December 21, 2009

Angels Among Us

Today I had the opportunity to stand in a very long line and watch an angel at work.

I stood in a snaking line at filled with harried people dropping off their last minute packages at the post office. At the counter, stood a lady with an unnaturally tangerine tinted, tightly set, heavily Aqua-netted hairdo, barely reaching the counter with her cards and packages. Her hearing was bad enough that the entire line was privy to her conversation with the postal clerk.

She hadn't filled out the address on her package properly and it couldn't be sent. She was asking dozens of questions, fumbling in her pocketbook, and papers fluttering like makeshift indoor snowflakes.  She clutched the handle of her bag and seemed overwhelmed. The clerk behind the counter didn't wince or lose his patience. Some folks sighed audibly while others began to shift or tap their feet. The other two clerks were moving efficently, but the third line stagnated.

The lady wanted to make sure her package arrived on time. The clerk tried to read the forms to her, but she became frustrated when she couldn't hear him. Minutes passed as she fumbled a bit more with the carbon copied forms. The sign on the counter indicated that clerks are forbidden to fill out papers of any sort. She finally gave up, knowing that she would need to go home and get someone to help her fill out her papers, hoping she could find someone to bring her back to the post office tomorrow.

I stood at the back of the line watching the scenario unfold. The clerk suggested he had a better idea and he got a priority box for her. He gently repacked the present as if it were his own and taped it shut. He explained slowly what she needed to do, "Just put this out with your mail tomorrow after you put the right address on here and you won't have to find a ride back." He didn't break any rules but he truly showed compassion and assistance.

The sweet lady thanked him over and over again, and turned to all of us in line and apologized for being so slow. I think the foot tappers may have been a little humbled. She was still rustling things back into her pocketbook when it was my turn. I just looked over at the clerk helping her and smiled.

Patience is so rare in the world these days that it really stands out. We have so many time saving devices, I'm often left wondering why there is never any spare time. I am grateful that two angels were in my path today to remind me that time is precious. The slow little old lady and her chivalrous postal clerk. While you're out there, take a moment to watch for angels. They are everywhere you look. I would love if you shared a story with us here in the comments.

With many blessings of Christmas for my readers and friends,

December 10, 2009

My Christmas Angel

I've written before about my first born, I've even had her guest blog here. But ever the neglected second born sometimes misses her equal time. On my personal Facebook page, I've been posting an ornament a day with the story behind it, I realized how truly remiss I was a few times, when I had an ornament for the first born but not second.I think it's just the universal truth behind birth order. Sorry to all non-first borns. But younger ones, take comfort in the fact that your older sibling will always think you have it easier. It balances out. Today, I will take that step.

Twelve years ago this week, my second child was due. I was rather impatient because child number one was five weeks premature. I felt as big as a house and like I was 5 weeks overdue already. I took to doing daily jumping jacks (not an image you wanted to paint, I'm sure) and contemplated four-wheeling or horseback riding. I was ready to have the baby. Even my then two year old would put her mouth to my enormous tummy and yell "Baby come out!" But that baby wasn't ready.

We tried to go about our normal Christmas preparations, which included the purchase of our tree. One crisp Friday night in early December, we went out to dinner and stopped at the brightly lit tree yard after dinner. I'm not sure when the tradition of tree shopping at night caught on, but for some reason, it is prevalent.

I had a full stomach and an even more packed intestines. Pregnancy makes a woman carbonated. As we wandered around the tree lot, my spouse, my two year old and myself, the tree guy followed perilously close.

Like any self respecting ladylike female, I tried to keep my carbonation at bay. I was not sure if I had to go the bathroom, give birth or just pass gas, but I do know my midsection was about as pressurized as a spring loaded snake in a pretend can of peanuts. You know what I'm talking about, the gag gift every crazy uncle passes around at a family gathering that inevitably scares some unsuspecting soul.

That pressure would not cooperate, and as I bent slightly to examine the branches of a Douglas Fir, the spring load released. In the No Longer Silent Night, I ripped one of enduring proportions. I was grateful for my spouse because I stared accusatorily at him and said only his name, expecting a full admission of guilt.

Befuddled, he looked at me and quizzically replied, "You're on the board? Or maybe excuse you?"

I glared at him. He missed the opportunity to be chivalrous and accept the blame. I'm really sure the tree guy wasn't fooled either, but I feel like I at least salvaged some dignity. Especially when he hurried to give us a discount on the tree. We took the tree home and decorated it and waited for that overdue baby who was the cause of my spring loaded sphincter.

Oh yeah, this story was supposed to be about her. I suppose that will come tomorrow. Please forgive me second born, Christmas Angel. You do know you're my favorite. Just ask your older sister.

Anyone know if Beano is safe to use during pregnancy?

December 8, 2009

By Request and also By Complete Endorsement

December 7, 2009

Jihads, Tigers and Bears, OH MY!

I just finished a fascinating book, Alone with a Jihadist, written by a young Christian missionary. He spend a day with a Muslim extremist for a documentary. We have communicated a bit via email, and I must say, I found my own faith challenged.

I invite you to read my review of his book, naturally followed up by reading the book itself. I'm convinced it will change your heart.

My most memorable Christmas

There are several that are memorable. Most Memorable shifts depending what taps the shoulder of my subconcious. By default, I attempt to explain most memorable, with the disclaimer that they are young memories and therefore subject to inaccuracies. Nonetheless, they are as I recall. (yes, the disclaimer is a way to placate any family member who may refute what I said and remind me of a more memorable Christmas).

When I was 5 years old, we had just moved into our farmhouse. My twin brothers were babies, we had barely gotten settled in our home. I remember snippets. We spent the better part of the past few months in my uncle's garage, driving to and from the farm house while our family brought a circa 1860 home up to 1971 code.

What I remember is going to midnight mass. I don't remember why my folks told us we wouldn't have a tree, but as an adult I assume it was the insanity of trying to get settled in a barely renovated, half finished farm house. We went to mass. That year in Kindergarten, I'd learned the words to all the carols and as the organist played the pre-service music, I was proud to sing. Loudly. I remember singing Silent Night at the top of my lungs. So much for Silent. At least the Night part was accurate.

We came back from Mass and in our foyer was a tree, filled with decorations and a big note from Santa's elves. "Santa will be back later, but we put up the tree so that he'd know where to leave the gifts". I stood in the room awed. Every kid knows, the only significance of going to Christmas Eve church is that you're one step closer to morning after Santa has arrived. Who'd think he'd send his emmissaries before him?

I never forgot that magic. Years later, the magic multiplied. At a family gathering, my aunt made a remark. "I remember that year that (my then boyfriend, now husband) went over and put up a tree for you while you were at Mass." Until I was an adult, I never knew how the tree appeared. I teased my aunt repeatedly that she shattered some magic.  That couldn't be further from the truth. She made magic.

To consider that on Christmas Eve, two college kids, who likely had many other things to do, thought the best thing to do was go put up a tree for her 5 and 3 year old niece and nephews...

Yes, there is Magic.

Thank you, many years later. Thank you to my Aunt D and Uncle L. You made magic. It continues to live.


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