Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
For some years Dale has been constructing small buildings which he then places in our side yard during the Christmas season. There's a church and parsonage, barn and store all surrounded by lighted trees and backed up by a full moon. This week he has been finishing up a farmhouse to go next to the barn. Here's a look.
No snow this year to reflect off the scene, but still really pretty and fun in this darkest of weeks.
WTOP news out of DC has an end of the year story from Market Watch which presents a list of things we shouldn't buy or use this coming year.
Number one is cable tv. Here is their reason and alternative: "cable companies continue to raise their rates even as cheaper alternatives such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are getting more popular." I wonder, though, if we'd be satisfied not having access to local news, live shows, sports. Maybe Netflix and the others do offer local/national news, but I doubt it.
2. Name brand razor blades. Now this is an odd one. According to the story, more shavers are turning to membership programs which sell blades on a mail-order subscription basis for a fraction of the cost. I never knew this and blades are expensive.
3. Bottled water. Get yourself a home filter system and a reusable bottle.
4. Credit monitoring systems and identify theft insurance. Hmmm
5. Compact discs and dvds. Obvious. Will Blu Ray players be heading for the electronic recycling bins?
6. Memory Sticks and thumb drives. Oh no! I use these things all the time and I'm not ready to trust the longevity of all these Cloud storage sites. I can remember when photo sharing and storage sites were a big deal for saving digital pictures. Then one day they all went belly up and nothing was retrievable.
7. MIni tablets. Yeah, I can see that and add the big old iPhone6 to that.
8. Online dating services which charge a fee.
9. Boutique Moonshine. Hahahahaha. There have been lots of places selling moonshine in canning jars recently. We even have one which we've never touched other than to take one small, hard to swallow sip.
10. 4K ultrahigh definition televisions. Not enough programming available to warrant the high cost.
This is one of my favorite pictures from Christmas at the Baileys. It was Christmas Eve just before leaving for church and the boys were so happy. Neither really knew what was going on, just that it was pretty darn great.
In the car going home from church Drew's voice came out of the dark saying, "This was an awesome day."
After a week in the DC area spending Christmas with Katie's family, we made the long 13 hour drive home on Saturday. We were pretty tired and I have to confess, the last 200 miles or so make me irritable and no fun to be around. I keep harping on how it seems the minutes are flying by but the miles are adding up slowly. I just can't help it. It's a major failing to obsess about the end miles.
Anyhow, before we left we made the decision not to put up a tree this year because there wasn't really time and we figured it would be all dried out by the time we got back. But we woke up this morning feeling not too worse for wear and realized without a tree things just didn't seem right. We're one of those families who leave the tree up until Epiphany, January 6, which is the real end of Christmas. The 12 days of Christmas song came from the centuries old custom of celebrating Christmas from the 25th of December until January 6. Epiphany was when the Wise Men made it to Bethlehem.
After discussing tree or no tree, we decided to try and find one. Dale went over to Home Depot for some wood (he's making another outdoor house for our Christmas scene) and when he came back he told me that HD still has Christmas trees. So off I went. After looking at what they had left and finding one I liked I asked a couple of really nice employees if I could still buy a tree and who told me, "yes, you can still buy one and it's possible you can just have one for nothing."
Yay! That's what happened! A free tree. As I was leaving one of the men asked me, "Would you mind my asking what you plan to do with the tree?" hahahahah. So here it is, not as big as most years, but we are quite happy to be able to sit next to the soft lights of Christmas for 10 days.
We're glad we did it. As our 2 year old grandson Jake would say after everything he did, "I did it."
I saw this Tweet from the folks at Five Thirty Eight. 538 does a lot of surveying and prognosticating on topics currently before us. They're big during election years. But this morning their survey results were all about Christmas-who likes it, who shops, what we do and on and on. This is the Tweet:
Only 10 percent of Americans say they look forward to attending religious activities during the holiday season.
I thought to myself, "wow, this can't be right. Who on earth did they survey?" So I read the entire article and the info on Christmas church going was near the end and in reality, the headline is totally misleading. They made it sound as if this 10 percent was 10 percent of everyone. It wasn't. It was 10 percent of those Americans who do not normally attend religious services. Not nearly 10 percent of all Americans.
And here's one more throw away headline, this time from the Clayton Richmond Heights Patch who's reporters must be having trouble coming up with stories right now.
Dale and I drove from St Louis to the Washington DC area to spend Christmas with our younger daughter Katie and her family. We made a stop in Paris....Illinois...to visit Dale's mother and then endured the long drive in pretty good shape. No weather issues or traffic issues...a miracle of sorts. The only point of contention is Dale's habit of having to regulary share the number of miles or time in hours we have remaining on the drive. I kind of prefer to guage trips' end by where we are, for instance, we're in Wheeling WV. Ok, my mind says, we're more than halfway and it's only 10:30 in the morning so I feel good about things.
Anyhow, here's a bit of what the boys are doing so far other than a crazy mess of a trip to a Wegman's grocery story. This was my idea since Wegman's is the best best best and I didn't want to miss a chance. But two days before Christmas everyone else in the DC region who loves Wegman's went this morning too. With Katie and I each pushing a cart holding one boy, we manuvered through the crowds and didn't hit too many harried shoppers. I have no idea exactly what we bought, though, we were just tossing stuff in and bypassing our list because stopping to list check would have brought the crowd to a standsill as much as an accident at rush hour.
They look pretty happy and congenial here don't they?
Shopping makes Jake hungry
Katie is somehow able to read mail and not notice Jake stuffing his face with Gorilla Nuggets.
Drew was doing the same while watching cartoons.
This afternoon we're all going over to visit one of their former neighbors.
Here's a short look at some of the work our students and staff put themselves through to get all the campus Christmas lights hung. Not everything was a ground level.
Hanging lights around Luther's neck was the hardest and it was so cold, but these students kept at it until it was done.
Up in a tree in the most precarious way, never sure the branches would hold.
Up on the roof of Luther Tower, one of the highest points in the entire area.
And on the ground the week before Thanksgiving when the temperatures never got above the teens. These guys stayed out all day for 5 days to get everything finished. Proud of them all. The campus is now something of a destination for Clayton neighborhood people to walk through at night to see the lights.