven packages to ship.

Nine Eleven.

That's nearly ten twelve, and it's a whole lot of shopping and wrapping and hunting for things I put in some very good storage spot that, you guessed it!, I can no longer pinpoint. I lost a whole bag of gifts briefly the other day.

Yes, crunch time comes early, and early meant last Tuesday at about 2:00 when I realized a few things had to get done and get done fast.

We are thrilled that Dave's parents are coming down for the holidays. We have never had guests for Christmas. One of the reasons we redid Tim's room was to accommodate guests. But house guests -- even easy house guests -- summon my inner Martha Stewart, and I dream up all manner of preposterous household projects to do. What's more, I usually accomplish quite a few of them. I get more done in the seventy-two hours before guests arrive than I do all year. Piles I have wrangled with for months suddenly vanish; trim gets a fresh coat of paint; mismatched lampshades coordinate.

If I had house guests once per month, no job would tarry long.

I'm forever eye-balling the bathroom ceilings which are long overdue for spackle, sand, and paint. For about sixty seconds I pondered painting the kitchen cabinets. I even have the paint. As arrival time approaches, I typically do a slash and burn job on my overly-ambitious To Do List. Bathrooms make the cut, but big jobs like curtains and cabinets? Nope. With a long list 'o projects, I start off wholly optimistic ( A girl can dream, right?), move to realistic (Ceilings? Hah!), and descend into cynicism (Cabinets? Was the hope drunk wherein she dressed herself?).

Somehow the critical jobs get done. Every time.

Ainsley, meanwhile has concerns all her own. For starters she was shocked to hear the disturbing rumor that her little friend across the street had wound up on The Naughty List. "They don't have a naughty list at my school," Ainsley told me with palpable relief. "Besides, I be good at school."

And then there's the issue of the fireplace

"How will Santa get down our chimney," she asked Tim the other day.

"Ah, yes," he replied philosophically, "that is the perennial question."

He launched into a long-winded explanation that involved Mom and Dad cranking up the heat really high, and I don't know what else, but it's easy to placate a four-year-old who's convinced she's escaped The Naughty List.

May the last few days of Advent find you at peace!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Making Room at the Inn

Can anyone please explain why the addition of one Christmas tree -- a Frazier Fir that takes up about  three square feet -- leaves me feeling as though someone just parked a grand piano in the middle of my living room?

Of course, as my faithful readers know, the Christmas season comes on the tail end of a  months' long de-cluttering, re-organizing effort. Last summer I felt inspired to sacrifice the room that has served as our study in order to give our sixteen-year-old his own digs. This wasn't too, too much of a sacrifice in that mostly I loathed the study, which seemed to inevitably devolve into a dumping ground of all extrania. Though it had the makings of a functional room, even an attractive room, never could I rise above the onslaught of stuff.

The thing about the onslaught is this: It's perpetual. We think it's seasonal -- a child has a birthday; you expect stuff. Christmas, lots of stuff. But school papers and Boy Scout trips, sporting events and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd -- these are constants in our lives, and they bring with them math tests and shin guards, permission slips and wooden figures of the twelve apostles, and somehow most of it ended up in the study.

Absorbing an entire roomful of stuff is not for the faint of heart. It has been a tough job. I'm down to a just few boxes . . .  and one behemoth of a treadmill. Treadmills, you see, belong in a basement or a garage, neither of which came with this house of ours. I grew up in Michigan where, with few exceptions, even the most modest of homes has both a garage and a basement. We have a humble shed.

The treadmill moved first into the master bedroom. When the study and the bedroom merged, the treadmill went to living room. When the Christmas tree moved in, the treadmill had to vacate the premises. It is currently occupying a good chunk of real estate in John and Kolbe's room. The long term plan is to empty a closet and have it take up residence there. This will not happen before Christmas.

Playing musical chairs with a treadmill is not my idea of a good time, and it all strangely reminds me of The Cat and the Hat. When your mess is So Big and So Deep and So Tall that your mother will not like it at all, you have to do something with it. The Cat and the kids just had Thing 1 and Thing 2 to contend with. I think John qualifies as Thing 3, and Ainsley, with her propensity to try on four outfits before breakfast, why, I think Ainsley would be Things, 4, 5, and 6. This morning she appeared at the table in a black velvet dress complete with sequins, but quickly informed me she fully planned to change before tackling her waffles because those togs "weren't eating clothes."

She needs Anna the lady's maid and fast.

Meanwhile I could use, Daisy, Carson, the whole downstairs staff, as a matter of fact.

I tackled the bathroom the other day. It's so sparkling clean, I'm thinking about getting a roll of police tape and cordoning the whole thing off until after my in-laws arrive on Friday.

