20 December, 2008

The Sisters of the Shawl

It is the Solstice eve.
The shortest and darkest night of the year.
A powerful and mystical time heralding the onset of winter.

I am learning a bit more about winter this year living in Northern California. It does get cold here in Chico and our neighboring community of Paradise, has been snowed in. And then I learned tonight, that Las Vegas has snow. What gives? I went and bought winter boots to wear and happily, found my pair of ear muffs I bought a few years ago when I was in Chicago. I wasn't even sure how to put them on to wear but when we took our walk a few nights ago, I was glad I had them. (Cute, white fluffy ear muffs on a headband that make me feel like a ski lodge snow bunny).

Forget the cold weather and early decorations, you know it is the Christmas season when you have heard the umpteenth playing of Burl Ives' "Have A Jolly Holly Christmas" and you find yourself longing for any rendition of "It's A Small World After All ..."

With the preparations for our Candlelight Services at church, I have been pretty busy and not really ready for Christmas itself. Since I prefer to buy gifts for people all throughout the year (when and as I see something for them) I minimize the need to shop. Yet, at the last minute, I purposely thrust myself into the shopping melee as close to Christmas as I can because I know I don't have to actually buy anything unless I wanna.

This year, Don and I have been gifting each other with things as we needed them--particularly for around the house or for our wardrobe. That has made it more challenging for someone like me whose Love Language is gift-giving. Because now I have fewer actual items for his birthday (today) and for Christmas morning. I don't believe in delayed gratification except when it comes to Christmas. I like seeing all those prezzies under the tree, so I don't like to open my gifts early.

Yet, I am still giggling at how I ended up with my present from Don a week early...

Our landlady's father was coming over to retreive a guitar out of the garage for her. I did not know that Don had arranged a specific time and the man arrived while Don was out running errands. I went to the garage and could not find the guitar. We looked around and even moved the rolling metal shelves to see if it had been stored behind there but no luck. While the shelving was moved, I saw a great area rug rolled up leaning against some stuff. I was thrilled. I had been looking for an off-white area rug for my office and I could barely believe my luck that there was a perfect one under my nose all this time. After calling Don to learn that he had put the guitar in his closet for easier access, I immediately put the rug in my car and made plans to call my landlady and sweet-talk her into letting me have it for the seating area in my office at church.

When Don got home and we were catching up, I told him I had a great demonstration today and told him how I found the area rug. He asked me where I found it. "The garage." "Where did you find it?" "In the garage." "Where in the garage?" I described it in detail for him and watched his face crinkle up and he began to pout, " Awwww, how in the world did you find your Christmas present out there? Didn't you notice it was brand new?"

I began to laugh so hard. Nope, I hadn't noticed that it had never been opened (nor the price tag flapping in the breeze) I was just so gleeful that I had this booty manifest under my nose that I didn't pay any attention to anything else. All day long, just the thought of this made me laugh. Later, we drove to my church office and put the rug down and it is perfect even without a bow.

Thursday night, the staff ministers and I were having a meeting and a woman named Robena stopped by. She had called earlier and learned we were meeting tonight and she and Azizza wanted to come by with gifts of appreciation to us for allowing the Women's Muslim group to have their annual party at our church.

These beautiful women came in to share in their gratitude for our generosity to them and had brought with then four colorful and beautiful (recycled) bags. Robena explained that Muslim women wear scarves or shawls for many reasons in public, but primarily, the shawls are worn as a spiritual embellishment and honor. Therefore, they wanted to extend this concept with us and share being "sisters of the shawls" with their gifts.

These shawls were made of Pashmina wool and came from Pakistan. There were four different shawls, in different colors and we could just choose our bag. I went for the green bag that had slightly golden threads and inside was a gorgeous teal shawl that wrapped around me in beauty and grace. And as you might imagine with such a glorious parable, each of us chose just the right shawl and color to suit us as individuals.

Beyond the beauty of the fabric and colors, we were each so moved by the gracious gesture of these women to be so eager as to invite us to become sisters of the shawls along with them. And although the gifts were in no way connected to the holiday season, it has truly is a memorable highlight of my first Holyday season here in Chico.

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...