Christmas Eve is pretty quiet at our house. We’ve been celebrating in various ways all month long.
SIL - our Son-In-Love graduated from seminary 11 days ago. The graduation was fairly close to where HH’s mother lives. Rather than fight the holiday traffic and make two long trips so close together, we decided to have Christmas with his mother a little early.
Giving gifts at Christmas has its roots in two places in the Bible. First, God’s incredible gift to us when he “gave his only Son”* Second, the wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus ** Gift giving can easily get out of hand, with the stress of thinking of a clever idea plus the pressure to spend too much.
HH’s family has grown pretty big, and buying gifts for everyone had become complicated. Some people stopped giving last year, and I thought they had a good idea. I sent an email saying we would be giving extended family gifts to those over 90 and those under 18. We have five great nieces. Buying gifts for them was a delight. Then I found a beautiful bird house that I knew HH’s mom would enjoy outside her window. When she mentioned another item that she really needed to replace, that side of the family Christmas shopping was complete.
Because this was a December graduation ceremony, the seminary used Christmas songs with double meanings. Joy to the World - for instance. I know that SIL was full of JOY not only for the birth of Christ but for the end of finals. The graduates marched out of the ceremony to the Hallelujah Chorus - again appropriate in several ways. It was a moving ceremony - watching these young men and women who have committed their lives to proclaiming the message of Christ at home and around the world.
Our Strong Son had to work on Friday, but he joined us at his grandmother’s house on Saturday. We had a happy visit, opening family gifts, and telling stories. HH’s mom’s memory is failing, but there is a certain joy to telling and retelling and retelling a happy story. Her delight was so real each time we told it again.
There were times, both in my health food days and in my early BTD days, when I worried about eating things at holidays that were not optimum for my health. Those days are now over. HH’s mom pulled out her credit card and sent us to the cafeteria to buy Christmas dinner. I could pick anything I wanted, and I chose wisely from a BTD standpoint. But I’ll admit there was a little sadness that the old days are gone. Perhaps if you are chafing under pressure to eat something on your avoid list this year at Christmas, you can project yourself forward a few years to a time when loving hands will no longer be able to prepare traditional food. Life is short...enjoy the holiday. You can return to healthy eating on December 26.
HH and I returned home for four days, then were off again. SIL has been called to a church in Texas near the beach. They asked if we would come and help them move in. We spent three days helping to install shelf paper and unload boxes. DD’s friends at her office had given her a baby shower. What fun it was to put the little clothes in the new nursery and imagine that next year at Christmas BC will be nine months old.
DD and SIL returned to North Texas for DD to finish out her last week at work. They will be spending Christmas Day with SIL’s family.
SS is coming home tonight after the Christmas Eve service at his church. I’ll be fixing a traditional South Texas Christmas dinner with a BTD touch.
The birth of the Christ Child was a miracle. That is why we celebrate Christmas. But in its own way every baby is a miracle. DD tells me that this week BC can taste and smell. Imagine that. Still three months from birth and BC’s senses are developing. Next year BC will be outside the womb, enjoying the taste and smell Christmas dinner, seeing the lights, and hearing for the first time, the story of Jesus and his birthday.
* For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17
** After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1, 2, 11
Yesterday as we came out of church, a friend of my husband’s motioned us over to his car. He grows plantains, and had brought a trunk full to share with friends. Plantains look so much like bananas, that I was anticipating a beneficial treat. However, when I got home and looked at the food lists, I saw that plantains are avoid for both Type As and Type Os. They are toxic for Hunters and marginal for Gatherers (the two GenoType I find myself stuck in between). It looks like plantains are just not good for us.
Since I had them, I sautéed one in butter and olive oil. I took a bite, expecting it to taste like a banana, but it was mostly tasteless. This is an avoid I can easily do without. I’ll peel the rest of the plantains and put them in the back yard for the deer and the bunnies. As cold as it is, they will be happy to get them.
Eggplant is avoid for Type As and avoid for menopausal Type Os. However, there is an exception that lets us love one particular eggplant.
