Wednesday, November 25, 2015
By Micky Wolf
The holiday season can bring out the best (and worst) in people. Maybe it’s hard to sit with Uncle Talksalot for a couple of hours. Or listen to little sister Pollytics rant on about her favorite candidate.
What if the loving option is to make the choice to forget self—my wants, my needs, what makes me happy—and choose the higher ground? To be other-centered? To believe that, for at least a couple of special times of the year, there is something more important, more honorable and virtuous, than planting ourselves in a corner “just waiting for it to be over”.
So, how do we maximize the first and minimize the latter?
Take the time to discover—within your own heart as well as with others—the good stuff.
Which brings me to the fresh stick of butter. And what’s a festive holiday dinner without lots of butter, inside the yummies or slathered on top?
My extended family has always been small. However, one of my two uncles (both long since departed) had a way of making folks smile every time we gathered around a dinner table.
He was quiet by nature (still waters run deep) and tended to be a bit cranky and stern at times. Somehow I managed to be seated next to him on most occasions. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Why?
You see he had this tradition. He’d start the butter dish around the table without removing any until it returned to his place. (That was intentional.) I was the first recipient. With the tiniest smile beginning to form, he’d hand it to me—but not before he’d nudged it hard enough that my thumb became stuck in the end of the stick.
And he got me every time. Every. Time.
As a kid, it might make sense I’d forget. But as a young adult? Nope. It would all happen so fast, all I could do was laugh and shake my head—as did everyone else around the table.
Then I’d take my knife and slide some onto my plate and hand it to the next person—who by now was wise enough to have a strategy to avoid being butter-kissed. Darn it.
In the end, the best part of the butter tradition was how it affected the atmosphere. That single act was enough to bring joy to our table, brighten someone’s mood. That simple gesture could silence (at least for a couple of minutes) Uncle Talksalot. Get sister Pollytics on another topic.
It doesn’t take much for most of us to realize we have a lot for which to be thankful.
On the other hand, taking the time to express our gratitude in a way that makes everyone feel appreciated and welcome may be the best gift we can give one another, and ourselves.
Thank you, dear uncle. And something tells me you’re still at it.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
By Micky Wolf
What you can’t see from the photograph is distance. Height. It’s about twenty-five feet to solid ground below this backyard-squirrel family homestead.
Now it’s not that I believe these furry creatures have long, meaningful conversations sitting around a pile of nuts on the center of the breakfast table.
Nevertheless, imagine, with me, for a moment, how such an encounter might unfold. Let’s use the metaphor of a typical American family with two young children. The oldest is beginning to leave the nest without adult supervision, the youngest is all ears and eyes observing big sister.
“Okay if I go to Annabelle’s for the afternoon?” Oldest
“Sure. Be back in time for dinner.” Mom
“Wow, it’s really windy today. Got to watch where I walk.” Oldest
“No problem. You’ll be fine. Just don’t look down.” Mom
“Right. So, what you doing today?” Oldest
“Going with your brother. He’s learning how to fly from limb to limb. Doing better, but he has some timing issues.” Mom
“Yeah, that last splat he took was pretty nasty. His tail was bent funny for a week.” Oldest
“You had your fair share, eh? Like I’ve told you more than once—when you forget about moving forward, you spend too much time looking behind or below. Doesn’t work.” Mom
“Uh-huh. Well, he’ll figure it out. Can’t spend the rest of his life sitting here, even if it’s a really nice pile of twigs and leaves. Gotta go!” Oldest
So, fellow sojourner, how are you going to spend the gift you’ve been given of this moment, this day?
Sittin’? Or taking a risk to move forward and be the person God has created you to be?