Saturday, December 30, 2006


Two Days til 07

Steph and I had a great night on the town last night, enjoying dinner and a movie in the city. We saw "For Your Consideration", a very funny satire of the Hollywood awards season. It was good to feel again like we live the city. Due to our domestic lives, most outings include the Mall of America or Target! We have very much enjoyed the visit from Steph's parents, and we can now look forward to a vacation in CA on Friday! It seems amazing that this trip is already upon us. We have been planning it for quite awhile.

Work has been busy. Tonight I will close the store, and since we cannot sell wine tomorrow (it's illegal to sell alcohol on Sunday in Minnesota), today we have to keep up with the huge demand of the New Years party folks. It always seems like we can all let our hair down a bit after we pass January 1st. People (like me) start going on vacations, and everything gets back to a normal pace.

We are finishing the 6th warmest December on record in Minnesota. It makes for a nice transition for us new folks. I wager that all of our Decembers will not be this pleasant.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


An Unusual Christmas

Yesterday was an unusual Christmas. For the first time in our lives, we were alone. You see, even the Christmases we had in Chicago, we had visitors. Yesterday, it was just Steph, the kids, and me. Corrie bounded about the dining room with great joy at the opportunity to put the Baby Jesus in his manger on our advent calender. It was an unusual, uniquely joyful experience to let our kids set the pace with the gift exchange. We simply were able to let them enjoy their gifts at their pace, because....we had no where we had to be. The kids could enjoy each gift (Jack loved his beach ball), and Steph and I could sit back and let Corrie distribute the gifts.

The leisurely gift exchange blended together with our eating pattern yesterday. We had no planned meal besides breakfast...we had simply bought several TJ's appetizers to munch on throughout the day. We hung around the house, went on a walk, and enjoyed an evening with the kids. I played Uno with Corrie (she got that from us), and watched Jack be attached to his new little Thomas the Tank Engine toy.

And through it all, the presence of the Christ child in the manger was above it all. I go back to work early tomorrow, and we await the arrival of Steph's parents today. Next week, we go to California for a late Christmas. We so excited for all that those things will bring. We missed our parents, siblings and nephews a lot yesterday. And it reminds us that there is a cost to everything. But it was wonderful to have yesterday, a most holy of days, feel like a Sabbath. A day we could truly reflect upon Christ, and hear the sound of quiet.

Monday, December 25, 2006


(Trace) Christmas, but still Holy phrases. I read that Duluth, Minn had its first brown Christmas since records began being kept in 1875. We have trace snow on the ground today. Enough to remind us that it is winter, but hardly the stuff of carols. No matter...this day is still sanctified by its holy background and meaning.

I doubt anything new can be said by one such as myself, but this season always brings contemplation. Yesterday I was awfully tired from work, and was a zombie practically the rest of the day. This led to a somewhat anticlimatic evening, as I dozed on the couch while my wife made a crockpot breakfast dish. However, today is a new day though. The sky is blue, it is a cozy 25 degrees, and once again, Christ has come. Though we know all too well the passion, suffering and rejection this tiny baby would one day endure, his life in its totality gives us reason to celebrate his coming with great joy. I care not that he probably was not born in December...I care not that Christmas is a hijacked pagan holiday. Let us reflect upon Christ's coming...and let us do at at the season that our countless Christian parents have so done. Must we arrogantly judge tradition, when the possibilities of this kind of celebration can bring such health to the soul?

Ironically, so many do not celebrate due to scripture's lack of explicit instruction to do so. I will admit that to be the case. But the nativity of Jesus is recounted vividly, and just as the early church met on Sunday to commemorate the resurrection (though that is nowhere commanded), this day I rejoice in my Savior's coming. He is all to me, this baby that I could have held in my arms, who extends salvation to me, and to all mankind.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Daddy...It's Snowing

My daughter spoke these words bounding down the stairs, and I went up to see golf-ball sized snowflakes descending. Charming indeed.

All of us, I suppose, are products of our parents. At this point in my life, I see a lot from column A (Dad), a lot from column B (Mom), and a stunning increase in the input from column C (wife and family). The love of snow, my dad would be proud to note, comes from column B. The older I get, the more I see myself as an independent adult, but there are still those things so clearly given to me by my parents.

True, by Minnesota standards, it was still meager. We are supposed to get more tonight, but the excitement in my daughter was something to behold. After a long wait, we had our first real snowstorm, and it was small enough to not be a pain!

Tonight, we hitched up the steeds and took a cruise into St. Paul to check out the light show. On Summit Avenue (a major road that runs through the west side of St. Paul), the stately mansions' decor looked even better with a blanket of white snow over them. I have 3 work days between now and Christmas Day, and I greet them invigorated by my day off today. A day of time with my wife, and time playing in the snow with a daughter who had wonder in her eyes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Another Sagittarian

One week until Christmas, and another retail season builds to a crescendo. Work is going well, even though things can be stressful.

My son is obsessed with books right now. It's funny, Corrie was interested in TV almost from the get go, and also loves books. Jack has never been interested in TV, not even remotely (no pun intended). He loves the Dr. Seuss books, and can just never get enough of sitting on one of our laps and reading.

But now to my title. There are worlds in which I simply do not dwell. One of them is horoscopes. For those of you who do not know, today is the birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. If there is extraterrestrial life out there that finds our Voyager space craft, they will be able to be entertained by this master's music, as his 5th symphony is on the craft as a representation of human art and culture. This morning, as I woke to classical music on Minnesota Public Radio, I laughed at the DJ's words:

"In the midst of the Christmas frenzy, we remember the birthday of another Sagittarian...Beethoven."

It made me laugh to think of this woman's mentality. Beethoven was a Sagittarian, just like Jesus. Oddly enough, through further research, December 25 falls within the Capricorn sign, so I don't know to what "other" Sagittarius she was referring.