DD found a pregnancy app that gives a weekly update on how her unborn baby is developing. Today she is 26 weeks. BC is about 14 inches long and weighs about 2 pounds. His (or her) eyes are forming and will soon open. The app equates the baby’s size to a fruit or vegetable. The first time DD sent me results, BC was the size of a blueberry. How cute is that? BC has grown from a lime, to an onion, to a papaya. This week BC is the size of an eggplant.
What an active little eggplant BC is! The first time DD became aware of this was at her sonogram. The technician commented that it was hard to get certain views because the baby was moving so much.
SIL could hardly wait to feel his baby move. It wasn’t long until DD would put his hand on her belly and he could feel the kicks. Then he discovered that if he pushed, BC would push back. They began to “play” together. BC learned the sound of Daddy’s voice, and responds by kicking and punching. When SIL is preaching, BC moves a lot, responding to the sound of the voice that is already familiar in his (or her) little ears.
BC does NOT like the pressure of seatbelts or tight pants, and is quick to let DD know when she (or he) is uncomfortable. I have joked that they had better have a quick route for the hospital, because once the contractions of labor start, BC is going to be looking for the quickest way out.
This is not a blob of tissue. This is a baby who is already revealing preferences and personality traits. This may be the size of an eggplant, but this is not a fruit or a vegetable. This is a baby, who we love already and will get to hold in just 3 more months.
All babies are miracles. In this Christmas season, I find myself thinking of Mary. She would have been two weeks from delivery. What fruit or vegetable would the app have used to describe the Son of God? Was Jesus active or patient in the womb? Did she smile when she felt the kicks and punches?
Oh my! It’s the second week of December! Where has the time gone? DD is in the 25th week of her pregnancy. The trials of the first trimester are forgotten. The second trimester was a time of energy and good health. She is now at the beginning of the third trimester.
Some missionary friends are in the United States for a holiday with their family at Christmas. We have been good friends for nearly 40 years, so when they asked if we could meet for dinner, we cancelled other things on the calendar.
They selected a restaurant in San Antonio called Sea Island Shrimp House as a place about half way between our locations. I’ll admit that my face fell when they selected that restaurant. I first ate there about 30 years ago. The menu at that time was fried fish, fried shrimp, and French fries. There is little worse for a health food nut, like me, to face in a restaurant than fried, fried, and more fried.
About 10 years ago friends again asked us to meet them at Sea Island. I ate a snack before I went, anticipating all of the fried food. Surprise! Salad was added to the menu.
I entered the restaurant last night, expecting to eat a nice seafood salad. Surprise again! They now have broiled fish and several alternate vegetables including green beans and spinach. I had a lovely meal of white fish with vegetables. One of our friends is gluten free. It turns out that they had never eaten at Sea Island, they were trusting the recommendation of someone else. When I told her what the restaurant used to be, her eyes grew big. She had rainbow trout with rice pilaf and spinach.
Kudos to Sea Island for their new, healthy menu. As we looked around the restaurant, more than half of the patrons were eating fried fish and French fries. That’s ok. This is a free country! I know that when I eat there, I can get a healthy meal. I expect that we will eat there more often when we are in the San Antonio area.
One of my big clients did a seminar on aging gracefully. My little company was involved with pre-publicity, handouts for the seminar, and photographing the event. There were five speakers from a Texas medical school. Of the five, three were fascinating, one was interesting, and one disagreed with everything I believe about nutrition.
The first speaker was a doctor who specializes in eye diseases of the elderly. He encouraged the audience to put a piece of graph paper on the refrigerator door. He said to look at it every few weeks, with one eye at a time. If you notice a spot where the lines appear wavy or disconnected, it's time to be evaluated for macular degeneration.
I was shocked but delighted, to hear this doctor endorse supplements. He said that C 500, E 400, Beta Carotene, Zinc, and Copper would not prevent macular degeneration, but would slow its process. Some patients, however, have not done well on Beta Carotene and Zinc. Researchers have found that Lutein, zeaxanthin, and bilberry have much the same effect on the eyes, but without the difficulties. Lutein and billberry are two of the supplements that my research led me to take after the sudden appearance in my right eye of a large floater.
