change vs tradition and why some things just seem to matter

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


(then and now—an enduring relationship—Elizabeth and Philip)

Change, they say, is the one constant we can always count on.
A constant that we human beings do not always embrace.

We all like knowing that some things will always be there.
Anchors, if you will, that help keep us tethered in the often tumultuous sea of life.
Life, it seems, is a place where we are often tossed about like a rag doll.
We yearn for the sights and sounds of those things we know and have known
that call out to us of the familiar.

I think we often call them “roots”…

Now granted a few of us embrace change, the truth is that most of us loath it.

Doors close while windows open—and yet trying to convince us that the closings
can be a good thing is an entirely different matter.

In yesterday’s post, I touched on the notion of tradition—
for me it was a bit of a family tradition…
Granted, it might be a tradition that is rooted in some good ol southern grease,
it’s a tradition none the less and one I’m glad to be able to pass on and share in.

I found that yesterday’s quote by Somerset Maugham, tradition is a guide and not a jailer
actually speaks volumes to the times in which we are now living.

And we are indeed living in some very strange times!!!

We have been pleading for life to become “normal” again, yet at the same time,
we are in the full throws of the birth pangs of unchecked helter skelter change.

It is a time when we see a society throwing out both the baby and the bathwater
along with anything else that speaks of where we’ve come from and of
the things that “they” deem as unnecessary baggage.

Tradition, to our society, is no longer seen as a warm embrace but
rather that of a jailer—a set of chains that must be severed and cut.

Be it a statue…
the name of a street or school…
a television show…
a movie, music, actors, actresses, musicians
values, morals, religion, et el.

If it was, it is to be no more.

And so it was with the recent death and passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, that
I was once again reminded of this notion of tradition and change.

For all of my 61 years, there are but a few things in this world that have remained constant.

Institutions really…

That of family,
Our Nation,
our three tier form of governing of check and balances,
the Seat of Peter…that of a pope guiding the Catholic Church,
and that of the British Monarchy.

And for those 61 years of mine, whereas various leadership has come and gone,
family has sadly come and gone, the map of the world constantly remains fluid,
the Queen, along her Prince Consort, have been what seems to be the only two worldly constants.

They wed 12 years before my birth.
She became queen 6 years before my birth, the same year my parents wed.

As far as I was concerned, she, and they, simply always…were.

Over the years the Royal family has ebbed and flowed in the fickled minds of “the people”
The relevance of a monarchy has often been questioned.
It is no secret that the Windsors are certainly a fractured family lot.
And why Americans should even care is an entirely different conversation.

And yet, Elizabeth and Philip have remained.

Philip, a bit of a curmudgeon, was known for having a wicked wit,
a twisted sense of humor who enjoyed telling off colored jokes and whose comments
would be often better kept unsaid.
Many often felt he possessed a sense of apparent arrogance.

He was assumed to be one of the haves in a world of have nots.

Yet I dare say that most generations after mine probably have no idea that Philip
was truly a product of the school of hard knocks.
His life really was that byproduct of a terrible dysfunctional upbringing.

Born royal, yet as a child he was stripped of home, throne and identity.
His family exiled.
His mother was institutionalized.
His father ran off with a paramour.
And his four sisters married Germans, moving to Germany and supporting the Nazi cause.

Philip would be left literally alone as a child.

He had no money, no home and no family to speak of.
He was the definition of a latch key kid…a kid with neither latch nor key.

He joined the Royal Navy at age 18.

He had no choice but to become a strong self made man—it was either that or
simply succumb to a cruel world, turn over and die.

I myself was not always a keen fan of Philip but this is coming from a person who
had never met nor known the man—so my perceptions came from things read and images seen.
No personal encounter so no real reason for a like or dislike.

But what I do know is that Philip believed in tradition–he was a staunch believer
of tradition and being disciplined by such.
Yet oddly, he was one who could also readily embrace change.

He demonstrated such an adaptation to change with a proclivity for the
rapid growth of technology.
Something that many of his generation often found confounding.

He also demonstrated his ability to change when the stability he had so yearned for,
found finally in his marriage and quickly growing young family, would be forever transformed.

Philip was a part of that Greatest Generation, having served as an officer in
His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
He loved the ocean and felt most at home when at sea.

