December Post………..Take One:
I feel as though I have been living out an entire year of my life in the very short span of a single month!!! Thanksgiving, a baptism, football, basketball, leaf raking, snow shoveling, pumpkins, Christmas tree decorating, a 50th birthday celebration, yet “another” Schultheis baby shower, Christmas parties and school plays, shopping, cleaning……………where oh where are Simon & Garfunkels “sounds of silence”?????!!!!! LOL
Let me begin with a photo of one of the ingenious and inexpensive gifts that Tommy requested for his 6th birthday. It all started when one of Tommy’s friends wanted to know what he wanted for his birthday and Tommy told his friend that he wanted a large box!! The friend’s Mom called Stephanie and it was confirmed that this was in fact Tommy’s wish. And so on the day of his party, Tommy’s friend did not disappoint.
The picture reveals the “box” after the creative genius of Luke, Tommy and the “babysitter Nana” (well now that I look at it…….it wasn’t all that “creative” or “genius”…….a few cut-outs here and there and a few marking pen inscriptions, but that is what you get when your Nana got a “D” in art!!) who all went to work to transform it into……….well……….you decide!! This was actually a brilliant request on Tommy’s part as the box entertained the Baird’s for days afterwards. It also brought back memories of a time when the Cliffords, Clarks and Hummers…..(the 60’s version of “the Little Rascals”)….. searching for some summer fun many,many years ago, would scavenge huge boxes from behind the old piano store on High Street and drag them back up Oakland Park to be converted into shops, houses or space ships depending on the whim of the day. It is refreshing to know that something so cheap and simple is still “in play” today!!
December Post……………Take Two:
This morning as I procrastinated in “putting my two feet on the floor” I mentally vowed that I would return to my blog and complete this post before the clock struck midnight on December 31st. Suddenly, the postman’s motto came to my mind………….wow!……….with a little play on words, I had accidentally stumbled onto a title for the post!!!!!!! Perhaps this is a sign, (I thought to myself) that I will now finally be able to sit down and put the chaotic but memorable month into some cohesive pattern. So here I go once again…………just please keep in mind that as I have given myself a deadline, the outcome may not be as polished as an OCD mind would prefer! LOL
Fingers tapping on the keyboard……………thoughts racing…………….where to begin??……………..clock ticking……………..pressure mounting…………….”Just start at the very beginning, a very good place to start“. Why thank you, Julie Andrews!!
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Ryan Walter Wallace was baptized into the Catholic faith marking the beginning of a life-long journey. Who knows…..perhaps his destiny may one day lead him into the priesthood, in memory of my dear Mom who always preached to her eleven kids……….”if you choose the religious life you will always have a roof over your head, food to eat and a vacation at least once a year”!!!!!! Ha, ha, ha…………apparently none of us “heard” the “call”, but you may not be too surprised to know that there were moments over these many years when each of us recalled her words with a bit of wistfulness!
Christmas gatherings soon followed. The Clarks have a gag gift party tradition that has evolved over the past twenty years. It began with a siblings/spouses/boy/girl friend-only invitation which then expanded to include the over “21-year-old” grandchildren who then became too numerous :) and so the party reverted back to the siblings/spouses and then gradually became inclusive of a few of our Aunts/Uncles/ and a cousin or two. This year as we looked around the gathering and noticed the absence of way too many departed loved ones, we joked that maybe it was time to re-invite those once upon a time “over 21 year olds” who have now become the “over 40 year olds”!! LOL Anyway, at this year’s party I did not end up with what could be best described as the “gag gift of my dreams” (LOL) I actually got down on my knees and pleaded with John (one of my rascally brother-in-laws!) to not trade with me, but to no avail!! I guess, in the end, my pathetic plea must have tugged at his heart-strings as he ended up presenting me with the “air-popper” gun as we were all preparing to leave for home…………………..I must say this gift has truly been a blast”!!!! ha, ha, ha! The other gift I received was from my brother, Bobby (who, by the way, I am so happy and proud to say, finished a six-week course of combination chemo/radiation therapy for cancer on the day of the party……..surgery and follow-up course of chemo will take place sometime in January…….prognosis good, but prayers always welcomed). The gift, as you will see in the pictures, is an authentically framed photo of Yankee great Lou Gehrig giving his infamous farewell speech in Yankee stadium. This photograph has been awarded a place of honor in my home so that anyone who comes down the stairs or passes from the living room into the kitchen must be reminded of Yankee greatness :).
The Schultheis family Christmas party took place in Cincinnati at Tracy and Erik’s last Sunday with an array of new babies, a slew of young kids, a host of “Millennials”, “Gen-Xers”, and of course us “Baby Boomers”. Santa (a.k.a. Richard) paid his annual visit and almost immediately after “Santa” had passed out all of his gifts to the youngest among us, someone spied a real live “rein”deer prancing through the neighborhood!! Christmas is truly a magical time of the year!
