A.J.’s Eve of Christmas Eve proposal

A.J.’s waking words, uttered as he walked into the living room where I had a PC going:

I’m writing a poem. It’s going to be called, “The Eve of Christmas Eve.” Unfortunately I’ll die before it’s done…(oh, good! [saw mom’s new blanket on the back of the loveseat and wrapped himself in it]…because Christmas isn’t coming very fast.

Dad? [Hmm?] Can we celebrate Christmas Eve on the 23rd instead of the 24th? And then Christmas on the 24th, please? By the way, I have a reason for that also, besides getting to open presents earlier. Saturnalia, which is what the Romans celebrated…[interrupted by Tee pointing out a new present under tree]…because then Christmas doesn’t have to be on the first day of Saturnalia, when they celebrated Saturn, one of the Greek gods, also a Roman god.

Breakfast calls – leftovers from yesterday’s brunch – and distracts us temporarily from this important discussion. – j


Summer holidays

Our house was just a bit too far from last night’s fireworks at the nearby park to make any money from allowing people to park in our driveway. Earlier in the day, A.J., Tee and I picked several cups of black raspberries at that park, after a tip from a friend who found them. Avoided poison ivy and enjoyed some of the fruits of our labor – that’s a good 4th!

A.J. admired the entrepreneurial initiative of those who allowed parking even in their yard for the much bigger celebration across the lake a few evenings ago. That – the biggest display in the Midwest with 15,000 shells – attracted about 50,000 people. Many of us participated in what could have been the world’s largest Pledge of Allegiance; could that be done outside the U.S.?

We decided that day, just in time to celebrate it, that a person’s silver birthday is the one where their age equals the hour of their birth (in military time, if past noon). A.J. enjoyed his, pretending the huge fireworks show was in his honor. Best moment: his gobstopped reaction to the volley synchronized with “the rocket’s red glare.” He’s been memorizing the additional verse to the anthem. And enjoying his flying birthday gifts almost as much as Dy; Arey was kind enough to fish a couple of the toys off the roof when my back kept me grounded.

I should post the poor verses Arey and I crafted as clues for A.J.’s party treasure hunt with a military theme. We won’t get any further use from them past the kids’ few minutes enjoyment, and as they refer to spots in our yard.

Heard recently in the household, when Tee was asked how many pancakes she’d eaten: “I only had one!…Okay, maybe four…”. Talk about instant repentance.

Travel plans for the summer are starting to fall into place, including a couple of solo trips – me to my Mom in FL and Dy to visit a friend in Texas. That’s after we envelope a week at Cedar with play, exploration and visits.

It was a relief to read of Alan Johnston’s release in Gaza, even if the context of Hamas’ struggle for control of the area and its clans gives it a bitter edge. Like him in his captivity, Dy just discovered the local BBC broadcast.

And at least one teenage member of the family has already gotten tired of grilling out – just when my skills are improving. – j

Urbana transplants

That’s what we are – transplanted for these days to serve ~22,000 folk gathered between Christmas and New Year’s.

And Urbana itself has been transplanted, from its namesake city in Illinois to the larger urban center in the Show Me state.

So far, we’re doing well enough to call ourselves blessed. What with the craziness of check-in and subsequent recovery as a family, the following written late on Christmas Day (after a dinner overlooking the soaring arch) was stuck in the cache awaiting postage.

For content straight from the convention floor, don’t miss the delayed webcast.

Three energetic student sisters (right) volunteered for Lynn, hotels check-in coordinator – including removing the stabilizing plastic wrap from around all those boxes of bags. A.J. and Tee pitched in with a little help and creativity. What to do with yards and yards of leftover wrap? Dresses, neckties, headgear, kickballs, belly warmers…

This has been an unique and memorable Christmas! As our friends arrived to participate in Urbana and care for our kids, we both noted how little the day has felt like Christmas. Good thing the faith doesn’t rest solely on sentiments. It matters little what day of the year or even what exact year the Incarnation got into full swing. The fact remains (and I venture such a claim in view of the risks, known and unknown): ours is a visited planet.

As the registration check-in and other convention areas were taking shape, other advance staff kept arriving. Dy and teammate Sarah checked in the first wave during a Christmas Eve gathering – including Jim, Urbana 06 director.

These views can’t possibly contain the whole – but neither could the swaddling cloths, manger, stable cavern or heavens of old. Someone should write about the reentry of these elements into the story as strips of linen for wrapping, a wooden supporting structure, freshly carven tomb and obscured path of ascent.

A second unequivocal visitation has been promised once all the ethne (people groups, a.k.a. nations) of the earth receive news of the first (see, e.g., Mark 13:10). The date and hour remain unknown, along with plenty else we’d like to know.

Until then, A.J. keeps busy with Lego constructions and dreams of more. Here (right) a new and expanding battle group traverses the expanses of an America’s Center hall awaiting the vast friendly hordes of convention attendees.

Thirsty Thursday the Thirtieth

It’s not quite here, so there’s still time to prepare. Here’s what anyone needs to know:

  • Thirsty Thursday the Thirtieth is an irregular holiday, occurring on any Thursday which falls on the thirtieth day of any month. (Why is it usually said the other way around – that a date falls on a day of the week?) Thus there can be several a year.
  • The only mandated means of celebration is the enjoyment of soda (or pop, depending on your region) with other participants. We prefer root beer, but soda is a rare commodity in our household, so just about any flavor will do. A.J. and John, as originators of the tradition, are sure to celebrate. Others may join as they wish.

But why? For the curious, here’s the background.

The origin of the holiday rests squarely in the bedtime conversation of one little boy with his father – both members of this immediate family. Somehow, the son thought the dad meant “thirsty” when he said “Thursday” – or was it the other way around? (Thirsty mistaken for Thursday, not the son speaking.) In any case, the two of them experimented with the sound of the two words – it doesn’t take much to encourage the delay of sleep, or to lead some types to search for a bad pun – and since the 30th was a Thursday and only a few days away…the rest is history.

Why not the thirteenth, especially as that word is more easily slurred into resemblance with the first two? Fair question. Our choice was probably influenced by the fact that one of our birthdays sometimes coincides with this arrangement, not to mention a grandparent’s. If you want to initiate your own holiday, please feel free. We’ll be the first to join you – if you let us know!

A.J. was plenty excited about sharing this tradition with folks this way. What he doesn’t yet know is that our celebration is already planned for this Thursday with the two of us enjoying our cans of root beer while walking home from the office. It turns out that currently Thursdays are our guys’ evening “in” while Dy shuttles the young women to dance and piano lessons.

Kinda thirsty already – j