I promise to post pictures later but I did want to write this before I forgot to mention how proud I am of my child.
My mother always had very traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Me? Not so much. I tried the last couple of years to share my traditions and Juls very graciously participated. Did she like it? Not so much. Did I know it? Never. My child has very good manners.
Last year, at Christmas, she asked if we would like to come over for dinner which, while not traditional, was delicious. A good pot of beef stew (two different versions, no less) is the food for which winter was invented.
This year, she asked if we would like to come over for Thanksgiving. It was WONDERFUL! We had brisket, green bean casserole, apple stuffing, glorified rice, olives, and two desserts, one an absolutely terrific fudge pecan pie that she made from scratch. It was just the five of us and it was a wonderful, lazy (for me) day filled with family, food, and football...and the Cowboys won!
It turns out she never liked my tradition but was afraid of hurting my feelings. Rusty convinced her that it would be all right - that the kids were supposed to grow up and take over the hosting of the holidays. He was right.
She is doing a spectacular job of growing up. I am looking forward to the beef stew for Christmas!
Today marked the 12th year that Moose and I have shopped together for the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Granted, when he was 2 months old, he didn't have much of a choice. OK, he still doesn't have much of a choice but this year was SO good.
It is a rule of mine that everyone gets a hardcover book for Christmas - and this includes Angel Tree recipients. We also get a toy or two and then a complete outfit including jacket and shoes. This is the first year that Moose requested a specific book in advance. It was one that he just finished reading and really liked. It turned out to be the one that I had bought him for Christmas last year that he didn't want to read for the longest time. Then he needed to write a book report and his mother, unfair person that she is, required him to actually read a book he had not already read. Guess what? I was right. He liked it.
Anyway, I stopped on the way this morning and bought the book. Then we went to the toy store where Jeffrey lives and bought some military guys and military vehicles. Then we went to the mall, picked an angel off the tree and proceeded to shop. We always try to pick a child the same age as Moose and today was no exception. We used to go from store to store looking at different clothes and we always ended up at Sears. I don't even like Sears but for the last 5 years, that is where we have ended up. The young man we picked today wore men's size clothing but we still did all right. We got a pair of jeans, a short sleeve shirt, a long sleeve thermal, a jacket and a hat, all the correct name brand, for under $75. It is a running joke in the family that we (Moose's mom and I) are not allowed to geek out some other person's child.
We stopped then at the shoe store and got a really cool pair of "Shaq's" and then Moose saw a necklace with a cross and shield and wanted to get it, too, so the "OPC" (other people's child)would know that God loves him, too. Obviously, we got it.
We dropped all of this stuff off with the Salvation Army ladies and then got a cookie and some water. We picked up a couple of things for Moose's mom and then, hanging on a display in the store window, was the ultimate in geekiness - an argyle sweater vest. Moose's mom LOVES argyle and I asked Moose if I could geek him out for his mom's Christmas present. He agreed and even agreed to wear it "cheerfully and with a pleasant countenance". He does make my heart sing. I promise pictures after Christmas!
Mass this morning was very well-attended by the toddler population and their parents. About 6 rows ahead of us was a very cute little tow-headed boy somewhere between 12 and 18 months. He was very well-behaved and his dad and mom were just very calm folks. You know the kind. The surrounding toddlers ALL had pacifiers. We're talking somewhere around 4 to 6 other kiddoes, all within eyesight of the cute little boy, all sucking on their nasty, dirty pacifiers.
This baby did not whine. He did not cry. He did not fidget. He just stared. He stared first at one other child and then at another. He just stared. And his little face got sadder and sadder. I was trying to figure out when I had seen that face before. Then it hit me. He looked just like this:
Yesterday morning, I went out to breakfast with Shorty prior to a morning of errands and visiting. We went, as almost always, to the Ranch House. We sat in a booth and Joanne brought me coffee and Shorty a glass of water. Then Wayne (the Moon Man) came in and Shorty went table-hopping to visit and get caught up on what he had missed while he was gone.
All of this is to preface part of why this little corner of Texas feels so much like home. There is, at the Ranch House, a round table towards the front of the restaurant. I glanced at the table, through the salad bar and the grill area and just started smiling. There, at the table, were 5 or 6 of the elder statesmen from my parish and all of a sudden, it hit me.
