The Past Week, as told by Several Famous Authors

It’s only been a week since Christmas but that week has been such a veritable blur of commotion that I sat down here to write something and had to remember how to use my keyboard. These! Here! Buttons! Make! Words! When! Pressed!

 

As I seek to recall how to arrange sentences into some semblance of order, I decided to hand the controls over to some classic authors instead, to allow them to tell the tale of my past week as I put my time to good use dumping out suitcases and hauling one very crispy tree to the curb and shopping for sustenance and possibly checking myself into a santitorium for the next few months.

 

A sanitorium by the sea. Ahh. Those loonies have it so good.

 

Speaking of loonies, I give you William Faulkner, to tell “My Past Week”, in his own inimitable way:

 

It was the day after Christmas. We were packing. Packing, and packing. Come on. They said to me. Come on and pack your suitcase.  There’s going to be a party. We got into the car, and it was dark. We drove through the darkness and we slept and then we stopped and it was Texas and there were people all around talking and laughing and eating and playing. Have a cupcake. They said. Have a cookie. And there were candles and candles and more candles until they were blown out and then there weren’t any candles anymore, the scent of warm wax hanging in the air, coiling around our heads like the thousands of memories winding through every conversation.

 

Okay, wait. William? I’m not sure you’re telling it in the most, ah…concise manner. It’s a little…random. Not trying to be critical, you understand, because I know you’re all Nobel Prize and everything with your devilishly handsome mustache, but let’s let someone else have a go, shall we?

 

Ernest? Can you come here for a sec? Ernest Hemingway, folks. “My Past Week”. Let her rip, Ernie.

 

In the early winter that year we lived for five days in a house not our own in a village named for a mound of flowers that looked out over a few trees inhabited by rowdy squirrels. The squirrels were red and brown and chattering. They ran by the house and up the trunks of the trees and onto the roof and dropped leaves and nuts into the gutters while the wind blew unseasonably warm and the sun shone brightly upon the inhabitants of the household, who were many, and varied.

 

Hey! What? Ernie, I thought you were the master of brief, simple prose! You haven’t even gotten to the point yet! Sheesh! Move over, willya? Give somebody else a turn.

 

Mr. Twain? Mr. Twain, you’ll tell it right, won’t you? I did mention that I have a heap of laundry to get to, didn’t I? I really need somebody reliable to get this tale told. Ladies and gentlement, Mr. Mark Twain. Just my past week, Mr. Twain, yes. Thank you so much for giving it a shot.

 

You don’t know about One Thing without you have read her blog for a while, wherein she tells the truth about her life, mainly. The way her life has wound up so far is this: she had her Christmas with her family in the usual way with stockings and noisy carryin’ ons to beat all, and afterwards when she might have been layin’ about readin’ a new book and eatin’ her salted caramels she had instead to gather up her largish family and tote them and all their sundries down yonder to Texas on account of there was a party goin’ on there with a lot of kin and they were keen to sit a spell and swap stories with ’em.

 

Oh Mark (do you mind if I call you Mark?) I do love how you tell a story. I was so entranced by your talk that I clean forgot to unpack like I meant to. I’m going to have to call somebody else over just so I can get something done without being tempted to listen in!

 

Jane? Are you there, Ms. Austen? Oh, good. You are such a dear to come in my hour of need. Just sit down here for a moment and try to get my story told, will you? Yes, I know the keyboard is delightfully vulgar. Hold your hands just so…there you go, you’re getting the hang of it now.

 

“My Past Week”. By Jane Austen, none other.

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a married man in possession of eight decades of life must be in want of a party. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first approaching this most venerable of birth-days, this truth is so well-fixed in the minds of his spouse and children that the particulars of establishing a date for a grand celebration are certain to take place many months in advance, for a party is a party, but a surprise party is a thing of singular delight. The thing being decided, it lacked only its accomplishment, which was begun in the arrangments of various travelling schemes and finished up with the travellers arriving safely at the intended destination with all due secrecy and concealment of purpose.

 

Darling Jane, you must know you are my favorite. But I’m afraid once again I have been sitting enraptured by the sheer beauty of your language and have gotten only one load of laundry into the wash. This story is going to have to be told by myself after all. I do hope you’ll join me in a cup of tea later, when I have a moment to sit and rest.

 

Folks, I’m completely out of time. Life beckons, and is outright insistent in its claims upon my time. Suffice to say, I was out of town, but now I am back, and happy to be casting my bread upon the waters again, as they say, although I have no idea what that means. My Beloved’s father had a surprise 80th birthday party (I’m not sure surprising an 80 year old man who had quadruple bypass surgery not too long ago is a wise thing, but he came through unscathed) and we spent the past week enjoying the company of family members we had not seen in far, far too long. There was baby-snuggling, and game-playing, and lots of laughing and talking. I’m confident that I have been outlandishly and unreasonably blessed in the in-law department.

 

It’s always good to be home, though, even if home means “surrounded by decorations to stash, menus to plan, suitcases to unload, and groceries to fetch.”

