Winter has wrapped his chilly arms around us in an icy grip, and shows no signs of relenting any way soon.

The long fall that we enjoyed has retreated into the annals of yesterday, to be taken out, dusted off, and related to our grandchildren as “the warm autumn of ’17.”  It was good while it lasted, but today we are donning our warmest clothing and huddling near the fire.

The thermometer has shivered on the zero mark the past three mornings, and the temperature hasn’t risen above freezing.  Country chores are done hurriedly, with a rush back into the warm house.  Blessed are the old ladies (like me!) who don’t have to brave the icy, snow-covered roads to go to work, and can curl up in a recliner and watch the world go by.

The holiday festivities are over, and we go back to the normal pace of life. Time, as a swift-flowing river, has brought us to the first week of a brand new year, and it is almost gone. Time is the most valuable commodity that we own, yet we do not own it. It cannot be held, stopped or hoarded away.  We are each allotted the same number of hours in a day. While for some, time may hang heavy on their hands, for most of us it melts away in astonishing rapidity.

I used to think that time would slow down for me when I got older.  I’ll never forget asking my father one time, as I tried to juggle my attention between household chores, a small baby, and a preschooler about this. “Daddy, will time slow down when I get your age?”  I was shocked when he answered, “No, Alyce Faye, it goes faster.” Time had no meaning for him after he had a massive stroke—day and night were just the same to him.

Sometimes I wonder how I got to this stage in my life so fast.  A great-great grandmother!  My great-granddaughter Morgan presented us with a little, fat Levi this past year. There’s nothing like cuddling a sweet-smelling, chubby infant and rocking them to sleep. They are so innocent and vulnerable, and fit so perfectly in your arms. It seems such a short time ago that I held my own babies close to me marveled at their completeness. You never forget being a mother.

There are many compensations in growing older, and grandchildren are a special one. It is so easy to forget all the time and effort involved in taking care of little ones after we have graduated from that stage. We have the best of two worlds. Grandchildren love you so non-critically. You don’t have to do anything special, just simply “be.” It doesn’t matter how you look, with wind-blown hair and mismatched clothes, they make you feel special. When we feel the need of some grandbaby loving, we can go a few steps in any direction and are sure of a welcome.  Eyes sparkling with delight, they cry, “Mommaw! Poppaw!”

We spend an hour or so romping with them, and leave when they begin to get sleepy and fretful.   Someone else can cope with baths, diapers and drinks of water.  Yes, let the gray hair come—I like this stage of my life.

People that I most enjoy being around (other than babies!) are those who are not concerned with age.  Although the passing of time has given them an insight and wisdom lacking in the younger generation, they are not hung up on their “age.”  They greet each new day with enthusiasm.  They are not afraid to try new adventures or learn a new hobby.  They are vital and up to date with their thinking, and a joy to be with.

I am thinking of precious friends that I have had in the past, and Hollis and Freda Boggs (now deceased) comes to mind.  It was such a blessing to be with them, and folks like them.  Sometimes you meet folks who leave you sapped by their negative attitudes and depressed states of mind.  Hollis and Freda were “givers” not “takers.  I would go away from them feeling encouraged because of their joy of living and deep appreciation for God’s goodness.  This is a New Year’s prayer that I want to offer each day, “Lord, keep me sweet in my soul, and don’t let me become a bitter old lady who parades her aches and pains to the world.  Make me a blessing to all those I meet.”

The ending of an old year, and the beginning of a new one, always causes us to stop and ponder the path of our lives.  I learned a long time ago to turn loose of old heartaches, failures and disappointments.  These things in the past cannot be changed, so why waste time grieving over them?  Time is too valuable, and we must make the most of “today.”  Yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cash in hand.  We need to spend it wisely.

 

                 JUST ONE REQUEST

Dear Master, for this coming year

Just one request I bring

I do not pray for happiness,

Or any earthly thing-

I do not ask to understand

The way Thou leadest me,

But this I ask:  Teach me to do

The thing that pleaseth Thee.

 

I want to know Thy guiding voice,

To walk with Thee each day,

Dear Master, make me swift to hear

And ready to obey,

And thus the year I now begin

A happy year will be-

If I am seeking just to do

The thing that pleaseth Thee.

Author Unknown

 

Snowflakes are again flying on ground that is already covered with snow, and birds are crowding around the bird feeder.  Crows (or are they ravens?) the size of banty chickens walk around the feeder, flaunting their size.  The air is frigid, and it looks like a long way until spring.

Until then, we just as well put another log on the fire and make the best of it.  It’s a good time to cook, and here is a recipe that I received from my friend Gloria.  It would be good for a family get-together, as it makes a big casserole.

 

                 CALICO BAKED BEANS

1# bacon, cut up

1# hamburger

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsp. vinegar

½ cup ketchup

¾ cup brown sugar

15 or 16 oz. cans:

Baked beans

Kidney beans, drained

Butter beans, drained

Lima beans, drained  (can use 10 oz, pkg. frozen)

Partially brown bacon, hamburger and onion

Drain off grease.

Combine all ingredients in ungreased casserole dish, mixing well.  Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for one hour.