pranks +mimicking = vandalism and stupidity which leads to “Citizen’s arrest”

Hey! HEEEYYYY – –
BARNEY! You made an illegal u-turn YOURSELF!
You’re breakin’ the law, and so I, as a responsible person, need to arrest you!
Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!

Gomer Pyle


(1963 episode Andy Griffith Show)

I grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show.
A time when you really didn’t have to worry about what was on television and what
your children would be exposed to.

Despite growing up in an expanding city, as a young girl, I felt a lovely familiarity with the show.
Our world was still somewhat small despite our living the city life.

It was a time when we were urban yet still maintained a rural feel.

Walking down a dirt road with a fishing pole, skipping rocks on a pond did not feel far removed.

One of the funnier episodes, that has remained etched in my mind, was the 1963
episode where Gomer uses his right as a citizen to make a citizen’s arrest against the
inept deputy Barney Fife.

I can still hear Gomer hollering “Citizen’s arrest, Citizen’s arrest” when Barney
made an illegal U-turn in the patrol car.

To this day I so often wish I could slap a blue light on the top of my car,
just like Kojak would do in his unmarked police car, going after the idiots on the street who seem
drawn to my direction like a magnet.


Who loves ya baby?

I’d be screaming “Citizen’s arrest” while nabbing the idiot who was on his cell phone
(which is now against the law in Georgia) while he was driving and weaving over the
yellow line, making a beeline right for my car in the opposite driving direction.
A narrowly missed near head-on encounter because someone was on a cell phone,
driving—when it a violation of the law let alone endangering other drivers.

Sadly my only recourse is to blow the horn and swerve.
Praying the idiot misses me.

Recently, I caught a news story regarding the latest Sandra Bullock Netflix series where
much of the action takes place with the heroine and family being blindfolded.

I watch very little television so this latest show is not something I care to watch…
but the fact that the producers are now having to issue a warning…
“Please do not do this at home” is sadly a sign of today’s pure idiocy.

Who in their right mind thinks mimicking the plot of a movie, like driving blindfolded,
or doing any sort of activities blindfolded is a good idea??

So today I went to get my hair cut.
The gal cutting my hair proceeded to share a story regarding a local
grocery store we both frequent.

She told me a rather unsettling tale while offering a warning.

She told me that she had made her way past the produce section and the meat section
and was now working her way toward the dairy section.
Doing what we all do…zeroing in on our own quests while staying in our own little zone.

It was at this point when she noticed a young teenage male pulling his empty cart
right up beside hers.
He was on his phone while he proceeded to reach into her cart,
grabbing out a bag of oranges which he explained he needed…
and so he was going to simply take hers.

My friend thinking quick on her feet pulled the bag back out of his cart,
replacing it back in her own cart while telling the young man that that was great but
that he would have to go back to produce to get his own bag.

He next told her he was posting her to Youtube.
Her response was…”Oh no you are not!!”

He kept repeating that he was posting since she agreed.
She continued with the “I DO NOT AGREE”

She found a manager and explained what happened.

The manager explained that there seems to be a troubling a new trend of kids
coming to grocery stores while wanting to create “pranks” in order to post
on YouTube.

The kids will head to the dairy section where they grab gallons of milk and smash them
on the floor while filming with their phones in order to upload to Youtube.

Prank or vandalism?

Vandalism I say.

The manager found the kid, along with a friend, who both wanted to know why they
couldn’t record their pranks and why would the manager be throwing them out?

Really???

How about harassing paying customers for starters?

The manager kicks them out of the store and watches as they proceed to make
their way to Target. The store manager calls the Target manager to explain
what’s coming his way.

What about vandalism, the destruction of property, theft, harassment, loitering…

What does any of this have to do with silly pranks—
Nothing.

I’m not a prank fan.
I’m not a fan of fine lines.
I’m a black and white kind of girl.
That it is or it isn’t mentality…

Just so everyone can cash in on the 10 minutes of a million likes of fame.

There is obviously a very fine line that our misguided youth seem to be missing…
One that has me screaming “Citizen’s arrest!!!”

