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Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family

Month

November 2008

For all our dear family…

We missed you!!!  Happy Thanksgiving, hope to see you next year…

The Wasson Clan

Thanksgiving in Kentucky…

Kentucky is home.

Don’t get me wrong…I truly love Ohio.  The fertile farmland, expansive sky, the beauty and excitement of the skyline when approaching Columbus at night…and my parish…Holy Family Catholic Church.  It has been an exciting place to live for the past 3.5 years and it feels like home…98% of the time.  It feels like home until we cross that bridge in Cincinnati and read “Welcome to Kentucky…the Bluegrass State!”

We’re greeted by rolling hills, thoroughbred horses and family.  And we’re home…taking the back roads, sharing memories with the children and hurrying to Grandma’s house for the hugs and kisses that await us.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is comfortingly traditional and the menu seldom varies.  Yum Yum Sweet Potatoes, Corn Pudding, Giblet Gravy and Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli Casserole, Parkerhouse Rolls, homemade stuffing and, of course, a slow-roasted fresh turkey.  A few traditional menu items were missing this year…Grandma Beckie’s 24 hour Salad and Aunt Sallie’s Chocolate Chess Pie.

But that’s not all that was missing…

Much of the family were unable to join us…cousins, aunts and uncles are scattered from Kentucky to China.  We miss them.  The raucous laughter, the fun and games, the memories…we hold them close to our heart and hope that the future will bring us all back together, eventually.  Though significantly smaller than past years, our celebration was intimate and precious, nonetheless.

My mother-in-law and I have shared many delightful conversations over the past week and I’ve had time for knitting and have completed several projects that have been lurking in my project bag for months.  I can’t wait to send these lovely gifts to my “grandgirls.”  Two matching capes, a hooded scarf and a poncho, all in coordinating fibers, deliciously soft and so beautifully feminine.  They’ll look like little angels…and of course, they are!

I’ve had time to visit with my dear girl, Elizabeth and sweet baby Ben.  He’s growing so very fast and is nothing but smiles and laughter…a bouncing baby boy!

Such an adorable pair!

Auntie Em loves little Ben!

His first meeting with the Grands was positively priceless…look at these faces:

Perhaps I’ve cast a rosy glow on the place we used to call home.  Good memories make for good company, and it’s so easy to fall in love (again!) with the place that holds so many memories and is home to many of our loved ones.

Goodbyes are painful and inevitable.  Leaving this state which is home to my parents, my darling mother-in-law, my husband’s sister and her children, our two daughters and five grandchildren, and my grandmother…it seems too much…and yet, we must.

Where we are is where God has called us to be.  Who knows where He’ll call us next.  For now, we must remain content in the place where we are, which is, in many ways, a little slice of heaven, at least to us.  I’ve spent a couple of years indifferent towards the state we left behind when we moved to Ohio.  Holding on to painful memories clouded many of the good ones.  It seems those clouds are clearing now…and I’m thankful.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Kentucky.  But not forever.   As long as gas prices remain as low as they are now, I foresee a few more trips in our future.  Hopefully soon.  I miss my “grandgirls” and would love to visit them…

Few words, much thanks-giving…

For the first time in five months, Grandma was able to share a family meal at home…

Seeing Grandma sitting in my Mom’s livingroom was a most beautiful sight.  One to cherish for a very, very long time…

Look at that smile…pure radiance!

Grandma still requires around the clock care at a nursing facility.  But this visit home has given us such hope!  Please keep my mother and Grandmother in your prayers…Mom is working so hard towards having Grandma spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at her home.  The challenges are great, but God is greater.

Such joy on this day, so many blessings…Happy Thanksgiving!

Hiatus…

Mom and kiddies will be on the road today…over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we go!!

Grandma Beckie had surgery this past Wednesday and could use a bit of help. I’m more than happy to oblige this lovely woman. We’ll be spending Thanksgiving with her, as well, and look forward to our time together. If you would, please pray for us! Grandma needs quiet and rest…entertaining six children and maintaining some semblance of peace will be a challenge!  Hubby and Clementine will follow in a few days, until then, I’m on my own!

