Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Surrendering to Christmas

The weekend was lovely.  No, exquisite.  Like something I just want to bottle up and keep with me forever.

And I hope you'll permit me to gush a bit with italics in this post, because there's just no other way to be about it all. 

I met Leah at the hotel in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday.  And it was so very Christmas with this fun little gingerbread village downstairs.

We walked to the Taft Theater to hear Joe Henry and Over the Rhine.  And if it were possible to hear Heaven from Earth, then I'm sure we heard the stuff the angels are singin'.

 (Joe's son Levon was disgusting on that sax by the way...)

The night was tender.  We heard Karin share about her momma, a nurse for 40 years.  And how shortly after retirement, she suffered a stroke and has, for the past 9 years, been living in an assisted living facility.  The caregiver becomes the one needing care...

And when Karin shared about all the beautiful people they have met in that place, I laughed and cried.  (You can hear an unofficial version of the song Only God Can Save Us Now which  these souls have inspired here.)  Tragedy and Humor stand shoulder to shoulder, holding hands...fingers laced together.

The music was incredible.  I found I lost time.  I lost track of where sounds came from.  At one point I looked at the drummer, wondering how he was making that sound.  And realized...it was the bass. 

And I am still amazed at how each musician stood out...and yet no one stood out.  Their music was so perfectly balanced.  Like a spoon-full of yummy where you can't quite finger the individual spices because they so compliment one another, so well blended together. 

Leah brought the warm southern breeze of her soul to mine.  I was refreshed by our time and by her presence.  You are lovely, my friend.

And if you love OTR (Sara!), then you just have to see them at St. Elizabeth's.  (Please excuse my amateur photography...and thank you for allowing me to share despite imperfection.)

And it held a bit of extra-special about it because Jon and the kids met us there.

And sharing our love for Over the Rhine with our littles was divine

Lovely.  Exquisite.  Tender.  Incredible.  Divine...and all the things that are Christmas.  Humble and sincere.  Majesty in a manger.  Kings and peasants alike, speechless and in awe of the glory of Heaven...amazed that it can fit in such small packages.  And this weekend was just that.  Broken people aware of their frailty and learning to love by way of failure...and getting up to try again.

Let me leave you for now with the lyrics to one of my favorites off OTR's new album, The Long Surrender.

All My Favorite People
All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
Some prayers are better left unspoken
Just want to hold you and let the rest go

All my friends are part saint and part sinner
We lean on each other, try to rise above
We are not afraid to admit we’re all still beginners
We’re all late bloomers when it comes to love

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
Orphan believers, skeptical dreamers step forward
You can stay right here, you don’t have to go

Each wound you’ve received is just a burdensome gift
Gets so hard to lift yourself up off the ground
But the poet says ‘you must praise the mutilated world’
We’re all working’ the graveyard shift, we might as well sing along

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me, my heart should know
As for your tender heart, this world’s gonna rip it wide open
It ain’t gonna be pretty but you’re not alone

Cause all my favorite people are broken
believe me my heart should know
Orphan believers, skeptical dreamers, you’re welcome
You’re safe right here, you don’t have to go

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pieced Together

I have this vision of handmade quilts, on our beds, in our linen closets, in our family room draped over a old ladder I have yet to find.  We've had this amazing quilt Jon's grandma made for us early on in our marriage.  We've hauled it everywhere - to downtown pavements for Big Band concerts in the park, to lush grasses for picnics or gazing at a sky, to the great indoors for making forts in a family room.  And I've been toying with the idea of making them myself for some time now - wanting to get elbows-deep in fabric.  I'm tactile that way. 

Do I own a sewing machine?  No.

Do I know how to sew?  Um, well, no.

Have I ever had any interest in learning to sew before?  Well, no to that one, too, actually.

Details, details.

But I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna make a quilt.  It's one of my winter projects and I'm totally enthused about it. 

My sister and I were at a fabric store the other day perusing the aisles and I'm pulling out this and that, ooooing and ahhhhing and "Oh-wouldn't-this-be-perfect-for"ing all over the place.  Candy.  I'm tellin' ya, it was candy.

