The Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas…..

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This was not one of my selections. My Mama was not a fan of this song, especially after she became a grandmother, so yeah. Not on my list of favorites. I’d still rather not upset my Mama even now. “Dr. Elmo (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer) with John Pinette 12-11- 106” by PamWendell – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

I think of the eleven songs I love the most during this holiday season.

1–“Nothing But a Child” by Steve Earle
My Daddy loved Steve Earle, so of course I do too, but this song is very, very special.

2–“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid
This song makes me tear up every single time. “Throw your arms around the world…..” Yes. Let’s. I think we could all use a hug.

3–“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
It is nigh unto impossible to be in a bad mood when this song is playing. Pretty sure you will find yourself dancing. At least tapping a toe or something.

4–“Christmas Time’s a Coming” by Bill Monroe
Bluegrass. You just can’t go wrong with that. I love this song.

5–“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby
I loved the song years before I ever saw the movie, but after seeing the movie, OH YES. What a great movie–and song.

6–“Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby
A great song and everything, but then there’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” making it an awesome song. Who hasn’t dreamed about a pool in the middle of winter? (Well, some in Georgia this past Christmas actually did get in their pools, but that’s another story.)

7–“Sleigh Ride” by Johnny Mathis
Another happy song. My finger tends to dance along and direct the band to this one. (And also the medley of this song with “Jingle Bells” in “Sleepless in Seattle”–loved it. “Harses, harses, harses, harses, harses…..”)

8–“Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte
It’s just fun, y’all. All the children (young and OLD) like to make the donkey sounds.

9–“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page
This is my favorite version of this song. Yes, I’ve heard all the issues with regards to the song. I still love it. I’ve tried not to, but every since I saw Thora Birch and Lauren Bacall sing it together in “All I Want for Christmas,” I’ve found it delightful.

10–“Last Christmas” by George Michael
Other artists have recorded this, and we have discussed this at great lengths in our home. Other artists “speak” the lyrics. I think George Michael is the only one who actually sings the words. But mostly, I chose this one to make my Cousin smile. Because I love her, and because I know she will miss George over this next year. (or maybe not)

11–“Twelve Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser
Seriously, this version right here. If you’ve never seen it, treat yourself. Great entertainment, and I laugh out loud every time I watch it.  Check it out here.

Okay y’all, as I was composing this list, I realized there are a whole lot more than eleven Christmas songs I love.  I really, really love holiday music, and tonight I’m thankful for the music services where I can play this music that brings me joy whenever I want.  I’m not ready for the season to be over yet.

May you all have all the music you love to listen to and lift your spirits.

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 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.

 

Welcome

The word for today is WELCOME.

Today my sisterfriend Dena, a talented writer and beautiful soul who shares her thoughts over at Centering Down, and I traveled to the big city of Decatur to audition for Listen to Your Mother.

Dena heard about it and shared the event information with me.  Somehow we both garnered enough courage and adventurous spirit and decided to go for it.  We signed up, and this morning we were out the door, in the van, and down the road.

Our families told us we were welcome to go.  They were thrilled to see us set out on this journey, a new one for both of us to be sure.

When I got to Dena’s, I was welcomed by the smells of breakfast and a beautiful smile on the face of my friend’s sweet daughter.  It seemed that the world welcomed this journey, as traffic was clear and easy, and we made the trip in what seemed like no time–good conversations, laughter shared, and stories whispered from our hearts.

When we parked in the public parking lot, we gathered our thoughts, our stories, our bags, and took deep breaths.  We were really there.  We were actually going to do this.

How about that?

A happenin’, as my Mama would say.  All for the fun of it.

And it was fun.

We walked in this small, quaint coffee shop with all the rustic charm it could muster, and we were greeted by a friendly woman who was in the show last year.  She was engaging and welcoming, making me feel like YES, I did belong here.  I wasn’t an impostor.  That was an amazing feeling.  Expected.  Welcomed.

That.  Was.  Huge.

The auditions were around two coffee tables with the two organizers of the Atlanta show, one of whom was a friend from years ago.  An unexpected and welcome surprise.  In the moment where she grabbed me in a big bear hug, almost before I could register whose face I was seeing, my heart leapt.  WELCOMED.  WANTED.  EXPECTED.

Yes.

It was laid back and fun.  Sharing stories and catching up.  Before I knew it, my audition was over, and it was Dena’s turn.  She wrote a fabulous story that I won’t soon forget.  And I’ll leave it at that.  (I’m hoping you will hear it at the show in April–fingers crossed!)

