Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I am a good writer, but sometimes I cannot find the right words to express the message I want to convey, so I borrow someone else's. This Christmas Day post is the song Welcome to Our World by Chris Rice. I am uncertain to whom to give credit for the lyrics, but they are in a simple word, beautiful. I hi-lighted in red and green my favorite lyrics from the song. When coupled with the moving images, they touch your heart in deep places where no one else but the Holy Spirit can reach.
Unto us a child was born over two thousand years ago. Welcome holy child. Eloise
Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Welcome to our world
Posted by eloise hawking at 1:23 AM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Charles Schultz has always been one of the writers I admire most. His creation of the Charlie Brown characters are one of the literary world's greatest masterpieces in my opinion. He had a writing style that I admire: simple, poignant, and humorous.
I make references to Linus a lot on this blog as I always compare him to Sam--because of the blanket only. Sam does not have the gentle nature of Linus. My friend Beth and my sister have always compared me to Lucy. They claim that I like to give out psychiatric advice, am bossy, and enjoy tormenting people like when Lucy pulls away the football from Charlie Brown every single time. Yes, I give out advice quite often, but I am asked for it and I don't charge 5 cents. Bossy? No way. Someone has to take the reigns of this family. I am the only one brave enough to step up to the plate. For that I should be commended, not condemned. And if Karen is dumb enough to fall for the football trick over and over again in life, than that is her problem. Live and learn, sister, live and learn.
The above post is my favorite part of Charlie Brown Christmas. Natalie refers to it in her flat, monotone voice as "Brown's Christmas." Can you just hear her? For those of you not familiar with chapter and verse, I'll be your guide. Dust off your Bible, one of the best books you'll ever read. You can find these words in Luke, Chapter 2, verses 8-14. See your yourself, and you will take the first step in becoming a changed person because of it.
The angels and Eloise wish you glad tidings of great joy this holiday season. Merry Christmas from the Lamp Post.
Posted by eloise hawking at 5:29 PM
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I had to include Sam in this photo because he is omitted from the following poem. I know what you are all thinking---Eloise is holding quite a grudge over this potty training issue, but that is not the case. The poem below is one I wrote a decade ago, during the Christmas of 2000. Natalie was 2, Ellen was 2 months old, and the thought of having a son one day was the furthest thing from my mind. Natalie had just been diagnosed with Autism. Ellen had the most ridiculous case of thrush you ever did see and also had her days and nights mixed up. I was completely exhausted and running on caffeine and pure adrenaline. Sometimes it is then when I find my greatest creativity. It just occurred to me, that is probably why I did so well in college. Hindsight really is 20-20.
This version of Clement C. Moore's Night Before Christmas was one of my favorite things to write. I liked it so much that I used it for my Christmas card that year. You may have even received one and reading this will trigger your memory. I've held on to it all of these years hoping to use it again one day. Never did I think that I would do so in this manner. A decade ago I didn't even have a computer and "blogging" sounded like a college drinking game. It goes to show you how much can change in ten years. My family of four became a party of five. I cannot live without my home computer and I hardly have to go to the library because I have Mr. Google as my best friend. Can we all just pause a minute and imagine what is coming for us in the next decade?
Enjoy your retro Christmas poem. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Merry Christmas, Eloise
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through our house,
Not a person was sleeping, not even a mouse.
The pillows were stacked by our wood stove with care,
In hopes that a night's rest would one day be here.
Natalie was jumping up and down on her bed,
While Ellen was holding up her wobbly, little head.
With Louie in his sweatpants and Opie in my lap,
We had just settled down for a short winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
We sprang to our feet to see what was the matter.
When what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a red, van-like sleigh and two we hold dear.
With a driver and passenger so lively and quick,
We knew in a moment it was Helen and Dick.
More rapid than eagles from next door they came,
And they whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
"Now, Karen! Now, Elaine! Now Steve and Louie!
On, Erik! On, Jack! On Ellen and Natalie!"
"Let the holidays begin! Come on, let's have a ball!
Now here we come! Here we come! Here we come, all!
As we drew in our heads and were turning around,
Up the driveway the grandparents came with a bound.
Up the porch steps, these two grandparents they flew,
With a bag full of toys and a case of beer, too.
What a pair these two were, right jolly old elves,
That we laughed when we saw them, in spite of ourselves.
Helen was dressed all in red, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all "Tommy" with not one speck of soot.
The stump of Dick's pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And filled all the stockings then turned with a jerk.