Now if Beethoven could have turned his piano into a feast for 5000, then you'd have something.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Crossing My Fingers

My wife shakes her head...

I lie in wait...

Read this forecast:

I do not look forward to shoveling snow...nor do I cherish the increased commute time. It's been plenty cold enough to seem seasonal-the mercury plummeted to -1 yesterday morning (though we have a heat wave right now, with weather in the 40s and 30s this week). Snow mainly causes problems.

I read this week that 7 out of 10 Christmases feature 1" or more of snow on the ground. Of course that means that 3 out of 10 must be without snow. And of course the general warming trends of recent years might tip that 70% more toward 50-50.

But I want the mythology. There has to be a good reason for the snow. For me, it is the atmosphere it brings at the Feast of the Nativity, and I want to see my kids' faces.

Friday, December 08, 2006


The Charm of St. Paul

I have come to be a resident of Minneapolis. I like that fact. But one of the privileges I have is that I live about 5 minutes or less from the Mississippi River, and therefore, the same distance from St. Paul.

St. Paul seems to contrast Minneapolis in so many ways. Tonight, the four of us took the only kind of sleigh ride so far possible in this snowless season. We climbed into the Honda, and went for a ride down Summit Avenue. Summit Avenue is the street in St. Paul. There are mansions and impressive places of residence. And right now, there are many beautiful lights. We listened to Christmas music and meandered our way from the Mississippi all the way into downtown St. Paul.

The road is named Summit for a reason. A short distance before downtown finds one at a summit overlooking downtown. Tonight, the clarity of the night was stunning, and the twin domes of St. Paul (the capital and the cathedral) were beautifully lit. Once we descended from the summit, we took a quick turn through downtown. In front of Landmark Center (a major gathering place downtown), there is a free ice skating rink. The locals were clamoring to get to it tonight, since we are up into the 30s for the first time in a while. The plazas were lit up with classy lights, and the people were descending upon downtown. Some to skate. Some to eat. Some to see the Who. All the same, St. Paul was alive tonight.

We made our way back home via Grand Avenue, a street which runs parallel to Summit Avenue. The ethnic restaurants and book shops beckoned us, but with two little ones in tow (already in their pajamas I might add), we made our way home, promising ourselves a future date to one of these restaurants with potential. As we neared the Mississippi again, we passed by one of favorite eateries, and my daughter said, "Hey, it's the Highland Grill." Steph and I laughed that our 3 year old is already catching on to our restaurant habits.

The Twin Cities are indeed fraternal. Neither of them blow you away as cities like San Francisco or Chicago. But there is a unique substance to this place. The presence of two distinct, large cities in such close proximity does create a fascinating place. I have talked a lot about Minneapolis. It is the big city of the two. It has much to offer, while St. Paul seems to be a confident, albeit forgotten younger sibling. But the longer I live here, the more I realize that even though my address is in Minneapolis, I live in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006



I sit here at 5 in the morning to write this blog. I have not slept well tonight (if at all) due to a persistent cough that does not allow sleep. But I am struck this morning by the stillness at this time of day. The children and wife are still asleep, and as I type, the quiet is striking. It gives me oppurtunity to ponder and think deep thoughts:

I am grateful for my wife and kids. This gratitude is made clearer at times like this, when sleep is taken away, and when I spend long hours away from them at work.

It's interesting to live in a place where weather in the 20's feels relatively warm.

The Twins' new ballpark will seat fewer than Wrigley Field. I am excited to see what this new place will be like, but I have to wait another two years.

The light bulbs are going off in my son's head. It seems like everyday he becomes more and more aware of things. He says "dada" everytime I get home from work, and his recognition is a great source of warmth and comfort for me.

With some luck, tomorrow at this time, I will be back at work with a weaker cough, and a renewed appreciation for my good health!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Christmas and Xmas

I have borrowed my title today from my son's namesake, CS "Jack" Lewis. In this essay, he humorously compares and contrasts the two holidays that happen to occur on December 25. I have come to the point in my life (as an employee in a retail establishment) where I see his point more and more clearly. I experience two holidays every December: one which I celebrate, the other I merely endure.

The one I endure is the one I experience most clearly at work. Commerce. Seeing this time of year as our time to make the most money we can. After all, between gift giving and celebratory dinners, the retail environment in which I work has many great choices to offer. There is nothing wrong with random merrymaking and gift giving, but it leaves those of us who work in the retail industry left behind as far as much of the celebrations go.

I have decided to work in this one has forced it upon me. So I try to make the best of it...though hearing some of the holiday music does leave me shaking my head at the vanity of so much of it. I have rarely seen a better exposition of the cultural holiday of Christmas than in today's column by Garrison Keillor. Check it out:,0,3216806.column?coll=chi-ed_opinion_columnists-utl

But now to the good news. With this season, the annual remembrance of Christ's appearance redeems the time. It is indeed worth celebrating, and I hope to reflect on that reality over the next few weeks.

Over the past few years, I have become familiar with an English carol which has come to be my favorite Christmas carol. I had never heard "Once in Royal David's City" until I attended an Anglican church. Now, the carol rings in my head through practically all of December. The stillness of it, coupled with the amazing reality of the incarnation, make its reflections special to me. I particularly love the 2nd and 5th verses:

He came down to earth from heaven,
who is God and Lord of all,
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall;
with the poor, the scorned, the lowly,
lived on earth our Savior holy.

And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love;
for that Child who seemed so helpless
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.

Christ redeems everything. My attitude is affected to such a point, that I can find reasons to celebrate at work. He does indeed lead me on, and I look forward to seeing his face, because of his entrance into time, and his own redeeming love.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?