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Posts Tagged With: traditions

Come and get your love

As of today, Sunday, I’m officially at the 5 & 11 mark:

  • 5 scheduled work days left followed by 11 days off.

Eleven. Gloriously wonderful Conference-call-free days off!

Yes I’ll monitor emails and yes I’ll likely need to chime in here and there but … my intention is to step away.   I’ve set my intentions for that preciously guarded time off and they read something like this:

  • Coffee, books, blogging and brunch
  • Daily walks / rebounding, with some yoga thrown in, too
  • Time with Hubbs, the boys, their girls and our grands
  • Yummy appetizers, dice games, laughs and movies
  • More books, coffee and brunch
  • Snuggling into bed when I’m tired and rising when I’m rested
    • Enjoying the peace, quiet and comfort of a contented Christmas

Come and get your love, Indeed.    💖

 

“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”
Richie Norton

  • What are you intentional about?
  • Do you set intentions ahead of time off?

 

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Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, music, Personal, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Really living this Thanksgiving

It’s the night before Thanksgiving … and all through the House, Not a spatula was stirring …

WHAT?

  • NO taking the day before off work to clean, cook, prep and repeat?
  • NO fridge stuffed with Cheese Balls, Salads, Cheesecake and Pie?
  • NO 10,000+ steps inside the house?
  • NO setting the alarm to shove the bird, ham and other delights into the oven?

2017 Thanksgiving eve’s Fridge – Cherry cheesecake, Mom’s Pineapple carrot salad, homemade cheese balls and more. an Emjayandthem(C) photo

Nope.  Nada. None.

Today I went to the office, had time to stop for a coffee (gasp!) and worked a “normal” day.

  • No cutting out early to set tables, stock up on booze, clean the garage,  wash crystal or defrost something.
  • Nope. Nada. None.

Why?

Oldest boy and his beautiful bride bought their first home earlier this year and, while walking through their gorgeous open concept kitchen/living room, I may have happily proclaimed, “WOW this is gonna be great for the Holidays!”

There might have been a skip in my step, not sure.

See, I’ve loved cooking and entertaining and fussing and decorating and providing for everyone all these years (32+ but who’s counting?) but do you know what I love even more?

  • That my big strapping handsome son loves it, too.
    • And so does his wife!
  • I love that he has some semblance of understanding what’s he’s in for and that they want to host Thanksgiving this year.
    • As the chief cook, cleaner and bottle washer, I couldn’t be PROUDER!
      • And neither could these two, although they’d never believe it was a MAN was stepping in to cook!

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together; and Emjayandthem (C) photo

BREAKING NEWS:  Are you sitting down?

This is the first family Holiday I haven’t hosted, cooked, cleaned for or done.

For at least 35 years.

Thirty. Five. Years.

Flash forward to tonight:

  • Hubbs and I are to bring a couple of side dishes, show up, mingle and BE GUESTS!
    • We may have done the dance of joy more than once tonight (he in his fuzzy pants and me in mine, prepping my 2 side dishes {done and in the fridge already!})
      • Her parents, Grandparents and brother are coming, too.
      • So is youngest boy and his fiance.
    • Their dog will be in the mix, too, and he and I are likely to be shooed out of the kitchen.
      • Can’t wait.

 

  • Hubbs and I toyed with the idea of (not really) being BAD guests, you know the ones .. they don’t bring what they said they would OR they show up late OR they bring other guests you don’t know OR all of the above!
    • But we won’t do that.
      • But we laughed hard at the thought of it.

 

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” ~ Gail Sheehy

 

Your turn:

  • What traditions have you changed up lately?
  • What would you like to change-up?
    • Happy Thanksgiving!

 

P.S.

  • Made Hubbs some fudge just because.
    • He very nicely offered that “some” could go with us tomorrow ~

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Men, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Somebody giving back in

Growing up us girls would help as Mom and Aunt Irene packed for the field: Mason Jars of lemonade or iced tea, a pot of stew or chicken & dumplings wrapped in newspaper +a wool blanket before tucking all of it into a box in the trunk of the Oldsmobile. Nothing about this was disposable, Corelle traveled to the field, too.  Real silverware, coffee cups and cotton napkins.  As we’d head out,  our cars smelling of stew, fresh bread and pie, we’d wave to the men in the field.  As a child it was an adventure; for them, it was a lot of hard work and careful planning.

~ a typical scene from my childhood ~

Feeding and caring like this is an act of love and they did it well.

