2015 in review

Happy New Year!  Like pretty much everyone, I’m taking this time to reflect and then look ahead to what’s in store for the near future.  First of all, WordPress created this awesome end of year summary for my blog which is so much more beautiful and interesting than anything I could have come up with.  My favorite part is that this blog was viewed by people in 22 countries!  Amazing!  I hope you’ll take a moment to enjoy the entire summary below.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 590 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 10 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report:

https://idabethgeschke.com/2015/annual-report/

As for 2016, I have a few things planned.  Working on this blog has been a lot of fun, and I plan to continue posting and growing my audience.  Look for contests and other interactive posts throughout the year.  If you enjoy visiting, tell your friends and invite them to join us here at idabethgeschke.com!

Also, that November challenge to write a nonfiction book in 30 days resulted in a completed draft, although not until the last days of December.  The project took off in a different direction than expected and therefore took longer than planned.  BUT, I had a great time, and I’m pretty happy with it.  Hopefully, the project will continue to develop into a published piece in 2016.  I’ll be sharing more about that in future blog posts, so stay tuned.

Whether you have resolved to eat healthier, work out more, get organized, or to accomplish any other worthy goal(s), I hope you are already on your way to achieving your best self in 2016.  I wish you tenacity from within, support from those around you, and guidance from above.  May your year be truly blessed as you, dear readers, have blessed me.

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A Christmas Wish

beach sunrise

The winter solstice has passed, and we are on our way to longer days, shorter nights. It makes sense that we celebrate the birth of Jesus at about the same time as the world around us begins to grow brighter.

As we wait these last few days, I wish you hope.

I wish you love.

I wish you the joy of welcoming an infant savior into the world and the peace that comes from welcoming the adult Christ into your days.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

happyholidayssock

“Happy holidays!” When I was growing up I heard this familiar expression sprinkled liberally among others: Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year. I understood Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but I wasn’t so sure about the others. I remember asking my mother about Season’s Greetings when I saw it on a sign in front of a local synagogue. She explained it something like this: Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah around the same time we celebrate Christmas. Pretty much everyone celebrates the new year which is not a religious time like Christmas and Hanukkah. Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays include the entire season, for everyone, from Thanksgiving to January, instead of just one particular day.

Using greetings such as Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings made sense to my five- or six-year-old self. It seemed much more convenient than trying to list all the possible holidays in one greeting or trying to figure out which holidays were celebrated by any particular person. Most importantly, the idea appealed to my sense of fairness and allowed me to include everyone as Mrs. Reeves, my kindergarten teacher, taught me to do. Because my mother’s explanation was delivered purely and simply in the loving spirit of the season, those greetings remained pure and sincere in my heart and mind.

Using inclusive greetings still makes sense to my fifty-something-year-old self, particularly since there are even more cultural and religious events celebrated in our midst. There are more people to greet. There are more celebrations to bless. There is more joy to share!

If you observe something other than Christmas or in addition to Christmas, I wish you the grandest of celebrations. Whatever you celebrate, or if you don’t celebrate at all, I wish you love. I wish you enough. I wish you peace.

Back to Christmas

back to christmasYou hear a lot of people complain about the commercialization of Christmas.  You see a lot of signs and memes reminding us that Christ is the “reason for the season.”  You read all kinds of articles about how we need to spend less time on social media and more time in real conversations with real people.  This weekend I read a pretty special little book by Dennis Canfield that makes those points, and a few more (maybe even more important), in the most delightful way.  It’s called Back to Christmas, and although it is considered a children’s book, everyone will enjoy this fun yet meaningful tale.

The story starts with Marmel who takes his job as head labeling elf (you know, “naughty” or “nice”) so seriously that he begins to believe the whole point of Christmas is to separate people into groups.  When the naughty list dwindles down to only one family, Marmel worries that he will soon be out of a job, so he embarks on a mission to make sure they stay on the naughty list… permanently!

