Bent Outta Shape.


Plan A. The tree the kids and I decorated together.

1) I give thanks every day and Thanksgiving (the holiday) is just another marvelous reason to feast with family. Whether I decorate for my celebration with a pumpkin or a tree with bulbs on it doesn’t affect the taste of my supper or the quality of my company.

Besides, the whole Pilgrim/Indian relationship didn’t work out in the long run. ugh. So the traditional reasoning for this holiday is just not important to me.

2) I am thankful always for the birth of Christ. But the way we celebrate and decorate has little to nothing to do with him. In fact, most of if has pagan origins. Reportedly, he wasn’t even born in December. Who cares WHEN we celebrate his coming to Earth? In fact, let’s do that all the time, with a tree or without one. Oh, yeah, and maybe sometime I’ll celebrate CHRISTmas by putting up Easter bunnies and scarecrows. Do you think it’ll matter a hill of beans? I don’t.


Ooops. The tree stand broke! argh!

3) Someone(s) decided the hows and whens and whats and we followed blindly along. I liken it to breakfast. Who made the rule that eggs and pancakes etc. are “breakfast foods?” The norm for some is not the norm for others. Personally I see nothing wrong with pizza or peanut butter and jelly for breakfast. And I see nothing wrong with festive lights, wreaths, snowmen, etc. all year long if that’s what floats your boat.

Ya got one life. Go for it.


4)Quit getting bent out of shape over the fact that some have put up their Christmas decorations BEFORE Thanksgiving!

There are plenty of things in this life worth your concern. I promise this isn’t one of them. Why criticize? Why pick a fight. Go sit on your bale of hay and hug your pumpkin while I listen to Jingle Bells and baste my turkey. Can’t we all just get along?


Is this, after all, a Tradition or Trap?


Plan B. The tree I owned as an apartment dweller. Glad I kept it.


Farther Up the Path


From left to right: Great-great grandma, great grandma (with me on her lap), grandma, dad.


From left to right, rear: Grandma, Great-great grandma, great grandma

Front: Mom and me

When I was born, I was the first grandchild AND the fifth generation on both sides of my family.

As I prepared to write what it means to be the oldest in the family – and considered all the grandmas who loved and spoiled me, I grew amazed that any bully or abuser was able to crumble my self esteem the way they did. But that’s another story.

This is about the unique position I hold in my family. For one thing, I was the child my parents experimented on. (and, yes, I know I ended my sentence with a preposition. It just sounds more natural. And I’m a rebel like that).  Because they were so hard on me it caused all sorts of problems in my soul that only God has been able to heal. No parents are perfect, so don’t be judging. Mine were young, hard working, and talented.  I learned a lot of good stuff from them. They were excellent providers and very open to my tomboy antics. I would never be able to survive a child like me. It was like I was training to be a stunt double or something.

Which brings me to my next point. Being the oldest meant that I was an influence on the younger kids. A bad one. I was always thinking of something to get into. If there was a place I wasn’t allowed to be, I was going to sneak in there, AND I was going to drag the others along. What would be the fun of taking on such a dangerous mission with no audience? Or cohorts to share the punishment should we get caught.

I was there to stick up for the younger kids, but I would also pick on them like nobody’s business if I got bored. At least the ones who were close to my age.

I taught them to make clover necklaces. I drew pictures for them and entertained them by singing or putting on puppet shows. I organized neighborhood parades, my own library, baseball games…  I wrote plays and rounded up the kids to perform them. (even the ones in my neighborhood. I was the oldest there, too). We formed a singing group. None of us could really sing, but it was fun anyhow.


I was the first teenager in my family. I had long hair that the little kids liked to brush. I gave them piggyback rides and told them spooky stories. I played guitar for them and took them on long walks.


And then they had babies. I dived right in to love them, too. I went to their ball games. I took them skating and swimming and climbing around on the playground. I bought them huge cookies and ice-cream.

I watched all of the younger folks in my family grow from babies. I have memories of them that they do not have of me. I developed an attachment to them and an affection that they don’t necessarily share.

I have seen them go through many phases…good, bad, and ugly. I’ve observed their talents flourishing. And in a way, this being older thing has been quite lonely.

But it’s also sort of like scaling a mountain, overcoming the rough terrain, (but please note that it was rough. There was a lot to overcome. You had to become stronger, better, bigger, deeper as you went) and make it to such a high spot that you can turn around and see everyone coming up next.

It makes you more understanding and patient. It helps you not to panic when the particular phase they’re going through is an ugly one. You’ve been there. You know what a phase looks like. Just up around the bend is something better. If you’ve already experienced something, it’s easier to love somebody through it.

