Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thankful

Hello old friends! I spent Thanksgiving in Arkansas with my mom. A very thankful Thanksgiving this year.
  • Thankful for a short break from cold and work.
  • Thankful for time to spend with this remarkably wise woman.
  • Thankful for the birds that populate her bird feeders and bring such joy to watch.
  • Thankful for the wonderful tradition of Thanksgiving pies and all the other trimmings.
I was very aware that while Thanksgiving at Mom's was as natural as it could be, returning to Blooming Prairie was going to be a bit strange. It's not just that the weather is going from moderate to cold instead of warm, it has to do with what is waiting for me on the other end. Usually when I leave to go home after Thanksgiving it is to a whirlwind of activity that goes on all month long. While I have some December busy-ness, overall it is not the frenzy I am used to in December. And I am thankful for that, even as I miss some of my Texas December traditions.

That said, I did return to what will probably be the longest day of my entire month. Sunday was filled from early morning on: Sunday School, Program Practice, Worship, Education Board Meeting, Advent Festival,  and Wish Tree Shopping. All of which went well, and were fun to participate in. 

My three-year-old teacher was out with the flu so I got to help the littlest ones practice walking in and out of the sanctuary. While we were doing that, one of our newly confirmed 10th graders was practicing a violin piece he is playing for one of the Christmas services. My little threes were wide-eyed and very curious about this, and sat and listened quietly for an amazing number of minutes.

This is Amy and her miniature donkey 4-H project. She brought him to the Advent Festival and all the kids got their pictures taken with him. It was a very fun way to imagine the Christmas story with the children. Amy is in 7th grade and has a twin brother. They are farm kids and talked knowledgeably about delivering lambs and caring for them in confirmation recently. This is one of the things I am truly enjoying about being up here - seeing how different these kids lives are from the kids I worked with in Austin. Not better. Not worse. Just different. They have different kinds of experiences and sometimes different kinds of dreams. The kids here are probably a little more aware of what life is like for kids in Austin than the reverse. It is just as much fun to be with them as with the others. Guess that means I just love young people in general!

The final event of the day was going with two Senior girls to shop for kids we adopted from the Wish Tree. We spent a fun hour searching Target for just the right combination of gifts. We nailed our budget with $19 to spare, and then went for dinner. It was fun to hear about their friendship. They have lived across the street from each other for their whole lives. They are heading off to different colleges in the fall and can't even imagine life without one another. They are smart, kind, helpful, and sweet girls. They go to school, work, volunteer and teach first grade Sunday School. Amazing.

So, I am thankful. And one more special thing to be thankful for: this Friday I am going to hear the St.Olaf Christmas concert with Emily and Paul, and Paul's family. And I won't have to travel two days to get here. This will be the third time I've seen Emily since I got here. Living in MN has its perks!

Still missing the familiar, but gaining more familiarity here each day. Another blessing to be counted. Keep in touch!