Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016

     poinsettias in church
     strings of lights on the bushes
     Brett Eldredge singing "Silent Night..."
     overseas packages
     surprise packages!
     delivering cookies
     green nail polish
     chocolate tea (yes, there is such a thing)
     crunchy snow
     playing the harp at Mrs. Huff's house
     a broken pencil sharpener
     Scotty McCreery music videos
     cranberry candles
     Oliver sleeping under the tree
     writing stories in the basement
     babysitting (what? me?)
     The Waltons on Christmas Eve
     playing games in a dark bedroom
     hugging Grandpa goodnight.

     Christmas was wonderful and I'm so grateful to my God for my family, whom I can't stand and couldn't live a day without. Every Christmas is unusual, in its way, but every one is good.

     How was your Christmas?
     Have you ever painted your nails green (and regretted it?)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter Stories

November 28 ~ Today I started listening to Christmas music. I put on Sara Evans' 'Silent Night' and suddenly I was back in the mezzanine of the Bradford high school auditorium, reveling in every word.

November 30 ~ If I could have one wish I'd wish for a Christmas episode of Christy where they have a school Christmas program and Dr. MacNeil sings.

December 1st ~ You bide your time and you wait for something to happen. You wake up, put on your jeans and clip on your pocket knife, eat a grape stick and crack open your books. You drive your sister to the store for eggs; you feed your bunnies; you go to your aunt's house to help set up her nativity set in her yard because she wants the schoolkids passing by to see the baby Jesus. You drive home and waste time watching Kacey Musgraves videos, but it's not really wasted time because you like it, and you wait for something to happen. You get in your truck and drive to the store. You buy your best friend a Christmas present and you ask the people at Tractor Supply why you haven't been hired yet, and nobody knows. They tell you to come back. You have to wait more. You go outside with your dog and give the donkeys at the barn some soft apples. You get your laptop and you sit on a hay bale under the Christmas lights hung from the cobwebbed rafters typing out words and feelings with freezing fingers while Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert sing over the radio. You drive into town and climb up into a wooden tree to sing for an hour, then you put on your hat and come home to squash on the stove. The theme music of the Waltons fades and everyone else goes to bed, and you're still sitting here, while the fire peters out, waiting for something to happen.

December 3rd ~ Families are the best thing in the world. Even if they're like awful and you hate them. It's like a weird little clan that you get to be a part of, take advantage of, use and abuse and love to pieces. I love yours and I love mine.

December 13 ~ Also you wouldn't think it's that hard but the weirdest part of acting older is knowing when it's okay to act young. Is there a line or do you just roll with it and hope you're not looking like an idiot? Or does it matter if you look like an idiot? Is anyone looking anyway?
    It's so awfully nice to have friends that are boys who you don't even have to think twice about having a crush on.

December 14 ~ The best education you can get is driving on a freeway, stopping at a gas station, getting lost, going to church, and listening to your grandpa.

December 16 ~ There are some people you can go without talking to for six months and then when you do it's like you were never apart. It's like we saw each other yesterday and she's not a thousand miles away. I really miss her -- the girl with the blue hair and funky shoes.

     Just a few things in my little world lately. We're almost buried in several feet of snow but all the Christmas lights look beautiful in it. Also I discovered Brett Eldredge has a Christmas cd and my life will never be the same. 

Are you excited for Christmas?
Do you journal?
Do you have a real tree?

~ Emma

P.S. If you're wondering why the blog is different again....I couldn't do the fancy layout. I'm too much of a country mouse. So I changed it back. ;-)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ten Everyday Things I'm Legitimately Scared Of

    Life is scary sometimes. We all know it. Everybody's got those few things they dread -- here's some of mine.

     #1 Calling people on the phone. Over the years I've gotten so I'm okay talking to people face-to-face, like, I can do it. But put some distance and a phone between us and everything changes. Suddenly I'm struck dumb with terror at the thought of picking up the phone and dialing. Especially for official stuff where I feel like I need to sound confident. The sad thing is, the more I do it, it never gets any easier! I think I inherited this dislike for the phone from my mother, who is (obviously) a lot older than me and still hates calling people. This means I am stuck with it for life and there is no hope for Emma.

     #2 Customs forms. My best friend lives overseas so every year early in December I waltz into the post office with my brown paper package all tied up with string, plop it on the counter and tell them I'm sending it to my friend in Belgium. Then they give you the customs form. Now after three years of this I know to expect it, but still it freaks me out every time because it's so stressful. Like, give us all your information on one tiny slip of paper so we can know exactly what you're sending in this box and exactly what it cost you and exactly why you bought it and exactly why you think you have the right to send something to your friend and does it contain anything liquid, fragile, or perishable such as perfume or lithium batteries? Would you please check yes or no? Yes? Okay, well, that will cost you about fifty dollars more. Priority mail? INSURANCE?

    And I'm over here like, "I'm an American! I have rights!"

     Yeah. It's bad.

     #3 THE DARK. So back in the olden days of my youth this was not so much of a problem, but a few years ago I watched this movie called The Village (I still hate my cousins for showing it to me) and it scarred me for life. Now I can't even walk up my own street in the dark without thinking about creepy red-cloaked creatures with claws and fangs popping out of the woods and snatching my clothes. It's actually really embarrassing. Last New Years' we were at some friends' house and a bunch of us kids went out for a walk after dark and I had to turn back by myself because the trees on both sides of the road were giving me heart problems, and the younger boys made fun of me. Then they made fun of me because I was so bad at playing the wii. Basically Emma is a wuss-bag and can't do anything.

