Holidays

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Christmas lights, Christmas miracles

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Greetings from my pit of convalescence.

On Monday, I came down with a bout of the Mighty Influenza, and while I’m mostly back to normal now, I still can’t breathe all the way to the bottom of my lungs. My house is littered with dirty dishes, blankets, dog toys, and tissues that as soon as I blow my nose into, Foxy tries to eat.

On Day 1 of this sickness, I came home from work early with heavy, achy limbs and a wicked headache. I felt atrocious. But as I made a beeline from the car to my front door, my only hope being the bed inside, I noticed something different about my house. And when I stepped up on the porch, I saw it.

lights

That, my friends, is my front porch wrapped in Christmas lights, and a note from an anonymous someone telling me to plug them in.

And then my heart exploded with sprinkles.

It’s no secret that I have a hard time with festive merriment; remember, “convivial hullabaloo just isn’t really in my nature.” And while I actually love Christmas lights, I would never, EVER take the initiative to put them up myself. The fact that someone (I still don’t know who) not only had the idea, but actually took the time to flash-decorate my house for me is one of the sweetest gestures ever offered my way.

When I plugged them in, all but one strand lit up, leaving a dark spot in the midst of the bright colors. No complaints from me, though – because given the lack of cheer that would otherwise be my front porch, 3 out of 4 strands ain’t bad. Even in the midst of my sickness, I proudly plugged them in every night this week.

Last night, I was finally feeling up for some social interaction, so I plugged in my lights and went out for a bit.

And when I came home, all of the lights were working.

Christmas miracles just keep happening.

Evergreen

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Major changes at work. The tragic death of a guy from my hometown. The Austin Sigg sentencing. Stress and uncertainty. Too many work dinners, not enough exercise. Men being straight-up disappointing. A puppy that barks from 4-7am. And a high of 20-freaking-degrees yesterday.

This week wasn’t my favorite.

Next week, the holiday season begins – which, in the past few years especially, has felt so horrendously sad. Who can celebrate when so much is wrong? How disingenuous can we be? Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is a cuss word. The weather outside is frightful, and I’m feeling rather spiteful. Follow me in merry measure, while the world kills all our pleasure. Faithful friends who are dear to us disappear to us once more. And will someone bring me some damn figgy pudding already?

The halcyon years are over. We know too much. And whenever the saccharine feels like overkill, I tend to overcompensate in the other direction – choosing the bitter over the sweet.

But, you know, I bought a pumpkin. And it’s still sitting in the middle of my dining room table, reminding me that this life is marked by seasons. While “autumn” makes me think of blazing colors, crisp air, and Anthropologie sweaters, “fall” feels like the beginning of deadness – the literal falling of what used to be so alive. And as I watch the world around me expire, trees stripped bare and everything left shivering, I remember that something has to die in order for something new to live.

So I’m trading in my pumpkin for my very first tiny Christmas tree. I have no tinsel, no lights. But I’m placing it on my mantle as a reminder of what is unchanging – an evergreen in the midst of transition – a sign that even when everything around is dying, some things are constant. And if we stick around long enough, something new is sure to begin.

After Thanksgiving, maybe I’ll start by hanging an ornament.

Cracking

Friday, October 18th, 2013

I’m not what you would call a “festive” girl. Celebration isn’t really my strong suit; I’m better at “mourning with those who mourn” and all that. Show me heartache and a cozy melancholy, and I’ll show you a girl in her glory.

Of course, if you know me in real life, you know that this is all a little tongue in cheek. I’m not perpetually crestfallen or colorless; on the contrary, in social situations, I can be downright chipper.

But then again… it’s a tiny bit true. I feel an affinity with the sufferers, a kinship with the woebegone. I have a hard time making merry. It takes alcohol to make me dance. Convivial hullabaloo just isn’t really in my nature, and never is this more apparent than when it comes to holidays.

I have long held to the vow to never get a Christmas tree. I’ve actually said it: “I will never get a Christmas tree” (and… there fell an angel). I own zero Christmas decorations – nor Easter or Thanksgiving or 4th of July and especially not Valentine’s Day. No cornucopias on my dining room table, thank you very much. No wreath on my door, no green plastic grass in a basket, no Nativity set, no jack-o-lantern themed anything. Please don’t come caroling at my house. Please don’t make me dress up for Halloween. Listen to “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”? YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.

But deep down, I know that this isn’t my true disposition. As much as this stoic girl hates to admit it, I was meant to be a celebrator. Scratch the surface, and you’ll see that my iron will is desperate to break. And I think it’s starting to happen.

The other night, I was at the grocery store and saw a bin of pumpkins. Before realizing it, I was inspecting them one by one and thinking how nice and autumnal it would feel to buy one. And then I did. I chose a pumpkin, paid for it, and brought it home where it’s now gracing the center of my table – a DECORATION to commemorate the SEASON. If that doesn’t scream “gaiety” I don’t know what does.

