The Beginning of Christmas 2016

Last evening was a super productive evening.

I wanted to cover up an eyesore in the living room.  There is an old air conditioner installed in the wall in the corner where I like to put my tree.   I hemmed some homespun and now it is a faux window.  The star needed a little trimming, too.  But, the tree is up.  The table is decorated.  My new old coffee table has been refinished.

I have guests coming.  No. Actually, I have family coming this weekend.  They are my dears.  I have my menu done and the beginning of a shopping list completed.

Tomorrow will bring an afternoon off my 9-5 to take care of some Christmas business.  I need to pack a box to ship to California.  I plan to gather the items for packing on the morrow.

Here are some photos of my Christmas décor so far.  Simple country is all I am.  Nothing spectacular or especially wonderful except to me.  I think my little weekend visitors will like things.  I know he and He like them.

Scrub a Dub Dub

I have spent my evening cleaning house.  I estimate I am half way.  Maybe a little more.  I spent some time outside putting things away.  I even washed four windows.  Odd, I know.  They needed it more than the rest.  I will try to do a few more next week.  The fish tank needed some water work. I am give out now.

I have my menu for the holiday weekend made out and my grocery list about ready for tomorrow after the 9 to 5.  Rather than a traditional Thanksgiving menu when my daughter and her husband come, we are having a traditional Sunday dinner.  Fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, creamed potatoes, gravy, yeast rolls, corn, crowder peas, greens, cornbread, sweet potato pie.  We don’t eat like that anymore.  It has now become a treat in my mind.

My niece and her family are coming over the holiday.  I have a menu planned with two little girls in mind.  I checked my supply of chocolate syrup and will make sure I select some delectable cookies.  I don’t have time to bake cookies this week.  We will have to make do with store bought.

He was reviewing the menu for the several days.  He mentioned I had forgotten his ham rolls.  Added them immediately along with the cheese torte.  I hope he enjoys the festivities and the feasting.

Our holiday times are so different from the traditional ways of our childhood and even early adulthood.  The passing of our parents and the marrying off of our children changed everything.  I miss those two little people who used to live with me.  They made my life magical.

I see two grown-ups who seem familiar.  I think they are wonderful people as adults.  But, I still seek glimpses of my young’uns.  I still want to gather them in my arms and hold on tight.

The holidays will roll in and pass by.  I want to make some more magical memories.  I eagerly anticipate two little girls coming to visit.  I hope and pray weather and wellness permit.  I also eagerly anticipate seeing our daughter and her love.  Not sure if our grand-girl will be here.

I hadn’t been looking forward to putting up a tree and laying the table with decorations.  After writing this, I am feeling more like having Christmas after all.  Sometimes, it helps to give myself a good talking to.  Stop wistfully mourning the past and look happily toward the future.  Get the house scrubbed and ready.  Christmas is coming. And so are some of the children!

An image below of a place that never fails to ground me.  My beloved lake in winter.  I will need to spend time there soon.  All the festivities will have me teetering.  I go there and visit the ghosts and talk to Him.  He knows all about my heart, both the strong parts and the fragile.  He will scrub my soul and refresh my spirit.  Any day, not just the holidays.

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Christmas is Here!

Christmas is a time to remember Christ.  A time to remember our loved ones gone before us to meet Him.  A time to gather with our loved ones present and create bonds of love that strengthen throughout the trials the rest of the year brings.  A time to pause and see beauty of baubles on trees and lights on eaves.  A time to believe in goodness and magic and possibilities.  A time to give tokens of love and graciously receive tokens given to us.  A time to grow our compassion for an even greater year ahead.  Always looking upward to the Heavenly Star for guidance and comfort.

A Christmas colored picture to remind me.  Red for His shed blood gifted for me.  White for His perfect peace bestowed on the believer.  Green for His provision of everlasting life.  Merry Christmas to all and may His perfect peace and gift of everlasting life be yours.

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Busy Mondays

This has been a busy day!  Work was slightly hectic.  My own doing.  Sometimes I don’t follow my own rules to pace myself and not let “it” get to me.

