>A Few of My Favorite Things

>Here I go again. Irreverently combining serious stuff with fluff in the same post. What can I say? I’m a spiritual girl living in a material world. So… first the fluff.
A few of my “Favorite Things” from Christmas 2007:

My Goddaughter Stacy gave me this awesome CD by Chris Botti (and a gift card for Barnes and Noble!). Botti can really make a horn sing.

In with the chocolates and other goodies in my stocking was this Sugarland CD. Yes. I especially love “Stay” which you can watch on video here. And “Settlin’” on video here.

These cordial glasses from Pamela are PERFECT for drinking Bailey’s Cream Sherry… a pleasure I was introduced to about six years ago by my friend, Urania. I guess she decided I was old enough when I turned fifty.

And this collapsible tote from Tim & Deb is awesome. It goes from completely flat to tall and sturdy in seconds. I can already think of about ten things I’ll use it for. And not pictured (because we are eating it right now… while watching football games with our son Jason and friend Caleb) is the rest of her gift: yummy, melt-in-your-mouth artichoke lemon pesto dip and cheese-melt crackers.

You’ve already seen pix of “Scrubby” … my Build-A-Bear from Beth. But here’s a closeup in her scrubs… all ready to go with me to Campbell Clinic on January 8 for my foot surgery. After my foot heels, I’ll post a picture of Scrubby in her cowgirl boots and hat… as soon a I can wear mine again!

Two Goddaughter gifts went together so perfectly this year: Hannah’s necklace, made by a Memphis artist, and Sophie’s bracelet, an antique mother of pearl piece from Syria (yes) are elegant. I wore them together for our family’s holiday dinner out at Texas de Brazil on December 27. Gorgeous. They are shown here (at right) on a beautiful pashmina scarf my friend Nancy Mardis brought me from her trip to Italy.

Three more gifts that coordinated perfectly are this beautiful sandblasted jet with white pearl necklace that my friend Sue brought me from Q Evon Design … from her trip to Asheville and the Biltmore House. It’s shown here with a bracelet I got in Alaska a few years ago… with hematite stones… and so I asked my friend Stephanie Harants, who makes jewelry, to make me a necklace with one of the stones from the bracelet, and she gave it back to me on Christmas Eve. They are all pictured here with the beautiful scarf another Goddaughter, Julie gave me. I love being coordinated!

You’ve already seen these personalized William and Sonoma aprons from our Godchildren, Damon and Madeleine and Damon and Weezie… we forgot to wear the matching oven mitts for the photo… probably because we were dancing at that point on Christmas morning….

There’s much more. Gorgeous candles from Yankee Candle Company and beautiful note cards and homemade food gifts and movie passes and an amarylis bulb that I just planted today and …. Wow. Such tangible reminders of how loved I am. When I was a little girl I would arrange all my Christmas gifts on my bed and then get in the middle of them and Mom would take my picture. Yeah. I still love stuff. But mostly I love the people they remind me of. Thank you, everyone.

Segue into a spiritual moment that almost undid me… on Friday afternoon. Our oldest son, Jonathan, was leaving. He had spent about ten days with us this Christmas. In the next few weeks he will deploy to Iraq again. This time as a helicopter pilot. Just before he left, my husband (an Orthodox priest, for those reading my blog for the first time) called us all into the dining room for prayers before our icon corner. I smiled, thinking of Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies.” That’s what these would be.

We gathered before our family icons, lit the candles, and my eyes caught sight of an icon that Sally Elliott gave me a while back… of Saint Menas the Soldier. I often pray to Saint Menas for both of my soldier boys. Saint Menas is on a horse in this icon. It struck me that he’s like Jon… helicopter pilots are modern day Cavalry. They even have “cowboy” hats.

So, we stood in a semi-circle, at one point Jon and I had our arms around eachother, and we participated in the “Office of the Blessing for Soldiers Going Off to War (or Battle) … from The Abridged Book of Needs. The Office includes the Trisagion Prayers, the reading of three Psalms, several priestly prayers, a Gospel reading, and a final blessing. It’s long, so I’ll only quote a few parts here. It’s interesting to note that Jonathan’s patron saint is David (Jon’s name is Jonathan David…..and today is the day the Orthodox Church commemorates the Holy Prophet and King David. It’s Jon’s Name Day.)

O Holy Master, Almighty Father… Who condescends to raise up military columns to help the people…. We entreat You, with compunction, that as You gave Your child David power to defeat Goliath… so, too, grant protection in righteousness and truth to these Your servants against the enemies rising against them….O Master, to grant them the fear of You, together with humility, obedience, and good endurance, that they kill no one unrighteously, but rather preserve all righteousness and truth… that they run in friendship to those who are scattered, extending Your love to those near them, serving the elderly with justice; and that their ranks fulfill all things righteously….

And then he sprinkled Jonathan with Holy Water and gave the dismissal, which included these words:

May Christ our true God, through the prayers of… the holy Great martyrs George, Demetrius, Procopius, Theodore Stratelates, and Theodore the Recruit… all saints who fought immense battles against evil enemies.

And I added, under my breath, “and Holy Saint Menas.”

We all hugged. I cried, of course. But a few minutes later, as Jon drove down the driveway and away from us, I wept and wailed loudly… at the irony of it all. This 30-year-old man, Jonathan David, whose name we gave him at his adoption and which means, “Beloved Gift of the Lord,” brings me to the depths of anger and frustration one minute and to tears with love and tenderness for him the next.

My daughter, Beth, says Jon and I have a “weird relationship.” She has seen us say unimaginable things to each other over the years. I’m sure there were times when she was confused about which one of us was the parent. (I can give as good as I get.) So here we are. Two imperfect people trying to find their way in a world afflicted with generations of war and families suffering from the sins of their fathers (and mothers.) Here’s to you, Jon. Go blow things up in Iraq and come home ready to make nice. I love you beyond words.

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