Our nine-feet-tall Christmas tree, the photo taken just a few days ago at dusk, which comes at around 5:30 p.m. in central Indiana these days. Much as I admire theme Christmas trees, we stick with a family-memory tree each year containing ornaments we've collected through our 41 years of marriage, plus those our parents accumulated through the years, as well as keepsake ornaments from vacations, mainly historical sites.
Merry Christmas morning! As I write this at 9:15 a.m., I've been buzzing around the house since 6:11 a.m. I didn't have to get up that early this Christmas morn, but it's actually late for me, as I prefer rising between 5-6 a.m. daily.
I know; weird. But it is an unexpected gift of aging, I suppose, or better put, of this season of life. I look forward to the quiet time when I feel I can do anything I want in the peace. But what I want in the early hours are simple things: that first sip of black coffee, with a cup or two to follow; working on one of my Bible study lessons; or maybe looking with fresh eyes at a particular project I have going at any given moment, such as a program for a speaking engagement, or maybe a to-do list. I may tune into TV to catch the headlines or commentary.
This time of year, I turn on the Christmas lights and enjoy them. I don't tire of them one bit, and have found that this year with Thanksgiving coming at the latest time possible, I feel "shorted" that extra pre-Christmas week. It will be early again in 2020 so maybe I'll even break with our unspoken "house rule" of no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving and start in early. Why not?
Ben has the week off, and to our delight, arrived yesterday afternoon --even before I got home from work because yes, I worked on Christmas Eve. We had a great visit before he and Brian watched some NetFlix shows that didn't interest me, so I retreated to my hot bath, then turned in early. That is the flip side of getting up so early, tuckering out at a time night owls feel is early.
Sam is working at the hospital today, and he and Allison will spend time with her wonderful family when he gets off, and they'll be here for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to the rest of the day! This is the kind of Christmas day I knew growing up and well into my adult years. I had older brothers who spent time with their wives' families or on their own early on Christmas days past, and then everyone assembled at my folks' farm later in the afternoon.
For me, it felt perfect. It made the anticipation of food, family and gifts last that much longer.
Brian and Ben are still sleeping. Once they wake up I've got some noisier tasks to get to.
For now, I thought I'd leave with you the devotion I wrote for my church's Facebook page this week. Wednesday is my day of the week for devotions and it's not up yet on the page. If you would like to be added to our church's Facebook page, where you can catch my weekly devotions and those of other folks, just let me know and I'll add you in a jif.
Another little preview announcement: I'm facilitating a devotions workshop at our church on Saturday, Feb. 15. It's free, it's fun, and YOU can come! Just let me know if you want more details as they become available. You don't have to belong to our church!
Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! The Light has come! Here's the devotion:
SEASONS OF FAITH – WINTER’S CHILL
CHRISTMAS DAY 2019
THE LIGHT HAS COME! – Donna Cronk
When I was a girl, my folks turned on the Christmas-tree lights only at night. I
loved the moment when darkness parted like the Red Sea as well as when
we lit candles surrounding the nativity scene on top of our TV set.
All these decades later, Brian and I leave on the Christmas-tree lights during all
our waking hours. Even if we’re only going to be home for a short while before a
work day, the lights are on, shining against the darkness of early morning.
Light is beautiful. It illuminates all that it touches. It warms us and draws us to
remain in its presence. Especially in the darkest moments of our lives, light offers
hope and comfort.
This time of year when the daylight hours are short, Christmas lights are all the
Is it any wonder that Jesus refers to Himself as the Light of the World? On this day
we celebrate and rejoice that the long-awaited Savior has come! And He is Light!
May each of us reflect His Light in our own lives so that others may be drawn to
Merry Christmas to you, my friends! Shine on!
John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in
darkness, but will have the light of life.”
A reprint of today's New Castle Courier-Times column.
by Donna Cronk
If memory serves, I went with Mom to Rose Chapman's home jewelry party that evening, circa 1969. Hanging out with her daughters, Vicky and Cheryl, were my motive for going along; that and the refreshments that all women’s parties offer.
Whatever the specific circumstances, the evidence of that home party – half a century later – remains in my own costume-jewelry collection. The Sarah Coventry leaf pin is a former resident in my late mother’s battered, pink, jewelry box with the well-worn velvet interior.
Growing up on the farm, I was equal parts girly-girl and tomboy. I cuddled piglets while Dad fed their mamas, moved cattle from one pasture to another, bridled Ginger and tore off across the pasture riding bareback, fearless.
It’s only by God’s grace that I survived childhood with my falling out of a tree, off a moving tractor, and being suddenly tossed flat on the ground from a terrified horse, startled by a German shepherd.
At the same time, there was nothing l liked more than playing house with cut-outs from the Sears catalog, tucking in my dolls for the night, and rifling through Mom’s jewelry box, trying on the colorful costume beads and bangles.
The only time I wear the faux-gold leaf pin is the fall. Of course trees and their leaves are perfectly fashionable year-round, but I guess I just want to keep Mom’s still-shiny pin with the tiny fake pearl set apart by getting it out at only this time of year.
In the past I struggled to fasten it to my sweater right-side up until I realized when I went to put it on Thursday that – duh – Sarah designed it to go the other way, to depict a falling leaf – thus the season called fall, right?
My Thursday outfit was on the cheap. I threw on three strands of fashion pearls of varying sizes to coordinate with that single pearl in the leaf. Probably too matchy-match for some, but I like it. I have no idea where those beads came from!
Through these almost 61 years I’ve collected lots of costume jewelry, including a number of strands similar to these. I think they are all from thrift shops or yard sales. And the goldenrod-hued sweater? I recently picked it up on final clearance for a buck at a local consignment shop.
