Thanksgiving Week Coffee Chat: A Mild Panic
Oh hello...come on in and let's talk a bit, shall we?
I'm tired, battle weary sort of tired, and I don't see an end to it anytime soon. I'm talking, of course, about the state of things in the U.S. I make it a point not to ask anyone for whom they voted, nor to answer should they ask me. I don't think it's any more of my business to know for whom you voted than it's any of my business to know what you have in your bank account, or how often you and your husband enjoy that more intimate relationship. In other words, I think that some boundaries are necessary and good.
I was wary this whole past 18 months (gracious it's felt like YEARS). I've had my feelings hurt by the things people and candidates have said, but I kept quiet. I knew, in my heart, that I wasn't those things they claimed I was if I voted for candidate A or candidate B. I also knew that neither candidate was all they might be, but I listened too to hear where they stood on issues near and dear to my heart and watched how they acted in public, as well. Frankly I thought neither of them acted nicely. I prayed hard and long and voted my conscience. It was not the first election in which I've had to vote for what I felt was the lesser evil and I mean it just as I say it.
What has hurt and wounded me most is that the outcome of the election has been so full of venom and awfulness. It bothers me no end to hear a commentator on a news program state that she feels the rural areas have no business having a fair number of electoral votes. "I mean," she said "What business do farmers have to vote anyway?" It bothers me to see videos of protestors being physically wounded. It bothers me to see people sit and cry because they don't care for who won the election. It bothers me even more that many of those crying and protesting and now making public speeches, when pressed, will admit they didn't vote! It bothers me to see public leaders at odds with the public. It bothers me that no one seems to be aware that the newly elected President isn't going to not go into office just because there are unhappy people. You'd think it was the very first election in all these years that someone's party lost...as if we haven't been voting in this country for a good bit over 200 years now!
But it also gets up close and personal. A friend of my husband's posted on Facebook that he and his wife had decided to forgo TV for the near future and instead to watch only movies from their collection only to have a hate filled diatribe posted in response from a friend accusing him of Nazi like behavior...for not watching TV! There was no mention of the political unrest, nor of politics at all in M's post, but it was construed as a political statement. The so-called friend never once credited the fact that this man had been ill a good part of the past month and ignored the man's Jewish heritage. That was just one of several posts this week on Facebook that drew negative comments.
I told John this morning that I'd made up my mind I was done with listening to this news network or that one. I would go and research every single thing on the internet until I could dig out the kernels of truth if I had to, but that blindly following any newscast any longer was akin to sitting in church and hearing the pastor's take on Bible verses week after week and never opening the Bible myself to study the word and know the truth. I've been too aware these past years that the news is skewed to rank ratings and headlines are meant to be alarming in the hopes that we will tune in, or buy the paper. The trouble is that too many of us scan the headlines and assume we know the story.
I am weary of people who assure me that my civil rights are not being violated, that my faith is not under attack, that because I didn't have the privilege of a higher education I can't possibly form a solid, well thought out opinion, because I live in a rural area I have less right to have my vote counted, that I am wrong to be wary of the news, and that the color of my skin makes me less apt to have an honest dialogue. Condescencion does not sit well with me. It rankles me that we've lost so much ground and so quickly.
I find, most of all, that I just long to shout rather too loudly for everyone to shut the **** up. And I mean it. So the news is mostly off in our house. And if it's not football or music on the TV or a rare good movie, then the TV is mostly not on. John is still quite attached to his debate programs, and still something of a news hound, but I can walk out of a room, even out of the house when necessary. I can get lost in a book.
And of course, that's not nearly all there is. No there must be personal things going on. A long standing family situation that is NOT improving in any way and in which no decisions are ever made except to not make a decision. It reminds me of an accident I watched play out as a child. I saw the two vehicles heading towards one another, I knew without a doubt they would hit and there was absolutely nothing I could do but pray hard and fast. Carnage and wreckage and mayhem ensued. Same thing here. There seems to be little hope this will play out in a good way for any one concerned.
Then there's the current discussion over John's work. Fourth time in eight years and frankly this also is getting old and is also like watching near accidents that miraculously are averted at the last possible moment, but how many times can you repeat that and have it work out the same? It is an issue facing many rural counties with low population and lower tax bases: can they afford to continue to manage their own emergency services or should they allow an outside group to come in and take over?
