Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Things I Learned in 2011

Sometimes a year can seem like a write-off until you remember that what you learn is far more important than what you accomplish. As I reflect back over the past year, I realize this old dog actually did learn a few new tricks in 2011. Had you shown me this list a year ago, I'd have said "no thanks" to some of it and "no way" to all of it. Who would have thought, at 52, I would learn all these things for the very first time:
  • How to create a blog.
  • How keeping a blog current is really only fun for the first few weeks.
  • How to conduct oneself at a writers' conference.
  • How not to conduct oneself when one gets one's car stuck in the ditch on a country road.
  • How exciting it is when one's manuscript finals in a big novel-writing contest.
  • How publishers aren't interested in anything less than first place in a big novel-writing contest.
  • How to do Jillian Michael's yoga meltdown routine.
  • How you can feel more fit than you've been in years, yet still be vulnerable to health problems.
  • How one can be subject to lung ailments even when one has avoided smoking.
  • How much one would like to smack those who don't avoid smoking.
  • How to plan a swell party for an 80-year old.
  • How it feels to be scanned, scoped and scrutinized.
  • Why people awaiting medical appointments, tests, results, and diagnoses are called "patients!"
  • How to make a solemn doctor laugh.
  • How to make a roomful of school teachers cry.
  • How to make really good dill pickles using the same old recipe I've always used.
  • How to memorize two hours' worth of dialogue with a Southern drawl, change into six different outfits with record speed, and not freeze to death backstage at the Glesby Centre in late November. And love every minute of it.
  • How to host the "After Glow" party for Prairie Players.
  • How I would love my third grandson just as much as my first two, and how quickly I'd forgive him for not being a girl.
  • How much I would enjoy a contemporary dance recital.
  • How little I would enjoy the new Smurfs movie.
  • How to set up an online survey for Portage's citizens.
  • How to rip out ugly 1970's carpeting which animals have considered their own personal restroom.
  • How to calculate depreciation three different ways: straight-line, double declining, and units of production. (Now if only I could dial a phone number correctly on the first try.)
  • How to say grace at the City Christmas party.
  • How you can do half your usual decorating, buy fewer gifts, go to fewer parties, do no baking at all, skip the family newsletter...and Christmas will still come.
Not too shabby, eh? I feel better already. How about you? Take a look back through your calendar. I'll bet you'll be surprised by how much you've learned, too. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Count Down Begins!

November 30
     I think it was 1985. I was a stay-at-home mom with a four year old and a two year old. Along with a bunch of other young moms, I attended what was then called "LIFT" (and has since evolved into "Daybreak") every Tuesday morning at Portage Alliance Church (which was then located at the corner of Lorne Ave. and 13th NW!). A bunch of us were making these advent calendars and I climbed aboard. I know there are several of them kicking around the country, perhaps one of them is yours.
     Looking at it now, I can only shake my head at the painstaking detail. Not content to merely glue on my numbers, I machine stitched around each one (after cutting them all out!) Each sequin is sown on by hand--up through the felt, through the sequin, through a tiny clear rocaille bead to hold it in place, back through the sequin, and finally back through the felt. Over and over and over.
     Each little ornament, once finished, gets stiffener ironed on to it before stitching Velcro to the back.
Here's how it looks by Christmas.
     Good grief! Where did I find time and energy for this? And, more importantly--why?
     I always said I was going to make two more identical ones so I could give one to each of my children as they left home. Never even started.
     So, here it hangs on our wall still. With some significant exceptions:
  • No one is arguing over whose turn it is to put up the ornament on any given day.
  • Nobody's trying to guess which ornament it will be.
  • Nobody's wondering which pocket has a little Christmas tree inside, indicating that's the day we'll put up our tree.
  • Nobody's doing the math, figuring out how he or she will put up the last ornament, the star at the top, on Christmas Eve.
     All of which, I suppose, gives a healthy hint as to the answer to my "why" question. I'm thinking it might be time to pass this tacky, 26-year old tradition on to the grandsons.
     Maybe next year.