December 2015 Blog Archives
December 31, 2015
So I was having friends for dinner at my house…….
And the next thing you know, my house was party central for New Year’s Eve! My son and his friends had to change venues at the last minute and we got to have it at our house. I was really excited about that, because it seems they are always somewhere else. We had to go get some sparkling grape juice to toast with and assemble the snacks!
Parents were invited too. So one floor was teenagers, one was football watchers, and one was moms talking about our children. But when the ball got ready to drop? We all converged on the television and toasted to the new year! Friends, kids, and a hubby to smooch when the ball dropped. What a great way to begin again……
I don’t do new year’s resolutions, but I heard the kids talking about it. I just try to have a good attitude for possibilities and do the best I can. Why put more pressure on yourself? 2016 will provide enough opportunities to learn new lessons in life I am sure. It will provide opportunities to be thankful, say we are sorry, walk away, and give hugs. It will bring sunshine, sorrow, joy, and laughter. And we will give it our best shot!
Happy New Year!
December 30, 2015
The queen of the decorators……
Is my mother. She will put a Christmas bow on anything and there is simply no limit to how many trees she can put up, decorate, and have a theme about. It is nothing short of amazing and truly beautiful. She always has some new idea and this year, it was all about a fresh tree with only natural ornaments. She made ornaments out of cotton bolls and was certain this was the prettiest tree ever. (She says that every year……)
One Christmas, she had to have a tree made entirely out of pinecones. Not a small tree, a tree that was easily 6 feet tall. Each pinecone had to be tied separately to a wire frame and it was really hard to do. But she was right, it was beautiful! And she kept it for years decorating it with fruit, ribbons, and whatever came into her head. I think the most trees we ever had was 6, but that doesn’t include the ones outside. She just really enjoys the season and can’t get everything decorated fast enough. The only time she complains is when it’s time to take everything down……
I have things I really like and always do. I love to decorate the banisters in my house, put out wreaths, have as tall a tree as possible and I have to have the big old fashioned lights. I have way too many ornaments and being the writer I am, I’ve written memories on every box, so it takes a while to unpack them. All the ornaments with pictures form a tree on my wall and that takes about 4 hours to put up, but I love it! Every year, I threaten to leave it up all the time, but I get talked out of it by my husband….
I get sentimental taking everything down. I make sure I put it up so if anything happens, someone else can maybe come along and appreciate the memories that are there. I spend a whole lot of time being thankful for all the years and even though the holidays can truly drive me crazy, I am always reminded how important they have been……
We will put another season away, but we will remember that shiny tuba, that stunned face, those rich deep sounds and all the love we shared.
December 29, 2015
My grandmothers were a big part of Christmas too….
But in really different ways. My Miami grandmother, Nannie, would always pile the car and trunk high with presents. She always had hard candy and a gleam in her eye that told you without a doubt she was excited to see you. There was always something in our presents that we little Georgia bumpkins just didn’t know a thing about, like a Neru Jacket and a Peace sign necklace. We tried them on and were instantly transported to an exotic place, but they sure didn’t fly at our small town schools……
Nannie taught me to crochet, sew, appreciate flowers and animals, watch soap operas, ride a city bus, and visit amusement parks. She was always up for an adventure and a fierce protector to explore with. Her mind was wildly creative and she was brilliant about a whole lot of things. She was very opinionated and a little daunting until you got to know her. I didn’t always understand her, but I liked her. I think it’s fair to say she chain smoked and consumed a great deal of coffee. And I can say with certainty that she loved me with all her heart.
My Georgia grandmother was a totally different kind of woman. She was from a small town called Dixie and she had a heart as big as Texas. She is the only person who really loved me unconditionally and I couldn’t wait to see her every time I got the chance. She grew up poor and was one of the most hard working people I’ve ever known. She could cook the socks off any chef, with just a few ingredients and a whole lot of love. She always made simple things seem perfect, like a dollar for your birthday or a quarter for candy. Every Christmas season, she would have accumulated material and you could pick out what you wanted to have made into a wraparound skirt or pair of shorts. She had a whole lot of grandchildren, so it was a huge labor of love. She taught me so many things I wouldn’t know where to begin, but most importantly? She taught me love. Pure and simple, every single day, just for the joy of it. When my father died, she taught me how to survive grief and that really mattered when she called me one day to tell me she was going back to God.
