Perhaps you have noticed there has been a lot of stay indoors weather lately. Although you could have caught me griping about it as much as anyone, I really fare better than the outdoor types whose idea of fun is strenuous athletic activity or a hard day’s work in the garden. Many of my favorite things can be enjoyed sitting quietly in a chair or lying on my back while the snow blows outside almost unnoticed.
Some of my friends and relatives catered to those tastes at Christmastime, so I’ve been content. One friend gave me a recent book in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series. If you aren’t familiar with those, you’re missing a lot of fun. This one is titled “Uncle John Plunges into the Presidency.” I learned many interesting tidbits about the office, the White House, and its 43 historic occupants. Did you know, for example, that George Washington liked peanut soup, that Thomas Jefferson smuggled a variety of rice seed from France that is still raised in the South, or that some historians think James Buchanan may have been gay?
I usually have several books in progress at one time. Recently I re-read Charles L. Allen’s “God’s Psychiatry.” Allen is probably my favorite inspirational writer, and this one explores the emotional and spiritual lessons in such familiar passages of Scripture as Psalm 23 and the Beatitudes. I have a couple more of Allen’s books lying around that I hope to get to before spring.
Another inspirational volume I’ve read very slowly over the past year or two is “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas A. Kempis. Although this old Baptist was not entirely comfortable with the thoroughly monastic point of view, it contains spiritual food for all Christians. A recent experience has me reminding myself often of one passage I highlighted: “Do not put your peace at the mercy of men’s tongues, for whether they think well or ill of you they cannot make you other than you are. Where is the true peace and the true glory? Is it not in Me (that is, God)? He who neither seeks to please men nor fears to displease them enjoys great peace.”
Several weeks ago I was reading “Six Wives,” a biography of Henry the VIII’s six queens. It was heavy going, and I admit I got distracted before I got past Catherine of Aragon. However, it was fascinating in its way, and I do plan to get back to it one day. Going from the heavy stuff to the light fluff, I am now in the middle of Mary Higgins Clark’s “Daddy’s Little Girl.” If I were still teaching English, I don’t suppose I would put her books on the college prep reading list. However, they are real page turners, and I enjoy them. A book to appeal to animal lovers is “Cats in the Parsonage,” by Clair Shaffer Jr., you can find it at the Hillsboro Public Library.
Other Christmas presents were a mammoth puzzle book with a wide variety of word puzzles and a couple of “scratch and solve” books of trivia problems and hangman games. I love to do those, even though I usually should be doing something else. I justify the time spent with a theory I’ve heard that activities like that help prevent dementia. If it isn’t already too late, I figure I need all the help I can get.
I also received three VHS tapes of movies from the 1960s, in my mind the decade of great movies. Since I just received them a few days ago, they are a pleasure to anticipate eagerly. Many people my age will remember “Seven Days in May,” “Dr. Strangelove,” and “The Mouse That Roared.”
You see, a person does not need to lack for entertainment on the dreary days of winter. Although I look forward eagerly to spring, I may need a long winter to get through my stack of indoor activities. Cheer up folks. As Percy Shelley once said, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”