My dear husband has been working on his mom’s computer, so we’ll be offline for a couple days…unless I take mine with me…hmmm…tempting…

Blessings to all and my best wishes for a delightful Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: Well…its a good thing we’re spending Thanksgiving with Grandma…my oven just caught fire!  Nothing major…just a flaming element.  The very same thing happened to the dishwasher.  I think we may have an electrical problem in the kitchen.   Prayers?   Thanks!

Learning something new…

I was an adult when I learned to knit.

Several years ago, as part of a home ec experiment, my three older daughters and I decided to learn something new. We decided we’d learn to knit and Jane was given the task of finding the online resources to help us get started. Jane quickly learned and taught the rest of us.But while the girls were happily knitting away, I struggled, and sought the internet for help. I found a video tutorial by an Englishman named Tom and quickly discovered that Continental knitting was not only faster (for me) but was also more comfortable. I progressed quickly and have continued knitting in that manner for the past twelve years. I’ve taught other adults to knit, and interestingly enough, most of them have chosen to knit American/English, even though I have never taught them to do so…it seemed to come naturally to them.

A couple days ago, my dear friend Sandra began to teach her five year old to knit. I was amazed. I’d tried several months earlier to teach six year old Charlotte, but she quickly became frustrated and gave up on the entire process. We decided to wait. Charlotte is left-handed, and I wasn’t sure if I was approaching this skill in a way that worked best for her. Conferring with Sandra, I began to think perhaps American/English knitting would be the best way for a child to learn. There was only one problem.

I didn’t know how. So…I decided to act like a five year old, holding the needle as awkwardly as possible and trying desperately to remember how Sandra “threw” the yarn with her right hand, while holding the needles in her left.

I did it! It seemed like it would work, but the proof remained with Charlotte. And Emily.

I’m pleased to announce that it took approximately five minutes of instruction with each girl. It was amazing…the whole process clicked and the two have been happily knitting ever since! I sat beside each of them through the first row, checking in on subsequent rows and helping them pick up the inevitable dropped stitch.

What joy! Tomorrow, Sandra and her girls are coming over, knitting bags in tow. It appears a homeschool knitting circle has been born.

Perhaps St. Nicholas will leave a few knitting notions in their shoes in a couple of weeks…yes…that would be perfect!

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – November 17, 2008

Outside my Window…snow, softly falling in the gathering light of day.  The trees are lightly dusted and the grass is slowly disappearing beneath a white blanket.  I can’t wait to hear the delighted squeals of the children!

I am thinking…about my friends.  How much I’ve missed everyone during this time of sickness and quarantine.  Attending Mass yesterday was the equivalent of taking a long drink of fresh, cool water after weeks in the desert.  Refreshment for body and soul…

I am thankful for…see above.  Actually, I’m thankful for everything.  Yes…even the time of illness.  You never really appreciate being well until you watch your family suffer for weeks…

From the kitchen…biscotti and hot coffee for mom, sausage-egg-cheese bagele for dad, oatmeal and eggs for the kiddies.  For dinner:  tonight is definitely a soup night!  Ribollita made from the remnants of last night’s ham, homemade breadsticks and caramelized apples.

In our school room…back to business as usual.  I feel really off schedule, but, hey…it’s alright.  Perseverance is the name of the game, so today…we do what we can, for as long as we can.

I am creating…I’m knitting constantly!  I’ve finished a pair of legwarmers, a nifty pair of fingerless mittens which Charlotte adores, nearly finished a lovely knit doll (pattern here) and am working on an alpaca hat to match Emily’s legwarmers.  I’ve been knitting roses and crocheting flowers for embellishing hats and gloves…the creative juices are flowing…

I am going…to try to pray more, worry less.  Everyday, God continues to show me how well He has ordered all things…if only I could trust more, have greater faith.  I have faith, I just want a bigger, bolder faith.  That’s a scary request…

I am wearing…my favorite pink and red coffee cup flannel pjs.  And socks.

I am reading…too busy knitting!  Though I have been picking up the Bible quite often this week.  I’m ashamed to say my scripture reading has suffered of late and like St. Augustine, I’m hearing that persistent Voice…“Take and read, take and read…”

I am hoping…to finish school and chores early.  My dear friend, Krislynne and her sweet daughter, are coming for a visit.  We haven’t visited with them in weeks…

I am hearing…silence.  The low hum of the computer and the tapping of the keyboard.  The children will be down soon…

Around the house…laundry, as always.  Dishes, as always.  Love, laughter and memories in the making…as always.

