Tuesday, December 30, 2008


All anyone really wants in this world is to feel like they matter. To feel loved is to feel that somewhere out there is rooting for you, supporting you, cares that breath comes in and out of your body. Why is it that is so very difficult then, for us to give to others what is the core need of our being and what we want more than anything else in the world?

My days have been filled with much introspection, much evaluation - probably to my own detriment. I have been assaulted with a barrage of broken relationships. Some, admittedly, I have played a role in, but in others I am just watching from the sidelines. The level of pain that I hear, the frustrations of unmet expectations, the loneliness, disappointment and desperation, is of catastrophic proportions.

For years, I felt this unending desire to bring people together. I worked at forging friendships, planning gatherings of all kinds, making sure that all felt "included." My motivation behind this was due to my own memories of inadequacy. I can recall years of questioning whether I was important or worthy enough. Therefore, I was driven to build up and encourage those around me. Often reaching out to those that in any other condition, I would not have done so. I tried to point them to the ultimate source for self-worth and meaning, our Lord.

But over the last year, that drive has died. So completely worn out and given out I am, that I have lost connection with many of my friends. How has this happened? And, what do I do about it as I prepare for a new year? Is it ok to take a back seat for a change? Will anyone jump into the driver's seat in my place? Or, will I find myself what I felt for most of 2008, alone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Friend,

Dear Friend,

Something has happened and I don't like it. Are you ok? A package in the mail today made me cackle out loud and I thought of you. Did you get the same package? Do you HEAR me? (hint hint) I hope you still visit my little world, but more importantly, I would like to HEAR from you, my friend. I think life might be tough for you right now and I don't know how to help.

I miss you.

A few notes, conversations and what-nots

Conversation #1:
Me: Lily, do you want to go see Santa Claus? (said little flippantly)
Lily: What?! Santa is in toooowwwwnnnn?
Me: Yes, he is at the mall. (giggle)
Lily: Santa is in toooowwwwnn?
Me: Yes, would you like to go?
Lily: YES!

Conversation #2:
Ethan (noticing the large Mary and Joseph on our coffee table that my mother made for me this Christmas): You know, Grammy worked really hard on that for us.
Me: Yes, she did.
Ethan: That was really nice of her. She is the best Grammy in the world.
Me: Yes, she is. Would you like to call her and tell her?
Ethan: Yes. (Brings me the phone)
Phone rings.
Ethan: Hello, this is Ethan Dumoulin. May I speak to Terry Greene? Oh, hey Grand-D. I want to speak to you, too, but I need to speak to Grammy. And, ladies come first.

Conversation #3 (told by Sadie's teacher)
Sadie's teacher took Sadie one afternoon to get a milkshake, run a couple of errands and then came to visit at our house. Now, I know this is really strange for some of you reading our blog, but she is our friend, in addition to being Sadie's teacher for the 2nd year. We are very blessed.
They were at the mall, picking up something for teacher. They ran into a fellow student who was in line to see Santa.
Friend: Are you going to talk to Santa?
Sadie: Oh no, I am with Mrs. N. I don't want her to spend her money for me to see Santa.

Conversation #4:
Sadie's second front tooth is loose. Of course, I want that thing out before Christmas, if only to have one child sing "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth," in front of the video camera on Christmas Eve.
Me: Wonder if Santa and the Tooth Fairy will visit on the same night?
Sadie: Wow! Wouldn't that be awesome!
Me: Yeah.
Sadie: I bet they know each other....I bet they are related!
Me: You know, Sadie, I think you are right!

Lest anyone think my kids are sweet, little darlings...
Quick one-liners made to me by my children:
Ethan: I don't want any more lasagna. Uh, are you listening to me? I said, I don't want any more lasagna.
Sadie: I don't want to (fill in blank with any request I have just made to her).
Lily: Still speaking most lines with a twinge of whine.

We crammed in a lot of Christmas traditions this year:
gingerbread house, baking cookies, live nativity, Christmas program at church, driving around for lights, bags for the homeless, making christmas crafts and ornaments, hosting scout christmas party, hosting rara christmas party, school party (Sadie), pta gifts for preschool (Lily), nutcracker performance with the girls, a planned viewing of "The Grinch", presents purchased and wrapped. Have I forgotten anything?

Maybe I have been in Christmas overdrive this year. Partly due to Jay's parents being in town. But mainly, I think it is to make up for the past two emotionally voided Christmases. I was unable to focus on much more than sadness (her very sick, last Christmas) and grief (the first Christmas without her), despite the hope of Christ. Despite the hope of Christ. How my heart grieves that I write that and how much His does as well.

My remaining to-do list is very long and I remain fixed writing. The washing machine is broken and has been for a week. We head off to the laundromat this morning to do what I am sure is nearly 5 loads. Car, filthy from all the rain, is still crunched from being rear-ended the week of Thanksgiving. The house needs to be picked up, calls made about a work order and one last gift to pick up. The trash (an enormous amount) needs to be taken to the trash, along with the recycling. And, the kids are out of school for the holidays. Should be an interesting day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why Santa Claus?