 

Good thing I have lots of help.

 

William, Ernest, Mark, and Jane? It’s time you earned your keep around here. Let’s get busy, shall we?

Amen, Fred.

“There are many things in the world from which I mght have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest.

 

But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round

 

(apart from the veneration due its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that)

 

as a good time;

 

a kind,

 

forgiving,

 

charitable,

 

pleasant time:

 

the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem

 

by one consent

 

to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

 

And therefore, uncle,

 

though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,

 

I believe that it has done me good,

 

and will do me good;

 

and I say,

 

God bless it!”

 

(A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Rescuer

I have an Earthly big brother, and I love him dearly. He used to tease me until I cried, and my mother would tell me not to let him get to me. “His hormones are in an uproar” she would say.

 

It wasn’t a good excuse, but I tried to ignore him until he gave up. I longed for his approval and was proud of him when people would admire his good looks, or his athletic ability. He was one of the cool kids and I was the nerdy little sister, gangly and awkward, until I hit 14 and became plump and awkward.

 

We forged a friendship in our later teens, bonding over creative writing assignments and shared experiences overseas. When I found myself without a father figure to walk me down the aisle, he performed the task admirably. Nowadays he doesn’t tease much, and although we have our differences of opinion on many issues, he can still make me laugh harder than just about anyone else can.

 

I have a son now who is almost 16. He also has an aggravating penchant for teasing his younger siblings. His hormones, I suspect, are often in an uproar. But there are moments when I see another side, one which betrays a softer heart…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I snapped these pictures the other day, and as I looked them over, I had to smile. The sweet scene of deliverance was simply too allegorical to miss. A still, small voice whispered the reminder that I have Another big brother…one who hears me when I cry out that the wind is too hard and too cold and the brambles are snagging my legs and I’m tired and small and I just don’t think I can make it.

 

He appears, this Other brother–arms outstretched, eyes smiling–and carries me to safety. His arms are everlasting and his grip is faithful and true. I hear his voice murmuring fear not.

 

 I love my earthly elder brother. But my Other big brother?

 

He’s my Rescuer. And words cannot tell how much He means to me.

 

Attitude and Gratitude

Have you ever lost anything? Your keys? Your purse? Your diaper bag? Your marbles?

 

I’ve just lost something that I have never lost before.

 

My voice.

 

It’s just…gone….

 

Where? On holiday, I would assume. I hope right now it’s sunning itself on a beautiful Cayman beach. At least then one of us would be warm.

 

At first it was kind of novel, but it’s quickly becoming tedious. Have you any idea how hard it is to wrangle my mob with no voice?

 

Oh, but there are still so many things to be thankful for. Here are just a few:

 

  1. The voice packed its bags just in time for My Beloved to be home on vacation through the end of the year. He lacks the ability to yell at quite the same decibel that I possess, but he’s pretty good.
  2. I’m getting lots more exercise, as I have to travel to various people to relay information, rather than just shouting it out.
  3. I am providing no end of amusement for those in my household who have never known me to be at a loss for words.

 

While looking for the positive in this situation, I find that I have received The Lemonade Award, from Denise at The Full Nest.

 

 

I tried to track down the original origins of this award, but wow, that’s hard. I believe the meaning has something to do with turning lemons into lemonade, however, and it’s too cute, don’t you think?

 

Personally, I would use the lemon juice to make Lemon Bars, but that’s just my preference.

 

I will humbly submit to you that I’m not sure I’m worthy of this award. There are far, far too many times that I take the lemons life dishes out and squirt them straight into my eyes so as to pity myself as fully as humanly possible, but I’m grateful for the thought. And it does convict me and strengthen my resolve to fall more completely upon His mercy in those situations!

 

Without further ado, I will nominate some other worthy (tho probably every bit as insecure) bloggers for this award…bloggers whom I see taking the perceived negatives of life and admitting that perhaps there is A Grander Plan at work, and that it’s not all about giddy happy skipping giggling rainbows.

 

(I am supposed to nominate ten)

 

Toni at This Simple Life

Straight Shooter

Kimmie at Over The Moon With Joy

Kate at Life With Special Needs Kids

Mary Beth at Cheaper By The Half-Dozen

Sarah at Beauty in the Mundane

Ann Kroeker

Jody at Because I’m Me

Dana at Ventage Inklings

Marla Taviano

 

And now you, nominees, link back here, nominate ten of your own, blah blah blah…you know what? Don’t do any of that stuff, unless you really want to. You’ve got cleaning and shopping and baking and wrapping and suchlike to do! Just take the award. Here, TAKE IT! And thank you for your attitude of gratitude that has encouraged me.

Ribbit

Please excuse the Cloverfield-esque camera handling of this video…it was filmed by my 8 year old, Charity (it gets a little better as it goes along). She often appropriates my Flip Video Camera (so easy even a child can use it!) and films epic-length movies involving stuffed animals fleeing some sort of persecution, but the other day she captured this bit of Toby singing Rudolph, and I just can’t resist sharing it.

