Starting Another New Year

And once again looking expectantly to starting something new. Maybe becoming someone new. 

We all have that feeling at first, or a part of it. This is going to be a year of changes, a year we accomplish something new, a year of becoming a new person, etc.

All over social media we see the examples, many times in the form of ads for products being pushed on us that are supposed to make that huge change in your life.

Ads for new journals to use to record all the wonderful things you’re going to do. Ads for art and writing classes that will suddenly change your entire life, just by using their product. Ads for cosmetics that will instantly make you look ten or twenty years younger overnight. Ads for products that will teach you a new language, a new skill,  or make you lose weight easily and quickly; all you have to do is buy the product!

So what’s the magic formula that changes December 31, 2022 at 11:59 PM to January 1, 2023 at 12:00 midnight that suddenly makes all your hopes and dreams come true in just a second of time? What causes that transformation from who you were that particular second to the new person you become the next second?

Do you magically feel different, look different, think different, maybe suddenly have everything you ever wanted?

It’s not that easy, is it?

Our expectations are easy to imagine in our minds. But to make them actually happen is another matter. 

Sure, we start out believing that THIS new year is “it”. The year we do this, that or the other thing; the year that we become who we’re destined to be; the year we find that perfect job, that perfect relationship, that perfect thing we’ve been looking for for so long.

We’re expectant. We’re excited. We start new things and vow to continue our new “me” forever. 

And for several weeks we do. But the novelty wears off, and we quickly become tired of trying so hard because we don’t get what we want right away, and by the end of January we’re back to our old selves, wondering why nothing has changed yet.

It happens to all of us at one time or the other. Sometimes over and over.

Because making a change entails a lot more than saying you’re going to do this or that. It involves changing your mindset, the way you think about things.

It involves stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a chance. It involves doing something new, in order to make a change. 

And it also involves sticking with something even when you don’t see the results immediately, like in a few weeks or maybe a month. Because change isn’t instant. You can’t wiggle your nose or snap your fingers and instantly change your life. That’s not how it works.

Yes, the new year is a great time to make promises of things you’re going to do to change your life. But that change will only happen if you make a conscious and conscientious decision to really do it, and not give up and not stop until you reach your goal. 

Change can only come by working toward a goal and continuing, even when you don’t see things happening right away or the way you expect them to.

It took a lot of years to become who your were on December 31. So why do you expect to immediately be someone else on January 1? 

Promising yourself to do something different in this new year is great, but don’t lose sight of that promise on January 2, or 3, or January 20….or the next month or two. You can accomplish your goal, but not without changing your mindset and your way of living.

So try it. What have you got to lose?

Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

And Once, Again It’s Almost Over

How many of us are saying that this year? I know I am! It’s been a rough year for a lot of people, some much more than others.

At times it seemed this year dragged in forever, and then suddenly were wondering where the year went!!

Life has changed for lots of us, in so many ways, and not always for the good.

Sure, there have been some happy and wonderful events in 2022. Engagements, weddings, new babies (our new grandson and a couple of babies for our daughter’s friends), expected babies, graduations, new careers, and new beginnings.

But it’s also not been so easy for so very many. There have been unwanted and painful separations and divorces. Unexpected deaths of loved ones and friends. Life changing diagnoses and accidents. Job loss and continuing unemployment. Financial struggles. High gas prices (which are fortunately going down now). Inflation.

Then there are the catastrophes which hit thousands of people. Disastrous hurricanes and torrential flooding. Brutal snowstorms and below freezing temperatures which have already resulted in a number of deaths due to the temperatures. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Loss of thousands of homes with people left wondering “now what do I do?!” More mass shootings for absolutely no reason except hate. The horrible war in Ukraine which has resulted in thousands of senseless deaths, thousands of devastating forever life-changing injuries, and thousands of people losing their homes and everything but the clothes on their backs.

Now you may say these things happen all the time; we just hear about them more because of the times we’re living in. That may be true, but to the people affected, it doesn’t make it any easier.

You may be directly affected, or you may not. If not, what if you were? Put yourself in their places for a little while, and your circumstances aren’t quite as bad.

Personally our year has been ok, but it’s had its moments. We’ve had some medical issues, not only with my husband this time, but with our daughter’s complications during her pregnancy (which fortunately resulted in a healthy baby boy). We’ve had friends going through extremely difficult situations, including job loss, serious illness, and loss of family members. We’ve stood by them as they stood by us, because that’s what friends do.

Some weeks it seemed like all we got was bad news. I almost didn’t want to answer my phone or read text messages because it was probably more bad news coming.

Did you feel that way? Do you still? Are you as glad as I am that this year is almost over?

