This was the beautiful appetizer assembled by our family for our Institute potluck dinner. It was quite a hit!
Thanks to Charles Phoenix for the inspiration for our holiday-themed creativi-tree.
[Ingredients (added 12/7): green olives w/pimento, broccoli, small sunburst squash, 3 types of cherry tomatoes, cornichon pickles, baby carrots, edamame pods. Quite an improvement over Charles’ weenie tree, IMO.]
–Watching the kitties search for mice under the Christmas tree skirt [note: our cats have never yet found any mice anywhere, but they continually search for them anyways]
–Looking at each of the ornaments on our tree and remembering their stories (they are all gifts or handmade items). My favorite today: a little reindeer hand-carved out of upholstery foam. Made for us by a Chinese grandpa who was in a free English class that John & I taught at a local church many years ago.
–Listening to GameBoy practice his cello, especially his jaunty rendition of “Let it Snow”
–Seeing GameBoy eat a caramel-chocolate-pretzel confection. His first sticky treat since getting his braces on nearly 2 years ago (they come off in a few days so we aren’t worried about broken brackets now!)
–Swimming with the kiddoes on a weekend morning and discovering that I’ve got to swim pretty hard nowadays to keep ahead of them when we race (it was 80 degrees here, unseasonably warm for SoCal)
–Turning in the last long paper I need to write this quarter yesterday. Whew.
–Lighting a candle lantern with CatGirl in my room last night. Turning out the lights and laying on our backs in bed. Basking in the lovely cut-glass pattern that was reflected off of the ceiling and walls. Enjoying my daughter’s breathlessness at such beauty.
A few quotations to whet your appetite:
“The simple ritual act of stepping through the veil profoundly influences the way [Latter-Day] Saints view death. Mormons who receive their endowment in the temple have already experienced death symbolically. They realize that their essence does not change when they have pass through the veil. Death is merely a flimsy barrier to be pushed aside as one enters into a brilliant reunion with loved ones.”
“Through a series of [Japanese] rites, the spirit moves from impure association with death to ultimate assimilation into the pure and godlike ancestral spirit… Following key ceremonies, a wooden ancestral tablet representing the spirit is sometimes moved to higher platforms, a symbolic gesture that recognizes the ancestor’s increasing status and refinement in the afterlife. The final state of the spirit represents an anonymous amalgamation of all of the spirits of family ancestors, whose purpose is to ensure the prosperity of their line. By taking care of their dead, the living Japanese are entitled, in return, to the protection and helpful intervention of their empowered predecessors.”
Sure there are moments when it’s best not to be too honest–when doing so would offer undue criticism that would hurt another person.
Yet it seems that in telling one’s own experiences honesty is an admirable thing. Over the past few years, as I’ve written much about my experiences as an amputee, as a cancer survivor, and as a Mormon woman, I’ve tried to be unflinchingly candid and honest. I want to tell my stories truthfully and sincerely. Because truth staves off fear.
However, I was talking with some friends recently who challenged my need for honesty. They asked me why I had informed my LDS leaders that I was no longer planning to attend church. Why hadn’t I just drifted into inactivity or gone my own way without need to ‘inform’ people of my choices? It’s a good question, one that I’ve been muddling over.
And, honestly, I have had many moments over the past few weeks when I should have just lied a little to make it easier. Told a few falsehoods to smooth over the difficulties, or just kept my mouth shut and pretended that everything was okay.
So it’s when I have a night like last night, that I wish I’d never been honest. That I wish I was a liar. That I wish I’d just said nothing and pretended that I was complicit.
And I wonder where my honesty has gotten me???
From Maya Angelou via Russell at The Cultural Hall:
“If you are not angry then you are a stone. You should be angry. But you should not be bitter. Bitterness is like a cancer. It feeds on the host and doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it, you vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. You never stop talking!”
This is a must-watch vid for you Angelenos out there. The rest of you who are knee-deep in snow and wishing you were in SoCal, well you might enjoy it, too :)
Here’s Charles Phoenix’s Disneyland tour of Los Angeles: