And So It Begins

There’s something compelling about a door.

Anything can be behind a door. Open the door and a story begins. Or maybe it ends. But for sure, the doorway stands between what was and what will be. Which explains why Janus, the Roman god for whence the month January comes, is perfectly suited for this first month of the year. Janus represents the transition, the both-sides-of-the-story; he’s depicted with two faces, and often found adorning doors, or gates, or archways. That’s Janus–and January–for you. You never know what you’re going to get until you open the door.

I was sorely tempted to just stand on the other side of the door for this January and wait until I felt a little stronger, a bit more hopeful. But eventually, I stepped through.

Do you remember that game, “Mother May I?” I played it when I was just a wee girl and I taught my kids how to play it. One of my favorite ploys in the game was to allow a child to get almost to the finish line and then on the next turn, when the smug kiddo had just inches to go, I’d say, “Joey (because he was the oldest and best able to handle the vagaries of life), you may take THREE GIANT STEPS! (Pause for a beat or two) BACKWARDS!” (Oh, don’t get worked up, Joey would almost always win. And he learned important lessons about the Game of Life along the way. But now that I think about it, he will not so much as play a game of cards with his dear, sainted mother today. I believe I’ve suddenly had an insight as to why.)

Anyway, I really, truly wanted to take three giant steps backwards this January. Or maybe just call out, “Do Over!” the way my kids would when they didn’t like the way things were going. But those aren’t exactly very effective strategies in the grown-up world. So I just pulled myself up by my faith and carried on.

And then I remembered that Thomas A Kempis, who was a veritable font of quotes that one could copy on notecards and keep handy for inspiration, had one particular quote that should perhaps be above January’s door:

THEY TRAVEL LIGHTLY WHOM GOD’S GRACE CARRIES.

(And for those of you who’d like a little writing inspiration, The Muffin is also a veritable font this month, with my two posts, The Secret to Success, and Just for Today, For Writers (Part Deux) in the offerings. I wish for you a year full of writing happiness, and I hope you’ll let me know all about your beginnings or endings in 2021!)

The December Wonkiness

The week after Christmas is always a bit wonky for me.

Joey’s 2nd Birthday at Grandma’s House

I wander around in a sugar daze from all the sweets consumption, totally discombobulated depending on what day of the week the holy day fell. Because Christmas Eve always feels like a Saturday to me, Christmas Day a Sunday…well, I’m sure you can see why today–a Monday–felt like the day after Christmas and it was nearly 11:00 before I realized it was the 28th and called Oldest Junior Hall to say, “Happy Birthday!”

To be honest, this is standard procedure for me, though it is getting a bit later in the morning each year. But I’m pretty sure he was just waking up (he had the day off!) so he was none the wiser to his very own mother forgetting his birthday. Plus I had something profound and lovely to share that I’d read from Henri Nouwen’s Here and Now, thus glossing over any shortcoming on my part. To wit, Nouwen wrote about how a birthday is the one celebration that is strictly about the birthday person.

Just think about that for a moment. When we get a birthday card or a call or even a text, it’s simply and only, in Nouwen’s words, an opportunity to say, “Thank you for being born and being among us.” We’re not celebrating any accomplishment, achievement, or victory. We’re just happily celebrating a life, and that we’re glad to be able to share in that life.

So yes, it’s been my usual wonky week after Christmas, including almost forgetting my first born son’s birthday. But I’m grateful for all that because it means despite everything else going on in the world–and it’s a LOT, isn’t it?–it’s life as usual in the Hall House. And that’s worth celebrating, too.

D’oh. I completely forgot to cleverly tie in my December Muffin posts, but I believe I’ve expounded upon my perfectly plausible excuse for why that didn’t happen (See wonkiness above). So if you haven’t read “Faith over Fatalism” or “A Fine Romance” (Apparently, the letter for December was “F”), please go take a look-see now. And stay safe out there, y’all, till we meet again in 2021!

Accentuating the Positive

See this broke in half tree? That’s in my backyard. It crashed through the fence, leaving holes just the right size for Bigfoot to come waltzing in. And when I called my insurance company to report the damage and ask what was I supposed to do about Bigfoot, the nice person on the other end laughed.

I laughed politely back, just to show her I wasn’t completely crazy. But I was not kidding around, y’all. It’s been a bit of a wild ride this year and Bigfoot paying me a visit wouldn’t even be the craziest thing that happened in 2020 around the Hall House.

Anyway, Thanksgiving’s almost here and as I’m a firm believer in counting one’s blessings rather than one’s boo-boos, trials, and tribulations, let’s just accentuate the positive:

I’m still writing over at the Muffin, so you can take a look at “When Daylight Savings Time Ends” to see how I’ve dealt with that particular annual trial. And I also have a suggestion for how you writer types can use your best talent in a lasting way. Check out “Giving Your Best Gift: Writing” and let me know if you have additional suggestions. I’m pretty grateful for this gig over at WOW-Women-on-Writing; I love the support of my writing community and I’m glad there’s something that puts my derriere in the chair and makes me write. Also, that makes me think because as you may recall, I’ve had some technical bloggy snafus lately. (They’re still mucking about with me but happy thoughts, people.)

I’ve started Walking with Purpose, a Bible study program for women, and it’s been wonderful in so many ways. And even if you’re not looking to join one more thing, I can heartily recommend dropping in on the blog as a balm for your harried soul. Honestly, if not for the whole pandemic thing, I wouldn’t have the time or maybe even the inclination for this Bible study. So I’m grateful for the moments I’m getting to spend with new friends and new hope.

And I’m thankful for the Junior Halls (and their spouses!) and family and friends, and even the folks in my neighborhood grocery store who may not always agree on how the world’s being run, but do agree that what makes our lives worth all the boo-boos, trials, and tribulations is the love we share while we’re here in this crazy world.

At least, until Bigfoot comes through the fence. There will be no love for THAT tribulation, I can guarantee you. (But I’ll try to get video. And happy Thanksgiving, friends, be safe out there!)