Combining under a Harvest Moon ~

Upon our arrival, the men would take their break and drive over to meet us, dust accompanying their arrival.  They’d wash their hands and splash their faces using water from the Igloo cooler then sit cross legged in the stubble as they dunked fresh buns into steaming bowls of soup, stew or chili.   Conversations ensued about what was done, what was left and what was coming next. Before long they’d stand and into their bowls would land a slab of pie or a piece of cake or maybe both.  Leaning against the trucks’ end gate they’d savor dessert and coffee before handing back the bowls, giving thanks for the meal, and heading back to work.

an Emjayandthem(C) Flapper pie

We’d pack up and, with a farm dog in tow, head back to the house to plan for the next round.

Family in the field – from L-R : Grandpa, Uncle Harley, Dad and Uncle Jarl ~ An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real, from the kid from the city to you ~ and Cheers to the unsung heroines of the Prairie ~ the women who made the breaks wonderful.

Dusty old farmer out working your fields
Hanging down over your tractor wheels
The sun beatin’ down turns the red pain to orange
And rusty old patches of steel
There’s no farmer songs on that car radio
Just cowboys, truck drivers and pain
Well this is my way to say thanks for the meal
And I hope there’s no shortage of rain
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
The combines gang up, take most of the bread
Things just ain’t like they used to be
Though your kids are out after the American dream
And they’re workin in big factories
Now If I come on by, when you’re out in the sun
Can I wave at you just like a friend
These days when everyone’s taking so much
There’s somebody giving back in
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
Songwriters: Murray Mclaughlan
Have you ever had a meal in a field?  
Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Home, Life, Men, News, Personal, Seasons, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 for Labor Day ~Dishes, Empaths & Amazon

How is today is September 3rd and Labor Day already?

It seems like 5 minutes ago we turned the calendar from April to May ~ and while we didn’t have a typical summer, we still enjoyed many high points — beach days, good books and BBQs.    To that end here are my 5 Random 5s for Labor Day:

1 )  Good friends enjoyed shared birthdays this weekend so a celebration was organized, pot luck style.  I don’t know about you but, around here, “bring a dish to pass” gatherings offer the b.e.s.t.  food.  Why’s that?  Because everyone makes (or buys) their one “best” thing and, when you put everything together, it’s amazing.  Examples of what was offered include the following:

  • Deviled eggs, home-made pickles, olives and various cheeses & crackers
  • 7 Layer Salad (mine), Oriental Coleslaw, Pasta & Potato salads – all home-made – yummo!
  • Pastry-wrapped sausages, Sloppy Joe’s & baked beans (with bacon and enough brown sugar to carmelize an apple, yum!)
  • Veggies & Dip, chips & dip and Fruit salad
  • And birthday cake — not just any cake – but a local bakery’s marble cake with a creamy custardy middle  and fluffy whipped icing — OMG.
    • There was more, but the above is some of what I sampled and YES I enjoyed a small piece of cake — it was sweet and creamy and a little bit went a long ways 🙂

2 )  I’ve been reading a book that I can’t stop thinking about.  Normally when I land upon a good book I’ll tear through it like a starving wolf.  Not this one.  I’m savoring my way through.  See,  I’ve always known stuff I shouldn’t know, and I’ve had a feeling (good or bad) about a person, more than once. I trust it.  I just didn’t know how to use it or how to protect myself from absorbing other’s “stuff.”   

A sample includes:

  • Being an empath is different from being empathetic.
  • Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else.  Most of us do this – especially after a tragedy.
  • Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body.  You can feel it so deeply that it can make you physically sick, sad or drained.
    • You may have been told to “not be so sensitive,” maybe you are, like me, sensitive to caffeine, startle easily, get overwhelmed in crowds, have a strong sense of smell and touch (sour odors and prickly clothes, no way).
    • These can all be indicators — so tell me — Are you an Empath?

3 ) I just realized that my Amazon cart always has something in it.  I  love the “save for later” feature.  Because my internet wanderings can take me into some deep valleys, it’s nice to know I can save an item for a more rational purchase point later.    Between books, vitamins, and skincare/beauty products, I enjoy new-to-me finds and repeat favorites.    For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, I sure enjoy Amazon 🙂

4 )  Speaking of books — I did a lot of not laboring this weekend ~ I putzed, cleaned, cooked a little, read a lot, fiddled with the hot tub & read some more.  Yep, definitely did. Not. Labor.

