Christmas 2020

Difficult year for most of us. Hope you all are doing well……well, if not, WELL, at least OK! My year has gone well, so I have little to complain about. A bit over a year ago I sold the house to son Matthew and Becky and remodeled half of the basement for an apartment for me. Living with my son and his family has been an incredible blessing as I have my separate space but do day care for the twins. I am with the family as much as I wish. My complaints, such as they are, are miniscule. Such as…..

Sometime in the last year, when shopping, I have progressed from “Ma’am” or Mrs. Hage or no appellation at all, to “Dear”. As in, “May I help you find something, Dear?” Or…..“I will be with you in a minute, Dearie.” What is my signal to the world that I am somehow their, “Dear”? Would be interested to hear if anyone else is seeing that invisible progression in their life. Other than that bit of amusing public decline, I am well. The children and grand children are well. We are weathering the pandemic and election storms with a grateful look backward and a cautious look forward.

I continue as the titular head of the Community Dinner, doing fund raising and representing its needs to Summit County. However, the day to day operations have been taken over by Saints Sue and Bob Peterson and the head cook is Saint Bob Knorr. They are assisted by a small group of dedicated volunteers. We have had to move to “take out” meals, still serving 200 – 250 a week. 160,000 to tal since March 2009.

The photo collection shows a lovely week with family and friends at Bethany Beach, Delaware; kayaking and hiking in Summit County with children and grandchildren; artwork (mostly on children’s jean jackets) and taking care of Caroline and Emelia when both parents are at work. Notably, for 29 years, The Paul Hage Family has cleaned a dedicated 2 mile stretch of hiway. This year was no exception. We also completed Paul’s Memorial Labyrinth at Lord of the Mountains. He is gone but definitely not forgotten.

Daughter Rebecca and Alexandra, who is 15 and a sophomore in Silver Springs, MD are coping with work and school via computer. Rebecca is working hard both at NASA Goddard and Northup Grumman in California to make sure the James Webb Space Telescope can meet the launch date of March 2021. Alexandra and I do a Skype art lesson once a week and she is loving playing softball, when public conditions make that possible.

Son Jonathan is finding ways to fill his time with volunteering, playing flute and sewing masks while he is furloughed from United Air Lines. He and Guillermo (who manages a thrift store for a women’s shelter in Houston) are enjoying their new kitten, which is more work than they thought would be possible.

Matthew flies for Republic Airlines and Becky is a hospital pharmacist on the side, while keeping up with Emelia and Caroline (3 yr old twins) is their primary occupation. I continue to provide day care as needed. Most days Matt continues to put Paul’s flag up with the help of girls.

Derek, Daughter Rachel, Kellie, Derek (15) and Andrew (9) are busy with teaching and homeschooling. Derek has progressed to some college level classes and Andrew is playing the violin and doing art with me via Skype once a week.

Son Ruben and Cassie (16, junior in high school) are both employed in COVID endangered jobs. Fortunately for the stimulus Ruben came through the lay off from his restaurant closure OK. Cass works at a thrift store and goes to school with her boyfriend and BFF Dillon. We recently watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix together and they both made some radical changes in the way they use their smart phones because of it. Cassie & Alexandra both enjoy hair color changes.

Sons and daughter Jamie, Jesse and Amber have pretty much gone incommunicado. Son Robert may or may not be alive. The last he was heard from was Jan 2019 when he was booked into the Snohomish County jail in Seattle. Brandon and wife Lynn stopped by during the summer.

Being “confined to quarters” has left me with a great deal of time to read. Our Rotary Club has started a Book Club and we have been focusing primarily on reading books with underlying themes of justice. I have done a bit of murder mystery reading but those titles all blend together. More importantly, between the book group and personal reading, numerous books stand out as helping propel my thinking about justice forward:

  • American Dirt – on immigration along our southern border
  • White Fragility, Between the World and Me, How to be an Anti-Racist
  • Just Mercy – on the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom – the parallels between politics, white supremacy and race relations after the civil war, during reconstruction, are breathtakingly similar to issues today
  • First They Killed My Father – genocide in Cambodia
  • Migrations – climate change
  • I Have Been Assigned the Single Bird – climate change and Memory care for parents
  • Hillbilly Elegy – the political and corporate greed behind how Appalachia went backwards instead of forwards economically
  • Moment of Lift – importance of women’s rights globally and how lifting women lifts all of society
  • Lipstick Jihad – Iran and the role of Islamic clerics
  • Undocumented Americans
  • The Violence Inside Us – History of gun possession in the US and way forward regarding gun rights

All these propel justice forward…..Justice must be propelled forward.

If Christmas and the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child is to have any meaning at all in our lives…. In the name of Jesus, the prophet of justice for all….. Justice must be propelled forward. However, Christianity and justice have an uneven history. It seems if the primary theology about Jesus is his death and dying for sin, then living justly is not a big part of the faith journey. If “personal salvation” is the central theology there is not much room for the “others”, the outcasts, the Samaritans, that Jesus related to. Turning
a blind eye, and even perpetuating injustice, is all covered over by the forgiveness of sins, and creating a “personal relationship with Jesus”, thus entering heaven.

However, for those who believe the journey of faith is modeling one’s life on the way Jesus lived…then living a life of compassion and extending justice is required for the word “Christian “ to be applied. (Interestingly, Christianity is the only religion that allows believers to choose between basing faith on the way their leader died instead of the way the leader lived.) Living justly does not mean losing personal rights, freedoms, prosperity. Living justly means extending to others what we enjoy for ourselves. If ever there was a purpose in Paul’s and my lives it was living abundantly and working to ensure an abundant life for others.An early abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, quoted in Prophet of Freedom, said, “Law is for the protection, not for the destruction, of rights…….Every man is an abolitionist; every man is selfish enough to be an abolitionist for himself, but every man is not unselfish enough to be an abolitionist for others.” Moving that forward 165 years we could paraphrase…..

Everyone is selfish enough to want medical care for himself, but everyone is not unselfish enough to want medical care for others. Everyone is selfish enough to want respect, decent housing, safe streets, security, well-paying job, equal treatment under the law, good schools, clean air and water, voting rights, freedom of and freedom from religion for himself. But everyone is not unselfish enough to want the same for others.

It is time to want for all of us what all of us want for ourselves.

Hoping 2021 is smoother, healthier and more joyful for each and every one of us than 2020 was.
Hoping 2021 finds each and every one of us in such a place of abundance that we can fearlessly share that abundance of privilege and finances and justice with others.

“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24).
Merry Christmas, Deb