Both of my grandmothers had open arms and loving hearts. They couldn’t wait to share life with me and I am such a better person for their kindness. I hope to be that mother, that grandmother, and that person who goes back to God myself. After all, I learned from the very best and it’s my legacy.
December 28, 2015
I can’t move on from Christmas without…….
Remembering my grandfather, my Papa. He loved the season and was just the kindest, most gentle man I’ve personally ever known. He was an orphan, who was actually put on an orphan train and a family who needed help on their farm in northern Georgia adopted him at the train station. He said they were kind to him, even though they never really treated him like family. He worked hard and years later, located his brother who was also adopted off that train in Georgia. I heard the stories growing up and could hardly believe what I heard. I was well into adulthood, before I read a book about orphan trains and actually began to understand what he talked about…..
Despite his difficult beginnings, he was an extraordinary person. He was a hard worker, strong, smart, loving and could play the harmonica like a professional. He taught me to fish by chubbing for shark, taught me to whittle, taught me to drive a boat, and taught me to love with everything I have. I was so very lucky to have known him and I miss him still.
At Christmas, he would get up before we did (or maybe he stayed up the night before), and wrap up things we already owned. Nothing was safe from the remainder of the wrapping paper! Spoons, shoes, dolls, a checker from the set, countless things would be under the tree with our name on it. And when we opened them, he would laugh from his heart, which always made us laugh, too. I can’t always remember what I got that was new, but I will always remember unwrapping a fork or my own hair brush. And I especially remember how it made me feel loved and treasured.
Memories are not always the perfect things we try so hard to create. Sometimes they are the simple things we didn’t think mattered. Sometimes they were extraordinary and only those kind of people knew how to bring them to our attention.
I love you Papa and I will always remember…….
December 25, 2015
It’s finally here!
I have a uncle who always came to our house on Christmas morning to see what we got from Santa. He never missed a single visit and it came to be that Christmas was not Christmas unless he came. We explained our gifts, tried them on or showed him how they worked. It was so much fun. When I grew up, if I lived close by he put me on his list of places to stop. When I was not, he always called….
He’s still going strong, except now I call him. And the first question he asks? “What did you get for Christmas gal?” I delight in telling him. Of course he asked about our son and was surprised about the tuba, you don’t hear that sort of thing every day, but he was good natured and asked to have him send him a video of playing it. So he still gets the need for kids to share and I love that.
It was just so good to hear his voice. It’s the little things you know. For a moment, I am a little girl again when I talk to him and the wonder of the season is all around me. His voice reminds me of my own Dad, who equally loved Christmas and I suspect went to my cousin’s house while his brother was at ours. They grew up with very sparse holidays, so they truly understood the value to us all. Those memories are a very powerful thing and I am blessed to have them. I know my uncle loves to do it and it’s just as much a tradition for him as it is for me, but I’m not sure he realizes how much it has meant to me over the years, even though I always try to tell him…….
Don’t hesitate to keep your own traditions, or make some new ones, and have yourself a merry little Christmas.
December 24, 2015
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
I love ‘Santa Claus is Coming To Town’ by Bruce Springsteen. It’s a great way to get your holiday on. And then there’s, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. What a sweet sentiment to share.
Even if Christmas is not your thing, some of the songs are just fun to hear and sing. Of course, if it is your thing, tonight is the big night! We track Santa on the internet to see where he is right up until we go to bed. This year there will be no putting things together half the night or wrapping until the wee hours, that tuba gleams in the corner, and leaves only a few small things to be opened. Can’t forget the stockings though! I put some fun stuff in my own, because my guys always forget about them. But this year there are some things in there I did not put in – so I’m really looking forward to that….
May your days be merry and bright and may the peace of Christmas surround you and yours tonight and always.
