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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas Blessings | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 22, 2022:

In spite of the fact that David and I are retired, there are very few days when we don’t have to get up, get dressed, and go somewhere. Monday morning, David goes by the church to upload Sunday’s sermon, Ladies’ Bible study is Wednesday morning, Sunday activities begin at 9:15 am, and the rest of the weekdays we try to get to the gym fairly early. That’s why I really look forward to those Saturdays when there is nothing on the calendar except drinking coffee in my pajamas and writing or reading. This Saturday wasn’t one of those days.

Nothing was on the calendar until 6:00 pm, but the first thing on my mental to-do list was a brief shopping trip. Brief or not, I’m not much of a shopper, so I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. One of my philosophies of life is to get the hard or unpleasant things out of the way first, so after a quick cup of coffee, I left my computer. I changed into “real” clothes, worked on my hair long enough to get rid of the bed head, and headed out.

At one point in my life I had a different purse for almost every outfit, but those days are long gone. Most of the time I don’t carry a purse, and when I do, I have one all-purpose bag that is neutral enough to go with almost anything in my wardrobe. The one that has held that honor most recently predates David, and we have been married for over 22 years. All things considered, it is in amazing shape with only some scuff marks on the bottom corners. But it is a double-handled tote-bag style, and in the last few months, the leather in both handles has cracked and the white stuffing is showing through. I considered using a black marker to cover up the stuffing, but several of my more fashion-minded friends have purse-shamed me, pointing out that Good Samaritan Thrift Store usually has a great selection of handbags.

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Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Christmas is more than a feeling – revisited | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 15, 2022:

One of the most common questions I’m asked by readers of my column is where do you get your ideas. It’s a hard question to answer. Mainly it’s having a writer’s perspective on life and seeing each person and each situation as a potential subject. Beyond that, it’s hard to explain why one person sparks my interest and another doesn’t, but it has to do with whether there’s an angle or a hook that pushes the right buttons. If you haven’t already figured it out, what I’m getting at is that this was one of those weeks when no buttons were pushed, no sparks flew, and no ideas came. Fortunately, I have over eight years of “golden oldies” to choose from. Here’s one from 2017 that, even though some of the circumstances are different now, might still push a button or two. Merry Christmas!

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Many wedding ceremonies include words to the effect that “love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment.” The idea, of course, is that love is not simply the dizzying excitement of a new relationship or the warm, fuzzy feeling of a long established marriage. It’s a commitment to act in a loving manner even when you don’t feel like it. People who rely simply on loving feelings are often disillusioned when the honeymoon is over. The more Christmases I experience, the more I realize that Christmas is a lot like love –those who rely simply on the magical feelings of the season are destined for disappointment.

My husband David is a nostalgia kind of guy, and he often reminisces about the good old days, especially at this time of year. He recently lamented the fact that he can’t seem to recapture the excitement and anticipation he experienced during the Christmas season when he was younger. Unfortunately, some of the magic of those mysterious packages disappears when you know the bills will be waiting for you at the end of the month. And let’s face it, there’s not as much magic in a new sweater or even the latest book by your favorite author as there was in a shiny red bicycle or a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. There’s still lots of magic to be found, though, if you know where to look.

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Counting or complaining? by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 17, 2022:

It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time to begin preparations for the holidays, but it’s also time to complain – about everything! As I finally sat down to write my column after a busy week, I scanned through that valuable source of inspiration – Twitter. As sometimes happens, among the usual time-wasting nonsense, I found a gem – Concentrate on counting your blessings and you’ll have little time to count anything else.

Apparently, there’s not a lot of blessing counting going on these days, because a lot of people are finding a lot of time to complain. Since the mid-term elections were just held last week, politics seems to be the focus of many complaints: the process is not fair, the voting requirements are too strict or not strict enough, there’s no one good to vote for, the counting process takes too long, the wrong candidate won, and too many other complaints to list.

But surely there are political blessings in there somewhere if we concentrate hard enough. We have the right to vote, and we have a variety of times and methods to accomplish that process. And even when all your favorites didn’t win, some did. If you didn’t like any of the choices, you have the opportunity to get involved at a grass roots level to get behind a candidate you can really support.