5 )  And with that, here’s September!  Bring on bright sunshiney days, College Football, autumn leaves, cooler nights and less humidity.  Because even though it’s Labor Day, the reality is it’s still warm, humid and summery … and that’s OK.  Put down the pumpkin spice and turn on the fan!

Autumn colors are arriving (scenes from the old house)

 

  • What signs of Autumn are near you?
  • Could you be an Empath, too?
  • Are you laboring to NOT Labor this Holiday weekend?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Seasons, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Random 5 December ~ Traditions, time off and dogs

Hello again, friends.  It’s time for another Random 5  from my part of the blog-osphere. Ready? Here we go:

1)  Thursday morning, I woke with a start …. it was 4:04 a.m. and there I was, wide awake thinking about Christmas cards!  Ack, rolling over, I tried to resume my slumber.  No-can-do.  Muttering to myself that Hubbs never experiences such thoughts, I found my way to the kitchen and pressed the “brew” button on the coffee machine.

I used to enjoy writing Christmas cards, especially when the boys were little and I could include a picture or funny story about them. I don’t enjoy it anymore.

I can remember my parents’ delight when a Christmas card came in the mail. They were such a lovely alternative to newspapers, bills and other correspondence.  I recall the sparkles on my hands after reading updates from people I didn’t recall: Aunt so and so.  Cousin somebody.   Mom carefully taped the cards and put them up all around the kitchen window.  Red and green, silver and gold, shimmered in the light and brought festive to the room.  That she took the time to do so for each card suggested reverence to me.

There’s only a few family members left that I would normally mail a card to – this year, I’m calling instead.  And I think they’ll be just fine with a laugh and a chat and a “I miss you, too.”

2 )   Balance. As an adult I’ve struggled to balance between what I want (to do) for Christmas vs. what (I think) is expected of me.    Shopping is done, wrapping is not.  Some baking was accomplished …but also eaten (Hubbs!).

So what I’m working towards is making room for MY Christmas —  I relax and smile when the tree lights are on; reading or cooking near them makes me happy. There’s a peace I feel being able to pay the bills, have $ for gifts and a bit to put away, too.  There was a time I couldn’t do that, and I appreciate now that we can.  I look forward to time with the boys – card games, good foods, “knock knock” jokes with the grands, and days off with Hubbs.  No particular place to be.  No schedule. Reading more than a page or two at a time.  Knowing I can sleep in even though I won’t.  I’ll be up early, watching the snow fall, sipping coffee and reading your blogs.

My stack of reading is close to this size

 

3 ) 9 and 119 days left of work for THIS YEAR then 11 – count ’em – 11 glorious days off!  Time for a reset button.  I’m fortunate that I enjoy the work I do, but this year the challenge has been in being able to do it.  This has been a year of organizational change, steady movements, restructuring, people coming, people going, and that constant shift of the horizon has left me dizzy and needing a break.  And I plan to take it, no exceptions!

4 ) Shades of Frankie. Youngest boy got a dog, and memories of our beloved Frankie definitely influenced his choice.   Our Frankie as a Pup:

Frankie as a wee one

Ladies and gents, meet Sullivan, or “Sully” for short:

Sullivan (an Emjayandthem (C) Photo)

I haven’t met this furry little friend yet but I’m sure I’ll cry when I do.

5 ) We’re heading into the new year soon.  Can you believe it?   I haven’t thought about my goals and dreams for next year, but I’ll work on them over my time off.    A good friend is leaving our company next week; she hasn’t had time to think about what her “next” looks like.  I encouraged her to create a Vision Board.   I know she won’t, but it reminded me that I’m ready to.  

 

What traditions are worth continuing and which ones have you stopped? 

What gift are you giving yourself this Holiday Season? 

Wishing you peace at Christmas and always

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

32 and 9 and still new

32 years ago I immigrated to the United States with $178 and a guitar.

9 years ago I stepped forward with 78 others to take the Oath of Citizenship.

It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.

(more about my journey here.)

You see, someday I will be a citizen for 15 or 20 or 35 years and I’ll still choose to tell folks that I’m a “new” citizen.

Why?

Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it.    The choice of it.

We’re not perfect, this country, we’ve got our flaws.  Like most families, there’s bickering and divisions and  always someone willing to point out what’s wrong with us … but still … there’s a heart and soul about America that continues to inspire people to imagine a life here.

