What Will We Do in Our Tomorrows?

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Sunday I celebrated the Christian religious holiday of Easter. This is our most important religious day – the foundation of our faith. What I ponder today, one of the tomorrows after Easter,  is how does my belief in the death of Jesus for my sins and His resurrection to sit on the right side of God impact how I choose to live in my tomorrows?

What I ponder today should be relevant for all faiths. Passover will be celebrated in April by those who practice the Jewish faith and I would be interested in knowing what the celebration of God freeing the Jews from bondage in Egypt means for their life choices during  their tomorrows. I’m not familiar with the faith defining events of Islam – maybe some of my Muslim readers will tell my what they are. And whatever they are, do they make a difference in who you are and how you choose to live your life? Not everyone believes in a big-G but they still have little-g gods. No matter who this god is (maybe money, status, fame, power) or where this god exists (nature, humans), what does it mean for how you chart your future and what will be said of you when you leave this existence. Will you be remembered as a good person? Will you leave your community a better place?

I am pondering these questions. Sometimes my environment brings out the worst in me. As JB and I are dealing with several stressful circumstances, like condo politics and U.S. politics and church politics, we can sometimes feel ourselves wanting to get revenge. Sometimes we want to see bad things happen to people we perceive as bad. Sometimes we have a hard time figuring out who is the bad guy and who isn’t and sometimes we come across people who seem just plain evil. Sometimes they seem misguided because they don’t think like me and I know I’m right – right?

JB and I were driving from an Easter service that nurtured our spiritual growth to our usual breakfast at Blueberries and JB said he had made a decision. He said that he has decided that he is not going to let the bad behavior of the people around us impact on who he is as a person. He is going to strive to be the best person he can possibly be (and he is a really good person). I am with him all the way.

We had been struggling with how to be good people. When one or the other had slipped into fantasies of how to get even, of the bad things we would like to do to bad people, the other would act as a balance, a voice of kindness. Maybe speaking our fantasies was a way of purging the anger from our bodies, although I still kicked a fallen pine cone onto their side of the yard. That will show them!

We will continue to be kind and friendly to those who do wrong, but will not allow them to enter our lives enough to influence us to do wrong. We will live to be an example of what is good and right and just. We will surround ourselves with what is nurturing to our kinder, gentler side, like good people, wholesome entertainment and healthy food. We will seek out the beauty of the world and rejoice in it. Our faith has taught us that we should allow the love and grace of our God to shine through us. We believe that the death of Jesus gives us a new beginning so we can shine into all of our tomorrows. And we are confident that God will walk beside us to help us.

And what comes to mind is the commandment that we share with our Jewish friends – from Micah in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“He has shown you, oh [people], what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (New International Version)

No matter what God we believe in or where we look to for the values that shape our choices, I think that these words would serve us well as we come around the table to solve our world’s problems and live in peace with our neighbors.

(This post is linked to the WordPress’s  The Daily Post with the prompt of Perspective. Check out Ben’s interesting post.)

Every day should be Valentines Day

20160202-DSC_0203Sending you love today, the day after the contrived day designated for people in the US to tell their sweetheart that they love him/her. I think it drives men nuts – trying to figure out how to tell their significant other that they are loved. This is especially true when television ads are telling them to buy expensive jewelry, chocolates, and even a car as an expression of their love. Other sources indicate a meal at an expensive restaurant is the perfect way to say “I love you.” When we went to the Publix grocery last week he looked at the roses that had been marked $5 more than the week before but advertised as being on sale. He walked on because it rubbed his sense of fair play the wrong way.

Of course there are the romantic fellows who love to spend money on their sweetie. I suspect that behind every romantic fellow who is spending big bucks is a woman worrying how to pay next month’s credit card payment. JB, after 51 years of blissful marriage, still spends time fretting about what to get me and I am still telling him that I really don’t need or want anything so he shouldn’t spend the money. He understands this because he is more frugal than I am. But there is still that nagging message that boys should buy their girlfriend candy in a red, heart-shaped box. He did that when we were teens and dating – and with his very meager income it was a hardship that said “I love you.” I ate it up. The sentiment and the candy. I saved the box to hold mementos of our dates, like movie stubs and dance cards with no names listed because I danced every dance with him.

