Maemae’s Holiday Book–2015 Edition

December 17, 1967.

Forty-eight years ago.

My parents stood before a small group of family and friends in front of the Pastor, and with my Mama’s best friend and my Daddy’s Daddy standing beside them, they said “I do.”

And they did.

They laughed, they learned, they worked hard, they listened, they tried, they failed, they succeeded, but most of all they loved.

Through it all. They loved.

Each other.  Us.  People they met along life’s journey.

They loved.

One of the things they enjoyed most was hearing stories about the children in the family–and those who were not in the family.  They loved the stories, and they loved being with them.  Over the years it became one of their greatest joys to pick out books for the little ones they knew and loved.  On birthdays and especially at Christmas.

It has been one of mine too.  For the past two Christmases I have chosen “Maemae’s holiday book” in honor of their anniversary. This being the third Christmas without my Mama right here with us, I spent a lot of time and energy and thought into making my choice for the book this year.

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Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman 

This year’s story I had to think about before committing to it.  After all, it is about a mouse.  Mama was not a fan of mice.  As a matter of fact, she could be downright inhospitable to the little creatures.  She never could sit down and watch “Ratatouille.”  A mouse that cooks?  Food?  In a restaurant?  “Blech,” she would say and shake her head.

Oh me.

But this little mouse named Mortimer (pretty sure Mama would have loved his name too, I know I do) is adorable, and the whole book is whimsical at the surface and powerful underneath.  It’s about making room and finding a place and feeling the love of the Gift given all so many years ago.  Without giving the storyline away, we can all learn something about hospitality and welcoming with open arms from this little mouse.  Eventually.  Like all the rest of us, Mortimer is a work in progress.

As I sit here next to our twinkle-lighted tree with “Mortimer” at my side, I give thanks for my parents who loved reading and taught me to do so as well.  I give thanks for them and their love of children and books and how they loved matching the perfect book to the perfect child.  It was a beautiful thing to behold and to be a part of.  Tonight I’m honored to carry on this tradition, and I hope, as the ones loved so dearly by Maemae and Cap/Uncle B and Aunt B find their books in their mailboxes over the next couple of days, that they will remember the smiles and the hugs, and even if they don’t remember that–I hope they will know how precious they are, that they were and are still so loved, and that every person deserves a sweet place where they are always welcome.  A place to call home.

Love to all.

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As I read Mortimer’s story, I kept thinking of this picture our Princess drew several years ago.  It is all of us around the supper table.  She said that extra seat was in case a special Guest dropped by.  Keeping room for others–at our table, in our homes, in our hearts, and in our lives–that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  

 

PSI have one copy about Mortimer’s little adventure to share.  I’d love to send it to someone with a little one or not quite so little one who would enjoy it.  Comment below sharing your favorite holiday book and subscribe to the blog and you’re entered to win.  It’s that easy.  Winner will be selected randomly Friday 12/18 at midnight EST.  

“Scratch It, You’re Done”

Today the crew and I found ourselves doing an unexpected end of semester move for our college girl.  It was a very good thing, and we rocked it.  We moved her across campus less than 24 hours after she got word she could move, and it took us 2 hours from start to finish.

Yeah, we are feeling pretty sanctimonious right about now.

As I was helping to pack up her room in bags and boxes and whatever I could find, I came across the scratch art set that Mess Cat gave Aub for her birthday.  I hadn’t packed it up yet, when I heard our Princess chastising her brother.

“No, don’t touch that.  You scratch it,  you’re done.  One scratch, it’s a picture.  You can’t undo it.”

Ah.

Much like how when our hearts or souls get scratched.  There’s no undoing that.  It’s done.

I think I’m going to start carrying around one of those black sheets with all the color underneath as an example of how delicately we should treat each other–as though we are all precious (and we are) and the least little scratch could change us forever–of how we should be careful of how we touch each other–with love or anger.  The mark will stay either way.

May we always use our touch to create something beautiful.

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artwork by our Princess

Love to all.

 

Rockin’ Around the Tree

Sharing just a few of the precious memories hanging on our tree…..