* * * *

God Bless America, Land that I love

Stand beside her,  and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above

From the mountains..to the prairies

To the oceans..White with foam

God Bless America!

    My Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday, America …. from a grateful citizen.

 

Related:

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Holidays, Home, News, Opinion, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Strong Women, Grey Ties & Valentine’s Day

As a girl, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a school party, card boxes, ice skating and moms visiting our classrooms.

google.images.com

google.images.com

As a teenager, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a boyfriend if I had one and avoided if I didn’t.

google images

google images

As a young married woman, Valentine’s Day meant cards and flowers – for a while, anyways.  As our relationship evolved, romantic gestures were replaced by thoughtful ones.  Things you can’t buy in the store: taking out the trash; filling my car up with gas on a snowy day.  Running his vehicle through the car wash then detailing the inside myself. Folding the laundry left in the dryer; bringing in the groceries.   It’s the little things  ~ but they’re helpful and kind and nice.  And there’s a flow and a comfort to it that I love.

In my 50’s I don’t wait for someone else to make me happy ~ I make myself happy.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1You see I learned it from her:  My mother was a strong woman and my role model  – 100lbs of dynamite ~ she calved calves, trained horses, wrangled 5 kids, a husband, a 1/2 acre garden, 2 dogs and 14 cats.  She rode in trail rides, taught 4-H and Sunday School, balanced the books and Chaired the Board.  She always got out to vote, once taking the tractor to the highway to catch a ride to the polls. No muddy roads were going to stop her!  Not much ever did!

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 - mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 – mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Like she did, I go to bed when I’m tired,  take a nap if I need one and I stay up late when I choose to.  I make room for the things I love – books – and never apologize for the space they occupy.  I have learned how to say “no thanks” to stuff I don’t want (or want to do) and “YES please!” to the ones I do.

Years ago Mom bought my sister & I that novel about the guy with the grey ties  ~ She made it clear she had no intentions of reading it and quipped “you can handle it” with a snort.   The two of us traumatized our grown kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The comments of horror from my nieces and the looks our boys shot my way were so worth it.  That was her point, to stir the pot and to remind us we always have a choice.

I chuckle remembering how Mom and I joked that if a good looking, rich man came near us with a grey tie, he’d find himself in some deep do-do.

God, I miss her.

So this Valentine’s Day I wish you this:

  • I wish you the courage to make the leap you’ve been pondering,
  • I wish you dreams in technicolor,
  • I wish you the conviction to change what’s not working, to stop worrying about what others think and to do the things that make your soul sing.
  • Time’s a-wasting and, per the wisest woman I’ve ever known, the only hero we have is ourselves.

 

strong-women

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Fun, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Love, Mom, Personal, Romance, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Memories of Masterpiece

Winter has arrived in Michigan – we’re on our 3rd day of heavy snow – yesterday was swirly, twirly snow spinning down and around and to the ground.  Today snow is falling quickly, like rain. It’s cold and beautiful and slippery!

“It’s a good day for a house,” Mom used to say.   Yes indeed.

Hubbs is making omelettes and I’m wrapping presents.  Christmas tunes play on the radio.  We’re cozy, tucked in and content.

Reminiscing last night about the Christmases of our childhood, Hubbs and I laughed at how our parents always bought us board games.  Well 1), because we asked for them but 2) setting up the board and figuring out the rules kept us all occupied for hours.  In my home our dining room table often had a board game set there on a rather permanent basis – Monopoly,  Clue, Masterpiece, just to name a few.

My oldest sister was the keeper of the rules and my youngest brother was the one most likely to bend them.  Oldest brother sometimes played and sometimes he didn’t – by my middle sister and I were fierce competitors.  The real fun started when our cousins and aunts/uncles arrived.  Kids games were quickly  moved to a back bedroom as the adults took over for Cribbage, Rummy, 7 card stud and Whist.

Hubby and I remember smokey clouds above the card table and counter tops covered in nuts, treats and ingredients for various adult beverages – Caesars,  Harvey Wall-bangers and Rum/Rye and Coke.  Nobody over did it, Bing and Dean played on the record player and sometimes they danced.  Ladies wore dresses and pearls, slingback heels and peep toe shoes.  Gentlemen sported dress slacks and buttoned-down shirts, jackets and sometimes a tie or a sweater.   I remember Dad grinning as he took Mom for a twirl around the kitchen before guests arrived – I watched in my Church dress and white tights.  Those moments stay close even though they’re both gone.

