Yesterday, we went to a Barsa, a Tapas restaurant on King Street. They have a few items that might pass as vegetarian or vegan, but mostly they serve small bites of savory delicacies like octopus, albondagas (lamb meatballs), empanadas (pastry filled with barbecue brisket), paella (rice laced with andouille sausage), and dates wrapped with prosciutto. My primarily pescatarian diet took a vacation as I politely took a bite of each dish that was passed. The flavors were heavenly and I thought about the story I just read in Genesis about Esau trading his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s savory stew. Hunger and desire leads us to drastic choices sometimes. Did any of you manage to eat sparingly at the Thanksgiving table? Cooking is often an act of love- and we all want more of that! I am truly feeling the love this weekend as we gather around the table with people I love so much- even though they make fun of my hearing deficiencies and my cravings for fresh leafy greens. We have a need to belong, which comes right after the need for food and shelter on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Next comes the need for shopping- another act of love. I hope all you Black Friday shoppers experienced self- actualization by finding the best bargains and making a strategy for world peace through the perfect present. We hit the New Nordstrom’s Rack in Mt Pleasant. With any luck there will be a beach walk today where we always stand in wonder at the marvels of creation. I do not relish the thought of people leaving to go back home, so for now we keep soaking up the sunshine and the love. I savor fellowship more than any spicy dish or store bought bargain. Let’s get together more often!
Last Week, the dreaded pants splitting event occurred. I don’t even know when it happened during the day because I was not doing any extraordinary stretches, kicks, or splits. I was wearing heavy duty denim with Lycra, so imagine my surprise when I was tucking in my shirt in back and felt an odd gap from waist to- well a good eight inches along the seem had pulled away! Luckily I was home all day and my sweatshirt covered my bum, so the giggles stayed at home between my hubby and me. All I can remember is the deep knee bends to pull laundry from the dryer which must have strained the fabric. I think this pair was ten years old because they have belled bottoms- no they are not from the seventies because there was no Lycra back then. They were not at all tight jeans even though I have a couple of those and I don’t like them as much as roomy jeans. I don’t own any bedazzled pocket pants because who wants to put a neon sign on my largest feature? It looks like a trip to the store for some new blues is in order. This has me reminiscing of all the styles I have owned. I really liked the pleated front that gave me plenty of leg room. I have had several with ripped knees because I spent much of my time on my knees playing with the girls- or praying for them. I have never bought the pre tattered kind, but I do still own an old black distressed pair. Cropped jeans are great for Southern life and flip flops. I never wore my jeans dragging on the ground till they fringed like my girl’s jeans did. I once had a traditional style Levi that I cuffed, and my brother borrowed them and liked them better than his stylish pair that he gave me in return. My figure rarely conforms to the current style, so my hero is Ralph Lauren who cuts them just right for me. Too many stores are without a triple mirror these days so I will need a girl friend or daughter to advise on the rear view. There have been a few photos recently that have shown this view and frightened me. For this reason I try to avoid going out with yoga pants or leggings that expose my derrière. Does any women want to draw that kind of attention? I laugh at the jokes where a wife asks her mate, ” Does this garment make my bottom look bigger?” I love the tunic tops that cover it all. They might make me look like a maternity mama, but I can’t get used to showing all my curves. Why did we ever give up the bustle? As we all hit the malls on Black Friday next week, it will be fun to see what the market wants us to wear for next year. I might try those wild palazzo pants and a bulky poncho to keep everyone guessing where my eighteen year old body went. Actually, that is what I wore when I was eighteen and living in South America. So, enjoy the holidays and wear your buffet pants on Turkey day to avoid any splits.
Yesterday, I bought some things to be given as gifts for Christmas, but I am having doubts about wether they are the perfect match for the people intended. I don’t go shopping very often, and the only part of perusing shops I really enjoy it seeing and buying things that remind me of someone I love and hoping they will be delighted that I thought of them, and will cheerfully use the things I found for them. Naturally, I often think of my daughters when poking through boutiques and sifting through dress racks, since I know them best (their sizes) and love them tremendously. Christmas gift giving once included parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, coworkers as well as our own children. Nope, my husband and I rarely bought for each other because we agreed the focus of the season was on others- although I truthfully admit that I love surprises and to open packages like everyone else. Our list has grown shorter over the years and I worried that maybe we were losing our spirit of giving. Sending gifts in the mail never felt very personal and often we are not sure it gets to the recipient. Our gatherings at the holidays have become smaller and our parents are now gone. My hubby and I noticed we were cut from several lists too as we are now in the category of “they have everything and are hard to buy for”. I remember my mother saying she did not need another candle, mug, or picture frame, and sadly we may all get things we don’t really appreciate sometimes. Gift exchange can get out of hand but it is dangerous to be Grinchy because of course that means your heart shrinks two sizes. Our favorite way of gifting is to take people out for a special meal or event when we are together. Our children have started to adopt this idea as well by taking us wonderful places when we visit them. What is really important is to give without expecting anything in return. We certainly would not give to a charity with personal gain in mind, and we don’t expect people to pay us for our personal expenses (except of course to be compensated for skills we are hired to render). So, how to joyfully shop and give to others has been an evolving process. Dressing up for parties and preparing banquets at Thanksgiving and Christmas has been festive and fun, but without a doubt the best experience has been gathering with others to serve those that have extreme needs. There just is no other gift that will ever be more appreciated than your time and attention especially for those who have not ever experienced abundance. I pray that we pay attention to the needs of others in the “holiday season” and watch our own needs disappear. Forget the “shop till you drop” method and try the “Nerve to Serve” approach. Now how do I put a bow on beer and bacon for my sons-in-law?.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law Karen and I went to the Grind House for lunch in the Harbor. We sat at a table for two by the back wall and I faced the wall so my attention would be totally on her. The place was full except the table next to us. We ordered our lunch and received a glass of water. Without my notice some gentlemen were preparing to sit at the table next to us and Karen inquired, “Would you like us to move so you can all sit together?” I looked up to see three men and was confused as to why they would need two more seats. Well, observant Karen noticed there were three more that appeared to be together and were starting to sit across the room. They accepted the offer and we took the window seat where the first group was (the best view in the house). As we finished our lunch, I asked for the check. The spinach salad there is wonderful and Karen had a cup of soup. The waiter returned a moment later and said one of the gentlemen at the table of six across the room paid for our lunch. Wow! What a grand reward for the simple gesture of offering a seat. I hardly think they were flirting with us since we are a couple of old married ladies. What I am noticing is a spirit of generosity in Ashtabula. How does this happen in a town where the population of those retiring is growing along with the number of people needing social services? How is it that people are ready to give when they are just getting by? I have seen Youtube videos that show the homeless giving freely to a beggar when those that have plenty shoo him away. Generosity seems to come from the humble hearted and is a good lesson for us all. I know that I enjoy giving when I am moved by the Holy Spirit. When I am asked to give, my heart tends to be more reluctant and I find excuses to hold back. Following the sweet small voice that leads me to a generous idea often results in joy when I follow through. My husband always agrees with and supports these ideas because he has always had an open heart. But yesterday, it was Karen’s keen sense and kindness that led to our free lunch. The joy comes when we expect nothing in return. In this season of Thanksgiving I appreciate those who recognize the needs of others and offer help, I am thankful for the generous spirit of the community, and I am grateful for the blessings we are given by God so that we may give freely to others.