Posts Tagged With: Holiday

The Odd Ways We Say Goodbye

Everything drips with symbolism lately.

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Whether shiny, sparkly or pale the gold looked stunning next to green boughs.

I’ve undecorated the tree this afternoon. It’s time to let go. In fact, it’s past time. The needles are dropping faster, brownish tan slowly outshines the evergreen color. Sure, in a certain light, night-time,with just the small twinkle lights on, it looks vibrant and adds such ambience to the room. But in reality, a fire hazard stands in the living room.

When we first became acquainted, this tree sent its voluptuous pine scent wafting about the entire house. I thought it seemed happy here. But truly, it was simply on its last few weeks of a life spent outdoors, gazing at the stars, tucked in under the snow, basking in the sun, drenched in the rain. Then it found its life cut short and quickly waning. For a brief span of time it glowed and sparkled with beauty and light and life, its last bit of energy expended giving joy and lifting hearts.

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A well-lived life draws to a close.

But now, fully spent, its time has come to move on. Perhaps a few of her needles will become part of the mulch that nurtures next autumns flowers into a radiant bloom. Perhaps a chill night will be brightened and warmed by her last few embers. Perhaps in years to come a photo of a decorated tree, fallen over with the weight of too many ornaments and not enough balance, will lighten the heart of an aged woman. Or another photo of that same tree redecorated and standing proud and straight with a sweet smiling man at her side will bring cheer into a grandchild’s mind.

This sweet Christmas tree oversaw a bittersweet holiday.  It did its job with honor and aplomb. If there were medals awarded for Christmas tree service above and beyond the call of duty, this tree would have earned and worn an extras star of honor.

Now a small brass angel oversees the last of the boxing up of the gold and white bulbs, the untangling of the white lights from the branches. Tonight that tree will look up at the stars once again and dream.

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A few baubles waiting to get boxed up for another year.

Tonight, my living room will feel empty. I’ll walk in and feel lost knowing something important is missing. The empty spot will continue feeling empty regardless of the rearranging of furniture or placing of photos and lamps.

Now you see that I’m a silly, melodramatic woman, with far too much time for thinking and not enough to keep my mind and hands occupied.

I keep saying goodbye in such odd ways.

Maybe this year, this new set of twelve months, will be spent doing just that.

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Categories: Death, Holiday, Memory Lane, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Warming Up and Getting In Tune

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for music of the season.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re thinking, that sounds typical.  Except it isn’t exactly.

Mr Grinch

Mr Grinch (Photo credit: Candie_N (Welcome Fall))

During November I grinched around town. Every store I entered that already had Christmas tunes playing aggravated something in me. I’d secretly vow not to shop there during December since they ignored my personal unwritten rule that Christmas is a December thing. When I couldn’t find an Autumn or Thanksgiving themed wreath two days after Halloween, I swore off another couple stores. Everywhere I went Christmas assaulted me. Cinnamon scented pinecones here, exhortations to buy early and buy often there, and red and green glitter everywhere like a crime scene gone bad.

So on Sunday morning I’m listening to some music online and a Christmas song comes on and immediately my hackles go up, (picture a cat hissing, back arched, teeth bared.) Dang Christmas music, I’m thinking. Can’t they wait until December? Then it’s like I’m hit up side of the head with a baseball bat. Duh! It is December. It’s December 1st.  Helloooooo? Now I can enjoy Christmas music and do all the Christmasy things and enjoy the season.

But I’d curmudgeoned my way through November and couldn’t quite shake off the grouchiness even with it being December.

Bah!

photo-18 copy 26But then, last night, I attended a benefit concert put on by The Red Note Foundation in honor of a wonderful young bassoonist, Kristin Hooker, who lost her life when she was barely twenty years old.  Her love for music and her belief in its ability to change lives resonated throughout the concert. And just like the Grinch, I felt the ice around my grouchy heart begin to thaw and noticed it starting to beat again. In fact, it might have grown a bit in the process of listening to such a gift presented in voice and orchestra.

The Christmas season began for me last night thanks to those heartfelt, sacred soaring melodies.

Secular or silly, sappy or sacred, A cappella or orchestrated, modified lyrics or ancient rhymes, I love it all! The songs of the holidays rate high on my happy list, something I had forgotten, apparently. Now that my internal strings are in tune I’ll enjoy all of it with gusto.

Greenery

Greenery (Photo credit: Sharon Drummond)

Come what may, shopping frenzied crazed drivers, baking disasters, piles of unsent Christmas cards, Christmas trees that topple over, strands of lights that only halfway work, or picture perfect scenes of family bliss gone awry. No matter. I have Christmas beating right here in time with the music in my heart.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Music | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where is the Grinch When He’s Really Needed?

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never have been. Not as a kid, not as a teen, not as an adult. Not even as a married person.

Nope. Not a fan.

It’s one of the areas in my life I’ve decided I’m just going to be cranky and annoyed about.

Sorry to burst your shiny red heart-shaped mylar balloon.

Those valentine mailboxes we decorated in elementary school with such high expectations? Always a letdown. While it seemed every other girl ended up with at least one or two surprises from a secret admirer or best friend, I only got the obligatory stack of valentines.

English: A glass of milk (left) and a glass of...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, there were a couple of years the creepazoid boys that made my school life at recess miserable, took the Valentine’s day opportunity to make certain that I felt despised and pathetic. Boys that age have a talent for rude, mean, despicable behavior. (It might warm your heart to know that by high school I was on friendly terms with most of them. They became slightly human by then somehow.)

