It is right to give thanks and praise…

It is indeed right.  It is our duty and our joy.

It certainly is.  What am I talking about?  Let us, as the psychiatrists say, go back to childhood.

When I was celebrating my birthday as army brat living in Germany, my mum would make me sit down at the kitchen table to write thank-you letters to my grandparents for my birthday money – even for the £1 note that my Grandma would send me.  And not just:

Thanks for the money you sent me.
Love,
Ginge in Germany

No, it had to be properly constructed – followed by a guaranteed ten-minute nagging session of my mother about how scruffy my handwriting was.   Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I hope you are well.  Thank you for the £1 birthday present.  It was a very nice surprise. 
I will use the money to buy a very nice book that I saw in the shop last week.  It is all about dinosaurs.  I think it will be very interesting.  It has lots of pictures of triceratops, which is my favourite dinosaur. 
Love,
Ginge in Germany

And actually, I do think writing such a letter and expressing gratitude is a very worthwhile exercise.

manners

Last year, one church council meeting just before the summer holidays started, we had a lengthy discussion about how to encourage members of congregation to give of their time to church, whether that be as:

  • Sidesperson
  • Catering staff
  • Intercessions
  • Readings
  • Cleaning
  • Maintenance
  • Sunday school helper
  • etc etc etc

I suggested a simple way: go back to childhood habits.   Send a handwritten thank you card to everyone who hase given of their time to church.  I’ve never been a backseat driver.  I rarely say:

Someone should do that.

I say:

I will do that.

The day after that meeting, I spent three hours in the church meeting room, fountain pen by my side, bottle of navy blue ink by my side, a pile of dm thank-you card (50 cents each – bargain!) on the table in front of me.  Oh yes, and a few sheets of postage stamps (non-self-adhesive), also on the table next to my church directory.

Card to:

  • Adrian Aardvark…
  • Billy and Sally Boyne…
  • Carol Cardomah…
  • Zachary Zilman

…finished.  (Time for a cup of tea.)

Total number of cards sent last year: 33.  I counted every single one of them.  Not bad, when you consider our congregation consists of about 90 people.

What was the reaction?  They loved it.  I had so many people coming up to me at the next service after the cards were sent, saying,

Hey, thank you so much for your card.  I wondered what it was when I came back off holiday!  Really nice to be appreciated.

This year I decided to do the same.  I just hope I haven’t missed anybody out.  On the way to my office I had to stop off that local post to ask the nice lady who works there for some nice, attractive stamps.

And here they are…

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After several hours – the finished product!

It is good to show proper appreciation at least once a year to volunteer, who do so much for our church.  People appreciate being appreciated.  Say it with flowers a handwritten card!

This year: 37 cards sent.

Have an appreciative day, won’t you!

Feiertag

Feiertag: a German public holiday.  The streets looked until 10am like a curfew had been imposed.  All the shops shut.  (A bit like England used to look on Sundays till about 30 years ago, when the Sunday trading laws were liberalised.)  A few cafes open.  Maybe also a few kiosks.

My routine was as follows.

05:41: Wake up as per any “school day.”  I lie in bed and listen to BBC Radio 5 and then change stations to BBC Radio Tees.

08:20: I climb out of my bed.  Time to make use of the day.

08:30: Time to sort out my flat.  Tidying first.  Then cleaning.  Living  room half-sorted.  Bathroom cleaned, except for the toilet and floor.  Bath and sink now shining.  I take a few breaks to forward a few cartoons via WhatsApp.  Back to cleaning and tidying.  And laundry.  And more laundry.

09:59: I head out to my local cafe for brunch and to get some fresh air on this cloudy, overcast day.

11:00: Feeling “matschig” (fidgety), I call a friend.  We arrange to meet at 13:00 in his part of the city for coffee and chat.

12:00: I sit in the cafe, reading my copy of Creative Writing for Dummies and writing in my diary.  Nice not to have to use my brain too much.  Nice to be away from a screen.

