Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Box of Chocolates

I never really thought about that Forrest Gump thing, 'life is like a box of chocolates'. But at the moment, a box of chocolates is depressing me and already summing up all the consumerist issues of Christmas that make me decide to plan and buy and give in other ways than a cornucopia of presents beneath the tree.

They have an absolutely ginormous box of chocolates on offer at our local supermarket for a very cheap price. Cheaper than a large bottle of washing liquid, cheaper than the clothes I buy for my children to wear for school, cheaper than a meal for five, cheaper than oh so many necessities. Cheaper than a box of chocolates half the size normally costs. My husband thinks I am ridiculous for considering purchasing the half-sized box when we could get more for less, if you know what I mean, but that's my feeling on this. It just feels too much.

I know it's a loss-leader, and the supermarket is encouraging me to buy other products, and the cost of the chocolate nowhere near matches what they cost to produce, package and sell (let alone source the cocoa, another point of contention). But it's causing me a huge dilemma. How can I possibly buy a huge box of chocolates that is too big for our family to share, when we have a sponsored girl in Guatemala that would appreciate the equivalent price of proper food, much more. Is it that it sums up our developed world mentality that is freaking me out so much? Is it that I feel guilt that to me it wouldn't be that much of a cost? Is my greed challenged? Am I just scared of bringing that many chocolates into our house? It would course amazement, that much chocolate and choice - and then probably gluttony, and then possibly a being-forgotten-about-in-the-pantry.

I don't know, but for the moment - life is just not like a box of chocolates in this house, it IS a box of chocolates :-(

Friday, 11 November 2011

7 Quick Takes Volume 8

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 151)


I have been reading posts about keeping Christmas in December. Or (for our American cousins) at least until after Thanksgiving. I get the point, I do, but....


We're singing Christmas songs in my choir. Because we may (or may not) be moving house before 25th December, I've bought most of my gifts and am about to start wrapping - and I'm often nearly done by this point anyway. I'm loving the Christmassy feel of these preparations. Because I know that on 1 December I will be doing my IT'S ALL ABOUT ADVENT! spiel, and I won't have to worry about doing much except waiting. (Actually, they tell me Advent begins on 27th November this year......)


Added to this of course that the girls and I wrapped up our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in late October (there is still time to help!) and added to the Compassion gift Christmas gift fund even earlier. And 'Santa' has already purchased the books of the Christmas Story for our under 5s to receive at the Pram Service Christmas party. So my feeling is - yes, keep Christ in Christmas. And Christmas in December. And focus on Advent. But plan and dream all you like, especially when it's for the children.


Because we all know Christmas is not just about that one day (despite its importance)! So all those people who keep looking at me as if I am mad piling up the selection boxes, Christmas decorations, giftwrap and labels into my basket - I have got my priorities exactly right. I am focused on giving, in all its ways, and come Advent I am going to sit down with Sarah Reinhard or Kathleen M Basi and unfold spiritually. Something THIS special needs forward planning. If I'm going to keep the oil in my lamp burning, I need a plan of action and more than just 25 days in which to fully prepare to Christmas.


My husband was born on 29 November. Perhaps I had better give some forethought to his birthday gift too?


29th November is also the first day of our weekly Advent study group at church, and the first theme is Mary, so I will be going there rather than staying in with my husband....again, priorities?!


In case that sounds really slack, we are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary at our favourite French bistro Le Mistral next week as part of their Beaujolais Nouveau (wine) Festival, which I booked, and booked babysitters. It is also a celebration of FIFTEEN YEARS as a couple, and 15 years ago this November we learned about Beaujolais Nouveau together. AND I have got him an anniversary gift which I won't reveal here, because sometimes I really do think he is the only person (thank you) who reads my blog.

Read Jen and all the other contributors over at Conversion Diary.

Self Inflicted Wounds

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (that includes my husband, at least) know that I'm very pro-family and pro-children.

My 3 self-inflicted sproglets

So you'll know that when someone referred to my children as

Self Inflicted Wounds when I spoke about taking them to school in rainy weather last week, I wasn't the happiest bunny in the box.

I hoped the guy was being humorous - I don't know him that well, but he is one of our church faithful and has always come across to me as someone with integrity. All I knew at the time is that he made the comment in the context of 'been there, done that' and although I felt his sympathy at my slight struggle, on reflection my annoyance at the term 'self inflicted wounds' started to fester and I decided to tackle him about it.

So today, on Remembrance Day, I bumped into him on the High Street, and we spoke about the joy of receiving life from God, and having children. And I learned these things about his family:

  1. He has one child, a grown-up police officer son, of whom he is amazingly proud.
  2. He has two grandchildren, on whom "you can't put any price" when they come up and say Grandpa to him.
  3. His wife, the mother of his one child, passed away a long time ago.
  4. She was the first person in the UK with no kidneys, to give birth.
  5. Her son weighed less than 2lbs at birth.
  6. They struggled eight years to have this gift from God, including many tests and hospital stays.
  7. They were told by medical experts that having a baby would be a medical impossibility.
  8. They refused to accept this diagnosis, and instead to accept God's plan to them.
Sometimes people can be flippant, sarcastic, and self-deprecating. I know this man wouldn't swap becoming a parent (and grandparent) for anything in the world. Although I still don't like children being referred to in the same breath as 'self-inflicted wounds', I am so glad I didn't get on my high horse about this, but instead carefully asked him to explain exactly what he meant by that phrase. He values his son so much. He just meant that, if you have kids, you've got to deal with all the difficult parts of that. And he should know.