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A little porcelain doll that has hung on our trees for over fifteen years

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A snowman from my Aunt D I got so many years ago…..I’ve always loved him.  He spins!

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A gift from one of our favorite organizations doing amazing things–Bead for Life

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This little sweetheart was a wedding gift thirteen years ago from a very precious family.

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We have a few from our favorite movies.  Thankful we are.

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Hallelujah–the lights are all on! My decorating can’t hold a candle to Clark Griswold’s.

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There are ornaments reminding us of big moments or favorite things from that year.  (Marilyn and guitar–guess which one of my people these belong to?)

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There are ornaments to remind us of big life events….

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and ever so adorably small.

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We have ones that remind us of places we have lived.  (Yes, we have cute little sumo wrestlers from Japan on our tree.) 

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And we have ones that remind us of happy days with people we love and miss.  We gave this ornament to my Mama many years ago.  She loved Winnie the Pooh.  Now it hangs on our tree, and we find joy in the memories.  

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And we have sweet homemade ornaments that remind us of the Love and Light of the season. 

Tonight as I gaze at the lights and memories on our tree, I give thanks for the quiet and all of the memories that come flooding back in a rush.  So much love on one precious tree.

Love to all.

When Time Stood Still

I am one of those people who believes that light will follow darkness.  That eventually the sun will rise.  That the heavy nothingness will give way to little pinpricks of light that will open up the sky like a box being opened at Christmas, until the whole sky is gloriously lit by the golden sun as it rises from its slumber.

That is what I believe.

I have to.

To move forward.

To move beyond.

Today I found myself sitting in a courtroom listening to hard stories and all the pain and hurt from years in the past.  When I first got there I noticed the clock had the wrong time.  That’s annoying, but clocks can run slow or folks forget to set them back, so I didn’t give it a second thought.  When there was a recess I looked up again, and I saw that the clock hadn’t moved it all.  It wasn’t working.  At.  All.

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When we first arrived

I began to feel antsy.  I looked up at that clock a couple of more times during the remainder of our time in the room, and it. still. wasn’t. moving.

Then I began to feel closed in.  All of that pain, all of that hurt.  All of that, and no time had passed?

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When we were about to leave

I know that it had in actuality passed.  I think part of what troubled me is that it was a clock that the only the judge could see easily, and I wondered how on earth she was managing not knowing the time…..

Why didn’t she have that blame clock fixed?  Or replaced?  Why didn’t she do a lot of things?  Did it not bother her?

And I realized that I needed in the very worst way for that clock to move.  I need for the afternoon and then the evening to come.  I need for all of that to happen because if time does not pass, how can we begin to heal?  How can we move beyond?

Though the passing of time can bring more darkness, eventually if the clock keeps ticking, the sun will rise, the light will come, and we can move past all of the pain and hurt and sadness of the now.

Tonight I give thanks for those who remind me of the moments passing and who hold my hand and heart as they do.  I am thankful for those who sit in the dark and are the first to call out “Morning has broken!” as the tiniest bit of dawn peeks over the horizon.  Tonight I open myself to the Light which will I hope will help me see the path a little clearer.

And I’m sure hopeful that someone will fix that clock.  It’s no good to be stuck in the same moment for more than a minute–it’s just not good for our souls.

Love to all.

Hope in the Woods

Last week after I got some hard news, I wrote the poem, “over.”  I was hurting, and I remembered all of the times when I hurt like this–when I had to say goodbyes that I didn’t want to say.  When I had to close the door and not turn back.  Ever.

It was pointed out to me first by someone I know and admire and have grown to care about (though we’ve never met) that in the poem I shared that I had tossed an acorn into an open grave, and that told him something.  Later, another sweet soul pointed it out as well and said she agreed.  For me to keep tossing acorns.

Wow.

Keep tossing acorns.  

Hope.

I hadn’t looked at it like that.

This afternoon I took a few minutes to wander off by myself.  It was a lovely afternoon, just right for a walk.  I went down near the edge of the woods in search of a treasure.  I wasn’t sure if they would be there or not, but when I got there and they were–I was elated.