Back to de-cluttering and jostling, re-arranging and sorting. Pretty soon we'll resort to simply hiding. Smoke and mirrors, as my friend Bill used to say, smoke and mirrors!

Making room at the Inn -- one way or another.

Friday, December 13, 2013

What I'm Gonna Do When I Get home

Kiss my husband.

Squeeze my Ainsey.

Read Frog and Toad to John.

Listen to Tim play the piano.

Catch up with Kolbe.

Avoid whining about cleaning, grocery shopping, yard work -- really anything that requires a healthy body and a dash of agility.

Make cookies.

Make these.

Make no left turns, maybe ever again, if I can possibly avoid them.

Avoid two lane roads.

Enjoy my coffee (and not that, ummm, sludge my dear Dad brews).


Take my calcium and vitamin D.

Take a second dose.

Feel the soft, healthy cheeks of my little people.

Drink hot chocolate laced with candy canes.

Listen to The Nutcracker with Ainsley.

Sign Ainsley up for ballet.

Feel cold for the first time since Saturday.

Decorate our tree.

Call my Mom and Dad to say I love you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Those Bothersome Elves

From the Florida Keys . . .

My parents are doing better . . . still in need of prayer . . . but both doing better. The crisis has passed and now we need to tackle the longer term problems . . . and tackle them with both the hope and the fortitude they will surely demand.

Meanwhile I've been taking Dad out for coffee and playing hours and hours of Scrabble with Mom. And if they can go out for coffee and play Scrabble, things clearly are better (Far! Better!) than they were just a few days ago.

I've been trying to get the folks moved into their house and generally situated for their winter stay in Florida. Right at the top of Dad's To Do List was a daunting task: Breaking into his email account. I have touched on this issue before -- my dear Dad and that confounded Internet. I was laughing about this very subject just the other day with two of Dad's close friends. Dad and the Internet -- a love/hate relationship if ever there was one.

Here is the thing you have to know about my Dad: He is one bright, capable guy. In certain areas he's not just bright; he's brilliant. The Internet doesn't happen to be one of those areas.

Last summer the unenviable job of accessing Dad's email fell to my long-suffering sister, Kate. Before calling on Kate's services, Dad had tried all variations of passwords and finally resorted to answering security questions. And it all went something like this:

Question: What is your oldest daughter's childhood nickname?

Answer: *****

Email successfully accessed.

Dad was incredulous. I mean, incredulous. Who put that in there? How did they know that? What's going on with this thing?

Hint to Dad: It wasn't Elves.

Let me reiterate: My  father is one of the sharpest people I've ever known. He builds radios, uses Morse code fluently, plays a wicked game of chess, routinely digests books like Chess Openings and The Open Sicilian 1-- and that last title has nothing to do with pizza.

But this pesky Internet? It's positively baffles him.

So, with just the slightest patronizing air, I attempted to log onto his account. I accessed the security questions. I entered the name of the place my parents had once vacationed. I entered just the state. I entered the city. I  tried the city and state. I added a comma. I omitted the comma. I tried all caps, some caps, no caps.

I abandoned ship and tried to access my own email and had no more success with that. I correctly answered questions -- really, I did, no, I really did, darn it! -- with caps, with commas, with a dash of salt thrown over my shoulder.


Suddenly the Elves didn't seem quite so far-fetched, and I was forced to confront an uncomfortable truth: I'm turning into my father.

He, at least, can still tap out messages in Morse code. As for me, I'm slipping big time. One minute you think you're in control of all your faculties, the next you're scratching your head saying, "Six times seven? Hang on, hang on. I know this one. I know this one."

Not too long ago, I hid the remote to our streaming device. Why, you ask? Because maybe I couldn't decipher the parental controls. So I pulled out the ultimate parental control and hid the blasted thing. And now you can probably guess the ending to this pathetic saga. I can't find it. Checked all the usual spots. No dice. So while I was incredibly stressed thinking about my parents and trying to pack up and facing mountains of laundry that all could have been done oh-so-very-easily if I could just have watched a few re-runs of Downton Abbey. But no remote!

Does Saint Anthony respond if the request involves a soap opera?

Now my boys, they swear I can turn my I-pad into a remote. How they know this, I can not tell you. They are on some sort of mailing list that has bypassed me entirely.

And then there are the non-technological issues.

Kolbe was on day eight of a ten day antibiotic. That boy had faithfully taken his meds. Ever dependable is my Kolbe. One morning I peered into the bottle and was surprised to see so many pills left. One glance at the bottle told me the reason why. Take TWO tablets twice per day. TWO! Which is not to be confused with ONE which, mathematically speaking, is HALF the dose.

