Christmas is Temporary

From 2014:

Christmas is fleeting. All year long, we wait in anticipation of the holidays and then we complain the whole time. It’s too crowded, cold, busy, expensive, gluttonous, hurried. I didn’t get what I wanted. I gave everyone a present and now I’m broke and alone.

The spirit. The spirit of the holidays. The joy of Christmas. What is it? Is it lights? Is it cocoa? Is it candy, presents, cookies? Is it the promise and hope of magic? But it never comes. We wait all year and it never comes. And then the lights fade and the tinsel is taken down.

Christmas is temporary.

But it’s not. What is it we are waiting for? What is it that we miss every year and chase after time and again? It’s Christ. That’s what we are really looking for and we’re looking in the wrong places. Is it in this tin of cookies? Is it in this neatly-wrapped box? Is it at the bottom of my second cup of cocoa? Is it at my 2nd, 3rd, 7th Christmas karaoke party?

An entire season is dedicated to what started out as a celebration of giving and hope. Hundreds of years have come and gone, each renewing the tradition of Christmas. But each year some family grows further apart. Each year some person grows more jaded, cynical, greedy and Scrooge-like. Each year our eyes grow more narrow and short-sighted. Each year we try to chase our pleasure, fulfillment and that indescribable magic that only caught us as children because we were bright-eyed and open.

Years ago, at the Blue Ridge Mall, they had a display. I don’t remember now if it was all the time or just at Christmas, but I remember it at Christmas. We were in line for Santa and the line snaked by a huge oil fall. It’s a waterfall except they used oil on strings. It’s like a waterfall in slow motion. It was magical, beautiful and a wondrous summation of the holiday experience for me. I lost myself in the endless strings dripping with glowing, hypnotic oil. I felt warm, silly and excited. I drank in the luxury of it all as I waited for Santa. I don’t remember Santa exactly, but I remember the strings. I wanted to reach out and grab them. But instead I swallowed my fingers and excitement over and over again at simply being near them. At that point, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember Mom and Dad close by. I remember my siblings there too. I remember the sounds of cheerful shoppers as they shuffled by and their muffled packages swaying back and forth in their clasped hands. I remember the soft mall lighting and the quiet aromas of furniture, leather shoes, popcorn, clothing, carpet and mall food. I remember feeling safe, happy, joyful. The mood was love. And everyone felt it.

Now, I’ve begun a tradition with my family. We try to see Longview Lake Lights. We’ve been coming off and on for a few years now. And the best part. They have a field full of trees made from lights. Those are my favorite. They remind me of the oil fall. Delicate pearls of light suspended in the darkness, soft purple and blue, hanging on invisible strings melting into the night. For the last couple of years, it’s the most peaceful and the most child-like capture of innocence and wonder I’ve known. I’m five again. I’m eight again. I’m me before all the bad. I’m in Christmas up to my neck and in love with the world.

I wish I could take that with me. I wish I could visit the lights every night. But I can’t. The lights are even closer now that we live here, but even so, I can’t see them every night. But I can look for Christ. I can look for him every day and celebrate his birth. I don’t have to wait for “the day”. And I can try to capture his joy, his love, his intention, his gift every single moment, all year long. I can look for it as I drive, shop, eat and talk. I don’t have to wait all year and miss it. I can look and find it. I just have to be bright-eyed and open. His love is hanging right in front of our faces on an invisible string of light, dripping down and mesmerizing us with the delicate, graceful fall and we just have to reach out and grab it.

Merry Xmas! Happy Holidays! May you find many joys and love.

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Find the Fun

The week of Christmas.

Every year, on the Sunday before Christmas, we gather at my grandmother’s house and celebrate. Celebrate=eating and lazing about.

