Peppermint ice cream!

peppermint ice creamWhen I was a kid, we used to make a lot of ice cream during the summer. I can remember cranking the old ice-cream maker, just waiting for it to get difficult enough to know that the ice cream was ready!

My dad loved to experiment with various flavors. Some turned out really well; others didn’t. When he tried making peanut butter ice cream, the peanut butter froze in little chunks rather than blending in. And when he tried licorice ice cream, he couldn’t taste the flavor enough, so he kept adding more to the mixture. When the ice cream formed, it was a strong enough licorice that even Dad had trouble eating it.

But one major success–at least as far as I was concerned–was peppermint stick ice cream. Whenever he asked what kind we should make, that was my answer. It didn’t take too many times before my brothers rebelled. They were tired of it and wanted something else.

Years have passed since then, and ice cream flavors have come and gone. Occasionally I could find peppermint, but not very often. Then a few years ago, either my eyes opened wider…or more people decided that peppermint and Christmas really do go well together–and peppermint ice cream started showing up on store shelves. Usually from around Thanksgiving through (maybe) mid-January. Not a large window of opportunity, but at least it was available then!

So now, for me, the Christmas holiday starts when I first see peppermint ice cream at the grocers. I could buy enough to try to make it last all year, but that would spoil the special-ness of it. So instead, I buy 3-4 half-gallons of it. That lasts the holiday season and satisfies my craving.

Isn’t it interesting what things are special to us around the holidays? what brings back those special family memories?

Hooray for peppermint ice cream!!

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Thanksgiving…and thanksliving

Thanksgiving-Wallpaper-Image

Many of us will be gathering together with family and friends on Thanksgiving to celebrate…and for many of us, there is much to be thankful for. Here’s my list–not complete, because I’m sure I’ll think of more as the day goes on:

  • A family who likes to get together
  • A place to live that gives me shelter
  • Warm clothes
  • Enough food to eat
  • The opportunity to share in worship freely with my church family
  • Friends in many places
  • A job that I have enjoyed
  • Opportunities opening up as I move into retirement
  • Reasonably good health, even though I periodically (as in currently) find myself dealing with mobility issues
  • Access to the health care I need
  • Music!

As I look at this list, I am reminded that I don’t always give thanks–nor do I always live thankfully. So much of the time I take this for granted…and yet, at this time of year, I am aware that there are many who do not have these gifts that I have received.

I have the responsibility to live thankfully–and that means opening my heart and soul to those who may be “different” in some way from me. They may not look like me…worship like me…they may have had legal problems…mental health issues…be homeless. Some are dealing with physical health issues or have lost loved ones to death, either expected or unexpected. Yet they are also part of my extended family–and part of my thanksgiving.

So as we celebrate this time of giving thanks in the USA, I pray that we will remember it’s not just about stuffing ourselves with food…watching football…looking for the best price on that “must have” item for Christmas. It’s about recognizing the gift of life we have been given…and taking the responsibility of living in such a way that others will also be given the opportunity to live an abundant life.

But you look so good!

When most people see me, I look “normal”…whatever that is supposed to mean.  🙂

But I’m not. I’ve been dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1976. I’ve been very blessed in that most of the time it doesn’t really stop me from doing what I want to do–but at the same time, it has also been a challenge.

There are many of us who deal with invisible disabilities, and it’s difficult. Many of us have handicap parking permits or license plates, but we also often get dirty looks when we get out of our cars looking “normal.” Some have even been left nasty notes by individuals who think they are protecting the rights of those who are “really” handicapped.

I look good…but sometimes I am so tired it’s difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Severe fatigue–more than just being exhausted–is a fairly common MS symptom, and it often means that if I want (or need) to go the store by myself, I have to park as close as possible.

Yes, sometimes I wear a brace shoe to keep my foot from dragging. Sometimes I use a cane, walker, wheelchair, or electric mobility cart. (And yes, I have all of those devices at home and use them, depending on the symptoms.)

have to take a nap every day. It’s not a choice; it’s an issue of my health. I’ve been blessed at work because my supervisor and my coworkers have some understanding of my needs and are willing to let me have the time I need–whether it’s 45 minutes or 1-1/2 hours. Believe me, I do enough work to make up for the sleeping time–often at home at night or on weekends!

I’m blessed with a family and with friends who (mostly) understand that sometimes I just don’t have enough energy to do what I’d really like to do.

I’m glad I look “normal”…glad I look “good.” But I wish that sometimes folks would reserve their judgment as to whether I “deserve” what are sometimes seen as “perks” for those who are handicapped…but who “look so good!”

Looks are often deceiving.

“12 Years a Slave”…

We went to see this movie last night – 12 Years a Slave. It’s a powerful movie…I can’t say that I’m glad I saw it, but it’s one that desperately needs to be seen. As a white woman, it left me with very uncomfortable feelings on a number of levels.

It’s an unflinching look at how American slavery corrupted (and really continues to corrupt). Morally and physically.

None of the characters in this movie are caricatures. They are (and were) real people, and I think that’s part of what gives this movie its impact. This is a true story–not something that someone merely imagined!

Solomon_Northup_001What would it have been like to be a free Negro like Solomon Northup…but always looking over your shoulder in fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery?

The relationships between husbands and wives were impacted–and in significant ways, poisoned–because of the unspoken “right” of the master to any of the women he “owned.”

Even the “good” master, who tried to be humane, wasn’t immune. While he acknowledged the loss one of his slaves experienced at being separated from her children, his wife–who was also at least somewhat sympathetic–still treated the grieving mother as one might treat a loved dog, telling her that after rest and something to eat, she would forget the children. And as the woman continued to grieve, the white mistress eventually lost patience with the ongoing crying.

And the experience gets even more powerful as the movie continues. Seeing the torture/cruelty experienced by those who had no rights–and the way in which it was simply part of the daily experience has left me wondering at our ability to be cruel to each other. What did slave children think when they played in a yard where they saw someone being hung? What did they learn when they saw someone’s back flayed because she had slipped over to another plantation to get some soap so she could be clean? What did young slave girls feel when the master raped them…and beat them? And what did mothers feel when they saw that happening? and fathers, knowing they couldn’t save their children?

I cannot imagine how Solomon Northup survived. But even more than that, I am appalled at the evidence of our inhumanity towards each other–and yet…at least sometimes…the signs of humanity even in the middle of such horrible situations–and the determination of people to find ways to not just survive, but also to live.