And then there's Christmas prep. I thought I'd peruse the old Christmas list in the wake of Dave's Black Friday shopping spree. When it comes to surprising anyone on Christmas, the electronic age brings with it a host of new challenges. For starters, most online purchases are followed by no less than three email messages explaining the exact status of your order  So you have to be prepared to delete multiple emails.

But then there are the pop-ups. Your husband might be idly checking The Weather Channel to see the snow accumulation in Detroit and up pops an image and the price of the very sweater you had just purchased for him. And then there are electronic-savvy kids who helpfully fill up your Amazon cart and browse your order history just for kicks.

I maintain an ever-changing Master Christmas List on excel, and the kids have stumbled upon that as well. So I encrypt the whole thing. With Ainsley, this is easy. I type "The Explorer" and know that this is a Dora doll. As long as I don't get over-zealous hiding Dora, I can be reasonably confident our favorite explorer will make an appearance under the tree.

The older kids call for more sophisticated subterfuge and a touch of wiliness. Instead of Skateboard, I scramble the letters and type something they'll never figure out but I will until I don't and then I'm left looking at Tim's list and wondering what in the world Eblank means and why is listed as a gift from Grandma and have I, in fact, already purchased Eblank and, if so, where is it?

Please don't ask me to enter security questions to access my Christmas list. Been there, tried that, never got the email (though perhaps the Elves are occupied somewhere north of here).

Meanwhile I sit in the Florida Keys unable to decipher Direct TV, fumbling to locate the mute button on the remote.

But this problem Dad can fix.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Jetways, Prayer, and the Kindness of Strangers

Elizabeth Esther is gathering everyone's favorite blog posts for December. Here is mine:

We've had quite a week.

On Monday we got word that my folks had made it to Florida, only to have it fall apart on the first step to the house. My Mom fractured her femur. The bone specialist who had outfitted Mom with a titanium rod when she fractured her hip a few years ago had outlined a rather bleak prognosis: The next bone to go would be her femur, right below the rod. Seems titanium doesn't give way, so the next tumble on the left side would mean a break south of the rod.

And so it happened.

And I'm 500 miles away in Georgia, and my sisters are 1000 miles away in Michigan.

What to do? What to do?

And my Dad, my dear Dad, as good-hearted a guy as ever there was, is worried out of his mind and shuttling between a house in the Florida Keys that he hasn't even moved into and a hospital in downtown Miami, 100 miles away.

Thursday morning I enjoyed brunch with a bunch of women I have known for two decades. Some are older than I am; some are younger. The older ones have been where I am now -- concerned about aging parents -- and every last one of them said go.

Friday was a whirlwind of laundry, shopping, emails, phone calls, thinking through a daunting To Do list. How will the boys get to swimming? What's easy to cook? Car-pools, field trips, basketball, school uniforms. As I learned when I was a teacher, it is far, far easier to live your own life than to get twelve other people to live it for you.

Friday night I took a three hour break from mad preparations to enjoy The Nutcracker with my sweet daughter who dressed in purple taffeta and was flat out mesmerized by the falling snowflakes and the dazzling leaps and spins.

A magical night.

And I needed a little magic to get me through the rest of the night. John started coughing and clutching his ear. He walked through the living room crying and bashed his mouth into the treadmill. Out came the tooth that's been hanging on by a thread. As if that weren't enough, he had left his glasses on the floor, and Ainsley oh-so-helpfully crushed them. Poor John spent half the night holding his ear.

So Saturday dawned with Kelly headed for the Florida Keys and Dave headed for the pediatrician and the optometrist. As we gathered bags and glasses, Tim came up with his specs in two pieces. Hey, we were already headed to Penney's with John. That's Dolin efficiency at its best!

We were minutes from heading out the door when I got the call from my sister. Dad's defibrillator was firing, and an ambulance was headed to his house.

Life brings with it moments when the key is simply to draw the next breath, to take the next step.

My flight out of Augusta was delayed because of weather. We arrived in Charlotte a half hour late and then sat at the gate for, hmmm, eternity, I do believe. E-t-e-r-n-i-ty!

I landed in E22 and was headed for C19 -- an easy 5K, I am certain. So I attempted to do the O.J. Simpson through the airport. Readers might remember that in between football fame and infamy, O.J. Simpson was the spokesman for Hertz Rental Car. Commercials always showed him sprinting through the airport. The Juice, I am sure, had the good sense to don sensible shoes. Of course, O.J. also traveled in the days before 9/11, so no one was insisting he remove those sensible shoes. I, however, was wearing sandals -- easy on, easy off. Great for security. But sprints through three successive concourses? Not so  much.

I pulled them off and hauled.

You know, I've been meaning to start running again, but whoa!, this about knocked me out. Surely we didn't need to defibrillate a second family member.

I arrived at the gate utterly spent but encouraged to see the plane had not yet pushed back.