December 23, 2015
Remember how I said I’m not good at keeping secrets?
Well, I figured out a way to tell my son about his Christmas present today – I couldn’t wait any longer! Don’t laugh, I did it with a whole lot of logic and everyone agreed! So today, he got his own tuba…
Getting a tuba of your own is much like bringing another child into your life. It is huge, loud, expensive, required training, and makes other people a little wary of you. In short? It’s a big commitment and my son was stunned. Simple stunned. So much so that his instructor, who really wanted to be there for it, said, “You do realize it’s a new tuba and it now belongs to you?” Then slowly, surely and with great care, our son embraced it and that incredible smile began to slowly take shape…..
We said, “Did we really surprise you? Did you know you were getting a tuba?” And with all the seriousness in the world, he said, “I didn’t know, but I put out into the universe that I needed one and so I expected it would be here sooner or later.” And just like that! He taught me a lesson. He trusted the universe to bring him what he needed and so it happened. Seems I’ve said that to a client or two before…… just never about a tuba.
It was bliss really, watching him learn to hold it, play it, and make it his own. Not so much at midnight that night when he was still playing scales, but really? I couldn’t blame him. After all, the universe had spoken directly to him.
December 22, 2015
Birthdays this time of year…….
Must be tough. I have a couple of people I really care about who have birthdays within 5 days of Christmas. I try hard never to combine gifts or scam on Christmas wrapping paper versus the birthday thing, because I know they must get that.
I’ve often wondered why those events coincide. There must be a reason. More awareness for them? Less focus on them? Teaching people to discern the difference of importance? Perhaps bringing what really matters into prospective? It’s an interesting concept.
If you are having a birthday about now, take a moment in the hustle and bustle to remember you are still pretty special and that you do matter. Understand that you are a teaching tool for us all and embrace the lesson…. You are not loved any more or less, you are just gifted in that way.
Celebrate yourself loud, long and with kindness. We are happy to have you.
December 21, 2015
I’m baking like a crazy person today……
All the fun things: Chocolate covered Spanish peanuts, puppy chow, brownies, Christmas cookies with that yummy icing, and brownies covered in fudge icing. Not great for the diet, but so very delicious for someone who still has a list a mile long to accomplish before the big day….
And then my neighbor knocks on the door, delivering a tray full of goodies that put my basic fare to shame. That woman must be a genius in the kitchen. She makes booze balls that are so amazing I had to hide them right away…. Unfortunately, my husband was the receiver of the tray and even though it is the only time we ever see this particular neighbor, he knows she makes the booze balls…. It took him a full day- long enough for me to eat one or two or three – then he asked, “Did she put any of those booze balls on the plate this year?” Ugh. I had to tell him and then share. Guess I have some work to do on that whole holiday sharing thing, huh?
I love how my guys circle into the kitchen during the holidays and put in their order for their favorite food. Even the people in my husband’s office sent him an email and asked if I was making their favorite…. Tis the season and it’s delicious!
December 18, 2015
Kids and Santa......
I love to watch kids visit Santa. The serious ones are preparing to say exactly the right thing and leave nothing out. It's big business - what if Santa doesn't bring you what you want because he doesn't know? That would be tragic.
My son was a watcher. We would stand in line and every step closer he would really watch Santa for any sign of a reason to leave. About half the time, he would simply say, "No Mom! No Santa!" And we would walk away. Some parents are not so tuned in and stay the course trying to talk their child into going against their instincts. And when that child gets on Santas lap there is screaming, tears, and a serious effort to get free. I never thought the annual picture was worth all that terror.
I love to listen when kids stand in line. They talk about whether his beard is real or not and if it is a particularly bad one, they revert to the 'this must be a Santa helper' theory. Either way, just to be safe, they will tell him what they want....
My favorite might just be the budding salesmen and women who need to close the deal with Santa. They ask him, "Will I get what is on my list?" And they don't give up until he agrees that, yes the elves are doing it as we speak. Those people will be top in their job someday.......
If you are standing in line, try to just enjoy the process and don't forget to listen!
