Monday, July 17, 2017

Creating Magic Takes Hard Work


I am an organizer, a planner, a list maker.  There is a clock or an egg timer, a calendar or a notebook, a dry erase board or a magnetic clip with note attached, in every room.
When family comes to visit, a meal magically appears on the table.  The house is clean and the lawn is mowed.  Covered dishes warm on the stove and cold dishes chill in the refrigerator.  Pitchers of ice-cold lemonade and tea wait to fill glasses, and the coffee pot only needs to be started. The dessert takes center stage on the kitchen table. We say grace, we sit and eat, we enjoy our time together as a family. 
No one asks how it all got done.
The week before, I took inventory, making lists of things that need to be bought or set out before the company arrives. Every day of the week has its own list and on the last day the focus shifts into hourly checklists.
Almost as soon as the first guests arrive, everything falls into place as if by magic and I sit and enjoy my children and their families. They did not witness all the work it took to get here, all the pots and pans, bowls and appliances that I used and washed. It looks like I wiggled my nose and everything came together on its own.
We say grace, we sit and eat, we enjoy our time together.  Every minute of planning and work is worth the effort. My family is growing in size and in age and magical moments together like this are more precious than gold or diamonds.

When it is time to leave and the last car drives off, leaving only fading echoes of children’s laughter and grown up chatter, I have no need for a list or a clock or a pencil. Things will get done, put away, and straightened over the following week, but first, I will sit, smile, and enjoy the tiny bit of magic I helped to create.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Growing Some Grandkids


Four of my grandchildren will be in high school this coming year, one at each grade level: ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade.  They are moving into adulthood at an alarming rate.
When they come over, HoneyBunch and I try to set a good example, one that compliments that of their parents who are doing an amazing job.
It helps to know and examine that “good example” every once in a while, since it is not a given that with our age comes wisdom.
I would like to say to each of them:
1.      Value yourself and who you are, and do not let anyone take that from you. Learn to be independent and educate yourself as much as you can before going out into the world and starting your adult life.
2.    When you give your word, make a promise, stick to it.  Know when to apologize when you make a mistake, sin, or take a wrong turn.  Don’t repeat the mistake and learn to make restitution for it.
3.    Educate yourself about the world, the environment, politics.  Educate yourself and find a job that you will like enough to do it for the rest of your life, one that will provide for your needs and those of a family.
4.    Do your part in protecting your values and of those who depend on you. Learn to protect and defend yourself. Guard yourself and your values.  Be educated enough to know when to dismiss the invasiveness and divisiveness of the world and its insidious rants. An educated mind is hard to sway.
5.    Learn to love and trust, show your affection through actions and words.  If it does not work out, hold no regrets.  Life is messy but well worth the struggle. It is better to love and lose than to never love at all.
6.    Protect those who depend on you.  Children are a great and wonderful responsibility, but life will stop being about you.  It will about them and all their needs.   
7.    These suggestions are not temporary quests but last a lifetime, so while you are educating your mind and heart, learn to guard your body as well.  Eat healthy.  Exercise.  Keep active so that you can stay mobile and in good health for as long as you can as you age.

8.    Lastly, remember that each of you is loved by a fierce army of family who only wants the best for you. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Flair for Prayer


Sitting in alphabetical order in high school English class, I hide behind Johnny Martinez’s wide, football fullback shoulders.  I am in a panic because the teacher announces a pop quiz.
I pull out a clean sheet of paper and shoot a quick prayer of desperation to God and His entire choir of angels as I write my heading and number one to five. 
God knows I am no slacker.  I always do my homework, but after tackling an entire chapter in my history book and doing all the odd-numbered math problems for Algebra II, the English poem about love, virgins, and seduction put me to sleep last night. 
What do I know about sex, especially written in complicated “olde” English?  I am sixteen, I have been kissed once on the lips by a non-relative, and I have been on a total of three dates, all heavily chaperoned by my mean and vindictive older brother.
I had no frame of reference as I read the poem, just some icky feeling that the poet had the hots for some zaftig maiden.
I promise God all sorts of things as the teacher rattles off the questions, and I attempt weak answers.  I promise to be kind to my younger sisters.  I promise to say a rosary every night to the Virgin Mother for one whole month.  I promise to control my impure thoughts about Johnny’s very wide, very muscley shoulders. 
Please, please, please, dear Lord, help me get through this quiz.  My A-plus average depends on this. 
We hand in our papers and the teacher goes over the quiz and the poem.  I get a sinking feeling that I will not get anything more than a few points on the quiz, but on the bright side, I won’t have to keep the promises I made in desperation.
To my surprise, the teacher returns our papers the next day and I have made an 80.  It must be a miracle or a mercy.  She explains that upon looking at our answers, she has reconsidered some of our answers and has accepted some of our literal interpretations though she expected a better understanding of the allusions. 
Her explanations the previous day helped me some with those, and I think it is funny that the poet and I had more in common that I first expected.  He wrote about his salacious attraction to a beautiful maiden and I spend most of English class wondering how it would feel to run my hands over Johnny’s double wide shoulders.

But now that God has kept His side of the deal, I will have to keep mine.