For years I have kept a diary. After each day I write an entry telling the highlights of the day. I must admit that since my husband died my journal entries have changed some. While I used to include things like the day the cows went out to pasture and the first day of haying, I now write about family events and the weather.
Well, we had a white Christmas. A couple days before Christmas we woke up to nearly 15 inches of snow. Now, this is not an official measurement mind you - I use the picnic table and bird feeder as my own personal snow gauge. Since I did not have to go out that day I was delighted to stay in my bathrobe a little longer than usual. After all, no one was going to visit on a day like that.
My diary documents the snow fall and the temperature. It is not excessively cold, the ground under the snow is not frozen a fact that most farmers lament. The mud is still there, but it is now covered with white stuff.
As the year draws to a close I like to read back in my diary to refresh my memory of all that has been part of this year. Personally, I have grown in many ways. Education is a journey one that I am not finished with yet. As long as I live, I will learn.
I am enjoying the journey giving thanks to the Lord for healing that has taken place in my life. Since the Lord saw fit to heal me I feel beholden to him. I look for opportunities for service. Something new for me this year is my involvement with Warren Co. Hospice. It has presented many wonderful experiences and challenges that have enriched my life. While I serve, I am always ministered to as well. That is part of volunteerism.
Maybe volunteerism, the extension to the next generation, is part of the healing of our land. If young people get involved helping others they do not have as much time for deviltry, drugs or violence. It is up to the present generation to share this wonderful service with the youth of the nation. Anyone can step up; you do not need to be a teacher or a parent to be an example for our youth.
A person by the name of "Lenzkes" had this to say: "It is good to remember that 'listen' and 'silent' are made up of the same six letters. What an interesting observation. Many times we are called upon to listen. I have often heard people say, 'I did not know what to say.'" All one needs to do to express sympathy is to lend moral support, to be there. You do not need to say anything.
At the end of the year I write a piece that I call, "Looking Back," where I summarize the year that I just experienced. I also write a piece I call, "Looking Ahead," where I write my hopes for the future. I do not make New Year's resolutions - I just write wishes. One of my wishes for this year was to get my devotional about grieving put together so it could be published. That is done. It was with joy that I sent this work to print. It was a labor of love begun shortly after I lost my husband. As I wrote I grieved and remembered my life as a wife and mother.
Health is always at the top of my list since it takes being healthy to be able to serve others. I have never taken my health for granted, but after my health scare I am even more keenly aware of what good health means to my well-being. As I approach my seventh decade of life I long to live my life to the fullest. I am not interested in parties, but I love to laugh. I value my friends and the support they provide.
Although I was not raised on a farm, my values and lifestyle lent themselves to that type of life. My country experiences are among the things in my life that hold value. My family grew up with country values. I noted that in the newspaper it said that country people are going to need to be more assertive if they are going to perpetuate their values. I am more than willing to do my part. There is a real peace in my life that comes from doing the simple things in life.
Teach your children to garden. Enjoy cooking as a family. Camp out - even if it is only down by the pond. Connect with extended family. The older generation has a great deal to share. My children and I often talk about the role of grandparents. I am at a different stage of my life, and time is something I have to give. Who can value what the connection between the generations can bring?
When the grandchildren visit, I do not plan special activities. I let them do what they like to do at grandma's house. Often we read together or play games. The favorite game is one that used to belong to my mother and her siblings. The game board pieces are long gone, but we fill in with buttons or pennies. "Uncle Wiggly" is now entertaining its third generation of children. I think the children like reading the odd names and directions.
A day with grandma offers solitude if that is what is desired. There is a certain peacefulness about time spent together.
Instead of carousing this New Year's, gather the family for a night of togetherness.
Happy new year to all - may you have a kinder, gentler 2013.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.