Good Will Mandate – (or How to have a Pleasant Christmas)

 

pleasantville-rice-crispies

The family begins to gather.  First, the child from out-of-town, then the children who live close by, the older grandkids, the aunt, the babies, a neighbor, a few friends, a dog or two (couldn’t find a keeper) and suddenly,  it’s Christmas!  And the festivities begin.

Let there be armfuls of packages, overstuffed bellies, crackling fires, joyful singing, lots of laughter, game playing and couch napping.  Let there be peace on earth, re-runs of It’s a wonderful life, and harmony in our home.  That’s the plan.  That’s my goal.  There may be a grandchild or two that has to spend a little bit of time-out on the stairs or a dog that may need to be put in his kennel to get us there, but we will have tranquility in this house.  I am declaring a temporary nix on all unintended little jabs that quickly escalate into hurt feelings or wounded pride.  I’m also tabling the myriad of discussions that could arouse a little too much passion from an incredibly passionate family.  Why? Because I’m the mom and it’s Christmas.  We can get back to those inflammatory subjects another day.  My mother mandate for Christmas 2016 is: GOOD WILL WILL FLOW

Taking a cue from the way certain political figures field challenging questions, our family now has a brilliant strategy – don’t respond at all to something you’d rather avoid, just simply change subject.  We invoke state capitals as our diversion tactic.  For example:

Auntie, “Have you thought of giving your child less sugar?”

Son, “What’s the capital of Vermont?”

Someone, “Lansing?”

Someone else, “No, Montpelier.”

The rest of us pick up the game, dropping the potentially toxic conversation. Voila, crisis avoided!  

We actually tried this at our last family gathering.  One would think that our Thanksgiving was a scene straight out of Pleasantville.  Perhaps it was a bit too nice and a tad less colorful than previous holidays so I briefly consider lifting the good will mandate. Quickly evaluating probable conversations that might occur over eggnog, I envision,  “Can you believe the President Elects choice for Secretary of State?”

My knee-jerk reaction, “what’s the capitol of North Dakota?”

 

 

united_states_map_with_capitals

 

 

 

 

 

7 Reasons why Women Cheat

 

 

An exclusive committment to another person is difficult.  Studies show that most women will be unfaithful at least once, most likely within the first 3 years of their relationship.  Some of these indiscretions will lead to irreparable damage and permanent separation.  I recently met with a group of women who discussed possible reasons for unfaithfulness and came up with the following list.

Women cheat because:

1.   * X just doesn’t do it like they used to do it.

2.  *X doesn’t understand the picture we show of how we want it.

3.  *X used to make us feel beautiful, but suddenly forgot how.

4.  *X doesn’t listen anymore.

5.  We get bored and need a change

6.   We get tired of waiting longer and longer for a little attention.

7.  The cost of being faithful keeps going up and we are not willing to pay the price anymore.

 

Admittedly, all of us have cheated and tried to get satisfaction from another and we know how it feels when you accidentally run into your X.  You pretend not to see them or feign a weak smile, struggling to ignore the clinching in your stomach.  Such an encounter causes some of us to remember that our X was really pretty great.  The pics you’ve saved on your smart phone prove it.  You realize that your current relationship, which started out with a bang is now getting tired and shapeless.  The same issues you had with your X keep cropping up in your current relationship (and maybe even some new ones).  Perhaps you were really better off with your X.  You remember how good you had it before you cheated.   If you had it to do all over again, you probably wouldn’t have strayed.  You wonder if your X will take you back.

You muster up all your courage and make the call.  You eat a little piece of humble pie as you ask the receptionist to make an appointment with your X for color and a hair-cut on Wednesday at 1:00.
⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
(* X refers to former hairdresser-just in case I need to clarify)

Israel

“Tell me about your trip,” my friends ask, curious about my first visit to Israel or just being kind.  So I begin to try to adequately describe a piece of geography where seemingly every square inch tells a story of world-changing significance.

“The Jordan river is way smaller than you think,” I weakly begin.  “We ate breakfast on the Sea of Galilee and saw a fishing boat that has recently been discovered that dates back to the time of Jesus.  The Dome of the Rock is huge and impressive, we were not allowed to go inside.  The stations of the Cross are just tile numbers in buildings around the old city and people crowd the narrow streets doing business in the market, as if nothing ever happened there.  We visited an olive factory and bought some crosses.  The fort at Masada is quite moving and the view from the top is staggering.  We saw the Dead Sea.”  I ramble on in no specific order.  I pull out my cell phone camera roll for a little memory boost and try to ignore the nagging image that my heart recalls.

I see a wall.  It is made of beautiful cream-colored  ancient stones, piled way above the bobbing heads of the people who line it’s base.  They are rocking and chanting and praying, reaching up, out and over the wall to an unseen hand.  They are placing little scraps of paper into crevices in the wall.  One can’t know the content of their lamentations but it’s easy to imagine that they contain some version of unuttered need that screams, “I am in need, hear me.”

The wailing wall

Less than 6 miles away there is another wall.  It is made from ugly columns of dirty concrete and topped with tall rows of electric wire. To enter Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, one must cross this formidable barrier through turnstiles and checkpoints.  Scrutiny from guards shouldering rifles is a daily ritual for those passing from one side of the wall to the other.  The wall begs to be breached and the lamentations of the Palestinians are as unique and numerous and as they are evocative.  Each mark expressing a cry for help and the need to be heard.

I profess to have little to no understanding of what it is like to live in this region of profound historical and religious heritage and ever-present fear of imminent conflict.  As an outsider, I try to wrap my mind around the people who stand and weep before both walls and wonder if I too should weep.

Palestine Israel WallIsrael Palestine WallIsrael, Palestine Wall

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Is there any hope?

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

Ephesians 2:14 NIV