Humble Pie

20191227_110826© JB Katke

A lady I know will go on and on about apples. In her opinion McIntosh are the only apples worth eating. I can’t believe how opinionated she is. As if she were some kind of apple expert or something.

Do you know anyone like that? Who cares about her opinion anyway? The best one can do, is smile, let them vent, then walk away. Don’t bother trying discuss the pros or cons, she has a deaf ear.

This year though, she experienced a comeuppance. It was hilarious, I wish you could have been there. It was Christmas day and this lady was in full-blown praise of her precious apple pie. “The only apple pie I’ll eat is my own.”

Her son-in-law made note to never bake her an apple pie because she wouldn’t eat it.

As she is slicing her pie to serve, she notices it’s really juicy. “Darn, I wonder why? That’s never happened before.”

Okay, it’s me.

I have my reasons for being so apple biased. What many people look upon as desirable apples to bake with I find lacking. Other apples hold their shape and don’t cook down. I like cooked down.

McIntosh apples could easily be on a grocers list of unwanted produce because they are fragile and bruise easily. That makes them hard to find. So when I found a local grocer that carried them, I praised the managers in charge. It was important to me that they keep on coming while in season.

Too late, I realize why this pie bombed. My pie plates are deep dish. Normally one would think that’s a good thing because it holds more filling. And fill it I did.

Because McIntosh are soft and moist, made for a very juicy product. Humble pie. Note to self: Don’t use so many apples.

Isn’t that typical in life though? We think if a little does a little good, a lot will do a lot of good? Or bigger is always better, right? Wrong on both counts.

Good golly, now I must exercise food discipline in the kitchen as well as at the table. Life sure can get complicated. But if I’m not mindful the outcome may be undesirable, like being overweight or juicy.

I bet that’s why the good Lord gave us a conscience. The mind and heart are not always in agreement, best to let a wise conscience prevail.

Is There a Good Mad?

 

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The question is can I hold the mad…for a year?

The house is officially dedecked from Christmas. Except for the few items that got overlooked in the packing.  Unintentional tradition reigns.

What I don’t understand is why I had so much trouble packing things away. I had bought nothing extra, but somehow couldn’t get things packed back into the box they came from. What’s with that?

Each year I enjoy hauling the décor out that I haven’t seen in a year. It’s fun to transition the house to be festive. Memories are relived. The ornaments family members have made, the ones grandpa used to painstakingly place over lights so they would spin.

Packing the stuff away again finds me in the no fun zone. The box I thought I had for my nutcracker was missing. I like for him to be protected in storage. This year my little guy is going to fend for himself to stay presentable for next year.

I had boxes and bins everywhere and nothing seemed to fit in them. Frustration led me to anger. This should not be happening. My husband wisely kept his distance from me until it was time to stow the goods away.

“Look, they fit in the space just fine.”

That is not the point. I’m supposed to be getting rid of stuff.

“How come it’s taking more boxes than ever to get them put away?”

I’m furious. Next year I must be ruthless. Somehow ruthless doesn’t blend with a season of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

Some people can hold onto a good mad for a lifetime. I can’t recommend that, it’s wearing a perpetual chip on your shoulder that permeates everything and everyone around you. That is a real no fun zone.

Instead I aim to learn from this experience, like decorating with large objects. It’s too easy to overlook small things hanging here and there around the house. I’m not going to ask why God brought all this stuff under my roof either. He didn’t, he just allowed it.

That puts the ball back in my court to graciously let go of stuff that adds nothing but stress. I prefer my life not have room for anger, but to be filled with Jesus’ positive energy. With his help I can do this

Happy New Year!

 

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© of JB Katke

 

The New Year is upon us…ready or not

.As a rule I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  Why set myself up for disappointment? Unless it’s reasonable. Like promising myself I absolutely will not eat artichoke heart or sushi. That I can pull off. It isn’t my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings if you like them. It’s just far be it from me to take your pleasure away.

I’m hoping this year will be different though. Recently my doctor has been casually mentioning some weight loss for me. Easy to say, hard to do. For me anyway. You may know the verse that says little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice? I am here to tell you years of that stuff turns into Velcro that adheres to waist and hips. I am living proof.

