Ramblings from the Cove...

February 2011 (Lars' 2010 Christmas Letter)

By Lars Gren

If you look for Me at Christmas
Author Unknown

“If you look for Me at Christmas, you won’t need a special star, I’m no longer just in Bethlehem, I’m right there where you are. You may not be aware of Me amid the celebration, You’ll have to look beyond the stores and all the decorations. But if you take a moment from your list of things to do, And listen to your heart, you’ll find I’m waiting there for you. You’re the one I want to be with, you’re the reason that I came, And you’ll find Me in the stillness as I’m whispering your name.” ~ The Savior, Jesus Christ

There’s a new movement or some sort of contest going on this year. I don’t know if it has been announced, but surely someone has begun the trend of sending Christmas cards in November. I had not thought of doing a Christmas letter on the 1st of December, but this evening’s storm, with a howling east wind, has taken down trees somewhere and we’re sitting in the dark except for candlelight. Elisabeth is over on a wicker chair in the kitchen “nodding off” while I sit at a table with three candles in front of me and Danielle (a young lady who is with us helping for a while) is typing on her laptop computer that has 2 hours of battery time left. I said three candles but Dani, as I call her, loves candlelight and has set up enough of them to give us the atmosphere of a wake.

I don’t intend to use 2 hours of battery time to write a little Christmas letter of good cheer; in fact now that we’re so much out of the speaking and traveling circuit I had thought about not doing a letter at all since our experiences are few. There is nothing to report in the way of aches, pains, arthritis or operations to install “replacement parts,” of knees, hips or whatever as we so often read about. I could elaborate on Elisabeth’s difficulty of getting words out which is a strange and frustrating thing for one who was never at a loss for a word but will spare you that litany. At 84, Elisabeth has no trouble sleeping through the night as well as practicing the art of closed or half closed eyes as she sits in the rocker by the living room window, warmed by the sun while seeing its rays glimmering on the bit of water in her view. As to the fractured femur of a year ago all is well.

I did see a blurb from a church bulletin, which read, “Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She’s having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Father Jack’s sermons.” Perhaps this letter may very much serve the same purpose as Father Jack’s sermons. We were returning from Dallas a couple weeks ago, and in viewing those seated around us I “eyeballed” the shoes on an older gentleman seated a row forward and across the aisle from me. They were work type with good toe room, and seemed to be wide and might be a good fit on me. Trying to find shoes has always been a problem for me and so I looked at them with thoughts of coming winter. I tapped him on the shoulder to ask what the make was. There was a mark on the back of them but neither he nor I could read it for the distance was too great for me to see it, while he could not bend the leg up and bend his back forward with a twist due to the not so ample seat spacing. After we landed we got into the aisle and I said “If you’ll lift your leg I’ll read it.” I grabbed his ankle as he bent his leg backwards, read the label. Our positions were such that it reminded me of a farrier shoeing the hind leg of a horse. What those near us thought—well who knows—but I got the name and told Danielle who immediately recognized them as being Skechers.

Now, Elisabeth and I have never been much for going shopping on any day and we especially have avoided it on holidays at all costs. But the radio had been talking for several days about Black Friday. I don’t remember ever hearing about it before, but Danielle seemed to know and that it was a good day to go shopping. So for the first time in my life we drove to the shopping center on such a day when hardly a parking space could be found for love or money. Recently we received a handicap sticker for the car since Elisabeth has a bit of trouble walking distances, and for the first time we put that good gift to use. We can attest to the fact that there were very few people at home for most of them had picked this center and this time to garner their specials.

We spent an inordinate amount of time finding the proper isle, trying on, and doing what you always do when you try shoes and walk in them for a bit. I settled for a pair and we got out of there as quickly as we could. For the rest of the day I tested them by wearing them in the house only to realize that they were too narrow. Next day we returned to the shop where to our consternation, the size I needed was not available in any of their stores, and not even listed on the internet. Well that’s my first and last visit to any kind of place of business on a Black Friday. The return lines—don’t ask how long they were of not so happy folks. If you were also one of those bucking the crowds on Black Friday, I hope that at the end of the day you had great success and multiple savings and departing without frayed nerves.

The year’s saddest farewell happened in Dallas with a program called EXCEL, which is for young ladies that are homeschooled and meet for eight weeks of intensive training in what I call, “Preparation for Life: Married or Single”. There have been 35 of those classes, and Elisabeth and I had taken part in 33 of them. In the past, Elisabeth would speak to them 4-5 times in the week that we were there covering such topics as God’s Guidance, The Shaping of a Christian Family, Passion and Purity along with the mystery of sexuality, and forgiveness. For the past six years we would show some of Elisabeth’s videos to the young ladies and then have social time with them during mealtime. In November graduation ceremonies were held ushering in the last hurrah for the program. I feel very much as if we have lost a home away from home for over the years we’ve made good friends in the Dallas/San Antonio area, having been there at least twice or more per year. Yes, of course good things come to and end but they will be missed.

Plans for the winter season (when even Magnolia seems bleak) have not been decided on but if we repeat last year hope to see the Elliots in Trujillo, Peru again during the last two weeks in February. Bert and Colleen are a joy to be with—wonderful times of hymn singing in the morning and reading books aloud together in shifts, followed in the evening with an entertaining DVD which I bring from the States.

Now I’m sure you will breathe a sigh of relief which must have occurred when the officiator at a church service gave this introduction, ‘The Priest will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, ‘Break Forth into Joy’.” On that note there may have been whoops, hollering and applause. Please none of that now for I close paraphrasing another church note that gave obvious delight to the audience, “Miss Charlene Mason sang, ‘I Will Not Pass This Way Again, and so I say “I Will Not Write This Way Again,” which should give obvious pleasure to you, the recipient.

And that’s it from The Cove.

God bless y'all,

Lars

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