December 17, 2015
And while I'm talking about my sister.......
There used to be a show on television called, 'Different Strokes'. One of the famous lines from the show was, "What you talkin' bout Willis?" It came from two brothers on the show and one was named Willis. The younger one would always ask him that if they were dreaming up something crazy to do. So I started calling my sister Willis. Then she hated it and of course, that made it all the more fun and necessary to do.....
Over the years, it remains, but sometimes gets translated to Willa. A much prettier version of the name don't you think? If she is saying something crazy, I say, "Willa, my Willa? What you talking about?" And it has often been a term of endearment, especially in difficult times. Either way, it is my name to use for her any way I choose to and it matters to us.
My Willa is coming up on a big birthday. Soon she will be on the downside of her 50's careeing toward 60 at a breakneck pace. Having been generously forging the path ahead of her, I realize this is a tough one to wrap your brain around. So Willa? I've got your six and no worries, you will be just fine....... Love you!
December 16, 2015
"Excuse me miss. But do you have any?
Blue christmas lights?" Every Christmas season, I have to call up my sister and play this old country song by Buck Owens. It is a twangy, mournful song and it never fails to get a response from her. It's a sibling thing I guess, but I have never forgotten to do it. Call it a holiday tradition!
My niece said, "Aunt Lynn why do you do that? It's a horrible song and it's depressing!" Well, it goes way back to when two little girls were sitting in the back seat of a car riding around on a Saturday night and listening to the Grand Ole Opry. It was the only clear way to listen to the radio for the Opry, so my Dad put us in the car and we rode around listening to it. During the holidays, Buck always showed up to sing that song and my sister hated it! Thus the tradition......
None of us have blue christmas lights on anything and if we see them, we crank up the memory. Elvis sings about a Blue Christmas and its a little more peppy, but really? There's enough to mourn about during the holiday season without draggin the blue lights into it. But never fear....... I will remember!
December 15, 2015
What about the children?
I am a big supporter of Toys for Tots. It started way back when my husband was in the Marine Corps and I got to see it in action. Unlike some charities, all the toys go to children in need this year. They are often set up store style by ages for parents to choose from. And those Marines in dress blues? They work really hard to make sure every child is taken care of and cared for.
I got a chance to help stock, and help families shop. There were some tears on all sides..... Not very charity gives everything you donate to the cause. Always go online and check their ratios of what is used by an organization versus what actually goes to the cause. I love that Toys for Tots fills a very important need and that they do it so well.
If you decide to give a little extra this holiday, put a new toy in a Toys for Tots box. Then smile, because you? You just made a measurable difference!
December 14, 2015
Christmas with understanding friends.....
Is easier. You can say to them, "I really want to get you something, but my life is hectic. What do you really want?" And the best part is most times, they surprise you. I only have a handful of adults I can do that with and we reciprocate in kind. But ALL the teenagers do it. They want what they want and they will tell you in a nanosecond what it is and where to get it. They won't write it down or make a list or anything, but they will tell you and best of all most of it is online.
I remember when I first met my husband one of his relatives explained to me how rude it was to give gift certificates. She was older and it really mattered to her. So the list for that side of the family is a bit more challenging. But over on my side? We love gift certificates from our favorite places and can't wait to get them. Perfect! That's shopping we can do quickly and then get about the business of enjoying the holiday season.
Whatever it is that you really want this holiday season, don't be shy, just let someone who loves you know! After all, if they really love you they will want you to have something you can enjoy. Make gift giving less stressful for yourself and others. Eliminate the 'I don't know' answer and put together a wish list. You can do it! Oh and don't forget to put at least one outrageous thing on there......just in keeping with the fun of the season!
December 11, 2015
I thought about Christmas cards in July.....
But I thought it could wait.... Now I'm down to the wire! I take pictures all year long with the Christmas card in mind, but when the time comes? It's so hard to do it! Still I do love the collection we have made over the years.....