Yummy.  And she laughed and made some comment about how confident I was in both my (future) ability and my belief that I'd really love sewing. 

(Insert sheepish, shy smile here.)  What can I say...I dream big and go all in.  I'd be a terrible poker player.

So more to come on this.  (More to come on another project, too.  Can't share until after Christmas.)  But who knows.  I just may become a quilter.  Or at the very least know how to hem a pair of pants or sew on a button.

And I love how lives mesh in the same sort of quilting way.  A dear friend and her Mod city-girl-prints and my cottage-chic florals and paisleys combine for a time of cozy comforts tonight.  Stitched in beside a band that is both quiet and loud, playing Christmas music at it's finest. 

Florals, polka dots, stripes, herringbone.  Hodge-podged and different.  Scraps of this and leftovers of that.  All coming together to shape an object of warmth and love.  It's rather glorious.  And maybe even a faint glimpse of Heaven.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We are straddling a season of transition, out of our house and looking for another one.  Gypsies, we have crashed at my folks for now.  My days are spent largely in making sense of our combined households.  Doesn't make for much inspiration to share.  I mean, not sure how enthusiastic anyone else will be that our jeans are all in one location now or that we can find our underwear. 

But fun-filled days are on the horizon.

And soon we are going to take a break from organization to put on aprons and bake, Christmas style.

This weekend kicks off the good holiday-togetherness times:  Over the Rhine with Leah, my brother arrives, my sis and her family come to town, my husband's week+ of vacation, Si's first Christmas, yummy Christmas brunch, celebrating my nephew's 2nd birthday.  Each one a cause for celebration and good cheer, reminding us of what we hold so precious, especially at this point in the year: family, friends, memory making, tradition keeping...together.

And come January (which is insanely only two weeks away), the kids and I will be traveling around the world, from our own hometown.  I love America.  We are blessed to be American and raise our children under free, wide-open-with-possibility skies. 

But there are so many things to learn and appreciate about other cultures.  Like the way our Ahiskan Turkish friends have opened up their homes and lives to us with more hospitality than we've seen anywhere.

I love where we live.  We don't have to go far to experience culture.  At the mall playground the other night we hung out with mommas, daddies, and kiddos from India, China, Mexico.  And it really is so beautiful how much there is we hold in common. 

More to come.  Happy Thursday, all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Welcoming Mr. Winter

Winter has come, and baby, it is cold outside. 

We stay in, hang out.  It's a quieter way to live, for sure.  But we welcome winter around here.  I recognize many of you may not share in our joy, but for us snowy, cold weather comes bearing gifts of slower paced living and togetherness. 

It inspires creative planning on what to do when it's just too cold to be outside, at least for long.  And I look forward to picnics fireside, exploring the indoors, baking, crafting, reading a good book...or maybe 10.

I keep a "happiness journal," etching down as I feel so inclined all that I love or am grateful for about a day.  Today's entries include:
Hot showers on cold days.

The smell of my husband's Irish Spring bar soap.  (And Eden must love it too, because this is what I discovered when she'd disappeared for a bit.)

Reading at the table with a hot cup of coffee, watching my kids play together.

Things crocheted.  Yes, Mom, I appreciate a good doily now.  I know you're proud.

Yummy grilled cheese and tomato soup, the way my grandma always made it, avec tomato and popcorn.  I ask you, IS there any other way?

Ugly but snugly socks.

Date night with the hubs.

The smell of sandalwood incense burning at my parents' house.  It's so very Christmas to us.

And, since this is a blog about becoming...our sweet little Si-guy who became a crawler AND cut two teeth this last week.  He's getting so big...

 (Which would you guess is his favorite teether?)

(You got it!  My necklace, which is funny.  That's coincidentally why I wear it.  Just kidding.)

A quiet house, gentle tapping of computer keys, the soft glow of a Christmas tree.

I open the door wide to you, Mr. Winter.  Please do stay awhile.