Yesterday we went to the cemetery to decorate the graves in Florence. Momma and I used to tease each other about this Christmas and Easter tradition, because I didn't want to be in bondage to doing it once she passed away. (She threatened to haunt me if I didn't!) We didn't mind going with her twice a year, because it was important to her, but I'm not one to visit graves. I don't feel closer to the deceased being near their grave... THEY AREN'T IN THERE! I feel closer to Webb, or better said, I can enjoy his memory better, by producing a few tears in my eyes, squinching them up and gazing at the Christmas tree. He would sit in front of the tree producing his homemade kaleidoscope for hours. He also loved to sit by the fire waiting for the flame to fade so he could blow on it and (presto!) make fire. Oh how proud he was when it would flame up! He would get dizzy drunk trying to blow to life a dead fire.
As for Ma, I enjoy Christmas memories of her better when, for example, I make Lula's dressing. Every year I would forget how to make it and call Ma, and every year she would forget as well and have me call Lula. Thank heavens we wrote it down before Lula passed.
Momma insisted on making Christmas dinner to the very end. In fact, she had Will wheel her out that last Christmas to do a couple of things even though she was bedridden. That doesn't mean she was always successful. A couple of years before she died she made cornbread. When she took it out of the oven, it was literally flatter than a pancake! She hadn't used self-rising corn meal, and had forgotten to add leavening. I'll never forget the look on her face when she pulled it out the oven. We laughed so hard we wept! In fact, she had me shellac it and tote it to the beauty shop to share the laughs.
Anyway, we'd go to Florence twice a year, stop by Cain's BBQ to eat, and Bill would buy a little stockpile of BBQ for the freezer. That reminds me of Daddy, whose grave I saw just once at his funeral. I'd rather remember him teaching Sarah Grace how to make his coleslaw (for said BBQ) shortly before he passed away. Oh how proud he was to show her how to meticulously cut each little strip of cabbage just so.
I know many people take comfort in visiting graveyards and that's okay. If any of my children wanted to visit Hank's grave, I'd gladly indulge them. What I wouldn't indulge is them writing notes to him or speaking to him. God calls that necromancy and it's a sin. It never ceases to amaze me when Protestants get all over Roman Catholics for talking to the saints, and then turn around and write a letter to dead Papa on his flower arrangement.
I know we have to renew our minds to the Word of God to keep from slipping into some of that hyper-sentimental stuff that is so not spiritual. If we were having meetings in accordance with the Apostle Paul's instructions, we would avoid some of these childish things. 1 Corinthians 14:26 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. We would each have the opportunity to share something like how the Lord stopped me from talking to Momma in her casket.
This week I had a pang of sadness because I wouldn't be buying a toy Hess truck after a 21 year tradition. I bought them for most of the boys at some point, but Webb took them over straight away. He loved those trucks, and each one was a hit. I actually toyed with the idea of buying one and giving it to charity as some kind of tribute to Webb. With us being late on some of our payments, and not buying our other children presents, does that make sense? Well, I think it does if you're a drama queen, and believe me, my grief has tried to take me there many times, but the Lord just says, "Really?," and I snap out of it. That kind of sappy stuff does not glorify him. Over-sentimentality can be a counterfeit for true spirituality. That's why I loathe Christian bookstores with all their trinkets and fads and junk. I used to love all that "Footprints in the Sand" stuff.
Don't get me wrong, the Lord is wonderfully sentimental. I love that he saves my tears in a bottle and keeps my prayers recorded in his book. He calls me by a nickname and will one day give me a new name written in a white stone before the wedding feast of the lamb, where he says he will serve US! I wonder how I could possibly let him serve me? He also says he won't drink wine again until that day when he enjoys it with his bride, the church. Oh, he's sentimental and "romantic," alright, but that kind of intimacy is reserved for his bride. Before I got the new birth, I was just outside of the intimacy to hear his voice and walk with him. I loved him, but I only knew of him. I didn't actually hear him and know him, so I entertained notions that weren't true in my desire to follow him.
Anyway, for the graves, I found pretty little sprays that were slightly frosted with greenery, red berries, and dainty pine cones for 60% off. I already had a roll of elegant sheer gold ribbon with that exact motif, which went together perfectly, so I made, as usual, the thirteen needed... only to get there and realize Ma and Webb made it FIFTEEN NEEDED! No, I did not short Ma and Webb. I shorted one of the older graves of some poor soul who was a Waring by marriage, and a Confederate soldier who was on an entirely different row. I was so disgusted with myself that Bill insisted he drive back today (3 hours round trip), to place two more. I appreciated the offer, but honest to God, that is the silliest thing ever. Think about it. None of those dead people know about or are enjoying those pretty little sprays. In fact, there are no live people who go to those graves to enjoy those pretty little sprays. Momma can try to haunt me all she wants, but Bill is NOT making that stupid trip again on Christmas eve. There's your freedom in Christ.
Yesterday Bill and I reveled in our freedom of sharing about our financial situation and telling of the Lord's mighty hand, not that we ever want to poor mouth, but with the new birth comes freedom from secrets and clandestine living. Like our lives, our checkbook is an open book. We'd show anyone who wanted to see where we've been and where we are. (By the way, for necessary clarification, when I said Bill had no problem incurring credit card debt, it should be known that he didn't enjoy it, he simply allowed it. Furthermore, I will reiterate that he never once borrowed money from my father, which was a false accusation made against him.)
It's that freedom that is worthy of celebration... freedom from sin, freedom from shame, freedom from secrets, freedom from silly traditions and unscriptural practices, freedom from melodramatic sentimentality, freedom from trying to impress, freedom from pride of life, freedom from houses and cars and things and all the world... freedom to be, as the Lord says, a slave to righteousness! Isn't that just awesome? Isn't that the funniest thing ever to have the freedom to be a slave? Oh, Lord, that tickles me so.
I should get on with the precooking, but I also wanted to mention a couple of things I forgot in my last post. One, Mrs. Sarah treated us to cookbooks on British cuisine (didn't know there was such a thing, eh? I'm kidding.) And since one of the things we wanted to do together was cook, that worked out perfectly! We also have sources for British staples, condiments, meats, etc., so maybe we can learn a homey meal for Billy before he comes back in the next couple or three months. And two, I got sidetracked off of Billy before I declared that I love him to pieces... so, I do declare.