And Then There Was Kim

There have been several times, especially since we took on the three new additions to the family, that people have commented on the expense of doing such a thing. I have always said to them that I am happy to die penniless if it means that I have standing room only at my funeral. What I mean by that is that, as a general rule, people who have had a tremendous impact on others will result in no empty seats. People will *want* to come to pay their last respects which typically indicates that your life meant something to the attendees. Both of my grandparents had such funerals as have several people I’ve been fortunate enough to know in my life.  I believe that we’re all put on earth in order to have an impact on others. Whether or not it’s positive is entirely up to us.

And then there was Kim. . .

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Decorating the Spirit


Most of you that know us know that we go all out on our Christmas decor every year. It’s simple: You live in a Victorian style house, you are morally obligated to decorate. Jessica and I LOVE putting all the work into decking the halls. One year we had 17 fully decorated, full-size trees and about 1,000 feet of real garland strung throughout our house up north (not to mention the dozens of Santas, nutcrackers and poinsettia plants placed throughout). If it’s a particularly warm winter, I even get to go crazy on the outside. It’s a lot of work but we absolutely LOVE it and so do the kids.

This year, with the three new ones, we thought it would be so cool to give the same experience but, frankly, it just didn’t happen.

Our plan was to “wrap” up all of the decorating two weekends. Saturday was going to be spent cleaning a bit and then Sunday would be the bulk of the work.

The morning of Saturday started off somewhat as we expected. We have a neighbor who lives in the bottom floor next. She and her husband are going through tough times and they have an eight-year old daughter. They are really nice people but times have been tough on them. She is working but has to take the bus to work every day. By car it’s about a five minute drive. By bus, it’s 40 minutes with a transfer in there. Additionally, to make some extra money, she tries to pick up house cleaning jobs on weekends. She’s a good mother and a hard worker. Things are just tough. So, on that weekend, Jessica was asked if she could drive the neighbor to the house that needed cleaning. Naturally, Jessica said she would and when she got home she and I talked about the fact that our neighbor REALLY needed a car.

Here’s the thing. Up in Rhinelander, four hours away, we have a mostly useable car. This car got me through a bunch of driving a few years ago and we’ve loaned it out to people since on a long-term basis. We knew the engine was sound and that all it needed was a decent brake job so, plans for Sunday’s decorating were scrapped and the decision was we’d go up, get the car which has been stored at a friend’s house (Thanks Marshalls!) and come back. Our goal is to give the car to our neighbor for Christmas.

So, that weekend, the last real weekend we’d have to finish decorating the house for Christmas ended up being the weekend we took our first trip back up to Rhinelander in over a year. It was the weekend we did not get our 14 trees up and decorated. And yet, it was the weekend that far more got decorated than our home.

Sometimes, it seems that while for us, all the physical decoration is fun and games, and it gives our family great enjoyment, we forget about our spirits. But this year, I look around and I see the neighbors who have graciously given up the bottom floor of their house so a family who’s hit hard times will have a place to live. People out and about spreading cheer, helping those in need by volunteering time or money. Generosity abounds and you don’t even have to look that far.

I see these things and I realize that while the physical decoration is nice, there’s a lot more “spirit” decorating going on and it’s far more beautiful. So, this year, the house didn’t get done the way we would have liked. We only got three trees up and things are not all in their “proper place.” Yet, I’m surprisingly ok with that.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

The Chocolate Cake Lady

I have not posted anything in the last couple of days; not because I did not have anything to post, but I’ve been a bit busy. So today I’m going to cheat a little and cut and paste a blog post Jessica wrote a couple of years ago on her site. I was just reminded of this story (although I am reminded of it often) because of a card that came from some friends of ours up north where the Chocolate Cake Lady was mentioned and we were referenced as now being “The Chocolate Cake Lady.”

It struck me as sort of a shame that this lady, whomever she is, will never know that she impacted more than just my wife for a few nights, but for a lifetime and that kindness is being passed on. Most of Jessica’s friends have heard the story, but I’m not so sure that mine have. So, for those who do not know the story, I hope you enjoy it.

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