One of my favorite things…snow.  I love, love, love snow.  I dream about snow all the time.  And it’s snowing.  I grew up in Florida and the whitest stuff I saw throughout my childhood was sand.  Thirty years of living north of the panhandle, and I still can’t get enough of it.  It makes me very, very, very, happy!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week…head to Kentucky for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, finalize our Advent preparations, and enjoy the blessing of good health!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

A walk to the woods on a cold, November day.  A lovely way to spend the Sabbath, as a family:

You can learn anything on the internet…

…including how to cut your little girls’ hair!

I’ve been cutting the boys’ hair for years.  There’s not much to it…a pair of really good clippers and a #5 guide and you’re set.  Girls on the other hand…not so easy.  In 27 years of raising children, I’ve never attempted anything beyond trimming bangs.

Until last night.

Charlotte really needed a haircut.  The ends of her hair were so thin and damaged, it seemed that a “bob” ala Kit Kittredge would be the best way to go.  She asked if I could do it.  I immediately declined, and decided that perhaps we could budget in a haircut next payday.

And then I decided to check my ultimate resource, the internet.  Sure enough, I found a great page that gave me enough information and I decided I CAN DO THIS!

So I did…

Charlotte was thrilled, Emily was jealous and both girls are pleased to have cute and fashionable “do’s.”

It’s too bad I can’t reach behind my head and cut my own hair…it’s down to my waist and desperately needs to be cut.  I spent a good bit of Saturday morning lamenting the length, threatening to cut it all off.  Later that morning I was standing in a checkout line when an elderly gentleman by the name of Vern (according to his employee name tag) limped over and stared me in the face for a few seconds…

“Yes?” I somewhat nervously queried.

“I Corinthians…I think that’s it, isn’t it?  I Corinthians,” he said with a smile.

“Oh…yes.  I Corinthians.” I had absolutely no idea what on earth he was talking about!

“Long hair is given to woman as a covering.  Her hair is her glory.  It sure takes a lot of discipline doesn’t it?  To keep it long?”  He smiled and limped away behind the counter.

I sighed.  What does that mean?  I’m not Amish or pentecostal…well…I used to be pentecostal, but I’m not now!  I went home and looked up the verse…he paraphrased it pretty well.

When I told my husband (who loves my hair really, really long) he just laughed.  “I guess maybe God’s trying to tell you something…”

OK.  So maybe not really short.   How about a shoulder length bob?

Preparing For A Holy Advent-ure

Oh my goodness…the Holy Season of Advent is just around the corner – the first Sunday of Advent is November 30th!  Rather that re-writing a post, I thought I’d share a few of our family’s traditions from last year’s reflections.  We’re excited that season is nearly upon us, and most anxious to begin our preparations.

Don’t forget to start the season off with a Novena!  Starting November 30th, with the Feast of St. Andrew, the following prayer is to be recited 15 times per day, ending on Christmas Eve:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

An additional Christmas Novena can be found here.

Join me in my reflections…

Preparing For A Holy Advent-ure

A crisp 39 degree morning, a plate full of apple spice muffins, a cup of coffee and Christmas In Italy. Ah, the sweet anticipation of Advent and the many feasts we will celebrate!

Our family’s approach to the season has undergone many changes, over the last two decades. The first few years were spent caught up in the manic-frenzied-howmanyshoppingdaysareleftuntilChristmas-insanity that starts sometime after All Hallow’s Eve and ends with the big “Day After Christmas Sale, Don’t Miss It!”

The Christmas tree was up no later than November 10th, the Christmas cards sent the day after Thanksgiving, the presents wrapped-under-the-tree-collecting-dust for no less than three weeks prior to Christmas Day. The Advent wreath was frequently neglected.

Shop, shop, shop. Bake, bake, bake. Wrap, wrap, wrap.

Pray, pray, pray?   Only that everything would be finished on time!

Oh, how much has changed! For more than a decade, we have been observing a “season” that is a bit different than the one we had celebrated in the past.

