Post-Thanksgiving 2011

I didn’t do the usual O Give Thanks essay last night and in the bright sunlight of the day after Thanksgiving, it seems inappropriate.  So a new direction for this day.  Am I out shopping?  Not on your life; I have never done the Black Friday thing and Lord help me, I have no intention of starting any year in the future.  So if you’re easily offended, you may want to tune this one out because I’m about to speak my mind.  Why? Because I can; this is my site. 

I will venture out today, but no further than the hardware store and only to pick up pellets for the water softener so my cousin, Dan, can add them when he comes by later to change the furnace filter, which I’ve determined may be the cause of my allergy challenges these last couple of weeks.  I’ll say right out of the gate, I do not get this mad frenzy to camp out in parking lots in the cold, to battle other folks to get a “deal.”  Not only do I not get it, I’m fairly appalled by the whole idea.  This year it’s even worse.  Stores that used to open at 5:00 a.m. on Friday were open ALL DAY on Thanksgiving so folks can be grabby and pushy and rude  in pursuit of  stuff to show how much they love others!  I do not get it.

Why do I care?  Why not just quietly not participate?  Because I don’t have to be quiet; this is the place I can speak my truth.  It hurts my heart to see and hear the level of greed and want to which this nation has fallen.  Late last night, while knitting a Christmas gift for someone special, yep, I said knitting, a good old-fashioned hand-made gift, I turned on the BBC news on Wisconsin Public Television (WPT).  That’s a clue – I don’t have cable.  A guest in the US was asked his opinion of what he was seeing.  His comments were enlightening – first he was shocked that people were in tents with small children to be first in line at an electronics store. It actually got funny as his amazement continued.  It was Thanksgiving, an American holiday, and he didn’t see a whole lot of giving thanks; he saw a whole lot of scrambling for stuff, stuff that doesn’t make a bit of difference in the big picture and I don’t mean televisions. 

On the other hand, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday on the phone with a very special 15-1/2 year old who doesn’t have a place to live, no home, right here in Shawano County on Thanksgiving Day 2011, because of an abusive, alcoholic parent, a mother, no less!  It breaks my heart.  This young woman, a former student of mine, is very intelligent, motivated, an A student involved in lots of activities.  Additionally, she is musical, funny, loves to read and had just begun her first job to save money for a car so she could continue to get to work and not be at the mercy of her mother’s sobriety or lack thereof.  

We spent a good deal of time trying to come up with a plan, nothing big or grandiose, just a plan that would get her through the next six months, allow her to finish the school year and get that driver’s license in safety and some semblance of sanity without the constant stress jeopardizing her ability to continue to do well.  Thanksgiving?  She initially wasn’t very thankful – she’s angry, understandably so.  Two parents and no parental stability or guidance; one not very available and the other physically, emotionally and spiritually very ill, resulting in a barrage of venom, hateful name-calling and constant battering of this 15-1/2 year old spirit.  

What does this young woman want for Christmas?  Not another gadget, that’s for sure.  She wants her mother to be sober and to quit calling her names and provide a home.  Is that too much to ask?  Is this all true, you might wonder.  Yes, it is.  I’ve seen this mother in action going back five+ years.  I’ve had this young woman sit down on the piano bench and when I asked the standard, “How was your week?” have her burst into tears because of a ruined 13th birthday party. 

I’ve seen this coming, observing her recent comments on Facebook and receiving a plea for help via Facebook message in the last two weeks.  Yesterday we talked about the reality of her life, what IS, not what she dreams. We brainstormed practical solutions and a six-month plan.  We talked about alcoholism,  rehab and relapse and the odds of her Christmas wish coming true in the next four weeks and how to persevere through broken dreams.  O Give Thanks, I thought to myself and sighed a prayer that my Lord remembers this young woman, which I believe He does. 

Our conversation ended with a shared chuckle.  I haven’t mentioned that she loves to write.  I told her to think about the story she’s got inside and being able to tell it to the benefit of others.  She laughed that wonderful laugh of hers at the thought of being a published author someday and speaking from a stage to a group of young people.  We hung up the phone with a bit of hope for better days to come.  This young woman is a survivor and I believe she will triumph, and in the scheme of things, that big picture, again, there’s not enough stuff on the planet to fill the holes in our souls. 

Going into this  Christmas season, look around, find a way to share yourself and your blessings with someone in need.  They’re everywhere and I believe the best way to lift your own spirits is to help or encourage someone else.  Lets truly be thankful during this season and demonstrate the sentiment by sharing it!  Happy Thanksgiving and looking ahead, Merry Christmas, too, and yes, it is Christmas with a capital C!


Happy Birthday, Hattie! 2012 update

Today’s post is a rerun, first posted several years ago in honor of my paternal grandmother. On top of that, it’s a day late 🙁  From what I remember of her, she would be happy to have the greetings and tardiness would be overlooked with that smile I remember so well.  Her birthday was November 10, same as Martin Luther.  This year I decided to purposefully post on November 11, and will likely continue this into the future.  One day late every year and I’m sure she’s smiling.  Ninety-five years ago, today, the day after her birthday, she gave birth to twin sons – Elmer and Alfred, my dad’s brothers.  Uncle Elm went on to marry my Auntie Arlene, spoken of often in these pages and together they raised their family here at The Homestead.

Hattie – a name you don’t hear too much anymore, in this case short for Henrietta, my Grandma Buelow who, if she was still with us, would have been 123 years old yesterday.  She passed away at age 85 and played an important role here at Her Father’s Homestead. She came as a young bride in 1907, when she married my grandfather, Henry Buelow. That’s right, Henrietta Jantz married Henry Buelow, as you can see in their wedding invitation

                                                          Hattie’s wedding invitation

That’s where I first saw her referred to as Hattie. She came to the Homestead and built a life here, raised ten children, seven boys and three girls, all born in this wonderful old house I call home. She lived here until she passed away, cared for in her later years by her son, my Uncle Elmer and his wife, my favorite Auntie Arlene, well known to readers of this blog.

We saw Grandma often, as on any given Sunday we’d drive to what my Dad called The Farm, the place he grew up along with his brothers and sisters, the children of Her Father’s Homestead, and the place we visited with those aunts, uncles and cousins, because this was where Grandma lived. So many memories… A white-haired Grandma, saying grace in German and smiling; I remember her smile just like you see in the picture in the barnyard with my Grandpa, who passed away long before I was born.

  •              Hattie’s happy!

That photo is a bit unusual for its time in that it shows what’s today called a public display of affection – Grandpa has his arm around her, she’s snuggled into him and is holding his hand and she’s smiling. In the background of that photo, you see her brother-in-law, the gentleman with the hat, and also her son, my Uncle Elmer, hatchet in hand if you look closely, whom I remember with a great smile and quick to laugh, who’d be 95, today, if he was still with us.

The last photo, again a smiling Grandma, in front of what may be the old lilac tree at the corner of the house where I live.My smiling Grandma Buelow

I said a long time ago that this old Homestead of mine would tell a story, herstory, I called it. And that it has, the story of Her Father’s Homestead told through my eyes with gratitude for the women who came before me – the great grandmother I didn’t know, Grandma Buelow, Auntie Arlene and now me. Happy belated birthday, Hattie! So many memories…