Thursday, December 29, 2016


Sometimes it's just not possible to be ready for something to happen. But it does, anyway.

New years are often like that for me. I'm not ready to relinquish the old year, but there it goes. I'm not ready to take on the challenges and adventures (I hope) of the next year, but here it is, sitting in my lap.

Today Thursday's Child is looking at what other people think about the old and the new. And we're going to read some wise words from people you'll recognize. Enjoy!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. Oprah Winfrey

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives. Steven Spielberg


I won't be awake at midnight Saturday to welcome 2017. But I'll be wishing you the best year ever! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016


[Today's post is a repeat of the Christmas message a couple of years ago. I hope it speaks to you in this sometimes hectic season.]

Have you ever had one of those Christmases like Charlie Brown talks about? "Christmas is coming but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. There must be something wrong with me, Linus." 

Probably many of us have had that experience--but we don't like to admit it, or talk about it. This year is one of those Charlie Brown Christmases for me--I've been unable to get to the Y due to weather; I didn't get to my family gathering, again due to weather; and I've had my attention on the sewing machine for so long that I don't know if there's anything else going on in the world. 

So today, let's listen to Linus Van Pelt: "This is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Luke 2:8-14 King James Version (KJV)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
A Blessed Christmas to you!

From Thursday's Child

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Now, in December, is a time of uncertainty.

Here in northeastern Indiana we are sliding toward winter . . . we watch the forecast each evening, then again in the morning. (Do we think there was a radical change in eight or ten hours? Could be.)

We make plans, always with the disclaimer, “Weather permitting.”

Early morning finds us with the radio, TV, or Internet tuned to Closings and Delays.

Despite our inability to make definite, iron-clad, positively firm decisions about times, dates, and events, we still rub along rather well.

Yes, something may be cancelled at the last minute. We’ll get a text, tweet, or email on our phone. Or if we’re truly dinosaurs with no technological skills beyond the old-fashioned telephone, we’ll get a telephone call. Or we can turn on the radio. We can watch for the streamer along the bottom of the TV screen that lists dozens of closings.

What do you do with your suddenly “free” time? Are you shoved into that niche between a rock and a hard place, trying to juggle child care with your job?

Or do you do a little Snoopy dance and make a list of all the fun things you can do in this day that comes as a gift? 

Do you heave a sigh of relief, knowing you will, after all, have the leisure to finish that knitting/sewing/painting/carving you’ve been working on for months? (This year I may actually get the Christmas quilts, afghans, and pillow covers finished before our family gatherings. May is the operative word.)

Another uncertainty, besides weather, is car trouble. Can I depend on my car to make the hour-long trip to Ohio for our Christmas together? And then for the trip home?

(At this very moment, my car is at the automotive center where I get things fixed. Like me, the car is aging: little creaks and twinges, engine noises and other signs of potential trouble. Prevention is preferable to a cure.)

If you’re currently in a “time out,” consider cooking. Look in your pantry, freezer, and fridge—use what you have. Missing an ingredient? Improvise! Invent something new.

And if you’re plumb out of ideas, or nothing looks good, browse through the online recipe sites. always has great ideas, including pictures that look good enough to eat. (I'm fixated on soups, as you may recall from older posts. But cookies are tempting me lately; Liz Flaherty posted a Texas Sheet Cake Cookie recipe recently. But don't even look at it unless you want to gain weight reading the ingredients.)

The Uncertain Season, sadly, isn’t limited to winter weather (whatever hemisphere you live in) or elderly vehicles with "health issues."

Life itself is often--or should I say mostly--uncertain. So how do we cope with that?

I came across an article in an old issue of Woman’s Day by contributing editor Heather Lende, called “Finding Gratitude.” Gratitude, Lende says, “is not the same as giving thanks. It comes from a deeper place that knows the story could have ended differently, and often does.”

Maybe that’s the point—we have to find gratitude. It may be as small as discovering the noise in my car isn’t a death rattle, only a loose bolt. Or as large as knowing the local regional hospital will be keeping preemie babies warm in the 80-some blankets we gave them in December (all made possible because we had two or three extra stitchers working this year).

One sure way to find gratitude is to, well, look for it. Did your friend survive her cancer surgery? Are your new neighbors settling in? Did a family who lost their home get food, clothing, furniture, and a place to stay, all because the community pulled together?

Large or small, personal or global, reasons for gratitude are everywhere. Take a look.

May you find gratitude, and may it help you through The Uncertain Season of your life.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


My father was a carpenter most of his life. He designed, built, and then sold our houses. When each one sold, he went through the process again. And again.

After each project was finished, I don't recall any excess lumber or scraps of roofing or siding hanging around. I've no clue what happened to them, but I know they went some place; they were never left to clutter up the area around our house.

My mother was a homemaker; even though she sometimes worked out in the marketplace, she was first and foremost a housewife. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry and ironed; her house was always uncluttered. (Let me say right here, I did not inherit this gene for a clean slate.)

Tidying up was natural to my parents, and to many of their generation. Even if they stored the remaining scraps of wood or leftover food from a meal, the goal was for the place to look good. (Plus, who knows when we might need a board just two feet long, or a little dish of peas to put in the chicken-vegetable soup.)

