Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unexpected Car Fixings, or How to Make Merry on the Mini

We take Christmas as we find it.
Big or little. Rich or poor.
Our December began with a broken car.
Growing kids bursting out of their coats and socks and shoes.
And a skinnier piggy bank.

So we're doing homemade this Christmas.
And humble, homemade gifts won't hurt us a bit.

In light of so much sorrow around us this year,
all we have is gratitude.

The messes don't matter.
I am unspeakably thankful for these eight small hands,
alive and healthy,
for the joyful chaos that surrounds them,
for my imperfect, half-finished jumble,
the light, the squeals, the squabbles.

The egg carton bells.
Popsicle stick snowflakes.

Trying on wreaths as hats.

What matters is already surrounding us.

Love encircles us,
wraps us in glowing strands,
and though it doesn't magically take away the sorrows
of our broken world,
Love is the thing that will mend us.

It anchors us when winds and sorrows come.
Smooths out the wrinkles in our weary, bleary furrows.
Makes us small candles to give courage in the dark. 

Simple, homespun gifts may not be sophisticated,
fancy, or exactly on everyone's wish list,
but they are offerings of love.
and I'm okay with that.

Because love goes deeper than wish lists.

Christmas began with a gift
wrapped in old clothes and straw.
A humble gift.
A love gift.

Love to you, my friends.
Connecticut. Haiti. Japan.
Rwanda. Middle East. 
Love to you.

Picture Books We're Enjoying this Week:

The Christmas Tapestry- Patricia Polacco
Christmas in the Barn- Margaret Wise Brown, Barbara Cooney
A Child is Born - Elizabeth Winthrop, Charles Mikolaycak
Gleam and Glow - Eve Bunting, Peter Sylvada
Christmas with the Mousekins - Maggie Smith
The Little House Christmas - Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams
One Wintry Night - Ruth Bell Graham, Richard Jesse Watson
The Joy of A Peanuts Christmas - Charles Schultz

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peace With Wings

We made ornaments this week...for the birds.

Because they ate all our cherries this year?
Because they pecked holes in the eaves
and made attic nests?

But then we went birding.
A day's adventure into the wet, into the wind, 
from my technical world, 
no busy busy, no run arounds, no errand hopping, 
just listening.
Squinting into far off brambles.
Surprisingly, I connected. With the herons in the tree. 
With the brown-headed eagle, the sparrows, the finches.      
Like the time we stumbled on a barn owl and we lingered there, watching,
till the sky turned shadowy.
Or the day we pulled over the car to observe scores of starlings bathe in muddy puddles.

Maybe it's just the act of stopping 
in the midst of a life that whirls

-watching birds go about their day,
breathing in a piney forest, 
feeling rain pelt and pummel -

Maybe that's what slows me down. 
wakes me up. 
brings me peace.
And peace is what we all need this time of year.

So we made gifts for the birds.
I never thought I'd buy lard.  
 Or thistle seeds, for that matter.
Who needs more thistles? Birds, I guess.
So we squished together birdseed "cookies,"
threaded cheerios onto pipe cleaners  
and bent them into hearts.
Where did Birdy's cheerios go?
The big kids strung popcorn, nuts and apples into garlands.

I cut up felt and old jeans and t-shirts into bird-ish shapes
 for ornaments and pins.
 It was a good project for little sewists.
 And then we gathered our bounty
and strung it up
in the climbing tree.
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Peace to you, my friends...
peace that lifts, 
peace with wings.

And some beauteous books to warm your winter!
The Birds of Bethlehem - Tomie dePaola
Night Tree - Eve Bunting, Ted Rand
The Candle in the Forest - compiled by Joe L. Wheeler
Uncle Vova's Tree - Patricia Polacco
The Trees of the Dancing Goats - Patricia Polacco
The Birds' Christmas Carol - Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Mitten - Barbara McClintock
The Mitten - Jan Brett
The Money We'll Save - Brock Cole
Owl Babies - Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson
Owl Moon - Jane Yolen, John Schoenherr
No Two Alike - Keith Baker


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