Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why I Love Kingston!

Yesterday I picked up my sister in law and we went to the MCS Christmas concert. We walked up the back stairs and seated ourselves in the balcony at the Trinity church where the school kids were presenting their concert. To say what being there means to me will take awhile. I love that old church. I have gathered there with others many times over the years and every time whether a happy time like Christmas concerts and musical nights or deeply sad times like a young man's funeral or the funerals of a young mother , a beloved wife and grandmother I always feel a stirring sense of community. I have stood myself on that platform and sang. I have sat in every section and often sat in the high balcony(always hopeful that this would not be the day old construction and design would fail)I have looked out the old leaded windows across to the school and onto the road. I have led classes in through its doors for Remembrance Day services. Our Christmas concerts used to take place in the cramped music room in the school and then they were moved to the church hall where we would wait on the back stairs, every second never ending while I tried to keep my class quiet. I remember the year my class was a simmering mess of emotion and anger and I barely contained it on concert day. I had three kids in foster care and they were ready to kill each other re-directing their real issues by attacking each other. How we kept the lid on that day I do not know? Watching the teachers bring their kids in I found myself wishing I was standing down in their spot. Someone else was encouraging the grade four group and it should have been me. But those days are over. Instead I watched from above and enjoyed my vantage point. Each group it seemed held kids of friends of Zac's. I remember the first time it dawned on me that there were kids in the school whose fathers were friends of Zac's . They are everywhere I look now. I somehow find a place for that sorrow. Sunny's face lights up when she sees me and gives me a quick wave. It is what it is and will always be. I find Louisa's granddaughters, Kim's grandson and get caught up in their joy and pride. Someday I will scan the crowd for Chapin and Caleb's kids. I love the past, the present and the future of living in Kingston. I love who I am here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How Can we not be Filled with Gratitude?

Standing in my quiet kitchen this morning listening to the dripping of the coffee maker I also listened to an interview of a young woman in Aleppo. Can you even imagine for one second what the people of Syria are going through? Think for a moment of soldiers bursting into your home and shooting your family. Think of the fear knowing that this is happening around you. Think now of the security we take for granted. Can we even begin to realize what life must be like under such conditions? If we really could would we be so consumed with our petty concerns. Would the things we worry about have any place in such turmoil? We as a society hear instantly of terrible atrocities around the world as they are happening but are we any more moved by them than we were in the past? A follow up interview was with a Syrian family in Canada;two little girls sounding very much like my granddaughters playing a simple game together in their Canadian home;a mom awaiting the birth of her next baby;a family trying to make ends meet and create a life . As just one person I get overwhelmed knowing the terrible things in this world are out of my control. But sitting now in the comfort of my office I claim the one thing I have complete control over. I claim my gratitude , my compassion for others, my ability to hold the less fortunate in my thoughts and not take for granted the freedom and bounty of the life I have been given on this day in this place. I will look at the vast sky when I walk later and remember all that suffer under that same sky.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Leftovers

One of the perks of our Sunday family suppers are Monday leftovers. Today's are especially delicious so as I partake of them I will reflect on the whole Sunday family supper concept. I really do enjoy the planning and preparation for our Sunday night meal. I try to vary the menu often rotating favorites. Last night's supper of baked beans, brown bread rolls, hash brown casserole and ham is one of the favorites for sure. I really do not mind the work that goes in to it and will be pleased to do it for as long as I am able. I love that my boys show true appreciation for meals they regard as classics. I love that Bri and Ashlie are developing that attachment as well and I get a kick out of the fact that if one small part of the meal is changed from what they remember they can not help but comment. I thought I had almost gotten away with the slight change in the hash brown casserole but Chapin just couldn't help himself from mentioning it even though he waited until long after the meal was eaten. I would have been disappointed if he hadn't .I remember being as protective of my mother's tried and true recipes and the fact that I am providing that same comfort for my kids fills me with happiness. Last night after the kids left Burton said again as he does most Sunday nights" That was a great supper Mrs. White. I sure love having the kids come every Sunday night." It is unspoken how much we wish all our children could be around the table every week. I also look ahead to when our numbers increase and our gathering becomes a bit more chaotic. I say a silent prayer for that. I also say a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the bounty of food. Last night's ham was raised by Caleb and Ashlie.And such a prayer of thankfulness for the laughter , the stories , the teasing ,and the connection that makes those Sunday suppers so wonderful. And for the roof we gather under; the warmth ,the memories and the family we've created. I include a picture of our table from several years ago. Since that day there have been many changes but the constant is good food and the very best of company!