While I waited for my friend, I visited with the one who had greeted us in the beginning.  The organizers had asked some of them from the first show to come and welcome people.  And they chose well.  While I was there, a guy came in who was also in the cast last year.  They were funny as they shared from their experiences from last year.  I love seeing good friends interact and share their stories.  It made me want to pull up a chair and sit for hours, listening.

Soon Dena was done as well.  We thanked those who had welcomed us and headed out into the cool of the gray Sunday morning.  We walked around the charming square, peering in windows, looking at the iron critters that seemed to be so popular, and biding our time until the place we’d chosen to eat was open.

Even the four-legged folk were welcome.

Even the four-legged folk were welcome.

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Lovely, these kinds of creations were a common sight.

Lovely, these kinds of creations were a common sight.

Made me giggle

“Rose are red, Violets are blue, Not sure it’s love, but I really like you”      Made me giggle.

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Delicious!  Until we meet again, my friends.

Delicious! Until we meet again, my friends.

Seats outside the pub welcoming folks to sit a spell.

Seats outside the pub welcoming folks to sit a spell.

The lamp at our table gave off more than light, it offered warmth for the soul.

The lamp at our table gave off more than light, it offered warmth for the soul.

Walking.  With all the others who were enjoying their day.  Runners.  Retired couples with dogs.  Parents with children.  Best friends.  Young couples.  We were a part of the cosmos of this Sunday morning, sharing in each other’s stories if only for a nod or an “awwww” over a cute child or puppy.

We had a delightful lunch where we were welcomed among the first of those hoping to get a bite to eat.  The food, which was surprisingly locally sourced (and they made their own carrot and green bean pickles–OH MY LAND, SO GOOD!), was absolutely delicious.  I made a promise to myself and to Dena that this would not be the last time I sat in one of their booths and ate there.  It was wonderful.  And the glowing light and warmth inside the old English interior soothed my soul.  It took me back to places I haven’t been in so long, and we shared our own stories of our love of that country.

All too soon and yet right on time, we were done and it was time to head home.  Back to our lives as Mamas and wives and people who are needed and loved and welcomed.

Oh, those welcome homes!  The happy text from my oldest that she heard my car outside.  The smiles in the text from Mess Cat asking me how it had gone.  The hugs when the Fella and my two littles finally arrived home.  I missed them all!

“Mama, did you make the show?  Did you make it?”

I told my little guy I wasn’t sure, that we’d find out sometime around his birthday.  He accepted that, but what I didn’t tell him and I probably should have, is that today I won.  I won the jackpot in feeling something so precious–

WELCOMED.

WANTED.

LOVED.

By my friend.  My family.  Complete strangers.

And if that is all that comes from this adventure today, I can be happy. A good day with a good friend sharing anything and everything and all the important things.  And coming home to people I love and missed who love and missed me.

That’s the best this life of Mama has to offer, and I am thankful for it.

May we all make this week one of welcoming.  With a smile, a laugh, a hug, a handshake, a hello, a story…..who knows, it may catch on and take us through the whole month or even the whole ever-loving year!

I dare to dream…..

Love to all.

 

Towel Day is Tomorrow-Do You Have Your Towel Ready?

Happy Towel Day!

Happy Towel Day!

Yes, tomorrow, May 25th, is Towel Day. I know, hard to believe it’s here again, right?

Okay, I had no idea until just recently that Towel Day is such a thing. But it must be pretty cool. After all, my friend Baddest Mother Ever is the one who told me about it here.

It is all good fun, and I am excited about picking out which towel I will carry around all day with me.  ‘Cause that’s what you do to celebrate.  And folks won’t think you’re crazy at all.  Especially not your visiting in-laws.  Just sayin’.  Ahem.

In mentally reviewing which towel would be just perfect, I started thinking about how some pretty special moments and some pretty extraordinary ordinary moments have been marked in my life by towels.  And so I share my towel anthology.  (Yes, I know an anthology is a collection of written works, but can I have a little poetic license here, considering it’s Friday and all the excitement over the coming celebration?  Thank you very much.)

The first towel I remember being given as my own was probably a beach towel given by my great Aunt Hattie.  She was an awesome gift giver.  I used it in the backyard and to “lay out” on the trampoline.  I may have taken it to Lake Tobesofkee a time or two as well.  Mostly I remember it in its later years used when Mama was canning to spread out the fresh beans or peas from the garden as part of preparation or to cover the jars after they were done.