I am grateful for the people in my life who force me to celebrate. I recently told Mel that if I ever get married, I’m going to elope – and without skipping a beat, she said, “Great, I’ll come,” a lighthearted refusal to sanction my rejection of a party. I have friends who commemorate occasions with gusto and mirth, declining my own decline, enveloping me into the fun.

And little by little, my hard shell is starting to crack into a jack-o-lantern grin.

pumpkin

Re-solutions

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Last Tuesday morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and crawled back into bed. To be fair, this is what I do every single morning (don’t judge my self-indulgences, except when they include reality TV). But Tuesday was no ordinary day – Tuesday was New Year’s Day, which means I needed to make my New Year’s resolutions.

My resolutions. My re-solutions. My attempts to re-solve myself – because every single year, I think that I can. And every single year, I’m disappointed to figure out that I can’t: I cannot solve myself, no matter how many times I try. No amount of accomplishment, weight loss, or personal virtue can fix me, or any one of us.

Often, I wish that I could solve myself, because wouldn’t it be great to be in the driver’s seat of my own life. Wouldn’t it be great to call all the shots and know that if I tried hard enough, prayed hard enough, was good enough – poof – I’d be fixed. I’d be better. I’d be awesome. Best of all, I’d be in control.

I’m not big on poetry, but I remember William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus” from AP College English during my senior year of high school. An ode to self-reliance and resilience, the last two lines go:

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

I don’t know about you, but after all of my years of control-freaking, all of a sudden, that thought exhausts me. I do not want to be the master of my fate or the captain of my soul.

So this year, my “resolutions” are being reframed.

Don’t get me wrong – I have some hopes and plans for the year (climb 7 14ers, write 4 songs, run 1 half-marathon, have 0 nervous breakdowns). But if these goals come from a place of “because this will solve me,” then I’m going to wind up sorely disappointed – again.

So no more re-solutions. No more mastering my fate, or captaining my soul. Just some hopes, and daily little steps, and trusting that I’m exactly where I need to be in this moment, even if nothing is is “solved.”

Joy to the World Wide Web

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Thanks to our office Christmas lunch yesterday afternoon, I had the chance to spring out of work early and take myself on my standard 9-mile walk.

Wearing my new Patagonia Nano Puff jacket (which is the perfect weight and warmth for winter in Denver), I booked it from Sunnyside down through LoHi, across the Highlands to Sloan’s Lake. I looped the lake just in time to look back and see this sunset.

Given that the only daylight I see anymore is on my drive to work in the morning, witnessing this was a rare gift.

As I turned toward home and the light faded from the sky, I had the thought that an amazing(ly horrible) holiday album would be “Jolly Old St. Nickelback.” And as is the case with ALL of my genius ideas (trust me, there are plenty), I posted that very thought on Facebook this morning.

Little did I know that my friends would take it to a whole new level.

With a little help from my friends, I present to you:

Holiday Albums That Should (Never) Happen
What Destiny’s Child Is This?
We Three Kings of Leon
Mary J. Blige, Did You Know?
Santa Babyface
O Come All Ye Faith Hill
The Friendly Beastie Boys
The First No-LMFAO
It Came Upon a Midnight Everclear
Deck the Hall and Oats
Little Drummer Boyz II Men
O Come O Come EmmanuElton John

Joy to the World Wide Web, y’all. And joy to your Wednesday.

No-vember

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

If I happen to cross your mind during the month of November, this is how I would like you to picture me:

Yes.  Please picture me as a happy farm girl with a smile on her face (pig optional).  November will be a month of me keeping the cows and chickens from going to the dickens.

See, I’m feeling more at peace these days than I have in the past year and a half (in case you’re wondering, I credit counseling, the Bible, more sleep, and less alcohol).  I’m learning to be less anxious.  I’m learning to see situations that would usually make me afraid as opportunities to practice trust.  I’m learning that time doesn’t heal everything, but it does heal some things.  I’m learning that hope seen is not hope at all.

After spinning and striving and trying so hard to keep up with life, I find myself with a surprisingly (and blessedly) quiet month on the horizon.  In the spirit of simplicity, I’m choosing to keep it that way.

So Happy Halloween from “Farm Girl,” the only thing I thought to be – and I’ll see you in December.

Beauty for ashes

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Well, well.  Happy new year, all.  And just in time – I’ve never needed a new year so badly.  I was so ready to drop-kick 2011 Beckham-style out the door and usher in 2012, fresh, hopeful, and, as of yet, untainted.  Hallelujah and amen.

You may be wondering what life has looked like since I last blogged 9 days ago.  Or maybe you’re not (likely).  Regardless, YOU ARE GOING TO KNOW.