I like to get cards from other families. I love to see how their children grow and change. I have a friend who does this real unique Sherlock Holmes card every year and I can't wait to see what comes next. One year, I took all the old Christmas cards from family and friends and put the successive years on my half-bath wall. A visitor came and said, "Do you know you have old Christmas cards on your wall?" Apparently he did not share my vision.
Either way, I will end up with something just in the nick of time and won't have to think about it until next July.....
December 10, 2015
I do love surprises......
I'm just bad at keeping a secret! Actually I am bad at waiting. If I have something cool to give you, I say we don't wait for some holiday to occur, let's get it out now! See? It's tough for me......
Our son is really hard to surprise, but I think we've got him this year if I can keep quiet..... Although, let's face it he must know we are going to get him something for Christmas! Either way, I bet it will be fun.
Last year, last minute (I'm talking Christmas Eve here), we ducked into a music shop just before they closed and I convinced my husband to by him a ukulele. He did it but thought I was crazy. It was a huge hit and he loved it! He noodled around with it all day and by Christmas night, was playing things we could sing along to. We got it right!
Well, here is to surprises. May we have them, may we give them and may we all get a huge grin on our faces because of them.
December 9, 2015
A gun in the high school today.....
So parents get a voice mail that a teenager had an unloaded gun in his backpack today and someone reported it to the office. They located the teenager in class, got him and the backpack and called the police. Sounds reasonable, but it scares the hell out of parents.
You get the phone call and you think, "What am I supposed to do now?" It is a wrenching wait for school to be over and see that face you love so much coming toward you......safe. Are we a product of news and traumatic events in our world or is it normal to want to drive right up there and take your kid out of school?
I picked up my nonchalant son and a friend of his. I called her mother and said, "I'm looking right at her and she is okay." She was as relieved as I was. No, they were not in the room with the kid. No, they were in no way harmed. But it just didn't matter, all was not well until they were in our cars. In reach.
It is difficult to parent in these crazy situations. Not at all difficult to love them, but so hard to know what to do. I don't like that we don't all just rush the place and get our children. That seems smartest. I don't like that we assume they will be okay. Because it could so easily go wrong. I don't have the answers, but I am filled to overflowing with questions.
Our children are growing up in a world is it difficult to understand and traverse. It's not the world you know anymore.
December 8, 2015
At the risk of telling yet another cat story.....
He will not get out of the top of the Christmas tree! Apparently he thinks he is in the forest somewhere and despite ornaments, garland, bells, wires, and big electric lights, he goes to the very top and wreaks havoc trying to find just the exact spot he should chill out in. I guess it's an 'if-you-build-it-he-will-come' kind of thing....
The problem is the graceful get off. There is just no way to get down without a lot of noise, confusion and perilous tree shaking. It always sends him running for the basement to hide and always sends me running for the living room to repair the damage. In short? It's a calamity and all in the name of Christmas decorating!
We hung a whole lot of bells on the bottom of the tree. So when he goes under there to contemplate the next ascent, he has to get past the ringing first. We thought that was a deterrent. Silly humans, he loves them! He bats them around and plays a little before the grueling task ahead. It sounds like an orchestra warming up to play Christmas carols. He's at home under there. He owns that tree. It is now part of his life.
I was going to put some cat treats and a catnip mouse or two in his stocking, but I'm starting to think it would be smarter to just get kitty counseling gift certificates for when it all comes down in January.......
December 7, 2015
OMG I got the senior discount......
I took the kids to school this morning and stopped back by the small grocery store near my home. At the register, the lady asked me if I was eligible for the senior discount. It begins at 55. So yes, I am eligible and I got $2.43 off my groceries. She also told me if I had not had my coffee, I could go next door and get 10 cents off that. All these discounts and the sun was not even up yet!
I bet you think this sounds like a fun thing, but not so much. It is nice that they give a senior discount and every little bit helps, but I'm officially a senior! She didn't even ask for my ID and is that a deal for $2.43? I don't think so. I would rather be younger and not at all suspect for the discount...... I got a little weepy on the way home.
I know, I know! It's better than the alternative! I'm happy, healthy and loved. Alive and well. Above ground. Up and living.....WHATEVER! I don't have to like the glaring reminder and so I'm a bit grumpy today. It's the least I can do.