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Holiday Trees | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 17, 2022:

In this era of political correctness, one of the targets of the PC police has been the Christmas tree.  The use of greenery in celebrations isn’t a modern phenomenon. Evergreens of all kinds were used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans as a symbol of returning life in celebrations of the winter solstice, and Germans first brought a tree inside as a Christmas decoration in the 16th century. This tradition has become firmly entrenched in American culture and is the centerpiece of many celebrations of the birth of Jesus.

It’s hard to imagine how this beautiful symbol of such a joyous event could become the center of controversy, but in the mid-1800s several religious organizations, including the Roman Catholic Church, attempted to ban the Christmas tree as a pagan practice. However, by then the tradition was well-established in popular culture, and attempts to change that failed. Twenty-first century tree controversies have centered around the issue of separation of church and state as objections have been raised to displaying a Christmas tree in and around government buildings. These campaigns have met with limited success as have the efforts to call the trees “giving trees,” “family trees,” or “holiday trees.” There are probably parts of the country where holiday trees are popular, but those of us who were born and raised in the buckle of the Bible Belt have adamantly refused to follow that trend – until now.

The staff at the Senior Center in Emory goes out of their way to give this place where friends meet for food, fun, and fellowship a homey and sometimes festive atmosphere. The walls are decorated not only with informational bulletin boards but also with attractive pictures and artwork. And as various holidays come around, small centerpieces grace the tables and other decorations liven up the dining room. This is especially true around Christmas, and the focus is always the seven-foot tree that spends most of the year in a storage closet along with several boxes of ornaments and lights.

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Christmas Shopping and Gift Adventures | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 23, 2021:

Christmas shopping is usually pretty simple around the Brendle household. David and I exchange a few gifts with each other, but our needs are few and our budget is limited, so shopping isn’t complicated. We have two teenaged grandchildren – one is a discerning fashionista and one is a computer expert. Since they prefer to choose their own gifts, shopping for them involves choosing the cards in which to enclose their checks.

There are a few families we like to remember with a little something, usually a coffee mug for the caffeine fans, a small ornament for the patio, or a tasty treat to be enjoyed during the season when calories don’t count. This year I had a brilliant idea that would cover all those on my list. In June I had a booth at the Greenville Market, and I met Georgia who makes jams, jellies, and dessert sauces in delicious and unusual flavors. A small selection would be the perfect remembrance without breaking the bank or braving the malls. If only I could figure out how to contact her.

I usually come home from vendor events with a handful of business cards and brochures, but I couldn’t find one from Georgia. Searches of Google and Facebook yielded nothing, and I was running out of time. Finally I contacted the organizer of the Market, and she gave me an email address. I reached out to Georgia, and she quickly filled and shipped all my orders with an efficiency that would make Santa proud.

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A Week of Country Life | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 9, 2021:

In the late 18th or early 19th century one of two newsmen coined a phrase about the newsworthiness of a certain event. Both are given credit, but whoever said it was probably right: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” However, when the man involved is the husband of a small-town newspaper columnist, the event will probably end up in print.

Yes, David was on the receiving end of such a bite this week. The daughter of one of our neighbors dropped off her pet with her dad over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Kato is a large, furry Great Pyrenees mix who seemed friendly enough. In fact, he immediately made friends with the wandering canine who took up residence with our neighbors earlier this year. Kato was visiting Max one afternoon when David went across the street to have a cup of coffee with Charles. In an attempt to be a good guest, Kato barked at the perceived intruder, and when David entered the gate, Kato bit him on the upper thigh. Luckily, David was wearing double-layered nylon workout pants, so the teeth didn’t actually touch the skin, but he was left with an ugly scrape and a nasty bruise. To his credit, David didn’t bite back, but let’s just say Kato is now persona non grata in the neighborhood, or whatever the doggy equivalent of that status is.

The rest of the week went better, providing several incident’s that were of interest to a city girl who is still learning about country life. For one thing, we spent the week with our much more pleasant Great Pyrenees friend Spike. He was very well-behaved and didn’t provide much in the way of writing material, but there always seems to be something happening at the Ranch.

