Friday, January 23, 2015

Hammer Down

I learned this early and I learned it well.

Never show your weapon until you're fully prepared to use it; then don't stop using it til you're done.

Thank God we had a relatively quiet, simple, and fairly joyful Christmas morning with the family.  With each passing year, but particularly with hindsight on '14, I am increasingly grateful for the times we spend together.

This season, without exception, has been rife with revelation.

Again, it's as I look back that I can see how this was coming on.  What seemed like an ordinary cough, what seemed like my usual tired finally revealed itself to be an actual case of pneumonia.  Within hours of the family traveling on after breakfast, I developed such an acute pain in my chest that I couldn't hold a glass of water.

Hindsight.  Thank You, God, for getting me through Christmas.

But I'm not really here to tell you about my ailment, except that this has been one of the weirdest spans of time I've known.

And I wasn't the only one ailing during this span.  My youngest g'babe had respiratory syncytial virus, not always awful, but often enough.  My oldest g'babe had the actual flu.  My daughter continued to languish in the deep thick of addiction and mental misery, so much that I can say no more than that for the triggering affects  ... hers, mine, possibly yours ...

And I really was so sick ~ not like cold or flu or even what I thought would be pneumonia sick.  I was just more out of it, exhausted, done kind of sick.

(This is fixin' to be some really depressing ___ for a minute, but I've found no other way to share all of this.  Commit or get off here, I reckon.)

There was some point in the midst of all of this at which I was overcome by a certain sense and an urge to scribble some things down, but like everything else including my worries, I was just too tired to lift any of it up.  There was some quality of the light in the room on this particular evening that invoked passage and I began my review.  Was I done?

(Sorry, folks.  I told you.)

I'm really not meaning to be dramatic, as I know that certain of my offspring would claim.

(Okay, maybe it's a tad dramatic, but I promise I've dumbed this down as much as possible.  It is what it is and still the truth.)

And the plain truth is:
I was wondering:
were any one of us to go within those moments:
had I said all that I'd needed to say?

We never know, any of us, when our time will come to leave this place.  I think that most of us, while we know not to take our time for granted, are not as practiced at the practice of not actually taking it for granted.

So time's come now to hammer down.  The thing I'm trying to say is that I've spent some time wondering... if I were to go or if any of you were to go, would I be leaving anything unsaid?

And I've concluded that whenever my time should come ~ or yours ~ I do hope we both know that I have, in fact, used my weapon til the very end.  I will have, in fact, completed my work.

See, it was my daddy who taught me about the use of weapons, and he, being so expert, so adept with guns and such, was loath to commit actual violence ... but words.  Oh, to use our words.

I don't always say the right things, but God help me, I've tried, and I'll try right up til the end.  Just like Daddy taught me.

Dear God, may the words that come out of my mouth serve the purpose you have assigned to me.  (And God help us all when I get it wrong.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Trigger Happy

My blogger dashboard includes at least a dozen drafts ~ some published works, later unpublished for various reasons; some begun works, never finished.  This piece is something I've been trying to produce since Christmas Day.  I've written, re-written, edited, re-edited, stacked paragraph upon paragraph of explanation, never attaining a lick of clarity.  Hopefully, what follows will not include any of the garbled mess I've constructed thus far and will just make the point.  It's time to just pull the trigger on this one.


We've had a dialed-down version of Christmas pretty much since our kids have been grown enough to splinter off and form even more places that must be visited for the holidays. They and the grandbabies come for breakfast on Christmas morning between the santa stuff in their own homes and the forty gazillion other places they'll have to visit on Christmas Day.

That's it.
Just breakfast.
A couple of humble gifts for the g'babes.
Not a lotta hullabaloo.



This year I caught myself in a peculiar pattern that I now realize I've been practicing for some time.  While my Christmas morning breakfast menu is simple and everything I need is here for days in advance, I almost invariably go bonkers on Christmas Eve and decide to make a whole slew of extra vittles1, having neither the time nor ingredients that I need.

No longer quiet.

No longer simple.

Now, this is the point at which all previous attempts to convey my thought have gone awry.  I think that here is where simple is really going to count so I'll skip all the textbook analyses and postulations.  Rather, I'll just tell you what I know to be true.

And you know this too:  I talk about myself a lot ... but I feel kind of at the center of it all, you know?  Like, I'm the source and axis of everybody's drama, sadness, neurosis, etc. ~ the supreme matriarch of a supremely dysfunctional family.

But I would like so much for things to be different.  I would like so much to bless my family, to BE a blessing to my family.  Maybe it's an extremely absurd effort, but I see the utterly absurd truth of it right there in the cranberry bliss bars.

There's something more to this pattern, though, and its genesis can be found in one of Melody Beattie's daily meditations, Holiday Triggers.

It was clearest to me this Christmas Eve when I gave the batter bowl to the g'boy.

Having grown up in a single Momma home, I had my share of (resultant) childhood troubles.2   To some, it may seem an ordinary thing, but for me, a batter bowl and beaters is an extravagant and lavish gift. When my momma handed those things over to my sister and me, it was, well, joy unspeakable! Delight, security, peace, love.  Otherwise, indescribable.  All of this and more, in those moments, dwelled there among the three of us.

I'm reminded of it every time I bake.

And therein lies my real goal, my honest-to-God-I-just-know-it motivation for wigging out right before my family gathers.

For all that's been wrong in the past ~ the childhood troubles, the bad days, the crappy years ~ I'd like so much to replace the [textbook analyses] with something that might trigger happy memories.  We've had a few of those too, after all.

I pray that all of you have happy triggers, and that if you don't, you find the will to make some.

1   I grew up country.  Do not correct me!
2   This is a necessary relational statement.
2a Her single Momma troubles deserve another post entirely.

Can't fail to share this post by Jen Hatmaker, a really good resource for anybody whose family struggles with big event days.