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Power of Persuasion

It would seem I have completely out of the blue booked flights for Burton and I to go to Meg's Christmas day. It seemed to happen in spite of me. It began with an e-mail announcing deals on flights to several places one of them being Edmonton of course. I realize the all seeing internet knows my attachment to Alberta. Add to that the picture on top of my desk I have been looking at every day. Emma and Paige's faces in their Christmas picture from last year had been working away at my vulnerability. Hearing Paige in the background of almost every phone conversation was also tugging at my heart. She is a cool cucumber when it comes to showing her emotions and she chooses to keep us at a distance unless she can have us up close. Then she is free with her affection and never fails to delight us. She especially has her grandfather wrapped around her little finger. Emma on the other hand blurts her feelings out and several times in the last few weeks has lamented that Monkey and Toad are not coming out for Christmas. So deliberate advertising and deliberate granddaughter manipulation worked together to wear me down. Once I began to entertain the idea then I started working on Grampie. He seemed stoic at first ( about three seconds ) and then I saw his resolve start to crumble. I made my classic pros and cons list and the pro list was considerably longer. The cons list was practical and held strong reasoning mainly regarding money or the lack of it but the pro list involved granddaughters and the fact that being 7 and 5 won't happen again. 'Life is too short' came up. I texted a close friend for advice and got the same arguments back that I'd been having with myself. Burton of course by that time had completely given in to the possibility of seeing the smiles on Emma and Paige's faces and feeling their arms wrap around him in a welcoming hug. Then the phone rang and I heard Emma's voice saying" Mom says you might come for Christmas, Monkey?" I was done with the debate. I pushed 'book flight' and the rest is history. We are going to Meg and Cody's for Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

December Is Upon Us

Last night I sat in the dim, Christmas light illuminated St. Augustine's church and listened to words and music. Amid the bustle we get caught up in it was a lovely reprieve. Just two and a half hours of not looking at my phone is rare these days which when you really think about that, is pretty sad. But more about the words and music. Stephanie Mainville and her daughter Lydia provided the musical interludes between sections of the reading of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. The words were as melodious as the fiddle, the keyboard, the cello and Stephanie's beautiful voice. I have been blessed to have a deep and meaningful history with that beautiful voice. Stephanie and her mother brought Christmas music to the church I attended and the choir I was a part of. For several Christmas seasons I sat under their tutelage learning songs, alto parts and bringing together Christmas cantatas of the most professional standard. Those days hold so much for me. I was the busy mother of four growing children. I was a busy teacher and those hours of choir practise were just for me. Tears come to my eyes when I recall those wonderful Christmases. Last night Rickie joined me and the stage she finds herself in right now, teaching and raising four kids, is so much the one I was in during those choir days. Oh the joy those memories bring me and oh the sorrow. How could they have passed so quickly? For years after Zac died I could not sing in public. I could belt it out if I was alone in the car or in my house but when I found myself in church for a funeral or at a Christmas service I could not even open my mouth. I will not try to analyse this but about two years ago my mouth opened(I think it was a Christmas Eve service)and I found that I was making a sound, I was singing again. I do not know if I will ever return to a choir or any form of public singing but I am thankful to be able to join in when given the opportunity. Stephanie and Carolyn have spent their lives making and bringing music to others. I have been given the privilege of bringing words. So this morning I give thanks for words and music and the advent of this beautiful season.