The house is cold and has funny smells. It’s an old, large house so the smells could be many things: the renters upstairs—smoking cigarettes and cooking on hot plates; the occupants downstairs—natural gas, human gas, perfume, stale cookies in the cookie jar, turkey, deviled eggs, homemade stuffing, unbathed elderly people, dirty children, unwashed crocheted afghans, well-worn rugs, mothballs, fake logs, fake trees, fake food. Even fake has a smell. “Guess the Smell” could have been a fun, family tradition. But it seems that fun was not the focus of these feasts. Kids, though, steal fun whenever they can.

My sister, my nephew (only a few months younger than me) and I ran from room to room, trying to find the fun. If any was to be had. Sometimes, our same-age cousins were there to horse around and magnify any fun-having. We normally played outside, played games, told jokes, made jokes or snooped around the tree room, looking for the presents with our names. I think it’s socks again. Tube socks.

I am sitting across from Cousin Julie. I was asked to sit. Otherwise, I would be swiping food or fun. I don’t know what to say. People think I’m shy, but I just really don’t know what to say. I feel uncomfortable to look at Julie. Not because she is repulsive to me, but because I am scared that I will stare and ask questions.

Julie has spina bifida. That means her spine is open. She was born that way. She has a wheelchair, which is cool. I would like to ride around in it. That seems like it would be fun, but you can’t do that when someone needs it. I want to ask, but I’m not supposed to ask those questions.

“How are you doing?” Julie asks. Julie is beautiful. No one else thinks so, but I do. She has soft, light brown hair, large eyes, large red lips and a sweet, smiling face. I’m not sure if Julie combs her own hair. I don’t know if she is capable of combing her own hair. Her shoulder-length bob is curled and shiny, but looks slightly bygone. Her mother must comb it.

She is so kind. She has on a cozy holiday sweater and plain, stiff skirt. She is slightly overweight, but so am I. She’s so different from my own family. My sister would never ask how I was. But in my mind, I can’t accept Julie. She’s different.

My family does not engage weakness, illness or difference. Julie was rolled into the family room and locked into place. The people who happened by are the only contact she has. There are older people sitting with her, talking to her, but she is not capable of finding the fun. The moments she steals are connection and kindness.
Why is Julie so happy? I am sad for her. Sad that she can’t run, play, hide, snoop. Sad that she only has old people talking at her. I am sad for Julie because I see that people treat her with sympathy. They approach her wheelchair as a casket. I do too because that is what I see. That is what I learn.

I want to play with her. These are my goals. But she doesn’t play. She can’t play. I want to know Julie, but I can’t ask any questions. But Julie is happy. I see it in her smile. She makes me feel cute. I silently squirm, answering questions when asked, until I am released to find the fun again. I want to understand how to discover Julie, but the desire fades as soon as I am freed.

I never know Julie. I never seek her out. She is gone before I graduate high school and her memories and ideas are lost. We lose her to ovarian cancer and her experiences are not shared with me. I love Julie. I am thankful for her tenderness and brief kindness. I understand now why Julie is happy. She is happy to be alive. She was taught to be nice.

Christmas Crash

This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I wrote it for the church I was attending. The drama director had doubts about a white woman writing a spoken word poem in a masculine voice. The piece was for a male performer. That made me want to do it all the more. I think I did a good job and the voice is neutral. Men and women can both be strong. Both love God. Both raise their voices to honor Him.

The drama director was surprised at how well the piece came across and apologized for her doubts. She still never fully trusted me, but that’s her loss. This was my first spoken word poem. I still love it. Here’s a link to me, my husband and my daughter performing it from our home in KC. It may be slightly overwrought, but we’re actors. You can’t fight city hall.


Crash.Crashing.Crushing.Crushed.

I stagger here crushed, crashed into by God,
Crushed by the weight of his mercy and grace,
My sin gone without a trace.
And it feels like…heaven.

A flash.
Flashing.
Hit by lightning, the wonder of his coming,
Saved by his dying,
Crying at the moment I see his glory
And he is revealed to me.

This world is full of:
Head-on collisions,
Rear-view visions.
Hurt may appear
Closer in the mirror.

