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Mothers, if it were not for them, none of us would be here. To be quite frank, we would not be nearly as far along if it were not for them either. They cajoled disciplined and terrified us into knowing what was right and what was wrong.
It was no many of us who did not decide that what was right was what Mom wanted us to do. Furthermore, we also knew perhaps even stronger than the first was that wrong was whatever Mom did NOT want us to do. Of course it did not make any philosophical sense at the time, but it sure made sense in the seat of our deepest understanding.
By in large Mom was right. Now that I am older and older still, I find that those values that were instilled in me so long ago are still very much a part of what I am doing now and how I am living now.
Mom taught me in no uncertain terms to never be ashamed of my ethnic heritage but to be proud of it. When I had a chance to identify with it I should. She led the way by example.
If she were ever confronted by a threat to her ethnic identity, that threat was rebuffed in no uncertain terms. I felt sorry for those that drew the ire of Mom because of a snide comment, openly racist slur or a devilish sneer.
On the positive side my identity in my ethnic heritage was paraded among festive holidays, community events and even the presence of art and literature in our home. She signed me up for a community drum and bugle corps experience that our whole family embraced.
Ethnic food was more than just doing what was familiar. It was a wonderful and prefered option for all of us. She was a masterful cook of Chinese cuisine. Her skills gave to all of us a standard to measure the best in Cantonese food.
Mom of course was our perpetual chauffeur. She drove us from one event to the next. She was also my primary typist for papers in High School. It became her reason to send me to typing school just to get a respite from the pounding keys.
I was a late bloomer. She never had much to celebrate in my early years. But, in college and graduate school, she had a reason to smile. Mom being there made those special events very special. Thanks MOM!
My earliest memories of a terrific family vacation is Santa Cruz. Our family of six would pile into our ’46 Chevy and motor our way to a cheap hotel with at least two and sometimes three per bed. Good memories of the boardwalk, beach, pier, sunburns and seafood blend together.
Those recollections of yesteryear made it an easy choice when my bride and I had a day with no plans and we loaded up our rental car in San Jose. Wow, let’s go to Santa Cruz for lunch and drive up Highway 1 to San Francisco. Sure!
We wound our way into traffic on Highway 17. Carefully, we navigated the narrow two-lane road along with thousands of other travelers. While the beauty surrounding me was flying past, I fixated on a safe drive around blind turns, tight turns, big rig trucks and of course the not-to-in-frequent speedy sports car.
The weather was perfect on this November day. Strong sun rays blasted through the tall stand of firs and redwoods. Blue skies with cotton ball cumulus clouds decorated the skies above the busy roads.
Our table was next to the picture window, a perfect description for our seascape view. The river from the harbor meandered below us. Its waters were disturbed by a playful otter, hungry pelicans, squawking seagulls and several sail boats navigating upstream.
In the distance the beaches of the Boardwalk stretched out while the endless surf licked at the sandy strip of land. The famous Santa Cruz pier that supported many of my childhood walks reached out into the salty waters as it has for decades.
The sun was low in the afternoon sky. It showered all of us coast lovers with warmth, light and healthy doses vitamin D. Visiting this favored destination of mine was topped by the serving of a delicious lunch.
Alongside were three planks of Alaska cod. They were dressed in beer batter with excellent tartar sauce. It was fabulous. So many of the reasons that I treasure this vacation spot flood my mine and now just a few I share with you.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography
The gathering details took on shape in my mind. I remembered that it was a Hof Brau. Surely, that had to mean that a varied fare was awaiting us and not just BBQ.
Our journey had us laughing. As we cruised down the freeway, Karen, our GPS guide had us exiting the freeway, doing u-turns, jumping back on the freeway and taking a general tour of neighborhoods on either side of the interstate. We both just laughed and kept on course.
Finally, she must have gotten her circuits clear. We started to converge on the same route together. But, I got there a lot faster.
For us Bay Area types the first thing that I noticed was the ample parking. Yvonne noticed the pleasant warm weather. Both of us got a deep sense of the “hungries” when the aroma of the German food filled our nostrils.
The front doors welcomed our entry. What was spectacular was the side-show next to the entrance. A large turkey was on a spit and slowly turning as it browned, simmered and dripped with flavorful juices. Yum!
When I was a young boy our family would visit a Hof Brau in Sacramento. It was a treat. My parents would splurge and order me a turkey drumstick all to myself.
