Friday, December 31, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Joy and Grief and Sorrow and Silliness


I hope you all had a blessed Christmas! Ours was great (more on that in take number 6) but it came with some sad news. On Christmas Eve my Dad called to tell me that my cousin Greg, the only son of my dear aunt, died suddenly during the night of a massive heart attack. Greg suffered for years with diabetes and all the health issues that come with it. Thankfully my aunt has her five daughters and their families with her, supporting her during this time of unspeakable sorrow. Greg's four sons and their families have been there to comfort their own mother, Greg's wife T. (sorry for the abbreviations, I feel weird about using real names; although my cousin's name really is Greg.)

Please keep Greg's family in your prayers, especially his suffering mother and his grieving wife. I decided earlier this week to begin a novena to Our Lady of Sorrows. I don't know if I've been "doing it right," but I know that Mary, through the sorrowful suffering and death of her only son, will comfort them.


As I was Google searching the Our Lady of Sorrows novena, I came across several different ones, and I discovered a Rosary to Our Lady of Sorrows. As you pray this Rosary you contemplate the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, and pray one Our Father and seven Hail Marys for each one. It's a beautiful prayer; check it out here. I haven't actually prayed it yet; I might just try to get my hands on a Chaplet with its seven groups of seven beads. (Not that I need the beads to pray, of course; if anything it would remind me to pray for those who are burdened by sorrow. I know plenty of people who are.)


I posted my first 7 Quick Takes blog over at "Cooking Nick's Books: A Sparks Fan's Food Blog" earlier this week, with some random thoughts about food, books, blogging, and a little preview of A Walk to Remember and the food we're preparing for tonight's New Year's Eve get together. If you have time, click here and check it out!

I'm glad, by the way, when I started this blog, I didn't know how (or maybe Blogger didn't have this feature yet) to check the stats to see how many people have been viewing it. This blog doesn't get very much traffic as it is, but "Cooking Nick's Books" get next to none. Maybe ten views a week on average, and I figure at least half of those are quick peeks, and they don't even read it. I try to tell myself that when I started "Musings of a Catholic Mom," it probably had similar stats, and the readership has gradually grown over the last two years. I'm having fun with that blog, and I hope I'll persevere and keep it going despite the meager stats; and maybe, just maybe, more people will begin to read it. It's a very small niche, I know, choosing one author (Nicholas Sparks) and making it all about his stories and the food in them, so I guess I shouldn't expect too much.

I like to imagine that Nicholas might eventually run across it (every time I post there I put it on Twitter, and say something like "Check out this lasagna inspired by A Bend in the Road by @SparksNicholas!" That automatically connects it to his Twitter account, so maybe he's already seen it, who knows?) and the thought kind of scares me and thrills me at the same time. It makes me instinctively write each post as though he were reading it. Isn't that silly? I just hope that if he does eventually read it, he doesn't hate it or think I'm some loony nutjob stalker fan.


This morning on Cooking Nick's Books, I posted this quick take of sorts:

Happy Birthday, Nick!

My mother and I will be thinking of you today when we're preparing all this stuff. (Click here and read to the bottom. It's quick.)

I recently celebrated my birthday, too; my sister-in-law baked me a cake and everything. So I hope your day is as fabulous as mine--full of love and laughter and cake!

Happy New Year to you and to all of the five or so people who read this here little blog of mine.

So, my loyal blog readers, do YOU think I'm a loony nutjob stalker fan?

On Tuesday we commemorated the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Sometimes I wonder why we don't pay much attention to this part of the Christmas story. We hear all about how the wise men went to Jerusalem and told Herod they were looking for the newborn King, and Herod gathered all the priests and scribes together and asked them where the Messiah would be born, and they told him it was Bethlehem. Herod goes and tells the Magi this, and says, "Come on back here and tell me where to find him so I can worship him too." You know the story--and angel visits the wise men and tells them that Herod wants to kill Jesus, and they should go home a different way. We often skip the last part, when Herod goes into a rage and has all the boys under two years of age in Bethlehem murdered.

I guess nobody likes to talk about what Herod did to the babies for the same reason nobody likes to talk about abortion. It makes people feel uncomfortable. I heard someone on the radio say that given the population of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth, somewhere between 20 and 29 babies were murdered. Everyone agrees, I think, that Herod was a bloodthirsty psychopath. Since 1973, more than 50 million babies have been slaughtered in the United States, and it's perfectly legal. What is wrong with us??
Recently I finished reading Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice. In the book, seven-year-old Jesus is beginning to learn the circumstances surrounding his birth. As the book progresses, family members reveal bits and pieces of the story to him--the appearance of the angel to Mary, the visit from the Magi, the singing of the angels to announce his birth--but the one thing no one wants to tell him is why they had to flee to Egypt, and just what happened in Bethlehem after his birth. When he finally learns the truth, he is so horrified that he screams and weeps and becomes completely delirious with grief. Don't you think he is just as grief-stricken today every time a child is killed in the womb? Why aren't we?


The last time our family traveled anywhere for Christmas, I was pregnant with Curly. We went to New Jersey where Joe's parents were living at the time, and Larry, who hadn't yet turned two, began puking during the night and didn't stop until morning. The next night it was my turn, and I spent the entire day after Christmas lying miserably in bed. Since then, we've always stayed home for the holidays. When Joe's brother and sister-in-law invited us to spend Christmas with them in Atlanta this year, we figured the kids were old enough to handle it, and decided to go.

We had a wonderful Christmas (except for the sadness from the news of Greg's death), ate lots of great food, attended Mass at a beautiful church (stay tuned for a Get Thee to the Church post!), and the boys--except for Curly, I'll explain in a second-- especially enjoyed entertaining their two little cousins, who are three and one-and-a-half.

We went despite the fact that Moe ran a fever the day before, and I discovered the night before we left that my temperature was over 101. (No wonder I'd been feeling so lousy all day). The doctor in the urgent care center said that Moe didn't have strep and she didn't see any reason why we shouldn't travel, just to make sure we brought along plenty of Tylenol.
By Christmas morning Moe and I were both feeling better, and as we were getting ourselves ready to head over to Joe's brother's house, Curly ran to the bathroom and puked. He spent half the day lying on the couch trying to stay away from the kids. By three-o-clock he felt fine and ate Christmas dinner with everyone. (Maybe it was the chili dogs he ate at the Varsity.)

It snowed. It was cold. We had a wonderful time.


I published my first blog post here on January 1, 2009. Tomorrow will be my two year "blogaversary." I don't know if I'll plan any special celebrations here; I'm sure in the next couple of weeks I'll post some reflections on 2010 and some things to look forward to in 2011. I'm probably going to have to cut back on blogging for a while and concentrate on my preschool work; it's almost time for me to get progress reports together, and I need to organize some of their work and the photos I've taken into binders to give them at the end of the school year. (I didn't say quit blogging; I just said cut back. Still post regularly, but maybe not quite as often. No need to worry. You know I can't stay away from here.)

Merry Christmas everyone, and many blessings for the new year!

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