Saturday, November 27, 2010


What is it about Christmas that makes people want to see the same movies that they have seen year after year? Do they think that Kris Kringle is going to lose his competency hearing, that Scrooge will refuse to change his ways, or that Clarance won't get his wings? No, we all know how these movies will end. We have seen them since we were children. In fact, many of us own copies of our favorite DVDs, stored away with the ornaments, waiting for yearly viewing.

I think it is about our efforts to return to a time that seems so much more innocent. Christmas is about the birth of a Savior and a time for reclamation.
There are few time in the year more positive, more joyful than the Christmas celebration.

That is why I think people always return to those corny movies about new beginnings, second chances, and acts of kindness.

Yes, I know what the Ghost of Christmas Present will say before he says it, but I will watch the movie again this year. When I find White Christmas I will auto-tune it onto my TV. I will quote Luke 2 along with Linus, and sing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch." The movies and cartoons are life affirming. Christmas is life affirming.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

This has become a traditional part of my Thanksgiving meal. I make a big pot the day before Thanksgiving and have a bowl with a sandwich or grilled cheese--an easy, satisfying meal after a day of baking.

My family has its Thanksgiving meal in the afternoon, so a bowl of Pumpkin Ginger Soup keeps me from being grumpy while I smell that turkey cooking.

This soup isn't sweet like Pumpkin Pie. It is hearty and using a tart apple in the recipe adds a nice flavor. It also taste better after taking a moment to count a few of those blessings we take for granted
the rest of the year.

Here's my recipe. I believe I found it at

Pumpkin Ginger Soup
2 cups--or 1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie)
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup light cream
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, diced (I used a Granny Smith apple)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Saute onion and apple until tender. Stir in pumpkin, broth, and spices. Remove from heat.

Process or blend until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in cream.

Heat through and serve.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Pilgrims were a serious group of individuals, believing in the virtue of hard work. They weren't big on telling jokes, having parties, or other such vain endeavors. Maybe that is why it was so remarkable that they would take three days to celebrate the end of the harvest that first Thanksgiving. The community came together to celebrate. Work was postponed (with the exception of the women cooking & cleaning up) till another day.

That is why I am a bit dismayed.

Communities no longer make the time to stop and reflect on their good fortune. True--hospitals, gas stations, and some restaurants have always stayed opened during the holiday. Yet, recently, I have noticed other businesses now remain opened most of Thanksgiving Day. Other families are forced t0 rush through a meal, unable to really reflect or fully rejoice.

We must stop and take a moment to be grateful, whether we are obliged to work, or whether we are fellowshipping with family and friends.

I wish joy to all.

Don't get me started on Black Friday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seeing Clearly--Part 2

Last week I posted about making changes in my life and observing others for inspiration. Today I wanted to write about the other side.

Lately, I have become exposed to people who talk and think much as people did in my mother's generation. That was okay for my mother's time period. However, as times change, people must also change.

Example 1:
I know a woman who has a strong need to control every situation around her. If she is in a conversation, she will control it. If she is involved in an activity, she MUST tell everyone how this activity will be done. She is very close to a bully--though I believe this is a compulsion she may not be able to control. She feels that her way is the right way. It is the way she has always done things and the way things were done by the adults when she was young.

I once listened to this woman tell how she yelled at a waiter that hadn't given the service she wanted and that the waiter was asked by the manager to apologize to her. I had to control my laughter. I remember my college days as a waitress. I know that restaurant employees often apologize--for anything--but revenge is sweet for the last person who touches your food or drink, before it goes into your mouth.

Whereas rudeness to restaurant employees may lead to gastric distress, inflexibility with medical workers could be dangerous. This same person was uncooperative to health care workers during a serious illness. She would attend appointments on her terms and wonder why no one ever wanted to follow-up when she missed appointments. Whenever anyone would question her decisions about her choices, the response she would give was, " My body, my choice."

During the storms of life, trees are often broken, while the bending reed survives.

Example 2:
Businesses that function in the old ways can't survive well during harsh economic times.

"That's the way it's always been done," is the cry of the lamp lighter, the town crier, and the maker of oil lamps. Businesses that don't change with the times, to meet people's needs, become obsolete. There is nothing more frustrating than to work for a struggling business and have an idea to help the company, only to hear, "We've never done that before," and have your idea dismissed.

When your ideas aren't valued morale plummets. When you are asked to take on more and more tasks, but are never told, "Thank you," you begin to feel under-valued.

What's a person to do?

God let me be like the reed and bend when the storms come my way. Let me have the flexibility to change when change is necessary.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seeing Clearly--Part 1

Remember the old Credence song, I Can See Clearly Now?

I've been people watching lately. I hadn't meant to do it, but I guess I have been looking for inspiration. Something about seasonal changes cause me to pause and assess what is going on around me. I have pondered the way people accept or reject change and the consequences of those decisions. I have also thought about how others have influenced change in me. Today I would like to post about a couple of positive examples.

1) I remember when I was new at The Wellness Center and thought about walking the track. I was around people who worked out regularly, and was intimidated. Everyone on the second floor would see me and know how out of shape I was. My inner voice said that people would all know that I might only be able to walk 1/2 a mile or maybe only 1/4. How humiliating. I was so embarrassed that I practices walking my block the week before the intake so I wouldn't make such a poor showing.

Then I met a trainer for my intake evaluation and began to walk the track. Right in front of me was an elderly woman bent over a cane, walking laps. She would take a step or two, then move her cane forward. Then she would take another step or two.

I felt overwhelmed. This woman had the courage I seemed to lack. From that day on, whenever I have been asked by an instructor to do anything I didn't want to do--because of embarrassment alone, I remember that lady, slowly walking the track with her cane.

2) Teen-agers (even the very best of them) are egocentric by nature. That is not a judgment, but merely an observation.

We have a new student this year, from the country of Yemen. I heard from one of his teachers that he fasts twice a week and I was intrigued by this. Teen-agers are frequently known for a lack of discipline. When I asked the details of his fast, the boy grinned with pride and explained that he fasts twice a week because Mohammad fasted twice a week and he wanted to be like that.

There was something in the boy's eyes that impressed me. If he could be that disciplined, why couldn't I? I know that discipline isn't the only reason for a fast. It's more complicated than that, but still, it might be something that I would consider.

I have made drastic changes in the past few years. The changes have been necessary for my survival. As I have made these changes I have looked to others for inspiration.

Next week I will write about those who have insisted on doing the same thing the same way for as long as they can remember. Their situations aren't faring so well. What can we learn from them?