They then sprang to the van; the old engine gave a whistle,
And away they both zoomed like the down of a thistle.
But we heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight,
"Let's stop to get beer! They're closed tomorrow night!"
Posted by eloise hawking at 6:13 PM
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I could smell him in the kitchen from way into the living room. When I came upon the scene, I knew he did his business in his brand new Gap Christmas underwear because Linus was clutching his blankey. It's his security for nighttime, while he's at his Preschool, and for when he knows he's going to get it for whatever he's just done.
Posted by eloise hawking at 3:53 PM
Thursday, December 9, 2010
For the 25th blog post in December, I have no choice but to post a story in Jesus' honor. I've been listening to the above song constantly this season. It is sure to be one of your favorites, too.
As the writer of this blog, I wear many hats. I am one part comedienne, one part motivational speaker, one part big sister to the world, and one part disc jockey. If you recognize the name, Chris Tomlin, he is one of my favorite Christian Music artists. I posted his version of Amazing Grace on one of my earlier blogs. I was not familiar with the featured singer, Audrey Assad, until this year, and she is equally as enchanting.
I stumbled on this song from some digging I was doing on itunes, thanks to a post on facebook by my nephew Chris LaFuria. He called out to everyone, asking for their suggested favorite Christmas tunes. He, at the time of the post, was listening to The Crooners Christmas and highly recommended it. I was looking for song suggestions for him when I came across this one. This goes to show you that all one needs is a little motivation and you too, can stumble upon something new and great.
My husband, being the baby of his family by a decade more or less, came with nine nieces and nephews as part of his package deal sixteen years ago. Ben, the oldest is exactly 20 years to the day older than Ellen. I worked hard to make that happen for the family, by the way. I missed a wedding of a cousin on my side just to go into St. Vincent's Hospital to push her out at 11:10 pm. Jon, the youngest up from Natalie is sixteen. The rest range in age in between them. They are a source of constant fun, and they keep me up to date on the most current tunes. All of them love music and are frequent concert goers. Ben, Chris, and Dan all taught themselves how to play musical instruments, which as a teacher of gifted students, I recognize as quite a gift. Dan has a really quirky-cool record collection that I love to discuss with him. Chris constantly comments about music on facebook. When we are together as a group, often the guitars come out and impromptu sing-alongs erupt, making lasting memories for everyone.
Thanksgiving night after all the digestion is over with, they gather in our basement for our annual card game. There is lots of noise, typical of the LaFuria's, but mostly laughter. When I was upstairs giving Sam a bath, I could feel the shouts and the laughter reverberating up through the floor boards. Some of us even got to talk to Matt that day through the Skype camera, as he is serving in Iraq through the holidays this year.
Louie and his brother and two sisters are very close. It seems like the next generation will be following along the same path---staying in touch, singing, laughing, sometimes fighting, but always forgiving. This is what keeps a family a family. So Ben, Kim, Cora, Matt, Chris, Dan, Rosalee, Pat, and Jon--thanks for the inspiration. You all will serve as fine role models for your youngest round of cousins, Natalie, Ellen, and Sam. You remind us that families are not perfect, but they are sacred.
Since we are all part of God's family and really all brothers and sisters in our human nation, please listen carefully to the words to this song. It is true that God could have sent our savior in any manner as he has the power to do so. But instead of a mighty wave with the strength of a hurricane, God sent us a baby. One soft like a winter snow; quiet, soft, and slow, falling from the sky to the earth below. Take time to stop and remember this during the flurry of activities in the next few weeks. And if we do get the predicted winter storms here in Erie this weekend, step outside and look at the falling flakes from heaven and remember how Jesus came to us--soft and slow like the winter snow, and breathe in the air of the sacred night.
Posted by eloise hawking at 8:29 PM
Monday, December 6, 2010
I have received a huge response to this blog, far greater than I had ever anticipated. There is always someone new coming up to me saying, "Hey, I read your blog and it was really funny!" It makes me feel good that people enjoy my stories. People seem to have two common questions, and I have been asked them so many times in the past few months that I will comment on them here.
The first comment is usually something regarding my writing style. They ask if I make drafts, edit, rewrite, etc. Truth is, I don't. I can't explain why. I just sit down and write. It's always been something I do easily. The ideas just flow out of my fingers effortlessly. I am a much better writer than I am a speaker, though. Sometimes I have a hard time fielding an off the cuff question, or think of the perfect comeback three days later. We all have our strengths, I guess. People call it a gift and that could be what it is. I am just glad that I can share my gift with others.
