Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goodness and Gracious

The one thing traditional about our Thanksgivings is that they are very nontraditional. Every year brings its own interpretation of the state of the year, nay day.  Flexible has been our guide word since a fourth child enter our world.  It's like the opening of gift each year; just what will our
Thanksgiving look like?  We've had Thanksgivings full tilt formal, we've had it delivered by friends when a family illness overwhelmed us.  We've had it in church basements with lonely college students,we've gone to an Italian menu, we've celebrated it with a video camera in Kindred Spirits brand new kitchen,we've gone bowling, we've had it while we packed up my mom for an ER visit.  With a multitude of amigos and single o; you name it; we've done it.
 However, I think we went over the top this year.

Baby Girl decided to grace this memorable Thanksgiving with her latest daughter, Delightful Della, in tow, born November 13th.  We had been on board to serve as mama's helper once she came home from the hospital.  We knew with a due date like November 20, that Thanksgiving was going to be another spontaneous creation.  And with nearly 40 years of planning Thanksgivings that way, I was up for it.
On this visit, we found out that we could rent one of the married student housing apartments for a minimum fee. Since Baby Girl, Illustrious Son In Law, Lil' Lady and Delightful Della were taking up pretty much all of their 500 square foot living arrangement, we opted to spread out a bit and rented the apartment for five days.

Crazy for a woman that never graced a college campus, to haul her stuff into the international world of a top ten university married student housing arrangement.  The smells of foreign cooking permeates all the common areas and you project yourself into the wider mindset available in a large metropolitan advantage.  The burkas, the diminutive,disciplined Asian population, the business as usual from the world not affected by our Thanksgiving, lent this Thanksgiving as Highly Unusual.  But Fabulous.

As you have guessed by now, a Thanksgiving celebration with the presence of a Nine Day Old infant certainly puts the most amazing, wonderful, exuberant, grateful, fabulous slant on what could become a dry, boring Feast Day.
While the little apartment was cozy and well equipped for a rental, I am used to every convenience, cookware/utensil/serving dish/dishware/etc etc that is known to common man.  Forty years of hospitality has outfitted my little kitchen with most of the needed gourmet tools for a successful dinner.  This year, I had three pans, two towels, assorted plastic cooking tools and a few semi good knives.
I love me a good food challenge.

Hubby and I set off for the local market and used all our creative devices to create a tasty, healthy and somewhat disposable Holiday Feast,  When we came upon the paper aisle, I announced with arms held open wide, Hubbiness, you are about to witness a rarity!  I am about to buy everything disposable for THANKSGIVING!  This from a woman who never buys paper plates, who has paper cups just because someone left them at my home, who looks askew at those that would wash disposable silverware, yes, this was HUGE!  In awe, Hubby watched as I selected paper plates, napkins, cups AND silverware.My therapist for my compulsive/obsessive disorder from years past would have lifted his glass in my victorious honor.
And I loved it.
It symbolized freedom from my years of slavery to the way things 'should ' be to the freedom of the need of the moment.
I had arrived.
One indulgence that I insisted on, was a proper pie.  Researching recipes, I found a dandy maple syrup pear pie, that really sounded amazing.  Seven dollars worth of Bartlett pears were selected carefully and placed gingerly amongst the cushion of paper goods in our cart.
Once 'home', both Hubby and I could not remember seeing the pears once we got in the car.  Remember, we did have the lovely distraction of our little two year old companion with us at the store, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with a fairly new cashier at our check out.  The parking lot was packed to the very limit and the aisles filled with the absolute limit of customers.  Were we going back to fetch those pears? 
 Uh, no.
I had brought along three apples, borrowed a lemon from BG and her cinnamon, used our raw sugar and threw in some blackberries and of course, butter and the final product was considered by Illustrious SIL, that it was close to the best apple pie he had ever eaten.  Score.

 While the post dinner naps commenced, this Mimi 'cleaned' up by disposing of it all but little bowls full of squash and mashed potatoes and a modicum of turkey and 
proclaimed the Mini Meal a raging success!While the little family scooted back to their own little home, Mimi and Papa ventured outside and parked ourselves under a shelter to take some time to reflect on our blessings and drink in His Word in light of a most thankful year.
 Earlier in the week, we had the precious privilege of keeping Lil Lady occupied while her mama healed and rested from the phenomenal event of producing an 8 pound 3 ounce baby totally unmedicated or with any intervention of any kind.  Pure and natural, just like she prayed for.  Amen.
And spending time with Lil Lady?
Oh. My.
Imagination Station, Chick fil A, leaf shuffling, playground playing, play dough creating, hide and seeking, book reading, snuggling, blues clues watching.....Oh the delight of a precious, precocious two year old....!!!!