I don’t need the chocolate now because of weight issues (always) and would only be delighted if the chocolate came with a hefty price. My taste in chocolate has been refined with age. If he paid that much for the chocolate I would feel bound to eat it all, right? You can see how complicated all this romance can get.

Being the practical type I think we should just cut out the romantic crap that costs a lot of money and focus on what really matters. What matters is that we greet each other with a warm smile each morning and say that we love each other before we go to sleep each night. What matters is that we don’t do things that require us to tell lies and destroy trust, that we forgive each other when we get stressed and snarky. If every day is treated like Valentine Day, going to the grocery together is a romantic date and eating a grilled cheese sandwich super in front of the TV is as sweet as a candle light meal in a restaurant with white linen table coverings and napkins.

JB and I both need to hear that we love each other, but large sums of money don’t make the pronouncement more believable. What makes us so secure in our knowledge that we love each other is our consistent expressions of caring in everyday living. I’m thinking we need to show our love for each other tonight with a trip to the Dairy Queen for a mini Blizzard. I love the Snickers.

The Loss of Christmas Past

Christmas decorations 061-2Last week I was looking at videos of Christmas’s past. My grandsons’ mother died this past year and there were home videos I wanted to copy for them so my beloved grandsons could sort out their memories of their lives with her. She suffered from mental illness so life could be crazy sometimes. My goal was to give them something to use as they grieve and to help them sort out the naughty and nice of this part of the tapestry that is being woven to define who they will be as they age.

As so often happens, I got hijacked along the way by my own tapestry that continues to be woven, even as it is fraying along the edges. The video I watched was of Christmas, 1995. It doesn’t sound that long ago but it was, 20 years long ago. The wine I drink and the cheese I eat haven’t aged that long. In 1995 I hadn’t yet arrived at the decade I would consider the prime of my life.

I became nostalgic as I watched that video of Christmas 1995. My whole family was together – my mother came from Florida, one sister from Wisconsin, and my other sister came from Grand Rapids. They brought their husbands and children. Our son was still married and they were there with our two grandsons, along with our youngest daughter who was home from college. In the video our home was bursting with activity and laughter and stories. We were all together – well almost, except my father who had died 14 months earlier and our other daughter who was living in Russia that year.

I felt sad when I realized it was the last time we would all get together as a family for Christmas. I enjoyed watching my mother talking and laughing and teasing me – she remarried and never came to Michigan for Christmas again, dying about ten years later. My baby sister moved to northern Wisconsin, a two-day drive away, making visits for holidays difficult – besides our children have grown, with families of their own. Between my offspring increasing and my other sister not wanting to travel the two hours to our home we didn’t see them at Christmas much after 1995. She died about three years ago. I have invited my brother-in-law and two nieces to our Christmas Eve celebration but they can’t come because of work responsibilities. My son’s marriage broke up so my daughter-in-law was no longer a part of our gatherings; her death three months ago didn’t have an impact on our gathering.

As I watched Christmas Eve 1995, I also realized that our youngest daughter hadn’t met and married her husband yet so he was missing, and they hadn’t given us our three bright and beautiful granddaughters. The Christmas video reminded me that families change over the years as some people leave, others are added, and sometimes configurations change.

On Christmas Eve 2015 we once again gathered – and our family was all together again. Except it was a different configuration from 1995, and our oldest grandson, his new wife, and our new adorable (step) great-grandson couldn’t be here. This year our daughter-in-law and her two young-adult children are “official” because they married our son last summer. We had welcomed them as real family several years ago, but this year was special because of the legal change.

It was a lovely gathering, full of joy and peace and good-will. Our home was alive as gifts were lovingly exchanged, and we laughed over our feeble attempts to explain how words (like poop) are related to the Christmas story as eight people gathered for a game of Scrabble (with new rules). We gathered around a long Christmas table set and decorated by our youngest granddaughter, sharing food the better cooks lovingly prepared. There was more laughter and bantering as children and grandchildren bartered unwrapped stocking stuffers they had picked from a pile in the middle of the floor.

I took video clips throughout the afternoon because I know that someday in the future the people we shared this beautiful and sacred day with will look at it and think about how Christmas used to be, feeling sad about those who are no longer present and how much things have changed. And then, hopefully, they will feel contentment with their new Christmas traditions filled with love, joy and peace.

A Post For My Husband; The Father of Our Children

Some things work better with two.

Some things work better with two.