The second most commonly asked question I get is, "When do you find time to do this?" My response to you is this, "During my silent nights." It reminds me so much of my new favorite Christmas song by Amy Grant, posted above. It is called, I Need A Silent Night. I just found it this year. I am not sure how new it is, but I know that if you are a mom getting ready for Christmas, you need to listen to this.
I have been asked to categorize myself by being asked to determine if I am an early bird or a night owl. First of all, I don't like the thought of characterizing myself as a bird because birds are, well, flighty. I don't think "flighty" is a word that describes me best. In the event that I am forced into giving a response, I usually reply, "Both."
I come from a family of strange sleep habits. I think they began during the years we all lived crammed in the kitchen when my parents were renovating the first floor of the old, red farm house. Maybe I never slept soundly as a child with all the clatter of four people and a dog living in the kitchen. We all are early risers and like to get up with the sun. My mom gets up early just because she is nibby and doesn't want to miss anything. I think the years in the Coast Guard still stick with my dad. He'd get us all up with a bugle if he could, but thankfully he doesn't have one. I remember being a teenager and Karen and I would be asleep on a weekend morning. He'd call up the stairs, "Girls, are you going to sleep all day?" We'd roll over to look at the clock and see that it read 7:53 am.
We also can party with anyone into the wee hours of the night, and belly up to the bar with any college student. The difference between Overdorff's and college students is that Overdorff's don't sleep until 11:00 the next morning. This has given me the base skills to be an excellent parent. I can be up until 3:00 am with a vomiting child, catch a few z's before 6:00 am, and I am good to go.
How I do it? I am the Queen of the 10-minute Cat Nap. Plus, I like being thought of like a cat much more than I like being thought of as a flighty bird. Cat's are sleek, stealth, and beautiful. Plus, they eat birds for fun. When I say 10 minutes, I mean just that--10 and only 10 minutes. More than that causes you to fall into a deeper sleep and it leaves you to either wanting more, waking with that groggy feeling, and screwing you up for the night ahead. 10 minutes is enough to take the edge of fatigue away and leaves you feeling refreshed. During my dad's "Overtime Years", especially the last three that he worked at GE, I saw him tilted back with his eyes shut many a time. I would say to him, "Dad, you're sleeping--why don't you lie down?" He would reply, "I'm not sleeping. I'm just resting my eyes." This is a line I use in my house all the time.
So it is mostly in the wee hours of the night, after I put my kids to bed, when I work on my blogs. It relaxes me and gives me time to think through my day, as well as about all of you. I think of things that happened to me that were funny that day, or perhaps something that inspired me that I feel just may inspire you, too. It is in the silence of the nights that I find my words and find my God. He blesses my fingers and lets me use my gift to benefit others, even in this simple way.
Once last winter, I was going to bed very late, probably well past 2:00 am. I brushed my teeth and was about to turn off the bathroom light. My bathroom is on the east side of my house. I can look through the trees and see into my parent's bedroom and living room on the west side of their house. They don't like me saying this, and will hate it even more when they read this, but I always look across the yard to see if their lights are on or off and to make sure everything seems OK. The long standing joke is that if I ever look over and see flames shooting out of the windows, I am running across the yard and saving all of my Christmas presents hidden in my old, upstairs bedroom first. Then I will run downstairs and bodily throw them out of the house. Sorry. I have my priorities, especially in December. Nevertheless, as I looked across the yard, I saw my mother standing outside on the back porch step, looking up, twirling around.
It was a particularly beautiful night. The snow was falling gently and it landed softly like tiny little sparkles, one piling up on the other. She looked particularly beautiful and youthful that night as the flakes landed in her white-blonde hair. I could see her smile from across the yard.
The next morning I asked my mom what she was doing outside at 2:00 in the morning. She countered right back asking why I was up watching her. Sharp lady. Mom said, "I was smelling the snow. It was so clean and fresh." I thought that was a beautiful way to describe an even more beautiful night. I also realized that I am a chip off the old block, albeit an ice block on that night in particular.
So ladies, when you are listening to the song, play it a couple of times through. If you are about my age, I think many of the words will fill you with memories of Christmases past and make you think about how your mom handled Christmas compared to how we prepare for it today. When you feel tired, overworked, and under appreciated this holiday season, take my advice. Invest in a ten minute cat nap. Then stay up late and have a Silent Night. Watch the snow fall, count your blessings, and listen for God. Sometimes he speaks to you softly in the still of the night, like tiny little sparkles that land in the snow. You don't want to miss that.