But it’s not just weight I’d like to change. There is exercise (that should actually be a four letter word). Stressing my body is not pleasurable. Some people like it which boggles my mind. Just thinking about it wears me out.

Writing too. Does that surprise you? While I have never been at a loss for words, writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Its work. Blogging exposes me and that’s not comfortable. I’m an introvert. Likewise being with a group of people wears me out as well. My husband doesn’t agree, just because I’m able to carry on a conversation.

All that being said, here’s what I’m hoping for in 2020. I’d like to see Jesus better. I’m well aware he is with me all the time. He knows what is going on in my life. But I feel a little like our relationship is lopsided. He blesses me, but do I give him enough credit?

Here’s my plan, and I expect you to hold me accountable. I feel the need to be quiet as I meditate on his presence more often. It takes time and discipline. But he has made himself known to me on several occasions and it was an amazing experience. I want more of that.

Seeing more clearly in 2020 is wordplay I know, but this might be well worth the effort.

Stolen Christmases

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Today I’m burying the Grinch. May he never rear his ugly head again.

He has stolen too many of my Christmases and I’ve had enough.

I’m not speaking of the beloved Grinch we love to hate each Christmas season. I’m speaking of my own personal demon Grinch. Like the famous Grinch, mine is green too, I suspect envy.

Dr Seuss wrote the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I am amazed how much the two Grinches have in common. My Grinch also hates Christmas, doing everything he can to make mine miserable. But it doesn’t end there. Like the Grinch in the book, he can’t tolerate happiness of any sort, only my Grinch has no heart at all.

Each miserable Christmas I would come to realize my poor attitude and feel shame. Too late I would reach the point of what Christmas is truly about.

The sad fact is I gave my Grinch permission to be a demon in my life. It was so unnecessary. For no reason I allowed this Grinch to ruin my disposition. Our home wore the décor, but it was a façade. My heart wasn’t there.

The holiday season can be painful if a beloved family member has died, but that wasn’t my case. I don’t have the fear of a family member in the military serving overseas in a dangerous country.

I believe my situation is shared by many. The season of celebration isn’t what it used to be. Through the years our family has spread across the country and now reside far from each other. Through no fault of our own, life just takes us places. Now there is no one to ‘do’ for.

Our children are no longer children. All of them are living responsible adult lives as they were taught. I’m proud of them. Even the grandchildren are adults, more pride added. We have been promoted to great-grandparenthood, but again, distance comes between us…I’m not alone. There are others.

It’s inexcusable to be distraught over not having to fight the maddening crowds Christmas shopping. We no longer exchange gifts, so are spared the concerns. Would she like this, or does he need that? I confess it’s hard not to buy for those I love. Likewise I shouldn’t miss baking Christmas cookies. We don’t need all the calories.

The time for a wake up call is now. Are we not celebrating the birth of our Savior? He’s the ideal gift. He’s needed, one size fits all, plus he doesn’t require wrapping. No shipping costs either. Didn’t he come to take away all the hurt this world dishes out?                        A gift doesn’t get more perfect than that.

This year I’m looking forward, not back. I can recall past Christmases with fond memories as long as I return my gaze to what Jesus will be doing in the future. Both in my own life and those around me. I’m convinced that is why God placed eyes on the front of our head, not the back.

Merry Christmas!

Too Many Toys

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My husband had enough.

Begging was wasted breath. Rewards meant nothing. Bribery didn’t work, and neither did grounding. Grounding I learned, is never a good idea. It punishes the stay-at-home parent. AKA me.

Clearly our children’s concept of a clean room differed from ours. They threw things in the closet and stowed as much as possible under the bed. Leftovers were designated to line the walls. On the plus side, we never worried about a bed collapsing. Their ‘cleaning’ took all day. As buried treasures surfaced, they played.

I’m not sure if it was frustration or tired of hearing my ranting. But desperate times called for desperate measures in getting the kids to pick up their toys. Out came the leaf rake.

At the end of the day, so-called cleaning done, their dad raked what was left into the middle of the floor. It was deposited into a box. If the kids wanted them back it was going to cost them. Prices ranged from a penny to a nickel.

Who Is Learning A Lesson Here?

Eventually there were no more purchases. What’s with that? They didn’t care whether they got the rest back or not. The excess toys were unnecessary. By all appearances we all had something to learn.