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

the underdog who wants its Sunday’s back

But I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be..
.

White Flag lyrics by Dido

The great danger for family life,
in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence,
lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.

Pope John Paul II


(Alice, our grand-dog, is not an underdog necessarily, rather a very much loved dog
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

I have always been a person who likes to pull for the underdog…
that team, group or individual who has the odds stacked against them, him or her.

Maybe that’s because, as a wife and mother, I have often felt my brood has
at times fallen into the category of the underdog.

Those who stare from the bottom of the barrel upward at those perceived to be bigger,
better, brighter, smarter, richer, luckier, more successful, more this and more that.
As the bottom is pitted against the upper—
with the odds never being good or favorable.

Maybe it’s that little college team that has no chance playing against that top
ranked huge opponent but who must play anyway…all in order to bring much needed
revenue in to their less advantaged school.

They are out coached, out weighed, out numbered and out financed..
To play is a risk both physically as well as mentally…but nonetheless,
play they do.

They go forward despite the odds.
The roll up their sleeves despite the inevitable.
They hold their heads up knowing they will soon be knocked down.

Yet there is never shame in trying and holding ones ground.

And so when I read the latest post, of which I have provided the link…
a post from a delightful blog I follow—
a blog that doesn’t post often, but when there is a post, it is usually very profound
and or powerful….
I was reminded again of why I like an underdog….

The blogger and family wouldn’t dare consider themselves profound or powerful—
for theirs is a simple sort of life but one that possesses a deep
rooted spiritual faith.
They are a Catholic family living in the shadows of Notre Dame…
who are just one more link in the chain of defenders of this collective
Christian faith of ours….

Thoughts from the side of the House…..

America Implodes on “Black Friday”…. Meanwhile, POLAND Leads the Way Towards Sanity

This post captured my feelings exactly of how I feel not only about Black Friday
but how I feel as to how America, along with most of Western Civilization, has turned
Christmas into something totally unrecognizable.

And maybe that has been the goal all along.
No longer is it Christmas as we thought we knew Christmas…
but rather it is a “winter” moment, or if in the Southern Hemisphere,
it is a “summer” moment…a moment that just so happens to have copious gift
giving attached.

And just when we thought the world had gone mad with all things materialistic
and secular… in steps the often mocked, maligned and overlooked nation of Poland.

I have written about Poland before, for various reasons.

I don’t think many of us living in this Western Civilization of ours actually
realizes the debt of gratitude we truly owe to Poland.

Poland for well over 1000 years has stood on the defining line between
Western Civilization and all sorts of barbarism, communism, socialism, Nazism, totalitarianism and now secularism.
For every ‘ism’ out there—Poland has stood against it as the defining line
of right verses wrong.

Poland was the line between the Mongols, the Saracens, the Nazis and the Communists…
just to name but a few of the invading hordes whose sites were always set on
freedom and democracy.

But Poland has said “NO!” time and time again,
even at the greatest cost to herself and her people.

She sacrificed herself more times than not…and yet was the butt of
every American’s jokes in the late 60’s and 70’s…
“how many Pollocks does it take to unscrew a light bulb?”
You remember the jokes.
Even Archie Bunker of All in the Family fame helped fuel the ridiculing fires.

Yet it is to Poland and her people who those of us enjoying life in the Western World
owe a great deal of gratitude to…
gratitude for the very freedoms we each enjoy today as it was Poland who stood on the
defending line of “us verses them” for over 1000 years.

Selflessness verses the often sought self preservation

She has even disappeared off the map more than once when she was gobbled up by
usurpers who ate the nation and her people only to later spit them back out.
A sacrifice made and given as that has been her lot and her role.

When we think of mighty nations, Poland does not come to mind.

Yet it was in Poland that Hitler had the majority of his Death Camps.
And it was Poland who was sacrificed to Stalin by Roosevelt.
And it was Poland who stood up to the mighty USSR.

And it is now Poland who wants her Sundays back.

Sundays back you ask…???

Sundays yes…because out of all the nations, Poland is still considered to
be a decisively Christian nation.

No other nation is considered such—not even
France, Ireland or Italy…as most of the the West, along with most of North America,
has fallen to the god of all things secular.

