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Archive for the ‘Seasonal’ Category

You never know when you raise children…what they will really grow up to be like.  There are days…and then there are "those" days…when they sweep you off your feet in some unexpected way.  My youngest child had been planning on being a trauma surgeon from the time she was tiny.  Heaven only knows where she got the idea…as I turn my head and leave the room any time blood and guts are available on television.  In the event of a serious and true emergency…I am the one you would want to be there…as I step up to the plate and take charge without hesitation…but I do not actively seek all the medical shows with opened brains and heart surgeries in progress.  Over time…I never considered that my daughter’s interest in medicine would fade.  She knows every blood vessel and vein by heart…along with all the muscles and nerves…organ functions and locations.  She sees the human body as a well oiled machine…whose fascination mirrors that of a young man with his head under the hood of a race car.  I am a firm believer in giving back to the community in which you live…through many different avenues.  My kids volunteered for countless charitable and community projects…well before their teenage years.  They have painted mental health facilities…placed sod…planted landscaping…helped with fund raising races and have been involved with more events than I have time to name.  After their third year of volunteering on a well known  community team…they were given special shirts…as the only children to have volunteered year after year.  It came as no surprise that my youngest child and another close relative were very excited about volunteering for local hospital and nursing homes.  My deal with all kids…was the offer of a free ride to and from any volunteering job…so the ones whose parents could not or would not provide a ride…were not left out.  When it came time to choose an occupation…not surprisingly…several of them opted for nursing home and health care positions.  My own child took many afternoon naps at the end of a hallway parked alongside a string of wheelchairs whose occupants were dozing in the summer sun.  When she was fairly little…she asked for a puppy from Santa Claus.  We did not live somewhere conducive to having a puppy…but luckily Santa in his infinite wisdom opted for a wonderful fluffy dog whose walking movements looked very real indeed.  She would bring "Tuggles the dog" on a leash into the nursing home and enjoyed allowing residents to pet the puppy.  The excitement caused and expressions on their faces were priceless.  Kids and teens all have one thing in common.  Given the right situation…they rise to the occasion…especially if they feel someone really and truly needs them.  We have scoured Alzheimer wards looking for a pair of patent leather shoes that were likely lost fifty years prior…and have raced to bring a child to make cookies with someone who was looking forward to the company.  Once upon a time someone’s child told me they were "bored".  I instantly pointed out the good eyes that could read a book to someone who might no longer be able to see…and the ears that could listen as someone told stories from yesteryear…just remembering "when".  I mentioned hands could lift and carry…or write a letter to an old friend…and one by one…things a child might take for granted were suddenly valuable gifts to be shared.  That child is now more than a dozen years older and has been in the nursing field for nearly as long.  My youngest child approached me this evening to see if I would go with her to finish up her Christmas shopping.  She had been unemployed for several months…and had just gotten her first paycheck.  She had not been able to keep the shiny little car she loved so well.  It was a good lesson in economics to allow her to make her own choices…and subsequently learn the price of making her first big mistake.  In an effort to be independent…she had decided not to ask for anymore help.  She is under twenty one…but feels at that age she should be able to hold her own.  It was hard to step back and let the kids spread their wings attempting to fly…but sometimes you just have to let go…and hope they make it off the ground.  As my daughter and I joined the masses in search of last minute Christmas goodies…I had no idea what kind of shopping she had in mind.  It turns out that one of her residents is an older teen…a special needs child that failed to be adopted.  He permanently lives in institutions and private care homes.  He has no family at all…and as such…would not have had a single Christmas present.  Some of the residents have dementia.  Others do not have use of their limbs.  A few are just frail and elderly.  Residents with active family units had been given presents…maybe one…some a few…others may have gotten a small pile.  The thought of anyone not having a decent Christmas was killing my child…so she was spending literally every penny she had left on resident gifts.  The thoughtfulness with with she approached the holiday was amazing.  An elderly Alzheimer patient could enjoy looking at a new wall hanging…or a small treat that could be monitored.  A dementia patient might enjoy a soft toy to hold in their arms.  The teenager would give anything for a cd player, a board game or a deck of cards to enjoy.  An elderly lady who is mentally capable of knowing everything would love lotions and a basket of beautiful things.  One by one…she had gifts in mind for each of the patients.  Her only concern was making sure she had her portion of the electric bill left.  We left the store and went to my home and shopped for free…loading up wonderful choices for each and every one.  A quick stop at the pharmacy took care of stocking stuffers…and we spent the evening wrapping gifts together.  She works tomorrow and on Christmas as well.  I know in my heart that she will feel like Santa Claus with a million bucks in her pocket as she walks in the door  tomorrow.  As for me…the sugar plums that might have danced in my head will be replaced with perhaps a few tears of joy and enormous pride…in a child who truly captured the spirit of Christmas. 

