Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Time Marches On

Many years ago my husband brought home a handsome, 8-day wall clock. I can't remember if it was a family Christmas gift or something he had bought from a merchant when he worked in New Orleans. The clock was always packed and taken with us on our several moves since then, the comforting tick-tock a friendly background in our daily lives and the dependable striking of the hour a given.

A few months ago, the clock stopped keeping accurate time, but it was still beautiful in its walnut frame, the familiar face and brass gong as cheerful as ever, so we didn't take it down. One day, our son Greg told us he thought he could fix the clock. Being very mechanical as he is, I had no doubt he could.

But Greg was called out of town for work for six weeks, leaving the dismantled clock on a table in the bedroom with a "Do Not Touch" sign on top of it. That was fine. It wasn't really in my way. One day our son called and asked if a box had been delivered for him. It hadn't, but I told him I would watch for it. Probably guitar equipment, I figured.

When a large box came, I placed it on the floor by the table holding the disabled clock. Hm. That's odd, I thought, the box is same size as the clock! He must have given up on fixing the old one, I surmised.

When I told Greg the box had come, he said, "That's your Christmas present. You can wrap it if you want." I wrapped it in my prettiest paper with a festive ribbon and decorative golden frond stuck under the bow.

At Christmas, Greg told me to unwrap it, saying he hoped I hadn't guessed what it was. "Well, the label said, 'Glass,'" I said,but I didn't tell him about my suspicion.

I was right! A gorgeous, expensive-looking walnut wall clock met my delighted gaze. "A clock!" I exclaimed, glad my hunch was right!

Now we have a clock that not only sounds the hour, but also has beautiful Westminster chimes! The sounding of the gong reminds me of the lovely treat we had at our home in Mississippi several times a day when the chimes from the gracious old church next door pealed through the air with nostalgic hymns!

Today is New Year's Eve. Tomorrow begins the futuristic date of 2015! A scrap of a verse from an old hymn we used to sing comes to mind: "Time's clock is striking the hour, Jesus will soon be here..." I don't remember the rest of it, but the song deals with making sure we are ready for the coming of the Lord. The best New Year's resolution of all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Past

What a busy month December has been! The shopping for just the right gifts for loved ones, the mailing and the anxious wait for the last package to be delivered safely, not to mention the decorating, baking and cooking! Now the month (and the year!) is about to wind up, and I can take a moment to catch my breath!

I sent presents to our youngest grandchildren early, so they could enjoy them before the crush of Christmas gifts they were sure to receive descended upon them. Thanks to Face Time, I got to see five-year-old Maddie and Anne-Marie, 8, open the box that came in the mail that day. (One-year-old Isaac was asleep.) Smiles of delight were on both ends of the camera as they tore into playthings and a new outfit for each of them.

"Why don't you let them unwrap Isaac's present for him?" I suggested to their parents, to which our son replied, "Oh, no! He will open his own when he wakes up!"

"He might not know how!" I protested, but his mommy said I might be surprised. And I was! Apparently he remembered from his birthday a few weeks before, because when he awoke bright and alert from his nap, Isaac wasted no time in ripping the paper and tossing it aside!

When he spied a toy, he would clap his little hands in glee while I laughed in amazement. It was almost like being there! What pure delight to see him dance around and run after a toy truck as it spun in circles! Then when he pulled out a bright green play outfit, he clasped the clothes to his chest and rushed to Mommy with them!

I knew Isaac would have to grow a little for his clothes to fit, but I was hoping the girls' outfits would work. Finally I got a phone picture of them modeling the clothes, and they looked adorable. Their father said they wore them to the Christmas Eve services.

Anne-Marie's red dress and white vest of curly faux fur belted at the waist was cute with the boots she was wearing. Maddie's animal-print furry jacket over stretchy, black pants trimmed with fur at the ankles made her say admiringly, "Look, it has ruffles!"

Whenever Howard had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I couldn't think of anything. Neither could he, but he finally decided he wanted a robe, which we shopped for two days before Christmas. But I was smart and went to the After-Christmas sales and scored big on bargains! As Tiny Tim would say, "God bless us every one!" And He did!

Monday, December 29, 2014

An Unlikely Christmas Day

We'd celebrated Christmas a day early since some of the family would be headed out of town on Christmas day. I had made a big dinner, including a turkey, stuffing, three signature Christmas casseroles, Waldorf salad and two pumpkin pies. Not to mention a fancy cake I'd seen on Facebook and all the treats and candy I'd made.

Naturally, I did not want to cook on Christmas day, and we had received several restaurant gift cards, so the obvious thing to do was to eat out. My husband and I set out for a town less than an hour away where a couple of places would honor our gift cards. It felt good to get out of the house after the tumult of Christmas, happy as it was.

We had gotten about halfway to our destination when Howard slowed abruptly and announced, "We are getting pulled over!" What? We weren't speeding or anything. We stopped, and sure enough, a patrol car was pulling up behind us, lights flashing. "Oh, Lord," Howard prayed, "Let us have favor." Just as we looked up, the police car whipped around us and sped off! What a quick answer to prayer! We praised God and went on!

"Nothing seems to be open in this town!" I exclaimed as business after business was closed. "I'm glad the one I looked up on the computer is open," I said. I couldn't believe it when their parking lot was deserted also! I felt like the family in "A Christmas Story" who ended up eating Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant! We had almost given up when we spied an I-Hop that was open. We had no gift certificate there, but we had a surprisingly delicious lunch with a gracious, talkative, older teen waitress attending.

My equally talkative husband began by asking if she were a farm girl, which she was. Turned out she has two horses and shows a 2,000-pound steer in livestock competitions. The industrious young lady said she had worked there 5 years, had paid for two cars, and is going to major in veterinary studies in college! When asked, she admitted she hadn't been to church since childhood when an aunt used to take her, giving my preacher husband the opportunity to recommend a church and urge her to take time to include God in her busy life.

It was blowing a gale outside, and as I clutched my coat closer I felt in my pocket for my gloves. I thought I had worn them in, but perhaps I had left them in the car. I was about to go in and see if I had left them on the table, when suddenly I saw a black something under the rear of the car. My good leather gloves! At least one of them! I must have dropped them! How did the wind not blow this one away? Thankfully, I found the other glove on the seat of the car!

This had been a day of God's favor! First, the patrol car incident, then finding something open and having a good meal of two steaks, enabling us to split an order, our conversation with the young girl, then finding my gloves, (which were my favorite Christmas present last year). The coziness of the restaurant and the convivial atmosphere contributed to a feeling of cheer and warmth on this unusual Christmas day!