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Christmas around the Square | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 2, 2021:

After a COVID cancellation last year, Christmas around the Square is returning to downtown Emory this Saturday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. I had participated in this annual tradition twice as a vendor, and Christmas 2021 didn’t seem complete without it. I’m looking forward to being there this year, but I’m a little nervous since there is a slight chance of rain, and paperback books don’t fare well in damp weather. Hopefully, the weatherman will have pity and revise the forecast.

It’s not just my inventory that would be subject to bad weather. Over thirty other vendors will display their wares around the Courthouse Square, and that’s just part of the fun. There will also be tacos, a rodeo, JJ’s Texas Twirlers, story time from 5-6:00 pm, a live nativity presented by the United Methodist Church from 6-7:00 pm, a Christmas parade at 7:00 pm, the official lighting of the Rains County Christmas tree, Rhythmic Productions Music by DJ Calvin Hickerson, pictures with Santa, and much more.

Based on pictures of trees, lights, and other festive displays that have been appearing on Facebook for several weeks, it seems that many people are already well into the spirit of the holiday. But if you are having trouble feeling Christmas-y, this festival is a great way to banish the Grinch-y feelings and kick start some Christmas cheer. Past experience tells me there will be lots of smiles, laughter, hugs, and shopping going on between the live entertainment and other planned activities.

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Coming Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 20, 2021:

David and I have experienced several homecomings of sorts recently, and I had a very special one this past week. The word homecoming usually brings to mind a soldier returning from the war or the annual celebration held by many schools in honor of former students.However, the dictionary also defines the word as “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home.”

David’s middle sister Sharon invited us to celebrate the Fourth of July with her and their younger sister Deb and brother-in-law Jesse. Sharon lives in the house previously owned by their parents in West Monroe, Louisiana. We normally visit two or three times a year, but we had not seen his family since March of 2020, just before the shutdown. Even though David only lived in that house for three months before he went into the Navy, after such a long absence, our visit there definitely felt like a homecoming.  

When we arrived home on July 8, we learned that the Senior Center was re-opening for in-house lunch service on July 12. The Center is called the Rains County Senior Nutrition Program, but it is about so much more than food. Many Center clients, especially those who live alone, have little other social contact than the time they spend with friends around the tables there. And even those of us who are not so lonely look on the eclectic lunch group more as family than simply friends. The re-opening of the Center was a homecoming for all of us.

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I Love Christmas Lights | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 15, 2020:

One of my many favorite parts of Christmas is the outdoor displays of lights, but apparently not everyone

feels the same way. Last week a resident of a small town in Minnesota received an anonymous letter claiming that her very understated decorations were “a reminder of systemic biases against our neighbors who don’t celebrate Christmas or who can’t afford to put up lights of their own.” Not that I have a strong opinion about this new issue that has suddenly gone viral, but that is just wrong.

I grew up in what would have been considered an upper lower class or lower middle class neighborhood. There were a few families that hung a string or two of lights along the front eaves or around the porch columns, but ours wasn’t one of them. Dad worked two jobs year round, and since one of them was at the Post Office, he worked lots of overtime during the holidays. He was too tired to climb on the roof for anything short of a major leak, and any money left over at the end of the month was earmarked for clothes, music lessons, or a summer vacation.

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Looking for Christmas Spirit | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 8, 2020:

David and I have been in COVID jail since the Saturday after Thanksgiving when I realized I couldn’t smell anything. I didn’t have any other symptoms, but I tested positive, so we were advised to quarantine for ten days. At first, I was thankful that David had found a new WiFi provider and we were once again able to watch TV, but after a while, I wasn’t so sure.

We caught up on videos of several YouTubers we follow, and we watched the Madalorian episodes we had missed, but after that the viewing choices were pretty grim. The results of the presidential election seemed to be the main focus of every broadcast, and from the reports and forecasts I heard, no one is going to be happy regardless of the eventual outcome. Let’s just say it wasn’t the kind of programming that gives the viewer a warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling.

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