Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coin Jar Christmas

Jimmy Carter’s pre-election autobiography.
Why not...
When Jimmy Carter became president in 1976, many events and hardships followed.  The list is long, infuriating, and filled with needs that stuck us hard in many ways, mostly our pockets.

In those years of his presidency, inflation rose, interest rates soared, and our family needs increased.  Our baby Mary was born on New Year’s Eve in 1980, just when we felt our bank account echoed like an empty canyon. 

John worked at a property management company, collecting rents, evicting, arranging for repairs.  With the rough economy, apartments stood empty and renters did not pay.

Our income shrank. Details aren't important, but December was.  We could stretch our money only so far, and Christmas was beyond our stretching reach. Facing each other the day after Thanksgiving as we decorated our Kmart artificial tree, the question hung in the air silently.  What are we going to do?

Erin was five, Johnny was three, and Mary was one—the older two danced around the lighted tree, laughing as we were almost crying.  What are we going to do?

A coin jar was on a dresser, where we had emptied pockets of coins from pockets over the past two years.  Maybe?  In a quiet house, John dumped coins onto the kitchen table and we began counting.  Stacks of quarters were few, followed by more stacks of dimes and nickels, but the pennies were a sea across the table.
heplful jars of coins
Fifty two dollars and some cents.  That was all we had. Every penny.  We leaned back in our chairs and considered what we could  do.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Night

Biggest Full Moon of the Year: Take 2
On a December night,
Does and fawns tread light
Over newly fallen snow,
Under full moon glow.

No twinkling lights abound
On country roads, no sounds
Through bare trees.
Where silence quietly creeps.

Sheltered within a warm home
Beneath starry night dome,
Children settle and sigh
Under a dreaming December sky.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fear not!

IMG_0555 - Copy - Copy
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
December marked frantic use of scissors, glitter, and paper in schools every where. Teachers reluctantly set out the peppermint paste, letting chaos take its course. 

Influenza and Christmas frenzy drove the pace.

Each classroom reflected garish joy and vacant student desks as days counted down to one big event: Annual Christmas Pageant.  If ever there were a bigger event, the community did not know it.

The District Music teacher, Mrs. Harris, traveled to every school before settling on this one school to perform that year's pageant.

Mrs. Harris was relentless in her expectations and doling out various roles as fear hung in the air while performers marched to her music. Seventh and eighth graders became The Holy Family with younger students filling out as angels, elves, and sugar canes.

Influenza began wiping out the Holy Family and shepherds.  But Mrs. Harris did not break step or sweat; Mrs. Harris drafted the best of the next grade down.

In sixth grade, all girls were hoping,  Please oh please let me be Mary! Their hearts, minds and eyes pleaded.

Briefly, Mrs. Harris laid eagle eyes on a few, but moved on.  Those girls would remain angels that year.  The pageant took place with Holy Family intact while Angels waited in the wings, scratching silver garland halos. 

Day after Pageant Glory, angels' desks were vacant,  each absentee sick with influenza. A few elves were out as well.

Please note that this memory comes from a then 10 year brain.  I discovered that "Mrs. Harris" was kind and a very good teacher.  She taught us all how to read music, and as a result I learned to play the piano, due to her strong teaching.