Anais Nin Quote

"Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live." Anais Nin

"A life undocumented is a life unlived."

Friday, November 28, 2014

O Christmas Tree

When I was growing up, we would go to my Grandma's house every year for Christmas. I remember lots of people, lots of food, and lots of football on TV. I loved it. One of Grandma's traditions every year, though, was putting up the Christmas tree. While other homes were spending hours picking out the right tree, placing it in just the right spot, and decorating it, Grandma would pull her tree out of the attic, plop it in the living room, whip off the large black garbage bag, and voila! Instant Christmas tree! I remember hanging a few more Christmas bulbs and draping tinsel on the branches. The first presents under the tree were gift-wrapped bricks. I kid you not. I never understood that tradition, but there they were. Grandma was the only person I knew who had gift-wrapped bricks mixed in with everyone else's presents.

While I loved helping decorate the tree, I personally always wanted a real tree - picked out and drug home, filling the house with the scent of Christmas. Once I moved out, I did just that. Every year, I had a real tree. I became a Christmas tree snob. After my divorce, buying a Christmas tree suddenly turned into an unaffordable luxury. Mom had an extra tree that she let me use. At first, I balked. It wasn't real. I wasn't going to be able to hang real lights from it because it was pre-lit. I felt I was being robbed, but I put the tree up anyway, decorating it with my few precious ornaments. It was nice. It was pretty, I admitted. And if you looked at it at an angle, you almost couldn't tell it wasn't real. Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad after all. Years passed. My ornament collection grew bit by bit. This year, I had no qualms about whipping that tree out of the box and plopping it next to my front window, pre-lit and standing in all its fake glory. A few ornaments later and voila! I had a fully-decorated Christmas tree. I was able to relax on the couch, drink my cocoa, crochet another ornament, and watch the football game while everyone else wrestled with boulder-shaped tangles of Christmas lights and were vacuuming up needles that trailed everywhere. I may even wrap a brick or two to put under the tree. Merry Christmas, Grandma.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Thanksgiving I witness at least one sadness - someone who has one less person around their Thanksgiving table, a family that has fallen completely apart, or people struggling with the memories of those who are long gone from this world, but far from forgotten. We feel sad, discouraged, bitter, and angry at the fact that the Thanksgiving we envisioned is not the one we're experiencing this year. I know that pain. I've gone through it myself - the pain of one less person around the table, the pain of a family fallen completely apart. Through it all, though, I've tried to pull out at least one thing I'm thankful for, even if it's small and stupid compared to the rest of the heartache going on in my life - I'm thankful for my health, a roof over my head, food to eat, the loved ones that are still here, the opportunity to go to school, a decent car to drive, the fact that I have a lovely smelly candle burning in my living room. Sometimes it's the little, silly stuff, but it's a start. And from that small spark of thanksgiving, I create another spark, and another. Before long, I have a roaring fire of thankfulness where before I was wailing over the burnt-out ashes of traditions I had lost.

I'm thinking of all my friends today who are experiencing the pain of lost loved ones and lost traditions. It's not always easy picking through the ashes and trying to find a spark, but do it anyway. You can do it. We all have at least one thing to be thankful for and that one thing can make all the difference in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

All Saints Sunday (from the perspective of a former Baptist)

I live in an area that is dominated by Southern Baptists. Even the mega-churches down here who claim to have no denominational ties have Baptist leanings. I grew up Baptist. Methodists were considered sinful because they dance. The Catholics were one step away from Satan worshippers and Pentecostals were just considered weird. Things have mellowed out just a bit, but the Baptists are pretty firm in their beliefs, regardless of whether they're Biblically-based or not. So the Baptist way is the only way I have ever known until about a month ago. I made the transition from a Southern Baptist church to an Episcopal church and it has been one of the best things I have ever done in my life.

The Episcopalians are definitely a different breed than the Baptists, but I like it. I like the formal services. I love the collective prayer. I love the fact that we kneel when we pray. I like the fact they're not hung up on alcohol. I will never understand why the Baptists have such issues with alcohol. I understand the whole bit about not wanting to cause your brother to stumble who might be recovering from alcohol abuse and all that, but if all the Baptists avoid drinking alcohol because of their recovering alcoholic brothers then there must be a whole lot more recovering alcoholics out there than the Baptists are willing to admit to.

Today was All Saints Sunday. As a Baptist, I wasn't familiar with All Saints Day so I did a Google search and came up with the Wikipedia explanation. The associate rector spoke of saints, saying that we are all saints and should strive to model ourselves after those who have gone before us who may have been forgotten. It's hard to see ourselves as saints, but by its very definition, Christians are considered saints of God. A Google definition of saint is "a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and typically regarded as being in heaven after death". 

The other really neat thing we had this morning was baptism. The Episcopals and Baptists disagree on the topic of baptism. The Baptists believe in full immersion. The Episcopals do it a bit differently. This morning, three babies were baptized and the Baptismal Covenant was recited. It was a really sweet and solemn ceremony. 

Learning how to be an Episcopal is proving to be a fun and interesting journey. As I learn, I'll try to post things here from my perspective, but for now...

...Robin Williams said it best:

Robin Williams' Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian (from http://www.saint-augustine.org/_sep02/ef0902b.htm)

10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don't have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt.
2. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.
And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Free Stuff for Shelby County Schools Teachers

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