Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy, Happy New Year

Unlike my previous posts, this one is a real blog as it is something I'm writing off the cuff, so to speak. I decided that it was time to step out of the security of using some older articles to fill this space.

So here goes....

This was an unusual Christmas for the Miller family as we were not together with all our kids on Christmas Day. Some of us live 100 miles apart, with two others about 300 miles from us. One of our sons from Austin came to our place with his wife and two young girls. Then we all went to the Dallas area on Christmas Eve to share a meal with the other sibs and their families, then came back to have Santa with the girls here.

That was a high point of the Holiday for me. Christmas morning is made for little children who eagerly look forward to Santa coming. Of course, I was the first one up on Christmas and had to wait for the girls to wake up. I told them I was up early to feed the animals before we started and they actually believed me. I also told them that Santa took some hay out of my barn for his reindeer and they believed that, too. I love little children.

The rest of this week has been a blur. In addition to some lovely gifts, my husband and I got a cold for Christmas, so we have been sipping tea and sniffling and coughing together. Luckily, one of us has always managed to feel good enough to take care of the animals, although one day I just threw a half a bale of hay over the fence for the horse and goats and told them to have a ball until tomorrow.

I think we are finally on the mend. At least I am. But it doesn't look hopeful that we will be ringing in the New Year with any great fivolity here at the Miller house.

I will however, take some time to remember the many blessings we have received in the past year and be thankful for that.

This is probably the point where I should be writing something profound or philosophical, but the old brain is shutting down. So I'll just close with a sincere wish that everyone has a very good New Year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday Magic

Whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or any of the other Winter Solstice holidays, the magic of the time transcends religious bounds, so I share with you one of my favorite Christmas articles. I wrote this when my children were young and chaos reigned at the Miller house.

Christmas is a time like no other in the lives of most people. From the wistful old lady who sits alone remembering Christmases past, to the starry-eyed kid who bounces around the house singing his own rendition of Silent Night, there is a place for each of us.

Sometimes for me, Christmas is the desperate race to get everything done in time. Every year I tell myself to start early. Make use of those lazy summer days to at least do the shopping, but somehow I don't often find my summer days all that lazy. Not to mention how hard it is to think "Christmas" when it's a hundred and five in the shade.

So invariably, I'll be running around the week before Christmas, trying to find something for Aunt Lucy and trying to balance the number of packages each of our kids will receive. (They will count them no matter how old they are.)
What bothers me most about last minute shopping isn't the mile long walk to get to the store from the parking lot. It isn't the lady who runs over my foot with her shopping cart. It isn't the clerk who can't possibly tell me where to find the ‘must have’ toy for this year. What bothers me most is wondering whether I'll make it through the check-out line before the kid I bought the tricycle for is ready for a car.

Sometimes I'd like to forget all about the Christmas Season and just spend two weeks in a rest home. Especially when the excitement starts to build in my kids, and I wish they'd just sit still and be quiet so I'd be more in the mood to be nice to them. It's hard to think kindly of a kid who's followed you around the house for a week reading his Christmas list.

Sometimes Christmas is the frustration of cookie crumbs mashed in the carpeting, candy canes stuck on the sofa cushions and the eighteen truckloads of trash strewn around the living room on Christmas morning. Sometimes it is a sense of futility as I wonder if we'll ever overcome our kids' basic selfishness and teach them the concept of giving as well as receiving. And sometimes it is a feeling of anxiety over whether we've maintained the proper balance between Santa Claus and Bethlehem.
But that's only sometimes.

Other times Christmas is a warm feeling of closeness when I share my daughter's wide-eyed wonder at the concept of Santa and all his magic. Or when I share my son's pride in the surprise he created for his dad out of a chaos of construction paper and glitter. Or when I share my daughter's satisfaction when she transforms our living room into a wonderland of tinsel and holly. Or when my other son asks me for the umpteenth time to get my guitar and play the Little Drummer Boy, and it reminds me mistily of another time, another place.

Somehow my dad could never refuse either.

And other times I think my heart will burst when I watch one of my kids spend their last dollar on a present for the brother I was sure they hated. Or when I find something totally impractical under the tree for me, and I look up to see my husband smiling in delight.

And other times I have a sense of awe when one of the kids wants to bake Jesus a Birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday. Other times I'm filled with an incredible sense of tenderness and love when I watch my oldest daughter set up the nativity scene and explain to the younger kids what happened that magical night two thousand years ago.

Yes indeed, CHRISTMAS IS a time like no other in my life!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Since we’re getting so close to Christmas – only two more weeks for those of you like me who have barely started preparing – I was going to write something sweet and nostalgic for the Holiday. With all I have left to do, I may not get to blog again before December 25. But I just couldn’t let the absurdities in recent news pass without comment.

First there’s the New York law to ban trans fat in all restaurants. I suppose it’s commendable that the legislators care that much for the health of their constituents, but do we really want government to be telling us what to eat? My husband commented that pretty soon fat people will get arrested. And if you’re really obese, you get a life sentence. A joke? Maybe not.

Then there’s the flap over the Minnesota Democrat, Keith Ellison, who was elected to Congress. The flap isn’t over him being elected. Or even the fact that he’s the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress. It’s because he would like to take his oath of office on the Koran instead of the Christian Bible. Dennis Prager, a conservative talk-show host in California said, “American is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.”

Um, excuse me, Mr. Prager, but I am an American and I totally support Mr. Ellison’s desire to use the holy book that has the most meaning for him. And I don’t think I am one voice crying alone in the wilderness on this topic.

Mr. Prager also needs to study his history. He said having a Bible present at every installation of a public official is an unbroken tradition since George Washington.

Oops, in 1825, John Quincy Adams took the oath on a law book.

Another absurdity that probably has less social impact, to me falls into the category of superfluous. Sherry Jacobson, a Dallas Morning News columnist nominated Tony Romo for Texan of the year. The annual contest run by the News was established to honor someone who has made a significant contribution to the state and humanity.

I’m sorry, Tony. While it has been fun to watch you play and bring the Cowboys to so many recent wins, I really don’t think that puts you in the league with State District Court Judge Carole Clark of Tyler, who is trying to develop a new child welfare program for Texas that will not let so many kids fall through cracks.

And finally, there was a little blurb in the Dallas Morning News about Governor Rick Perry speaking out against the proposal to build a wall along the border between Texas and Mexico.

Was that the same Rick Perry who had that political ad a couple of months ago? The one that talked about how tough he was going to be on illegal immigration and how he supports the plan to beef up border protection by erecting a wall?

Most politicians who are going to renege on their campaign promises at least wait long enough for the general public to forget what they said.