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Yet another lousy excuse for a blog post: The Holiday Edition!

While I am a firm believer that quality always supersedes quantity, I also tend to be kinda lazy, so when I come across something I can pass off as a post, I tend to gravitate towards it. So when my friend Christine sent me one of those “fill in the blank” emails, I figured, what the heck? So here goes:

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, here’s what you’re supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just Copy (not forward) this entire email blogpost and paste into a new e-mail blogpost that you can send post to your own blog. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to You……Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Whatever — My mom usually brings gifts to my house in the bags they gave her at the store. So really, I don’t have high expectations when it comes to packaging.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial. Again, this stems from laziness. My friend Desiree had a “Christmas tree closet” put in her house. She just rolls it out, plugs it in and presto! Instant Christmas! (I’m more than a little jealous.)

3. When do you put up the tree?

Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, but not always.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Ah, well. I take a cue from my Catholic friends here: Epiphany (Jan 9?). Gives me a little extra time to procrastinate. (My original answer was “Advent”, but my friend Dee set me straight on that one.)

5. Do you like eggnog?

Yes, in small quantities. One year my mom had a big punchbowl full of eggnog spiked with rum. Our cats got into it. Not pretty. We were all hoping not to draw the short straw when it came time to decide who was going to change the litter box. (I know, I know — TMI.)

6. Favorite gift received as a child?A battery operated pink poodle on a leash that walked and barked. I walked that thing up and down the street until it died. Good times.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

My husband, who says “Don’t buy me anything”, and actually means it. Conversely, when I say, “Don’t buy me anything, just pray for peace on earth and good will towards men”, what I actually mean is “Buy me that tricked-out zoom lens for my Canon EOS.”

8. Easiest person to buy for?

My 7 year old daughter who wants all things “American Girl”. (I said easy, not cheap!)

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

I have several. Or, as my friend Kara’s old boss is fond of saying, “They got 4 or 5 of them barn sets!”

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Are you kidding me? I can barely get my bills to the mailbox.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

When my dad walked out on my mom on Christmas Day. That was pretty sucktacular. The good news is that I gave him (and myself) the gift of forgiveness. Something that some other family members have yet to do. So, for them, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

Movie? Elf. But I’m a sucker for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is coming to Town, Rudolf and the like.

13. When do you start shopping?

Oh, right about now.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Does a bear (rhymes with) sit in the woods?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Everything except the obligatory fruitcake. Like funny man Jim Gaffigan says: “Fruit? Good. Cake? Great! Fruitcake? Nasty crap.”

16. Lights on the tree?

Yes – my tree is pre-lit. But I miss the days of the big, multi-color lights. I think they’re making a come back, though.

17. Favorite Christmas song?

“The Gift” (from Garth Brook’s “Beyond the Season” Christmas Album):

A poor orphan girl named Maria was walking to market one day
She stopped for a rest by the roadside where a bird with a broken wing lay
A few moments passed till she saw it for it’s feathers were covered with sand
But soon clean and wrapped it was travelling in the warmth of Maria’s small hand

She happily gave her last peso on a cage made of rushes and twine
She fed it loose corn from the market and watched it grow stronger with time

Now the Christmas Eve service was coming and the church shone with tinsel and light
And all of the town folks brought presents to lay by the manager that night
There were diamonds and incense and perfumes in packages fit for a king
But for one ragged bird in a small cage, Maria had nothing to bring

She waited till just before midnight so no one would see her go in
And crying she knelt by the manger for her gift was unworthy of Him

Then a voice spoke to her through the darkness “Maria, what brings you to Me?
If the bird in the cage is your offering, open the door let Me see”
Though she trembled she did as He asked her and out of the cage bird flew
Soaring up into the rafters on a wing that had healed good as new

Just then the midnight bells rang out and the little bird started to sing
A song that no words could recapture whose beauty was fit for a king
Now Maria felt blessed just to listen to that cascade of notes sweet and long
As her offering was lifted to heaven by the very first nightingale’s song.

That song gets me EVERY TIME!