My Purple Knight hand towel from Santa my freshman year.....um over 26 years ago.  Happy memories!

My Purple Knight hand towel from Santa my freshman year…..um over 26 years ago. Happy memories!

Then there was the “college” hand towel that Santa brought me my freshman year.  As I was in the Purple Knight class at Wesleyan, Santa splurged and got me a purple hand towel.  I say “splurge” seriously…..I used it constantly and that cotton pima is still hanging around today.  It’s now a lovely purple-y shade of gray.  And still soft.

When I was expecting my first precious baby, and my second, and my third I received sweet and funny towels.  There was the duck head complete with beak when Aub was born that I remember the best.  And with my next baby girl, there was a particularly sweet and soft light green with baby bears embroidered across the hat.  My favorite one for my baby boy is the one he can still use–handmade by a friend who used a thick towel and washcloth to make a hooded towel for him, accented with a cars and truck ribbon.  His first truly boy towel!

When my husband and I married, we were preparing to combine homes and move to Japan all at the same time.  We put towels on our wish list–the ones with the embroidered rubber duckies for Aub’s bathroom and the purple with embroidered dragonflies on the border for ours.  We still have some of those cycling through the house ten years later.

Some of the others in my anthology include a pink floral set, given to Aub when she was four or five by her friend’s grandmother.  She came to the house next door to keep her grandson.  One day she was cleaning out a shed and found this towel set among other things, and she decided it was made for Aub.  When I’m folding clothes and come across that one,  I still think of her and what a sweet and gentle soul she is.

Over at Mama’s there is a lime green towel that is MINE.  (I hope my sibs are reading this one.)  I’m not exactly clear as to how Mama wound up with it, but it had something to do with my great Aunt–maybe she was cleaning out?  I don’t know, but I know that Mama, whose favorite color was green, never really cared for chartreuse.  But she brought this towel home with her, and whenever I stayed there, she set it out for me.  That towel just hollers, “You are loved,” whenever I see it.

I have quite a few towels that, when we were cleaning out my great Aunt’s house a couple of years ago, I brought home with me.  They remind me of her and her style and good times there.  I expect they will be around a while, as she didn’t play when it came to linens and the like.

My great Aunt Hattie sent great gifts at Christmas that were surprises, but she also sent standard ones.  Like the box you KNEW was the Whitman’s Sampler.  If we could make our case for why we thought that was the one, Mama and Daddy would let us open it a couple of days before Christmas.  Quite the treat, I’m telling you.  But her standard gifts that I think we maybe took for granted as children were dishtowels for Mama and bandanas for Daddy.  To this day, it makes me smile if one of my siblings replicates one of these gifts.  A happy, happy memory.  It was just this past Christmas, when Mama wasn’t up to doing a lot of shopping that she asked me to take her Kohl’s discount card and pick up some dishtowels as gifts.  I had fun doing this, as it had become something of a “thing” for my littles to pick out seasonal fingertip towels and give to Maemae over the past couple of years.  She would sit them out for the grands to use as much as they needed.  And to enjoy.

So I picked out different hand towels and took them to her for review.  She loved them.  She sent some as gifts, and picked out a special one for each one of her children, unbeknownst to me.  Until Christmas morning.  I opened up my gift of the hand towel that I had probably loved the most.  How she knew I don’t know, except, well, Mama always knew.  Aub loved it, saying it reminded her of the patronus in Harry Potter.  Y’all know I love me some Harry Potter, so I only loved the towel more.  (And the fact that a patronus is a positive force, provoking hope and happiness.  All righty then.  I can always use that.  Perfect.)  It hangs on my oven bar in the kitchen.  Year round.

My most recent towel--from Mama this past Christmas.  It will always remind me of our precious times together.

My most recent towel–from Mama this past Christmas. It will always remind me of our precious times together.

Isn’t it funny?  When I read it was Towel Day, I laughed and thought what fun.  I didn’t realize how many stories are connected to them.  But I do know that as I fold my towels, I think of my brother who gave me this hand towel as a remembrance of Aunt Hattie.  Or this towel that hung in my great Aunt’s house.  Or this towel that I embroidered for Aub when she played basketball.  Or this one that I wrapped my baby boy in…..

And so many more.

Now before I get all weepy and need all the towels I own to wipe up my mess, I’m off to sleep to prepare for tons of fun tomorrow.  Y’all go pick out your own towel.  Or two.  How will you celebrate Towel Day?  Happy Memory Making!