Hitting, hurting, burning,
Scratching, fighting, scarring.
And we don’t even know
Who we’ve struck on the road

With our carelessness. Our thoughtlessness. Our inhumanity.

Though–we are saved.
Without reason or cause.
Captured and raptured.
In spite of our flaws.

Made by his hands,
Made for his plans,
Made just like him.

Built for relationship.
Desiring fellowship,
Asking for love and loyalty–
Our trust in His royalty.

Our undivided attention.

And when he crashes into us,
It doesn’t hurt.
But you know that you’ve been hit.

Crash.

He crashes into us.
He leaves a mark.
Stunned mind, ears ring.
A mark made by the one, true king.

Crash.

He came on a star.
He left on a cloud.
Here but a brief second.
A drop in the bucket.

But he changed man’s heart forever.

Hit and run.
Hit and stun.
Crash.

Crash.Crashing.Crushing.Crushed.

Crushed by his glory, stick around for the story,
The story of Love.
A story of grace.
God came to earth and showed us his face.
The face of a child in such a lowly place.

Eternal spirit become flesh.
Forever and finite, in a sense,
Wisdom clothed in innocence.

Power in weakness,
Eternity from meekness,
He does nothing but seek us.

He came here to this dangerous space.
A tiny member of the human race
To save.  The.  World.

He crashed into history.
He flashed into being.
Everything changes,
Believing is seeing.

The story gets better.
The story is a letter.
A letter from me to you
By Him.

Read it from beginning to end.
And read it again.
And again.
And again.

Brace for impact.


I feel so lucky that God came down for Christmas. Happy holidays. ❤

12 Days of Driving

I drive for a living. I love my job. It’s so easy and the pay is great. The hours are amazing. Plus, I have the best boss. THE best boss I’ve ever had. Such a nice guy. So easy-going.

I pick up labs (body fluids, of course contained) and take them to the main downtown hospital super lab. Easy-peasy, liquid squeezy.

The other day, I arrived at one of the clinics. The staff have a strange penchant for feeding stray cats (and by accident, raccoons and vultures) in the back-of-the-strip-mall parking lot just behind their clinic. It’s sort of like Grey Gardens without the elaborate outfits and dilapidated old house. This is where I park before I enter their facility.

There’s usually at least one cat in the lot. Waiting around for scraps. But the other day it was like Black Friday at Wal-mart or a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas:
3 trash pandas
2 mangy vultures
AAAAAND 1 gray and white alley caaaaaat!

I’d never seen so many scavengers in one place, even at Dr. Doolittle’s. They all sat waiting just outside a vast clump of bushes. Wonder what was in those bushes? I really don’t wanna find out.

Food? Dead animal? Dead body?? EEEK! I just grabbed my labs and split!

Happy Holidays! Try singing The Twelve Days of Trash Panda. 🙂 LOL

YuleTIDE: A Very Beachy Christmas

We found this when we arrived at the beach yesterday! Love it.

beach christmas.jpg

Some vacationers must have found this washed up drift wood and fashioned this temporary art. So funny! Love the shell ornaments. It’s even got pine cones! LOL

No presents under the tree though. This beach offering is present enough, I say! What a great Christmas Labor Day on the coast.

This is what Florida Xmas looks like, I guess! LOL

Sunglasses and Swag

The post office has decided to finally deliver mail from December 2016. So, I found a gift card in a Christmas greeting from a dear, dear lady. Thank you so much, Secret Santa!

Very secret Santa because I didn’t know about it until a few days ago! lol

Grateful nonetheless.

So here’s what I got for myself.

Sunglasses with bling and two necklaces for my daughter and me to share! I feel lucky, blessed and very thankful. Christmas in April! Yay.

I don’t treat myself often, so this was a nice surprise. Plus, I needed a new pair of glasses. I have sun-sensitive eyes as I get older and I keep losing, crushing (sitting on) and dropping my Dollar Store aviators. I’ve broken and lost a couple.