It was peaceful there, squatting by myself at the edge of the woods, pushing back the tendrils of grass that didn’t die off in the frost a couple of weeks ago, searching for the gifts from the trees there.

Acorns.

I gently picked up each one.  For whatever reason, the caps fell off of many of them, but I tucked each one and its cap in my jar.  I needed them, you see.  It was as though each one I picked up fed my soul a little bit more.  When I rose from the ground, I headed home toting my jar of acorns with a little more peace than I had when I began.

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And I give thanks for that.

I look at these little amazing things, and I wonder if anyone ever told them that simply dropping to the ground and waiting in one place would not get them anywhere.  I wonder if anyone ever told them about gravity and how something that falls to the ground can never really reach the skies again.  I wonder if anyone ever told them that it was all over.  Done.

No.  Of course not.

And even if someone had, it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference because an acorn defies gravity and proves that sometimes good things can come from sitting still, from waiting.  Just simply by being.  By the way it lives out its story.

Tonight I’m thankful for the peace that can be found by sitting in a patch of grass at the edge of the woods.  And for the hope that can be found in a little acorn.

Wishing you all a healthy dose of hope and peace and a little patch of grass to squat in and find it.

Love to all.

 

Joy After the Door is Closed

Today I found unexpected joy in rebirth and re-creating.  Thanks to an event shared on Facebook by a friend, we were able to see a play today.

I love plays.  I love live theater.

I absolutely adore holiday plays.

We attended a revision of “White Christmas,” performed by young people in our community.

It was different and well-done and completely fabulous.

Looking at all of those faces and their eagerness and thinking about how much of their wonderful lives they have ahead of them, I got teary-eyed.  When I saw a young teenage girl at the curtain call eyeing her parents who were sitting behind us and noticed that she was getting teary-eyed, I started to lose it.  When I leaned over and hugged my dear One who had joined us, I was undone.  The tears came, and I didn’t care.

Sheer joy.

The way the play was worked, all of the children who wanted to participate were able to.  They danced and they laughed and they delivered their lines and they told a story.  An important one about holding others above self.

The whole afternoon was joy-filled.

It was held in  a building that used to house a Family Dollar.  Since this was our first time attending a play there (not my first time in the building), I didn’t know what to expect.

What a lovely surprise!

New life was breathed back into that building and a theater was born.

From Family Dollar’s ending, something truly beautiful came to be.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, change is very, very hard for me.  I do not like it at all, it’s not my friend, and it will never be on my birthday list.

And yet–

I think there was a lesson in what I felt today.

Things can end.  The darkness can come.  And yet,

joy shall rise again.  New life will come.

The light will shine again.

And I give thanks for that–for all of the lights that shine, from spotlights to tree lights to the bright, warm sun that kissed our faces as we left with our souls touched and spirits lifted.

A day of merry and magnificent memory-making!  I’m thankful.

Love to all.

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The Family Dollar never looked so lovely…..

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so homey…..

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or so completely wonderful.  Scenes from the back of the theater.  

 

The One About What Really Matters

All last weekend I could hear the joyful sounds of laughter and conversation as all the girls from our street and one who used to live here gathered on our front porch, making “potions” and “perfumes” and all kinds of things.  Using wood, old chimes from a wind chime, baskets, all kinds of leaves and holly berries, and very active imaginations, the girls went at it as though they had mortar and pestle.  Mashing and grinding and laughing and singing and concocting.  They were having all the fun.

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I stepped outside to say hello at one point, and the youngest girl on our street was holding a big ol’ basket in her arms.  Her smile though–that and her blue eyes would warm anyone’s heart.  She set it down and went back to work with the others.  I turned to go back inside when the basket’s contents caught my eye.

Oh.  No.

It was filled–FILLED–with buds.  Beautiful closed buds from my camellia.

Oh my heart.  I guess I made a sound, probably a distressed one, and that sweet girl looked up at me with her blue eyes.

“Where did y’all get those?” I asked, when I finally found my voice.

