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A Good & Blessed Day—

As you read this, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the beginning of the New Year will have passed. I trust these days were for you truly filled with thanksgiving, joy, and the prospect of new beginnings. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to share reflections even in the midst of the technical problems that kept me from getting this post out to you sooner. I am grateful, in spite of this seeming misfortune that has given me more than a few moments of frustration. Why?

Well, I can see now, in retrospect, that this is a case of  Romans 8:28, wherein it is said: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


My Thanksgiving Day dinner for the year 2013 did not include the adult children. We've become scattered throughout the years, and so it was on that day that we made our rounds to various family members' homes for seasonal togetherness and home cooking, and truthfully, not necessarily in that order. My daughter visited her aunt. My son decided to stay away from food to avoid overeating, and my husband and I decided we'd pay a visit to his parent's home.

It was beautiful to sit down at the table, be thankful, and enjoy a fabulous meal that included such goodies as turkey, ham, sauerkraut, greens, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cookies, cake and sweet potato pie. To help swallow it down, we had soft drinks, and there was the availability of some light alcoholic beverage. I had a hearty helping of everything, except the alcoholic beverage, which I don't mind having on occasion. It's just that on this one, I decided to be content with the food, the soft drinks, and the company.

This company, obviously, was my husband (whom I had accompanied) and his parents, and other family members who had also come to visit. After some greetings and friendly banter with all who were there, my husband and I carried our food-filled plates over to the dining room table to join his brother and his sister-in-law. Once we were seated and settled, and after we had taken several bites of our food and drink, our mundane conversation started to heat up---metaphorically that is. 

Before I realized what was happening, all previous talk had been placed aside and I, along with my brother in-law and his lovely wife, were catapulted into a biblical discussion that I don’t believe I would have initiated or allowed myself, if possible, to be pulled into once upon a time ago. That's because religion, like politics, was and is dubbed a topic most people avoid like the plague. But, here I was holding my own with enough confidence to at least not appear terribly ignorant or to cause one to wonder about me in an uncomplimentary way. So sometimes opening your mouth provides the evidence that confirms those thoughts.

But, I have to admit here that I have broken both sides of the no-religion-no-politics rule. And you know what? I’m seeing the result of this rule breakage as part of a process that brought me providentially to where I am today. I've had those moments where I found myself wishing I could change how I had divided my time, energy, and talents with respect to these two so-called “no-nos.” 

In retrospect, I believe I would have fared better had I devoted more time on the spiritual side than the political one, but it would serve no purpose to wallow in regrets about milk that has already been spilled. That’s because I believe with increasing intensity and assurance that God controls not only what our destiny is, but also the process by which we arrive at our destiny. To reach that destiny we are inevitably to go through many hills and valleys, and they are not always of our liking or of our choosing. I would do wise to accept that and humbly submit myself to it, and to Him for being the force behind it.

Anyway, my husband sat next to me, and I sensed his delight in seeing and hearing his wife present comments, questions, and concerns. It was as though he were watching a panel discussion on television. The role of spectator may have seemed to him the wiser and safer choice than being a player who could potentially find himself heading toward unfamiliar territory—or worse, an undesired battlefield—when all he might have felt like doing was just eating and enjoying a more laid-back day and maybe lighter conversation. 

But whatever his thoughts might have been, my husband and I know the benefits of being good listeners, and this apparently was one time where he chose to settle for the best choice that was available to him; namely, sitting along the sidelines to listen and eat, while his co-diners, if anything, provide a lesson on coming together in fellowship and acknowledging God's blessings upon their lives on a day solely dedicated for that purpose.

Now, I have to say here that this whole concept concerning fellowship reminds me of how having such wonderful in-laws has enhanced that fellowship. I witness this enhanced fellowship increasingly every time I am in their presence. I know enough about my in-laws to know to whom I can turn when I’m searching for answers or when I’m seeking spiritual enrichment. For example, there have been times when I’m around my brother-in-law and his wife that I’m almost willing to bet that I can see revealed in their eyes a twinkle that synergizes itself with their words like: “It’s always a pleasure to see you, my sister.” Or in my husband’s case: “my brother.”