We've just come through one big holiday, with food looming large in the picture.

Soon we'll be facing another (or several other) holiday meal(s) to celebrate with family and friends during the Christmas season.

This post isn't about food. Or, at least, not much. Leftovers are . . . well, what remains after a meal. Some folks love 'em, some won't touch 'em. Freezers are ideal if you just can't face one more meal of chicken/turkey/ham/roast beef/tofu. And if you have no idea what to do about leftovers, go to your grocery store and scan the magazine section--at last count, I found 17 different periodicals devoted to food, all on the newsstand at the same time.

Okay, that's all about food.

I hear you asking, What other kinds of leftovers are there? 

Just about anything you can name. Leavings when all the gifts have been opened (paper, string, ribbon, gift bags, cards, instructions, small parts of a Lego set . . .). A few minutes and a big trash bag will take care of the problem. (Just don't bag up the instructions or the Lego.)

Old items of clothing that are replaced by new shirts, sweaters, socks, jackets . . . . Your favorite charity will love you for bringing in your former beloved items.

Books, games, CDs, DVDs whose entertainment value has sunk upon Christmas morn when the newest, and latest, and the next big-big-big thing is in your stocking. Not to mention anything technological. Check around your community--some places ask for donations of specific items like these.

The saddest kind of leftovers are lost relationships--broken families--friendships that didn't weather a particularly bad storm.

The leftover part is the memory of what the relationship once was--that memory may never go away. And if the memories are good ones, maybe they shouldn't go away. But the regrets we often have--ah, there's the rub. Sometimes we just can't face these losses.

This year, I move that we all make an effort to adopt the Tidy-Up Principle: forgive ourselves, and others; examine our regrets and let them go, if we can; and turn our eyes and minds and hearts toward peace. Toward love for others, whoever they are. Toward being the best person each of us can be.

All in favor, say "aye."

May your days be merry and bright.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


(Every so often I reread old posts on Thursday's Child. I find going back to older writings helps me keep track of how much has changed. Or, not. Family Matters is one that still applies to us. I've changed only a couple of things to update.)

This month our family celebrates two birthdays for my greatgrandsons. The other six greats are scattered throughout the year: January, July, August, September, November.

My four grandchildren are bunched in the first half of the year: January, April, and May.

The rest of us fill in around them, except for October. My fullest month for birthday cards is January--six of us! (Although I don't send one to myself.)

Life's like that--bunched up, scattered out, filling in around the rest of life.

Geographically we're widespread:
  • I'm from Illinois, currently living in Indiana.
  • One daughter in Arizona.
  • One daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons and their families, in Ohio.
  • My son, daughter-in-law, and both grandsons in Indiana.
  • One daughter in Minnesota.
We have four blended families--which apparently makes us a truly American family!
But not a close family, you say? True, in geographical terms. But in ways that count--we're very close.

I've been thinking of all the ways we keep in touch.

Some of us are Dinosaurs--we still like to write by hand with pen on paper, fold up the sheets and stuff them in an envelope, write the (correct) street address on the outside of the envelope, stick on a stamp, make sure the flap is stuck down, and put the end product in the drop box at the Post Office downtown.

Most of these missives are sent to other Dinosaurs, who love to pop open the mailbox and see a fat envelope with their name on it, written in the wonky hand of a child, best friend, or even an acquaintance. At my house, such letters or notes require a fresh cup of hot tea and a lamp shining on the pages while I curl up in the rocker to read. May take only three minutes. May take fifteen. But it's there for re-reading later. What did she say about her home ec club? What was that crazy thing her husband did the other day?

Dinosaurs may be dinosaurs, but they have a lot of fun.

Then there are the techno-geeks. Email, text, fax, scan, upload photos from your phone or digital camera (now nearly a dinosaur toy)--launch it out through the ether into the computer/phone/tablet/pod of your favorite geek. With Skype, we visit in living color and sound. (These innovations were science fiction in my earlier years. Now they're your everyday occurrence.)

That's all fun, too. Even for Dinosaurs.

Other new ways we can stay in touch: Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing; blogs, websites; or if you want to really go retro, pick up the phone and call--you know, hit a speed dial number for Mom or enter the number with your personal digits (fingers). Mom probably won't answer if she's at Tai Chi that morning, but you can leave a voicemail message, and she'll return your call and leave a message on your machine. Believe me, texting is quicker.

Our family may not live in each other's pockets, or spend a lot of face time together. But we have our connections--interest in each other's lives, joy in watching the little 'uns grow, anticipation of get-togethers.

In December quite a few of our clan will gather at the Ohio daughter's house--no traditional meal this time (that was Thanksgiving), just everybody's foodie contribution, with plenty of conversation, gifts for one and all, and the satisfaction of four generations meeting to celebrate Christmas.

Our way isn't everybody's cup of tea--it's just the way we do it.

Hope you celebrate your way...and enjoy every moment.

(Here's our newest family member, Bayne Overmyer, born in August. Birth weight was 2.2 lbs. Now he's up to 6 lbs. and doing well!)