13:00: My friend arrives.  We chat.  We have a good catch-up.  He does not talk about his ailments.  Bonus!

14:00: I head back home via the main train station, the Hbf.  En route to the Hbf, I start day-dreaming about cleaning materials.  Should I get the apple-scented wipes, or the lemon-scented wipes?  I decide to get both.  I go to DM (sort-of-ish the German equivalent of Boots or Superdrug).  I stock up on apple-scented wipes, lemon-scented wipes, a nail brush, toilet cleaner, washing-up liquid, and much, much more.  €20 later, I feel a spring in my step.  All these cleaning products to make my flat look spotless.

Then it hits me.  I have become middle-aged.  The highlight of my day was not brunch, or meeting up with a mate, or going for a walk or cycle ride.  It was the trip to DM.  Retail therapy!

Have a spotless day, won’t you!

person wearing pair of yellow rubber gloves

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

 

Scrapbook: Memory

My scrapbook had been pretty dormant the past two or three years, new content being mainly service sheets for funerals of members of the congregation where I’ve attended as church warden/verger/dogsbody.

One item that I will always appreciate is the regimental condolence card that the SLOB’s (Scarlet Lancers Old Boys) sent me after my Dad, Sunray, died on 16 January this year.  A British Army cavalry regiment is truly a band of brothers.

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The words on the inside of the card come from the regimental song, Old Stable Jacket. Sing mit!

Have a brotherly day, won’t you!

Not a Coincidence – a God-incidence

We often talk about coincidences when it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Let’s wind back to Saturday just gone.

I was feeling tired and almost decided to head directly back home for a power nap, not go shopping, but order pizza for evening meal. Instead, I forced myself to go to the local supermarket en route, mainly because I had a craving for their banana split ice cream.

I went and did my shopping.

I was then proceeding in an easterly direction out of my local Aldi, when I noticed two elderly men near the entrance, one of whom was spitting onto the ground. It turned out he was spitting blood, having had quite a nasty fall.

It turned out that our man spoke hardly a word of German. His mother tongue was, however, Russian, so I was asked to help out while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I then acted as interpreter between him and the medics, including taking down his medical history. I had forgotten the Russian word for “diabetes”, so I asked him, “Do you have the illness where you have sugar in your blood?”

I explained to him that the paramedics would now take him to the hospital, where they would do a more substantial assessment and get a dentist to stitch up his lip which he had bitten quite badly as he fell.

Job done.  I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

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Have an incidental day, won’t you!

A Quarter of A Century

“A quarter of a century” sounds (to my ear) like a longer time than “twenty-five years.”  It’s a quarter of a century since I last had cause to speak Slovene, a South Slavonic language, spoken, funnily enough, in Slovenia, ex-Yugoslavia.

How did I end up studying Slovene?  Lots of reasons.

  • It was a final-year option on my degree course (BA Russian Studies, University of Nottingham).
  • It saved me having to take a literature option.
  • I thought it would be easy to learn, having done Russian and Serbo-Croat
    • It was not to be.  I kept on using words from Russian and “naš jezik”, much to the annoyance of our Slovene lectrice…

Then today I read a very thought-provoking article on the BBC News website, all about graduates coping after they finished university.  It drew for me comparisons with service personnel leaving HM Forces.  My Dad’s words after he left the employment of the Queen after 22 years were:

I felt like a fish out of water.

That’s how I felt in the summer of 1993.  After nearly two decades in education, including kindergarten, here I was at the Job Centre.

  • What career did I want?
    • No idea.  I just wanted a job, just to pay the bills.
  • Where did I want to be?
    • No idea.  Ideally back at university, studying, but I needed to get a job and like the ex-HMF people, get used to Civvy Street.
  • What next?
    • There was no daddy to speak to one his mates to get me an internship or job in his firm.  There were no graduates in my family to help guide me.  Just armchair experts.

Twenty-five years later, here I am in Germany.  In life the journey is the destination.

Have a careerist day, won’t you!