Friday, December 13, 2013

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I've never really understood the whole holiday decorating thing.  I have dutifully assisted my brother-in-law in putting up his Christmas lights on more than one occasion - but I have been out of the holiday decorating mix in my own home for so long that I've lost touch.  There are a few factors involved, in my estimation.  My disposition is not suited to decorating, for one.  Since there seems no practical basis for the activity, a part of me just doesn't get it.  There are aspects of decorating that also don't work for me philosophically.  I know this sounds stupid - but part of me feels like it's just a way to fake yourself into the holiday spirit.  The especially "Protestant" part of me (those of you who have known me long and hard know what I'm talking about - the rest of you will just have to try and catch my drift) feels that - hey, if you can't get excited about the birth of the Savior for its own sake - you've missed the point.

But as this 50th Christmas approaches, and I drove home from dinner alone tonight, down a street I haven't traveled on in a long time (even though it's within walking distance from my home), I encountered part of the heart of true suburban Christmas excess.  Homes with so many Christmas lights and silhouette reindeer and plastic Santas, plastic choristers, plastic elves - lights, lights and more lights - that you know more than a small element of neighborly competition is involved.  "I love Christmas more than you!"  Displays of such conspicuous electrical consumption that the owners must have some twinge of regret when the December electric bill comes due.  Then I realized that the last time I had traveled down this street, I would have been going to visit my mother and father-in-law, both ghosts of Christmas Past now - and they reminded me that, administered in a proper dose, those Christmas lights can be beautiful in a place and a season where nights come early and stay late.  If you're lucky, you reach that point in your life where the ghosts that haunt you aren't frightening anymore; in fact, they can feel like old friends reminding you of things you hadn't quite forgotten - but almost.

I went to get a donut right after that.  Luckily for me, they didn't have any raised sugar so I came home and wrote this down.  It's fifty-fifty whether I go looking for donuts later.  Lord knows I don't need a donut - but the idea has its appeal.

That's the news from where I am.  "It's not a sad song, though you may feel it that way..."  Hope you have a safe and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you are.

Take care.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I'm 50

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. I had a great day.

 While I spent the day kayaking across Round Lake and watching the sunset over little Traverse Bay, the rest of the world was either melting down or drowning. Las Vegas is too hot, New York's too wet, and Detroit is both hot and wet - which seems to leave Petoskey as the garden spot of the known universe.

 Leslie and Larry, with whom we're spending another delightful July 4th holiday week, are doing their best to subdue nature - as usual. Larry's self-appointed role is to tidy up after Ole Mother Nature and Leslie is killing every weed in her path. On Friday, Larry and I worked to get his brand new used boat into the water at Round Lake. Everything went according to plan and I have the photos to prove it. Yesterday, we took it easy with some shopping at the Habitat for Humanity Restore and a stroll to the beach at Petoskey State Park after dinner.

 But today, Leslie and Larry are back at their posts fighting against nature's relentless entropy And adding a little beauty to the world through their garden. I, on the other hand, am looking for a way to extend the condo association's free Internet service into their unit. It's a tough job - but somebody's got to do it. I've met with little success so far but happen to have a wireless range extender in my back pocket, so I may yet succeed.

 I'd like to say that I've formulated some special words of wisdom to share on my 50th birthday but I haven't. James Taylor wrote "the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time" - and I think that's true. Enjoying the passage of time is very easy in Petoskey this week. But anybody who's lived for 50 years knows that it's not always so easy.  Larry McMurtry wrote "it's a fine world though rich in hardships of times." I believe that too. Maintaining your equilibrium through the hardships is the key.

Paul (yeah, the one from the Bible) wrote: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Now THAT'S what I'm shooting for.

 Or as Elwood P. Dowd put it:
"I have a wonderful time wherever I am, whoever I'm with."
 That's how I roll.

 Take care.