Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with Strangers

On Christmas Eve, Rob and I celebrated The Feast of the Nativity at St. Mary's in Bonita Springs. We had visited this church twice before, but like all holy days many showed up for this particular service...many we had never seen before...strangers all, driven by the need to participate in one of the most holy of days in the church.  It was lovely; bright red poinsiettas, candles softly glowing, priests, deacons, acolytes, and torch bearers all garbed in flowing robes of creamy white accented by a royal choir robed in periwinkle blue. Beautiful carols were sung by all.  A few ancient songs, that only the choir could handle, brought us all into an earlier time of Christian worship.  The organist was in his glory...driving his center stage machine like he was coming around the winning corner of the Indy 500.  Incense was delivered regardless of allergies...after all Christmas is a holy day.  Everything and everyone was doused at least once from near and then again from afar.  The service began at 9:30 p.m. and we were on our way home at 12:40 p.m.  Two plus hours, although lovely and spiritual, left Rob and I both wanting our bed and wondering how our knees and back had knelt, stood, and sat for so long. 

I had been feeling a bit sad because neither Cathy, Lalo nor Cheri were able to join us in sunny Florida this year...after all they had work...for which we are grateful, given our nation of unemployment.  The Christmas Eve service  sparked me up, made me feel more Christmasey.

Christmas morning brought with it a light breakfast and then the opening of our gifts from Cheri, Cathy, and Lalo.  While last night's gala of song, solemn eucharist, and incense had cheered me, opening gifts without the kids was still a bit of a kicker.

Our neighbors, Larry and Mary, who were returning north for their family Christmas, had been thoughtful about our impending aloneness and thus had spread the word to the correct neighbors who were planning a progressive Christmas Day dinner. We were invited! We didn't know most of these people prior to this event.  Rob knew two of the men from golf and I knew Judy, a wonderful massage therapist, who lives on our street. But really, we didn't know each other. 

Cocktails started the early afternoon at Barry and Regina's. Drinks flowed along with good cheer, stories were told, light finger foods served and after two hours of getting acquainted and breaking the ice, we all returned to our respective homes to get ready for dinner. I prepared my dish for this portion of the progression; the only dish I can make without a recipe.  Rob had football planned for this interlude, but soon he was flung back in his chair and snoring softly with occasional snorts.  (I later learned every single husband in our merry group engaged in this exact same behavior.  Was it the wine?  I think not...Rob is a master at this behavior and needs no wine to achieve perfection.)

The "main course" was served at Bob and Mary's home.  It proved to be everything and more that a Christmas dinner could embody.  The foods were  tasty dishes of carbrohydrates, proteins, and vegetables all done with novelty and stories of origins.  My offering had been discovered many years ago at a Noffke Christmas party on Kerlikowske Road in rural Coloma;  simple, tasty, corn pudding.

We indulged in one more eating saga at Jim and Janet's home.  The fare consisted of cookies, cakes, and wonderful fresh fruit.  Good conversation followed each meal setting. The light banter became more comfortable and friendly as the evening progressed.  Perhaps the wine?  We exchanged "white elephant" gifts amid much laughter and joking.  Christmas with strangers...who would have thought it could be so lovely?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beautifully Wrapped

Nothing written for November, well maybe I can add a bit now.  Mostly, November got swallowed up along with the turkey.  And I am in December..such a hard month for so many.  For those who have lost loved ones this past year, it will be especially hard.  For those who have lost jobs...well, I can remember facing Christmas time with little to make it Merry, but those were other times...not today. 

Today, I have learned, I have many Christmas presents beautifully wrapped in shiny, sparkly paper with gold, fluffy bows.  These gifts do not sit under a tree waiting to be unwrapped.  They are found in FAMILY, loving daughters, a son-in-law second to none, and a husband who means more and more to me each and every day.  Nieces, nephews, and cousins by the dozen all have their precious places.