Here in the West, we have gotten quite accustomed to living life 24 /7
Meaning we can go, do, buy, see whatever it is we want on any given
single day of the week.

It use to not be that way.

Sunday was the sabbath….
It still is but most folks have forgotten that little fact.

Most everything was closed in observance of the Sabbath.
People were off from work, they would attend church, they would spend time
visiting, eating together, being a family together….

In the West we had what was known as blue laws—laws that restricted certain
activities on Sundays as Sunday was to be a day of Christian religious observation.
Malls were closed, banks and the Post offices were closed, many stores were closed,
bars were closed, most restaurants were closed, the sale of beer, wine and liquor was prohibited…on and on it went.

Then that all changed.
For a myriad of reasons— profits, selfish wants, greed…
The notion of wanting and having when and how one wanted things took precedence.
Laws were changed.

But Poland wants to see all of that changed…reversed back to Sunday being a day of
reverence, a Sabbath, a day for family….
“Just this week the lower house of the Polish parliament passed a bill to phase out unnecessary consumer spending on Sundays.
The law would curtail most shopping in order to allow the Polish people
to spend time with their families.”

Once again, Poland, that underdog of nations, demonstrates that despite being small
and considered by others as less than….no one will ever say that Poland is afraid
to stand up against what she perceives to be wrong,
standing even that means she stands alone for what is right…..

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

joy….to give or to receive…

“I don’t think of all the misery,
but of the beauty that still remains.”

Anne Frank


(the work of a day / Julie Cook / 2017)

Thanksgiving afternoon, I was complaining to my daughter-n-law, dreading the notion
of having to begin the yearly arduous ritual, of “putting up” Christmas.
Some people will go into a feeding frenzy of all things consumerism and
I will go into light mode….

“Why do we do this?” I lamented.
“Why do we work our butts off, schlepping stuff up and down from basements
and attics every year….

Why do we move all this stuff in while moving all the other stuff out…
making way for holiday paraphernalia…
just to turn around to then put it all away again in just a couple of weeks???”

I lament so because I am the one who pretty much does it all….
all the lights,
all the decorating,
all the tree,
all the buying,
all the wrapping,
all the cooking,
all the cleaning etc…
because bless my husband’s heart,
he runs a retail business.

Suffice it to know that our lives are not our own right now…
nor will they be…not until about the middle of January.

Neither my husband or I truly “get” this Black Friday absurdity that consumes
this nation of ours.
He does nothing out of the ordinary for it and I don’t even acknowledge it.
Something about the wantoness of all the materialism consuming this country of ours
just oozes of emptiness.

Why do people stand in line for hours on end when they should actually be
home just enjoying Thanksgiving, family, time off, being outside, being inside, being someplace other than a strip mall, a big mall, etc…
oddly preferring to scoop up “stuff”????
Stuff no one really “needs” to survive.

Places like Syria just keep coming to mind when I see cars parked 4 deep,
wrapped around parking lots, just so folks can buy a flat screen TV or clothes,
a mixer or whatever it is they think they JUST have to have in order to survive Christmas…
along with all the other trivial things no one really needs in order to survive.
Like I say, I just don’t get it…..

So my daughter-n-law reminds me, “well you know he really does appreciate it”
He being my only child and son who was born a week before Christmas.
Christmas is his official holiday….but certainly not his dad’s.

The night our son was born, oh so many moons ago, in the wee hours of a December Monday morning…my poor husband had to leave us shortly after the birth so he could go
open the store and work all day…after having been up all night.
Missing his only child, his new son’s first day of living…
He is remorseful all these many years later, but it was how he fed us,
and for that we give thanks.
Yet how does one ever get back time?
They don’t.

In this family of ours, there is definitely some resentment concerning the consuming madness of holiday shopping…. on all sorts of levels…
and yet our son just adores Christmas…what are those odds?!

Sigh…..

So as I was lamenting, my daughter-n-law tells me about a movie they recently went
to see —-a movie I would never ever consider watching.