December 4, 2015
So the light on top of the tree.....
Doesn't work. It's a cheap light, less than $10, and so how hard can it be to replace it? Well, you'd be surprised! Four stores later and now $20, there are no more in stock. The sales people informed me I 'waited too late to look for Christmas decorations'. Really? Seriously? Yes indeedy, they are no longer getting Christmas stock, they are now receiving Valentines Day stock. Wish I'd known that.... when? Before the 4th of July? Before Halloween? Oh no wait, probably right after Valentines Day last year......
Yes, again, I am behind in Christmas shopping. What was I thinking? And on top of everything else? I like the old fashioned large multi-colored lights on my Christmas tree. Bulbs for that? Only red ones this year. What? How did that happen? Is China only stocking red paint for bulbs these days? Good thing I shopped last January for those I think I can squeeze by.
It's a racket, this holiday thing. We get sucked into traditions and next thing you know they are passe' and here I am stuck with my memories, trying to recreate that old Christmas feeling. I know the reason for the holiday is not decorations, etc. But in a strictly commercial-I-want-what-I-love sort of way, I intend to figure out this star thing even if I have to resort to Ebay. And then with the soft glow of the light from my big bulbs and shining star, I will sip warm cider and tend to my memories.
It is no small thing. To me.
December 3, 2015
So I'm standing next to this woman complaining about.....
Having to go to Toys R Us and shop for her children for Christmas. And before I even realized it, I said, "Just enjoy it! These are the easy years. You can go into Toys R Us and spend $100 and come out looking good with something your kids are sure to love. In the teen years? $100 won't get you in the door at home!" Oh and it is so true.....
She of course, did not want my opinion. She thought I was wrong and she thought I was crazy (she's not the first on that! lol) But it's true. You spend close to $1000 for a computer, then have to spend more to buy the programs, protection to go with it... You buy your teen a phone and the monthly fees eat you alive.... And heaven help you if you go buy clothes! Remember when light up shoes were a splurge? It's not that easy any more...
So if you are lucky enough to be joining the throng of parents sorting out the fare at Toys R Us, just know you are lucky enough. And begin right now to save money for the future years! You're welcome.
December 2, 2015
The Great Tuba Getterers......
(I know that's not a word) But we are in the market for a tuba to purchase and so now we must become students/experts on tubas. There are so many kinds and particulars and sounds and manufacturers and theories...... OMG! It's overwhelming. Lucky for us money dictates a whole lot of the process and narrows things down considerably.
To an untrained ear, they all sound good. They are shiny, heavy, pretty in an instrument sort of way, and impressive in size. So it's hard to only have sound to break down the possibilities. And I thought choosing a dishwasher or car was tough.....
The old phrase 'You don't know what you don't know', has never been more true. We are at the mercy of every salesman and must rely on our teenager, who desperately wants one of his own, to be discerning. To his credit he is knowledgeable and trustworthy, but should he be making such a huge decision? Which leads you to hoping that resale is not as bad as a car..... Just saying.
Someone said to us, "Did you know that by and large, tuba players are really happy people?" And so that's what we've got going for us so far. In any event, the world will be a better place with more music in it shortly. One young man will be very happy to own his own tuba. We will need to make payments. And that's all I know so far.......
December 1, 2015
Well if you haven't done it by now.......
You have 31 days to get it done this year. Seriously, where does the year go? I know it seems like some parts of it drags along, but not always. If you had a list of things to do this year, better get it out and do some last minute work on it. And don't be hard on yourself if you need to put something off until next year!
Isn't it funny that we plan in a year? After all, January is just another day, another month, but there is something about looking at things in years that make you sit up and take notice. I am coming up on another wedding anniversary and it seems like no big deal until we put years behind it. Then I have to acknowledge that I have been with this man for 27 years! I don't care who you are that's a long time and possibly even a big accomplishment......
And yet, it's just another day...... Don't forget to just breathe and be kind to yourself today. You still have time!