The problem with this is that while discussions may be public knowledge the actual take over never is. You show up to work one day and ta da! You now work for 'x' and not the county any longer. And oh by the way, your schedule changes (you work more) and so does your salary (you get paid less)...And no one mentions that seniority and near retirement age working at the same job garnered you. You're the 'new hire' and if you happen to be 60 well...
Now you might well ask: Don't you trust God? Well yes, I do...but I'll lay odds I'm about like most people. The longer the day, the more tired I am, the lower my resistance is to worry. Add in the usual holiday stress and boom! I reach the end of a day and I can't get far enough away to hide from my foes. And I confess that the atmosphere (the air about us all at present not just my personal home atmosphere) seems to be rather rife with anxiety and I feel it deeply.
Sunday morning I drove down to Sam's to see him baptized. Thank goodness his church is the old fashioned sort. They don't start service until 11am. I drove hard for 3 1/2 hours to arrive just minutes before the service began. I was still catching my breath when the service ended. We went out to eat, back to their home for coffee and the visit was at an end . I had to drive hard to reach home by 7pm, 4 hours later. It was a long 12 hours with just a very brief time with my family but you know I spent years upon years in prayer for this son to see him baptized and to know that he truly made a decision for Christ...I'd have walked it if necessary and I mean that!
I listened to Sunday morning radio stations playing hymns and choral anthems and country pulpit preaching on my way down. What I found most interesting was that the closer I got to Sam's town the more Primitive Baptist Churches I saw. Not only saw them, but heard on the radio as well! I thought that was mighty interesting. On Church street, which is where Sam's church is (love small towns stating the obvious!) there was the Baptist church, the Methodist church and finally the Primitive Baptist church, all in a row. That too is rather unusual. Typically Primitive Baptist churches are off on their own, usually rural. It's very possible these, like the radio broadcasting church, are Progressive Primitive Baptist which is another whole ilk from the church I grew up in.
I couldn't help but think this Sunday of how I'd love to go back to my childhood church and sit and really listen once more. To be where I am now spiritually speaking and sit and hear the old preachers who stood in our pulpit and to hear the messages they brought as though they were fresh and new now. But I cannot. Many of those pastors have long since died. They were old men when I was a very young child. And the church is no longer a Primitive Baptist church but instead a Baptist church. As near as I might come is to go stand in that old graveyard and view the familiar graves. I did that a couple of Thanksgivings ago and found to my surprise that the big old Bridal wreath bushes had been cut down, trees had been removed. Places where I remembered iron Civil War crosses no longer had them and the simple plain cedar stobs that marked some of the graves had disintegrated. The graves now mostly unmarked save a few that sink enough to let you know there lies a forgotten one of long ago.
Sam's church is a rambling sort of building, but I noted that the three churches were all obviously built about the same time period, from the same sort of brick and obviously along the same pattern. It was interesting to see how they grew from there. It made me curious about the history of the place...I'm always curious about little towns especially and how they grew and then came to falter and yet hang on just enough.
Josh was so caught up in his excitement over being at church that he barely paid any attention to me at all. I was touched when he looked smilingly out of the car window and said softly "Bye shurch, bye shurch." I well recall my own love for my church as a child and I was happy to see he feels the same. I didn't get much of his attention after that either, except for brief moments at his home. However, I'm told that when I left he completely lost his cool. Apparently telling Gramma bye (Still Genny by the way) is one thing but seeing her drive away is something else again.
And speaking of what the grands call me, Taylor surprised us by reaching for me as we were leaving the other week and calling "Coppi"...I do love these early days of language! I don't believe I even shared about that little short trip. We went up mid-week so we didn't get to see Matt at all, since he was working. Taylor has taken on a little 'shy' stance just at first, but it soon becomes a tease. She will smile and smile at you and then when you reach for her she backs away rather quickly. As I said, just at first it seems shy but it soon becomes apparent it's just a tease. The longer you visit the more she rushes to you and then backs quickly away. However, she did snuggle a bit with me.