He was athletic, dashing, smart and keenly disciplined.
He was a man’s man— a trait that this current culture of ours does not deem as
much of a positive trait.

Yet on the other hand, I for one find strong masculinity a refreshing and a most positive trait.
I believe in the importance of strong male figures in the lives of our growing children.
Our children so desperately need examples and guidance—they hunger for it.
They need to know and see what it means to be willing to go the extra mile.
They need to see sacrifice and even disappointment while one manages to keep that oh so
British stiff upper lip. Watching as one opts not to complain or whine…
but rather watching as one rolls up sleeves and jumps in with both feet…
and just starts doing.
Being proactive and not reactive.

Sadly and even oddly, it seems one grandson was lost despite having such a personal
stalwart example.

Philip demonstrated such perseverance when he gave up the Naval career he so dearly loved
in order to support his young wife as a newly crowned Queen.

Going from the head of his household to suddenly having to spend the remainder of his life
always walking one step behind his wife must have been demoralizing…
and yet he never skipped a beat.
We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but what we do know is that when
it mattered, Philip did what had to be done.

He had to renounce who he was, in order to become a young queen’s servant and consort–
renouncing himself only to have to reinvent himself.
That’s what true men do—

Elizabeth did not lord this over her husband, but rather keenly understood the mix
of emotions that came with the sudden death of her father the King and how that now
altered her marriage forever.

The important lesson here for all of us is that both Elizabeth and Philip each knew that
there was something greater than themselves…and that was
the wellbeing of a Nation and that of its people.

People like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip matter because they teach us lessons.
They teach us that one often has to let go of self and selfish wants in order to
do for and serve others.
True leaders lead by example—not by agendas nor by self-seeking interests.

This couple has demonstrated a depth of perseverance for over 70 years.

I think we are all the better for their example…

What others offer is up to us as to what we opt to receive.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

what’ll ya have?

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
W. Somerset Maugham


(a welcoming image as seen from out of my car window / Julie Cook 2020)

If you’re familiar with either Atlanta or Athens, Georgia, you no doubt know about
The Varsity.

The Varsity is as synonymous with Atlanta and Georgia as is Coca Cola.
The snappy “What’ll ya have?!” is equally synonymous as that is how each
counter customer has been met at The Varsity since its inception in 1928.

This anchoring mainstay has weathered the ravages of time and has managed to
survive when other seemingly enduring institutions have given way to the various burdens
of fickled consumerism.

The Varsity was the drive-in restaurant dream of a man named Frank Gordy.
Ironically this 1928 drive-in was born the same year as my dad,
So I’m certainly not surprised that my dad had a life long affinity with this
car hop ladened hamburger / hotdog joint.
From that of a hungry young boy to that of cash strapped college student whose dorm
was within walking distance of this iconic drive-in, my dad loved his “Varsity.”

And so the irony has never been lost on me that thirty years later,
the Athens drive-in was within walking distance from my sorority House in Athens.

It was the place of late night exam runs.
It was the place you went after your date had brought you home… or…
it was the place you went after you dropped your date off at her dorm or sorority house…
each hoping not to run back in to the other…
It was, and is, the ritual place of both pre and post football game meals.

This was the case for both me and dad…spanning the course of separating decades.

The funny thing is that it’s just that one of us went to Tech and the other went to Georgia.
The two schools known for their good old fashioned hate.
Two rival schools who love to hate one another but who are bound together by a love
for classic Georgia cheap eats.

So yes, grease dripping from onion rings, hand cut french fries, chili dogs and fried
peach pies running throughout both the veins of me and Dad is the ultimate
comforting calling of “home”…
Not the greatest of foods…not the healthiest nor always the tastiest…
but there is just something to be said for traditional consistency and staying power.
The Varsity has both.

Fast forward to this past week.

It was spring break for many school systems…
Our daughter-n-law was blessedly out of school.
We thought we’d volunteer to keep the Mayor for a day or two—
splitting up the madness at their home from having both the
Sheriff and Mayor constantly under foot.

And so, in this new outskirts of Athens home of ours,
it only seemed fitting that we had to pass the torch, bringing forth a right of passage
by taking the Mayor to The Varsity.


