Disposal

The other day at work I had the unusual job of sorting through donated Christmas decorations.  The donations came from the husband of a woman that supported the organization. She, unfortunately, passed away over the summer.  The widower was now in a convalescent center. A friend of his helped him collect their old Christmas decorations and deliver them to us to be donated to families in our housing program.  It was shared that this gesture of giving was in honor of her love for Christmas and desire to help others. Very kind.

Late Friday afternoon I set up a staging table to sort through the five boxes of decorations, dividing them up into containers for delivery later that day. Some items were in better shape than others. With each item I wondered, perhaps, it held a special place in someone’s heart and memory. These were precious to someone at one time.

A couple of times I felt myself getting spooked out by it, I’ll be honest. However, reason dominated the afternoon.  Decorations are not HOLY items that require special handling.  They are not Mezuzah’s for example; old or broken Mezuzahs MUST NOT be thrown away but buried.

“Even though it is the scroll that is the mitzvah, the case also becomes holy because it is used for a Mitzvah. Therefore the case should be brought to a genizah – that is a place where holy items are brought to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.”

The embroidered caricature ornaments of Mr. and Mrs. Clause or a broken snowglobe with a water-bubbled Frosty, arms full of presents, do not require special disposal like sacred communion wine and baptismal water.  Leftover blessed communion wine and the vessels used for serving MUST be washed in a sink that empties out into the ground.

“A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. For Roman Catholic’s sacrarium is a “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system”

Religion fascinates me.  All these different rules, detailed rules, stifling rules, people make up for the brand distinction.  Of course, at the root of many religious rules is the respect for the object and what it represents, such as the Word of God or the Blood of Christ.  So, how do you categorize a ripped 1978 cross-stitched fabric wall banner of a geriatric man with fancy cherry-red lips proclaiming  “HO! HO! HO!” that hung on a wall 23 days a year for 42 years?  CAN it be thrown away, in the trash, to the landfill?  Why yes it can—and it does.

The newsletter for Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling Center located in Redwood City, CA, USA, reported Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!

PSSI and SRC suggest some rules: reduce, reuse.  

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

It is a delight for all non-profits to receive donations of any size shape and configuration. After going full circle in my thoughts I was happy that this family decided to donate their Christmas decorations to less fortunate families.  Standing over my staging table, I wondered at the stuff, so much stuff. I sorted through each shoebox, bag, and large plastic containers of Christmas ribbon and plastic snowflakes, Christmas candleholders, Christmas ornaments made of glass, plastic, ceramic, tinsel and yarn, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas banners, tree garland, Christmas wreaths for the table and front door, Christmas votives and Christmas coffee cups.  Whoever wanted a bag of evenly distributed items, they was ready.  I tossed out the few old and broken and passed forward future memory makers.

Here are some 2020 ornaments that caught my attention. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Hope you are safe, warm, and bubbled up with folks you can tolerate.

Did he ever imagine while in medical school THIS would happen?
There are MANY like this, but the description -lol! “Commemorative 2020 Flickering Dumpster Fire Ornament – Limited Edition Christmas Gift
F-Bombs? YES! I dropped many of these throughout the year and well, the last four years TBH.
No thanks, I hate it.
RGB remembered
This year is not a shining star, and I don’t want to forget it. 2021 is a steep hill for countries, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and families to climb. We will never be ‘normal’ again. This year changed the world because it changed people, challenged us, hurt us all over. Let’s build something great from the ashes & rubble.

*******

Sources
https://mezuzahstore.com/blogs/mezuzah-blog/2719082-how-to-dispose-of-a-mezuzah-case

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piscina

https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

https://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/AccidentallyPerfect/19122711/_f_bomb_2020_holiday_ornament

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-54878910

Poem: For Selene

photo credit borgenmagazine.com

For Selene

by Shannon Laws

 

The Earth’s weavers are busy
their low wages and long hours
fruit of their labors stolen
by mouthless machines

nature weaves for us a
marvelous blanket
new every morning
No one questions the cost

We stand peacefully in line
wait for our treats
listen to hits of the 80’s
to drown out the sound
of meat grinding

Time for Ham

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

2013 marks the fifth anniversary of my blog “Madrona Grove”.  In a moment of reflection I found much to be thankful for, and did not need to look far to find faces of many good friends who have blessed my personal timeline.  Life is a journey, always better with company.  So to follow a MG tradition I’m posting my Ham blog.  Posted every holiday for about four years now, this little TRUE story shows up bringing with it a reminder of how important tradition is, but that knowing WHY we do what we do is just as important as the performance.

The boys, oh, I mean the SPLaws office staff, and I are working on our Christmas video card that will post here soon.  Please keep an eye out for it.  Until then keep warm, be happy… and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

*****

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham.

The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?”
“Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.”
“Why?”, asks the daughter.
“I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”

They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”

The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family.
“G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

Lesson:
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, 
so that you don’t waste any ham.
Happy Christmas! 
***

Christmas Card 2012

Thank you for visiting Madrona Grove.
With over 16,500 visitors in two years, you
have given me a wonderful present!
In a few weeks I’ll launch the first poetry book from this blog:
“Madrona Grove:  Poems Written Under the Canopy”
My “staff” and I will make sure you’ll know how to purchase
a copy for your collection when it becomes available.
Meanwhile, please enjoy this holiday video card of myself and
the “staff” on a recent work retreat to Mt Baker, and a little
Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets.
~Cheers!

 

White Eyes 
by Mary Oliver
In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.