Happy Golden Years

Fifty years ago today, December 17, 1967, the romance that started outside a laundromat in Valdosta, Georgia began a new adventure as my Mama and Daddy said, “I do.”

And they did.  Sickness.  Health.  Laughter.  Pain.  Joy.  Grief.  Children.  Grandchildren.  Other children whom they called their own.  Friends.  Family.  Biscuits. Gravy.  Pound Cake.  Fried Cornbread.  Homemade Pizza.  Cars. Trucks.  Books.  Celebrations.  Mourning.  Everyday Life filled with Extraordinary Moments.

And even though their time together on this earth ended six years ago, I know they are together today, and I hope they are doing what they loved to do most on this day–spending time together, enjoying the journey.  On their anniversaries, Daddy would take the day off from work, and they would go on an adventure of sorts.  Traveling on backroads, eating in diners and restaurants they’d come across along the way.   Meeting interesting folks who would become lifelong friends.

Since 2013 after Mama left this world, I’ve had the joy of continuing their tradition of sharing books with young people we know.  In honor of their anniversary, I’ve chosen different books as our Christmas Book of the Year.  This year, I’ve chosen a very special one that ties an old memory to a new one.

This past summer the littles, the Fella, and I got to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.   Growing up I read the Little House books and loved my weekly time with Laura and her family on “Little House on the Prairie.”  I was “fangirling” pretty hard.  The. Home.  Of.  Laura.  Ingalls.  Wilder.  Where she lived.  Wrote her books.  Raised Rose.  Oh my stars, I was over the moon.  But as excited as I was, it was wonderful to see that our Princess was even more so.  She had read and reread all of the books in the past year.  She loved them.

During our time there, we saw Pa’s fiddle and photos and letters from Laura’s sisters.  There were letters schoolchildren had written to Mrs. Wilder, asking about the people she wrote about or thanking her for writing them.  The museum part was fascinating, as we took our time wandering around, reading and looking and soaking it all in.  But it was when we went to her home, the one that Almanzo built by hand, one room at a time, that I felt the spirit of the place.  Neither of them were very tall, so the home suited me and my short height just fine.  I loved that she continued using her old stove, even after Rose had an electric one put in.  Sometimes change is hard, y’all, and just not worth the bother.  As a child I had fallen in love with the young Laura.  This past summer, standing in her home, surrounded by her things, I fell in love and in awe of the grown Laura, the strong woman who didn’t want anyone to know she loved to read Westerns, and whose last birthday cards were still sitting on the table in her kitchen, as she passed on right around her birthday.  That was my favorite part of the whole adventure.  Soaking in her world in her little farmhouse.  The other house we visited that Rose had built for her parents as a gift when she was an adult did not compare.  It was lovely, but it just didn’t have the same feel, the same homeyness, the same spirit.

As I wandered through the farmhouse, enjoying the stories that our tour guide shared, I was reminded of a Christmas in my own home, many years ago.

I believe it was Christmas 1989, my senior year in college.  My dear friend had come home with me for a day or two before heading home to Alabama.  We had slept through the night to be awakened early the next morning by the ringing of jingle bells.  My friend, my siblings, and I all went to the living room where we found a sock for each one of us.  A long knee high sock I believe, filled with good things–like an orange, a giant peppermint stick, a penny, an orange in the toe, and the matching sock balled up inside as well.  It was left there by, as the note said, “The Christmas Spirit of 1889.”

I probably laughed it off as my parents and their whimsical ways in the moment, but inside I loved it.  I love all things old and traditional, and as far as I was concerned, this was perfect.  Everything about it.  I’m not really sure what prompted my Mama and Daddy to keep Christmas like that that year.  Maybe they wanted to remind us that simple joy is at the heart of Christmas–that the simple joys are the treasured memories we will carry in our hearts for a long, long time.

Just as I have the memory of the sock filled with goodies, nearly 30 years ago.

So when I sat down to choose a book to share this holiday season, I found it almost instantly.  In memory of that Christmas 28 years ago and our adventure “home” this past summer, our family Christmas book this year is “Christmas in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The illustrator, Renee’ Graef, shared that her artwork was inspired by the work of the talented Garth Williams with his permission.  It’s a sweet story about the excitement of the holiday season and the greatest joy of all–being together.

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Tonight I’m thankful for the love of two people that grew to touch so many–our family and friends and folks they met along the way.  A love that was joined together forever fifty years ago tonight.  I’m thankful for their quirkiness and how they reminded us of what is really important all those Christmases ago.  And I’m thankful for the privilege and thrill of standing where some of the world’s favorite stories–I know they are some of mine–were put on paper for all of us to enjoy.

May the simple joys of this Christmas season bring you grand memories that you will treasure for years to come.  Love to all.

 

 

The Chaos After

We’ve been cleaning and sorting and breaking down Christmas this past week, like you do.  Epiphany is my self-imposed start date (not deadline–that’s an ugly word, people) for putting away the decorations.  We play treasure hunt on the tree for the ornaments and put them back in boxes for another eleven months.  The boxes stay in the house for a few days, which is a very good thing, since today I found yet another decoration on a shelf that had been forgotten.