(the Mayor visiting during “spring break” visits the Varsity with mom and da)

The Mayor is three years old.
In her young life, she’s already been a time or two to the Varsity in downtown Atlanta…
Her dad took her.

Her dad, our son, spent his own time with his granddad joyfully dining many times
at Atlanta’s Varsity, making lasting memories.
He thought he would be the first to introduce his daughter, this young member
of our clan to the tradition of good ol fashioned grease…however…
I happen to know that our memories really begin to percolate to the surface
at or about the age of three.
So despite her ‘dada’ thinking he was the first…
I’m banking on this latest trip being the visit that will stick.

“What’ll ya have…What’ll ya have…”
Two dogs, walking all the way
A sack of rags, and an FO– or maybe a PC
(aka, two loaded hot dogs, an order of onion rings, and a frosted orange…an orange sherbet
based drink or chocolate milk over ice)

what’s really real anymore?

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it;
but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal
which have been instilled into them,
and each time they come in contact with the real,
they are bruised and wounded…”

W. Somerset Maugham

Between the books I’m reading, the barrage of breaking “news” stories,
our caustic and even catastrophic political world..add to that those issues that
scream for our attention yet go woefully ignored….
throw in a good dose of life, seasoned with “this time of year”…
and something or maybe everything is leaving me a bit unsettled..

By all outward appearances I am going through all the proper motions…
I am saying all the right things while doing all the necessary things.
Nothing would lead anyone to suspect that anything was awry.
And yet something unseen continues to pull at my sleeve as I unconsciously try
pulling back….such that the unconscious is almost becoming conscious.

Am I just becoming Ebenezer?
Perhaps more Grinch than Scrooge?
Or am I simply now jaded beyond repair?

After thinking about the two posts I wrote earlier this week—
the first being about meat and potatoes vs purposeful yet empty noise and distraction….
with the second tale being about of the continuing saga of the annihilation of
the oldest, as in the very first group of collective Christians, I have found myself wrestling with what it is that we think we’re passing off as Christmas.

Whoa.
Sacred cow now being looked at sideways…

I’ve allowed this thought to ruminate as I’ve chewed the cud over it.

Christmas is for children….that is a certain absolute..as in for sure.
And I have loved Christmas–both past and present as I anxiously await
sharing it with a new granddaughter next year…..
but…..

Christmas, for me and mine, has basically been a joyous time of melding
tradition and custom with Biblical teaching.

But something is starting to really trouble me….
There are…
Advent wreathes with the lighting of candles while there are “Advent” calendars
counting down the days until Christmas—with more and more equating simply to
good food, family and presents…..

There is…
Santa Claus Christmas
and there is….
Jesus Christmas.

Hummmm….

I have Jewish friends who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles,
a menorah in the kitchen as they take the kids to Santa for pictures
and wrap up gifts and goodies in red and green paper to nestle under the tree.

I know nonbelievers who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles
and presents wrapped in red and green under the tree…as their children, along with
those Jewish children, leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas.

Expectation verses Expectancy
Lights verses Light.
Gifts verses Giving…

Has it all gone too far?
Have we allowed it to go too far?
Have we been sucked into a lie?

I think that which is tugging at my sleeve is the Holy Spirit Himself.
I am being reminded that what I’m seeing as Christmas has nothing to do with
Christ’s Mass….nothing to do with the expectant waiting of the birth of Salvation.

And so I wrestle—where do we as Believers now draw the line?

Do we do so silently…or…a bit more loudly?
Loudly as in no longer just riding merrily along in the sleigh with everyone else
jing jing jingling into the oblivion of Currier and Ives… or rather do we say
a collective “hold up”…

First and foremost Christmas is about one thing…and one thing only….
and that is the birth of Christ…
So don’t try to pass this societal thing you’ve created off as anything
other than secularism masquerading as the Christmas of Christ.
You want your Yuletide but you don’t want the Christians to have their
Christ’s Mass…
You want your goodies and your holidays but you don’t want to acknowledge the
Savior of all mankind…..

And so while wrestling with this gnawing notion rolling around in my thoughts
and heart, I caught the latest offering by the Wee Flea Pastor
David Robertson….talk about reading my mind…

It is the tale of fake news verses real news…..