Note the spiritual and biological sense in which the word, “brother” can be applied. We are, indeed, talking about two men who are related by blood as they are by considerations that make fellowship the beautiful thing that it is. But even if the intention were only “brother” biologically, it does not imply less of the spiritual bond which is key to entering the family of God. The spiritual bond is often what ties people together when the biology does not. My husband and his brother just happen to be doubly bonded through Christ and through blood. And referring to that synergism I spoke of before, there’s always an emphasis on the word “brother” or “sister” that nails it and makes the response a contagious one, so that I say something in return like, “And back to you, my brother, my sister,” with that same twinkle, I hope. That’s the kind of fellowship needed in the world today.

You see, things could have very well gone differently. Any attempt at fellowship could’ve been a disaster, a hard, unpleasant, and unwelcomed experience, had relations been bad. I mean, I am from the start talking about in-laws. I’ve heard many a horror story about couples and their in-laws and the enmity between them in attempting to have regular, everyday conversation. Can you just imagine the result stemming from a question such as “Where do you hope to spend eternity?” Needless to say, that’s pushing it more than just a bit. But I’m blessed to have different circumstances. I get along very well with mine. They’re perfect for me. Our personalities dovetail. There’s love and plenty of mutual respect. And I've always felt especially close to my “mom” from day one, when I first met her. She had always made me feel comfortable when I came to her home before my husband and I married. She became like another mother to me now that my biological one is no longer around. 

When I'm around her and some of the other family members, I feel the love and warmth that is the basis for my temptation to do other things, like perhaps enjoying an outing together or sharing more personal information about oneself. Being human, I couldn't help imagining that my in-laws appreciate that I am married to their son or sibling. They can see that he has benefited from our relationship (as I have) and how, in turn, the whole family benefits. Sometimes, we unknowingly serve as models for others. Sometimes others serve as models for us. This is great when the modeling is a positive one.

I have a few of my own blood family members who shared with me what they liked about me when we were growing up, and I’ve shared with them my likings about them. It seemed we had similar reactions to each other’s revelations, like a sense of being encouraged, honored, and surprised, among other reactions. It was like “What! And here I was wishing I had your so and so and such and such.” And even, “I envied or I was jealous because of this and that, but it or you inspired me to do that and this.” Yes, it’s a great feeling when you can laugh about these things in retrospect and realize that you were a blessing to others as much as others were a blessing to you. That Thanksgiving Day 2013 was a day that epitomized all of this. If it’s God will, I’d like to see more days like it in the future.

Anyway, the around-the-table conversation and fellowship, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, proved to be more revealing and insightful than any other I recall having with my brother-in-law and his wife. I was able to relax and create a beautiful memory on this day of thanks. Given that my Thanksgiving visit was a resounding success, I’m inclined to think that all Thanksgiving dinners at home are the way to go for achieving the best results when it comes to getting together for purposes like or similar to the one I’ve discussed. However, I’m open-minded enough to know that other venues can give good or similar success stories. 

I recall being at a restaurant, where I became so oblivious to my surrounding that it helped me to focus. I was able to free myself and get to the heart of what our discussion was about. But, if you do go to a restaurant or some such place, you must be prepared for it, because if you’re not, you might find yourself in competition with other distractions, such as looking at other people and their food, excessively checking out the restaurant's décor or what’s going on outside, if you’re near a window. You also have the noise, or you wonder how you appear to others while you are eating. So much nonsense to keep your attention diverted from the person or persons whose company you are in and on whom you should be focused in order to grasp the full impact of what’s being said or not said.

So again, our warm and cordial relationship with each other made conversation a whole lot easier, and we had no problem discussing controversial subjects like religion or politics. In fact, now that I think about it, we did touch upon that other side; namely politics, briefly before sitting at the table, while on the sofa after we arrived a few minutes apart. After we got to the dinner table, we were able to open up even more without those previously mentioned drawbacks that can hinder us from effectively communicating our thoughts, our goals, or whatever it is that needs to come out. During the meal and afterward, there was that moment I reflected and said to myself, “Wow, that’s powerful. I’m so glad you shared this with me.” Or “It must have been a frightening experience. God was looking out for you.” Or even, "You taught me something I never knew." 

Some things you would never know about a person unless that person opens up to you. But to do it, there's the risk of vulnerability. There's always that chance that you could get hurt or that someone might misinterpret what you're trying to say. When you're not overburdened with these kinds of concerns, it’s a whole lot easier to open up. You feel safe and loved, and welcomed by the other party. Then, of course, there’s the “I don’t care attitude," where you feel people are always going to say negative things about you one way or another, and you’ve decided not to allow it to bother you. Sometimes, I feel that way.  

