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Time Will Tell

Recently, a friend commented about whether or not a letter I had sent to our local paper would be printed. “Time will tell,” she said. She was right. I’m still looking for my letter to be published.

That’s true for everything in our lives, I think. None of us has ultimate control. We can plan carefully for upcoming events, but we are not assured that we will be able to carry out our plans.

As a school administrator, I learned that lesson over and over. Many times, circumstances arose that caused us to alter our plans, and yet we came through, often in unexpectedly positive ways. I’ve also learned that lesson in my personal life.  Sometimes illness or accidents occur or death of a loved one interrupts our lives, but we adjust and carry on.

Today, I take heart in knowing that only “time will tell” how the future will unfold. When actions taken by our national leaders are harmful to our citizens and to others seeking asylum within our country, I see how these bumbling actions are stirring up a mighty revival of voices united for decency and justice.

This ground swell is only beginning!

 

I am ashamed to say that in all my 78 years I have never marched, either to support something or to protest something. But one of the great privileges we Americans have is that we can raise our voices in protest or in praise.

Yesterday, millions of women and men from all across our nation marched in small towns and large cities to tell President Trump and the U.S. Congress that we will not support any policies or reforms that trample on civil rights or basic decency. If, as Trump says, he wants to “return power to the people,” then he needs to take notice of the massive crowds that came out yesterday and declared that the core values of this country will not be destroyed.

We will not tolerate the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act if it hurts those who now have health insurance in spite of pre-existing conditions or if it deprives thousands of our poorest citizens from affordable care.

We will not tolerate the dismantling of any laws that protect women’s rights to make choices about their lives and their bodies.

We will not tolerate any laws or practices that discriminate against persons because of their race, religion, or gender identity.

We will not tolerate the deportation of undocumented young people, brought here as children through no fault of their own, who now attend school and/or work to contribute to our society.

We will not tolerate the deportation of any undocumented immigrants who are now living in our country peacefully.

We will support President Trump’s desire to defend our borders more carefully, but we will not tolerate any attempt to screen persons based on their religion or ethnicity.

We will expect our President to speak truthfully, and we will also expect our news media to call him out when the facts do not support his statements. We will not tolerate any denigration of our free press.

I applaud those who marched yesterday! And I stand with all who are working to uphold the core values of this great country.

The Case for Santa

Santa will soon be making his annual trip, so tonight I’ll share a little story I wrote several years ago. A true experience underlies the fiction. Merry Christmas!

THE CASE FOR SANTA

Madelyn F. Young

            Lisa felt her phone vibrate and retrieved it from her pocket. Glancing at caller ID, she shut off the vacuum cleaner. “Hi, there.”

“Hi, Mom. Have Michael and Ellen talked with you about Santa Claus this year?” Meredith’s voice sounded edgy.

Lisa paused. “Well, yes. Michael did mention they were not going to play Santa with Katie. He said something about them not wanting to lie to her.”

“I know! Isn’t that ridiculous? She’s only three years old, for heaven’s sake. What did you tell him?”

“I think I told him that was certainly their decision to make, but we might still slip up and mention Santa when they’re here at our house. In fact, I already have tags on some of Katie’s gifts that say ‘From Santa.’”

“What did he say to that?”

“He didn’t object too much—said she couldn’t read them anyway, so it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

Meredith pressed the issue. “But, Mom! You know we will be there too. What if Katie says something to Claire about there not really being a Santa Claus? There’s no way I want our daughter to have her belief in Santa ruined. That’s one of the most magical things about Christmas for children. I can’t believe my own brother is going to deprive little Katie of all that excitement.”

Lisa had to admit she was disappointed too. She adored both of her granddaughters. Born only eleven weeks apart, they always enjoyed playing together. Last Christmas, their parents brought the toddlers home for the holidays, and Santa delighted them with many gifts. This year, Christmas would be much more complicated.

Lisa tried to soothe her daughter’s feelings. “Well, I think we can all go on like everything’s the same. Katie is still too young to understand much about Santa. Next year we may have more of a problem.”

“Yeah, I’ve already thought about that,” Meredith said. “But this year could be bad too. I’m going to call Michael and Ellen and insist they tell Katie not to talk about Santa Claus around Claire.”

“Well, be careful. Try not to sound too judgmental. They only want to make sure Katie isn’t disappointed with them later on. Michael said they wanted her to know that whatever they told her would always be true.”

“Okay,” Meredith said. “I promise not to rant too much, but I still think they’re way off base on this one.”

After their conversation, Lisa wasn’t sure what to expect on Christmas morning. However, when the day arrived, her two grown children seemed careful not to provoke each other—at least, not in her presence—and no problems arose when Katie and Claire opened their gifts.

“See, Mommy!”

“Daddy, look!”

Their little faces beamed. Lisa felt her shoulders relax, and she knew she could enjoy the day.

A year later, when Christmas rolled around, the case for Santa still remained undecided. The girls’ parents reported their four-year-olds were much more tuned in to all the Santa talk at preschool where they sang “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other Santa songs. At the mall they saw long lines of children waiting to sit on Santa’s lap.

Meredith said she and Stan took Claire to see Santa, and she happily perched on his knee, confiding in him everything she wanted for Christmas. Lisa looked forward to the photo.

“But, Mom, I feel so sorry for Katie,” Meredith said. “Honestly! Why can’t Michael and Ellen just let her be a child!”

When Michael called, he explained what he and Ellen had told Katie. “Many children like to make believe Santa Claus is a real person, but Santa is only pretend,” they said. “Mommy and Daddy will give you your presents, not Santa.” But Michael also said they cautioned Katie to be kind and not spoil other children’s fun.

