Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Purple Cow

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you anyhow
I would rather see than be one.            Gelette Burgess

I have seen a purple cow and I loved her.

When I was young, maybe 8? I got a purple cow for Christmas.  I think from Santa.  A lovely stuffed purple cow.  My siblings and I really enjoyed Violet.  We used our Hi-Ho Cherry O game ( buckets to milk her.  She was an amazing cow. Each of her pink teats produced a different drink.  Milk, of course.  Chocolate milk. (are you surprised?)  some kind of juice maybe orange, I think. and strawberry milk or maybe apple juice.

I love stuffed animals (and real animals) and have had many.  Through all of life’s moves and changes, I kept my purple cow. 

Until one dark day.

Those of you who know me know that I struggle with time, money, and organization management.  I was never a really great house keeper, or even a really good one.  Then I had 8 children.  Not bad children at all, but children.  And most all of us were pack rats.  Some of them have overcome that now so that if you know them you may not believe me, but they were.   And I have struggled with (mild) depression much of my life.  What I didn’t realize until I got divorced was how much my marriage contributed to my depression.  As a result of all this, my house was quite cluttered and messy.

Anyway, David would be coming home from his mission soon.  I wanted to make home a little bit nicer to come to.  I decided to try to get rid of some of the clutter.   We had LOTS of stuffed animals and a charity truck was coming for donations.  I put aside a few of the nicest stuffed animals that I thought the children liked and filled two garbage bags with the rest. 

Including Violet.  It still makes me cry.  What was I thinking??  I think I was punishing myself for being such a lousy homemaker, mother, person, you name it.  Looking back I have found other times in my life when I have done something like that to hurt myself, to punish myself for being me.  This one still hurts. A surprising amount.

I put the bags out for the truck and the kids and I headed out on some errands.   I told them what I had done and they all protested that I should have kept the purple cow.  I said that if the bags were still there when we got home, I would save her.  But Violet was gone forever. 

I cannot even think that she was adopted by another little girl.  She was too old and worn to make it to the sales floor.   I killed an old, dear friend when I put her in that bag and took it out to the street.  I am pretty sure there are animals in heaven. I rather wish that there will be stuffed animals, too, but somehow I doubt it.

I have cried many a tear over my purple cow. I only wish that I felt such sincere regret over actual sins I have committed as over giving up that silly stuffed animal.  Siblings have nearly cried about Violet.

Once Benjamin drew me a purple cow. She is on my computer at home.

This Christmas Debi gave me a purple cow she sewed herself.  She is not the cow of my childhood, soft and rounded.  She is the cow Debi remembers, flat, but still cute.  No pink teats.  Those were long gone before Debi knew her.

I can tell you one thing.  I am not ever giving up this purple cow.  She carries a lot of love.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


“Everybody” talks about remembering the reason for the season.  A little easier said than done, it sometimes seems.  Here’s what I did, besides expressing gratitude in my daily prayers for Christ, for his love and sacrifice, for the Atonement, and the Resurrection  and trying (with more or less success) to always remember Him.

For me a special part of Christmas is Christmas Eve when we set aside all the things of the world and the hustle and bustle of getting presents, etc ready to truly remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior.  A time of reverent, joyous reflection. 

At least, that is my vision of it. 

As my family has grown up and expanded, I have lost some control of this whole thing (if I ever really had any) and we have had some Christmas Eve suppers that weren’t quite what I hoped for.  We had our traditional fruit, cheese and homemade bread – vaguely reminiscent of what Mary and Joseph might have had (but modern Americanized).  We even read the Christmas Story – but I had a feeling that it was in the spirit of “let’s get this over with for Mom”.  Then it was on to games, movies, and general fun family rowdiness.  Nothing bad, but not reverent, quiet and reflective.  And also, we often stayed up too late as my family tends to when we get together which really doesn’t work well for me.

This year, my daughter-in-law Teresa who shares my vision, and I decided to ‘get back’ Christmas Eve.  We invited everyone to our house.  We figured that if people wanted to play afterwards, they could go to Ruth & Tom’s when they took the children home to bed.  We planned a little program – the usual stuff  - reading Luke 2 and singing songs.  We planned a couple of Nativity oriented crafts for the kids.  It was a little bit like herding cats, but not too much and I think it went pretty well.

Christmas Day was full of fun and family (and a bit of last last minute gift finishing and wrapping.  We remember that Christmas is to celebrate Christ’s birth, but more on this day, we celebrate being a family and the good things in life that Christ has made possible for us.