It has become increasingly noticeable that many Christians are shedding the image of Santa Claus from their Christmas celebrations. I have heard all the reasons as to why - it takes away from the intent of the holiday, only God gives in abundance, materialism is evil to Christian living, it creates a false idol, etc., etc., etc. Unfortunately, many times this opinion is given with some piousness leaving the listener feeling very uncomfortable with her choice to include Santa Claus in her Christmas traditions. I believe even more so, that many Christians are completely unaware of the original Saint behind Santa Claus and how his life so embodied the spirit of Christ. It is with this spirit that my family celebrates Christmas and gives to one another and gives glory to a life lived selfishly.

Here is the article. I think it is worth reading:

The Christmas season has taken on disappointing characteristics in
our highly secularized culture. These characteristics include removing
Christ-centered displays and using verbiage that eliminates references to
the namesake of the season’s special day. Some businesses have removed
the familiar and once prominently accepted greetings that include any
reference to Christmas and instead have attempted to pretend the specially
named day really is not.  These businesses give it a bland moniker such as
“winter holiday.” My, what a threat this day must be to a secular culture.

It really is fascinating—try as secularists might to take Christ out of
Christmas—that the popular and seemingly secular symbol of Christmas,
Santa Claus, represents the work of God’s Son. Santa Claus remains pretty
much OK probably because the spoilers have not figured out how to
explain from their vantage point, or do not know, the gradual transition of
St. Nicholas to Santa Claus.  The real Nicholas was born in Patara, a Greek
area that is now a part of the southern coast of Turkey. His parents were
wealthy and devout Christians, who died when he was quite young. Nicholas
dedicated his life to serving God, and he became the bishop of Myra as a
young man. He used his entire inheritance to help the sick, the needy, and
others who were suffering. Because he was held in great esteem for his life
and deeds, the anniversary of his death, December 6, AD 343, became
known and celebrated as St. Nicholas Day (www.stnicholascenter.org).
In the 1800s, because of the work of artists and writers, St. Nicholas took
on an elfi sh appearance and eventually a beard and a pipe. He gradually
acquired a rotund appearance and a red suit. By the late 1800s, the saint’s
name shifted to Santa Claus, “a natural phonetic alteration from the
German Sankt Niklaus and Dutch Sinterklaas” (www.stnicholascenter.org).
It must be noted though, when you dig down, he is still Nicholas, who
modeled true giving and faithfulness—a result of his love for Christ.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

behind, behind, behind in blogging

I have good reasons, honest. First, I had no inspiration. Instead of writing ala Sienfeld (about nothing), I decided to wait until the mood was right. Then, the invasion of Jay's parents occurred - actually two days before scheduled. And, with built in help, I am pushing myself to get everything done while they are here in order to relax while they are gone. When I write that, I realize it should be the opposite, but not for me.

To date, the cards have been mailed, decorations are all up, Tanglewood light display has been seen, a list of 4 presents remain to purchase (of which I plan on ordering this evening), all presents are organized and ready to wrap, sugar cookies have been baked and decorated, and the gingerbread house has been constructed and is awaitng decoration, company Christmas party has been organized and food ordered, preschool Christmas breakfast and gift cards have been completed. Whew!

I have spent much of this time with Jay's mom listening to her tell me that when the children get older none of this will be important. I won't decorate very much, if at all, she says. "It isn't important," she says to me in her heavy accent. I have thought a lot about that and I think I beg to differ. Not only are we celebrating our Savior's birth (even though there is no documentation of it on this particular day), these are our traditions. I love traditions. We don't exaggerate them to the point that they cast a shadow on our religious beliefs, but they are a part of who we are and provide memories, time together, family-ness (if that is a word). I want my children to remember it fondly, full of laughter and fun. One day, I will be old, but then, God willing, I will have grand children and will want to do the same for them. It is a special time because we choose to make it so. And, as the year pass, I will continue to choose to make it so.

I have also been quite reflective on Christmas last year. My first without her. Sometimes, when you are so deep in the muck, you don't know you are there. That was me. So depressed and out of sorts. I had no motivation, no care. I remember having a heavy, heavy sense of dread. I am sure I wore that expression on my face and in my countenance. Christmas was a bit of drudgery and obligation. I am glad I can see clearly now. I am full of gratitude to have survived it, literally.

Ethan has been, I think, overloaded with school work. I am glad the holidays are nearly upon us as I think we are all desirous for a break. We still work diligently on responsibility. At least we had a week where Ethan did not forget to put his name on a single paper (an automatic 5 pt. deduction). Lots of sticky details this year which stresses me out.

Sadie had a couple of fabulous behavior days at school. Working hard, same as always. Showing more compassion and concern for others. Praying hard for our neighbor who has had a bad run lately. Praising for a friends' grandmother whose body has been receptive of chemotherapy. Sweet.

Little Lily is turning into quite an emotional little ball. Highs and lows like a roller coaster and coming and going just as quickly as one. Crying and whining and just trying to figure herself out. She wants so badly to be a part of the older children and their activities. She finds herself in limbo of not being a baby, yet not fully independent. A challenge for her, I am sure.

Fifteen days until Christmas and we are blessed.