December 1st: We continue a lovely tradition which we incorporated and altered a bit from A Year With God. Each child and adult will draw a slip of paper from a jar. On each slip of paper is a name: St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin, the Angel, the Shepherd, the Ox, the Donkey, etc. During the entire month of December, each person tries to emulate the virtues of the particular “Nativity figure” whose slip was drawn from the jar. A nightly accounting is made, with particular focus on sacrifices offered. The sacrifices are written on a 6 inch long slip of paper, which will be glued (end to end) and incorporated into a chain. Every year, we try to make the chain longer than the prior year. We have also used these slips and sometimes pieces of straw, to create a “soft bed for the Baby Jesus” by placing them in a doll’s cradle at the base of the Christmas tree…

You can read more about last year’s Nativity Advent-ure here.

December 2nd: The First Sunday of Advent, our family collects beautiful greenery to adorn our Advent wreath and the mantle. The Nativity set that belongs to our oldest son, Arthur, is always placed on the mantle. There are several Nativity sets, as each child has received their own as a gift from Grandma Martha. The various figures are placed in different locations around the room, as they will “journey” closer and closer to Bethlehem. The Advent Wreath is always placed in the front window of our home. Every evening, the entire family gathers around the wreath. Dad reads an appropriate Scripture or Psalm. The room is darkened. The candle(s) are lit according to the week and then everyone sings “O Come, O come, Emmanuel.” The wreath is then carried back to the window, lit, and the family sits in darkness for a couple of minutes before extinguishing the lit wreath.

December 5th & 6th: Set out your shoes this evening! St. Nicholas is coming! We read the traditional stories about St. Nicholas and Black Peter. After the Advent Wreath ceremony, we all set our shoes on the hearth. What will St. Nicholas leave this year?

December 13th: Ah, the Feast Of St. Lucy! Before sunrise, mommy awakens Charlotte and Emily. In their white gowns with red belts, they will don their evergreen crowns (we will be using these this year) and serve the entire family these.

New!! Adorable St. Lucia paper dolls…what fun!

December 8th
: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Candies shaped like roses and a lovely tea in the afternoon. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the evening. Sweet!

The Christmas Tree
: We will start looking for a fresh one, sometime in the middle of December, but will not set it up until 3 or 4 days before Christmas. We never turn on the lights of the tree at night, until we have lit the Advent Wreath, first. The tree will be left up, along with the Nativity sets until the day after Epiphany. After all…that’s when the “season” ends!

The Christ-Mass
: The Traditional Latin Mass at Midnight! Alleluia! Christ our Savior is born! Alleluia!

Christmas Day
: Where did all those presents come from?! And the stockings are full?! It must have been the Christ Child and the Angels! We just can’t wait to open them after Mass! A joyful feast in the afternoon…and the “season” continues!

December 26th: The Feast Of Stephen.   Our Proto-Martyr.

December 28th
: The Feast Of the Holy Innocents. Arthur’s birthday. We remember all the “holy innocents” on this day, particularly the littlest victims of abortion.

And that’s just the month of December! January 1st marks the great Solemnity of Mary, Mother Of God. We continue with Epiphany, on January 6th. The Wise Men take their place before the Holy Infant. We sing “We Three Kings” and thank God for the greatest gift of the Christmas Season.  We end our Christmas celebration the following Sunday as we commemorate the Baptism of Our Lord.

As for shopping…

We really don’t shop much, until the week before Christmas. We don’t wrap presents until a couple of days before. Usually the same day that we set up the tree. These changes have changed us…we approach the entire season with the peace and joy that I believe our Lord intended us to have. Things don’t always go perfectly. There are the inevitable evenings that someone is sick, or dad is late. But the “mania” is gone.

Christ-Mass
is back.  Deo Gratias!

Legwarmers…

Pretty cute, huh?

Emily likes them, preferring to bunch them at her ankles or pull them over her knees, leaving the ankles bare.

Perhaps I should have made them longer…

Knitting with alpaca is lovely.  I can’t believe how much I have left.  One large hank from last years Alpaca Show has allowed me to knit a pair of fingerless gloves, a pair of legwarmers, and a hat with plenty leftover for another pair of legwarmers.

It’s been nice to take a bit of time for my knitting again. I’ve missed it and there’s nothing like cold, dreary weather to make the fingers itch for a bit of wool…

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