Celebrations and holiday observances are unique to every family. They are the times and events that anchor our years and work to establish our memories, prompting us to share stories of absent loved ones and observe long-held traditions, all of which combine to enrich us and give us a sense of who we are. Here, I hope to share a bit of how my family sets time apart as special, even for seemingly insignificant events, and how we remember and recognize our loved ones. Join us as we commemorate life and embrace one another.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just a Random Thought

This evening, after dinner out to mark our upcoming 26th anniversary, my family and I ran an errand to Walmart.  Shortly after entering the store, we were accosted by aisle after aisle of Christmas paraphernalia --- gift wrap, lighted lawn ornaments, wreaths, etc.  Amongst all the merchandise, I spied a display of large ornaments that, I kid you not, reminded me of those little cartoon bombs that Wiley Coyote used to use in his efforts to kill the Road Runner.  The ornaments were the same shape, the same size, and they had the same little "knob" on top where the fuse would be attached.  In case you have never seen one of these cartoon incendiary devices, they look like this:

So, doesn't this look the same?  Seriously, can you see the resemblance?  Sorry.  Just a random thought.  Not very Christmas-y, I know.  Just random.

Photo by King Richard

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Has Officially Arrived

Reposted from Gooseberry Lane.  Original posting date:  9/24/2011.

Spice cookies on depression glass
Yesterday was the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, that day toward the end of the year when light and dark are equal (or nearly so).  Gone are the hot, humid days of August;  approaching are the chilly days of October and November when the leaves will change color and the beautiful shades of red, yellow, and gold will fill the landscape, especially here in New England.  The fact that, today, the temperature is 73˚ F, the humidity is 93%, and the large maple tree in my backyard is still loaded with green leaves should be roundly dismissed as evidence to the contrary.  Autumn is here and the time has come to begin the hard work of preparing the home and garden for winter.

That said, I wanted to take some time to slow down and recognize the moment, to recognize the intricate design of the universe that makes it possible for us to identify the signs and seasons of the year.  To mark the day, my daughter created a tasty meal of chili and rice, topped off by these delicious spice cookies.  She started with a gingersnap recipe and tweaked it a bit.  They really were as yummy as they look.  Many blessings on your day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the the night;  and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. --- Genesis 1:14 NASB

Remembering 9/11

Reposted from Gooseberry Lane.  Original post date:  9/11/2011.

Ten years ago today, shortly after breakfast, my daughter and I began her spelling lesson for the day.  Being homeschoolers who were starting a new school year, we decided to get an early start.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, one of those memorable mornings with the smell of crisp, clean autumn air wafting in the open windows and the warm feel of not-yet-departed late summer temperatures spreading over you if you stood in the sunshine.  My husband had departed for work at the Home Depot but had returned home by the time Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon.  I recall standing next to him in the family room watching the initial coverage of that third attack.  Like many Americans, I remember exactly where I was that fateful morning.

Yesterday evening, my family and I were discussing how best to mark this most important anniversary.  Aside from attending Sunday morning worship services, I suggested watching the film United 93 since we had never viewed it.  My husband, who purchased the movie, replied, "I don't think I am ready to watch that yet."  Given that response, I decided to see how the day unfolded rather than try to plan some elaborate commemorative observance.

This morning, as I was preparing to leave for church, I turned on Fox News and began watching the Ground Zero memorial service.  I wasn't able to catch very much of it as I had to leave for church after about the first thirty minutes.  I did begin to hear the names of the dead prior to getting in my car.  As I traveled down the freeway, I continued to listen to the service on the radio.  At some point, a news commentator described how a family member of one of the victims physically traced over the name of her loved one on the plaques that surround the new reflecting pools.  It occurred to me that if I did not have a grave to visit, if I had never received the remains of a loved one, that simple act of touching the name of a loved one would be a tremendously meaningful act of remembrance and healing and closure, like me traveling to Minnesota for the first time after my father died and placing my hand on his headstone.  Tears welled up in my eyes right then and I worried that I would cry through church*

Around noon, I headed to a picnic and enjoyed the company of friends and loved ones, much like I do on Memorial Day.  In fact, the entire mood of the day felt very similar to Memorial Day:  remembrances, fellowship meals, cookouts, small flags in the cemetery, family get-togethers, etc.  Maybe in future, September 11th (rather than Labor Day) will be the holiday that marks the beginning of fall at my house.
It makes sense to bookend my summer, my time of rest and relaxation, vacation and fun, with days of remembrance and recognition where I pause to remember the people who died so I can enjoy such a season of renewal in peace, comfort, and security.

Yesterday, my daughter and I participated in a local heritage event exploring the history of the Civil War in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of that conflict.  At the closing ceremony, Abraham Lincoln (a re-enactor) recited the Gettysburg Address and a local pastor recited a prayer written by a Civil War soldier before giving a benediction.  As "President Lincoln" spoke, I made a point of focusing on the words of the Gettysburg Address, meditating on them in the context of the 9/11 anniversary and the dedication of the memorial at Ground Zero.  I encourage my readers to do the same and, to that end, I offer the words of that famous address so you can think on them now.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate --- we can not consecrate --- we can not hallow --- this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us --- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion --- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain --- that this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.
May you and your family have a time of quiet remembrance, dedicated service, and family connection this September 11th.  My best wishes to you all.

*Sadly, and embarrassingly, my pastor never mentioned the 9/11 anniversary in church.  Neither did we sing any patriotic songs (like "God Bless America"), nor were any prayers offered for the victims, their families, or the first responders.  Basically, the event went unrecognized.