I hosted Christmas Eve dinner at my house with Megan, Jennifer, Jim, Christopher, Jessica and their kids. We feasted on a delicious prime rib meal courtesy of Uncle Bill’s Christmas gift to us, and, thanks to the Barefoot Contessa, the meat was done to perfection (well, I guess I should qualify “perfection”………….neither sons-in-law Jim, nor Joe, after all of these years of Schultheis family dinners, have ever been converted to our “medium rare” tradition!). And then, as Christmas Day dawned, an alert was sent out to all of the family, that my niece,Tori had come down with what we learned later was influenza A. Therefore, Christine and Jennifer made an executive decision to transfer the time-honored Clark family Christmas day festivities along with all of the food/drinks/etc. from the old homestead to Jennifer and Jim’s home. Poor Tori……….her Christmas was celebrated “in absentia” as her sisters, Leah, Katie and Erin brought along a framed picture of their little sister and made sure that the picture was situated in a prominent place at the Christmas meal and afterwards ceremoniously moved to where a group of us were playing a new word game, Speedeebee and moved yet again so as to be situated close to Tom who had broken out Olivia’s new guitar to lead everyone in a round of Christmas carols! All the while these thoughtful sisters had “pictures of the picture of Tori” taken so that Tori would one day realize what a great time she had the year of the Christmas of the influenza!!!
Two family birthdays followed right on the heels of Christmas Day. Joe ushered in his 41st birthday on the 26th and Jennifer’s 42nd birthday followed suit on the 28th. Jennifer’s birthday, however, took on a rather somber tone as Jennifer, Jim, their kids and several of us family members travelled to Barberton, Ohio to pay tribute to Jim’s mother, Kay who passed away after battling Alzheimer’s for several years. Kay was another of God’s “glass half-full” advocates……..she was a genuinely kind, carefree, cheerful person whose fun-loving nature and infectious smile will be greatly missed.
One little side story…………..on the last “TGIFriday grandkids” day before the Christmas break, Tommy and Sydney were sitting in the breakfast room with paper, pencils, marking pens and.a stapler. They would call out to me on occasion asking for a certain spelling of a word and then wanting to know where my Bible was………curious as to the nature of their project, I finally decided to ask what they were making. Tommy explained that he wanted to make a Bible with a cross on the cover and so Sydney was helping him by doing all of the drawing while Tommy dictated to her his version of the Bible. These pictures reveal the finished product. (FYI………I only helped them spell “reference” and “criminals” LOL!) One takeaway from this is the realization of how impressionable they are at their young ages. Tommy hangs on every word his kindergarten teacher says. For example, while I was engaging Luke, Tommy and Mayce in a conversation at dinner one night, Tommy surprised me by relating to me something he had learned at school that day from his teacher about “needs” and “wants”. He said to me, “I might “want” new tennis shoes now, but I don’t “need” them and my friend “wants” a new x-box, but he doesn’t “need” one.” Very enlightening………something I “need” to remember about how they are sometimes really paying attention to what we do and say!!
It seems fitting to close with this particular meditation, for just as Tommy and Sydney are learning important life lessons, I too, continue to learn. Many times over the past few years, I have gained insight that I wish would have come to me much sooner. I suppose that as our earthly life is but a journey and that whatever insight I have acquired was born of the experiences of my unique journey, I can therefore only assume that my understanding will continue to be enhanced as I persevere on the path God has set before me.
I am God your Savior. I guide you and teach you, so put your hope in Me all day long. I guide you according to My truth, and I teach you important lessons as you follow the path I’ve prepared for you. Because I am both your Savior and your God, I’m able to help you with the obstacles you will encounter. Your difficulties can even be blessings when they draw you into deeper dependence on Me.
It is important to have your hope in Me all day long. It’s easy to be confident and trusting sometimes-when you are well rested and things are going smoothly. However, when things get hectic or unpleasant, you often forget the object of your hope: Me. Yet this is when you need Me the most! So make it your goal to keep your eyes on Me all day long. You won’t be able to do this perfectly, but it is a worthy goal-one that gives focus to your thoughts. It also helps you enjoy My Presence as you go along the path of Life. from Jesus Today
Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:5
I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope…..You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 26: 8-9
P.S. Apparently, there is a budding comedic poet in the family who goes by the name of Christine!! While doing numerous loads of laundry after Christmas, she found herself muttering the following:
Twas the night after Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Hubby in his stupor and I feeling blessed
Had just gone to bed as the guests had all left.
Now we were nestled all snug in our bed,
While visions of Merry Maids danced in my head!
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter!
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Covered the spillage of the trash overflow.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
A giant snow plow! No Merry Maids here.
Oh, sure! They shovel and clear all the streets.
But what of my dishes, pine needles and sheets?
I was very discouraged as I turned around,
Then in Mary Margaret came without sound.
She had a broad….swiffer and a round little…pail
That swished when she moved like a pilsner of ale.
She muttered a lot as she scanned the big mess,
Then cleaned it all up and remarked, “Oh, God Bless!”
Her thumb on her nose, fingers waving above,
She looked at my hubby and stuck out her tongue.
Then we heard her exclaim as she rushed down the road,
Get outa my way or I’ll miss Glenn Beck’s show!!!!!!!!
P.P.S. Having successfully accomplished my self-appointed December 31st deadline……….I can now offer my heartfelt wish for a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 2014!!!!!! And one can’t usher in a New Year without a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”: