Now that Christmas has come and gone there is no question what was the greatest gift for me. It was the gift of friendship.
We have our Montana family friends. The friends who welcomed RangerSir and I into their home and treated us just like family. Though they have lived in Montana almost their entire lives they get what it is to move and live far away from friends and family. They have taken us in and treat us like family and include us in holiday activities, birthdays and graduations. We have attended funerals and met their extended family. They are who we call in an crisis and we hopefully provide support when they need it as well.
My lifetime friends now live far away. The amazing part of this friendship is though we don’t get together often when we talk it is just like we saw each other just a few days ago. When we get together we can chat for hours or sit in silence either works and both are OK. My lifetime friends know me better than I know myself some times and provide the moment of clarity when I need it most. We have been through lots together, some of life changing, but most of it just plain fun. A connection like that has last years, no matter how long the distance, no matter the changes in our lives we are their one another and their friendship makes us whole.
The like a sister friend who lived with me years ago and 20 years later is still like a younger sister to me. We worry about her and cheer her every success. Just like I imagine I would if I had a sister.
I have a large collection of social friends as well. Some are co-workers and former co-workers. Others are family and old neighbors. Folks who I exchange cards with during the holidays, catching up with them and all that has gone on this past year. Some we don’t hear from but once a year but we look them up when we get in their neighborhood.
They are part of what makes my life so rich and I am so thankful for their friendship.
Yesterday I had to go to the post office to purchase stamps because I had finished off my roll of first-class stamps and many of the assorted denominations I keep on hand for business mailings. I got to the post office early and there was already a long line of patrons with a single post office employee to handle the ever-growing line. It was the last Saturday before the Christmas holiday. I thought, “what the heck is going on here? Who put this schedule together?” I looked at the man, who when each customer stepped up to the window greet them and then got down to business to move them along as soon as possible. Not rude, not chatty, just a cordial business atmosphere.
Watching that man do his job in a crummy situation, I had this sudden epiphany; he is like so many other on-the-ground workers who work for the US government who are part of the ever shrinking government we all claim we want. This postal worker surely did not ask to be the only one working at that hour, on that day alone. It was a result of there being less money to pay on-the-ground workers. We don’t often think about this, but it is going on all the time. Just this last week RangerSir, a government employee, was out in the field twice alone, doing his job alone. In years past there would have been enough employees to partner up. It was a good safety measure and they could cover twice as much ground, checking on remote restrooms used by back country skiers and snowmobilers, warming huts, rental cabins, ski and snowmobile trail maintenance/safety and swing gates on out of bounds areas. Instead now days he picks the day or area of least risk and goes out there and does his job alone, knowing full well that if something goes wrong he is miles and hours from some coming out to help him. It is the reality of being an on-the-ground worker in the US government, there are less of them but the public expectation for service has not changed. He does the best job possible with the tools and people he has been given, just like this lonely postal worker. It was then that I mentally cheered this man on with each person he helped. I also was grateful that no one pointed out the obvious that he was alone and where were the other employees. This man had no control, he was trying to do the best with he was given.
When I got to the front of the line I rattled off the stamps I needed. I did not grouse, because once again there were no $2 stamps one of my most used denominations, I saved that for the postmaster on another day. My time is valuable, but it was not his fault that my wait in line was long, I would save that too for the postmaster (though I suspect that was out of their control as well). The postal work was doing his job the very best he could, in unenviable circumstances. I finished quickly and then smiled thanked him and wish him a wonderful holiday season, truly meaning those words for this man who had a long day ahead of him.
I am back working full-time and then some for the month of December and January. This time is the most significant for my employer, full of critical deadlines, crazy demands and lots of things pulling at me in so many directions. I must admit that this has taken a toll on other things I have been trying to do for the holidays at home. My long days are more than full with lots of phone calls, deadlines and lots of computer face time. It has left me at the end of the night struggling to fit in other things I wanted to do, including my photo challenge.
I found myself just looking for something any thing to photograph to meet my challenge,not taking time to enjoy my photography. I was struggling to create good light that I missed earlier that day and pleasing composition in a few minutes, because I had not planned a darn thing, or given forethought to what I might be trying to photograph as part of the daily challenge.
Slapping it together isn’t how I want to approach the photography challenge so I am calling a time out. I will return to this later, but for now my challenge is on hiatus.
Thanks to everyone who has been stopping by to check out my photos so far.
Apologies to the photo challenge followers. Day 6 I continued to feel under the weather and although I did not post that day, I did take my challenge photo on day 6. Today, day 7, I am starting to feel better and we went out shopping and I was able to sneak in a photo today using my phone.
Photo Challenge Day 6 – Shiny
This was taken of a small vintage aluminum tree in a local store where I teach card making. The glitter covered ornaments just caught my eye and I knew that this was my shiny photo. I played around taking snapshots of to the tree trying to find the right light and depth of field. This one was the best of the what I came home with.
There is something magical in about this tree.
Photo Challenge Day 7 – Shopping
Those who know me, know I am not one who enjoys shopping. Today we went to town to do our adopt-a-family shopping. RangerSir’s office adopts a family and the employees and several of the retirees all shop for this family. Then the day of the office Christmas party they wrap all the gifts and get it ready for delivery to the contact person. No matter how I feel about shopping I always find myself getting a little crazy picking out just the right things for the adopted family. RangerSir and I hit the local store and it was not long until we had a full cart of goodies we had picked out for the family.
I am not going to win any awards for this photo, but I got more joy from this shopping trip that you can possibly imagine.
Like thousands of others who shop for others who are not as fortunate, we dig up our best memories and try to share them with strangers by what we pick to give the family we will never know. We want to help them create memories of holidays and family. RangerSir and I by tradition always give pajamas and socks. I remember having warm double brushed flannel PJ’s at Christmas. I am not sure if they were a new pair or not but I want these little kids to have something warm to wear to bed and lounge around in the evening. My family was a great bunch of game players so we always get the kids each a game that hopefully they can play with their siblings. Of course I have to add books to the collection, because they can take you places and let you do things you may never get a chance to do otherwise. This year’s family of kids are being raised by a Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I can not imagine have four kids under 9, as a grandma to raise, but thousands of grandparents find themselves doing just this. Keeping warm in Montana is always a challenge. My boss has a cuddly throw she swears by and I have one that I am sitting under here as I write tonight. RangerSir and I decided that the grandma’s should have some thing like this as well. We found one for each of them that we hoped each of them would enjoy as they spent time with their grand kids Lastly like so many others in the group of employees we added a local grocery card. The family can buy what they need most or a special holiday treat. They know best for their family. I came home feeling better about the day and encouraged that maybe I will make the holidays and the new year special for a family who I will never know.
Anyone who enjoys reading, knows the feeling of reading a book they can not put down. After waiting months to get “Gone Girl” from the library, my number finally came up, and I checked out the long awaited book.
I just finished the book this morning. For me it was a bit of a slow start when I first picked it up, then that all changed. I can say it twisted and turned more than I ever imagined, even as I turned each page. When I thought I had imagined the worst and what could come next, I was thrown a curve ball. Soon I was reading it in the morning before I got out of bed and it was the last thing I read at night. I forgot my Kindle at home when I went to get my hair done, and found myself downloading it to an app on my phone. There I sat reading it on my phone while I sat under the drier. That was a new first for me. I was reading it on the treadmill. I was sneaking it in whenever I found a chance. Now that I finished it, all I can say is whoa they are nuts.
I am now ready to watch the movie. Not that I expect it to be the same, movies always change things some to make it work and flow for a movie, but I will know what is really going in the character’s crazy minds. I will fill in any blanks the movie doesn’t. I am thinking that this movie is this generations “Fatal Attraction.”
Now I am on to a lighter, mindless, fun, easy read. Possibly off to edit and work on National Novel Writing Month, unfinished novel. It is time to look at finishing or at least moving that along in the process.
Tonight I am feeling under the weather and tired. I had convinced myself it was OK to skip tonight. Yet when I was getting ready for bed, I realized that it might not be my best effort, but the photo challenge was worthy of an effort. So I convinced RangerSir to be my hand model and started pulling things together to make tonight’s photo challenge happen. Here are the results.