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1. Never sneeze with half-chewed nuts in your mouth. I’m still picking bits out of my hair.

2. If your wife makes something for the potluck, remember to actually bring it. (Owen, that’s you I’m talking to.)

3. Folks can say in one breath that they voted for Trump because he is pro-life, yet in the next breath fully countenance the forcible removal of immigrants, the yanking of health care to thousands — making pregnancy a “pre-existing condition,” while simultaneously denying prenatal care, and failing to understand why Black Lives Matter.

4. When one only has herself to cook for, one tends to eat sporadically and strangely. Creamed kale for supper, anyone?

5. God makes God’s-self known in loud trumpeting…and barely perceivable whispers. Both. I am much better at hearing the trumpeting. Although it is jolting.

6. As a brilliant artist friend reminded me with his painting of Jeremiah being lifted from the cistern (the biblical prophet’s enemies throw him into a dry cistern; a court official rescues him, not just with rope, but — thoughtfully — with pieces of cloth to place under his arms while he is being lifted, so the ropes don’t chafe him), you can lift a person up by throwing them a line and expecting them to be grateful for it, OR you can lift someone up with special attention to their individual needs — i.e., gently. How do you lift people up?

7. There is always a third option: To not lift people up at all. This is becoming less and less acceptable to me, yet more and more common in the world.

8. I need to speak less and listen more. This will render me pretty much selectively mute. That’s okay; the world has enough noise in it. It will, however, make phone calls awkward.

9. I need a nap. A year or two ought to do it. Now, if you’ll excuse me….

Do you know how much one round of chemotherapy costs? Well, I’m sure it varies somewhat, but in small-town Georgia it costs $14,000. For one round. My sister has had two rounds so far, and she’s going to continue to receive treatments for six to eight months on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. Sure, her insurance covers some of that — $9,000 dollars, to be exact. So, three weeks into her diagnosis, she’s already $10,000 in the hole. And it’s only gonna get worse.

My sister is a teacher, and I don’t need to tell you just how underpaid that makes her, especially since teachers (at least in her state) are obligated to continue their studies…which means she’s still in debt for the cost of her Master’s degree. She’s also divorced, not an uncommon state in this country. Her husband is living with a younger woman now, and is uninterested in defraying the cost of their three sons’ health and welfare, let alone my sister’s.

I wish I could say she was in an unusual or rare situation, but I fear she’s not. She can’t be the only one out there staggering under this sort of burden. Which makes me even more livid when I think about the strong tide of resistance to Obama’s health care plan.

People are livid about it. And I just don’t understand why. How could helping those most in need be a bad idea…ever? I don’t care about political rhetoric. I’m sick of hearing excuses, reasons, arguments. A nationwide healthcare plan will help those most vulnerable, most likely to drown in the morass that is our current health care system. People like my sister.

So I don’t care why you oppose it. It is the kindest, most Christian thing we can do as a country to provide health care to everyone — not just those with the money and power to choose. Anyone who stands against it, for whatever reason, I am telling you that you are wrong. You are killing people.

Granted, I am not exactly the most reasonable person on this subject. Just thinking of my sister’s plight makes me crazy. But I know right from wrong. And affordable health care for everybody is right. It’s a truth I feel in my bones, as Ruth might say. If we want to call ourselves a nation of believers, it’s time to start walking the walk. Politics be damned.

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Have a Mary Little Christmas

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