Of course, Santa wants everyone on the nice list, so he recruits his brother, Reverse Santa to help.  That’s right, Reverse Santa.  He wears green, lives at the South Pole, and instead of giving gifts, he takes things away!

In the middle of it all is the Krumwerth family, headed straight for the permanent naughty list.  Only one of them, daughter Amanda, knows the danger, and now she must try to undo years of naughty behavior and steer everyone toward the nice list.

In addition to all that, Canfield enlists the help of flying penguins (ridiculous yes, but no more so than flying reindeer), a heavy metal rocker named Repo, more elves, and a little bit of magic to advance the story to its moving conclusion.  This is a perfect holiday story to enjoy on your own or to share with a child or anyone else.  Who knows?  You may help someone find their way Back to Christmas.

If you read this book and would like to share your thoughts, please do so here in the comments.  AND if you you’d like to share your own ideas for getting back to Christmas, please share those as well.

This Table

tgiving tableThis table. I could call it my table. It is, after all, in my house in my dining room. Calling it my table wouldn’t seem accurate though. It feels more like our table, a title earned after decades of meritorious service. It has hosted celebrations of all sorts: holidays, birthdays, general weekend gatherings, and at least one wedding. The base is worn bare from feet propped against it during countless conversations most often punctuated by coffee and cigarettes.

This table. It was the headquarters of my grandfather, the family patriarch. He sat at this table most of the time, rarely sitting in a comfy chair in the living room as one might expect a grandfather to do. From his throne-like spot he presided over dinners, barked orders for tasks he wanted done, created (and frequently revised) his pallbearer list, and doled out money for birthdays and school clothes. He left this table each day before dawn for work and returned to it each evening for dinner, 365 days a year, until he finally retired. When I think of my grandfather, he is sitting at this table.

This table. It was the site of countless delicious meals lovingly prepared by my grandmother. When I think of the meals eaten here, they blur into one gigantic memory. My favorite meals were fried chicken with rice and gravy, pancakes with syrup and bacon, and seafood fresh from the bay often caught with our own hands. There was always a cacophony of spirited conversation among the tribe: aunts and uncles, friends who might as well have been family, in-laws, outlaws, and my favorites, the cousins. When it was time to sit down, we each wanted to sit next to our grandmother. Wanting to avoid the hurt feelings sure to come, she always said, “I’ll sit across from you so I can see your pretty faces.” It always worked, but she rarely sat down, at least not until everyone else was almost finished. Her place was taking care of people at the table rather than sitting down herself.

This table. It was once adorned in green shamrocks for a St. Patrick’s Day wedding celebration when my grandfather remarried after my grandmother’s death. That joyous occasion brought new aunts, new uncles, new cousins, and of course, a new grandmother. It was a happy time, but I wasn’t sure how to fit someone new into my idea of “grandmother.” I shouldn’t have worried. Once, in the throes of teenage angst, I ran away from home. Sort of. I wasn’t planning on staying gone, and I wasn’t even trying to hide. I just wanted to be someplace else for a little while. It took my mother and my boyfriend about five minutes to figure out where I was, and then they started calling me (remember, no cell phones). I sat at this table with my grandfather in his usual spot, phone ringing, wishing there was just one person who could “get” me. My grandfather thought I was being ridiculous and told me to go home. But New Grandmother… she got it! She yelled at my grandfather, well, at least as close as she ever came to yelling, and told him to let me be. Few people talked back to my grandfather, but she did, at least that day. Which was really all I needed. That and for that incessant ringing to stop. So, I got back in my car and went home assured that at least one person other than myself had at some point been a teenage girl trying to figure it all out.

This table. It has been passed down twice since then, and each passing brings new family, new friends, new conversations, new memories. Like all of us, it shows a little wear and tear: coffee stains, cigarette burns, a scratch or two or more. And as is true for all of us, these nicks and dings just add to its character. It is as much a part of this family as any human person, and in a few days, we will gather again to celebrate. We will celebrate our blessings.  We will celebrate each other.   At this table.