Well, that wraps it up for me that Thanksgiving 2013. I take this time to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to read or gleam over a few of my thoughts. You who have done so are a blessing to me, and again, I hope from me others will be blessed as well. I thank my Lord and Savior for this Thanksgiving 2013 and for every other day during which thanksgiving can be expressed. Know that if you feel you have no friend on this horizontal earthly plane that you always have one on the vertical heavenly plane. That plane is the one where Jesus sits in glory. He is your best friend, your advocate, the captain of His ship.

P.S. On the days leading to Thanksgiving, I entertained thoughts of expressing my thankfulness as well. I first thanked God for my eternal salvation, first and foremost. I filled my mind with spiritual food that taught me to fill my spirit with joy for all my circumstances in life. It is the will of God who sees things from an eternal perspective; who knows what is good for me even when I may feel that my circumstance is not all that thrilling and even downright distressing. 

I end this message with these scriptural texts:

Philippians 4:6--- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. NIV

1 Thessalonian 5:18--- In everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. NIV

Philippians 2:13--- For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. NIV

Digressing a bit, I celebrated a birthday in November with my significant other. That occasion involved eating, but this time, it was not a home-cooked meal. We went out to a restaurant. The meal there was good, too, which should not come as a surprise, I suppose. For him, he couldn’t deny himself the two hefty pork chops that covered a significant amount of the space on his plate. And it can also be said that I couldn’t deny myself the same, because I asked for a small piece of his as well. Once I got a taste of it, it brought back the memory of when I used to prepare it for my family years ago, when the children were small.

Since I said the word, “pork,” I’ve got to say this. It’s one of those odd and funny things. You see, I had for a long time abstained from eating pork chops, while maintaining a belief that I don’t eat pork. Well, the problem with the statement is that it’s not true because I realized that I would eat ham on a few occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even an occasional lunch snack. Somehow, I didn’t view ham the same way as I viewed pork chops. Somehow pork chops were the bad pork and ham was acceptable.

How strange it is to think that way. It just so happened that I was having a conversation with someone about the subject, and I mentioned that I didn’t eat pork and then BING! It hit me like “Hey, stupid. What do you think ham is?” By the way, denying this tasty treat for myself was not for religious reasons. It was more out of a concern for health—not necessarily trying to avoid high blood pressure, even though that might have been a concern. I just know that I had been hearing a lot of bad press about pork being unhealthy for you, blah, blah, blah.

Well, one day, while at work, I was talking to a young man whom I greatly admired for his wisdom and understanding of biblical matters when he pointed out to me that it is not what goes into the mouth that we should concern ourselves with, but rather what comes out. I can see where this would be happy news for someone who likes to eat pork, or someone who likes to eat in general. I will say this: as a child I grew up on pork, and it never bothered me, and had I decided to continue eating it, it may still not have affected me in any kind of adverse way. And, as I say this, I recall another food item people ate a lot of back then, and it seemed people had no problem with. I'm talking about eggs. These days cholesterol concerns are a big deal when it comes to discussions about health, and we’re told we need to cut down on our consumption of them. 

Anyway, back to my husband’s meal. Okay, he also had greens, sweet potatoes, and a refreshing glass of lemonade and iced tea, aka half and half. For yours truly, it was two perfectly grilled shaped salmon cakes, some naughty sweet potato fries in great abundance, and macaroni and cheese. The mac/cheese was served in a ceramic dish where the top part of the mac/cheese had the shape of a mushroom top that was a bright yellow, cheesy crust. With this came my equally refreshing glass of peach iced tea. I usually go for different type of iced tea, when there’s an alternative to the usual plain or lemon variety. 

Now as we dived into our respective meals, we engaged in some funny and serious, but delightful conversation, sharing precious moments from our past and present. Contemplating our future. One future contemplation I had was this: eating the bread pudding I was told was so popular that patrons were famously known to return for more. I wanted to know if the bread pudding was as good as the one I used to enjoy before the place had gone out of business. But, let me quickly add that it didn’t go out of business because of the bread pudding. I’d be the first to say it couldn’t have been that. At least I don’t believe it, and can think of other reasons for their closing down that are far more compelling.