They looked like my German uncles. I'm not sure why the identifier "German" is in there. I did not have any non-German uncles. There's just a look - a solid, trustworthy, stoic look - that I equate with my uncles and with a lot of the members of my parish.
Most of my uncles stayed in Iowa when Mom and Dad moved to California in the 40s. The visits, since everyone worked and money was never flush, were few and far between. They were, however, memorable. On my dad's side, I have very fond memories of Uncle Bud, who came out in the 50s with Aunt Eileen and my cousin Mike. On my mom's side, it would have to be Uncle Ole whom I remember the best. Uncle Ole and wife, Aunt Lorraine, came out several times but the time I remember the most clearly was the summer after Steve died and my oldest daughter was just a baby. My niece and nephew were visiting also. Uncle Ole was the penultimate grandfather. Kids and babies were drawn to him like ducks to water. The fact that he shared sips from his early morning schnapps probably didn't hurt. He was the one of mom's brothers who most resembled his dad, especially as he got older.
So, here I am, in a kind little corner of Texas. I belong to a church that, architecturally, is almost identical to the church I grew up in and is peopled by folks who look like family. No wonder I feel at home!
I was blessed, this morning, to be in class with some of my coworkers, more than one of whom is a veteran of our Armed Forces. We were talking about our veterans. I was telling them that my brother, a vet, had remarked that, although he served in the drafted Army, at least the guys only had to serve one tour of duty. We now have an all volunteer military and we just keep sending these guys back and back and back and back.
One of the guys I work with said that so many people, when they speak of veterans, think of WWII vets - the "Greatest Generation".
He said, and I could not agree more, that any vet, no matter when he served or where he served or how long he served or under what conditions he served IS the greatest of his generation. So here is to the greatest of all the generations - here is to our veterans.
Fun Monday is once again trying to survive, resuscitated this week by Sayre. Sayre would like to know, at the beginning of this month, what it is that we are thankful for.
There are a ton of things for which I am grateful; family, friends, our military, a job that I love, my critters (even the sick one), etc.
I am going to focus today on the town in which I live. I love this town. Like most Texas towns, ours is built around the courthouse square. We have a lovely old courthouse which is still serving the town. Our town is small enough to feel like a small town and large enough, as the county seat, to provide more than enough places in which I can spend my paycheck. We have more churches than bars and more schools than restaurants. We have original cobblestone streets downtown, pavement through town, and caliche roads outside of town. We have a bowling alley, a movie theatre, an aquatic center, a YMCA with a new weight room for the teens, a community center and a very active senior citizen's center. We have a terrific public library, a hometown newspaper, our own radio station and a museum. We have a new hospital scheduled to open next month and wonderful people to staff it. We have a new branch of Amarillo College about to begin construction. We are, in this economy, still growing.
Our service organizations provide just that - service. Tuesday is election day which means that the Kiwanis is hosting a pancake supper. The Methodist church always has a breakfast for the hunters on the opening day of hunting season. The VFW provides both a place for remembering our vets and teaching our youth to honor the flag. We also have Elks and Shriners, Moose and Knights, Pilots and study clubs, all striving to make our town an even better place to be. The community center, the high school, and the mart of Wal take turns sponsoring blood drives. In reality, the main problem we have in November is that, with so many churches and organizations providing Thanksgiving baskets, we have to make sure that the recipient families are not duplicated. Our youth are currently holding blanket drives, canned food drives, and looking for more ways to serve.
No, we are not perfect. Yes, we have problems. This is not the post for that. This is the post in which I thank God that I not only live in Texas, but in this little corner of Texas where, according to my daughter, the biggest problem is that the people are "aggressively friendly."
On Wednesday, I went to Lane Bryant to buy pants. Everything in the store was 40% off so I took a goodly chunk of change and went to buy 5 pair of black pants for work. I got to the store and there was one pair on the rack in my size. The nice lady checked in the back and found another pair. I bought both pair, different styles, and she commented that it was too bad that I was not one size smaller as they had "tons" of pants in that size.
I went home and put on a new pair of pants for class that night. They were loose in the waist, in the hips, in the thigh, and dragging on the ground. "Hurray," I thought. "I can go buy 4 more pair in the smaller size."
