Party Like It’s 1957

The New Year 1957 was the first year I took note of what seemed to be an impossibly futuristic age.  Maybe it was  seeing those space-age looking fins that the latest automobile models were sprouting above their taillights.  Maybe it was my coming to the realization, at the wise age of nine, that the life I had known in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, up until a few months previous, was a thing of the past.

I was not only having my first taste of California in our new ranch style home in Woodland Hills, but was also attending public school for the first time.  I was experiencing my first holiday season away from the extended family I had grown up with.  Whatever 1957 was to be, it definitely was not going to look like the past.

Sixty years later, the New Year 2017 greets me with the same pause in the face of the future.  By now I have certainly figured out that nothing ever stays the same, but this year is different.  The shift in direction is palpable.

The political world has exploded, and my own little corner of the world has radically changed as well.  My personal choice to move forward and free myself of some unhealthy dynamics  within my family has placed me in an island of exile while it sorts itself out.  I was outside the local branch of the family circle for this entire  holiday season.   It is heartbreaking to wrench yourself away from harmful patterns with those you love; but sad as it is, I am growing to enjoy my freedom to grow.

Back in 1957 we had just finished another national election, and the “I like Ike” crowd had prevailed.  As kids, we did not know much about what all of that political hoopla meant, but we did catch on to the idea of campaigning.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but my ten-year-old brother and I organized a parade with our two little sisters.  While our parents drank their after-dinner tea at the dining room table,  we marched in with signs, balloons,  clicking sticks and beating tamborines.  We circled the table chanting “We want a dog! We want a dog!” as Dad and Mom looked on in astonishment.

It turns out, our effort worked.  Mom had been adamantly against getting a dog, but she came around and one day shortly after our campaign, Dad came home with a little fox terrier we named Duchess..

I learned something about the power of making an effort for change that year. Maybe the lesson was altered by the fact that we ultimately had to give the dog away because Mom really could not tolerate her. This tells me that just because you achieve a moment’s success does not mean you are done fighting.

I have applied that lesson  in fits and starts up until now.  There has been an enormous amount of falling down and getting back up coloring my life; but right now I am on a “getting back up” swing, and it feels different. This New Year’s morning 2017  I remembered 1957 and saw something I important about the power of small but concentrated effort.  I can hardly wait to see how I play out this coming year!

“…and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves.”

I have been intending to write since Thanksgiving evening but it has been a lot of false starts and deletions. The only thing that has remained in place is the title with John Donne’s words.

Thanksgiving was out of sorts, the local branch of my family is askew, and my children and grandchildren live too far away.

It is Sunday evening.  Before I sat down to write, I lit a candle, did a 20 minute sit of Centering Prayer, brewed a cup of Sleepytime tea, and unpacked a certain piece of holiday nostalgia which I will get to later.

I am physically tired from work, but I think I will hold up to write for a bit tonight.  This is one of those times when I keep dragging out an introduction.  Stalling, for some reason.  Under normal circumstances, I would get rid of all this extra chatter in my finished manuscript; but tonight I will most likely just let it go on as it will.  I am not sure where I am going, but expect to publish it before I go to bed.

I used to call this a candlelight write–something I have not indulged in for a few years . There is some kind of ache in my heart and soul I need to work out.  Maybe just a lot of transition in a short amount of time.

I liked the feel of the Mass this morning. I guess Episcopalians–among whom I am now included–call the service Mass. I still have my Catholic vernacular embedded in my brain.   At any rate, the change  to purple in vestments, the lighting of the Advent Wreath, my truly beloved O Come, O Come Emanuel–it seemed timely. My holiday mood needed an adjustment.

As usual, I could only hear about every tenth word that wasn’t written down in front of me.  I hope Roger’s sermon is on Facebook by now.  I will have to take a look at it when I am done writing.  I heard enough to think I know what he was talking about.  The same with the young woman who was speaking,  I think about tithing; and also the prayer or blessing  for adoption.

Still, I scooted out of church quickly, giving myself the excuse that I needed to make a quick stop at the grocery store before heading for work.  The gnawing ache or whatever.

I miss my parents.  Mom has been gone about 15 years and Dad almost 6.  I really feel like I “missed ” them, as well.  It’s as if they passed by while I was on a different track and I didn’t catch on to them in time.

One of my favorite Thanksgivings was Mom’s last one before she was too sick to care.  After dinner, she gathered us women and girls around her big craft table and organized a project decorating stacked flower pots to look like Christmas trees.  Of course, I took one look at my three tapering clay pots and saw a snowman instead of a Christmas tree, and asked Mom if she minded if I followed my instinct.  She said go with it, and I did.

That snowman is the object I unpacked this evening.  As far as I know, it is the only surviving souvenir of that Thanksgiving, and I can’t describe the mixture of feelings I experience every year when I take him out of storage.

Okay, I feel lighter, already.  I have a lot to talk about and think about, but I believe my candlelight write is complete.

Protect us Lord, while we are awake and safeguard us while we sleep, that we may keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.

(from Compline in the Benedictine Daily Prayer)

 

Goodnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I spent election day

I am very tired and I haven’t finished setting up this blog site, but I wanted to get some words in.  I will try to keep this short–in fact I will try to keep all my entries short.  (Being prone to rambling on in journals, we will see how that claim goes.)

I woke up around 7:30.  I had left myself a note on the refrigerator to go vote, but I had not forgotten.  I made a cup of Irish Breakfast tea, got dressed, tucked a zip-locked gluten-free blueberry scone into my purse and headed out into the drizzly morning.  It was pleasant going into the local Park and Recreations building a few blocks off the town square, standing in line a short time, exchanging smiling hellos, casting my ballot electronically.  I confess to not knowing most of the locals, but I punched  in anyone not republican everywhere I could and hoped for the best.

I had promised myself a real cup of coffee as a reward for performing my civic duty, so before going back to my car I walked looking for the little coffee house I knew I had seen around there somewhere.  After some meandering about the nearby alleys, I located the little shop and went in.  Beautiful  place, enlarged photos of Guatemala on the walls .  The proprietor enthusiastically described his different ways of brewing coffee available and I had him make me a latte (no flavor added).  “Ah, coffee flavored, ” he said approvingly.  I wandered about looking at the pictures and masks and other Guatemalan items and he told me about an upcoming film and Mayan dance presentation.  I asked if he minded if I ate my gluten free scone there, and he said no problem .

When I finished my treat, I spotted some prints for sale, and went over to browse the large collection of note-sized photography prints.  I selected one that appeared to be a table set for The Day of the Dead, and I asked him if they had a similar celebration as the Mexican one I knew a little about. He told me they had this amazing tradition of flying kites and took out his laptop to show me pictures.

Wow!  These kites are huge, taking five or six people to launch them.  Many are round, though there were other shapes.  They remind me of  mandala designs.  Apparently whole families work together making these kites for months before the Nov 1 celebration.  The kites are to honor their loved ones and ancestors, the idea being that the string connects the earth and the heavens.  At the end of the ceremonies, they set the kite free.  This whole thing just tugged at my heartstrings (sorry).  They put in all that work and then let it go.  Like sand paintings.  Like life.  Amazing.

Anyway, my coffee house visit took me to a better place than election day.

Now I am back home after work and dinner and shower watching the election results with very little sound and the closed captioning traveling across the screen,  It is later than I thought and I haven’t really been paying attention.  It’s beginning to look like Trump is winning.  This is so surreal it is giving me a stomach ache.  I think I will let the final results play out without me.

God bless America.  Really.  Please.

Goodnight for now