dual personalities

Tag: Christmas tree

One thing and another

As I have mentioned, I am reading the book of Luke, one chapter a day, in the month of December. I am enjoying it very much. It is all very familiar, but it is amazing how you forget specific things, such as this great passage in chapter 18:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

What a great reminder to all of us that we Pharisees need to be mindful of being sinners ourselves. “God be merciful to me a sinner!” indeed.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 9.32.03 PM.pngIn other news, it took two days, but we finally got the big tree up! The boy came over twice!


We had to go to Walgreen’s twice to buy more  lights! Are we getting old or what? Don’t answer that!

It is that time of year when TCM Remembers all the Hollywood types who have died during the year:

There are a lot of familiar faces in there, including Valentina Cortese, Albert Finney, Rip Torn, Stanley Donen, and, of course, Doris Day. I was surprised to see Herman Wouk included–I somehow missed that he died in his sleep at the age of 103 in May. He was an interesting guy who wrote some good books that were made into good movies. Also, it might be time to dust off The War Wagon (1967) in memory of Robert Walker, Jr., who played Billy, the demolition expert, so affectingly.

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 9.41.45 AM.png

Anyway, I also just heard about a dear friend and fellow Episcopalian who died shoveling snow earlier in the week. Ruby had to be in her mid-eighties at least, but no one was going to tell her not to shovel her own driveway. I always said that Ruby would have made a good pioneer and, indeed, she died with her boots on, literally. I will miss her so much.

Into paradise may the angels lead you, Ruby. At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem.

On the brighter side, daughter #1 comes home for Christmas today. Daughter #2 and DN are driving here from Maryland and should arrive on Monday.

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Even I am getting excited.

Oh, come all ye faithful


Tree’s up! The boy came over Tuesday night and we put up the tree. Doesn’t it look nice?

The OM got creative and put a collage of his favorite bears and scouts on his Facebook page. I couldn’t figure out how to recreate the snazzy moving images here, but here are the photos.





Well, I am very glad to have this major holiday feat accomplished.

And daughter #2 made it home! Shortly after arriving, she rearranged some of the ornaments on the tree. Can’t wait for daughter #1 to add the finishing touch on Saturday!

It’s all good.

A sermon and a half


“Well done!” he said. “And remember: Worry about nothing, pray about everything.” He’d gotten this message from a wayside pulpit somewhere–a sermon and a half in a half dozen words, and a splendid exegesis of the Philippians passage.

Shepherds Abiding, Jan Karon

I highly recommend reading some Jan Karon during this holiday season. It has a calming effect. And it reminds us that we shouldn’t take everything quite so seriously.

I have been slowly but surely getting things done around my house.

After a few false starts my little tree is up. The old man and I could not, between the two of us, wrestle it into its stand. We gave up, amid a shower of pine needles and exclamations of “goddamit!”, convinced that we needed a new stand. So after work on Tuesday I stopped at our neighborhood hardware store and had a meaningful conversation with the man there. He advised me to wrap the trunk of my tree with electrical tape and try again. Which I did when I got home. I am proud to say that I got the tree in the stand (without the aid of Mr. Goddammit). Later in the evening I put the lights on and decorated it.


Pretty nice, don’t you think?


I wrote my Christmas letter and mailed it to my out-of-town friends and family this week. I also mailed my Christmas package to my dual personality. Check and check.

We are cooking with gas.

Note to self

Pay attention–the month is hurrying by!

There is a lot to do (and none of it includes going to a mall) in December.

I am reading a little poetry:

Heap on more wood!–the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

(Sir Walter Scott, from “Marmion”)

Doing a little cross stitch.


Looking at the tree (again).


Enjoying the decorations that I’ve taken such care to arrange.


Reading a really good book: The Pied Piper written in 1942 by Nevil Shute. This is a riveting story about an old Englishman who agrees to take two children out of France in 1940 as the Nazis are invading and ends up with a whole passel of children. Good stuff.


Getting the house ready for daughters #1 and #2 who will arrive in the next week.


But I still need to watch all my favorite Christmas movies. Time is running out! So far, unbelievably, I have watched nary a one. I have been thwarted a couple of times. I am hoping to lasso the boy into watching one of my most favorite with me: Three Godfathers. And I still need to watch old #1 (in VistaVision):


I also need to drive around and look at all the (oh so) tasteful light displays there are in this flyover town:

What the heck?!

What the heck?!

And, of course, trying to focus on the real reason for the season.


The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Isaiah 40:5

A pine tree properly festooned

Here is a little dual personality circa 1959 trimming the tree. I’m sure my mother (the aforementioned perfectionist) re-distributed all the balls that I had put at my level on the lower branches of the tree after I went to bed, but that’s okay. I was oblivious.

Here we are trimming our tree today. Things haven’t changed much (even my hairdo!). Some of the decorations are even the same.

Here is daughter #2 with a handful of tinsel, flaunting the Bunker Cameron rule of one strand of tinsel per branch, which our mother stuck to religiously as well. We laughed about it, but still…

And here is the tree!

Beautiful! And I’m so glad it’s done!

How steadfast are your branches!





On Sunday, when the boy will be home to put on the lights, it’s on to the big tree!

A bit of trivia: The first National Christmas Tree was lit on December 24, 1923, in the middle of the Ellipse outside the White House by President Calvin Coolidge. Paul Moody, president of Middlebury College in Vermont donated a 48-foot tall balsam fir as the first National Christmas Tree. Middlebury College alumni paid to have it shipped via express to Washington. I wonder if our mother, Middlebury College class of 1947, knew that?

Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born.

O tannenbaum

On Saturday we went to the Kirkwood Optimist’s tree lot to buy our big tree for the living room and a smaller one for the dining room. Mission accomplished! It was a beautiful day and, although cold, not prohibitively so. We found our tree with the help of a friendly Optimist in no time flat.

I remember many trips to buy a tree as a child when it was freezing cold, and since we usually went after church, we were not dressed for standing outside looking at trees. My mother was the kind of perfectionist who always wanted to find the perfect tree. That takes time and looking at a lot of trees. I have learned that all trees have flaws and the lights and ornaments more than make up for them.

You can see that our tree seems to have something of a waist (!), but I’m sure the branches will come down and fill that in…right? Oh well, as Linus once famously said, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. All it needs is a little love.” I’ll keep you posted.