The gate agent quickly burst my bubble. "Sorry, ma'am. You just missed it."

I gave them the spiel: My mother is in one hospital; my father is in another. I've just run from E-24. E-24! Please, please ask.

No dice.

Oh, both agents were as nice as they could be as they re-booked my flight, and I literally stood hunched over panting for breath. I watched the Jetway retract. The first gate agent began to brief me on the next available flight.

And I didn't listen.

I prayed and prayed and prayed.

Catholics call Mary The Undoer of Knots. I asked Mary to intercede for the whole complicated affair.

The Jetway un-retracted.

Is un-retracted an actual verb? If it's not, I'm coining it right here and now. The Jetway un-retracted, re-attached to the plane. As the gate agent handed me my new flight arrangements, his telephone rang.

"You're on the flight!"

As I walked down the re-attached Jetway, I spotted the second gate agent who obviously had contacted the pilot and pleaded my case.

And I started to cry.

All the stress of my 5K through the airport and packing and leaving and John crying and miserable and who knows? who knows? where my parents are headed -- and one kind stranger had made it all a few hours more bearable. She didn't mend my Mom's broken femur or straighten out Dad's funky rhythms, but she was kind, and her kindness lightened a heavy load.

I was grateful, so very grateful.

And I knew that I knew that I knew that a legion of friends were praying for me, for my Mom, for my Dad.

I made my way through nearly entire plane, tears coursing down my face, to seat 22B.

In the midst of it all, I asked God for a word of encouragement. I cracked open my prayer book and looked down to find Psalm 73: 25, 26:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there in none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Flesh and heart are failing left and right. Who knows where my parents are headed?

God knows.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

My Red Sweater

During my first, oh, I'd say thirty-six years of life, I spent just one Christmas away from my home state of Michigan.

It was Christmas 1984. I was a junior in college, spending the year at the University of York in northern England. My older sister, Kate, met me in Luxembourg, and we spent the holidays touring Europe. I think the grand tour started out as Europe on $25 a Day and eventually descended to Europe for $7.22 a Day. Back then, you really could find a room (or at least a bed) for about two bucks a night. You didn't really want to shower on site, and you might have considered heading to the train station to use the coin operated potties. But you could do Europe on the cheap. And we did.

Christmas day found us in Paris. On Christmas afternoon we meandered over to the Eiffel Tower. If memory serves, we couldn't afford the elevator ride to the top, so we climbed the stairs as high as we could go. It was then that we came up with the crazy idea of calling Mom from a pay phone. We pooled our change, fed it into the slot, and dialed.

We got through!

"Get Mom," we yelled to whoever answered. We had enough time to yell Merry Christmas as the change cha-chinged through at a rapid rate. The phone went dead.

My parents had sent two wonderful gifts: a badly needed infusion of cash and a red sweater my mom had knitted. Mom was quite the knitter when I was little. Sometime I'll wade through old pictures to find a shot of the three Regan girls dressed in matching knit -- yes, knit -- pants suits at Christmas. I can't imagine the time and money that went into those numbers.

Mom probably hadn't picked up knitting needles in fifteen years before she tackled my sweater. I'm fairly certain it was her last knitting project as well.

Today I'm donning my red sweater in honor of my mom who took a bad fall two nights ago and broke her femur. Mom has osteoporosis, among other ailments. She's broken at least a bone a year for the past four or so years. Her prognosis is not good, and the outcome isn't so rosy for her primary caregiver, my dear, devoted father. My parents had just arrived in Florida for a four month stay -- were, in fact, going up the stairs upon their arrival -- when the fall occurred. My Facebook wall is now flooded with friends who are praying for the entire situation. Thank you so, so much!

As for me, I need wisdom -- wisdom about when to fly down, how best to assist both Mom and Dad, where Mom should go both short term and long term.

My folks breezed into town last Saturday for a brief visit. I called my sister and told her how well Mom was looking. She was walking better than she had in two years. Ironically, I had the thought that we should buy her some knitting needles to see if she was up for trying her hand at her old hobby.

And with months of rehab ahead of her, maybe that's a good idea.

Monday, December 02, 2013

A Lavishly Loving God

Cardinal Timothy Dolan to David Gregory
of Meet the Press when asked about true Thanksgiving:

The right recipe is this. I think it comes down to humility, which is the key. Both people of the book, Jews and Christians, would say humility is the key virtue.
Without God, we're nothing. With God, everything is possible. We realize every breath we take is an unmerited gift from a lavishly loving God, that prompts us literally to fall to our knees and say thank you.
It also reminds us we're not the center of the universe. It's not about me. It's about him and his people. That's gratitude; that's faith; that's humility; that's thanksgiving.

See the complete interview here