They are only in their late 20’s—they watch things on television and at the movies
that I pretty much consider toxic—
of which I hope they too will soon realize as toxic…but until then,
I just pray….

My daughter-n-law relayed a line from the movie which actually resonated with me….

She said that in the movie the main character was grousing, much like I was, about
this whole Christmas business.
In walks the mother who deadpan responds….
“don’t you know, mothers don’t receive
joy, theirs is but to give joy”
(a paraphrase)

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

An understanding as to what exactly a lot of this is really all about.
It hit in certainly not a martyresque sort of understanding…but a deeper sense of understanding.

It is an understanding that none of this is about me….never has been.

It’s not about what “I” can get,
not about what I can buy,
not about what I can have….
nor is it about what I want….
but rather it’s about what I can give.

It’s about the ability to give verses the ability to get and receive….
And that giving has nothing to do with stuff—not of things gathered
from a store, or from on-line or from any place else for that matter.
Nothing tangible….

It has nothing to with with savvy shopping, marketing strategy, deals, door busters
or the madness that has become what we know as Christmas in the modern world.
A time that won’t even allow most schools to utter the word “Christmas”
but rather “winter break.”

What this season is about…isn’t about all this decorating,
or about all this consuming, or about all this buying and wrapping of “stuff”….

It’s not about the amassing or consuming….or materialism.
It’s not about the biggest gift, the best deals, the nicest trip to some
exotic wonderland.
Rather it’s about what we can offer and what we can give…

Because the original notion of this holiday Christmas business wasn’t about
Black Fridays and sale margins…it wasn’t about cyber Monday’s or on-line surfing…

It was about a gift…. but not a gift in the modern mindset of what constitutes
as a gift…

It was a single tiny gift that was actually given in order to save…
to save both you and I, as well as all of mankind, actually from ourselves….

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything
we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..

2 Timothy 1:9

the hustle and bustle of the 4th Sunday in Advent

Just a hurried line…to tell a story which puts the contrast between our feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly “Xmas” racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, “Oh Lor’! They bring religion into everything. Look – they’re dragging it even into Christmas now!”
~ C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, Dec. 29, 1958, p80

DSCN0263
(St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As Christmas day draws nigh…
As you busy yourself with all that must be done…
As you hurry here and there…
Checking off your list each item one by one…
As you travel… drive, fly, rail, sail and wander your way to there and yon
As you wonder what will fill your day come Friday…
Who will you see, what will you do, where will you be….
Make certain that you stop, standing very still at some point along the way…
Being ever mindful, taking hold of what is at the very heart, the epicenter of this season of merry and bright, waiting and watching…
What it is that makes this season as exciting as it is…
Not the visit from Santa
Not the gifts all wrapped up under a tree
Not the lights nor all the decorations
Not the visits from family and friends..
but rather the something, or more exactly the someone, who makes this all exactly what it is…and that being…
Yeshua ben Yosef…
The Christ…

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.

(Micha 5:2)

#OPTOUTSIDE (ps. I don’t tweet)

“Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp…”
Elbert Hubbard

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(Killarney National Park, The Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Most of you know I’m not a participant with this whole social media business…
This little blog being my sole contribution…
And whereas I am not a big fan of this global obsession, I was however taken aback recently by something that quickly caught my eye…

Most of you know that I also despise this whole “black friday” materialistic consumerism fanatical obsession business that is sadly indicative of our country’s “gotta see it, gotta have it” shopping and gathering addiction—a time when “normal” folks turn into “zombiesque” crazy people who think standing in long lines, pushing and shoving at the crack of dawn, or the wee hours of the night, while waiting to “get a deal” which if the truth be told is really no deal at all as you should begin to consider the mark up of everything you want….is the quintessential good time idea of Thanksgiving….

