Friday, November 9th, 2018; the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. For St. Alphonsus Liguori fans, one might remember today also as the founding of the Redemptorist order…which, like everything else St. Alphonsus did in life, was hardly easy but very worthwhile.
I always remember this day as such because it is also the day which begins my 33-day preparation to renew my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort) on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Oh, joyous breath of fresh Marian air which this renewal of consecration brings each year! I know that it is not necessary for one to repeat the preparation period after the initial consecration, but I find I need it very much to keep my devotion to our Lady fresh in my mind and heart.
Outside my window…
November! Perfect November! It is only at this time of year, when the trees reveal their true beauty that has lain dormant for so long and there is a comfortable nip in the air, can I really love gray weather, even drizzly weather. I don’t know why exactly that is; my best guess is that the autumn colors show up just as well, and perhaps even better, against a smoky gray sky as they do a clear blue one.
In any event, this November stands out as a particularly enjoyable one in my memory, not because the weather has been particularly nice but because the cold waited to come for so long this year that the leaves took their sweet time turning–and not into a blaze of glory after all, but a sweet and gentle warming of color and beauty that grows deeper the longer one gazes upon it. And so the sense of delight in looking outside that I usually experience mid-October is filling me now, in November, a month which is usually not among my favorites. It’s a little like suddenly finding you are in love with a friend you never thought you could care for in that way. Oh look, I just made a nice segue into…
Home around me…
Although I have hardly left home more than necessary over the past couple of weeks, having been in an extended battle with a rather nasty little seasonal cold which is only just opening its jaws to let me escape, I’ve been avoiding cabin fever by plunging into a really good read of some of my favorite books in the whole wide world; the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery.
I first read the eight-book series when I was about eleven, and I remember loving them fondly then. But in my re-read of three of them in the course of this cold (I started quite un-chronologically with Anne’s House of Dreams because I wanted a cozy, romantic, comfort-food read, enjoyed it immensely, and then doubled back to Anne of the Island because I knew there was so much I was forgetting, and am now enjoying Anne of Windy Poplars) I have realized just how much more a book can mean when you’ve grown to be the main character’s age and can empathize with them and their experiences. Anne of the Island begins with Anne as a nineteen-year-old, and I can hardly express how much I love that book after having re-read it. It holds so much life in its pages; it’s really my favorite love story I’ve ever read.
But when I come back to home from my sojourns in Avonlea or Redmond or Summerside, home is a lovely place to find myself. It is quiet and cozy, especially in the afternoons; most of us are recovered or at least on the mend from the life-halting cold that brought all of us down. Things are not quite so messy as they were when everyone was sick; I’m still regaining my energy and am not back in full house-cleaning mode, but hope to be there soon and have been able to do some baking here and there this week. There’s certainly nothing like being sick to make you appreciate good health and energy, and give you a brightness about life upon your recovery. I think that is why I feel particularly cheerful today!
And there is so much to look forward to…two family birthdays are drawing closer on the calendar; I love birthdays. Then Thanksgiving–I love Thanksgiving and am entertaining hopes that we might be able to get ahold of a fresh pumpkin so that I can make a from-scratch pumpkin pie this year. I’ve made them before, but never with a homemade crust nor at Thanksgiving…we’ll see what this year brings! Though different years hold varying plans and locations for our family Thanksgiving dinner, this year we shall be hosting it at our own table, and I am so excited!
And after Thanksgiving, it will hardly be any time at all before the first Sunday of Advent; the new year. Wow.
Thoughts on money…
I’ve often been asked by friends or siblings, “If you could buy ANYTHING you wanted and you could ONLY spend the money on YOURSELF, what would you get?”
I used to enjoy frustrating people by coming up with cleverly selfless answers, but usually settled on something concrete. These days I find myself, unasked, coming up with lots of ideas for things I would like to get if I had money…but really don’t have the money for.
Of course, I try not to let the thought of material things consume me and make me avaricious or discontent with what I have, but in humility I have to admit that there are many things it would be nice to have. Like just about every dress on Jen Clothing because I really would love to have day dresses to wear all the time, as well as dresses for church and dances and social events that are beautiful and feminine. And it would be lovely to have so many of the saints I love from Portraits of Saints. And I could probably think of so many little kitchen accessories…new baking sheets…a cookie jar…biscuit and cookie cutters…a cake pedestal…I really could go on and on!
It’s probably easy for anyone to make a wish list of shameless, practical things they’d like to have. But there’s also much to be said for doing without having everything you would like. After all, who really wants to be a spoiled person? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a moderate desire, kept in check with gratitude; it can be transformed into virtue as it provides an opportunity of embracing sacrifice, which is the key to joy. I think of the married life I hope and pray for, the large family I hope and pray for, and the inherent likelihood of most always “treading water” and “making ends meet” financially. But that image of the future makes me smile, in the spirit of Maria von Trapp; “We aren’t poor; we just don’t have any money.”
And really, I feel grateful that, in this time of life, I do not have significant financial means at my disposal that could easily get me any little thing I want on a whim–or a bigger thing, either. It is good to keep self-denial in healthy practice, especially when I already am far better provided for by my hard-working dad than most people in the world today.
And, when all’s said and done, you can make some pretty nice cookies without cookie cutters!
From the bakery…
The result of quickly-ripening, abundant bananas! I’ve been making this muffin recipe for years and we love it. This picture is from a different batch than the one I made this week, which contained variations such as walnuts sprinkled on top and mini muffins chock-full of mini chocolate chips (which only my sisters and I like and happily eat every one of!) I love muffins for their versatility and dainty irresistibleness.
At my desk…
This is really the most I’ve done in days, having spent larger quantities of time downstairs lately. I need to work on my book…and to answer a couple of letters from good friends which brightened up cold-weary days considerably!
So it’s not quite a movie, per se, but The Waltons has been playing a lot around here lately with the discovery that, in addition to the first two seasons (which we own), we have all nine seasons available on Amazon Prime. Binge watching!!!
In all seriousness, though, there is something very special about this show, especially the earlier seasons and some of the big episodes (like people getting married and stuff like that). The writing is so good; the family dynamic so natural; the life lessons so true and heartwarming. I’m a huge sucker for the time period and setting alike, in love with old-fashioned things and the simple country life as well as adoring the South, and being something of a Mountain girl myself. And who couldn’t love John-Boy?
Speaking of the South, we recently re-watched one of our favorites, Gods and Generals. That movie really ranks among my top ten favorites of all time.
I am praying especially right now for my grandmother, who recently lost her eldest sister as well as a brother-in-law and is now with her family at the funeral (none of us could make it due to sickness). She is such a generous, caring, and strong woman and I love her so much!
Also, of course, praying for the souls of the faithful departed, especially my own family members and friends. My dear mom always puts up pictures of our departed family members on the refrigerator throughout November as a reminder to pray for them, along with a calendar designating each day of the month to a particular soul. This is one of the wonderful domestic church traditions I hope to carry on in my own home one day.
A parting thought…
The other day as I was doing some random research I stumbled across a collection of the most adorable pictures of actor Martin Milner (whom my siblings and I love from the old cop show Adam-12) with his wife (to whom he stayed married!) and beloved children, as well as a quote from him that, along with the pictures, positively warmed my heart.
“Sure, stardom is swell, but so much depends on luck and timing, things like that. Love and marriage don’t depend on luck. Those you have to earn; but once earned, they’re yours for life!”
In our Loving Lady,