Rob and I celebrated 45 years of marriage on November 26 at the Northwestern vs. MSU game.  It rained the entire game.  It was cold and soppy.  Ugly.  MSU won and that did help...but I couldn't help but wonder what possessed me to sit outside in that slop with Rob and daughter, Cheri, all of us yelling, GO GREEN.  Our bodies totally encased in Green ponchos, it was our feet and hands that suffered the most.  Gloves dripped, fingers froze, and shoes squeaked and squished with saturated droplets of stuff that just didn't let up for all of the four hours of game time.  How did the teams, both MSU and NW, ever make it?  They're young and tough.  Was I ever that young or tough?  Surely not.

And then there are FRIENDS.  Aren't they beautifully wrapped?  They come in so many different sizes and shapes.  And how versatile they are...coming to the front when needed with a word of encouragement and praise, wrapping their arms around you when you need  extra support, and the laughter...oh yes, the laughter.  Only friends seem to understand and get a hoot out of the same little oddities of life and living that you do.  Yes, beautifully wrapped each and every one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Truth or Not

A friend asked if the writing on Connee's Corner was the truth (real) or was it my imagination? 
I usually write something that is real or actual, simply because it's easier. 
Granted my truth may be biased.  It may not be your truth.  
Usually my writing reflects my own inner questions or insights. 
Thanks for following and leaving your comments. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Thunder

Black fists of clouds banked, then rolled off the Big Lake. 
Small crystal pellets bounced merrily on the drive
Among the wind-felled hickory nuts.

"Time to go to Florida," I say.
Rob chuckles and tells me to run for the truck.

Off we go to Lutz's Drive-In at the 5-Mile corner.
Mary and Craig will join us.  We're a tad early.
By the time they arrive,
The rain is coming down in solid sheets of water.
No gentle shower...this.

We all settle at oil-clothed tables...comfortable with our local eating place.
Folks pour through the door to get in and out of the rain,
Hoods gripped tightly to cheek and chin
To protect Friday night hair.
Young families eager to eat,
Then off to the local high school football game.
Seasoned couples, like us, just enjoying a night out with friends.

October Thunder rolls and rumbles over and through 
The constant din of diner's conversations.
Sharp streaks of lighting bounce
Through rain splattered windows,
Adding sudden jagged light to laden tables
Of pizza, chicken-wing baskets, Alaskan Pollack
Pop, beer, wine and water.

I shiver...goose bumps raising
On indoor, warm, dry skin.

"Time to go to Florida," I say.
Rob chuckles and squeezes my shoulders.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stark Poignancy

The  brown casket, white satin interior carefully arranged and draped, stood out in stark poignancy in the small rural cemetery.  The scene caught the corner of my eye in a flash of unbelievabe recognition as I drove down the country road toward home.  Were those mourners standing around an open casket? 
Not quite willing to believe what my eyes had caught in that fleeting moment of vision, I turned my vehicle around in a neighbor's driveway and went back to the cemetary.  I drove on the well worn gravel drive to where the sexton's truck was parked.  The grave digger and his workers were perched on the bed of the truck displaying faces bored with the waiting.
"Is the funeral over?" I said.
"Just about...they had the visitation first.  Should be over by 12:30." the sexton stated matter-of-factly.
"I'll come back later.  I wanted to visit my mother's grave."...a white lie spoken to those who had reason to be at the back of the cemetery, while I was simply a curious observer.
Carefully, I backed my car out and headed toward the main road.  I turned left wanting one more sight of  the burial scene.
Yes, the casket's lid was open.  Mourners, dressed in black, shoulders rounded stood quietly.  Hands reached out...clutched the casket's edge.  Children ran from tombstone to tombstone.  The sun shone in a bright blue sky.  Death of a beloved was observed with simplicity and realness. Curiosity satisfied, humbled and grateful, I drove home to life. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Settle softly

Another day of beauty is winding down like oak leaves that fall, twirl, and settle softly.  I like my days to settle softly.  The hubbub of daily life, even life in the retired lane, needs time to settle.  Quiet evening talk with a family member, the cat curled up on my lap, a cup of hot tea, and my ever present novel all help me settle softly.  I wish the same for you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Started

One should never get started on something NEW, like Blogging, this late at night.  What was I thinking?  Clearly, I need to do this type of activity when I am bright, focused, alert...all of those wonderful characteristics that are hard to come by even at mid-morning.  Nuff said.