That was a memory that is deeply imbedded in my psyche. Holding on to that drum with both hands and burying my face into the succulent tender meat was a boy’s dream. Aren’t memories grand?
Like a little kid reliving a favorite experience, I scanned the menu board. This Hof Brau offered those amazing options of Pastrami, Roast Beef, Turkey and a few creative options that my eyes never took in. Instead, my attention was locked into the turkey drum stick meal.
When the chef asked for my order, my smile must have given me away, “Turkey drum stick meal, please.” His response was reminiscent of shared childhood delight, “Excellent choice, sir.” I shared a knowing smile with a complete stranger.
My plate was handed to me on a tray and the aroma was heavenly. Our grace spoken over this meal was sincere. My last bite on a clean bone was as delicious as the first.
photo credit: google image
But, it is only a momentary elation. I turned around and looked at another corner of my basement, sighed deeply, moved two boxes and give up for the day. It’s ENDLESS! Where did all of this stuff come from in the past ten years?
Oh, yeah, I know that we have had endless memories here. Our kids have joined us for many memorable Christmas celebrations. Each year our creativity gathered more stuff. It wasn’t a lot. But, the cumulative effect gets stacked up in the corners of our basement.
Now, that it was time to move I could relive some of those creative sensations. The charge to reduce stuff paused several times. I loved reliving some of those moments.
I picked up a 2×4 platform. It was a simple rectangle with custom wedges on the bottom. That was something that I built to mount an animated deer on the roof for our first Christmas in the mitten state.
Whenever we drove up to the house, he was welcoming us during the season celebrating the birth of Jesus. Several times during our Midwest stay we enjoyed a white Christmas. The snow lightly dusted our roof and made our deer seem right at home.
In our basement corner, I set aside the custom-made deer platform and smiled at the deer. I just had to enjoy him one more time. Look around for an outlet, I plugged him in. The lights illuminated and the head began to rotate.
Some of the lights were out. An entire leg remained dark. But, the animation was working fine. I patted my favorite decoration one more time, unplugged it and carried it to my truck for one final trip to the dumpster. I had no more room to bring him to California.
Good memories have memorials that remind me of excellent times in the past. My family smiled many times with our Christmases of years past. A lot of our laughing, teasing, nostalgic moments will never be lost but, for one cleansing project, I cleaned out a huge corner of my basement. A project completed was another satisfying moment in life that “endless” can be laid to rest.
photo credit: yahoo image
This is New Year’s Eve. The last hours of 2008 is a mere few hours away. It’s been meaningful to reflect over an amazing year.
Family rates up at the top of my favorite memories. Long talks, serious discussions, and fervent prayers pepper those relationships. Decisions that alter the lives of my children have not been uncommon this year. Each time the Lord has blessed, guided, and given affirmation when we have sought His wisdom together.
One of my hardest decisions was saying Good-bye to our Lhasa Apso, Dusty, after fifteen loyal years. He was such a character. But, in the end cancer won and a mercy decision was the right thing to do.
Friends shape and mold my soul more than any other situation in life. Laughter, provision, help, encouragement, advice, consolation, warning, smiles, tears, hugs, surprises, gestures, unspoken gazes, cheers and prayers are all a part of deepening what already exists between hearts knitted together with eternal threads. What would any of us do without our friends?
2008 was the year for privileged travel. My frequent flyer miles took me to Israel, South Korea, Quebec and South Africa. In those very special places I walked the land and met great people and experienced the blessing of God that before I only thought would be in my dreams.
I was also back in one of my favorite places in the world, Oregon. The beauty of the NW was refreshed in my soul. Visions of hikes below towering Douglas fir, gazing at majestic Mt. Hood, skipping along the shores of the vast Pacific Ocean, combing for sea shells on the endless beaches and smiling at jet skis spouting up giant rooster tails on the mighty Columbia River all contribute to the serenity that fills up my senses.
Back at home I love thinking about the lives of special people. Joint Heirs are members of the Adult Bible Fellowship that I teach. It is a treat to be their teacher.
Michigan Theological Seminary was a highlight. It’s an amazing collection of great people who are all deeply devoted to the Lord and determined to make a difference with their lives. God’s transformation of lives is a regular occurence in this place.
When it comes right down to what made 2008 special, it was all about people. I am grateful for those people that I love. Of course it is a blessing to also be loved by them. Happy New Year!