Coca-Cola was a hot commodity, too – that was a treat we rarely got.  At Christmas time Dad would buy a few cases of pop to keep in the basement (ever cold) and if we were good – and only IF – we might get to split a glass of pop with a sister or cousin.  Ooh what a treat.

Sipping on a glass of Ginger Ale, stealing Aunt Irene’s famous peanut-butter balls and winning at Masterpiece  — now that’s a Christmas vacation I can only dream about today.

parker_brothers_masterpiece_auction_art_game_board_box_lid

Forgery!! – A favorite from my childhood

**When you think back to Christmases of your childhood – what comes to mind?  Did you play board games or card games in your family?Which ones? What tastes and smells take you back to the Christmases of your dreams?

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Joy, Life, music, Personal, Random, Relationships, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Vacation, Naps, Plans and Cheer

It’s time for Random 5 Sunday on the first Sunday in December:

  • Thanksgiving week vacation:  I’ve never taken the whole week of Thanksgiving off. I’ve taken a day here and a day there. But never the whole week. And now, ladies & gents, I do believe I have a new tradition ~  whoop!

good-for-your-soul

  • Hallmark Channel Holiday movies.  While on vacation, I watched at least 5 Hallmark Holiday movies – sometimes I only caught the tail end or the beginning.  You have to admit, the plot is easy to predict most of the time – a beautiful young lass soured on love by a jerky boyfriend moves back to her home town only to bump into the world’s hottest handy-man while shopping for her daughter who it turns out only made 1 friend at school – the (widowed) hottie’s son … and in just a matter of weeks she finds the love of her life, saves a small town business, rescues kittens and puppies and all they live happily ever after, over hot chocolate in perfectly coordinated tartan jackets ~ sigh

hallmark-christmas-movies

  • Naps – glorious, wonderful, and life-redeeming.  Because we stayed on our “normal” schedule during our time off,  just 1 nap was enough. Somehow I kept up on my rest.   Went back to work wide-awake and refreshed.  And good thing, because I clocked 800+ miles last week alone!

kitten asleep

  • Travel plans ~  Sissy and I are planning a “sister’s” getaway – we’ll likely revisit Branson, MO for a week of visiting, shopping, visiting, shows and fun.  We’ve visited there once before, 10 years ago, when we took Mom for her 77th birthday.  What a great time we had – and such a relaxed and friendly place to be.   After our 3rd night Mom happily chirped, “You know, I’ve never stayed in a hotel this many nights and I’ve never gone out for every single meal!”  We were girlfriends on this trip you see, more than mother and daughters.  She loved the adventure and spoke of it many times with fondness.  I know she’d love that we’re planning to go back.
me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

  • Christmas Spirit:  I wasn’t really feeling any Christmas spirit heading into our Family Christmas party last night.  The hustle and bustle and holiday ho-ho-hos didn’t do it.  Lots of yummy foods, hugs and merriment didn’t do it.  No – it was capturing this picture – of wee cousins (with our grands in the mix) at the exact moment they all cheered “SANTA CLAUS” – that’s what did it.
xmas-party-2016-kiddos

Santa Claus!! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  ― Roy L. Smith

What randoms would you like to share?  Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Random, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

‘Till next time

There’s no other way to say it than to say it: Mom passed away last week.

She’d been up & down and things weren’t getting better; but we’d been there before, collectively holding our breath.  And then the little bit would rally and surprise us all, over and over again.

Oldest sister sat with her last Sunday and they talked frankly about things; thankfully Mom made her own choices about being moved from the nursing home to the hospital.  “No way,” she said emphatically.  But the meds weren’t working as they had before.  Sissy asked if she was tired and Mom said yes, yes she was.  Sissy told her it was OK to rest that she would sit with her and she did. She asked about calling the others. Mom’s response was a typical Mom response, “Don’t believe that’s necessary.”  Sissy did anyway and they all visited the next day.  The morning after that, Mom slipped quietly away.

Even when you expect it, there’s no way to prepare for the loss of someone you love. You can’t.  All you can do hold on as hard as you can and brace yourself for the waves of grief that are sure to come. Some are Tsunamis, some are ankle nippers.  You try not to drown.  I’m still there, some days floating, other days gasping.

I had booked flights for my nephew’s wedding at the end of July; our oldest son’s wedding is this Saturday.  It was so like her to slip off before all that – not wanting to cause a fuss. It was so like her to put space between those milestones so as not to tamper anyone’s joy.