But, after work, the busy-ness was terrific!  I got the tree put up and decorated.  I set up a little vignette on the table next to it.  I arranged his dining table centerpiece with the antlers and poinsettias.  I cooked up a couple of steaks and some shrimp in a lemon pepper sauce to go over them for supper.  I have been doing this fairly frequently these days.  Steaks on Mondays.  Sets the week off to a good start.  Why save steak and shrimp for weekends?  Weekends have their own rewards what with all that play time!

Life is wonderful!  Even on hectic Mondays!  I hope the rest of my week finds me as productive and uplifted as today.  Whether it does or not, I am satisfied with today.  And since today is what counts, it is enough!

Getting ready for a Happy Christmas!  Even with my heart that stands before me half way around the world, we will still make merry with the ones near to us.  My angel baby will be with us.  We will get to the see our little girls again I hope.  I have a visit to see my brother planned.  I have already attended a wonderful holiday gathering hosted by one of my dearest friends and her husband.   Happy Christmas has begun even now!

 

 

 

Gratitude

I am so very grateful for the blessings of this past holiday.  Thanksgiving Day, my daughter and her fiancé came for dinner.  We had a lovely visit and some fun on the target range.

I am grateful for technology that allows us to video chat with our children half a world away.  We plugged the computer into the big screen TV so we could see them larger than life!  My son! A TV star!

When he was a baby and we were living in California, we could only call home once a week and write letters that required an envelope, stamp, and a few days to get to the recipient.  In his young life, how things have changed!

I am grateful for the extended visit we were blessed with by my niece and her lovely family.  The girls are wonderful!  A four year old and a 9 month old.  He was especially touched by the extraordinary affection the baby had for him.  I was able to work on some of my preschool age entertaining skills.  I am still not at full speed.  Though, I did manage to improvise a princess breakfast table for the four year old.  Served in the living room to enjoy morning cartoons, naturally.

I have plans and dreams and ideas for little girls’ play.  I do have some of the toys set up in the guest room.  I want to work on that area some more.  I sense some more furniture moving may be in order.  I keep saying I need to stop that.  My body doesn’t recover from the strain as easily as it once did.

I am grateful to be included in their lives.  Each of my children and their mates, my niece and her husband and their girls.  Grateful to be able to love and enjoy them.

A friend and I had a conversation recently about bitterness.  Most folks go through difficult times, tragic times, even.  We get to choose whether we will be bitter or not.  I could be very bitter about the things that have happened to my loved ones and the losses I have suffered.  But, I want to be happy.  I want to love and be loved.  I want laughter and fun and tenderness and joy.  I want to be part of the lives of children and old folks.   I want to pass along the resilience and good humor given me by those who taught me to not be bitter.

Life is the stuff that happens in between the troubles.  Life is not the troubles.  Get out there and live and there are bound to be troubles.  Heartache, stress, fatigue, questionable situations.  But, in between, there is magic.  Love, joy, connectedness, tender sentimental moments, lazy moments of companionship, a beautiful spot in an ordinary day.

A friend once told me she was in a doctor’s office and rushing out to her next scheduled thing.  She noticed a rose in a vase on the table.  She paused and thought about me.  She reflected that I would stop and notice the rose and comment on how lovely it was.  I hold that as one of the best compliments I have ever received.  I do try to stop and appreciate beauty.  I took one of those aptitude and interests type tests in home economics in high school. I still recall the highest value I have as indicated by the test. Beauty.  My highest value.

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What the world counts as beauty may not catch my eye.  But, when the beholder sees beauty, whether in the face of a four year old when her mermaid hair is pulled away from her face for a moment or in the toothless grin of a happy baby, or in the twinkle of brown eyes so familiar and yet so treasured…………..oh how this old gal’s heart pitter patters!

Grateful for making my life simple and choosing to see the beauty. Raining Orchids.  The beauty of my simple life.  Yes, that is me.