But anyway, I will say that having tried it, they were right on when they said it was outstanding. Since my favorite bread pudding place no longer stands, this one has now taken its place, and it wins this spot with a new flavor that is totally opposite to the previous one at the now-defunct eatery. So my congratulations will be given to that fine restaurant for its delicious bread pudding on my birthday, if I had not done so already, I'm not sure whether I waited till I got home or tasted it while there. The other food was sumptuously delicious, too. My husband and I shared those sentiments with them immediately.     

Now with all the talk about my birthday and the food which was a most prominent feature of it, I want to thank you all for this time in reading my lengthy thoughts. May God continue to bless you, and keep you well. Hope you enjoy these photo shots. It would have been nice if I had thought to photograph the bread pudding, but as they say, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Love to all.


Christmas Past

This was a special time for me growing up. As a child, (keep that in mind) it was my favorite holiday. It topped even Halloween, which I also loved, because it meant I could dress up and have fun and go trick-or-treating. Christmas, of course, meant toys. Back then, my family didn’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I was perhaps aware that there was that another side of it, one that was different from the commercial one that was far more familiar. 

From my childhood observation, the baby Jesus in the nativity scene could not compete with the Santa Claus, carrying toys on a sleigh led by reindeer. Back in the olden days, most children, if not all, desired toys just like many of them today. The difference is that today the toys are exceedingly more expensive, and more adult-like.

Although Christmas is not celebrated by everyone in this country, it is for many a huge part of the American tradition. During the times when my children were little, I followed a sort of one-two-three step procedure when it came to getting my tree, the centerpiece of my home decoration plan, up for my family and my guests to delight in. I’ll start with Christmas Eve and then move on to Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve. After the tree had been assembled, it was time for the ornaments, beginning with---lights! But not just any lights, the multi-colored mini-lights that I had eventually come to love after growing up on the big, maxi ones. Then came the garland (red, blue, and yellow) or in as many colors as I could afford or get, which I wrapped carefully along the circumference of the tree. The Christmas bulbs were next in line, and boy, how beautiful they were. Although I had been exposed to the plain ones, I developed a taste for the extraordinary ones, the ones that glittered and had beautiful patterns embellished on them. Then the order of the steps got sort of confused, but somewhere along them came the tinsel strands and icicles, and all the other ornaments, and---oh, the candy canes which were important not only for the children, but also for me. Then finally, the ornament that every tree had to have, because it was the sine qua non, the absolute necessity that made the tree even more spectacular and stunning---the star. I believe we had one Christmas where we used the angel as our tree topper.

Yes, that was an important tradition, but so was the following ones. This one began on Christmas Eve as the one I mentioned above, but this time, I was the child. I would walk the pavement with at least one family member, and we would stare with wonder and excitement at the window decorations as we moved from one neighbor’s door to the next. The lights were the main attraction, here, as well----lights flashing frenetically in a multicolored orchestration such as I had never seen lights revealed until then. It reminded me of a group of musicians who had with each movement of their instrument become mad making their way increasingly to an exciting crescendo.

If we were lucky, we’d catch a glimpse of a Christmas tree, and we’d make comparisons as to which house had the best tree. There was nothing like a green tree. Although it was separated from its root in the ground, we saw it as a live tree. And of course, Christmas trees had to be live. It was green, too, and it smelled the way a Christmas tree was supposed to smell, enough of a whiff that my nostrils would flare. The thought of having any other colored tree, like the silver or white, was far from our minds. We saw it as lacking in their appearance, without the same aesthetic appeal as a green one. It certainly didn’t generate the other’s excitement. The green trees were lush and full, sturdy and tall. The white ones were sparse and pitiful; unreal and unhealthy. When a neighbor had a green tree, nine times out of ten it met the described criteria, and so we were quick to give the lucky neighbor credit for their accomplishment in the tree department.

It’s interesting to wonder how it must have been like for children like me at the time. How everything about the decorations on the trees, windows, and, sometimes, doors, inspired our oohs and aahs. How the more spectacular sights garnered from us even greater admiration. We were ourselves so much like that which we were viewed or would be viewing: eyes brightly lit like Christmas lights; bodies about to burst like the gifts that would be burst open on Christmas Day.

