Lifestyles of the Destitute and Obscure

dazzling and interesting on a shoestring

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Christmas From My Point of View

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A lovely classic masterpiece, though I do wish Jesus and Mary looked more like poor Middle Eastern people instead of wealthy Europeans.

First off, to me this is Christ–mas   I keep the Lord’s birthday in there. To even scrawl Xmas on a to-do list makes me cringe. Oh sure, many a movie or storybook likes to aim above the retail greed.

These guys only hint at the original meaning and celebration of Christmas, and I wish they went the extra mile. So we read these classics from Dr. Suess and Chris Van Allsburg and then we bust out the Bible for the original classic.9780394800790
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Well that’s true, but…
And from The Polar Express:
“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.” I do believe, but it’s not in Santa and a sleigh bell. The words of God ring sweetly for me because I believe.9780544580145

So these books and movies dabble in magic, shooting for the themes of love and togetherness. While they aim high, at least clearing the muck of consumerism, they fail to aim straight up. Look straight up to heaven for your meaning for Christmas and you’ll find absolution from greed, a reason for the season as well as your life and a love so big and so grand yet so tender and sweet that there is nothing in the world like it. It is only found in heaven, and it is given freely to everyone. Get this—all you have to do is (wait for it…) ask. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ—God on earth in human form, sent as a living sacrifice of love so that we on earth need not be separated from our God in heaven.

IMG_1278Do we believe Santa brings presents? Only if you want to, and then you can believe that Mom and Dad are masters of internet shopping. And once you move on from Santa Clause, you just nod and smile when your younger siblings ask about the big guy with the beard. (It could just be a picture of Daddy in his grunge phase.) After the obvious reason for the season and keeping it void of cliché and any agonizing and overwrought traditions, I certainly buy in to the retailers’ mission to overburden my credit card. But you see, I just love to surprise people. I want my husband to bask in the glow of books that he never knew he wanted. And my husband’s love of books is just beginning to bloom. He reads and speaks the language of music, which I listen to and adore. But I have not absorbed it as a native tongue the way he has. I on the other hand, could curl up in ecstatic bliss with the dictionary.

Does that make me easy to shop for? Yes, of course! I love socks, I love books and boots and funny t-shirts and scrumptious-smelling candles. But wait, don’t give me super heady floral candles. And I can’t stand t-shirts with standard necklines. My socks should be bright and colorful and limited on the synthetics. And please don’t buy me any books from the mystery or bodice-ripper genres. What can I say? I’m an obscure woman with discerning tastes.

We keep the Lord-Jesus-Christ-mas and we enjoy giving unique gifts if not the latest gadgets—no one in our house will receive a hover-board this year, or next, or the year after…And it’s always a great opportunity to bless members of the family with things they need to buy anyway. Last year, all my husband got was underwear, socks, t-shirts and pajamas. Stockings usually contain tubes of toothpaste, possibly because they also contain lots of chocolate.

So, I must confess that we spend too much but spend time together. And in January, we will spend time working hard, paying our bills, and knowing that all true blessings and gifts come from above with love.

For related reading, check out:
Easter in the Park

We Believe in Christmas

When a Woman Like Me Turns 40

When a Woman Like Me Turns 40

IMG_5439Post twin pregnancy and turning forty, I’m reevaluating the shape of my body—literally. My health is another issue with which I have very little issue. I am, alas in some respects, not the long, lithe and lean dancer that I used to be. Oh I suppose I could join CrossFit and dump my twenty year ban on beef, pork and lamb and go on the uber-trendy Paleo diet. I could work really hard to look really hard in my forty year-old skin. But the truth is: I don’t wanna.

DSC_0592I’ve got better things to spend my time on, like the growth of my children, the expansion of my world of knowledge and experience and the shape of my brain. I spent forty minutes the other morning going out for a run, which was nice but the muscle development in my legs was only a minor side benefit compared to the time spent outdoors in the fresh air and the audiobook I was engrossed in.

I run to keep my brain from short-circuiting and destroying itself, to keep my metabolism high enough to enjoy these scones in the morning and a glass of whiskey in the evening, to ready myself for a ten-day backpacking trek with my dad this summer, and to get my energy levels a fraction closer to that of my kids. A rear end that my husband still admires is a nice touch, too, but I secretly believe he loves me for my mind. I also spent an hour and a half the other night reading photographer Sally Mann’s memoir and drinking the aforementioned glass of whiskey. Screw the Dailey Method, I’m stretching out on the couch.

When I see middle-aged women who are thin and shaped like rails, I think that often times they look brittle. Aging skin doesn’t go over long and lean bodies in the same way. A hard body is just that—hard, sharp and uncomfortable.
When my children sit down in my lap, I want them to lean into the softness of my stomach where they were once housed rather than six-pack abs. My arms are toned into the perfect shape for hugs and my breasts have served their worthiest purpose and been declared perfectly adequate.

Is this ageing gracefully? I don’t know. I think that has more to do with the way I treat people and build relationships rather than the way I treat my skin or build my muscles. Do I worry about how I look? Oh sure. I’m a human being and a woman in the world. But I’m ready to shed my identity of pretty and young, long and lean. I’m not totally sure what my description is after this, though I hope not to disappear entirely. Too often, I think that happens when women have children and then creep toward middle age. I hope that people will see me for what I create and not just the creation of my children.

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I dream that someday, fifty will be an age where women are seen as being regal and amazing lifetime creations. At seventy, she is beyond all value, because nothing is as cherished as a grandmother who is a treasure box of adventures, games, rhymes and memories. I will tell my grandchildren that I was once a lithe and lean dancer, but the beauty of the memory is the music, the dance and the swirling of silk and golden coins. This is what I want to hold dear, what I will deem amazing and magical—not the structure of my bones or the percentage of fat that clings to them. A well-shaped body is not what makes up a life. It is the body of memories that make a well-shaped life.

For more about my life and thoughts and other tidbits:
Running in the Rain and Enjoying Nature

Winter Picnic in Suburbia

Holiday Thank-you Notes