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Once
upon a place in time…a young girl traveled…her
face was mine. The journey was not to feather her nest…lay a golden egg or claim their best. She flew to join the
lives of two…like birds of a feather are known to do.  A tisket a tasket…carry not all eggs in one basket…might want to
save a few.  Life is for soaring…to rise above…free as a bird with
wings of love.  Heart thumping moments …yours and mine…cherished memories exquisitely
fine.  No divine intervention…or best of intention…just one
perfect hand holding mine.  An elusive beginning…two hearts set on
winning…turned back the
hands of time.  

 I joined the ranks today of millions of people whose weekends were spent decorating in anticipation of the pending holiday.  My mind wandered to days gone by…as I stood atop a tall ladder…cautiously reaching…adorning walls and windows.  I am a good child at times…helping with a few things far from home…visiting just in time to help unpack cherished decorations…and gather a few new memories to carry around in my heart.  Like snowflakes… each holiday season brings with it…a unique design that will never be duplicated again.  Draping the little paper chains made by tiny fingers more than fifty years ago…is a tradition not likely to change.  The large metal star shining brightly in the front window… serves as a reminder of a young relative no longer in our midst.    People who have known me for all of my life are avid readers of stories I share through this little portal into my world.  A few meaningful faces from the past…having weathered the sands of time…may well read from a distance…perhaps curious… if a loving tribute to them…someday might appear.   If you have treated me with kindness and respect…willingly gave me free rein to make my own mistakes…and yet somehow ended up as my lifelong friend…my answer would be a resounding yes…I will.   This writer considered including a disclaimer…in true Dragnet style…"the story you are about to hear is true…only the names have been changed to protect the innocent"…though it is my own name that has been changed…more than once.   In many ways…the realization that people I have known for most or all of my life may read these pages at any point in time….is a good thing.  Every single word I write…each thought I share…opinions formed…the vast array of experiences I have survived through …have been shared as accurately as possible…written with very little forethought…and are therefore documented in a straight forward and heartfelt manner for posterity.  The multitude of simple things that make each of us unique…can and often do impact generations to come.  If I were to make a Christmas or holiday heritage book of knowledge and traditions to share…I would likely include little nuances that make me who I am.  My voice is alto…but on the odd occasion when I am persuaded to sing…it is soprano.   If I am singing Christmas carols…as I did at the tree lighting in a tiny community last night…or singing in church…my voice is has an inherent sweetness.  My great grandmother wrote her autobiography in mid life…and from it I discerned the origin of my daily headaches.  She wrote of being at the centennial celebration…when President Hayes patted her on the head…and that day was the very first of headaches that would last her whole life through.  Maybe someday…generations down the line…a young girl with my soprano voice will come along and be happy to know there was a genetic link…so she can blame me when others leave the room.  Like the songs we sing…and carols we choose as favorites…decorations are as personal and diversified as our heritage and taste allows.  It is funny to me that one child fondly remembers some little thing with the clarity of yesterday …and another simply does not recall it at all.  I have vivid images of the fluffy little kitten my grandparents gave me one year…of a doll from my other grandparents…and gingerbread houses decorated with my children.  I will never forget a special couple lovingly looking into each others eyes as he stood violin in hand while she played piano…fluctuating between solos and duets without so much as a single gesture or spoken word.  There were egg carton bells and paper chains made by new generations …and holiday goodies emerging from the kitchen that even the most hardened diet guru could not resist.  I have known trees gracefully draped wearing nothing but pearls… ribbons and bows…and others seemingly cluttered with homemade ornaments proudly hung by little hands.   Come the end of the day…no matter what your tradition…or holiday memories demand …what really counts is choosing a combination of decoration and lighting …that lights up your face as well.   If you have the time…consider writing down all of the family traditions for future generations to enjoy.  Your kids may at times seem like ungrateful brats…or by contrast look like the pick of the litter …but it is almost certain…that someone …somewhere will be forever thankful to know…that this is where their favorite traditions began.  It need not be anything fancy.  One family may  name the tree they cut down each year and spend days sitting watching family movies.   My own kids run excitedly through the store when the first carton of eggnog is spotted on the shelf.  As I walk through a loved one’s home…I may see a collection of animated toys whose annual appearance results in pure unadulterated joy.  Look around and you may discover how easy it is to start a tradition of your own…one that may be carried on long after you are gone.   I will magically reappear again…when the season is drawing to a close…and it is time to unwrap all that has been lovingly assembled…perhaps just in time to bring in the new year…laughing and singing along…with someone whose voice sounds like mine. 