Yesterday we celebrated Father’s Day by having dinner with our son, his soon-to-be wife, and her two young-adult children from a previous marriage. We had a great time talking and laughing, and the food they prepared was delicious. I have been thinking about the intent of the day, with my thoughts traveling along two different lines. My next post will about my thoughts of how these special days can be painful, but today’s post will feature the memories I have of sharing parenthood with JB. Having him as a co-parent made my work so much easier.

We became parents when work was still divided into men’s work (as in paid jobs, taking care of the cars, and mowing the lawn) and women’s work (all things inside the home if hubby made enough to support her). Women were suppose to take care of babies, but you snuggled our newborns and changed lots of diapers. Even in infancy they knew you were special because you shared your afternoon naps, with them comfortably lying on your chest.

I always ran out of energy right after supper so I had little patience for putting children to bed. You eagerly (most nights) read the bedtime stories to the kids after baths had been taken and they had curled up around you on one of their beds. I was soothed by your gentle voice as I listened from another room.

Thank you for recognizing when they were growing in ability so you changed your method of story telling. You paused at critical times in the stories so they could rewrite the characters and action. I would giggle as I listened to the kids’ giggles and yelps of laughter as they worked to make up wild, nonsensical stories – and this was before Ad Libs were published.

I love remembering the games you played with the kids every night after supper. No, they weren’t quiet board games. Every night you would lie on the living room floor after supper – an invitation to all three kids to tumble and bounce and walk on you. The mayhem would build to crescendo until you would yell for Mommy to come and save you. Long after the kids were too big to play the silly floor games you made up, you played the same games with our grandchildren. And our son was soon romping on the floor with his two little sons after supper every night. I wonder if our oldest grandson is romping with Kaden tonight.

Thanks for those times you stepped in when you heard me loosing my cool because I was unable to comfort a distressed child. I can still hear the words, “I’ll take over.” as you took the sobbing child into your arms and they immediately settled on your shoulder. What a blessing you were.

I am so proud when I think of how you put the needs of our children before your concern about being ridiculed. Remember when Carol’s first grade teacher invited Mommies (and maybe Grandmas) to have lunch with their child. You took extra time off work to be there with Carol because I had a class in East Lansing. You must have been the only Daddy to attend.

I am also grateful that you attended the after school Girl Scout meeting when Sharon was awarded the Gold merit star. It was an event I wanted to attend but couldn’t because I was taking university classes. You were sensitive and gracious enough to take care of both of our needs..

I know you always take care of your things and like your work bench to be in order – at least the order that lets you find things. How amazing that you were generous in letting Michael use your tools and helped him find stashed away lumber so he could build a fort in our back yard. You were always willing to help our children with projects and even when they became adults you continued to teach them how to fix things so that now they are handy and resourceful in keeping their homes and cars well maintained. Now that’s a great dad.

Although we tease you about it now, we all appreciated the hot dogs and canned beans (or grilled cheese and tomato soup) you served up to the kids on all those nights that I wasn’t able to be home because of late night classes.

I am amazed that you took our three kids and two of their friends camping in Canada all by yourself so I could have a week home alone to complete some papers for classes. What a wonderful experience that was for all of you. I know because the kids came home with lots of exciting stories and you came home tired but without battle scars.

Although parenting teens isn’t easy, you hit the mark by driving them to high school, and stopping at Hinkley’s Bakery for a breakfast of doughnuts and chocolate milk. You thought to take them out on country roads on early Sunday mornings in summer to give them driving practice before they began driver training. You knew they wouldn’t be as scared getting behind the wheel when they started class. And then you helped them get cars and taught them how to maintain them so they had wheels to get where they needed to go.

I am so thankful I had the good sense to pick you to be my life partner. There was something I saw in you when we were dating that told me that you would be a great dad. Having a good dad for the children I wanted to have was very important to me and you didn’t let me down. Now, after 50 years of marriage and co-parenting, we can look back and say it wasn’t always easy, and sometimes we made mistakes, but overall it was very, very good.

And now all three of our children are good friends and a source of joy for us. Most important, they respect and love you deeply. Thank you, Sweetheart, for sharing it all with me.

Good Friends

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Good friends are those you can call to say you have some pie left over from a gathering the night before and they eagerly accept an invitation to a light supper of cheese and wine – and rhubarb custard pie for desert. The evening is spent telling fun stories with lots of laughter. Good food for the soul at any age.