But just remember, we felt a lot like this last year at this time.

We entered into 2022 with hopes of a bright future. Changes for the good. New beginnings. Some of us had them. For some of us, it was more of the same.

This year let’s try something different. Instead of looking and waiting for change in the new year, let’s help make it happen. Waiting and hoping and doing nothing won’t cause the change we want.

There are 365 new days coming in a new year. 365 opportunities to make something better happen. Sure, a lot is dependent on others, but you still can make a difference by changing the way you look at your circumstances, changing the way you think about them and deal with them. Some problems may not be solveable that easily, but making plans and goals to get you where you want to be is a great start.

And your attitude is the beginning. If you start by saying “I can’t do this without that.” “Someone else will have to do it for me,” then you’ll not get anywhere. You won’t be able to make your plans and hopes and dreams for the new year become a reality.

You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but I can almost guarantee those people with that greener grass think their grass isn’t nearly as green as THEIR neighbors’!

“If I just had __________________.” isn’t the answer either. There’s no magic solution that’s going to make your new year automatically better. It’s planning and attitude. It’s how you see things and how you deal with them. Perhaps, like us, there are a few things you know you’ll be facing in 2023 that are somewhat out of your control, but still, it’s how you handle them.

Because you can’t control everything that happens in the coming year. There will still be losses we will have to face. There will still be natural disasters that we can only prepare for as best we can and hope for the best. And we certainly cannot control the actions of others, and how they affect us, but we CAN control how we react to them and how we deal with it. And not let them get the best of us.

Yes, I’m glad 2022 is almost over. And I’m hoping 2023 is a much better, much more prosperous, and much healthier year.

Yes, there are sure to be tough times as well, but overall I’m looking for good things for this year for all of us.

That’s how I’m going to look at it.

Happy New Year!!

Making a Special Christmas Dinner

As I shared a few days ago, our Christmas was a bit different this year. And certainly not what we’d planned. 

Of course we had a good reason for it being a bit different, because five days before our daughter and her husband presented us with a new baby boy…5 weeks early. Our tiny grandbaby was definitely the best gift we’ve ever received for Christmas. 

But he certainly caused us to use a lot of creativity and ingenuity in order to create a festive dinner with only 24 hours to plan it, since we didn’t know until the day before if our new mom would be up to traveling (which she wasn’t). And although not what we usually do, we made it work. 

Fortunately my best friend Karen is an event planner who specializes in creative picnics for various occasions. She was already included in our family dinner, and we put her decorating and cooking skills to work to help put together and set up a traveling Christmas dinner at our daughter’s house, complete with all the gifts, food, and even impromptu table decorations gathered up from my Christmas craft supplies. 

A festive occasion calls for a properly decorated table, as well as a good presentation of the food, even if we had to improvise a bit. 

Which we did.

After our preparing almost everything in my kitchen and Karen’s, we packed up two cars, one with gifts and one with food, and headed to our daughter’s home some 30 minutes away.

Trying to put together dinner in someone else’s home, even if you’ve prepared almost everything in advance, isn’t the easiest thing to do, as many of you know. Although we tried to bring all the serving pieces, serving dishes, etc., there were still things we had to finish in an unfamiliar setting, which called for more improvising, including searching for sharp knives, saucepans, and the like. Our son in law had to clean his fishing knife in order to carve the turkey, and then we had to warm up the gravy in a small fry pan, which was all we could find.

Not to mention having to use an oven that wasn’t properly calibrated, which meant we had to guess at the time it took to bake my “famous” cinnamon buns! (Thank goodness we were able to figure the cooking time out and they turned out perfect!)

Karen used a tablecloth and napkins I’d brought, along with a few candles our daughter had, and put together our dinner table. Yes, we used paper plates and cups, but it worked. 

And the new big sisters pretended they were at a restaurant at their own special table and even used their “menus” to order their meal! But they did forget to leave their servers a tip. Even after having a third serving of my cinnamon buns.

But all of this just continues to reinforce that Christmas isn’t about fancy decorations, or food that looks like it came from a restaurant or the pages of a magazine. It’s about family and friends, being together, and loving each other. We were together and that’s what counted the most. 

Definitely a Christmas Day we won’t forget. Especially with our newest member of the family!

Hope yours was wonderful as well!

A Baby Changes Everything

That’s not just the title of a Christmas song.

Since the first of November when we began thinking about the holidays, I always felt like this Christmas was going to be different somehow. 

Call it intuition, a sixth sense, or just a mother’s intuitive “knowing” that this year was not going to be like other Christmases. 