We were innocent in believing or wanting to believe that Santa actually existed until proven otherwise. Regardless to where I stood on the scale of believability, I was destined to run into evidence that had me putting two and two together. It came when my aunt had taken me and some cousins shopping and told us to stay in the car, and not to touch or open anything. When she returned from one of her errands, she shoved a huge bag containing a box into the car. Now, I didn’t open the bag, but I got enough of a peek to see that upon the box—which we were told were sheets—were written the words, “Play House.” Well, on Christmas Day, I saw a playhouse among our toys. She should have known that in that car, there was, at least, one child who could read. Lesson: don’t underestimate the abilities of children.

Christmas Day. Now the Christmas Day that is indelibly etched in my mind. I stood at the top of the staircase, breathlessly waiting to be told we can go down to get our toys. When given the okay, I, at breakneck speed, raced down to the bottom, along with my sisters and cousins. As I stood, I saw this huge doll standing upright on the living room sofa right within my line of vision. The doll seemed almost as big as I was, with a clean, crisp girl-next-door look. I learned later she could walk, and my sister and I can’t recall what her original name might have been, but she was named Miss Dee for a long time. 

Anyway, she captivated my heart with her bright blue eyes and long blond hair. Back then, that’s the kind of doll we got little girls, even black girls. I apparently didn’t have the mind to dwell on the thought that there was something wrong or incongruous or psychologically damaging. During Christmas time, you had no time to dwell on such heavy stuff. It was a toy, candy to my eyes. Christmas was a time of happiness and fun, excitement and toys, and so many other nice things. Unless something really bad happens to a child, something that perhaps violates its safety or trust, the normal state is that the child would have a loving and forgiving heart. I suppose that was how I could be described. So all I wanted to do was to love and cherish the doll as I had also been loved and cherished myself. That’s all that mattered. Fun and happiness were all that mattered to most children, especially on Christmas. It seemed to have been my case, anyway.

But I was crushed when my sister beat me to it and got that doll that I wanted to be mine, the doll I thought would bring me the fun, good times, and happiness. I remember my cry of despair, but all that hurt ended when my searching eyes saw another doll. She wasn’t pretty like Miss Dee because she was glamorous. Her trunk and limbs were smaller, and she was not quite as tall. I’d called her an extremely tall Barbie doll, a doll that required more effort to carry around. Her curly hair was styled in curls that looked short until some point later in time, when I had combed her hair all the way out, I discovered to my surprise that all the while her hair was actually longer than I thought. Not that it really mattered, but by that time, her hair had grown a mess and did not look as good it did on Christmas day.

Anyway the thrilling and unique thing about my doll was the fact that she wore upon her head a tiara. I didn’t know what a tiara was then, but I knew she was a queen, because of this headdress. I had seen it on the heads of queens that I saw pictured on television and in books. The name Ann comes to mind, and I have this sense that it was the name stated on the package. Her face as I best can recollect fits this description: Her lips were ruby red, and her eyes, made up, fluttered. Her cheeks were blushed with a visible red that women back then seemed to prefer more than they do now. She wore a beautiful long red gown with what felt like silk and trimmed in lace. She had the scent of a brand new doll. She captured my attention and I ran to her, grabbed her, and hugged her.

After staking my claim that she was mine, I moved to another toy. This toy was a phonograph, and when I placed the needle onto the 45 inch vinyl record, I heard for the first time the harmonizing sounds of three cute little anthropomorphic chipmunks. Their names were Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. For those who are familiar with this singing sensation, know that they have been around for a very long time. I won’t divulge that information. You can check that one out for yourself if you care to. But they had a voice that was so exhilarating to my soul that I believe I just had to have experienced those chills people claim to run up and down their spine. I mean to see those chipmunks engaged in all kinds of antics and superimposing myself into their special world so that you see myself as their friend is over the top in terms of childhood play. Talking chipmunks seemed extraordinary then, though it does less so today. Maybe being an adult has something to do with it. 

Yes, the approach toward adulthood shows some diminishing in our childhood capacities, but we may not have to lose some of them entirely. As a child, I had a very vivid and active imagination. I imagined these little fellas as my playmates just as I imagined the forks, spoons and knives that came alive dancing and prancing and jumping into the sudsy waters when it was my turn to wash dishes. To speak of it now sounds weird, but that’s something I supposed children did, and many still do today, despite what we may think at times.