I wrapped up my job at Emma.
I flew from Nashville to Kansas City.
I snuggled my nephews.
I read four books in seven days:
– “One Day
– “Room” (the best book I read all year)
– “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
– “Incendiary
I ate so much cheese.
I slept full nights.
I played Dance Central on the X-Box.
We made it through the first “divorced Christmas.”
Things were awkward and sometimes painful.
But we did it.
And I love my family for it.
I drove from Kansas City back to Denver with Becca.
And Greebs and Toad.
Every day I declare war against dog hair.
I bought and assembled one of these.
Zion’s adoption was made official.
He is irrevocably a Parsons.
He is the best thing that happened in 2011.
I spent multiple days cleaning and organizing our home.
Four different sets of friends got engaged (including Greta, OMG!).
I got a new phone number.
And I start my new job on Tuesday.

I rolled into the new year a burning train wreck, having spent a solid two hours of December 31st on my bed in uncontrollable tears before pulling myself up by my bootstraps, throwing my body into the shower, and willing myself to go to a few parties.  It’s been awhile since I’ve cried so hard – the honest, gasping kind of tears, the sort that leave your eyes stinging and your entire face swollen.  2011 was a kick in the gut, to say the least – and a good, long cry seemed the most appropriate way to mourn what went down, and bid the year adieu.  With a bold middle finger.

But as I stared at my puffy, snotty countenance in the mirror, wondering how I was ever going to recover enough to show my face at these parties, I remembered the part in the Bible about how those who grieve are given beauty for their ashes, and joy for their mourning, and peace for their despair.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to go slinging around scripture insensitively – especially when it comes to the big, weighty things.  Life is too hard and people’s hearts too fragile to offer Bible verses as mere Band-Aids.

But I have to say – if it weren’t for this idea, that God takes the burning wreckage of our lives and gives us beauty instead, I would have no hope.  None.  The fact that he can take the hopeless cinder pile of my heart, and transform it into something not only worthwhile but beautiful… well, this is where I’m staking my hope.  And they say that where you place your hope, that’s where your joy will be found.

So, onward.  New year.  Same old me, but new hope.  Hopefully.

Mix and mingle

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Me: “Hey Micah, do you know what D.O.B. stands for? Hint: it’s something they ask you for at the doctor’s office.”

Micah (8): “Oh! Di-O-Betes.”

– – – – – – – –

Mom: “Mix up your soup.”

Tyler (6): “Yeah – mix and mingle in a jinglin’ beat.”

– – – – – – – –

And Zion’s hair is showing early signs of becoming Kid ‘n Play.

– – – – – – – –

This weekend, I’m wishing you laughs in your bellies, peace in your hearts, and as few listens as possible of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”

The land for which I’m meant

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

For being a self-proclaimed control freak, there are a lot of things about my life that I did not plan, that I could not have planned.

I’ve experienced:
unachieved goals
unanswered prayers
unfulfilled dreams
mistakes
defeats
derailments
dead ends

I’m sure I’m no different from anyone reading this when I say that I have not always gotten what I wanted.

But I’ve also experienced:
surprises
provisions
little graces
big graces
friendships
victories
adventures

I don’t understand it.  I can’t see the pattern or the grand design, and I have no idea where this life will lead – is leading.  Half the time, I am bumbling around in the darkness, just praying that I don’t stumble off a cliff and splatter at the bottom of the canyon like a farm egg.

But even in the midst of the confusion, I can recognize that there are things to be thankful for.

  • I am so thankful that somehow – somehow – I live in Denver, Colorado.
  • I am so thankful that my family is, for all of our brokenness, made up of the people who are in it.
  • I am so thankful that I have a body that works, that will run me 13.1 miles in Seattle on Sunday.
  • I am so thankful that I work for an amazing company in a job that provides me with enough (more than enough, come on) income.
  • I am so thankful for car insurance and that the fact that my car was stolen means that I am lucky enough to own a vehicle at all.
  • I am so thankful for the friendships that have carried me, encouraged me, and sustained me.
  • I am so thankful I did not marry any of the men I thought that maybe I could have married (sorry, guys, but I really am).
  • I am so thankful for my cities – Seattle, Nashville, and Denver – and that all three are equally “home.”
  • I am so thankful that my plans are not The Plan.

I am so thankful for the twists and turns, the things I could not have predicted, the “no”s when I wanted “yes”s, the tears when I wanted joy, the loneliness when I wanted companionship, all of which have propelled me further down the tracks through the land for which I’m meant.

And I’m thankful for you, known and unknown readers, my companions on this written journey.  I wish I could bake each of you a pie.

Happy Thanksgiving.  May our hearts overflow with gratitude even for the things that we don’t understand.

Holiday weekend airport pickup

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Julie: “What color is your car – red?”
Me: “No – dark green.”
Julie: “Oh!  Samsonite – I was way off.”