Yesterday, I walked around the block with my daughter and her St Bernard, Captain Jack. It was a leisurely pace as he stops to sniff at every yard. We strolled by a house that makes me smile every time we are on a trek. The flower and garden beds are all outlined in chipped China and and pottery plates. Each one is different, so they may have been purchased at a Goodwill or antique shop. It is cheerful and whimsical and naturally causes me to think about how I could creatively design my garden. Yesterday, this caused me to wince as I recalled my calamity of last week. It just so happens that I set my table for the holiday as Charlestonians do, ready for any occasion that may happen planned or spontaneous. As I was on my knees, lifting saucers and cups from the bottom shelf, one saucer slid from my hands and broke into three pieces on the floor. This is the first time I ever dropped a piece of my Royal Dolton bone china. This may be a surprise to some to whom I am known for quickly stacking plates when I unload a dishwasher and rattling pots so loudly that it wakes my children from a deep sleep, but the China was always handled with care. After thirty four years of using the White Nile pattern for every special occasion, but rarely the coffee cups and saucers, I was about to summarily toss it in the trash. Then I thought better of it. A little superglue could fuse the clean break back together again even though I would not use it for guests. Somehow it seems important to have a complete set of twelve, broken or chipped though it may be. This reminds me that in every family we are a conglomerate of weathered pieces. The thought of lining my flower beds with broken pieces of my life is amusing, but I do not want to showcase my mistakes when the reality is that I have been healed, forgiven and made new through the love of an awesome God. I may instead plant seeds for every goof up and let my garden grow into a colorful plentiful place that may bring a smile to someone and their doggie as they walk by.
Yesterday, I bought four, one pound boxes of chocolate to give as gifts to my sweet friends and three peppermint candy bars to put in the kid’s stockings. I have not had any chocolate since Halloween when I snacked on Reece’s peanut butter cups and ran out before 8:00. I could not even get through one night without opening up the peppermint bar, just to see if it was tasty- and then another- okay, I ate them all. Why is it such a temptation for me? I bought peppermint essential oils for the kids to replace the candy. Now, those one pound nicely wrapped boxes: two made it to their destination and one was a victim of my seven hour car ride to Florida. The last one was packed way at the bottom of a box in the back of the car. Just knowing it was there was precarious. So today, as I was trapped behind the garbage pick up truck, I thought about what a thankless job they have and guessed that no one ever leaves a Christmas tip. I got out of my car, dug through the box and pulled out the chocolate. I ran up to the waste management engineer and wished him a Merry Christmas and handed him the wrapped box of chocolates. He smiled and thanked me as I ran back to my car. Hopefully he will think it a welcome and kindly gesture, but I know in my heart I was saving myself from sinking into the depths of chocoholic oblivion. I may be safe until Valentines Day, but word has it that my sweetheart has sent dark chocolate bark with sea salt in the mail to all of our girls. They will have to hide it from me. This should not be happening after I did my first ever twenty one day detox. My sister-in- law, Karen, warned me that it is unwise to mess with our body’s natural systems. Now that I am re- toxified with all that sugar, I may have energy spurts that will cause me to take trips to the mall for more shopping or to start dancing in the kitchen. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit that is on the upper branches of my tree of life. If you struggle like I do with tasty temptations come join me on Market Street in Charleston and we will practice walking by the candy store that gives out free bites of pralines.
Yesterday, I was addressing sixty envelopes to send out my annual Christmas letter. I am always in danger of making mistakes when I have an assembly line task. I loose concentration somewhere after the fifth card, letter, message, signature, address, stamp and seal process. It could be the song running through my head, or thinking about the next delicious soup I plan to make, or maybe just wondering how all my loved ones are doing and if they will appreciate getting a card or think it is passé. Suddenly, I realized that when addressing the envelop I wrote, to Mr. and Mrs. Lin Bader. I don’t know if her husband Jay will notice and think I am trying to start some new feminist tradition, or if I should write a new one. I just don’t have any extras, so I let it go. My mother was guilty of writing a check to my husband that said Mr and Mrs. Stuart Harper- my maiden name. He laughed and cashed it without a problem. I don’t know if attention to detail is genetic, or if it is just busy brain syndrome. What I do know, is that I think about each person on the list and pray over them as I write with hope that our relationship will always be meaningful, even if we see each other only one time in a year. It has been a few years for some of my relatives, but that does not stop me from flashing back to all the wonderful holiday meals we have had together. As the matriarch of the family, I will most likely keep sending cards. Please forgive me if I don’t get your name right.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law and I picked up my husband from the airport and headed directly for downtown Charleston. As we chatted about the weather they left behind, I paid close attention to the traffic and the signs for my exit. I know many men are not used to having their wives drive, and I wanted to to make sure I did not make anyone nervous. I merged with ease onto route 26 and soon discovered a sign that did not make sense. Ashley Phosphate? “I am going in the wrong direction”, I blurted. How did I do that? Tempted to do a u turn right across the median, I elected to get off at the next exit instead and go across the overpass and onto the highway heading east. Yes, there was much merriment over the mistake and my husband then proceeded to be my back seat driver until we arrived at our favorite parking place. How easily we can find ourselves going the wrong direction with all the choices we make each day. It is best to quickly admit it and immediately turn things around. Those back seat drivers can be helpful and encouraging so don’t become annoyed. My lesson was to focus on my responsibility and keep an eye on the signs. Distractions are everywhere but they should never keep us from going in the right direction.
Yesterday, I was in the hospital lobby with my friend Linda when two women approached me. They looked like they wanted to say something, but one just opened her arms, so I asked, “Do you need a hug?” She nodded and we had the kind of hug that felt like melting into a down pillow. Then I gave the next one a big hug as well. Linda inquired, “Are you friends with Kim?” I shrugged and said, “I think my clown face and the sign on my hat stating FREE HUGS might have beaconed them. I gave them each a smile sticker and off they went. I can only imagine what life would be like if we all wore a sign for FREE HUGS or a FREE HELPING HAND or a FREE RIDE. I saw the post of an person holding a cardboard sign that said FREE HUGS in what looked like the middle of last week’s demonstrations. The next frame showed a fully armed police officer hugging the sign holder like a teddy bear. I burst into tears. If you ask me there is no better gift for any occasion than a hug that does not let go. If you can’t be with your family during the holidays, there are so many people who could use a FREE HUG. It may not be in your comfort zone to do so, but the comfort you give is immeasurable. #sisterschoosejoy
Yesterday, my dishwasher quit in the middle of a cycle. Being the week of Thanksgiving this can only cause panic and dread. I checked the circuit breakers and the outlets and everything else was working. I went online to find a repairman and there was no one available until December 1st! I went to the Yellow Pages and found a same day service repair, and voila, James could make it that afternoon. I warned him of my recent mouse situation and felt sure that they pulled the plug or ate through it. We braced ourselves to find a fried mousie. Alas, it was only bad wiring from the installation a year and a half ago. Gee whiz GE, this would not happen while your best electrical engineer, my brother, was working for you. James got it fixed while singing Superman from Genesis. He kept the mood light and chatted as he rewired. I had expected the worst and washed all the dishes by hand before he arrived, so the cycle completed while empty. There are many times when we want to quit in the middle of our cycle. Family may try to cheer us and friends may try to fix us. You can get same day service for the best repair from one place. You got it, the Heavenly Father always has the balm. If your wiring is haywire and you burn up some connections in the holiday season, just stop. Take time to reflect and pray. We may feel broken for a time but there is a solution. As James said after I wrote him a check, ” I will see you when you break something else”.