Archive for December, 2014

Three Cheers for Commercialization

By Kathy NickersonDecember 20th, 2014mercy3 Comments

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Yes, you read that headline correctly.

Remember that place in the Bible where John come tattling to Jesus because someone was trying to cast out demons in the name of Jesus? “I told him to stop,” John said. “Because he isn’t one of us.”

Jesus basically said “No, let him keep helping people. If he isn’t against us, he is on our side.”

I have always felt that way about certain Christmas traditions that other people feel violate their conscious. (To each his own.) And, I do think we have worried way too much about how commercial Christmas has become. I was always of the opinion that the more tinsel we spread the more chance we have of including the true message somewhere along the way. And now, I’m vindicated!!

We just got a beautiful Christmas letter from friends who serve in the Middle East. They report Christmas lights and Santa sightings all over the place. Even on Mosques! The commercial Christmas has become so popular in their region, that the local public school has invited one of our friends to come in and present the “traditional roots of Christmas” two years in a row.

Oh, yeah. That’s right. Santa Claus opened the door for our friend to tell the entire Muslim high school about the baby Jesus and why He came.

Hoorah!

If you will excuse me now, I’m off to watch Miracle on 34th Street. Again.

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The Song that Never Ends

By Kathy NickersonDecember 15th, 2014mercy1 Comment

 

 

This star mysteriously disappeared a couple of Sundays ago. I always hang it right beside our front door. That way I can give it a quick squeeze anytime I walk by. Of course, small children who come to visit can do the same thing. (You can make it sing by clicking here.)

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the star was missing after a houseful of guests went home recently. I eventually found it on the top shelf of a bookcase. High, on the bookcase. Evidently, someone (Jared!) did not appreciate the Christmas spirit of ten small children.

Actually, most members of our family wish this battery had died years ago. But I’m especially glad it is still singing this year. My mother-in-law crocheted this star in the late eighties shortly after she and my father-in-law moved their double-wide trailer into our backyard. It was the beginning of our decade of sharing a driveway, a mailbox, and the details of our daily lives.

It wasn’t always fun.

But it was precious.

I know that now, though I didn’t always appreciate it then. My father-in-law died almost a dozen years ago, and my mother-in-law went to glory this fall. So, I’m especially grateful the star is still playing this year. Every time I hear it, I remember those years together.

Just the good parts.

That’s what an heirloom can do for you.

Cue the music.

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Why I’m Smiling

By Kathy NickersonDecember 12th, 2014mercy2 Comments

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I’ve been smiling more the last few days, and I want to tell you why. Lots of reason, really. My husband is finally recovering from surgery. Nobody in our family has cancer today. It’s almost Christmas. I had a lovely phone conversation with my mother. And I’ve been picking out cabinets and colors for the new office building we’ll actually move into in a couple of months.

But I think the real reason I’m happier today is this: I started writing a new book. I’m only a dozen pages in so far, and I don’t even know all the characters by name yet. But they are starting to talk to me, and I’m rushing to get their conversations all down.

The truth is I am simply a better person when I’m writing. Not just the columns I do every week or even this blog. I’m nicer when I tackle something like a novel. Something big and scary and pretty much impossible in my own little self.

I think it is because of what Eric Liddel says in that famous line from Chariots of Fire. “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Writing does that for me. It connects me to the Creator in a mysterious way, much like mothering does.

So, I plan to keep writing and being a nicer person. And I’m wondering about you, Dear Reader. When do you feel His pleasure?

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In Case of Cold Weather

By Kathy NickersonDecember 8th, 2014mercy2 Comments

 

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I should never have tricked my husband into watching Frozen. It wasn’t an actual trick, I suppose. I just suggested the movie while he was in a weakened state recovering from surgery. And, I might have neglected to mention that they sing. A lot. Fortunately, I also told him that since we had no small granddaughters in the room, we could fast forward the songs. But, we didn’t. And, now, he is quoting his favorite line to me almost as frequently as Elsa and Anna broke into song.

When I worried that taking the mud road as a shortcut would actually get us stuck and force us to walk for help, he had two responses. 1.This is a truck. 2. The cold never bothered me anyway.

The phrase came up again when I grumbled about driving to my hair appointment on what-might-become-ice.

And again when we talked about the wooly worm predictions for a hard winter.

But the place it comes up most is when he daydreams about retiring to a mountain cabin in Wyoming. I call it a daydream because I doubt the man will ever retire. It is entirely possible, however, that we will find the freedom to take longer trips to places like Wyoming someday. We’ll probably never own a cabin, but we will visit our grandchildren and enjoy the view. We’ve been together more than forty years now, and I’m signing on for whatever he wants to do in the next forty. I’ll drive with him to Wyoming in the blowing snow if necessary. Because even though the cold does bother me, I like warm hugs.

 

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The Empty Nest Christmas

By Kathy NickersonDecember 4th, 2014mercy2 Comments

 

Here is a little ditty I composed as my contribution to our Writers Guild Christmas Party this week. Apologies to Mr. Clement Moore, whose original poem is epic. (Note: Dave Barton is our neighbor across the street whose light display is famous. He and I are also in a competition to have the most grandchildren. His all happen to live in town.)

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Twas the Night Before the Empty-Nest Christmas

The laundry was finished and folded with care

The floor had been swept, not a crumb on a chair.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds

In far-off cities with spouses they’d wed.

And me in my kerchief and Papa in his cap

Had just snuggled in for a long winters’ nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Parted the curtains and peeked over the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes did appear

But Dave Barton adding more lights and another reindeer.

I closed up the curtains and turned around quick.

I shut off my lights with a remote-control click.

As I drew in my head and was turning around

Papa opened his eyes and ask what I had found.

“Just that poor guy next door,” I said with a jerk

“Who will be up all night with Christmas eve work.”

“While you and I pull blankets right up to our nose

And slumber and sleep and peacefully doze.”

“No one will wake us with a shriek or a whistle.

We’ll softly snore like the down on a thistle.”

“Ah, the empty nest Christmas if really all right.

Merry Christmas my love, and to you a good night.”

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When a Tradition Gets Out of Control

By Kathy NickersonDecember 1st, 2014mercy7 Comments

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The White Bag Tradition started when our children were all basically college-age. I wanted to find a way to make Christmas feel special that year when transitions were in the air and we weren’t all gathered around a fireplace every evening watching White Christmas or Holiday Inn.

My husband and I also happened to live above an exquisite candy store that year.

So, I purchased white lunch bags from the local bakery. Enough for each child to have one gift every day in December. I dropped in a perfect, rich truffle for one day. Or a fancy packet of hot chocolate on another. Maybe a unique ornament or a tiny notebook for making Christmas lists.

The tradition was probably more fun for me than for the recipients those first couple of years. With only the five of them, the project was quite manageable.

Fast forward almost twenty years. This year, the white bags included thirty-three participants. One perfect truffle per grandchild adds up to lots of chocolate! So, we’ve gone for more quantity than quality, I’m afraid. But it is still great fun.

Every year, I wonder if I can pull it off one more time. And, I wonder if I should. Maybe this tradition has gotten completely out of hand. Maybe I should think about making some changes…

And so, this year I did.

I added the girls at our office! Every year, when they watch me ordering goodies in October, they remind me that they wish they were my grandchildren, too. So, this year, I set out extra bags for them.

Because that is obviously my answer for what to do when a Christmas tradition gets out of control.

Just. Go. Bigger.

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