By now any who might read this has heard a Christmas carol played somewhere. I'd like to hear more Mary, Did You Know and less Buy These Shoes, but that's just me. I've had a tough year filled with traumatic events, losing my brother and then my job and then my apartment. I'm moving to a friend's home, though, and I do have hope. After all, 'tis the Season for Hope, right?
Through all the stress of moving and holiday traffic, quite frankly, the last thing I want to do is go shopping. Yesterday I had to go to campus Kroger, and four young men wearing fraternity shirts were ringing the bell for Salvation Army's kettle whilst singing all sorts of Holiday songs. They were laughing, loud and jubilant, thoroughly entertaining for an old grouchy lady like me. I had taken two buses to pick up prescriptions, and the pharmacy had closed while I was shopping - I was told to wait while their pharmacists did their work.
Without an eye on the time, I went around and picked up the usual: frozen fruit bars, fake crabmeat, salad, cream for coffee, and some sort of beef. In the amount of time it took me to do that, the pharmacy completely shut down. Accordingly, imagine my surprise when I went back to see the cage doors bolted down and lights out! I felt like the biggest dumbass in the world. Thinking of waiting for the bus and going all the way back home without the meds left me more than angry, I was dejected. I started feeling that self-pity crap that I try to keep at bay, but I couldn't help it. I was, quite frankly, pissed off. I grabbed my bags and walked out, hoping the bus would be just around the corner for me, embarrassed I had left the area for the wrong five minutes, my head was down and I didn't feel so hot...but then I walked outside to hear a boisterous "JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME! LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING! ... ." I had to laugh, find my change and stuff it in the kettle that looked as if it could not fit another penny. I wondered if the guys' singing had anything to do with that...then, I figured oh hell to the yeah, it surely did.
Don't forget to make a joyful noise.
This morning, Immanuel Baptist Church here in Lexington televised its children and congregation wearing red and green with an occasional snowflake here and there. They sang O Come All Ye Faithful for their opening hymn. A trumpeter played O Holy Night. I tuned in to my church's service on 1580AM and turned MixMas in on the radio. I am moving all of my lifetime of belongings soon, and have been in a blissful state of shock ever since I realized I couldn't pay my rent anymore. The only music I have left are my Christmas songs for the ukulele and piano, and I am truly happy I kept them. When I have a chance I turn down the radio and listen to myself play Hark, the Herald Angels Sing or We Three Kings on the piano, and I'm tickled to report that playing the keyboard is still such a wonderful escape for me. The ukulele will accompany nearly any song, but some things are more interesting to play with all ten fingers and 88 keys, and I am grateful I took piano lessons from the time I was just 5 years old through high school. Gratitude is the mother of happiness, I've discovered, though. So when I start to feel like I did last night at the stupid DiscoKroger, I have to remind myself that Hope is a star that shines in the night. I have to keep looking for that star, and keep looking for the light, because it's worth it to live a life in gratitude versus being a grouchy ol granny with a backache. Music soothes my back, calms my fears, puts me back in a position to accept peace, no matter which way it comes to me, be that through life or death, compromise or conflict. This is why I want to hear as much Holiday music as possible between now and the end of the year.
Since my birthday falls at the end of the year, I took it for granted when I was a child that everyone went through a year-in-review analysis upon their birthday. Now that I am old and grown, I realize it was the media -- the news programs, the newspapers, the magazines of the day -- that caused this year-end retrospective to happen more than anything, but still, it has finally given me a reason to be happy about being born on December 30. I used to feel left out, being so close to so many holidays, my birthday would sort of get lost in the shuffle. It still does -- and for that I am eternally grateful -- but these days I only celebrate my birthday with people who want to celebrate me. Seems logical, but I'm not always logical so this is a small victory for me.
Now that Christmas is only a few weeks away, I am preparing myself for the coming of baby Jesus, remembering the lessons and experiences from long ago at Florence Christian Church, where I was baptized and where I met some of my lifelong friends. My sister Karen and I sang duets there, we learned how to play organ on the church's instrument, we went to Bible School and learned camp songs. John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith...anyone remember that? lol
At any rate, I love remembering how Christmas was when I was a child. I didn't feel the pressure. I was a child. I was given presents, and didn't have to worry about giving a present to anyone. My Mom and Dad had grown up during the Depression and with my father's self-earned wealth, they were able to be very generous and altruistic and impressed upon us the need to always give back anyway and anywhere we can. That was not meant to indicate that we needed to donate money, per se but moreover, it was imperative to be kind, do the right thing, stick up for the defenseless, befriend people like Linda Bloehmer, a Florence girl who was 17 when I met her, but she was mentally retarded and had the mind of a 3 year old. Linda was fun to be around, even though I was just 6 years old when I met her. She was in our Girl Scout troop, and nice as could be.
I'm grateful my parents set good examples for us in that way. It is why to this day, I despise anyone using the word retarded in any other way than the way it was originally intended. It is a condition, not an accusation. I will usually get snippy to someone who refers to someone or something in that way, and I get a lot of puffiness from the user when I do. Just because everyone is saying it, it doesn't make it right ... and ignoring it is even worse.
So here I am on this Sunday afternoon, looking at a good day of packing more stuff and getting ready to sweep myself out of this little apartment on the corner of Peep Street and Perp Avenue. I have loved the convenience of living downtown, but there are criminal elements in the neighborhood that I can no longer endure. I think when you cannot leave your house after dark unescorted for fear of being assaulted, it's time to move.
It IS time to move. It IS time to prepare for a new beginning, a new year, a new birthday, and most of all, for the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, whose footsteps I am happy to follow. Sometimes I get off the beaten path, Lord, but somehow I find my way back. Thanks for that.
Source of all joy and righteousness.
Enable us as redeemed and forgiven children
evermore to rejoice in singing your praises.
Grant that what we sing with our lips,
we may believe in our hearts.
and what we believe in our hearts,
we will practice in our lives,
so that being doers of the word,
and not hearers only,
we may receive everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,