But I’m still mad at the post office. :/ lol I mean, we were missing checks, urgent mail and important correspondence! Dang! What’s the deal, yo??

Courage is Required

An excerpt from Volume 2 of my book, Present Tense. I haven’t published Vol. 2 yet, but here’s a taste. Find Volume 1 here this week for free!


We move into a small, cold, temporary house just in time to celebrate my Christmas #5. Christmas includes new nightgowns, an Easy Bake Oven for my sister and a “courage” (carriage/baby buggy) for me.

I can’t say carriage. I also can’t say commercial or spaghetti. Mah-ker-shull and pa-sketti.

This is the house my mother wallpapered for my grandmother. This is house where I pooped on the floor. This is the house of smoke and blood. This is the house of clawfoot-tub swimming.

There are Tarzan cartoons, Peanuts TV Specials, Hee-haw overalls, jingling reindeer hooves on the roof, cold winter mornings, mattresses on the living room floor. There is laughing/choking at late-night dinners. There are ABC-TV special presentation family movie nights of Deliverance, urine-stained pillows that I fall asleep on, cradling parents who tuck children who fall asleep on wet pillows in bed. And there is falling out of the top bunk at night.


At some point, my grandmother bought this home as a second, third or fourth property to build her empire of real estate. She buys many properties and rents or sells them for profit. She also runs a coin-operated laundry mat and washes people’s clothes for money. She is a woman who works hard and seldom rests. She does not tolerate humor or fuss. She is a force of will.

Grandma’s hair is yellowish white, faded from stress, time and negativity. She keeps it tight in a bun and hairnet. Her face is just as faded. Her beauty quickly spent on marriage, children and hard times. She always wears a dress. Not a fancy frock, but a well-worn print. The only days she didn’t wear a dress, were those spent in a factory during the war.

She has a large, round nose and large, droopy Buddha-like lobes. Those earlobes were made for clip earrings, but she never wears them.

Hard, metallic eyes that saw her father’s mistreatment of her mother. Grandma saw his fortune taken away as well. She saw her comfortable childhood home revoked and replaced by a dirt-floor shed.

She marries, only to quickly lose her husband’s farm to the tax collector. She rears 3 children through the depression, Dust Bowl and WWII. She raises and kills chickens, she milks cows, she sews, she cleans (not well), she cooks.

She hardens; she resolves. She is determined to forbid fate from having its destructive way again.

She works hard because she doesn’t know anything else. She works hard because she learned that you can’t rely on anyone except God and yourself.  She works hard because that is her pathway to happiness.

If I stop moving, I’ll die.

These are her lonely, driven thoughts. She is an ever-swimming, scarred-up shark who’s tired of the frenzy and bloodbath.


Grandma lets us live in the house on 15th Street while we wait to move to the country.  Our home near the lake has sold and the new house is not ready yet.

We lose our cat during the move. We drive for the last time from the lake to town with all our things. Grandma is holding the cat in the station wagon. Shark holding a lion. We arrive at the new place: the car door opens, cat scratches, takes off for parts unknown.

Never seen again. Tiger is gone.

Lucky cat.

Merry Post Ex-mus!

I feel pretty good today. My incisions are closed! Still losing. I have lost over 35 lbs since the Monday before Thanksgiving. I am officially at 420.4 lbs. I am averaging a pound a day. Sometimes 2, sometimes 0. For two days, I was stuck at 421.2, but did not go up!!! Finally dropped a pound today. Zero lbs. lost doesn’t feel awesome, but losing 35 lbs. feels awesome.

Having tacos today withOUT the crunchy. 🙂 Still on soft foods. Mainly seasoned meat and guac and cheese. Stick to protein! Carbs are the devil. I am totally off of soda and carbonated drinks, have been since before the surgery. THAT is tough for me. Trying to get my 64 oz. of liquid a day. Almost there.