Sunday after church, Benjamin and I drove to the Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center to see the Reflections of Christ exhibit which was just finishing its two month run.  Beautiful.  I could try to describe it, but would not do it justice.  You might enjoy the website more.  And or this Reflections of Christ slide show

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Presents

Wonderful, stressful, whirlwind, peaceful, - it is so many things.  And now it is over for another year – except for taking down decorations (maybe New Year’s weekend?) and the “keep Christmas with you” part, which is the best part anyway.

No matter how much we agree that Christmas is not about presents, let’s face it, presents are a part of Christmas and if a mother doesn’t give presents to her children, it just seems wrong – especially to her, but doubtless to them, too.  This year, as usual, I had my time and money management problems,  procrastination and then added a few minor complications.  My presents were meager, but my children are kind and they received well.  For each of my girls, a necklace which I commissioned Debi to make – similar but not matching.  She did a good job choosing for each of them.  Except for Naomi who is too young for jewelry.  She got a stuffed puppy.  I crocheted each of my guys a camouflage scarf.  Ben had discovered the yarn when we were out once doing errands including getting yarn for Naomi’s blanket.  There were three different camouflage yards when we were there.  He told me which one was for him, Andrew, and Joseph.  I paired each of the younger brothers with one of the older brothers to make matching scarves.  Jared got one, too. That was yet another camouflage yarn picked up later.   I also gave the ladies trivets woven by Rwandan women – a gift for them that helps women in need.  And each of my children got a Preparedness notebook with all kinds of helps for preparing for emergencies.  I think that’s it.  So exciting.

My children are better givers than I.  They have a gift exchange – each gives a homemade gift and a store-bought (or homemade or mix) gift.  Their creativity and thoughtfulness amazes me.  I don’t enter the exchange because 1) I feel the need to give each of them a gift, however small, and 2) whoever had me as the giver would be gypped.  

I won’t remember all the wonderful and clever gifts, but here’s a good sampling.  I think I can remember most of the homemade gifts – they are the best.   Benjamin’s homemade gift was to Sariah – his cookie of the month calendar with family member’s pictures on their birthdays.  He gave her a jar of cookie ingredients which is featured on one of the months, but living hundreds of miles away, she will not get fresh baked cookies each month.  Sariah’s gift to Miriam was the Family Heritage Recipe Collection – in notebook for Miriam and with CDs for each of us (!).  David gave Ruth etched ornaments/magnets.  Tom made Debi a CD of music from the year she was born.  Miriam made pillows for Acadia. Joseph made chocolate dipped pretzels for Tom and has promised me a dipping session with almonds.    : )

They also gift me.  : )   I received a Nativity ornament, a Thomas Kincaid daily calendar, pictures of granddaughters, neck pet (what do they call those things?) which I can warm for muscle relief  (already used it and it feels great) or cool,  family recipes going as far back as my mother’s father’s mother’s mother (got that?), a crocheted scarf, early gift – book shelves for my Reader’s Digest Condensed Books (decades worth), a catalog of my Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, a framed photo of the Sacramento Temple with little pictures around it some of which I took, a purple cow (there’s a story).  I’ll tell you later.

We all enjoyed giving and receiving our presents (no matter how much we stressed over getting them ready).  But even more, we enjoyed each other’s presence – even though for a few that was by phone.  We will continue to enjoy both presents and presence through the coming years.  I am blessed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not Exactly As Planned

I was looking forward to a Flash Mob Hallelujah Sing-Along.  I was not alone.  Not by thousands. 

Monday David, Teresa & Benjamin left home about 4:30 to pick up Joseph from work, than meet me at Alhambra & T where I had bicycled from work.  David’s planning was good.  I only got there a few minutes before the car arrived.  We loaded up my bike and crowded into the car for the drive through rush hour and holiday traffic to the Roseville Galleria. (Why do they call it ‘rush hour’ when rapid movement is impossible?)

We thought we got there in pretty good time, but after more than half an hour driving around looking for a parking lot, we began to worry.  At last we parked and scurried through Macy’s into mall.  Along with ever increasing numbers of other, equally intense, purposefully striding, excited other people. We knew we had arrived when the crowds of people made movement almost impossible.  After a bit, it began to occur to us (and many others) that the mall had not been built for masses of people standing around on the second floor.  David and Teresa moved off to try to find a vantage to look around at the packed crowd.  The boys and I started to follow them but got separated and swept up in a current that arrived at the escalator.  So, we went down.  We didn’t feel any safer because if the terrace collapsed, it would come down on us, but we weren’t really worried.  We were excitedly waiting for the Flash to begin.

About 20 minutes before the event was to occur, we began hearing the Roseville Fire Department announcing that the Galleria was closed and that we were all to leave.  Disappointing!  But understandable.  Not to everyone; some people booed.  We moved out through Penney’s the nearest anchor store and walked around to our car where we met up with David and Teresa.  The parking lot was gridlocked – and more cars were backed up on the freeway wanting to come in.  We stood outside the car and sang Christmas songs for an hour or so.We came to sing and sing we did. 

