I am a
There is cold, and then there is COLD. We are having far too much of the latter. Ice fell for most of the night. Then snow. Then more ice. Overnight temp will be something near 15.
I spent the day doing some projects, working a puzzle, watching the birds and reading. I also ate too much and took a nap. Isn’t that what everyone does when it snows?
The geese arrived early this morning and stayed for a few hours. I set up the spotting scope so I could get a better view of them through the sleet and snow. A few other ducks joined them. In the yard we had cardinals, sparrows, blackbirds, mocking birds, crows, bluebirds, meadowlarks, and a squirrel. I took a few photos through the window, but did not venture out. About three times today I opened the back door and threw birdseed across the snow. Next to the back steps I have a plastic bin that I filled with water. Happy animals without any danger to me!
So, that was my exciting day. Expect a rerun tomorrow. And lest you think our sudden plunge from warm to freezing is unusual, I leave you with a notation from a birder’s journal, Caddo, 1883:
“…a temperature of 74° on December 23 and freezing the next day; real winter from December 24 to January 27, with zero weather on January 5 and + 4° on January 24.”
Some people don’t like me.
Don’t like my looks.
Don’t like my attitude.
Don’t like my personality.
Don’t like my opinions.
Don’t like the way I teach.
Don’t like the way I talk.
Don’t like my sense of humor.
It took me years to realize that I can be perfectly happy anyway!
As we get closer and closer to Christmas I urge you to love who you are so that you can freely share that love with others. Don’t be constrained by what others might think about you. They are worrying just as much about what you think of them!
That silly song was written just before I was born and became an instant hit with parents and children alike. It was eventually sung by nearly everyone who was anyone, and still surfaces each holiday season. Who doesn’t remember the Chipmunks’ version? My favorite, especially since I grew up in the same town as the little critters’ creator, Ross Bagdasarian, who BTW was Gary’s neighbor.
The innocence of childhood is represented by the simple words of that song, but I think the lyrics also convey the secret desire of many adults during the holidays- the return of something lost. Very often that “something” is joy and peace and family unity. Gary and I talked recently about some of the holiday changes we have seen in our lifetime. It seems as though people have become more and more desperate to “give and get and do” during the holidays, but experience less joy and satisfaction in the process.
I know my parents must have felt some dread at the approach of Christmas or any other holiday- too many children and not enough money. But I don’t remember ever sensing that dread or thinking that we wouldn’t have food and presents and laughter. We never had an easy life and there was always work. The year I was twelve we shopped on Christmas Eve, celebrated on Christmas day, and worked in the olive orchard for the next two days. I know because I still have my diary. I got a red skirt, white sweater, and cologne that Christmas, plus I got to spend three days with my best friend at her house. They had a new car and they drank milk for dinner! Ironic that I don’t remember the gifts I got (they are only recorded in my diary), but I do remember spending time with Elaine, and I do remember one of the gifts she got- a manicure set.
Gary asks me every year to give him ideas for gifts. I seldom have any requests. It’s honestly quite difficult for me to think of something I want when I already have so much- peace, love, joy, health, family, friends, forgiveness. And though some would say that we live a material life that is lacking many comforts and gadgets, much of that is by choice. If I truly felt the need to have something I have the means to acquire it.
I suppose what I miss during the holidays is the joy of seeing my children unwrap their presents, or the sight of my mother pulling a ham out of the oven or my grandmother slicing fruitcake. But I can return to those days in my mind and I can write down my memories and share them with others. If our current celebrations seem more about bargain hunting, lavish decorating, and impressing others, I remind myself that in the future people may still remember the little moments of joy and peace and family unity they experienced, rather than the gifts they received.
As most of you know, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading old newspapers dating from 1875 to 1950 and sometimes a bit beyond. This week I read about a 1920 robbery in Caddo which was perpetrated by some local young men. The editor of the paper was so upset about the crime that he wrote an editorial about the role of parents in controlling the actions of their children. He went so far as to state- “Some parents are at fault or the boys would not be guilty.” He went on to give some advice about teens that sounds simplistic to us now, but the truth of his basic tenets has not changed since Biblical times:
“You, and many others, have no doubt expressed astonishment at the wrong-doing of growing children in their teens; and wonder why it is so, considering what nice people their parents are.
It requires no long essay to explain why this is so, in at least 85 per cent of instances. The other 15 percent may be charged to “unforeseen circumstances or natural waywardness”. In the latter case the old saying “apples don’t roll far from the tree upon which they grew” may apply. So only the 85 per cent class will be discussed:
Most parents are overconfident in the strength of their children to overcome the influence of evil companionship.
When children get into their teens they begin a transition from juvenile innocence into the outer portals of adult life and are given more freedom of action. This is the danger period of life.
They should be carefully guided and watched and taught that the red-light walks of life, though alluring, are dangerous beacons to follow and should be shunned."
I suppose the admonition that caught my attention was the one about “evil companionship”. My mother harped and nagged constantly about “the company you keep” and “choose your friends carefully” and “don’t fall in with the wrong crowd”. What never occurred to her, or to me, was that “evil companions” weren’t some group that was separate from us. They weren’t labeled or identified so that we could avoid them. They were classmates and neighbors and friends, and yes, even relatives, who slowly but surely headed down a different path in life. By the time most of them could be called evil or dangerous or “delinquent” we already knew and liked them! I think that’s why so many of the interviews you see after a horrible crime begin with “he seemed like such a nice boy…”
We also have to ask ourselves how “evil companions” end up that way, especially if they have spent so much time hanging out with US. Why isn’t our influence more powerful than theirs? My childhood memories include some people that my parents felt comfortable being friends with, yet their children went on to lead lives of crime. And I remember a couple of children who fooled my mother for a while. She thought they were “sweet girls” when I knew for a fact that they were not. Of course now we have the knowledge that genetics play a huge role in who and what we become and that some of our parenting plans are doomed from the very beginning.
