Saturday, November 28, 2009

hello holidays

There's not much of a transition between Thanksgiving these days and what's become the commotion of Christmas. Thanks have hardly been given, if given at all, before our culture says it's time to haul out the holly. The end-of-year calendar weeks have blurred together into what now is simply theholidays. It's up to us, my friends, to reclaim the weeks, days, moments of the season to spend in ways that are most meaningful to us. For you, that might mean making figure eights at the rink or a row of votive candles flickering above the kitchen sink. Maybe it's walking the labyrinth in the church courtyard during lunch hour or baking shortbread angels for the teachers. Pure contentment for me is watching a bowl of paperwhite narcissus grow and bloom in a winter windowsill. All you need is a handful of bulbs from the nursery, just about any old container, a bit of sunshine. And faith.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for all of the blessings of this life . . . the 83rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade . . . November sunshine and 60 degrees . . . Mom's turkey china and roasted carrots and mashed potatoes . . . Aunt 'Chele's cornbread stuffing and the best gravy ever . . . Walter expertly carving the turkey . . . Monteen's elegant dessert buffet . . . Uncle John in his eggplant-colored cashmere sweater, playing with the dog . . . cousins laughing . . . gathering around an outdoor fire pit with blankets and coffee . . . a late afternoon bike ride . . . sparkling pomegranate juice and nibbling on leftovers . . . James Bond marathon on tv . . . memories of a perfect day to keep in the heart forever.}

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thanks & giving

Wishing you a heart-filled holiday, finding joy in home and family and friends. Wishing you good food, safe travels, the feeling of being awash in gratitude. Wishing you a cornucopia of blessings, with plenty left over to share.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for The Shakespeare Stealer trilogy by Gary Blackwood, meeting the author and having the books signed . . . cheesecake made especially for a holiday homecoming . . . the annual 'Candemonium' canned food drive at A.G. Middle School and turkey drop-off on Wednesday morning}

Sunday, November 22, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for best friends of all ages and their precious daughters, too . . . an autumn bouquet made from natural finds foraged on an afternoon walk . . . tights making a fashion comeback just in time to make it a cozy winter . . . starting a Sunday night pizza tradition}

Saturday, November 21, 2009

kneeling at the world's altar

From the destruction and debris of Hurricane Katrina, artist Lori K. Gordon created mixed-media masterpieces like this miniature altar and showed the world how to salvage hope from the rubble. One of my most beloved possessions is a small ceramic altar my Italian grandmother kept in her home, the blessed Madonna with two kneeling angels and a votive candle. It sits on the dresser with necklaces around Mary's neck and earrings scattered at her feet, an icon of remembrance and reverence.

Priest and professor Barbara Brown Taylor has written a wonderful book called An Altar in the World, in which she talks about the places in her personal geography where she has met God outside of a traditional church setting: during an ice storm, at the clothesline, in the faces of other people. And she encourages us to think about our own altars. Yours might be in the garden, in a neighboring cubicle at work, at the stove, between the pages of a book like this one. Turns out, everywhere we are, God is. And the whole world is an altar.
{Thanksgiving: for good hot coffee and pumpkin waffles on a cold Saturday morning . . . All-Star football games, especially for the 12-year-olds in CYFL . . . a fresh coat of paint on the front door to welcome visitors}

Friday, November 20, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for Common Grounds Farm Stand, cultivating awareness and abundance for Charlotte's Urban Ministry Center . . . people with a sense of humor (thank you!) . . . The Little House on the Prairie series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder}

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for the True Blessings luncheon today to benefit Charlotte's Urban Ministry Center . . . The Soloist, book and movie . . . choosing simplicity}

Monday, November 16, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for sisters, especially mine who was born on November 16th . . . for the final home game of the Wofford football season and a particularly beloved senior player . . . for pumpkin pie to sweeten and spice an ordinary Monday night dinner}

Sunday, November 15, 2009

notes on November

There's something downright brilliant about November. Poet Christina Rosetti called the leaves 'copper pennies' and you'll fill rich jumping into a crunchy pile of them. Our third grade class painted a mural of the first Thanksgiving on brown butcher paper and I bet yours did, too.

Loved ones travel over the river and through the wood to gather together on the fourth Thursday. The Macy's Parade floats by as the turkey bakes. Our menu doesn't change much and neither, probably, does yours. Non-negotiables include the relish tray with olives and pickles and spicy peppers, fresh cranberry relish with orange rind, Dad's favorite pumpkin pie eaten cold for breakfast on Friday morning.

Geese migrate overhead in V formation, the moon glows through bare tree branches, frost covers the ground overnight. The only gifts exchanged are words of gratitude and plenty of hugs. November is a cornucopia overflowing with blessings, enough to harvest all year long.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for Veteran's Day and veterans everywhere, and for those on active duty now . . . the nicest note from an old work friend and collaborator . . . a spin through Chapel Hill on a blustery day, students dashing across campus and trying to dodge the rain . . . homemade soup for dinner}

Monday, November 9, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for college campuses with their sense of possibility . . . freelance work to round out the lean months . . . reading poetry over morning coffee instead of the newspaper}

Saturday, November 7, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for lighthouses and people who personify them . . . the Hundred Acre Wood, home to Winnie the Pooh and friends . . . nephews to make cupcakes for}

Thursday, November 5, 2009

there's an art to it

You have to keep practicing to get good at life, though, which can be a life's work in and of itself. Carve out time and paint in broad strokes. Be sure to add lots of color, find beauty in the details and joy in the process. Know that things will get messy! Don't focus on the finished product or what's come before. It's all here for you right now, on the canvas of today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for math teachers who inspire . . . The Mysterious Benedict Society series of novels for children . . . election day excitement}

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

{Thanksgiving: for an old Schwinn bike that rides like a charm . . . charm bracelets passed down from mother to daughter . . . Cuban food: shredded pork, black beans and rice, fried plantains}

Monday, November 2, 2009

I love a parade

Thanksgiving stamps from the United States Postal Service, something new this year. Brings back all of the third Thursday mornings in all of the Novembers, spent watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on television while making preparations for the big day. After all of the floats and bands and gigantic helium balloons came the grand finale on a sleigh: Santa Claus.  

Sunday, November 1, 2009

{Thanksgiving:  for all of the saints, both living and dead, who bless our lives . . . the season of gratitude cycling around again . . . a centerpiece of artichokes and pomegranates in a big brass bowl}