ON MY OWN

Newspapers, radio broadcasts, TV news, and every other media that you can think of will undoubtedly have a story or program dedicated to reflecting on the twelve months of 2015.

As I think about the year, I realize it is the first one since 1954 that I’ve been “on my own.” That’s not entirely true because I have a son and daughter, their spouses, and two grandchildren, for whom I’m not responsible, but who watch over me. It is the grand shift from being the parent to being parented. I am not complaining. It is wonderful to feel their care, while leaving me free to make my own decisions about my life.

Good things have come to me during 2015. New friendships have begun. Others have become deeper.

There are family joys. Frequent family parties have been highlights during the year. Tomorrow, my son will treat us to Eggs Benedict to begin 2016 when everyone gathers around my table. My daughter has a new job that she loves as a research nurse. One daughter-in-law has one semester to finish her masters, the other drops everything to fix or help me whenever I call. My older grandson has begun learning to play the baritone, and my younger grandson loves art and books.

I’ve continued to write. Recently, I’ve been enjoying reading and editing a 50,000-word memoir that I wrote in November 2014 on “Being a Minister’s Wife.” Last November, the death of husband the previous March was still very close, which helped me record the details of our life together. Now, I am able to look at those words and determine if they follow the theme and discard the bits that don’t. The memories are as vivid as before, but I’m able to sort their importance to the story I want to tell. My weekly writers group’s members, who have become good friends, help my efforts.

While a minister’s wife, I was never part of the decision making process for the church. That changed in 2015. As an elder, I learned how my new church prepares holy communion, I participated in leading the congregation in new ways for me. Singing in the church choir continues to be a major part of my week.

What will 2016 bring? No one knows, but God, family, and friends will guide me through it.

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A CHRISTMAS POEM

During the past month, I’ve spent several hours organizing my late husband’s poetry. His thought processes in saving work on the computer and the title of the poem often confounded me. Ex:  computer file: “maple sentries”; the title of the poem: “A Delaware Drive.”  My goal was to have a book with all his poems and to have them all in a single computer folder listed by title.

While I was frustrated sometimes when I couldn’t find a poem, it was also fun to find a poem that I’d never read or forgotten. I found ones that he’d begun to edit. I corrected the file as he’d planned, and truthfully, I did a few minor edits of my own–ones I’m relatively sure he’d have approved of.

Richard began writing Christmas poems in 1976, which was not a banner year for us. Richard suffered a heart attack, I totaled our car, and our son had been hurt, although not badly, when a lawn tractor ran over his legs. Only our daughter survived the year without mishap. These events were not something for the traditional Christmas letter. I demanded that Richard write a poem. I’d like to share it with you.

THE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS 1976:

The Peace of which the angels sang be within your heart,
your home, your private thoughts,
your neighborhood, and
your mind.

The Hope for which Isaiah was read be part of your
life-style, part of your attitudes of
the future, your notions of aging,
your ideas of dying.

The Joy for which the Bells rang in our Sanctuary be
deep in your consciousness, surrounding
your petty annoyances and your
surface frustrations.

The Dream expressed in the “Birth Scene” by the two young
children be more real, become more alive,
develop into a direction for
your growing spirit.

The Idealism of the Christmas Cards and Carols become
your goals freely shared, your intentions
openly spoken, you wishes
honestly wanted.

The Direction initiated by the Christ Child become
our priority, our national policy, our
corporate goal, our international
mandate, our global evolution.

The Christmas Spirit so briskly and perfectly rekindled in
December become our adult agenda,
our congregational purpose, our
plan of action.

The Feelings of goodwill, warm fellowship, mutual
acceptance and the glow of the Spirit
actually change and convert all of
us into His likeness.

The love of God defined by the manger and explained by
the Cross envelope you personally, individually,
and that Love be as real and as close
to you as the present.

Richard E. Lake
December 1976

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING: NEW AND OLD

Storekeepers are bemoaning the lack of enthusiasm for Black Friday shopping. Last night I sat in front of my computer and spent a couple of hours Christmas shopping. Will online shopping make up for all that was missed in the stores? Maybe.

I thought about the changes in shopping, and I’ve realized how much they have stayed the same as they were seventy years ago.

When my young grandsons come into my house, they check my magazine basket for Christmas catalogs they may not have received at home. They lie on the floor checking each page for what they might want. If they watch kids’ shows on TV, they are blasted with ads for the latest toy. Each boy has a wish list, one perhaps more realistic than another. Now I decide what gifts the child will get for Christmas from me. I order them online for delivery by the U.S. Post Office, or a package delivery service.

Contrast that with my childhood Christmases.

In early fall, two, thick Christmas catalogs came in our rural mailbox: Sears, Roebuck & Company and Montgomery Ward. For hours I sat and studied each item in them from clothes to toys skipping only stuff like tools. I listened to the radio kids’ shows “brought to you by” someone wanting to sell their latest toy or offering something very special with just five boxtops of “X” cereal. I made my Christmas wish list, right down to the page numbers. Mom and Dad decided what they could afford. Mom filled out the paper order in the catalog, mailed it, and waited for the U.S. Post Office to bring it to our home.

Just as today, we also shopped in stores. But honestly—what’s so different, except for the speed we can send an order or receive it?