We departed the next day to leave the next shift of helpers to ooh and ahh over our new little addition to our family and be as blessed as we were.

Not too long after our arrival home, another Little Blessing appeared at our home...Sweet Adeline and her helpful beading ways...

What are we thankful for this most unusual of our forty years together? Just five things:
Vivien, Lailyn, Adeline, Hazel and Della.
Thank you LORD!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Third Act

Did you just hear that?
That, know, that strong, clear sound of a solid door closing?
Yep.  That's what I thought.
I heard it too.
Not scary like a trapped feeling, but the strong bolting of things securely battened down in the midst of a whirling dervish.  The security of knowing that when the storm comes, and it will come, the foundation and the important things are protected.

Thus it is and ever shall be.
Hubby has completed his tour of service to the United States Government, a different type of tour from a soldier, but that man has taken it every bit as serious as if he was wearing fatigues and weaponry.  

But then, when it comes to Hubby's work ethic, he is always full tilt.

We started our married life with him working at a pizza restaurant.  He, earning a grand total of 82.00 per week; me, a sales clerk in a fabric store, earning 53.00 per week.  Two months into the marriage, Hubby was hired on by Allis-Chalmers as a drill press operator.  The amazing salary increase from pizza cook to a certified union machinist position, gave us the opportunity for me to stay home for awhile during our very newlywed status.  We had fun.  We worked the night shift so supper was at midnight, TV was finished after Johnny Carson and we slept till 2 in the afternoon.  We bought a sports car, drove out east to my sister's a few times and just had a swell time.  This went on for a few years before I applied for a night sales position in a very arty, high end gift/gourmet shop.  My years there taught me much about design, good taste and cooking.  

When 1978 dawned, the shop was preparing to close, the owner moving out of state.  Coincidentally(!), I was nearly seven months pregnant at the time, so what better time to put the end of my work history?

For nearly 40 years, Hubby has supported me and then all six of us.
His jobs have relocated us twice and his finale with private industry introduced him to the work of the U.S. Government army munitions work from which he is retiring today.
 Thirty years,10 months. 
 And he never complained. Never voiced his frustration with having no financial assistance with the daily needs of a large family.
 He has worked double shifts and outrageous hours but he never complained.  He grew ill at one point due to the out of control hours he was putting on too old of a body, but even still, if I (and his doctor) demanded that he stop all the hours, he would still be plugging on.  Dead, but plugging on.

I had the wondrous privilege of being home with all my children.

Until this past Wednesday, I had not worked at an actual job since that long ago shop, 34 years ago.

He seemed content for the plan; I stay home and mind the children and become all I wanted to be (friend, discipler, crafter, enterpreneur, bible study leader, mentor,community volunteer, child care provider, devil my care flying fool, etc etc.)To this day, I don't know why we live in the wonderful home that we do on one income. I do know that this was a special position to be in and I have always been very thankful for it.  Very thankful.

I have packed this man's lunch box for many years and it has rarely varied. During one long haul, he was waking at 3:30am to get to work by 5:00.  I don't think I'll ever forget making lunches at that early hour.  More than once I forgot his sandwich, due to the fuzziness of my sleepy brain.
 One sandwich, (cotto salami or other deli meat), three pieces of fruit, some snack crackers, some fruit bar and a thermos of ice tea.  That's it.  And except for the brief time of a diabetic menu that he had to keep, it has been the same for almost the length of his work career.  I may go out on a limb here, but I do believe it is the same lunchbox.  That is my Low Maintenance, Man of Few Needs man.

Tonight, before I went off to My New Job, I kissed and hugged him the same way I have every time he has left for work.  Maybe the hug was a bit longer as we quietly, silently acknowledged the changing of the guard.  Both of us know full well that we have less ahead of us than that which has passed, and we are good with that.  We are old enough and wise enough now to recognize it and enjoy it with an ebullient attitude.  We shall go forward into this Third Act with confidence and peace knowing we have done this thing called Work Career well.

The door has shut but not bolted.  There is another job for him come next month.  He is not ready to be totally still, but yet ready for a break from 90 minute commutes and crazy demands as a supervisor in a government facility.  My little part time job will keep us in gas money to travel to our grandgirl's homes.  We will putter with our home and I will still be the sewing fool that I have always been.  Hubby will find ways to create that the long hours of labor had put on hold.

I look forward to how 'retirement' will play out in this recovering workaholic I call my Hubby.
I look forward to everything with him...

 Bring on the Third Act!
Thank you LORD!

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