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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