     #4 Stopping at a red light on a hill in a standard vehicle. I LOVE MY LITTLE TRUCK TO BITS. It is my pride and joy. All the fears of driving a standard vehicle are mostly a thing of the past now...except those hills in town where you have to stop at a red light and you never know for sure if you'll make it before you crash into the car behind you and get sued. So far it hasn't happened. But it's winter now and there's snow. Bad bad bad.

     #5 Parking in the city. Where do I park? Everybody's already parked in all the spots! There's no place for me! Oh well, might as well just go home!
     #6 Boys. Actually I'm not that scared of them. Most of my closest friends are boys. It's only the really really hot ones that scare me, because how is a girl supposed to act? And just....why?
     #7 Betty's butter. Once my sister bought some homemade butter from an Amish lady and brought it home and made stuff with it, and the smell of it cooking for some reason was the grossest thing I had ever been subjected too. Even she was turned off by it and so she stuck the whole lump in the freezer where it remained for several months, haunting me every time I opened the freezer door. I still have nightmares about it sometimes.

     #8 Writing in birthday cards to people you don't know that well. And even to people you do know well, really. Besides the initial happy birthday and hope you have a good year does anybody know what to write in a birthday card?

     #9 Really intense homeschool moms. The ones that don't stop talking. Not targeting anyone here. But you know who you are and I think I should tell you, you freak me out.

     #10 Walking on ice in cowboy boots. At my grandparents' house they have this walkway that's basically a slip-and-slide in winter. One wrong move and, bam, permanent brain damage. Why am I wearing cowboy boots in December anyway? Wear real winter boots, dummy.

(Not my boots, my sister's. She got HH boots. She is now officially cooler than me.) (But I'm the one with the truck.)

     Can you relate? Do you have similar issues or am I alone in these?

     ~ Emma

     P.S. Western NY woke up to a white world this morning! Which means everything's gorgeous and we are going to be housebound for the entire day and maybe the rest of our lives! I am going to die! Have a nice day, everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

winds of winter and time and change

Growing up is weird. I thought so four years ago and I still think so. They say it gets easier and I think it does but it doesn't get any less weird. If you take a minute to think about it you realize -- you're doing all the things you only dreamed about before. Yesterday I was sitting on a hay bale wearing a jumper dress reading an American Girl book and today I'm applying for jobs, looking at colleges (wait WHAT), talking to people I'd never have talked to before and ramming around downtown in my little truck that needs inspection and insurance. It's just really weird.

When I was little, in the summertime, we used to go to pick up jam from our Amish friend at her house. Mama and Molly and Sadie and I would get in the truck and drive there, an excruciatingly long distance to an eight-year-old, now a jaunt down the road to me. We listened to The Hardy Boys on cassette tapes and talked about people like moms and girls do. When we got to Lydia's house it would be an hour earlier, because they don't change their clocks for daylight savings. It would be getting dark and the oil lamps would be lit. Molly would stay with Mama, probably because she felt like she should act grown-up as the oldest, but I didn't want to sit around in a dark house waiting while adults talked about stuff I didn't care about. There was a swing hanging from a tree in the yard, and Sadie and I always went out there and tussled over it, pushing each other, fighting over whose turn it was. I remember that swing very well because it was just a rope hanging from the tree with a board unattached and you had to put the board on the rope and sit on it before it fell off in order to swing on it. 

We'd swing and it would be dark. Across the road from the house there was forest and that was really scary to me. On this side of the road there was the house, and even though there wasn't much light, we were okay, because the road separated us. That other side was a different story. It was dark and scary and unknown. I never wanted to go over there, but it was okay, because I didn't have to. Mama was over here. Whatever lurked in the forest, I didn't have to worry about it because I didn't have to go there.

You don't have to go there when you're eight....but getting on eighteen, there's gonna be times when you will have to. I'm already sensing it and I haven't done anything really scary yet. I used to think if everything didn't stay the same I'd be so sad. I hated change. I hated it when we got new furniture. But now...time does educate you, maybe better than anything else can. Change is not only unavoidable, it's good. Things keep fresh when they keep moving. Change brings new opportunities down the river, and it brings new friends and new work and new things you find fun that you'd NEVER have tried before. Life rolls along fast as you can catch it.

I love the band Florida-Georgia Line. They look like bums and all their songs sound basically the same and sometimes their lyrics are dirty but sometimes they're profoundly beautiful and I love 'em. Last summer 'May We All' played on the radio so much it became sort of our theme song. (I say that, but our theme song will always be 'The Drinking Class'.) That song is crammed with wisdom but the best line, in my opinion, is the one about how "you learn to fly, if you can't you just free-fall". Because....well, what can you say? There it is. You do all you can to learn how to make it and you try your hardest, but if you can't you just free-fall and it's all good because ultimately you can't go too far wrong. Not if you've got your family and God on your side. (Which reminds me of another great FG Line song.....)

One day in the summer my two cousins and I were biking on the dirt road where Lydia used to live. We rode past her old house, now somebody else's house, and I saw that swing, the looped rope with the board lying on the ground just like always, and I remembered it for the first time in a lot of years. I wanted to stop and walk over there and pick up the board and set it down and learn to swing again. But for some reason it didn't feel right, so I didn't and I went to catch up with the others.

I'm excited now. It's going to be alright. But if you've ever felt like me and you're scared to venture to the other side of the road, the dark scary one, it's not as bad as you think and you'll rise to it. And while it's super ironic that I should be giving anyone advice about anything (it's okay, you can laugh), just relax. People aren't looking at you as much as you think they are. Go ahead and try your hardest, but if you end up free-falling, that's okay too. And don't ever, ever stop laughing at yourself, because laughter is your greatest weapon against all the vices you'll have. This goes for me too. ;-)

     Is it snowing where you live yet?
     Are you one of those people who hates FG Line or do you love them?
     What did you used to be scared of?