Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Holidays!!

Ok, it is unlikely that you've seen a more strange collection of pictures in one place. Welcome to the weird and crazy world of Sue's holidays. I don't know how it happens. It starts normally-the picture of my sisters and I (second from the left-you really can't miss the eyebrows)! That was Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful. Ok, on with the last three, a Revival Burlesque bumper sticker that was given to me by the cast of the same show in which my daughter sang and acted, and then a menorah parade-this all happened in Philadelphia the weekend before Christmas. The only thing lacking in this set of pix is my two daughters dressed up as David Bowie for Christmas dinner in paper wigs and costumes. One was Jareth from the movie Labyrinth, and the other was Ziggy Stardust. Pictures will follow if my daughter sends me hers.

Just a little reminder that normal life is rarely that, especially for this family. Ok, further "lifeshots" from the holidays...a call from Brandon. He's doing well and was able to get through on Christmas morning! Yay! The girls were both home (I brought Dena home from Philly to be with us on Christmas) and could say hi to their brother. Christmas Eve consisted of pierogi making (Polish dumplings), and my only attempt at cookie baking, thank God. My husband's family is of Polish extraction on both sides, so we celebrate the traditional Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia or Wilia (Vil-EE-ah). I'll see if I can find a hyperlink reference to the meal's history. A chair is left empty for Jesus (this year it was next to me, and unfortunately Jesus held up the serving line-I kept getting passed over), or a traveler needing shelter. We break opatke (OH-pwat-key), giving each person at the table three blessings or wishes for the New Year. The bread is like a communion wafer, or fly saucer candy shells, if you've ever had those. The traditional blessing is for health, wealth and happiness, and as the blessing is given the recipient breaks off three pieces of opatke and eats them, signifying the acceptance of the blessing. It's a really beautiful ceremony, and I couldn't help thinking of the Sabbath Prayer scene in Fiddler on the Roof.

We decided this year to not focus on gift-giving, and I feel like I really had my gifts in the visits to Indiana to see my sisters, the visit to Somerset to see Brandon and his call and letter after the holidays (he's beginning to accept the loss of old dreams and start dreaming some new paths for which I am truly grateful), and being able to visit and bring home Dee. Acting and singing in this show is a long-time dream come true for her, and I was also able to help her clean and organize her space before school starts again. One side note any parent with a college age child will understand...her "luggage" for home was a laundry basket filled with dirty clothes. Chuckle.

So I look forward to the New Year with more fun times, silly pictures and snapshots of life! What will happen, I don't know. But one true thing-God has kept us in His palm this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the ghost of Christmases past

Yeah. Maybe more than a few. Things I've said that hurt people I care about. Things I've done without really thinking about it. Sigh. If there's one New Year's resolution I do have, it's truly do all with loving motives. I've tried. I want to be a person of honor. Be the one to absorb the loss. Think more about others than I do about myself. Walk away rather than have the last word. Be glad for another who does well rather than fume or be jealous.

Loving sometimes does best saying nothing, being unnoticed, operating in grace. I need to learn that lesson.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

stocking stuffers

As child I used to love looking in our stockings because the gifts had to be small to fit, and usually they were the most cherished. So here are my random stocking stuffers this season...I'm leaving for Philadelphia in a few hours to be with my oldest daughter. The youngest and a boyfriend are coming as well. So let's see, just like the Twelve Days of Christmas-I always thought that list was really strange, strange magic happens at this time and what I see as true gifts always changes. I have the gift of watching my daughter perform in a burlesque show. She designs costumes, writes skits and sings, and now she wants to act. A version of the Christmas story it is not. But considering the year she has had, this is truly something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my son's phone calls, and the visit we had last weekend. It's all from prison. This year he did not request a safe pack of goodies and food. I left it entirely up to him, and he did not want us to spend the money. He's lost probably 70 pounds over the course of his incarceration, and now simply seems content with his lot, content to serve his time and be grateful for what he has. Small miracles.

Another gift I enjoy is my youngest daughter's enthusiasm about everything. Nothing holds her back, everything is an adventure. Part of me dreads driving to Philly. She's determined to walk if she has to. Her youth and love, and her cheerful demeanor never fail to make my day better. She's determined that no presents this year will make it the best Christmas ever.

I think about my husband's unfailing strength trouping to the dental lab daily, working long hours to support us. He rarely ever complains about anything at all, only calls to see if there's dinner. (He's probably grateful there isn't, LOL). This morning he delivers gifts to inmates at our local county jail. We assembled 800 bags Thursday night. That was my thing to do, and he willingly came along for the ride and the work. We finally had a Saturday morning today that did not include running in a thousand different directions right from the alarm.

Then there are the friends I have, people I love to write to, to hear from-a gift yesterday was a random early morning call from a dear friend, just to say hi. Then a funny card from a long time girlfriend with a check, just because. Kitties sitting in my lap or by my side purring when I nap or watch tv. A really cosy little house, made more cosy by a tree and candles everywhere. The movie I saw last night, reminding me of the true miracle of small gestures-just people being themselves and sharing simple gifts of love. As I get older, the past childhood pleasures magnify and resound with the same truth that made me so joyful to see Christmas come. My family is here, God is real, love makes a difference and it is truly more blessed to give than receive.

Friday, December 05, 2008

new every morning

The creative spirit is ever renewing and alive. The above image was found after doing a google search "creativity and the Holy Spirit". I thought this was a tremendously interesting entry. It's a cyber drawing of Adam and Eve, and a reminder to me that art is continually growing, adapting and changing, and revelation never stops. Old truths breathe new life.

I'm back from vacation, visiting my sisters and taking time off from a busy schedule. I needed a fresh perspective. I guess it helped because I passed my Microsoft Vista certification upon my return! I'm so excited. At any rate, while there I was privileged to meet an author and artist who had just sent me an e-mail prior to my departure. My destination was the Indianapolis area, this man's home base. His name is Scott McElroy and he just wrote a book entitled, "Finding Divine Inspiration: working with the Holy Spirit in your creativity." I'm going to see if I can provide a link to a bookseller here...Anyway, it was good. I needed to understand that the creative spirit in the world is the Holy Spirit, and He is ever alive and active in our lives if we seek. Scott had a book signing within reasonable driving distance from my vacation domicile, so I went to meet him. I came away determined to let God take the wheel in this whole thing.

I also came away with a much better appreciation for the great art of loving and sharing in relationship over time. I have four sisters and they have always been my best friends and greatest fan club. We are like Patty Duke's old show, the story of identical cousins (I can still hear the theme song in my head!) They walk alike, they talk alike, at times they even...whatever alike, chuckle-well, imagine five of them. AHHHH! That's the Phillips girls. We did talk-ALOT! And that helped me. When it feels like my whole head is an iceberg, everything frozen up from too much schedule, too little reflection and contemplation, I need to let things thaw out. And that is what happened.

It is good to be home. It will be even better when I let the wind of the spirit begin blowing through my creative imagination again.