Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

     Last night Rob & I went to the Ward Christmas Party.  I can't describe the amount of work that went into this production.  It was decked out in full Christmas vintage splendor.  Tree's with tinsel and beautiful old fashion Christmas decor.  The tables were dressed in China and old records played.  It reminded me of Grandma Johnson so much.
     Every year we'd have a Christmas party hosted at my mother's mother's home.  Every year my cousins and I would perform in the family talent show, we'd have a big dinner, and finish the night off singing Christmas carols as Grandma played the piano.  Grandma's Christmas bashes define my childhood Christmas memories.  Those tinsel Christmas trees through me through a full bout of nostalgia.
     As we sat down for dinner, It's a Wonderful Life was performed by some extremely talented actors and actresses in our ward.  Again, another deep nostalgic memory floated to the surface & did me in.  Aside from Home Alone and A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life was always our favorite--probably because we could catch Daddy shedding some tears by the end.
    Tonight I was the tearful one.  In reflection of my own year since last Christmas, I found myself leading a parallel life with George Bailey.  Here I realized that I have been looking at my life under a marine layer haze; hardly acknowledging the greats and feeling sorry for myself.  Awful-- I know.
     Finishing college & leaving Hawaii brought new stresses and confusion than I've ever experienced.  I can't count how many job applications we sent out when we first moved back to Southern California.  Nothing bit.  Meanwhile, we had huge bills being sent to us from our first Halloween together when Rob experienced spending the night in the ER with Meningitis.  We literally ate up our small savings for a few months until we were able to find jobs; jobs that never required our college degrees.  Graciously, the Harmon's let us stay with them through our struggles to paying off our medical debts and scrimp to save.
     As the storyline unfolds, there is this all to familiar underlying theme that life doesn't workout the way its planned to be.  There's trials and sacrifices to be made.  This common theme has been troubling me all year!  In the back of my mind, our situation really bothered me.
     Feeling sorry for yourself never ends well and in the play, for dramatic emphasis, George contemplates jumping off a bridge.  His guardian angel stops him and tries to reason with him.  George wishes he had never been born and for a few brief hours, his wish is granted.  He is able to see the great impact he had on others and realizes how much he loves his deemed "failure" life.  As he comes home and is greeted by his family, friends and neighbors, he is ever so grateful for his life.
     A rush of gratitude for life is restored.  It's such a feel good story.  A flood of happy beautiful memories filled my mind of with friends and family who love us and supported us throughout the year.  So much was learned and accomplished.  Truly, "No man is a failure who has friends." -Clarence (the Angel)
     From the bottom of my heart thank you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dinner With a Godess

I'm back in Santa Barbara with family and friends.  The old familiar places, smells, and friendships exhilarate me.  I find myself rushing to my best friend's house with my in laws and another seasoned couple.  We are late for a dinner appointment invited by my best friends parents.  Unfortunately Sophie couldn't make it in town for the weekend.  It wasn't the same being in the kitchen and sitting by the fire without her.  I even pet her dog who has gotten chunky and old over the years out of old time sentiments.  We arrived to find a mad french woman in the kitchen pivoting back and forth between one project to the other.  This is Sophie's mom.  She is one of my favorite people in the world.  She is class.  She is the epitome of grace and talent.  Right now she is in her element.  Food is french and we are in the kitchen.  She is determined and looks like she has been put on fast forward; chopping mixing tasting.  She's telling Claire what to do and when to do it.  Claire silently fulfills the tasks.  She's not more than 13.  She's a Kitchen Goddess in the making.
  The immaculate meal is being prepared and as we file into the kitchen we are put to work obeying each direction.  Instantly we feel as if we are completely useless in the kitchen when we see what Katrina is doing.  Working in the gorgeous kitchen with each ingredient  at our fingertips we almost feel as if we have died and gone to chef heaven.  Each ingredient is organic, and perfect.  Newlywed budget never could live up to such a meal.  The appetizer was hardened crispy bread, garlic rubbed, goat cheese, and a spicy kalamata olive spread.  Barbecued chicken with garlic and parsley sauce.  Mashed crispy potatoes.  Ratatouille.  Dessert; creme and figs with fig red wine sauce.
     The host rang a bell to bring everyone to the table.  Dinner was served by candle light.  Politics and recent books were discussed.  Tales of great adventures and deep faith.
     The party resumed as the guests all moved to the next room.  The fire burned, the couches were comfortable.  Plans for the future and stories of old were told.  It felt good to be back in the residence I spent so many fond memories in.  Their home was a place of acceptance and love for me at a time in my adolescence when my parents and I couldn't seem to accept each others points of views.  They adopted me into their home and probably were doing my parents a favor.  I looked up to them then and now I do more than ever before.  They have charted out their lives already.  From what I can tell from tonight, they are so successful.  They have kept friends and family close.  Leisure activities and the pleasures of life continue in abundance.  I see Katrina in the kitchen.  She is enjoying herself.  She is such a godess.  Everything is perfect.  Each taste, and gesture overflowing with hospitality.  She is interesting and funny.  She is insightful and serious.  She is passionate and animated.
     Sophie's parents are fascinating beautiful people who live the dream.  They work hard and play hard.  They are people who understand how to enjoy life and live in good company.  Their hearts are set upon things and people beyond themselves.  They have great faith and love. Robbie, you were very much missed.