Friday, November 23, 2007

Things to be Thankful for

You learn a lot about yourself during a holiday. Things that you may have envisioned in your mind as a child become more than wishful thinking when you play them out as an adult. Thanksgiving is by far one of my favorite holidays. In addition to good food, you get the benefit of a fall landscape and a common purpose to be "thankful." It shouldn't take a holiday to remind you of what you should be thankful for...but life is busy and hectic and it isn't bad to remember just what you have been blessed with.

Thus my post for the night - things to be thankful for in 2007.

1. The ability to celebrate thanksgiving in a home. I was reminded about the small things that I appreciate when my daughter decided to help out on Wednesday with the cleaning. We have entire rooms without some furniture and she was elated to dust and windex the small fixtures to perfection. When I thought about it - we were thrilled to be cleaning our home as simple as that is.

2. Three year old assistance.
Cutting veggies in the chopper, stirring ingredients, running through the kitchen with reckless abandon, just gotta love that. I watched him put cloves in the ham, hang pineapple rings, poured honey and sprinkled brown sugar.

3. Good food. It took me into adulthood to realize how many people can't cook. My grandmother used to orchestrate a tremendous learning lesson on a daily basis, followed by my mothers flair for trying something new. Together, I have developed my own style, old faithfuls and children who ooooh and aaaaah over mommy's cooking. You gotta love that.

4. 3 children. I have contemplated having more children, and I remember when I had pretty much settled into parenting 2. I can't imagine my life without this current mix and I'm thankful to have them.

5. IMPERFECTION! My daughter noticed a magazine at a recent checkout where they highlighted the imperfections of the stars on the cover. My daughter is 8 and we talked about the fact that no one is perfect -and that is why Jesus' love is so important. There would have been no way that our actions, deeds or "goodness" would have ever been enough to erase our sin. Thank you God!

6. New Chances. As I drift off I am reminded that every day we start over, with an opportunity to start new. The end of the night I was pretty cranky and I think I was just very tired. Tomorrow I'll have more rest and a new day.

7. My husband. He was very helpful picking up the dishes and straightening up for most of the day. He has a tendency to get lost in technology land, and although he did do that - he helped in the kitchen and around the house, too. (I won't even mention the volumes of laundry I can see from my bed right now... my kitchen is mostly clean.)

8. Leftovers. Ummm - turkey, macaroni and cheese, yummy!

9. Friendships. The family you create from the people placed into your life.

10. Reminders to be thankful. It shouldn't take a holiday to remind us, but I'm glad we've got something that makes us say - hey, gratitude please!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Looking for Daddy

I very rarely post in Alaine's blog space. We blog about different issues and ideas for the most part. She talks alot about our family and children, an area I'm far less competent at writing about. But every once in a while, I have an insight.

I didn't grow up with my father, never even met him until I was 14. Mine was a single parent home. My mother raised me and my Dad simply wasn't in the picture. For the most part, I can only recall feeling sorry for myself about this once during childhood. It was a moment that passed quickly and I got on with life. Having no Dad was just the way it was and how it had always been. While it never really troubled me, paradoxically, I grew up resolving that I would have a whole family one day and that my children would know their father.

Even still, though I understand intellectually that my children love me and that my interaction and presence in their life is important and meaningful to them, I have to confess that more often than not it doesn't feel particularly real and present to me. But sometimes it gets brought home to me with great clarity.

Recently, my 5 year old son had a Daddy's Day at school. On this day, all the Dads were to come for lunch and eat with the kids and hang out with them. I was a few minutes late arriving at the school and when I got there, the children had already been seated in the cafeteria with their Dads at the tables. I walked in and began looking for my son. I spotted him before he spotted me. He was looking for me too. He was sitting at the table, scanning the room, on the lookout for me. It was the look on his face as he searched anxiously for sign of his Dad that I haven't forgotten since: a look of worry and concern, maybe even the beginnings of fear, that his Dad was not going to be there for him, that maybe he had been abandoned. It was a look that told me that while this was perhaps just an inconvenient interruption of my workday for me, that for him it was a big frikking deal. It mattered to him big time. It made a difference to him if I was there or not.

I waved to catch his attention as I strode forward to join him, like a giant through a crowd of elves. For a moment, all I thought was "let me banish that look from his eyes right now". When he saw me, his face lit up like the brightest strobe light you've ever seen (my son has a wonderful smile). He hollered "Daddy" as I came into his view and instantly his demeanor changed from fearful and worried to happy and carefree. We had a wonderful time. But in that moment before he knew I was there, when he was "looking for Daddy", I learned something about how very real and important my presence is to him. I grew up without Dad and its clear to me that I really missed something, though strangely enough, its hard to define what it was. But now and then, I gain glimpses of what I lost through my children, who have what I didn't. I never knew a childhood with my father. My children will never know one without.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Golden Compass points kids in the wrong direction

I have been thrilled about the stream of movies lately - Tyler Perry started a season of joy for me. However, let's not forget that movies and entertainment are an investment of time, resources and if you allow it ....they can plant seeds of something pretty dark.

Let's take "Why did I get married?" - from which my good friend and I are working tirelessly to plan a couples retreat. Not that we needed a movie to give us the idea, but the images were so powerful you couldn't help leaving the theater thinking about your own life. It was just one of those movies - far from perfect, but tons of inspiration and fun. Tyler Perry has a message and he isn't afraid to put it out there for full consumption.

Such is the case for the Golden Compass. During the Christmas season this story is going to be marketed to children as the latest installment in must see/must read stories. Buyer beware. This story is created by an atheist who has articulated clearly in interviews that his books are about killing God. Invest your dollars as you want, as for me and mine - we won't be knowingly giving our support to a self-identified atheist, who has written books to challenge the Narnia series in a fashion that purports to dig deeper and deeper into darkness. The movie I understand is a waterdowned version of the first book - the weakest of the attempt to defame Christianity and all we hold to be true. I'll be joining the religious right on this one when I inform my avid reader and avid moviegoer - not one penny of our money, not one minute of our time will be spent supporting him.

My hat goes off to which has a pretty detailed account of all this - and their bottom line is that the movie The Golden Compass does indeed bring to life a series of anti-religious books marketed for children. Philip Pullman is assuredly entitled to his views - but there is power in audiences who send a clear signal that this is not what will be supported as child's play. Comments in the movie range from an ex-nun who states that Christianity is a very powerful and convincing mistake, in addition to the actually use of Yahweh in the final book of the "Dark Materials."

I'm not a book burner by trade, but anyone got a match? I think Harry Potter was the least of our worries - as I remember the church uproar when that came about. While Harry Potter offered an opportunity for parents to engage, dialogue and be clear about their beliefs as children escaped in flights of fantasy....The Golden Compass is much more direct. If you aren't interested in creating the next generation of atheists or promoting the cause of the British writer bold enough to simply state his hate of religion, God and any form of Christ ..... join those of us who consider the release date of December 7th as an excuse t0 have a Holy party of praise far away from the theater. New Line should know exactly what you think of their kiddie promotions.....