So I was browsing a minimalist website last January, and I stumbled on Nourishing Minimalism. Within a few clicks, I found a post about a yearly decluttering challenge. The challenge for last year
Every handful of minutes, the wind visits the alders and maples and evergreens surrounding our house and sends a shower of white billowing about. Inside this globe, I sit in front of the woodstove and watch the orange glow on the other side of the tempered glass. The sounds of David Lanz's Christmas CD fills the house. To my left, our 15-foot Christmas tree towers. If I had my druthers, the massive fir would be draped head to toe in white lights; for the pleasure of my children, I opted for the green, red, blue and yellow variety.
“Mornin’, Ma’am,” he’d drawled in his fake John Wayne voice when my mother answered the door. “I’ve come to call on Shannon.”
Fortunately, I’d been sitting out on the front porch watching a pincher bug cross the walkway at my feet, and I heard and saw Danny making his high-noon advance from well down Cedar street. Long before I could make out the silver spurs attached to his red boots, I heard them jangling. I’d had to squint my eyes and peer hard at first, but then my suspicions had been confirmed. His hat was cocked at a jaunty angle; its red and white striped strings pulled hard against his hairless chin. The sun glinted brashly off his cereal-box sheriff’s badge, making me feel as if the Law were coming after me. The swagger did me in.
My heart galloped right to the bottom of my saltwater sandals. I left the pincher bug, skedaddled straight upstairs and into my bedroom and hid myself under the covers before my suitor could reach the house. As my bedroom was just above the front porch and the window ajar, I could hear the goings-on clearly. When my mother came upstairs to tell me I had a gentleman caller waiting at the door, I informed her in a shaky voice that I had the flu.
She rebuffed him kindly. My illness fled almost immediately, but to this day I can still feel that calf-with-a-branding-iron-coming-at-you lurch in my stomach if I dwell on the Danny incident too long.
I’ve no idea why I feared that cowboy so. I only remember feeling like that manchild-on-a-mission might just toss me in a feed sack, hoist me over his shoulder, and cart me off to the ranch. Maybe all he wanted was to show off his new spurs, but in my heart of hearts, I felt like a bunny who’d been spotted by a hawk.
I didn’t see Danny again after that. My mother remarried not long after and we moved to Oklahoma before the start of the new school year. I have no idea what happened to him or where he is now. But I do hope, in the end, that Danny found a girl who appreciated spurs and badges and red-striped chin straps. I hope she took one look at that struttin’ cowboy, and ran herself out to meet him.
That’s just what I did, when the right one came along.
Tera’s card says “Guess who?” on the front. Two plump, rounded-faced critters — a bunny and a cat? — sit together on a snowy park bench singing from a shared music book. The scene is centered within a snow globe. When opened, the card reads,
It’s time we had
a little meeting
‘Cause I sent you
a little greeting
And now I think
you ought to know
Who was behind
that secret “hello!”
Your secret pal is Tera Woodward
A sweet sentiment. But it doesn’t hold a candle to what she wrote beside it:
Your the one I the most.
I love u so much.
I can see his thoughts.
“Grandma,” he begins, “I hurt my nose.”
“You did? When did that happen?”
I pull the drawer open to reveal the bounty within. “Would a bandaid help?”
I pull out a small, nose-sized Batman bandaid. “How about this one?”
He smiles as I peel the back off and place the caped crusader on the bridge of his nose.
“My arm hurts too.”
Iron Man goes there.
“And my other arm.”
Hulk goes there.
Bandaged and happy, he follows me out to the living room and climbs on my lap. I pull a blanket around his shoulders, tucking it in close.
“Grandma, scratch my back.”
I do so, and he nestles against me. There should be singing, and so I do.
Jesus is beautiful
And Jesus makes beautiful things of my life
His breathing slows and lengthens. Two more stanzas, and the little-boy snoring begins. It never fails.
He’s asleep, but I keep singing. I want the words to sink in. He needs to know this down to his bones.
Carefully touching me
Causing my eyes to see
That Jesus makes beautiful things of my life
Happy first day of winter! Here’s a memory from a few years back. I’m hoping for more of the same this year.
I am living in a snow globe.
Every handful of minutes, the wind visits the alders and maples and evergreens surrounding our house and sends a shower of white billowing about. Inside this globe, I sit in front of the woodstove and watch the orange glow on the other side of the tempered glass. The sounds of David Lanz’s Christmas CD fills the house. To my left, our 15-foot Christmas tree towers. If I had my druthers, the massive fir would be draped head to toe in white lights; for the pleasure of my children, I opted for the green, red, blue and yellow variety.
Fourteen inches of snow presses against the outside walls. Larry is so intrigued with the seldom-seen blanket of white that he keeps insisting I let him go investigate. The dog doesn’t own enough dignity to stay on the porch. He doesn’t understand that snow is not for lying on — at least not longer than the time it takes to make a snow angel. “Silly pup,” I tell him. But he just grins and smacks a trough with his snakey black tail.
If you could enter this snowglobe and sit awhile, I’d offer you a taste of our tradition. Since the year we married, 21 years ago, I’ve been making homemade cinnamon rolls to celebrate our first snowfall of the season. This year’s batch is fresh from the oven (a twin batch just went into the freezer for later baking). The moment I pull the pan from the oven, I slather creamy swirls of cream cheese frosting over the spiraled tops. It melts on contact and drips its sweet, buttery self down between the crevices of cinnamon and sweet dough. Dave likes a big pat of butter on his, and a glass of ice cold milk on the side. I give him the largest roll; he finishes in a half-dozen bites and heads straight back to the kitchen. From my perch on the couch, I listen for evidence, and when it comes — when I hear the sound of the spatula sliding into my stoneware pan and the clink of the butter dish cover being lifted — I smile. He’s waited months for that second helping.
More snow is expected tonight. Maybe we’ll have ourselves a repeat of last night. Maybe we’ll don our winter gear and walk again along the trail that borders our property. At most any other time, we’d have companions on that trail. Bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, and those on horse-back would share our travels. But last night, we owned the world. In an hour of trekking, with only the brightness of snow at our feet to guide our steps, our only company was the creaking of heavy-bowed trees.
I hear those trees now. Every so often, a white-coated branch gives up the battle and drops to the ground, trailing shivers of dust as it falls. I’ve spent most of the morning listening, and looking skyward. I’m watching for boughs, but I’m also looking past those massive sentries — and thanking the God who lives beyond. This scene is His gift … and I’m grateful.