Today, I went to town to buy the pants. I got there and there were none in that size on the rack. A different sales girl asked if she could help me and I explained why I was there. She went to check in the back and I happily browsed, humming a little song under my breath. That is, I was humming until she returned and told me that they had NO pants that size. The girl who had waited on my 2 days ago was there and I turned on her and said, "But, SHE told me that there were TONS of pants in that size!" SHE went back to look and said that they were still there but that another customer had put 4 pair on hold until the 8th and she could call me if the customer did not pick them up. I told her I would rather she ordered me some and had them shipped to my house. She went to do so and then told me that the company did not have ANY in that size.
To say that I was not amused would be such an understatement. I left the store, rather loudly telling my husband that if I ever started to go in there again, he should shoot me.
We had lunch then with Juls and Rusty and it was a very nice meal. We laughed and snarked and solved the problems of the world.
Shorty and I then went to the mart of Wal to buy a steam cleaner for the carpet and a battery charger for the Lincoln so that he could go to a gun show with Rusty on Saturday. The cleaner, the liquid for the cleaner, the battery charger and a movie, along with a small cash advance came to a little over $500. This is not my complaint. My complaint is, that with 4 cashiers standing in the main alley waiting for customers, not ONE of them greeted us or asked us if we were ready or any other thing. We picked a line, the cashier rang up our purchase, I paid and we left. He never! smiled, made conversation, or asked any of the gazillion questions that I KNOW the mart's cashiers are supposed to ask.
I was so annoyed and so disheartened that I decided to make one more stop on the way home. I stopped at the United Grocery Store in Canyon, TX. I used to stop there almost daily but my job changed and I had not been there in a very long time. I walked in, browsed around and bought a thank you card and a couple of paperbacks. No fewer than 7 people greeted me. 2 cashiers asked if I was ready. The cashier I went to, Chase, was pleasant, conversational, smiling, efficient, and just generally nice. The girl who bagged my purchases smiled, spoke to me, and thanked me for my business.
The thank you card that I bought? It was to send to United because I had faith that their employees would still have the same wonderful attitude that they have always shown. The copies of the thank you card that I made after I wrote a little note? They will go to the home offices of Lane Bryant and the mart of Wal.
It's not hard, people. If you work with the public, smile. If you can't smile, get a different job.
...or how political correctness and self-esteem protection are ruining our youth.
I know a person who is 21 years old. She graduated from high school. She has held one job in her life and that for a total of about 4 months. She is currently receiving food stamps, WIC, medicaid, housing assistance and other assorted monies supplied by our government. Oh wait, that's us. Yes, supplied by us. All told, she is the recipient of approximately $1900 monthly in aid.
This person was with my child in a government assistance office today. My child was acting as chauffeur. My daughter mentioned that she felt awkward, since she had never taken advantage of public assistance. This person said that she really resented people who did.
I am not saying the people do not need help. People do need help. When I was 20 and widowed and left with a 4 month old injured child, I needed help. I applied for food stamps and got them. As soon as I got a job, I went to the food stamp office to tell them that I no longer required the help that I had been receiving. The lady there told me that I still qualified and spent some time trying to convince me to stay on them. I declined.
I think that maybe if we just called welfare, welfare, people would know that it was not an entitlement but an act of charity by those people who do support themselves and their families. As I used to tell my daughter, "You can call it a rock an elephant if you want to, but it doesn't make it so." So you can call it food stamps, but it is welfare. You can call it WIC (Women, Infants, Children), but it is welfare. You can call it Medicaid, but it is welfare. You can call it Housing Assistance, but it is welfare. And welfare is charity.
When I was little, I learned that the 3 theological virtues were faith, hope and charity and that the greatest of these is charity. Nowadays, I hear that the 3 virtues are faith, hope, and love and that the greatest of these is love. It is an act of charity, an act of love to take care of those who cannot care for themselves, be it permanently or temporarily.
I am not even going to address the fact that an unemployed, not making an effort to be employed, non-student is making as much in tax-free aid as I am making working full-time and paying the taxes that support her.
I just think that we are all so worried about not making someone feel bad because they need help that we have failed to realize that a great many of them don't feel bad. They think it is their right.