I know.  January 10th.

It’s whatever, y’all.  I refuse to stress about this.

Much.  I refuse to stress much about it.

Because until it’s all stacked and stored away, yeah, I’m gonna stress a little bit.

Yesterday I was putting some of my heirloom Christmas decorations up in my closet, as well as tucking a couple of 2016 presents (yes, already, because sales, people!) away, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?

Presents.  Christmas presents.

For the folks I love who live right here under the same roof with me.

This.  This is why “What you didn’t get for Christmas” Day was born.  Well this and delayed deliveries.  But just as often it’s this at the root of it.  I hide it so well that…..well, yes, even I can’t find it.

So today became an unofficial WYDGFC Day celebration.  I had said we weren’t doing it this year because I don’t want my people focusing on the getting.  They were quite surprised and full of smiles when I came out of my closet and interrupted their lunch with the little treats.

I guess now Christmas 2015 is officially over.  Gifts have all been given, and all the decorations are tucked in their tubs and ready for storing.  Oh wait…..what is that over there?  How did we not notice that one before?

*sigh* Back to it.

Somebody please tell me I’m not the only one.  Even if you’re just humoring me.  Please tell me I’m not alone in this, the chaos that comes after the holidays.

Love and happy putting away to all.

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The Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas…..

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…..fi-ive things that sing.

For the second year, we have the droids you may or may not be looking for along with Merry Darth and Yoda Claus, singing joyfully in the front yard.  On the front porch our little snow friend is singing a familiar tune.

Better than gold rings.  Every single day.

When the sun goes down and they come back to life with the flip of a switch, they bring me joy, and that makes one more thing sing–

my heart.

But we won’t count that tonight.

Five is a good number for Christmas.  It’s a number that brings me joy.

Love to all.

The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas…..

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“Happy new year 06463” by © Nevit Dilmen. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

four haikus for the season.

 

To Hallmark Channel and all your movies–

Hallmark, what you’ve done
is fill my heart with joy and
keep me up all night

I love getting all of the pretty Christmas cards from friends and family near and far every year.  But the unusual “card” from my sisterfriend stood out and warmed my heart.  Giving thanks for the gift of time.

The best Christmas card
Never came through the mailbox
A call from my friend

Just in case we tossed something not wrapping paper out after unwrapping our presents, I always wait to toss the bag.  At least 24 hours.  I know–Anxiety Girl and Justin Case work overtime on the “what ifs” as to what exactly we threw away.  

The wrapping paper
in a ball in the trash bag
Wait! Don’t toss it yet!

And this happened.  It was a fun and funny Christmas.  

Someone’s fav’rite gift
was in “Squatty Potty” box
I’ll leave it at that

Merry Merriment and Love to all!

 

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas…..

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Sweet ornaments made by my sweet friend that remind of the way the sounds of the season resonate with my soul and what a treasure friendships are.

Tonight I sat listening to the carols being played and sung by people who have come to be a part of my family.  As they sang and played the guitar and the flute and the drum box, I was, once again, moved to tears in the midst of “Silent Night.”  As I wondered why, the image of women singing this to themselves in the midst of waiting for news from the war came to my mind and heart.  I wondered what it was like for my Granny singing this back then.  Or my great-grandmother before her.

And then it hit me what a precious thing it is that they did.  They sang these same carols that I sang as a child and sang tonight.  The same ones, I’d venture a guess, that my grandchildren will sing along to one day.

Then I thought about three different Christmases and how dear they all are and how they connect me to my story–

Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.

And for all of the new ways of doing things like tracking Santa with an app on our phones or sending Christmas cards through email or social media or going to the movies on Christmas day–all of which are wonderful in their own way–the old traditions that connect us to those who have gone before us are truly beautiful.  Decorating the Christmas tree, making homemade Christmas ornaments, baking cookies and other treats, singing Christmas carols, caroling, making time to visit with family and friends, reading the Christmas story together, sitting out milk and cookies for Santa…..

priceless.

Tonight I’m thankful for the traditions that have and will last through all three Christmases.  It is a good feeling to be a part of something that has come before and will last long after I leave this world.

Silent night, Holy Night…..

Love to all.

Christmas Creating

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This.

This beautiful piece.

Someone I love is very clever, and she created this beautiful wreath all by herself–bow included. (I know–I was VERY impressed.)  She told me about finding the pan on sale a while back and waiting for the right time to make gingerbread in this pan.

But the time didn’t come.

And so she recreated it.  She repurposed it.  She thought outside the box and figured out a way it could work for her.  And what a lovely thing she made when she did.  I adore this wreath.  Almost as much as I love the one who made it.

I think of how my Daddy talked about us owning our things, not letting them own us–making them work for us and not the other way around.

And this is a lovely example of doing just that.

Wishing you all the inspiration to think outside the box, to recreate and repurpose, and to make spirits bright!

‘Tis the season.

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.