Somewhere along the line someone has fed us all a crock of crap trying to tie in manic behavior with a day that was originally set aside for all of us Americans to remember what it is that we are truly thankful for….

enter the tweet—- #OPTOUTSIDE

REI, a national outdoor enthusiast shopping haven has taken a bold step this “black” Friday and I for one applaud them wholeheartedly.
This large-scale retail business type company, who would normally be setting up their door-busters, their markdowns, their sale items, their on-line cyber sales, their sea of employees hired to handle the onslaught of shoppers… yada yada yada…., are closing all their stores nationwide Friday with the hashtag line of “opt outside”

The gist being—they are encouraging everyone to stop the madness—
Rather than heading out for hours on end, shopping till you drop, thinking you have to have these items for survival, thinking that you’re saving and beating the markup game, leaving friends and loved ones in your wake as the dust flies off your wheels as you race out of the house to the mall…spending countless hours caught in traffic, spending money you really shouldn’t waste, circling like a buzzard in search of parking, lingering in lines for hours with folks who will quickly push and shove you out of their way…are instead encouraging everyone to head outside to the great out of doors in order to try something new and novel—-enjoying being outside.
You remember–fresh air, Mother Nature, up, out and moving…

May we all consider what is our true priority this holiday season…

http://optoutside.rei.com/join-us/

Unique

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
Viktor E. Frankl

IMG_1367
(spotted at the grocery store this morning / Julie Cook / 2015)

Growing up in Atlanta in the early 1960’s, the most exotic and unique fruit I can recall is maybe the occasional container of raspberries. And of course purple grapes may just have pushed the envelope as we were more accustomed to the green variety. Purple grapes had seeds and mother knew better than to buy grapes with seeds.

For whatever reason when I was little, I always enjoyed playing tag-a-long with my mom when she’d do our weekly grocery shopping. Dad kept poor ol mom on an overtly tight budget so there was never any extra money for fun, festive or exotic items. Just our regular canned tuna, chicken, hamburger meat, bananas, milk, eggs, bacon and cereal. . .Lucky Charms if I was lucky, Captain Crunch if my brother was lucky. On the rare occasion, Mother would afford for our living on the edge by allowing us to choose a box of Raisin Bran.

Those were the days before the whole current “eat bran it’s good for you” movement– Mother didn’t want us eating lots of Raisin Bran because, well you know, that whole bran thing leading to excessive trips to the bathroom—- in my mom’s mind, getting “regular” spelled trouble. Regular was all fine and good, it was the getting to regular that she didn’t enjoy.

There were apples, Tang orange drink mix, Orange juice—the kind that came frozen in a can, Coca Cola, and when the season permitted, popsicles.
Typical 1960’s Americana vittles.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older, a young teen, that I actually started paying attention to the items available to the average shopper. There was actually a world out there of things from faraway lands. Picture the aisle offering “Chinese food”. . .Chop suey in a can. . .whoa. . .

As a family we weren’t known for our travels or adventures.
The grocery store was going to have to provide all of my little adventures.
And sadly it was obvious that I was wired from the get go to be adventurous–
my parents on the other hand. . .not so much.
I blame it on being adopted and on being Sophia Loren’s love child—
Remember, that’s just between you and me. . .Ms Loren has no idea. . .

These far away places and lands called out to my young imagination through the offerings found in a grocery store.
Yet sadly the closest I had ever come to exotic lands and foods was from a roll of tropical fruit lifesavers!

I keenly remember the day Mom let me pick one of each of the most exotic fruits the grocery store had to offer—a papaya, a coconut, a whole pineapple, a kiwi and a mango.
I eagerly brought each fruit home as we, she and I, proceeded to have a true taste adventure.

I’ve never bought a whole coconut or papaya since as the coconut required a screwdriver and a hammer and I simply was not a papaya fan—not much for mangos either but I’ll eat them.

Let’s fast forward 50 years.

A grocery store today is truly a plethora of global sights, scents and tastes.

Pretty much anything you could think of is available. . .
Yucca leaves, rice noodles, Taro root, plantains, wasabi sauce, Israeli pearl couscous,
Mole sauce. . . you name it, if you want it, you can find it–
For all of us my friend, are living in the world of rapid import!

So there I was this morning ambling about the produce section, picking up a few Meyer Lemons, when I noticed a rather unusual fruit.
Now I’ve seen my share of star fruit, ugli fruit, passion fruit and even dragon fruit, but the Uniq fruit was a new one.