The past few days have been spent helping my oldest child and her family with their yard sale. You can always tell what season it is without need of a calendar.  When yard sale signs start popping up along the side of the road like spring flowers…you just know that winter has turned the corner and spring is really and truly on the way.  In snow belt zones there are often many false starts to the eventual thawing of land for planting and lakes for swimming.  Die hard fishermen can always drill a hole in the ice and press on with the matter at hand if they are so willing.  It is quite another matter for those kindred spirits in search of a great spot to hawk their wares so they may have adequate funding to buy someone else’s recently parted with treasures down the road.  Isn’t it kind of funny how someone else’s "junk" looks somehow cool and inviting ???  That is exactly how my daughter worked hard to sell items for pennies on the dollar and then scampered to the neighbor’s feast of goodies only to return with arms loaded in craft items she will likely never use at all.  One could view it as an investment of sorts…as the craft items then become ammunition for the next yard sale…and a perpetual chain of commerce…trading and bartering is born.  It does the soul good to know that in this dampened state of economy…there will always be goods and services to be hawked and bargained over…beauty and the eye of the beholder to consider when pricing items that simply did not make the "keepers" cut.  On such a day as yesterday…I personally had a chance to see what others take for granted…and watched wistfully from my perch near the cash box.  On sale at the far end of the lot were three handsome little sweaters that once graced the skinny frame of my son in his kindergarten year.  Never had a man looked so tastefully dressed or so incredibly dashing as my child once did…proudly wearing the navy slacks and his manly sweaters.  In time we had been gracious enough to retire them to the next in line to inherit such a treasure…my youngest grandson…whose frame and physique were a match at that same age.  At some point in time I had simply "moved on" I suppose…as I do not remember longing for sweaters from the past.  But yesterday…I found myself face to face…folding the little rascals and confronted with memories both rich and raw.  All day long I softly chewed on my lower lip and waited to see what kind of person might become the next proud owner.  Granted…the season is wrong for buying sweaters for little guys starting school.  They garnered more than their fair amount of attention in the used clothing section…but by the time the mid-afternoon sun came around I could no longer help myself.  Suddenly without any warning or apparent self control…I found myself bounding across the gravel and lovingly scooping up the little sweaters as though they were gold nuggets shining brightly from a river bed. They were the treasures I could not resist…and I had a clear mental image of my own son’s little boy perhaps wearing them proudly one day…singing his own version of "You Are My Sunshine" as loved ones often do when they are little.  Such thoughts distracted me to the point that I did not hear more than a dozen words of the family movie last night…and then opened my email box to find other signs in the hope springs eternal area of life.  I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am giving away three homes…one to each of my kids…and am here for the transition of making that happen in the best possible way.  Each home is crammed to capacity with beautiful furniture and possessions I could not live without.  Almost all are tied to a memory of some kind…as I am that kind of girl…a sentimental softy.   And now the monumental task of sorting and separating what I can and cannot live without will begin.  When I announced the home "giveaway" to my kids…it did not dawn on me that I have enough clothes to be a small store and enough intensely personal items that they have taken on a life of their own.  I have no idea where we will all live…my treasures and I…but a promise is a promise…and I must now begin to make it work. The beach house has ocean front territory and with it responsibility for the mutual stewardship of the environment and all that lives within. A recent email asked for volunteers to help with the annual "clam survey".   People are needed to walk along the beach area…dig holes in the sand…count and  identify clams residing there…and carefully tuck the clams back into their same little bed. I do not know why this struck me as such a cool little project.  On that happy note I am going to end this blog…knowing that all is well with the world.  Spring flowers are gently blowing in the breeze…yard sale signs are alive and well in a dampened economy…Moms everywhere are finding it tough to part with the vision of their little boys who have now grown up…and the true meaning of the expression "happy as a clam" comes to mind knowing they are being gently tucked back into their litttle beds.  It doesn’t get much better than that. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS…and remember to stay safe and warm…healthy and happy as you celebrate the joy of being alive.  There is a wonderful world just waiting for you to explore it and make it your own.  Take time to reflect on the year behind you…reach out and embrace the one in front of you…and know that no matter what choices you make…or how things sometimes seem to go terribly wrong…that each day brings with it a rising sun…to remind us of the new beginnings at our fingertips.  Reach out and make it happen !!! 
Ho ho ho…that is a lot of snow !!!  With Christmas just around the corner…the shopping mall and banks were closed…people were spotted walking down the freeway…and everywhere you looked cars littered the roadway like tinker toys casually tossed aside.  It is days like this that bring out the best and worst in people.  One street after another had small clusters of folks with snow shovels in hand…digging out strangers and neighbors alike.  Four wheel drive vehicles were high centered…even ones with lift kits that made them seemingly soar above the crowd.  Huge transit buses patiently waited for a tow. I shudder to think how much snow is waiting for me at the lake.  It normally gets twice as much as they see in town.  My long awaited internet service will have to wait…as the fleet of vehicles never made it out of the parking lot.  I took an overflowing cart of groceries to each of several homes full of hungry young adults.  They will now weather the storm in comfort. As I made my way to the guest house my thoughts were of slippers and hot cocoa…a roast warming the oven…and homemade cookies to follow. There is little that I dislike more than cold weather…but as long as the roof does not cave in under the weight of the snow…and everyone is safe, well prepared and warm…I will call it a day to be thankful.  After all…it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas !!!

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