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Christmas Cards

Let me preface the following with a few statements.  First, I love Christmas cards.  I love getting them in the mail.  Second, I love the cards themselves.  They are mini works of art.  I love that someone took a moment to include me in their ritual of sending cards.

I used to send Christmas cards to every person in my address book.  You know.  The address book in which folks used to keep “snail mail” addresses.  Every year, a couple of boxes of cards, signed, stuffed in envelopes, addressed, stamped, dumped at the post office.

When we first married, I enjoyed the process.  Picking out the right cards, addressing the envelopes, making the trip to the post office.

After a few years, it became just another item to do on the Christmas list.

Then, it became a chore.   I felt obligated to send cards.

Next, it became a burden.  After all, I still received many cards in the mail each year.

Finally, I stopped doing them.  And the feelings of guilt set in. We were still receiving cards by the bucket full.

After a few years, I got over that.  I realized I have a choice.  I can choose to participate in whatever I want.  I owe no one for anything.  I am grateful for the love and support I have received from friends and loved ones.  I still receive love and support from many, including him and the children and Him.

But, I have given my love and support over and above.  At times, nearly losing my health, sanity and economic stability to do so.  I still have love and support to give.  Resilience.  My friend and I spoke of this today.  Mother instilled resilience in me.  He reinforces it.  Life continues.  Through illness, death, dismemberment, divorce, parting of the ways, life continues.  Meals need to be cooked.  Washing has to be done.  The light bill has to be paid.  The garden needs planting and the grass needs cutting.  People pass into and out of our lives.  Some are here for many long years.  Some for a few short months.  Life continues.

No one owes me anything.  I have given whatever I can of service, time and money from the feeling of love and a bone deep desire to serve.  Parents, children, other family, friends, church, co-workers, neighbors.  Whoever He put in my path to touch, I have tried.  I have failed many times.  But, I have succeeded some, too.  I am choosier now about what I will agree to do.  I want to be able to commit completely and in depth to things I do these days.

Someday I may resume sending Christmas cards.  When I do, the list will be select.  I will send out of love and a desire to express it.  If someone is sending cards to me or anyone else, I just hope they are sending them out of genuine positive feelings and not out of guilt or obligation.  If it doesn’t make one happy, don’t do it.  There are enough chores that must be done in this life without this being one.  Of course, this sentiment could translate to a million other things our society members do as well.

“I just want you to be happy.”  Ten thousand times he has told me that over the last nearly 32 years.

So, I say to my reader, if sending Christmas cards makes you happy, please continue.  Please don’t be offended at mine missing from your mail box.  Should I receive one from you, I will send good thoughts your way and prayers upward on your behalf.  If I find out you have a need, I will try to help.  That will have to be my Christmas greeting to you for now.

In a musty trunk, my Grandmother’s and Father’s sentiments to me are stored.  “Dear Molly Darling” begins one from my Granny Arie……………..

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Connections

Sunday afternoon was wonderful! My mother’s two sisters and their daughters and I were together visiting.  Recalling shared memories and retelling family lore.  Lots of laughing and talking!   Connecting with the past and making new memories.

I spoke with my daughter this afternoon and heard from my niece the other day. Holiday plans are taking shape!  We will be connecting over the long holiday weekend.

Since there will only be 4 of us for our official family dinner, it will be a challenge for me to cook the meal. I am accustomed to cooking enough for 6 or more with enough leftovers to divide into three parts for another 6 or 8 servings.  I have some ideas forming about how to create traditional dishes in reasonable quantities.  We’ll see how it turns out!

Of course, I will have some company over the long weekend as well. So some things will work to prepare new dishes from leftover dishes.  Maybe I could do a whole turkey after all?  I have a wonderful recipe for turkey salad I got from my mother-in-law’s step mother.  Even recipes connect the generations and memories of the past.

Great food and wonderful company! Two perfect things for which to be very thankful!  Now to just figure out how to connect the Skype to get through to Maui……………..

Fall in Southeast Texas has it’s share of beautiful color……….connecting the long hot summer to the cold wet winter.

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