Looking like a cross between a giant overly ripe grapefruit and a lime, the outward appearance left a lot to be desired.
I stopped, moving in for closer inspection.
I was surprised to find it to be rather light, no heft of a juice ladened fruit–more wrinkly skin than firm fruit. It gave the impression that once peeled there may be but a thimble full of fruit hiding within the wrinkly citrusy skin.
Not feeling overtly adventurous today, I placed the Uniq back in the bin along with it’s kith n kin, and moved on to the more exotic cut up pineapples and containers of raspberries that I had actually come to purchase.

Yet my unique encounter with the Uniq fruit naturally took my mind to places besides the quest of fruit. . .

Let us consider each human.
Every human being has his or her own unique DNA, yet we are all of the people clan.
We are all pretty similar in our needs, functions, physiological makeup, physical appearance, albeit for skin coloring, hair coloring and texture as for a few subtle facial differences—but all in all, more alike than different.

And yet God, the Master Creator, knows each one of us individually.
All 7 billion and counting of us. .of you, of me. . .

7 billion plus humans and this God, this Creator knows, as in knows individually and intimately, each and every one of the 7 billion and counting folks?!”
Impossible?
Unreal?

It is unreal. . .unreal to wrap our minds around such a mind blowing concept.
That there is a God who is deep within each and every one of us.
For some of us, we already know this and cling to such a knowledge. .
For others, He is a non entity and yet. . .He remains. . .
No one is deemed unworthy, less than, too much trouble to bother with, too poor, too mean
too ugly, too hopeless, too old, too young, too smart, too ignorant,
too selfish, too self absorbed. . .

I ponder over our very being. . .
Our bodies
Our intricacies
Our ears, our eyes, our nose, our mouthes. . .
Our ability to taste, to speak, to touch,
To feel, to cry, to chew, to digest, to eliminate, to reproduce,
To feel empathy, to hate, to kill, to feel joy, to feel despair, to smile, to love. . .

The intricacies of the eye–the retina, the cornea, the rods, the cones, the ability to see color. .
The tongue, its ability to taste, to discern sweet, salty, bitter, savory
The heart which beats incessantly from womb, to birth, to death and yet it has the ability to love
powerfully as well as to break in half. . .

The finger with its own unique set of prints—no two prints are alike in all of the 7 billion plus people–and yet each finger has the ability to feel warmth, to be burned quickly, to sense that which is soft or rough, hot or cold. . .it is used to hush, to accuse, to lure, to soothe. . .

Has all of this merely evolved for survival
Or
Was it created individually, similar and yet unique. . .
Beautiful
Precious
Loved. . .

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17:21

The difference between us and the trees is not just the nuts.

“And then Jonah heard God’s voice.
“Jonah, do you know what the difference is between you and the trees?”
He was confident it was God because God usually asked questions but gave no answers. Jonah didn’t need a divine answer to this question, he knew it.
“Yes,” he said. “The difference between me and the trees is that the trees let go of their leaves. I keep holding onto mine. The trees make room for new life. I don’t.”

― David W. Jones, Going Nuts!

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I absolutely love this little quote. I found it while looking around for a new insightful but lighthearted new read—this time of year, my mind oddly turns to mush with the body merely waiting to follow suit. Which just might have something to do with the endless jaunts to this store and of the endless searches for a parking space that is within a mile of the door to the store—even parking at the grocery store seems to be along the lines of Mission Impossible. Let’s not discuss traffic shall we, as it seems to only intensify during this time of year–the roads full of panicy idiotic shoppers. There just seems to be a heightened sense of anxiety out on the streets.

Madness is all about this time of year as people seem to have lost all sense and sensibility. Why is it that we spend almost a year’s salary in all of about 2 weeks–buying “gifts” for everyone we seem to know, doubting our original choices, only to dash out again, adding to the burgeoning sacks of the “perfect” gifts squirreled away as they await the ceremonial wrapping? And why is it that we spend hours (mothers and sales folks) laboriously encasing said gifts in yards and yards of colorful papers, struggling with ribbons, tape and bows just to have that artistic hard work torn off in mere seconds—why is that?