I’m trying to enliven the way I dress with new and quirky old finds. alike. Brian says I wear too much black and gray. I think he’s probably right, although I’m drawn to those shades, especially in the winter and they'll remain wardrobe staples.
While looking through Pinterest for fashion ideas for the – ahem –mature woman, I came across a California stylist named Brenda Kinsel (BrendaKinsel.com). While I don’t adore all the outfits she puts together, a good many of them I find striking, and very much the kind of classy/casual looks I’d like to strive for. I can also learn plenty from her tips and techniques. I also like knowing she was also raised a farm girl.
It’s fun at my age to find a style mentor who resonates, and at the same time, tweak her ideas to make them my own. I’m too old to dress too young, and too young to dress too old. So I’ll suit myself and to suit Brian, try to add more color. I had that notion in mind when I bought the gold sweater--a color I'm not normally drawn to in clothing. But don't you know, I'm wearing the dickens out of it!
I’m wondering what fashion finds you’re still wearing that once belonged to your grandma or mom, or pershaps something you picked up for a song on the cheap. Share a photo of you wearing them and tell a little about them, won't you? I'm giving Courier-Times readers this challenge to send them to my work email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But for others out of the Henry County area, let me hear from you as well and I'll post here.
Are we ever too old to enjoy a romp through Mom’s old jewelry box or through a thrift store? I'm not!
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The fall/holiday issue will be inside your Courier on Saturday, Nov. 9.
It took Brian and me almost 40 years to get it done, but we did it! On my husband’s 65th birthday, no less, we got ourselves a signed, sealed, and witnessed last will and testament with all the trimmings. Who knew you needed that much paperwork that doesn’t even apply until ... then.
It’s not that we didn’t plan to do this a long time ago, 30-plus years to be exact. For most of those years, if not all, at least once a year one of us would say, “You know we really do need to get a will.”
We knew. It was the only responsible, adult thing to do; particularly with a baby turned little boy, then another baby turned little boy, and now two adult men as our offspring.
Age. Not only are we no longer spring chickens, we aren’t summer ones either. Tye Hill of Richmond, a woman who cuts to the chase with her frank observations, told me recently, “I’m in the winter of my life. You are probably in the fall of yours.”
Yes, the years pile high without us half realizing it until one day we wake up and the Medicare card is in my husband’s wallet and I’m not only admitting to be a senior myself but proudly declaring it at the drive-through window in order to claim a 5-percent discount.
We got right in to the attorney, and here we are, all legal. A weird way to spend Brian’s 65th birthday? Seems kind of appropriate, really.
I think of other milestone birthdays. The year Brian turned 40 I gave him a set of luggage. I remember him being too exhausted to react. Travel was not something on our radar just then beyond trips back and forth to our parents’ homes. GOOD GRIEF! Sam was in Little League then. Yet 40 seemed so ... adult. Shouldn't adults have matching luggage?
The year Brian was 50, we were at our friends’ house, Rick and Gay Kirkton’s. They had family there to mark the occasion of their son and our godson Thomas’ Lutheran Church confirmation. That Sunday Ben was playing in a baseball tournament and we got a phone call that Ben hit a walk-off home run for the tourney win. I think we floated home!
That was 15 years ago. I even remember what I wore that day. It sure doesn’t seem so long ago. I think of 15 years from now and while I certainly can’t count on seeing that date, as no one can, I would be 74 and Brian would be – 80!
The attorney suggested that we go ahead and make our funeral arrangements. I think we’ll give that one some more time.
The following originally appeared in the Nov. 14 edition of the New Castle Courier-Times.
We no more than got used to the empty nest when Era Next arrives.
And I thought the empty nest was bad.
Wasn’t it just a couple years ago when the boys were getting college brochures in the mail and we were scratching our heads, trying to find those odd, extra-long twin-bed sheets unique to Ball State University dorms?
These days the mailman is delivering new offers the senders hope we can't refuse.
There are batches of brochures, bulging envelopes, and invites for “free” fancy dinners. If you saw our mailbox, you’d think that Brian, anyway, is a pretty popular guy, maybe even some sort of celebrity. But the truth is, being 64 is what makes him attention-worthy.
His special mail arrives almost daily from all kinds of insurance companies, ones we’d never even heard of before, wanting to talk to him about the supplementary Medicare insurance he’ll need on his next birthday.
If he opened and read all the information they send, well, he’d need to hire a personal assistant to help keep it all straight and, since he's retired and can't afford such a thing, and I’m not applying, the bulk of it goes unopened.
It all makes our heads spin, frankly, so when the time comes, we’ll probably go with a recommendation from a retiree we trust -- and leave it at that.
On a more occasional basis, we get fancy invites to dinners. Would be nice if they were from friends or family but no, these are dinners from people we don’t know wanting to sell us something. They’re at places we would never attend courtesy of our own wallets and the pictures
show cloth napkins, china, silver – the whole works.
They look romantic. And delicious. Yes, the invites are clearly supposed to be irresistible until, of course, you consider that at such a meal, the reality is you’d be sitting wall-to-wall next to other
couples who received the same invites and like us, are just there for the eats. I envision a salesman standing over us pitching whatever investment he or she is selling. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think I’m probably closer to right. One thing is for sure, and that's that we aren't biting.
It is said there are no free lunches. I imagine that goes double for free dinners.
But the mail we got the other day topped both these. It was a funeral home inviting us to come on in and get our preplanning on. This has happened before. The last time, the funeral service had the gall to ask us what we expected to spend on a funeral. You know, so they could better come up with a package. Excuse me?
But we didn't bite on that offer either, and the place is trying again. We'll just pass and try not to pass on.
So this is the stage we're in. I’m not sure what mail will come in the one after this one. I don’t think
I want to know. Maybe we’ll just change our mailing address.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the
quarterly her magazine for women.