“Over there,” she said, pointing at–yes–my camellia.

“Oh.  Ummm.  Okay.” I paused.  Hold it together, hold it together.  “Well, could y’all not pick anymore of those please,” I said to all the girls.  “They won’t bloom if they’re not on the bush. I mean, it’s fine and all,” I hurriedly said, as eyes got bigger, “but just maybe not anymore?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Mama,” our Princess said.  “We left the ones at the top that we couldn’t reach.”

Oh.  Well.  In that case.

*sigh*

So my poor taller than I am camellia with just a few buds left at head height was on my mind and heart all that evening.  I could hear my Mama’s voice, gently reminding me over the years.  People are what count.  Not things.  And I’m certain she would add, not flowers.

Eh.  I would likely have lost a lot of them in a good freeze anyway.

Tuesday I had a busy day, and my Fella took the helm.  While I went from an appointment to a meeting, he hung out with the littles and had them helping him take care of some much needed yard work.  I had started trimming our Lora Pedlum in the front flowerbed two months ago while the Fella was gone for work, but I could only get so high using my pruning shears without a ladder.  And I refused to get on a ladder without an adult close by to call 911 when I fell.  (Because yeah, it was bound to happen.)  So it was in desperate need of trimming all around, especially on top, as were some other shrubs.  There was also an invader in the middle of my camellia bush.  Some tall singular strand of an interesting weed/plant that had reached at least three feet taller than the camellia around it.

Since he had all of this in front of him, my Fella had picked up a cordless hedge trimmer.  (More power, more power) As I left for my day to dailies, he was setting out, trimmer in hand.

When I dashed back home between obligations for just a few minutes, he pulled me to the side.

“You want the good news or the bad news?”  he asked.

I immediately jumped to the bad news.  Was it Miss Sophie, who had felt puny a few days before?  Was it one of the children?  I couldn’t even wrap my brain around what all the bad could be, but YES TELL ME ALL THE BAD THINGS NOW BEFORE I PASS OUT FROM HYPERVENTILATING.

“It’s your plant.  I cut it down.  By accident.  I’m sorry.  Our Princess said it was your favorite.  I’m really sorry.  I couldn’t see that’s what I was cutting down under there.”

My–favorite?

“The one with the buds on it.”

Ah.  Oh y’all.  Yeah.  That sounds about right.

I went to the front door and looked out.

Yep.  Camellia.  Gone.

And all I could do was laugh.

Right?

I mean, last weekend I was trying to hold it together because most of the buds were gone.  I sure am glad I didn’t give the girls a hard time about that–would have been really silly, considering, huh?

I think that my Fella might have been a bit concerned that I was delirious, laughing and all.  After all, just over two years ago I lost it because he chopped up my fuzzy Wandering Jew plants in the flower bed thinking they were weeds.  I mean, LIFE WAS OVER AS I KNEW IT when those plants were chopped up.

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Only of course it wasn’t.

And they grew back healthier and in greater number than ever.

So yeah.  I’m in a much better place now, and really–I think maybe, in the words of my folks, I’m finally “getting it.”

People.  Their feelings.  They matter so much more.

My Fella seemed relieved that Hurricane Tara wasn’t about to hit land.  He took me out and showed me what he had done in the hopes of saving something.

Bless him, he had take two of the bigger branches from the bush and planted one on either side of the other shrubs in the hopes of them somehow taking root and growing and blooming and all the beautiful things.

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He’s been watering them everyday.

Bless him.

How could I not love someone with that much hope and faith?

Maybe it will happen.  Maybe those stalks will take root.  Or maybe they will become very important ingredients in the very busy and intense potions factory I host on my front porch.  Either way, all will be well.

I can always get another camellia.  I mean, I was hoping for a ginkgo for Christmas, but camellias are good too.

But precious little ones sharing their imaginations and picking buds and dreaming and folks who love me and go to such lengths to show it–I wouldn’t take a whole tea garden of camellias for that.  Or all the money in the world.

Wishing you all a sense of joy and laughter in the midst of the unexpected.

Love to all.