Of course, I was the first one to get wrinkles and gray hair, too. And to become a grandparent. That is some scary stuff right there. To think I’m a grandma and I haven’t even gotten parenting down yet. (smile)

Friends, Food, Prayer


When you’re on a fixed income, (I’m on disability income, and it’s not very much), sometimes in order to get necessities, you have to let a bill or two go, then play catch up later. It’s not because you’ve mismanaged your money or that you’ve been careless or foolish, it’s just because there isn’t enough –and that’s that.

This month I am dealing with the usual shut-off notices. I usually slide in by the skin of my teeth and get the bills paid before the shut off comes. (Or get help from a community resource). I get WIC and some food assistance for our household, as I’m raising two of my grandchildren and sharing the care of another. That assistance was cut by $40 last month, and we were barely making it as it is.

I am a frugal shopper. (and Thank God for ALDI!) Sometimes I do buy things that people would consider “luxuries.”  But let me tell you this:  these kids have one childhood and I have ONE life. If I wait to be able to afford chocolate or potato chips, we’ll never have them. So, yeah, I do get things like that. A sandwich and chips for lunch is oh, so yummy.  Cheap ALDI brand chips. And that’s fine by me.

But this month has been super duper hard for me and my daughter, who recently lost her job. We were talking back and forth today (via text) about how she’s feeling so depressed and scared about everything going on in her life.  I wanted so much to help, but am struggling myself. So I did the best thing any of us can do: I prayed. AND I went to a group of people who are my “prayer partners” and asked them to pray for our finances.

All of this struggling just makes you feel so tired sometimes. It gets to the point where you don’t even want to burden anyone with the information that, once again, you are in need.

WELL, not only did they pray for me, one of them met me at the gas station and filled up my tank. She brought me a trunk FULL of groceries, too!

Then I took the money I had for the baby’s juice and went to Walmart to buy it. While I was there I thought about the beans I had at home to make chili, and how I could make chili stretch for days. A few days ago I decided that, since I make vegetarian chili, I’d like to put more veggies in it than I do traditionally. I already put corn and beans, and thought that some diced tomatoes and green peppers would be delicious. Why hadn’t I thought of that before, in fact? But with no funds to add the “extra” ingredients, I would be satisfied with what I could conjure up without them.

So there I was, walking through Walmart, and saw a box of Saltines. Oh, man! Wouldn’t those be good with our chili?! But they were out of my price range. It just was not to be.

Got home with my loot and began to unload it all and put it in the cupboards. It was delightful discovering the things my friend had chosen to give us. Not just the staples, but FUN things as well. And what do you suppose I found among the goodies she’d given me? A bag of frozen, cut up green peppers, a can of diced tomatoes, and a box of Saltines! My 8 year old was also thrilled to find a bag of Pistachios. He asks me to buy some for him EVERY TIME we go shopping, and I always have to tell him we can’t afford them. “Maybe next time,” I say.

The best thing I got out of all this was the knowledge that God was smiling on me, caring about my desires, and using one of His children to provide for another.

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” –Ephesian 3:20-21

See? It wasn’t just a trunk full of groceries and a tank of gas. It was faith refreshed and a heart lifted up.  So thankful.

Praying you all get your God moment just when you need it the most. Don’t be too full of pride to accept help when you need it. You’ll rob someone of their blessing if you refuse help. And don’t be too blind or stingy to help others when you can. 🙂 It all matters! More than you think.

Oh, p.s., I was not only able to feed the little ones and myself, I was able to share with my daughter as well, thus giving her some much needed relief.

Tradition or Trap


My 21 year old daughter was disturbed when she visited the other day and found that the kids and I had already put up our Christmas tree. “But…but, this is not your tradition!” She complained.

And she was right. It was a break with the tradition I’ve held since I lived in Bowling Green, Ohio, more than 200 miles from my hometown. My kids and I were accustomed to going home for the holidays, but somehow that year it didn’t work out. Sure, we’d see family at Christmas, but being used to sharing Thanksgiving with them, I faced that day in a blue funk that was bound to affect my little ones if I didn’t kick it in the butt.

So, once we finished our delicious meal and cleaned up, I surprised them by pulling out our Christmas decorations. “We’re starting a new tradition this year!” I told them, much to their delight. That was the early 80s, and it’s carried on until this year.

This time around we needed a little pick-me-upper, and this seemed like a good remedy. So we cranked up the Christmas tunes and got to work.


Some of my friends have questioned my sanity, but many have caught the bug and are getting their houses decked out early as well. I think with all the bad news we hear every day, and all the problems we face, it can’t hurt to veer off the path a little to find some fun.

Traditions are nice, but they shouldn’t turn in to a trap. Right?! So happy holidays from my house to yours. And remember, Jesus is the reason for the season. And everything else.