Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Where is Joseph?

One holiday season, 15 or more years ago, times were hard and I was a client of our local food pantry. I made the comment to my friend who worked at the pantry that I wish we had a nativity set.

The next time I went "shopping" there, wouldn't you know, somebody had donated a nativity set! It may have been part of the toy donations (since at Christmastime, the pantry also made it possible for me to give my children gifts), I don't remember.

I thought it was interesting that the set had four wise men, instead of three. I learned that some people believe that they're actually were four wise men and I thought that was a neat coincidence.

We've had the same nativity set ever since then and have never even lost the baby Jesus, even though he is as tiny as a nickel.

This year when I got the nativity set out and set it up, I realized that there is no Joseph. I don't know if there ever was a Joseph or if maybe the fourth wise man was mistakenly included in Joseph's place.

In my nativity set, Mary is a single mom, just like I was, and in many ways still am. (Although I am remarried, I am, for the most part, responsible for my children, including the two in college.)

I wish I had noticed that Mary was a single mom way back when... Although I know a lot of single moms now, I did not know a lot of single moms at the time when I was single with three children ages 5 and under. Maybe it would have been a nice reminder that I am not such a weirdo, because it did feel somewhat shameful at the time.

Sometimes I look back and think about how amazing it is that my boys turned out the way they did given the circumstances that we were up against. Maybe it's because the extra "wise men" I always tried to include in their lives -- coaches or teachers -- had helped to formulate their idea of how to be.

I wonder if any of my friends who make a big show out of collecting food for the food pantry realize that it is people like me, who are really not that much different than they are, that were or are clients of that food pantry?

I used to feel humiliated, standing in the checkout line with my vouchers. Now I feel humbled. There is, however, a fine line between the two with which I sometimes struggle.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Shop, spend, consume...oh my!

How did it come to pass that the holiday season is all about buying, buying, buying gifts, decorating a certain way, and eating food that we would never eat during any other time of the year... I'm talking about fudge, cookies, cheese and so on?

There were more advertisements in the Sunday paper then there was news.

The TV in our house has been on more than usual lately and there are so many ads for things to buy. Typically, we watch Netflix and I am not used to seeing so many commercials.

Black Friday is the whole weekend; Cyber Monday an entire week.

What if you didn't go all-out with the decorations in your house? What if you didn't buy things just because they were on sale? (You save 100% when you don't buy.) What if you only had one plate of food and skipped dessert?

It would still be "the holidays!" You could still see your family and friends and share a meal. You can still listen to holiday music and watch holiday movies and feel the holiday spirit.

Being on a spending diet has caused me to re-evaluate things. Sure, I'm still getting everyone close to me gifts, but I'm trying so hard not to go overboard! I do not want to regret my spending in January when I get my bank statement and credit card bills. Holiday hangover is not a good way to start the new year!

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...