I AM GOING TO WALK ON THE TREADMILL TOMORROW!! At our apartment complex clubhouse gym. Made a workout playlist on Youtube for my tablet and headphones. Gotta wow these doctors when I hit the scale. I want their little doctor scrubs to fly off when they see my weight loss. I’m gonna blow their hair back!!! I would like to hit 370 by the end of Feb. but we’ll see. Wish me luck!

I worked out for 2 years and lost 100 lbs. But. I gained 40 back with thyroid cancer. Starting back to working out after being unsuccessful for so long feels a little weird and sad, but I can do it again. I did it once, I can do it all over. Knowing that I will never go back up because of the surgery, IF I follow the rules, that makes it a little easier to start again.

Happy New Year!!! This is gonna be a really good year. I am going to be a rockstar. 🙂 Mainly because I don’t give up and I believe in myself. 😉

I don’t have a tree this year.

I don’t think I had a tree last year either. It was damaged by a burst water pipe above our storage unit. The year before that? I had half-a-tree. Just put up the top as a mini tree. So what?

I tend to reject any commercialization of Christmas. It’s not that I’m a Scrooge. Quite the opposite. We watched Disney’s A Christmas Carol last night and I was moved to tears when Ebenezer donates a very large sum to the charity collector. When he said, “I am obliged to you…bless you.” I just lost it.

To hear Scrooge say those kind words, those generous words, those humble words, I just can’t even…

I reject the commercialization of Christmas because it’s disgusting to me. I don’t shop on Black Friday. I don’t buy presents. I don’t like trees and lights and ornaments. Well, I do, but I don’t like what they have come to represent. Who doesn’t like shiny, colorful blinking lights? But I could go to Vegas on Christmas and be satisfied. I don’t think Jesus had a beautifully adorned pine tree in the manger. That’s a northern European tradition. I guess I just don’t get it. Why don’t we decorate a palm tree instead?

To say pine needles, lights, presents and all that glitters represents the spirit of Christmas or Jesus’ spirit is kind of offensive to me. Maybe I am a Scrooge to begrudge? A Bescroodger? Idk. But I can’t help throw up in my mouth a little when I see posts of trees and presents and tidings of joy espousing the love and spirit of Christmas. Sorry. And yes, I fully acknowledge this may be an attack on Christmas. It might be an attack on your very heart. Maybe I feel all the things I feel about Xmas because of my past. Okay. But. Attacking Christmas as we know it? Is that a bad thing? I mean, my biggest worry about Christmas is not what cup I am going to purchase at Starbuck’s.

What I feel deep down in my heart? I feel that we should all be walking the streets, trying to find the most in need, the loneliest, the hungriest souls on the planet who need a small bit of care. That would be the true spirit of Christmas. Not safely snug in our homes, exchanging elaborate gifts with people who need nothing. And I know, children want the magic of Christmas, the wonder of the holiday, but what are we teaching them with these empty traditions? Not what Christ was about. I can tell you that. Not the real wonder and awe of Christ.

I am recovering from surgery, so I don’t think I could wander the streets today, but honestly, I don’t know that I would have the courage or comfort to wander them at full health. But my heart wants to. I know it’s right, but I’ve never started this tradition for myself. We have moved away from gift-giving and tree-pimping. Thank God! But we haven’t made it out of the house yet. Hopefully, next year! What an amazing Christmas it would be to help people who were just like Mary and Joseph? Amazing.

This year, I am remembering the sacrifice Mary and Joseph made. And the sacrifice that Jesus made for all time. Merry Christmas to all. Not just those who can afford it. Sorry to personally ruin Xmas for anyone. I mean, have your fun and gifts and stuff. Just don’t forget others who are in need. That’s Jesus’ spirit. Tiny Tim was the smallest of all and needed the most. Don’t let Tiny Tim fall. (Shameless, I know.) God bless us, Everyone.