We saw a helicopter circling on another side of the building.  What we didn’t know was that some of the flash mob had gathered in a courtyard on the other side of the Galleria and sang the Hallelujah chorus.  Wish we could have been there!  or that the mob had sung as we excited.  Or that someone had started it out in the parking lot.  I think there were so many people that we could have had  pretty good surround sound!

We all felt badly for the Galleria.  We had meant for this to be a positive thing,  Instead they got closed down hours early.  (Except for the big anchors with outside entries)

Our car was finally free from gridlock enough to join the slowly moving line exiting the parking lot and we were on our way. We decided to wend our way through the Fabulous Forties “on the way home” and enjoy the lovely Christmas lights.  Then through the little, humbler, but festive neighborhood off T street.  Lovely.

By the time we got home the lunar eclipse was beginning.  We looked a little, had family scriptures, looked again. David and Teresa stayed out for the show.   I got ready for bed and had a last peak at the nearly covered moon.  Good night, Moon.

“Where’s the Line to See Jesus?” a touching song inquires.

“Where’s the Line to See Jesus?” a touching song inquires. 
 A sweet reminder of the reason for the holiday.  Which is very good.  But in counterpoint I say I have been in lines to see Jesus. 

A week ago Benjamin and I drove up to Vancouver WA to visit Sariah and enjoy their Stake’s annual Festival of Nativities.  This festival is held every year Thursday through Sunday.  We went Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening.  Both times we found not only hundreds of beautiful, interesting, and unique Nativities, we found hundreds of people “in line to see Jesus.” 

Last Sunday we went to Miriam’s Stake’s Nativity display.  I am not sure if it was Sunday only or all weekend.  Again, hundreds of lovely and diverse Nativities (and a camel collection) and many, many people. 

Yes, the malls are full of shoppers and there are plenty of people in line to see Santa.  Many of them are the same people who stood in line to see Jesus and who strive to keep Him in their hearts. 

More importantly, although we had to get in line to see the beautiful representations and reminders of the birth of Christ, we never have to stand in line to come unto Him or to feel His love.   Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior and Friend always has His arms open to us whenever we turn to Him.  He loves each of us forever and always.  Wherever and whenever we come unto Him, He is there to welcome us -  no line.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Songs

Last night, Friday, was the High Priest Christmas Party - potluck
dinner, Joy To The World video & white elephant exchange. Pleasant.
The boys & I took a couple of VHS movies that were duplicates (not of
each other, silly! Of others we have) and got a small Christmoose
decoration which we have no idea what to do with. Save it for another
White Elephant exchange? Give it to DI? David & Teresa took some
coconut body lotion & got a box full of books from the 60s - I think
all church books. Pretty good really except they have nowhere to put
them. In addition to the books originally in the box, they ended up
with more white elephant books people had gotten, didn't want, & pit
in DT's box. : D

Good news. I did labs recently and my bad chlorestrol is well under
control! My blood sugars were mildly high, but the doctor is not
changing my meds at this time. A few months ago they were threatening
to put me on insulin (shots). It seems my bike riding is doing some
good. :D

Teresa & David took some cute little Christmas stockings she crocheted
to a community event on Del Paso Blvd & sold A few. : )

David, Teresa, Benjamin and i were Christmas carolers at Fairytale
Town with Sister Eva Kim, a couple of 10 year olds & 3 14 year olds.
We had fun despite it being a rainy evening The kids were great kids.
You would have enjoyed it. It would have been even better if we could
have sung about Christ, but it eas fun singing fun songs. And we did
sing "Silent Night" once. We got free hot chocolate. : ). It was
amazing to see how much the little kids liked the singing. Now days
children seldom actually see real live people singing.

Because we were doing this small community service, I was unable to go
to the temple with my good friends Carlos & Debbie, but thinking of
them put another song in my heart.

You have heard of Flash Mobs? Suddenly without warning a group of
people show up in some public place & do something. Lately we keep
hearing about Flash Mobs singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. So cool!
We are going to be in one! I learned this evening that the Sacramento
Choral Society is planning a "random act of musical kindness" singing
the Hallelujah Chorus at the Roseville Galeris food court Monday the
20th. At 7:30 pm. They want 100s of people to come participate. I
hope we can get there on time!

Handel's Messiah is truly inspired music. I was just thinking today
that if I were to be only allowed to listen to one musical work the
rest of my life I would choose Handel's Messiah and if I could only
have one piece it would probably be The Hallelujah Chorus.

Sent from my iPod touch