What others have said about giving thanks . . .

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. ~G.K. Chesterton The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. ~Dante Gabriel Rosetti If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~William Faulkner As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. ~Aldous Huxley Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for. ~Will Rogers

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The Best Gift (that was a book)

To follow-up on Wednesday’s book-giving post, I thought I’d ask you to share the best book-gift you’ve ever received. I follow agent Rachelle Gardner‘s blog and she hit on this topic last week. It’s a great idea, so I’m stealing it. Here’s mine: The day I was born, Virginia Hoover registered me with Daughters of the American Revolution. An old-maid schoolteacher (who wouldn’t have minded being called one), she was the Keeper of Our History in the little community where I grew up. Every Christmas there would be one, rectangular package TO: David, Sarah & Daniel; FROM: Virginia & Zoe (her mother who lived to be 100+). It was always and ever a book. And while it wasn’t necessarily my favorite gift then, I’m SO grateful now. King Arthur, Narnia, Frog & Toad–she introduced us to them all. In my first novel a baby girl is born near the end. I named her Virginia. I just wish the real Virginia were still around so I could thank her for sharing her love of books. Of course, there’s also the copy of Heidi my mom read to me at least 268 times when I was little and then gifted to me when I was an adult. I think the best book I ever gave as a gift is probably the first draft of my first novel given to each of my parents. No one but your parents should read your first […]

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Making a list and checking it twice . . .

It’s getting to be that gift-giving time of year again. I mostly love shopping for friends and family, but there are always one or two folks who are impossible to gift. Luckily, there are always books. And not just great novels, but cookbooks and biographies and picture books and poetry and on and on. So on this Monday when there are 40 days ’til Christmas, I have two questions for you. What book would you love to get and what book would you love to give? I’m angling for a copy of Long Knife by James Alexander Thom. And I’m itching to give the entire Little House on the Prairie box set to my niece. (Man, just seeing a picture of the cover makes me want to set off across the prairie with Laura once again!)

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We’re Off to See the Wizard!

I work at a children’s home, so Halloween is an important holiday for us. The kids have a costume contest, a pumpkin carving contest, a parade and then trick or treat through our main offices. It’s only reasonable that our staff jump in and play along. This year, we went with a literary theme for our costumes–The Wizard of Oz. […]

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Happy All Hallow’s Even

We have Pope Gregory IV to thank for turning a pagan celebration into a holy day . . . that is once again a pagan celebration (not sure who we have to thank for that!). Ancient Celtic tribes celebrated the New Year on November 1, making October 31 a sort of New Year’s Eve for them called Samhain. They believed that on Samhain the souls of the dead returned to mix with the living. Hence the need to wear masks and light bonfires to scare the dead away. Trick or treating came from the tradition of going from house to house to gather food and materials for a community feast and bonfire. Not contributing was, of course, frowned upon. But back to Pope Gregory. He moved the celebration for all the saints from May 13 to November 1 in 835. The day before was dubbed All Hallow’s Even or holy evening. The feasting that happens from All Hallow’s Eve on October 31 through All Souls Day on November 2 is to remind us of the communion of saints (recognize that phrase from the Apostles’ Creed?). The communion of saints is the bond between all Christian believers, living and dead. It says we are all parts of one body with Christ as the head. I know Halloween has gotten a bad reputation in some Christian circles. I’ve always loved Halloween–oh, the princess costumes from days gone by! And I’m glad many churches, […]

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Ninety Years of Living

A friend of mine celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this week. She began the celebration last Saturday and I’m not sure it’s over yet. I took her flowers on the big day and visited a while. She began her birthday by eating cake for breakfast. Her husband of 60+ years gave her a dozen red roses (he turned 90 last spring). Late that afternoon she took a spin on the back of her son’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. She’s looking forward to a trip back home to Virginia with her husband and son in their massive RV in about a month. I told her that I’ll be turning 40 in just a few weeks. She smiled and said, “I don’t remember 40.” Then she thought a minute and added. “I’ve never really felt much older than 40.” And that, I think, is the formula for living to 90 and doing it well. Cake + Love + Family + Doing = Living My friend looks forward to getting up and eating cake. She has a husband and family who love her and whom she loves. She makes plans and enjoys herself. She makes 90 look like a really good time! Her husband laughed and told me when he married her he wasn’t too big on birthdays. His own could pass with little or no celebration and that was just fine. But not his bride. “I’ve never known anyone to enjoy her birthday so much,” […]

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What are you too busy for?

I’m pretty busy. Work, writing, church, family, friends–that sweet little dog. Oh, and I try to do the laundry once in a while. Dusting I let slide. But sometimes I have to stop and consider what it is that I’m busy about. And what I might be letting slide without meaning to. I had a really great conversation with a friend recently about some of the challenges of life. We’d both gone through times of being downcast, of struggling with our lives. Dark nights of the soul. I think everyone goes through these. And I think almost everyone tries to pretend they aren’t for the benefit of friends and family. You can be mired deep in your own muck, barely able to put one foot in front of the other, and still you’ll paste on a smile and tell everyone you’re “fine.” I’ve done it. My friend has done it. It was good to sit down together and talk about being in that place and hoping never to return. But here’s the kicker. I noticed my friend wasn’t quite her usual self. I saw how weary she seemed. I noted the smile that didn’t leave her lips. And I thought to myself that I should talk to her. I should ask her how she was doing really. But I didn’t. I was busy. She was busy. And surely she would say something if she needed my help. I mean, she […]

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