I was most amused to see her reclining across the great Zoey. Zoey is a huge dog but tender as pie crust with that little girl. She doesn't mind that child laying back upon her as she watches TV or plays with a book. What tickled me no end was Taylor looked at me with a twinkle in her eye then gently stuck her finger down between Zoey's toes and tickled her. Zoey snatched her foot away mighty quick and Taylor laughed and laughed. A little bit later though, Zoey was watching Taylor play and not paying attention to herself. She reached out with her tongue and swished the bottom of Taylor's foot, which made Taylor snatch her foot away mighty quick. I looked at Taylor and laughed. "Now Zoey's laughing at you!"
Katie had colored her hair. It's been blonde for several months now but she'd recently changed it so it was a subtle blue-ish gray with deeper violet highlights underneath. It's very current with what young women are doing. I was much amused when Mama protested over the grey color when she saw the photo on Facebook. I well recall that during Mama's own younger days frosting hair was all the rage. And guess what? Frosted hair looked gray! Mama was pretty much on trend with her hair in those days so it amused me greatly. I think my generation was the only one that skipped the gray look.
Speaking of gray I am thinking I should start to 'lighten up'. My hair, when not freshly refreshed with brunette color is much lighter than it was in my youth. More and more of the gray, of course, is showing through and to keep it dark would necessitate dying more often. I find the darker hue looks a bit harsh on me these days. So I'm thinking I shall look at going two or three shades lighter than I have in the past. Not blonde, no not blonde by any means. My hair is too 'spotty' with great patches of gray here and there amongst the dark to go natural just yet, either...but definitely thinking of lightening up. I've been using a medium brown which is still quite dark, so I'll have to start looking for my 'new' color. I'm thinking possibly maybe for the New Year?
I generally toss the contents of my make up box about the end of the year and try to start fresh with new makeup. It's a good time to let go of those lipsticks that didn't turn out quite as I thought they might, the eyeliners that are down to the last nub, the tubes of mascara that likely have been open far too long, etc. If it sounds an expensive undertaking it isn't really. I start back up fresh with the basics and I generally have one or two lipsticks that are my standard go to and are renewed often enough with out tossing those. This year I've new blush and a new powder as well as a new primer, so I really just need a fresh shadow compact, an eyeliner and brow pencil. I have a new in the package mascara, so you see it's not at all as pricey as you might expect to refresh my cosmetics.
Over this weekend, I mean to start my Christmas decorating. My plan is that by next week I'll be far enough along to know just what I might need to go purchase. My expectation of course, is that I won't need much but I am pretty sure I'll need some floral picks and ribbon. I generally end up searching high and low for a specific color ornament as well. My inspiration piece this year is a gift from John that he bought for me early last month. It's a pretty little cream wagon with red interior. The exterior has a traditional pattern on it. I thought I'd use that as my centerpiece on the buffet. I can't wait to start decorating! I so look forward to this time of the year with all it's traditional décor and movies and books.
Ours has never been a completely traditional holiday. As you all know, with John's schedule it's odd for us to be able to celebrate the holiday anywhere other than at home with just the two of us. This year, John does not work on the holiday. However, he has specifically requested that we be 'at home, just the two of us.' Since it is such a rare thing for us to have this holiday, I shall most certainly try to do just as he wishes.
The first year that Bess was in the family, pregnant with Josh, she invited me to attend the Nutcracker ballet in Macon at the historic Springer Opera House. I LOVED it. However, the next year, when she tried to arrange the outing with her mom, plans didn't go through due to schedules. Bess was heartbroken. She'd attended every year since she was four. I recall how she sniffled to me, "I guess I just need to make up my mind that it's time for new traditions." Well that's part of growing up and I've certainly watched our traditions change over time. Well Bess moved on. Her annual thing at present is a trip to Bass Pro for a photo with Santa. Josh has wailed both times. I expect he's going to do the same this year. But until they can't make this annual visit to Bass Pro this is a new tradition.