There was one year, fifth grade I think, that we had a contest for the best valentine mailbox. My dad helped me with this project and it turned out awesome! He found a tall three or four-foot box about the circumference of a shoebox. We turned it into a clown with a wide-open mouth for the mailbox opening. The crowning glory was a squishy red bulbous squeeze horn. Honk, honk! We took first place of course. The grand prize was a supersized Hershey’s chocolate bar. Sixteen ounces of pure heaven I kept hidden in a drawer in my bedroom and nibbled on for weeks.

That memory right there is the highlight of decades of Valentine’s Day celebrations.

As a married couple we attempted a few Valentine’s dates. We quickly discovered that night of all nights is the worst possible one for a date. Restaurants are overrun and rushed. Movies are packed and noisy. Traffic is silly. Dances are ridiculous. Flowers cost twice as much as normal. Leftover Christmas chocolates are stingily arranged in overpriced heart-shaped boxes. We don’t do Valentine’s. We choose to abstain from all celebrating of this silly holiday. Okay, we might exchange cards. But that’s it.

Sorry, I am the Valentine Grinch. Where is Dr. Seuss when you really need him?

CreativeTools.se - PackshotCreator - 3D printe...

(Photo credit: Creative Tools)

The perfect Valentine’s Day for me is in my own hands. It’s a product of my own making. I bake up a huge batch of buttery heart-shaped sugar cookies. Then I slather them with pink butter cream frosting, showering each one with multicolored sprinkles.  Easy. None of that magazine cover overachieving piped lacy design nonsense.

Pop a few of these cookies into your mouth and life just doesn’t get any better than that. The kids love them, MSH loves them. My friends, if I choose to share, love them.

At this very moment there’s plenty of ice-cold milk in the fridge. Butter and yogurt is out on the counter waiting for me to start mixing up the magic cookie dough.

Cookie heart

Cookie heart (Photo credit: summerbl4ck)

My Grincy valentine heart will soften as I mix and roll and cut and bake. All those old resentments will fade as the butter and powdered sugar and red dye whip together into a frothy cloud of pink deliciousness.

Love is in the air, and it smells like sugar cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day if you’re a believer. Otherwise, enjoy something freshly baked and revel in every bite.

Categories: Food, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

The Year of Three Christmas Letters

We wrote three Family Christmas letters one year.

Version One:

christmas card outtakes 2007- choke hold

christmas card outtakes 2007- choke hold (Photo credit: Nikki McLeod)

The reality check, went something like this:

Pretty much our life hit rock bottom this year.  It’s been filled to brim with financial setbacks galore, unemployment, minimum wage jobs for the grown ups, multiple visits with various government workers, lots of paperwork, mechanical failures of every kind, mental health issues, surgeries, poor health, teenage angst and rebellion out the wazoo, junior high drama.  You name it, we’ve experienced it.  It’s a wonder we’re all still sane.  Hope your family is having a better year than we are.  Merry Christmas!

Version Two:

The rated G for too-good-to-be-true version, went something like this:

Just wanted to update you on our family’s stellar year!  Dad has had plenty of time to work on projects around the house, mom is busy expanding her résumé! We’ve added doctors and lawyers to our list of close acquaintances!  Each of the children have increased their knowledge base with new experiences and fun and exciting people!  Time just seems to race by with all that we have going on!  What a year!!!!!!!!!!!  Here’s hoping you’re family is as wonderful and great as ours!  Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Version Three:

A kind of tightrope act between the first two letters, went like this:

Thought we’d let you know what’s happening in our neck of the woods.  It hasn’t been a very good year for us, but we’re making the best of it. Mom has gone back out into the workforce and so us kids have had to step up a bit and help out more.  Dad’s been looking for work for a while. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re learning a lot. We could use some extra prayers if you’re the praying sort.  We surely do pray for and love you and your family.  We feel blessed to know you.  Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!

christmas card

christmas card (Photo credit: Stephen Rees)

I can’t remember if we actually mailed any letters out at all. I don’t think we did. Couldn’t afford the stamps, or ran out of time. It was pretty hilarious writing them all, kind of healing to laugh at the pain.

Maybe it was our way of dealing with all the letters we received that made our toes curl with jealousy or irritated us with their rose-colored glasses perspective. Or maybe it was a reaction to the view that everyone else has a perfect life, a perfect family, a perfectly normal kind of constant happiness. We knew that wasn’t true, but it can feel that way when your life has gone south.

Sometimes laughter really is the only way to treat life’s headaches.

p.s. The preceding events may have been altered or fictionalized or embellished for brevity as well as sanity.

p.p.s. If you send out Family Christmas letters, please keep doing so, we love hearing about your family, warts and awards and all!

p.p.p.s.  Merry Christmas!

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Simply Celebrating Life

It’s Gratituesday!  Today I am thankful for my childhood holidays.  Those special days scattered throughout the year were  anticipated with a tingly, buzz in the air.  Each holiday carried a specific scent and texture that brought joy in its own unique way.  There was an innocence and wonder about each celebration.

childhood memories

childhood memories (Photo credit: brainblogger)

That purity of that experience is two-fold.  Childhood is supposed to be about immediacy, the here and now.  There’s no worrying about a hundred things to do before an event happens.  The countdown to Christmas was all about anticipation and expectation. That’s what I had, the joy of the moment.  What a phenomenal blessing!

Simplicity is the other half of my childhood holiday memories.  Perhaps it was a simpler time.  Maybe I grew up sheltered. Hallelujah!  Every child should be so lucky to live, for a time, in a protective bubble of wonder, curiosity, love and newness.  I had that.

I was blessed beyond measure with Valentine love, Easter hope, Independence Day freedom, Halloween sweets, Thanksgiving gratitude, Christmas joy.

Every child should be so lucky!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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