Back then, I used my imagination to invent all kinds of games. For example, where I lived, there was a dusty area of hills that got muddied when it rained. There was also plenty of grass and other plant growth. Well, I imagined certain parts among that landscape as being my garden. Other parts were another person’s garden. Maybe one of my other sisters whom I had not mentioned before. From time to time, it was harvest time, and I’d go out and pick from among the beautiful flowers and bring them home and concoct something special. Perhaps to eat or Lord knows what.

Then there was the time my sister (Miss Dee’s mother) and I played doctors in a neighbor’s back yard. Well, let’s just say we got into a whole lot of trouble when our male patient’s sister discovered the three of us behind the newspaper-covered stairs. She told their mom, and when mom came out she reprimanded her son and ordered my sister and me to get out of her yard. We left immediately, and I recall feeling embarrassed and confused as to why they thought what we had done was so horrible. We were merely doing, I suppose, what our minds told us doctors did. Looking back with the insight of an adult, I say the following: children, under a combination of motives that are innocent and curious, are often accused of doing those things to which adults have attached motives that are bad and impure.

But despite this outcome, I learned to use what I had and to be creative without the expense of toys we did not have. Imagination was the source of free entertainment, fun and learning. Apart from the particular case spoken of in the preceding paragraph, I don’t recall my childhood propensity toward imagination causing me any real problem later on down the line. It basically was a safe mental outlet for children. I believe it had its role toward contributing toward my growth as a person. Even today, I use imagination to create scenarios in my head and play out various solutions to deal with adult issues and stresses in my life. But let me get back to Alvin and the rest of the crew.

Anyway, as I said, I played the vinyl record, and I mean I got a real kick out of the dramatization that played out. You see, Dave, who was the only human character acting as a mentor of sorts in this whole shebang, did a roll call—naming all of the chipmunks, trying to round them up for a particular purpose. He preceded to call out each chipmunk’s name, one by one. When he got to Alvin’s name, Alvin did not respond. Dave repeated once. He repeated twice. Then on the third repetition, an irritated Dave yelled out Alvin’s name in a loud and long stretch. It was then that Alvin, in equal manner, responded back with: OKAAAY!!!

Then they all scrambled together to perform their next number. I can hear the melody in my ears even though the lyrics are unclear and fuzzy. Oh, if it could be played today, maybe I could get the words and be able to discover the song’s name. Suffice it to say that I hope to remember enough of anything about these past reminisces to get me through those moments when laughter and fun would help to cheer me up or put upon my adult face at least a close approximation of the childhood glow of Christmas. I don’t believe it would hurt me if it is a glow that was horizontally inspired, without the lack of a Christian understanding. It still is a part of the process of living in this sinful world and I see in my process my growth into the person that I am today. It’s good to be able to go back in time, reflect upon it, to see how I’ve grown, and to know where I must go in life.

 Christmas Present

This Christmas 2013 did include my daughter, but not my husband. He was not up to it, and I almost stayed home myself to be with him, but decided to join my daughter the last moment. She seemed to really want me to join her and her grandmother on a visit to yet another side of the family. My husband assured me, after I made a few more attempts to find out if he would be okay said, “You go ahead, baby, and enjoy yourself.” So I did.

And I did have fun. So glad I had decided to go after all. From the lights that decorated the outside, I stepped into a home that was beautifully designed and filled with signs that celebrate Christmas. A gorgeous and regal-looking tree stood high in the corner next to the window. Surrounding the base of the tree were a few packages of brightly wrapped gifts. The tree was green with an angel that was placed not at the top, as is the custom, but on the coffee table nearby for a different look. I liked that. This was an instance where change was a good thing. It gave the place a slightly new touch, a new look. It gave me a sense of wonder about other things to come.

Okay, I’ll get to the food, but let me talk about what happened when we arrived. Well, first off, I handed my gift to the father of the female head and host of the event. She then took my coat, and proceeded to put it away. Her father was fully prepared to take my card and gift, but once he told me where it was to be placed, I quickly did it myself, and so I placed both of them on the table next to the huge magnificent angel, and then he led me into the kitchen.