Tickets have been changed, I’ll leave sooner.

She wanted to be cremated and for us to hold a service “when it made sense.”  That was also so her. We laugh about how, even now, she’s still ‘large & in charge.’  Sobs come through our stories.

We’ll have a service at the grave site then a gathering in the town hall with several hundred people followed by a lunch. There’s no church big enough!!  And not having everything this week or next gives people time to come.  And they are. By the droves.  Not just locally but from all over Canada & the U.S. as well.   Mom was well-known and loved; friends & family want the opportunity to tell their stories and pay their respects.  I’ve tried to help where I can, making phone calls, sending photos, and just being part of things.  But I know when I step off the plane that grief will hit me in the face like a wet towel.  Drafting her obituary last night stung but I was  honored to do so.

As sad as I am and as much as I’ll miss her I know she’s free.  She’s with Dad on a date night, holding the winning ticket to a fast horse, enjoying a hot Rye, her purse just a-swinging.    I smile knowing Frankie’s tucked up under Heaven’s kitchen table getting fatter by the second; she always called that dog “the Gentleman.”  Her Mom and Dad are there, she’s with other pals and family.  Farm dogs, barn kitties and ponies we’ve lost along the way are all snuggled up close to her. How can we be sad at that?

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses - and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

No, the sadness, that’s for us. The sadness comes in knowing we have to wait to see her again. And I’m not that patient.

But mixed with the grief is the gratitude: for all who she was, all that she did, and how deeply we loved her.

I’ve lived far from home for 32+ years. She and I enjoyed many happy visits, there, here, other places, plus other trips and adventures. We had a thing: we never said “good-bye” we always said, “’till next time.”  The last time I was home with her, when it came time to leave for the airport, she stood to hug me and laid her head on my chest. We stood quietly like that, her head on me, me supporting her, and her hugging me tightly. I’ll never forget that hug.  Breaking apart we looked each other in the eyes and said “till next time.”   She smiled and I smiled and headed out the door.

Soon my siblings and cousins, aunties and friends will gather – we’ll share her stories and we’ll sing her songs.  We’ll find ourselves saying the things she would have said. We’ll sip on a Rye and we’ll reflect on the gift of a Mother happy to be one.  On the gift that was her.

related:

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran  

angels-kiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Random 5 ~ NYE

It’s Friday Thursday and New Year’s Eve.  Here are 5 randoms from my world:

1 Remember when New Year’s Eve was a big deal?  Getting dressed up, wiggling into pantyhose and new shoes and a sparkly little something to go out with a bunch of people, dance, and kiss under the 5-4-3-2-1 Happy New Year countdown?  It’s been years since I’ve felt like that.  Yes we’re going out with a group tonight – to dance, sing and such -but there’s no pantyhose in sight :).  I have a sparkly sweater in mind and we’ll probably be home by 10:30 to watch the ball drop in the basement ~ the only one I’m smooching is Hubbs.  🙂

What sparks your creativity? google.images.com

2 I’ve been on vacation this week but didn’t feel like it until yesterday.  You see I’ve been on conference calls and had people pinging me left, right and center.  Yesterday I slept in, pushed away that nagging feeling saying I “should” accomplish something and instead embraced the massage chair that accompanied a pedicure.  I sipped a Caramel Iced coffee and read Hollywood magazines, catching up on the lives of people I don’t know.  When I was done I drove my relaxed self home and warmed up leftovers for supper.    A better day was not to be had.  ❤

giant coffee

3   “A year of ending and beginning, a year of loss and finding…and all of you were with me through the storm. I drink to your health, your wealth, your fortune for long years to come, and I hope for many more days in which we can gather like this.”
― C.J. Cherryh, Fortress of Eagles

Mom me and sissy - wedding 2015

Me, Mom and my sister – August 2015.

4 Another year is upon us.  I stopped making resolutions a few years ago and instead continue to do what works for me — clearing away the clutter and making room for the good.  Getting rid of those who drain me and resisting the urge to let just anyone in. There’s a reason the rear view mirror is small and the windshield is wide.  😀

chapter

5 I’ve always loved this song.  And so I ask you this, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”

 

Happy New Year, friends!  ~MJ

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Grief, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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Laugh. Dream. Dare. Inspire.

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A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

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Country Living for Beginners

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Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

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She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

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A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

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music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

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