Location: Oregon, United States

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...

Time for the honest truth again. It's harder than I thought it would be to be far from family and friends during the Christmas season. As I decorated the tree, I pulled out ornaments that had been given to me by friends and family over the years. Then Bing Crosby started to sing "I'm Dreaming..." and "I'll be Home..." And, while we've had more snow than Minnesota thus far, the only precipitation we expect is (duh) more rain. So I'm feeling nostalgic and a little bummed.

But not too bummed. The beauty of having moved far away is that you can start all over and do whatever you want. And I don't want the chaos that Christmas had started to become in Minnesota. The only crazy thing about being far away is that you need to have had your Christmas shopping done a month ago so you can ship everything, which is a new reality to me. So some people are getting presents late. But, we've invited my folks here for the week before Christmas. We will see some sights, eat some seriously decent food and play board games with the kids. Meanwhile, Paul went home to New Ulm this weekend to spend time with his mom and family. From our conversations on the phone, this sounds like it was a very good visit. So, while this Christmas is a little scattered, we still have family time, good food and some presents to open. I think it will be just fine.

News Flash. Lately, the news in the paper is all about people getting stuck in the snow and rescue teams having to go and find them. Evidently, this is a common theme around this time of year. I read today that there were 24 people that had to be rescued on Mt. Hood alone last year. I find this amazing. I mean, it snows in Minnesota, but people don't get lost in it on a weekly basis. But here, when it snows in the mountains, it is like an instant blizzard and it sounds like you are buried before you can even turn your car around. Frankly, this is terrifying to me. We tend to be a little carefree about driving in the snow, like it's no big deal, and we scoff at the way people panic around here when there is a little on the road. But when you add the fact that there was probably freezing rain under the snow, there are no plows, no salt or gravel, and in higher elevations the chance of getting stranded, it starts to make more sense. At any rate, I'll be paying attention to the forecast before I go gallivanting off through the mountains.

Ride along. I had the opportunity to do a civilian ride-along with the police the other day. (In the front seat, where the good guys belong...). As a part of my outreach to youth, we thought it would be helpful to coordinate with the police, see what they consider to be the problem areas, etc. So I scheduled a ride along. The thing about it is, you don't get to choose what is going to happen that day, you just have to go with the flow. But serendipity ruled and we got called to an area high school where there had been an assault. It was a fascinating process from the perspective of a mental health worker, as there were several places where I would have thought it would be a good idea to involve a counselor or social worker and there was no one in sight. Instead, all the youth were suspended or expelled for their involvement and the school staff has marked them as trouble makers. Is this really supposed to solve anything? What is the expectation here? It sounds like sending your kid to their room to think about what they've done but their room has a t.v. and three game systems with online access. There will be no thinking going on except how to pick off the next enemy before they themselves get blown away. Hmm, is there a theme here? Rather, I would use the opportunity to hook up these kids and their families with some counseling, anger management, etc. (in addition to suspension/expulsion). Anyway, I had fun and hope to debrief with the school personnel some more to see if I missed something...


Blogger ~kelemira of gondor said...

oops, i was doing so good for the past month. i had a comment on every single one from here to the end o january.

4:17 PM  

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