 

Look! Just Look!

My, oh my. My, my, my, my, my. Oh my.

 

Lookie at what I made. Just look.

 

I took these. Plain. Blah. Boring. Brown. Paper. El-Cheapo at Hobby Lobby.

 

 

I added paper, glue, glitter, greenstuff, and paint.

 

 

And I turned them into this:

 

 

Squeal!

Are they not spectacular? Do they not beam shafts of shining light into your very soul? Do you not just want to hug yourself with pleasure?

 

(click on the photo to look at the full-size version, if you want to. And you know you do)

 

 

Excuse me. I’m just the teensiest bit pleased with how they turned out.

 

 

This was the first one. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do, but it is still pretty cute, I think.

 

 

 

Then I made this one. I was in the groove with this one, man…I was feelin’ the love.

 

 

I…I…I just don’t know if I can handle the cuteness. It’s so very cute. I seriously wish I was only 1 inch tall so I could live here.

 

 

But this one…this was the piece de resistance.

 

 

My little beachy bungalow, all decked out for the holidays. *sigh*

 

 

Please notice the roofline…

 

 

And the wee little shell windowboxes

 

 

And the terribly punny salutation over the door…

 

 

This has been your daily dose of insane cuteness.

 

 

You’re welcome.

Makin’ a List, Checkin’ it Twice (sing with me!)

Lists are good. Lists are my lifeblood.

 

Okay, so maybe that was an overstatement. But friends? Without a list, I would be up the proverbial creek.

 

Did you know I have twelve thirteen children (hey, son-in-laws count, right)? And there’s this holiday coming up that’s kind of a big one? And my love language is gifts?

 

Okay, so I’m fibbing a little. My love language is actually all of them. How many are there? Five? I’m pretty sure I could think of a sixth if pressed. Gifts, Acts, Words, Quality Time, and Touch…yeah, I’ll take some.

 

Still…gifts. Gifts are really, really swell. I like gifts. I like to give them, and I like to get them. I like to know that somebody thought about who I am, and what I like, enough to get me something that is meaningful. And I like to think about people that I know and really try to fit them with something that means something meaningful, with a really meaningful meaning. Do you get my meaning?

 

Christmas is about the most over-the-top-gift that ever was given: Jesus. He came to lay down His life for us, and that’s just plain extreme. Christmas is about abundance: abundant Grace, abundant Love, abundant Joy. So yeah, I’ve been guilty of going a little nutso when it comes to gifts, but the nice thing about having twelve thirteen children is that even if everybody just gets one present, it fills up the living room.

 

Which is especially nice when things are tough, economically speaking.

 

But I was talking about lists, not gifts, wasn’t I? Why yes, I was. Thank you for asking. Actually, I was talking about gift lists, so I wasn’t actually digressing. This time.

 

I have to make lists, see, because I have to keep track of Who’s Gettin’ What. And From Whom. Because I shop for my Mother and Father In Law. And for my own Mother and Father. That is to say, I buy presents FOR my children FROM these people, as well as buying my children gifts from their father and I.

 

Let’s do the math: one present from each set of grandparents + presents from dad and mom = 55 presents. Or so. ahem.

 

Now, this year we are only stuffing stockings, My Beloved and I. And maybe that sounds pretty noble and frugal to some of you, but I have to come clean and confess that stockings are my most favoritest part of the whole Christmas shebang, and therefore they don’t just get stuffed they get STUFFED. Luckily they are hand-knitted by loving family and have a lot of stretch to them. And there might be a few things that by golly just won’t fit and have to sit next to the stocking. There might be. I’m just sayin’.

 

So my list is pretty complicated. And I have checked it way, way more than twice.

 

Which brings me to this point: I like Santa. I think he’s a good guy, even if his name does resemble a certain denizen of the underworld when only barely rearranged. I like to watch Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and The Year Without A Santa Claus (yeah for the heat miser!). I even collect the little figurines from Rudolph. Yukon Cornelius is my all-time favorite.

 

But we don’t “do” Santa in my house. He doesn’t come down our chimbley, we don’t put out cookies and milk, and nobody listens for the reindeer to pause on our rooftop. He’s just a story to my little ones. When they ask, at about 4 years old, if Santa is real, we say “No. He’s just a story.”

 

And they go their merry way.

 

Some people do this because they don’t want to lie to their children. They worry that if they tell their children there is a Santa and then later reveal that he is a myth, their children will decide that Jesus is also a myth, being in all ways like Santa, only infinity more so.

 

But that’s not my motivation.

 

My motivation for being truthful? After listing and listing and shopping and shopping and thinking and thinking and wrapping and wrapping and scheming and dreaming? When all the packages are placed under the tree and I’ve done all I can do to ensure the merriest Christmas EVER, EVERY TIME?

 

There ain’t no way I’m going to share the credit with some fat guy who only works one night out of the year, no matter how jolly he is.