I so recall our 'poor' Christmases fondly! With five children and barely enough to make ends meet Christmas couldn't be a big deal. But we got a free turkey from work and we had a big traditional meal. And since baking supplies were on sale each year we'd bake loads of cookies. And then we'd have friends over the Sunday before Christmas for a big party. I served Hot Spiced Cider (oftentimes just apple juice but it still tasted mighty awesome) and we'd set out big bowls of fruit (apples and oranges were always cheap) and a big bowl of candy canes and then I'd make a huge pot of chili and a big pan of cornbread...All of our friends would bring in some dish to share and there was a party for next to no cost. Everyone went home with a box of cookies.
We baked plenty of cookies so there was always a big platter for Christmas Day. That was when we began probably the only tradition that has been consistent over the years. On Christmas morning we had canned sweet rolls (Pillsbury or in leaner years the store brand) and little sausages (or sausage balls) for breakfast. I'd bake two cans which meant everyone got at least 2. We'd have our traditional meal (Turkey and Dressing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Beans, etc...all good inexpensive things to make) and the kids were allowed on that day to eat all they wanted. No limits on cookies. No limits on helpings. We had to run a tight ship in the kitchen, sometimes mighty tight!, but for that one holiday I wanted my children to know the feeling of plenty. I don't recall any one of them ever overeating nor being gluttonous. We always managed enough leftovers for supper and the kids had the option of eating cookies until bedtime if they liked, but they seldom did.
In the end, it was a always a slim Christmas. Just one present under the tree and a rather old fashioned stocking filled with candy canes and oranges and apples and nuts and cocoa packets but they never acted as though they'd been cheated of a good Christmas.
Funny, but all these years later that traditional morning meal is carried on because even the man of the house feels cheated if we don't have it. Yep, there's a can of rolls in the fridge right now, store brand this year but there they are, awaiting our 'holiday' breakfast on the non-traditional Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Christmas we'll have the Brand Name ones, lol. Can you tell it was a tiny bit tight this holiday?
Speaking of holiday meals: John has this fantasy of having a meal catered. Pay for it, pick it up, reheat the next day for the big holiday meal and ta da no mess no fuss...Well I always figured the having to reheat it all and the dishes used were something akin to mess and fuss...But anyway that is his fantasy and he trots it out periodically, especially if we're hosting, which we haven't done in years. However, this year, I seemed to take note of costs of those meals for Thanksgiving. Were they more prominently displayed than in the past? Is it just because I see store ads online now? I don't know why but the prices sort of hit me hard. A turkey breast dinner for four with two sides, cranberry sauce and dressing and a pumpkin pie $49.95. A dinner for 8, $89.95. It's ridiculous! Essentially they are figuring meals up at about $12.25 per person.
I think I paid $10 for my turkey breast, on sale. Stuffing costs next to nothing to make, I'll guess less than $1.50 for a pan of cornbread and a pan of biscuit bread....And even less if you've saved leftovers in the freezer for a few weeks prior as I did. Oh and by the way, a big bag of bread cubes from the bakery were offered in one store I recently visited. Just $6....Gracious I'm saving a fortune in bread end pieces alone!
I had loads of broth, chicken and turkey both, in the freezer that I'd made over the year as we've had carcasses to cook up, but you could buy pint cans for $.59 each. Sweet potatoes, fresh ones are $.49/pound and a 3 pound bag will more than do you. Onions $.79 for a 3 pound bag. Potatoes: 10 pounds for $2.99. A can of cranberry sauce, $.89. Green beans $.59 a can, cream of whatever soup $.49. A can of pumpkin $.89, a can of milk to make the pie, $.65. 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a bag of marshmallows come in under $1.25. I made my own pie crusts and that cost less than $.25 each but I think you can still buy two for $1.49 this time of year. I may be wrong on that one. I haven't priced pie crusts in the longest time. So figure the whole meal will set you back $25. That even leaves room for oranges and coconut for ambrosia! You'd have a far nicer meal than the one offered at the store for half the cost. With leftovers galore because no one meted it out to just barely four servings. I'll bet as well you can serve 8 easily without buying a big turkey. But if you wanted a turkey instead add another $10 to the cost of this meal and feed your eight and then some and you've still spent less than the cost of a meal for four prepared at the store.
Well dears, it's time I got into the evening routine. You'll have starlight to travel home by now I've kept you so long. Talk to you after the holiday!