Even so, Lisa worried. What might happen when Katie and Claire were together? And what about presents this year? Should they be from Santa or not?

Several weeks before Christmas, Michael called again.

“Hi, Mom. Guess what? I think the problem of Santa is solved.”

“Really?” Lisa laughed. “That’s great! What’s going on?”

“Well, the other day, Ellen and I mentioned we were going to put presents under our tree before coming to Nana’s house. There would be some for Katie, but they would be from Mommy and Daddy. We would all open our gifts together here before making the trip. When we told Katie our plans, she frowned, like she was thinking hard about that, and then she said, ‘No, I want some presents from Santa too.’”

Lisa smiled. “My goodness. What did you say?”

“Well, I’ll have to admit that comment surprised us,” Michael said. “We knew she understood Santa wasn’t real. So we asked her about that. What she said was, ‘I want to make believe about Santa too, like the other kids do.’”

“Bless her heart.” Lisa laughed. “She must have thought she was missing something.”

“I guess so,” Michael said. “Anyway, Ellen and I have decided it will be fine for her to pretend. We’ve told Katie, ‘All right, then. You can have a few presents that come from Santa, and, if you want to, we can even have some Santa gifts at Nana’s house. When Claire opens her presents, you can open some too.’ She really likes that idea. So, Mom, I guess you’re off the hook.”

Lisa laughed. “Well, that does make things easier. You be sure to give her a big hug from Nana, and I’ll see you soon.”

Lisa clicked off the phone and grinned. Thank you, Santa.

 

We thank you, God, for today, for this

Time in which we are living

Here in this place we call

America. May we

Never forget to

Keep the light of freedom

Shining for all

Generations. In this place

Individuals may raise their

Voices in protest or in praise; in this place

Inclusion of all classes, creeds, and colors is our goal.

Now we lift our hearts to you

God, the Source of all our lives and liberty.

We thank you, God, for today.

Madelyn F. Young, 2004

 

 

Many of my friends here in the Village are thrilled about the presidential election results. This is a strongly Republican community. Other friends are despondent.

I voted for Hillary, too, but after the initial shock last week, I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I’m waiting to see what our President-elect will actually do now that he’s “caught the bus.” His words and actions so far are mixed.

Last night Hillary spoke at the Children’s Defense Fund Dinner, her first public speech since her resignation last week. That’s been an organization dear to her heart for many, many years. It’s a group of like-minded folks who care for and work diligently for the welfare of children.

I thought about Trump’s campaign rhetoric—his strong, animated statements about deporting all undocumented immigrants—and I thought of the millions of children who are terrified now of losing their parents.

We must NEVER let our government tear innocent families apart.  I will do all that I can to speak to and write to our representatives, urging them to stand up against any such action.

Whether we are happy or sad about the election, it’s time now for all of us to come together to support common-sense immigration reform. Our children deserve better!

Open Mic Night

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before. I participated in my very first open mic event. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but John Swinburn, one of my Village Writers’ friends, spearheaded the show, so I decided to try it.

For the past few years, the Unitarian Universalist Village Church has been hosting open mic events at their church. However, they decided to give it up. That’s when John said he’d like to attempt a renewal, perhaps hold it in Coronado Community Center, and advertise it throughout the Village. He enlisted the help of the Unitarians and others to get it off the ground, and the Hot Springs Village POA provided free rental of the Coronado Center auditorium. They also furnished a cash bar, and John Chapman, KVRE announcer, emceed the program. Admission was free.

We had a great turnout! Members of the audience were seated with the performers at nine or ten large round tables, and, as our names were called, we participants made our way up to the lighted stage to do our thing.

I read a short memoir story, “Crime Scene,” about an incident that happened to me during the early 1990s when Robin and I still lived in Mississippi. Other participants also read original stories and poetry. A Carousel Readers’ Theater ensemble performed a humorous skit. A quartet from Crystal Chimes, a women’s barbershop group here in the Village, sang several numbers and advertised their upcoming holiday show, Cocoa, Cookies, and Carols. To close the evening, another talented duo from the readers’ theater group performed “Ring, Ring,” a hilarious skit written by one of the actors.

John hopes to have a second open mic event in January with even more acts. If you live in the Village or close by, keep your eye out for more publicity. You’ll have a fun evening visiting with friends, and you’ll see and hear many talented folks.

Photo Memories

One day I happened to mention to a new friend that I was posting recent photos in our family albums, and we talked about how people don’t do that much anymore. Instead, they’re using their phones to snap pictures, and then they’re posting them on Facebook.

However, I began keeping our family album/scrapbooks way back in 1958, the year Robin and I married, and now it’s a “tradition.” I can’t stop! Would you believe we’re now up to Album #78? That’s kind of mind-boggling, even to me. We have a family history recorded in these albums—all the events we’ve experienced for almost 60 years now.

Last night our friend came to supper, and she said she’d love to see some of those old pictures of Robin and me. We dragged out Album #1, and we all had so much fun, laughing and remembering

One picture shows me in a strapless formal with a full skirt, crinoline petticoats underneath, corsage at my waist, sitting in a swing at a sorority dance. Robin is standing behind me in a suit and tie, hands on the ropes of the swing. He has almost a full head of hair, although even then, in his twenties, it was beginning to recede.

Another picture shows Robin and me as newlyweds, standing in front of our first little apartment in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was attached to the side of the owner’s house. We had a tiny living room with a half-wall divider separating it from our bedroom, with only space for a double bed and small dresser. The bedroom opened to a tiny bathroom. We also had a small kitchen. The entire apartment was about the size of our living room now— our first little “nest.”

Later, I showed our friend a more recent album. This one features mostly our grown children and their families. The years go by. Someday, these albums will pass into their hands to share with their children and grandchildren and friends.