Posted by eloise hawking at 8:46 AM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Granted, this has aroused much curiosity from visitors to the lamp post. It also annoys my father and he asks every time he enters my house when they are coming down. Dad one day will learn to play my game. The more you ask and show the slightest bit of annoyance, the longer and more gleefully I do just the opposite. He should know how to play, because word has it, he was the one who invented the game.
Since I am out of the running for candidacy, it is bad for the island because I believe I would be an excellent keeper. Having watched the entire series two times through, I know where to find water, where the caves are to hide in, the location of all the dharma stations, and which house is the best to live in at the Others Barracks. It is good for all of you though, because this means I will keep writing my blogs, which you all seem to be enjoying.
One of the famous LOST quotes is, "Jacob (the island's keeper) had a thing for numbers." I think I would have been the perfect replacement because I also come from a line of people who have a "thing" for numbers.
My mother counts things, namely people. Weird habit, I know, but she's done it all my life. If you see her head bobbing silently in a crowded room, please know that she has not gone insane---she's just counting heads. Often when we are together in a crowd she will sidle up to me and say, "Can you believe there are 55 people here?"
My dad is also good with numbers, years in particular--anything from models of cars ('57 Chevy), to the year of the Magna Carta (1215). He also is a whiz at estimation. He can figure how much something weighs, can estimate height and distance, as well as how many beers he has left until he needs a new case. It's a gift.
So it seems fitting that my apple wouldn't fall from their tree. I mean that in both the literal and figurative sense as I live next door to my parents. I too, like numbers and now heat up my coffee for 108 seconds in the microwave if I lose my cup somewhere, thanks to LOST. I also can't get off of the treadmill, no matter how bad my side stitch is, before 23 minutes are up as a tribute to my hero Jack. When it comes to the numbers relating to Christmas, here is my big number--TWO. This is how many Christmas presents I asked for this year.
Usually on Black Friday, I go out Christmas shopping on a solo trip, between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning. I usually return home just as the kids are getting up and they "surprise me" every year by putting up the Christmas tree. It is a fun tradition in our house that gets everyone in the mood for my favorite holiday.
Eventually on Black Friday, the conversation rolls around to what I want for Christmas. I have a different answer every year. My responses range from "world peace" to "a cure for cancer." All things that cannot be purchased. I am a simple girl at heart, and don't need much to keep me happy. It's better to give than receive, so whatever I do get for Christmas, I am always happy with. My husband and kids do a great job choosing just the right scent of bubble bath, the perfect pair of slipper socks, or a new book to keep my mind occupied. But this year, I stopped all four of them dead in their tracks when I didn't give the answer "brotherly love" when asked what I wanted for Christmas this year.
When I spouted off that response, I had to walk over to my husband and use my index finger to push his bottom jaw up to close his hanging-open mouth. We have been married for 16 years and he still is bewildered over the Overdorff style Christmas. Generally conservative spenders throughout the rest of the year, well except for Karen that is, we go all out for Christmas. $179.99 is a drop in the bucket for us. My Italian in-laws have the way bigger piles of delicious food on their plates, and we Germans have the way bigger pile of presents under the tree. Maybe we should try to work a deal and form some sort of alliance, but I guess that didn't work too well in World War II, so on second thought, who cares. I get the best of both worlds.
I thought I'd put a little extra pressure on Louie by getting in the kids' heads a bit. I told them that this year--no me with the camera waiting at the bottom of the staircase to grab a shot of their joyous faces Christmas morning. I am beating them to the tree this year. And if I don't find two wrapped gifts marked ELOISE, containing my Complete Collection and new Blu-ray player, I told them I was going to light the tree on fire. Dad has lots of gasoline out in the barn. One match and that tree is toast. We can roast chestnuts over that open fire. How nice.
Mean, I know, but I was trying to make a point really only to Ellen. She has the most leverage with Louie and is a pretty good gift-picker-outer herself. The comment went right over Sam's head, and Natalie heard, "fire" and ran to get her poker stick that she used at the Outback this summer. Ellen can make this happen for me, I just know it.
If the spaces between my blog posts grow a little longer after Christmas, know that I am busy on my third trip through LOST on Blu-ray, apparently the ultimate experience. If Santa brings you a boxed set of the series and you need a tutor, I heard there is this great teacher who lives at the lamp post. Her name is Eloise and I am sure she will help you through.
See you in another life, brothers and sisters.
Posted by eloise hawking at 10:55 PM