It all becomes more complicated than I can ponder, and as the grandmother of teens I ponder a LOT. So while respecting the advice of our worthy editor I would offer my own: trust God and pray a lot. Try to be wise and careful and watchful. But understand that there are some things that are just beyond your control. At some point your child’s life becomes their own, and you move from being the director of the play to being a member of the audience.
I’m never quite sure what will be on the other side of the glass when I open my kitchen curtains, but this morning it seems that a call had gone out for all the birds to gather for a morning bath. So I enjoyed a bit of entertainment with my coffee. I apologize for the quality of some shots- overcast day and dirty window. But I think they are still enjoyable to see.
And the ducks on the pond were equally fun to watch. We had a pair of Buffleheads, three pairs of Ring-necked ducks, and a pair of Canvasbacks stopping by to visit.
I am posting late because I got involved in decorating my Christmas tree this afternoon. I’ll share a photo of it later. I decided on a red theme again this year. I have enough ornaments to do white or blue or red or a combination of all three. I decorated the tree and still had six boxes of ornaments to tuck back into the closet. Someone needs to stop buying them!
I’m ready to return to work tomorrow, even though, as usual, I haven’t checked off everything on my “to do” list. At some point you just have to say “enough”. Whatever I did was what I had the time and energy to do. So be it.
Yes, I know, it’s still November for another day. But I also know that the last month of the year is hiding beneath this calendar page, taunting me, tempting me…
December is my last chance to complete my 2013 projects, my last chance to look back over the past year before planning the next one.
Yes, I failed miserably at losing weight this year. Still eating too much and exercising too little. I’ve tried a dozen things that haven’t worked. Yes, I admit that what really isn’t working is me.
No, I have not written as much this year as I had hoped and planned. But I understand why, and I’m prepared to make some necessary changes in 2014 to give me more “serious” writing time. I took one step recently and eliminated my kindergarten blog. It had the lowest readership and although it was fun, it just wasn’t worth keeping. The trend in education blogs is ideas and crafts and lessons plans, not philosophy.
Yes, I did finish two genealogy books this year. I’m happy that they will make other people happy.
Yes, I took more photos, and I’m very pleased with a few of them. Photography is good for me. It makes me more aware of my surroundings and takes me outside, even when I would rather stay inside. And I’m never sorry that I ventured out.
Yes, I worked in the garden more in 2013 than during the horrible hot summer before. I planted some new flowers and experimented with a few new techniques and “met” some more gardeners through the internet.
Yes, I’ve been a better, calmer, more efficient teacher this year…at least so far. I’ve tried some new methods and abandoned some things that no longer work for me or for my students. I even cleaned my classroom closet and tossed out some old, old teaching supplies. Times change and I must change with them.
And tomorrow the month changes…
Tomorrow afternoon I’ll put up our Christmas tree.
Next week I’ll start mailing Christmas cards and packages.
The two weeks after that will be a frenzy of school activities and our last party of the year.
Then it will be time to give serious thought to the plans and goals and projects of 2014. No, I don’t make resolutions. But I am just as influenced as the next person by that “magic” date on the calendar. A new year, new hopes, new plans…
Yes, the best laid plans…
No, I don’t know what lies in store for me…
Yes, I believe that God is in charge…
Here we go again…down, down, down the path of no return.
When I was a child my parents spent Thanksgiving Day cooking, watching the Macy’s parade, eating, cleaning up, watching the football game, and napping. In between each activity there was talking and laughing and sometimes a bit of arguing with whatever relative happened to be in the house. I don’t recall Mother ever forgetting anything she needed for our meal or sending anyone to the store for more of anything. No one left the house in the middle of the afternoon to go shopping.
Now “Black Friday” has slowly but surely encroached on our day of gratitude until it has crossed the magic line of midnight and become “Thrifty Thursday”. Millions of shoppers will head to the stores as early as mid-afternoon tomorrow to be the first to save a few bucks on Christmas gifts. I predict that one day we will just skip the parade, have an early brunch, and be in the stores by NOON. Why not? Shopping and sales and savings seem to be much more important than family and friends and thankfulness.
Oh, you are shopping FOR your family and friends?
And you must get out there and beat some imaginary deadline and save lots of money on something you couldn’t otherwise afford to buy?
Do you hear yourself??? Seriously? Do not for one moment think that I believe any of that. Black Friday or Thursday or Cyber Monday is all about the thrill of the hunt. It’s about excitement and feeling special. It’s about following the latest trends and buying the “in” thing. It’s about bragging rights. It’s about a hundred things that have nothing to do with necessity.
So do whatever makes you happy tomorrow afternoon. Shop ‘til you drop. But just be aware that someone who may want to be home with their family must be in the store to wait on you. Someone who can’t afford to say “no” may put your purchases in a bag. And whatever you do tomorrow may set in motion a new standard for shopping next year and the next. Retailers will respond to what you do during the next few days and will plan next year’s sales accordingly. So…good luck to you!
Me? I’ll be napping. Most of my shopping is already done. I’ll finish the rest when I can. Somehow I never miss the big deadline…Dec. 25.