Good Intentions Are Not Always Good

When Christmas or a birthday rolled around, we went overboard in gifts. The Grandparents hearts held more than their wallets, unable to give as much as they wanted. They lavished love for our children. It’s what money can’t buy, doesn’t need wrapping and takes up no space.

All we wanted to do was give our children good memories. Too many gifts multiplied by three children gave new meaning to a well-rounded Christmas tree. We have learned.

That’s the problem with parenting. By the time we learn how to do it right, the children are grown and the damage is done. We’ll do better with the grandchildren, we’ve got this.

Wait a minute, grandparent play by a different rule book, don’t they?

Tradition

“’What is your favorite Christmas tradition?” 20191208_154746

It was an icebreaker question for my tablemates at Bible study.  First off, getting-to-know you questions are dumb. We are women, nurturers at heart, compatible beings, user-friendly and capable of carrying on a conversation.  With or without cause. We have words and know how to use them.

Secondly, I don’t have a favorite Christmas tradition.  My mom did. When you got any clothes for Christmas, you couldn’t wear them until after the New Year. Where she came up with this I don’t know.

After I got married, this went out the window.  With gusto.

As far as Christmas shopping is concerned,  my husband is not prone to buy clothes.  Many Christmases ago, as I shopped for others, I kept seeing things I’d like for myself.

When my husband returned home from work I told him, “You have some clothes on hold at the store.  Pick through them and surprise me for Christmas.”

He did.  I got them all-and amazingly they all were the right size.  Not all husbands can do that.

When I was a child, Aunt Jane had the tradition of hiding a really large gift for me behind the chair.  I caught on quickly. Christmas Eve always found me peeking at it.

Apparently I did have one tradition albeit unintentional.  It seems every Thanksgiving for too many years I clogged the garbage disposal with potato peels.

“Mom, again? You do this every year.”

“I do?”

“Yes, it happened last year too. Don’t you remember?”

“Um, no. That was last year.”

But I’ve learned.  Now I make instant potatoes. Problem solved.

Grandma Andrews had the tradition of baking fruitcakes for everyone in the family.  I grew up with them, but my little family didn’t share the love. It was mine, all mine.

Grandma died, but Aunt Jane carried on her tradition. It wasn’t until my aunt passed away that I had access to their recipe collection.   I was shocked that neither of them followed the recipe. Both these women were sticklers for doing things by the book. While I haven’t made a fruitcake yet, if I did, I’d modify it too. It’s what I do. Then wonder why it didn’t turn out good.

One would think I would learn from my mistakes, especially in the cooking department. But why change a perfectly good tradition?

Salvation Army

SA Bucket

Many a Christmas season I refused to donate to the Salvation Army cause. But my heart had been touched as I gave it more thought. Both physical and spiritual help is offered year round to the less fortunate.

“Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that!”

I came unglued. What was I going to do now?

About to enter the grocery store, I scooped up all the loose change in my purse and deposited it into the red Salvation Army bucket. I watched helplessly as the coins fell in, along with my husband’s wedding ring.

A couple volunteers stood at the post ringing their bell.

The man spoke up. “That was really generous of you.”

“No it’s not, I’m not generous at all.”

I learned the couple belonged to each other, but neither of them had the key that belonged to the bucket. Sensing my anguish, the man pulled out his cell phone placing a call to his supervisor. There was nothing he could do to help me either.

The husband handed me his business card, in case I should need him. He was a lawyer.

I wagged my finger at him. “You better be honest, because I have your number now.” I can’t believe I said that. Clearly I must stop watching so much TV.

I was cold and in a hurry.

I had just left my husband’s bedside. He was still hospitalized recovering from his fourth back surgery. The wedding band was put in my change purse for safe keeping. Yeah, right.

Eventually I was given a phone number I could call to retrieve the ring. The office of the Salvation Army was alerted to my error and were on the lookout for it. I was told it was found and waiting for me to pick it up.

It was one for the memory books.

That was several years ago, but it still brings up a vivid holiday memory. Today, I smile at it, not so at the time.

The following year, I again deposited some change in the red bucket. “You’re not getting any wedding rings this year.”

The young man’s bell stopped mid ring,  “That was you?”

A change of heart

The Salvation Army folk are a good group of people that make a positive difference in lives. Who couldn’t use a little encouragement now and then?