The second speaker talked about frailty. Two elderly patients can come to the doctor with identical complaints. One recovers in a few weeks; the other declines and drops to a lower quality of life because of frailty. A lifestyle that includes exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week was her recommendation to prevent frailty. She also cautioned against being either underweight or overweight, saying there was danger in both. She urged the audience to find out their BMI and keep it normal.
Speaker three was about Alzheimer’s research. I was taking pictures, so I could not take notes on the long words, but here is the big picture. Rapamycin is a drug that has been used for transplant patients, and shows promise in extending the lifespan of test animals. Recent tests have showed that it can reverse the progress of dementia in mice that are pre-engineered to get Alzheimer’s. The videos showing mice before and after rapamycin treatment in a learning situation were incredible. This speaker is part of a team proceeding with further studies and they are very optimistic.
The fourth speaker was a dietitian who prompted the government diet. All I could think of as I listened and took pictures was that if I ate according to the chart that she had on the screen, I would have stomach inflammation and year round allergies. I felt sorry for her and wanted to say "I've been on the Blood Type Diet for ten years and don't take any prescription medications, how many do you take". But professional photographers are not wise to interject themselves into events in that way.
While this was a free event, registration was required. Part of the registration process was alerting the planners to any dietary needs. I said I was gluten free. Though I had helped design a lunch box for the event, I was still wondering how they would feed 350 people in the amount of time allotted for lunch. At noon a sliding panel in the convention center was opened and there were tables piled high with lunch boxes. All the boxes had sandwiches, fruit, and a cookie. There were four choices: turkey, ham, vegetarian, and gluten free. Another table was filled with bottles of water.
I grabbed my gluten free lunchbox and joined some friends at a table. I found a turkey sandwich on gluten free bread, a banana, and a gluten free brownie I wrote a blog last summer about suspicious ingredients in gluten free products. I haven’t had a sandwich in five years, and this one tasted delicious. The bread had a good texture and flavor. The brownie was moist and chewy and wonderful in every way. I began thinking that I might reconsider my opinion about gluten free marketing. Two days later, as the bread and brownie worked their way through my digestive system, I became gassy. My poop (pardon graphic language, but if you are considering these products, you need to know) was sticky and hard to expel. I stand by my August blog. Dark Side of Gluten Free
The keynote speaker after lunch was the least technical of the five. He painted a picture of how attitudes and treatments for aging have changed over the years. He pointed to enormous advancements and hope for improving both quality and length of life in the future. Comments after the seminar were extremely positive. There are already discussions about this being the “first annual” event.
I am a part of two groups of people who are in the news.
As an independent contractor, my business has picked up the pace this year. It's not that the economy is good. If you look at any indicator except the stock market, the economy is flat at best and perhaps shrinking.
While that is bad for people who need solid full time jobs - it is great for independent contractors like me. A company that does not want to hire someone full time to do their media work, hires me by the job. They don't have to pay me every day - just the hours I work. They don't have to give me vacation time or pay my health insurance. They just pay by the job.
I started out planning to work 20 hours a week - 30 at the most. The past month, I've come close to working a full 40 hour week. My husband is starting to complain. He had a different plan for retirement.
We took a two day trip to see some Texas historical sites. It would have been a good blog, but I worked both nights from our hotel room. There are so many things I want to blog about BC, but there is no time to write. I love blogging, but my paying clients take precedence over my volunteer jobs.
So when you see a news report about increasing numbers of people doing contract work or part time jobs - that's me. Great for retirement, but not so great for parents or people trying to pay off mortgages.
The second way I am in the news is that I have lost my health care insurance. When my husband retired, part of his retirement package was medical insurance for both of us. At first it was fully funded by the company, but as prices have risen, we picked up part of the cost. Two months ago, we got a letter saying that our plan was cancelled. The company will still pay part of HH's Medicare supplement, but they will no longer provide me with anything.
When he signed up for the Medicare supplement, he found out that he will be paying the same for the supplement as we used to pay for both of us together. So far, I haven't even been able to get a quote about what plans are available to me and what the cost will be.
When you hear news reports about how many millions or what percent of Americans are losing their health care coverage...they are writing about me. I'm not a statistic. I'm a real person, 60 years old, with no good choices.