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner & Blitzen, and Rudolf

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

One on Christmas eve, the rest Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Too much money spent on things people won’t even remember come February. (Do you remember what you got last year?) Also, people who ignore the Salvation Army guy. He’s ringing a bell for goodness sake! You don’t have to give him anything, but at least acknowledge that he’s standing out there in the cold. (Well, unless he’s in Houston, then he might be sweating.)

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

Fred Flintstone Santa from my childhood. (I actually stole it from my brother Fred. Shhhhh!)

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?,

Turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing sandwich the next day. Yes, I know that technically I’m eating a meat, jelly and bread sandwich, but dang! It’s good!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

For someone to read my blog in Antarctica. Then I’ll have dots on every continent. Incredibly self-absorbed — I know.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this?

Helen, Beth, Mare, Sherri, Angela, Kris

27. Who is least likely to respond to this?


28. What was your most memorable magical memory from your adulthood?

Coming home from Christmas eve services in the SNOW (in Katy, Texas). Amazing!

29. Have you ever been involved in a Christmas gift prank?

If by “prank” you mean, after hearing the 21 year old fill in pastor begin his sermon (2 weeks before Christmas) by saying, “Do you remember when you found out there was no Santa Claus?”, then secretly placing a Grinch doll in his office chair, then yes. Yes I have. Funny thing is, in a church with over 400 members, everyone just assumed it was me. Am I that transparent? Dang!

30. Favorite Christmas Cartoon?

The Grinch who stole Christmas. But it used to scare me a bit when I was little.

Well, that was tons of fun. For an exquisitely beautiful post on the best Christmas gifts to give this year, check out Annie’s Blog

For Christine (and others like her)…

I’ve got a few ideas for posts swirling around my head in their usual disorganized states of confusion. I’ve even written a rough draft for one in particular that I just need to research a bit more and tweak here and there. But until then, I came across a passage in one of the books I’m reading that beautifully reflected the heart of an artist who has chosen to follow Christ. “The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations of Faith”(1) by Timothy Stoner (yes, that’s his real name) has served as a much needed reminder that the God of Mercy is also the God of Wrath. May I never forget that!

Anyway, the following passage reminded me of my dear friend and fellow believer Christine. So this is for you:

The artist who follows Jesus explicitly resides in the world and participates in culture in a truly unique way. She helps others pay attention to, take notice of, and celebrate the goodness of the good creation. She does not shy away from the dark and the broken, the sorrow and terror–but crafts it in such a way as to point toward hope. It is revealing a pathway out of despair and chaotic meaningless. Her work is a candle that flickers and flares.

Her art is for the good of the world.

She does it for the blessing of the world.

She is intent not on reinforcing the curse but breaking it. She has and is a gift. She is sent, like Jesus, to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, or give words to the mute. She is sent on a mission of freedom. Her mission mirrors that of her Savior. She is sent to break chains of despair, set at liberty those tied up with cords of emptiness, futility, and death, and bring sight to those who have lost the capacity to see. She is sent to give us the forgotten vision of the glory that peeks out behind the bush and branch and sea and life as it was meant to be. She sings and shrieks and falls to rise again, to give voice to what we’ve forgotten or refuse to hear.

She pours out her blood that a world may be saved.

She serves not always willingly or well but in her best moments, when she has forgotten herself, she serves.

Still, her loyalty is not here. She has had her idolatrous attachment broken. She is free to be in but not of . She is not slavishly loyal to the patterns, the values, the demands, and commands of a world in love with itself. Her eyes look up even as she looks out, and in looking around she sees through. She is not bewitched by appearances nor overly and permanently distraught. She has seen a city whose builder and maker is God, and she pines for the day when it will come here so there will be light forever.

And the light will be the love and the joy of her life.

She has this secret. Her heart has been captured by a lover who is out of this world. But He is coming back. She wants to make herself ready and her friends and ever her enemies , too. So she does her work as best she can and prays that it is good, that it will shine so brightly as to bring glory not to her but to Him.

Thank you, Christine. For recognizing the darkness and the light in my heart. And inspiring me towards greater works of art for His Glory.

(1) Stoner, Timothy.
The God who smokes: scandalous meditations of faith
published by Navpress, 2008