Is Christmas Christian?
….But what about as a Christian festival?
It can be argued that Christmas becoming a secular/pagan festival is just
returning to its pagan roots.
It was the Church that took over the midwinter festival and turned it into a
celebration of the birth of Jesus
(who was not born on December the 25th – more likely to have been a day in April).
Was this a bad thing?
Some of our ancestors thought so –
and famously refused to celebrate Christmas.
Even in living memory there are those who can recall Christmas just being a
normal working day – with New Year being the main festival.
Most Free Churches still do not have a Christmas Day service
(unless it is on a Sunday) but we do have a New Years Day.

It’s not wrong to celebrate Christmas,
and its not wrong not to celebrate.
Let each be persuaded in their own minds.
What however is wrong is to turn the birth of Jesus Christ,
into an orgy of commercialism, greed and drunkenness.
The idea that people will get themselves into enormous debt to buy things
they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of the one who though he was rich,
yet became poor, for our sakes, is grotesque.

We are able to use our building to proclaim the good news of Jesus,
as opposed to the ‘fake news’ of the secular Christmas.
In that respect I love what the angels told the shepherds as they looked
after their flocks
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David,
a Saviour has been born to you.;
he is the Messiah, the Lord”
.
(Luke 2:10-11).

Great Joy for all the People – The Christmas Record

The great big lie

“If it is necessary sometimes to lie to others,
it is always despicable to lie to oneself.”

W. Somerset Maugham

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(Red spotted purple butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

I want it all,
I want it all,
I want it all,
and I want it now…

Queen

Somewhere, on some playlist, television commercial or throwback album
Freddie Mercury and Queen are belting out
“I want it all”
And if the truth be told, Freddie Mercury was certainly under the assumption that he could,
truly, have it all.
Sadly, tragically, he could not.
Mr Mercury was one of the first big names of the lime light,
big time entertainers of the 70’s and 80’s,
to die of AIDS….

A larger than life personality living larger than life itself.
Excessiveness giving in to every wonton, lewd, perverse desire and want that came down the pike.
I think it is safe to conclude that Mr. Mercury bought in to the notion
that one could have one’s cake, eating it all,
only to then ask for more…

Our entertainers, our politicians, our leaders, even our friends, all seem to tout the notion
that we live in a society that allows, affords, begs for all of us to in turn…
have it all.
The job, the family, the cars, the clothes, the education, the beach house, the lake house, the younger woman, the younger man, the fame the fortune…you name, you want it, it’s yours…all you have to do is name the “it”…

Seems that somewhere along the line, the land of opportunity become the land of having it all.

Those who don’t or can’t seem to have it all, yet who in turn want it all, have been known to resort to hoodwinks, shenanigans as well as hook and crook to join those already basking in the allness of having it all….

But…
And it’s a big but…
What we all need to understand is that whoever said “you can have it all” was a liar.
A liar of epic proportions….

Woman were told, sometime right after Ozzie and Harriet, that they could have it all—forget staying at home to be a mere housewife left raising the kids….
Corporate American is calling, Hollywood is calling, Politics is calling, heck,
the priesthood is calling… anything other than staying home is calling…
there are jobs if you so choose,
husbands if you so choose,
families if you so choose…
and don’t forget the the nannys, the au pairs, the country clubs, the prestige….the all…

Men were lead to believe that they could have it all and then some.
Wives, as in plural… forget the ’till death do us part’ business…
the girlfriends,
the younger girlfriends,
the endless travel,
time spent with the boys at the club, the bar, the course…
the office with the corner window…
more fun and less responsibility…

Then one day, we don’t exactly remember when, something happened…
Something catastrophic…
Something devastating…

Something happened to the nuclear family.

It was no longer cohesive or bound together.

That which God mandated…
that husbands were to represent Christ–head of their homes as Christ is head of the Church,
loving their wives as Christ loves the collective “Church”..
cleansing her, washing her, adoring her, loving her….
Something happened….

Wives were to love their husbands, children were to love their parents…

But something happened…

Husbands left
Wives left
Children left

Self esteems crumbled
Drugs helped deaden the pain
Suicide rates skyrocketed
Hearts turned cold

Kids began raising kids.
Grandparents were raising grandkids
Dads came around maybe every other weekend…if at all.
Dads started marrying dads as moms were marrying moms…
things were turned upside down.