In the kitchen, food was being moved about. Some things were being heated and placed on the counter across from stove, with other food that was already there. I held myself responsible for their having to do some things over again, if that was what they were doing, because I had changed my mind at the last minute and had to shower, get dressed, and get myself looking presentable before stepping out. Then my daughter and her grandmother themselves had to make a stop to visit someone before picking me up. And when they picked me up, I needed a card to go along with the gift I had for my hostess. We stopped at a store on the way for that purpose. Other last-minute items bought were an extra bottle of wine and a bag of onion rings for my daughter to snack on.  
But be that as it may, our arriving later than expected did not dampen their Christmas cheer. To the contrary. In fact, it seemed nothing could have prevented the graciousness and warmth that pervaded that lovely household. Everyone in it was extraordinarily as pleasant as punch to have us there as guests, and nothing was spared to make us feel comfortable and at home.

As we sat at the table, we made all sorts of wonderful discoveries. I and a few others learned about the mother of the host who had a talent for making topiaries, and better yet we all learned what a topiary was. I personally got a lesson in manners that I promised never to forget after a stern reprimand which I handled rather gracefully. I had shown some interest on the subject myself having one time bought a book penned by Miss Manners herself. Then there were discussions on photography, cooking, and home decorating. 

Yes, as time went by, we learned something about each other’s past, and each other’s opinions on various topics. It was enough to keep the day rolling with both excitement and laughter, and sober conversation. The evening progressed positively. No ill will that I could detect among us. Just a great time, delighting in each other’s company, sharing our thoughts and reminiscences. We also had a visit from a friend of our hostess, along with her son who provided company for the hostess’ son. Okay, it was now time for some food action, starting with the appetizers.

Here goes it:deviled eggs, spinach pizza, crab balls with dip. For the main course, we had: ham with raisin sauce, mashed potatoes, and turkey with gravy, string bean casserole and rolls. 

For dessert, there was: white and milk chocolate cashews,chocolate-covered strawberries, cinnamon-glazed walnuts, honey-glazed pecans,and red velvet cake. In addition to this decadent treat there was old-fashioned apple pie and vanilla ice cream. 

Drinks included lemonade, white wine, eggnog, and a tropical mixed drink called "Mai Tai," my first ever. And it was good. Don’t worry, I'm not an alcoholic, so you won’t find me inebriated to the point that I don’t know what’s going on. Besides, it was tastefully sweet, but hey,maybe it’s that deceptiveness that prompted me to say, “Hey, I can have drink this all day. It tastes so good."

I close here with some pictures. I want to reiterate the fact that I had a great time. I give kudos to the hostess and her helpers. They were nothing short of superlatives for refreshing manners and skillful presentation. I also need to point out that this array of food passed the taste test and that the taste was as delicious as they appeared aesthetically. In a word everything was fantastic.

NOTE: Although,this post arrives to you late, I did have a video for you in mind. If you are not terribly bothered by it, you can listen to it. If not, just pass over it. It's at the end of New Year's Eve's reflections.

 Christmas Future

I’d like to see in my Christmas future more times of family togetherness where Christ is placed at the centerpiece of conversations, actions, and deeds. I’d like to see my friends and family contented and at peace with where they are in life, knowing that there is something greater and meaningful---beyond what their senses can perceive.

I want to see myself doing more of the things I enjoy doing (writing and using my talent toward serving Christ, and see myself being transformed into a better person). I want to see a world where there is greater peace and harmony, because people will have room for God in their hearts and minds. I want to see the effects of what the power of love can do when it’s truly practiced. I’d love to see the fruits of the spirits grow in greater abundance.

I want to see my husband in a position where he doesn’t have to struggle as hard as he does, and the two of us going out on more vacations. I know he’d like that.

I’d like to spread the Good News of Christ that many others might also see the hope that is meant for them. I want people to know that they are made in the image of Christ for a specific and glorious purpose and not accidents of blind chance groping about in a sea of hopelessness, despair, and chaos.

I’d like to please God and be a part of a true family of believers that give God all the glory for Himself and for its own good good as only God knows it to be.


This New Year’s Eve was not spent watching a televised broadcast of the events in Times Square. Nope. There was no watching the famous ball drop from the top of. No fireworks, no celebrity performances, no singing “Auld Lang Syne” or the theme from “New York, New York.”