Why is it that we will get out of our car, in the middle of the mall’s parking lot, in order to drag the driver of an opposing car out by their collar, in order to beat them silly as they dared to “take” the parking spot we had been eyeing for the past 40 minutes as we circled the parking lot like a buzzard?! Why is it that just as we reach for the perfect size of the perfect sweater, which is the only one left on the hanger in that perfect size and color, it is suddenly pulled away by a little old lady who shoots a look as if to say “I’ll beat the crap out of you if you don’t let go”—

The madness has even filtered here to the bastion of civility, my house, my home. As I was making my 15th trip from the attic last weekend, carrying musty treasure box upon box, ladened with the Christmases of ages past, I ask out loud, for no one in particular to hear but me, “Are we having fun yet?”
I answered.
What is it they say about talking to one’s self??!!
It’s ok until you start to answer. . . hummmmmm. . . .trouble may be brewing. . . and by the way, “NO” was the answer.

Five of the dearest people in my life have birthdays within the next week, with the last one falling actually on Christmas day itself—My son, his fiancé (what are those odds?!), my godmother, my godfather and my stepmother. So not only will I be buying the perfect Christmas gifts, I will be buying the perfect Birthday gifts as I prepare 3 perfect birthday meals complete with 3 perfect individual cakes.

But what type of cakes. . .hummm. . . Rum cake sounds fun—might as well make something “medicinal”—a little for me, a little for the cake, a little more for me a little less for the cake—wasn’t this a full bottle of rum? Suddenly the room is spinning. . . maybe chocolate will be a safer bet.

I’ve always been bad to put pressure on myself to make things “magical” for those I love while, in the process, killing myself. Last year I thought it would be so magically special to order our son some little Austrian doozie of a cake–the picture just looked so pretty.
“Didn’t you like your cake, you hardly touched it?”
“Mother, you know I just like your cakes, this one is way too rich”
Oh well. . .so much for special and perfect.
Why is it that I feel the need to make each occasion so very special I wonder? I realize I don’t delegate, I never have been very good at that. I tend to hold on to the whole kit and kaboodle—only to wonder why it is that what I’ve done is simply nothing like the picture of perfectness as seen in the image of the magazine or book—and lets not talk about things like Pintrest that has all the younger generation attempting their hands at magical. . .

Maybe I need to blame the Diva of Domestic Goddess Bliss. Miss Perfect of the house and home. Her magazines, television shows, her guest appearances on the morning news shows—she’s everywhere, along with her perfect self and perfectly beautiful condescending smile. Her coif perfectly stationary as she shovels the sh*# from the stalls of her thoroughbred stallions, while wearing her $500 Le Chameau muck lucks and beautiful name brand barn jacket and jodhpurs making even the shoveling of the s#*t appear to be a fine and manageable art (you are now hearing the heavy sigh of resignation). . .

As we now enter the long shadows of yet another year, may we all remember the true reason for our madness ( I do think love is really hidden in there somewhere)— May we lay the stress and the odd need to be able to “do it all and to do it all right now for everyone” down at the base of the tree, the makeshift altar of a season that has unfortunately spun out of control. May we learn what the trees seem to know better than we do, that the letting go of the old, in order to make way for the new, is sometimes more important than holding on to things and traditions merely for the sake of “because it’s always been done like that.” Change can be good and new traditions can be just as special as those long entrenched memories.

Those beautiful autumn colored leaves eventually turn brown, sadly falling away from the trees. . . but come Spring. . .the tender new bright green shoots are such a welcomed delight. Some things must “go” in order to make way for the new—despite our stubborn clinging and holding onto–children grow up and lives change—it’s not the perfection that everyone will remember but rather, it is simply the magic of being together–the laughter, the hugs, the conversations, the smiles on the faces as contentment creeps in from just the mere fact that we are together again. . .

May you all enjoy spending time, over the next couple of weeks, with those in your lives who matter the most to you. Forget the perfection of cleaned houses, beautifully wrapped gifts and magazine worthy food, just enjoy the moments of love and fellowship of your family and friends. Happy Holidays. . .now where is that recipe for that rum cake. . .