The big lie of being able to have it all….
gave way to the reality of having, in the end,
nothing at all….

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“But this is what I commanded them, saying,
‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people;
and you will walk in all the way which I command you,
that it may be well with you.’

Jeremiah 7:23

Happy Anniversary. . .to you and me…to us

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
W. Somerset Maugham

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(a lovely mum from a bouquet, Julie Cook / 2013)

This lovely flower is the very first image I posted, exactly one year ago today, to this little blog of mine. Stating that we all needed a little color— reminding us of brighter days ahead.

The other post that day was a bit more reflective as I explained the impetus behind the inception of the blog. The reasons remain the same, much as they did this time last year. A retired educator who felt as if she still had things to “teach” and share, as well as a daughter who was beginning the adventures of dealing with an elderly father in the early throws of Alzheimer’s disease.

I didn’t know what to expect.
I pretty much figured I’d be rattling on to the wind.
I wasn’t necessarily a technology savvy individual nor was I much for social media preferring to eschew things such as FaceBook and Twitter.
Blogging seemed to allow space for the hidden writer, it was a blank canvas waiting to be filled.
It also provided an avenue of creativity for the retired art teacher—allowing for a new vehicle of expression–that being a bit of photography. Nothing fancy smancy, just the capturing of life, specifically that being images from Nature–affording me time to be in the place I love, out of doors.

You have allowed me to share with you my better moments as a human being, as well as those not so grand moments of my life. You have allowed me to do something that I had always wanted to do, but due to work and life. . .I simply had not the time—that being the opportunity of a chance to write. It is not that my writing is of any significance nor even something that is a virtue of our English Language. I have never been one who could spell and I greatly suspect my son inherited that learning disability of his from his mother as I imagine there just may be a bit of dyslexia lurking under my surface.

You have supported me during those heavier days of life. You have offered kind words, prayers, suggestions, and merely an ear to listen and a shoulder of support as I’ve grieved watching my dad slowly shrink from my world. The grieving continues today but I feel as if the initial sorrow has given way to the resolve of, borrowing from that most emblematic phrase, “Keeping Calm and Carrying On” —he isn’t getting better nor are the issues of trying to keep his world above water, but there is humor hiding in the frustration and sadness and just knowing that I can write about it, sharing it with you, has been a wonderful anchor in a stormy sea.

We have laughed together and cried together as you have allowed me to share in your life’s adventures as well. I have made many new and wonderful friends. Far away friends living in Australia, Bulgaria, Italy, England, Wales, Canada, France, the Philippines and India, as well as friends a bit closer–those from Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maine, Florida and California to name but a few. 280 of you have honored me by following along on this blog of mine with almost 14,000 views, as well as a little over 1300 comments. All this from a little blog which was started a mere year ago with no ties to social media, from a person who just wanted to share her heart with others.

You are business people, educators, monks, priests, nuns, college students, high school students, single folks, married folks, grandparents—you are artists, photographers, woodworkers, cooks, bee keepers, world travelers, scientists, professors, mathematicians, philosophers, theologians, students, unemployed, overly employed, retirees, singers, dancers, friends and strangers. Some of you know me know me, others of you know me only from this blog.

Magically hiding in the midst of all of us is but a single element which binds and ties us all wonderfully together. . .that being the single thread from this journey we call life. We are all traveling along the same journey—one of birth, life and death. To travel along this sometimes joyful and sometimes woeful journey with other fellow travelers can be so very inspiring, so uplifting and so very beneficial. The singleness of our humanity inextricably unites us together, linking us all, for good or bad, as members of this family of humankind. As one who has been afford the gift of your wisdom, knowledge, experience, faith and love. . . it is I who now humbly wishes to thank each of you for the generosity you have shown to me—for the warmth, kindness, openness and acceptance. I have learned so very much from each you— from your lives and your life’s work. You have made me a wiser person, a more thoughtful person, a more open person, a grateful person.

So it is to you, on this 25th day of February, that I raise my glass offering you my heart and prayers for this, our Happy Anniversary!
Thank you. . .
***Also a little shout out to the two other blogs I contribute to via photography
The Legion of Door Whores (I know, I know. . .) legionofdoorwhores.wordpress.com
What light through yonder window breaks? whatlightthroughyonderwindow.wordpress.com

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