Tuesday, December 31, 2013, I spent New Year’s Eve quietly at home with my husband and son who had come for a visit. I remember my husband telling me to stay clear of the window as the time approached midnight. He was concerned for my safety. I mean, we were aware of the guns that went off like firecrackers, and the stories we later heard in the news about someone at home being shot when a stray bullet came cracking through a window.

Sad to say, but that’s one of the dangers that stems from these annual excitements. Adrenaline rushes through celebrants who play a more active role in this and similar events. I remember previous New Year’s Eves and how I used to go outside to stand with my children and watch the fireworks. From our previous residence, we had a splendid view of the pyrotechnics. It wasn’t necessary to go downtown, because we could see them from our home. I remember thinking how nice this was. I liked that it was so convenient, and I could easily return safely home as quickly as I came out.

My husband used to bring home all sorts of firecrackers and he’d go out and shoot them under the cloak of darkness as though he were doing something on the sly. I’m inclined to say he was. He had a boyish excitement that never quite went away even as a man, and it didn’t matter that his only audience was me, his wife.

Anyway, he would strike a match and soon I’d see and hear the sizzle of a lighted firecracker fuse, then pop, pop, pop! At the end, he’d have something else---this thingamajig---that he would wind around in a circle using his outstretched arm. Sparks would fly every which way before he would finally let go. I remember pacing up and down, in spurts like a wild woman, between moments of excitement and a kind of thrilling trepidation. Then, when it seemed all heck was about to break loose, I would run and hide between the screen and the inside doors of my back yard.

Now all of these holiday rituals have slowly faded away with the passage of time and are under the radar of our awareness. It seems now, we are uncontrollably guided by an overwhelming amount of activity that we don’t and can’t even recollect what we’re doing because we’re too immersed to know our own thoughts. We have, in the midst of everything, taken on new priorities that fit our season or position in life. 

Even Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and personal birthdays that celebrate our coming into this world are not as they used to be. It’s like we have totally forgotten how important they were in our lives. What happened? How could we not have remembered to turn on the television to watch this must-see broadcast?. Am I wrong in assuming this assessment applies to everyone? Should I amend this statement because perhaps you, or someone you know, are having days that you believe are still the same as they have always been?

If that is the case, then you are at least, in my humble opinion, one of the few. But even so, I say this knowing that we all live under the same sun that rises and sets. We are all under the dominion of a god who runs everything in it, and with each passing day, hour, minute, and second, we move inexorably to a place where we will face our destiny.

The world as we know it is not the same. It is a world that is mutable and constantly moving toward a conclusion. Nothing stays the same. To see ourselves in the mirror on one day is to not see quite the same person the next day. We have gotten a little older, though we may not see and feel the tiny imperceptible changes that make it so. 

So it is with everything in life, which includes the days, like holidays and birthdays, and all days. So it is with the weather, our fortunes (as some would call it), and our opinions, our feelings, our whims, et cetera. We can wake up one minute feeling madly in love with a person, and find ourselves hating that same person. There’s a thin line between the two emotions, and this is played out every day in the lives of people everywhere in the world.

To know that there are, indeed, things that do remain the same is good. If you believe in that God that controls our destiny; if you believe in a God that knows such things as the number of hairs on our heads, and the thoughts we share in the deeper crevices of our heart, and knows what will even happen in the chaos of this earthly existence and beyond the eternal that is and is to come, then it is a good thing. At least I think so.

It’s good to know that there are some things that will remain stable and the same in a life so filled with a tumult of uncertainty. It’s good to know that sameness and stability overrides the consequences of sin such as pain, suffering and death. It’s good to know that for some there’s great consolation in knowing that they believe in a God who is a Father who cares for you in a way that your earthly father could only wish to care for you in the same degree and fashion. Yes, change will always characterize our lives as human beings. But with an immutable God, we can rest assured that his promises are not just wonderful, they are stable and unchangeable, much unlike what we experience on this earth.
NOTE: In the aftermath of technical problems, I hope that you will still be able to appreciate the message contained in the words and music of this video. It is a part of my Christmas Past, and yet I can still hear the haunting sound of the drum beating its way into my Christmas Present and what, by the grace of God, will be my Christmas Future.
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The Little Drummer Boy (Perfect Version)
All Rights Belong to Artists Involved."The Little Drummer Boy" is a popular Christmas song, with words and music by Katherine K. Davis. Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone have been credited with writ...

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