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As often happens, Lori’s post spoke to me.  Our family has known a great deal of stress lately with my MIL’s hospitalization, emptying her house and moving her to St. Louis (in one week), cleaning out my father’s house another week, and my son not getting to go to the college of his choice.

In the midst of all this, I got one of those calls.  Alex needed a ride.  Oddly enough, my son’s name isn’t Alex, but Alex and his older brother are friends of my son. Their mom died this winter and dad got divorced this spring.  Good bye, Mom.  Good bye, Stepmom.  Dad found a new job but he’s working retail hours with retail pay. I found out what this means when I fed the boys mac-n-cheese.  It’s good but it isn’t pick-me-up-off-the-floor good.  Apparently they’ve been living on pizza rolls.

As my grandmother would say, that got my German up.  I’ve fed them three times in the past week and they’re on a weekend trip now with my husband and son. Alex is comfortable enough now to ask me for things himself, instead of going through my son, and even teases me about being short.

Amidst all of this, I made it to choir practice on Thursday.  It is our last practice for the summer because our director may be facing hand surgery.  She’s scared and stressed and it showed.  When she asked several of us to sing solos this summer, I knew how to make her smile.  I suggested songs from the Veggie Tales.

Our choir director had never heard the Vegie Tales so we sang various songs for her.  We learned that one soprano does a spot on Larry Boy imitation. She sang Oh Santa.  Another soprano sang The Hairbrush Song.  I launched into Terrors of the Sea (We’re Vikings). By the time we were done, everyone was in stitches.  Seriously, you’d have thought we’d been drinking if you didn’t know how silly we can be.  Even when feeding extra boys and facing surgery.

God gives us laughter and we’re silly not to use it.  Laugh and feel closer to the God who made me, at 5’8”, the short one in the house.  God really does have a sense of humor.


It’s the land of tall tales and hero stories, a place where we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and reach for the American dream. So why do so many of us prefer to wallow in our misery? Why do ordinary conversations turn into one-upmanship of the gloomy variety? Feeling sick? Well, I have a chronic illness and a dead-end job. Really? I can go you one better — I’m sick, embattled, and the world is out to get me!

Maybe it’s in our roots. The Pilgrims schlepped over here on the Mayflower because they were being persecuted for their faith. First thing they did? Persecute others for their faith. The list of victims grew. After awhile, it became a culture. Everyone knows a person (sadly, usually a woman) who uses her endless list of misfortunes to gain pity, caring, even a sad simulacrum of love. Why? Why would anyone want to be important for being harried, put-upon, miserable?

Maybe they don’t think they can do any better. Perhaps their low self-esteem keeps them from believing they can do great things. Or, maybe, the victim role works. Their plight is so desperate, others can’t help but admire them: “Look at that plucky little lady! Look at how she suffers, yet bears it all somehow!”

Yes, there are those who are truly burdened, but they generally aren’t the ones moaning about it. They’re the ones doing something about it. It’s time to give up voluntary martyrdom. We’re better than this, America.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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