I had insisted that we put all of our Christmas trees up as soon as November arrived. All (now) 13 of them. Plus the other decorations that fill our home with the holiday spirit, including the decorative ledge Ben does every year. It’s not a quick process, but we did get it all done and complete just two days before Thanksgiving.

We were able to celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving meal in our home that was ready for the Christmas season to begin. And we even joked about how next year we’d have an extra person around the table, since our daughter and son-in-law were expecting another baby the first of the year.

But Ashley kept saying she thought he was going to be early like her other babies, like maybe even at Christmas. Which would be a little too early, or so I thought.

We didn’t do our traditional Black Friday shopping because Ashley wasn’t up to it, although we did get the granddaughters’ Christmas outfits and took them to see Santa and had their pictures made, just in case the baby decided he make his appearance early.

Then Covid hit us, or should I say Ben and me, and we ended up quarantined for almost two weeks, unable to do much of anything. And yes, we’d had the vaccines and boosters, so I’m assuming it was a lighter case than others. But still…

Fortunately Amazon became our best friend, or should I say MY best friend, since I ordered almost all the gifts from there while we were sick.

But as the days passed by, Ashley was feeling worse with this pregnancy than the others, and along with her almost daily bouts of morning and any other time sickness, she developed choleostasis, a pregnancy induced liver problem in which the bile accumulates in the mother’s bloodstream causing severe itching and yes, potentially risking the baby as well as mom.

She began to be monitored twice a week by her doctors, and more miserable and sick than with the last two, and we were told he’d be coming several weeks early. We just weren’t sure exactly when.  It seemed almost day by day things could change.

But we did know we’d have a Christmas baby, either before the day itself, or right after. And yes, that changed everything because he now would need a few more warmer clothes than she had for him, and a Christmas outfit, and of course we had to tell Santa we might have another child to bring gifts for in their household.

Santa already knew when baby would be here. He already had his gifts. But Santa doesn’t tell everything he knows.

And just five days before Christmas our family gained a beautiful baby boy! A tiny baby boy. Although 6 pounds at birth, even at 5 weeks early, he was still really little. Fortunately we’d found a few preemie sizes (which aren’t that easy to find) already, and hours after he was born I went out and found a few more. And when we brought his sisters to the hospital to meet him, we were able to have a pre-Christmas gift opening, just for their baby brother, with the tiny outfits that would actually sort of fit him!

Then we needed to figure out Christmas Day. Every year Ashley and her family have come to our house for dinner, where more gifts plus filled stockings awaited them all. It’s tradition.

But a baby changes everything. And as a baby boy who was born some 2000+ years ago at Christmas changed the world, our little grandson changed things for all of us as well. 

In all good ways, of course. We have so much to be grateful and thankful for. We have a precious gift which came early, and as far as the doctors were concerned, he’s healthy. His big sisters adore him. Mom has her little man, Dad is just over the moon happy to have a son. And these grandparents are just loving him and spoiling him already, like the other two grandchildren.

And the hospital even featured him as one of two Christmas babies on their Facebook and Instagram pages!

Our daughter, however, is having a rough recovery from the third C-section, as well as post eclampsia, and just couldn’t travel a half hour away to our house this year. So we brought Christmas dinner to them at their house, as well as all their gifts. In a two car caravan loaded with bags and boxes. And we all celebrated in a new way. Because the joy and love found at Christmas isn’t measured in fancy food, a beautifully decorated table, or how many gifts there are. It’s celebrated with the love of family and friends, and the joy of being together. 

And for our family, this year brought a special early gift that’s the best we’ve ever had. Our beautiful baby grandson.

A baby changes everything. 

And that’s what Christmas is all about. 

We Wish You A Merry Christmas 2022

We realize many of you are having a very difficult time today. Christmas can be a very rough day if you’re hurting.

But let us take the time to share the gifts we’d like to present you with today…gifts from our hearts. Gifts that cannot always be purchased with money; because they’re priceless.

For the woman who’s spending yet another Christmas without someone to love, someone to love her, accept the gift of hope, that that someone you’ve been praying for, and hoping for, will enter your life in the new year, and you will finally find the love you’ve been dreaming of for so long.

For those of you who have been waiting for a reconciliation with your children, or other family members, accept the gift of renewal, that things and circumstances will be made whole again, the past forgotten. May you receive a knock on the door of your heart allowing that reconciliation to take place, and your joy be restored.

For the man struggling with addictions, receive the gift of self-control and strength, that once and for all those addictions will be put behind you and your new life will begin even today as that gift is opened.

For those of you struggling with the first Christmas following death of a loved one, receive the gift of cherished memories that will live forever in the scrapbook of your heart, and the knowledge that the love you had for each other will never die, and that they are waiting for you in heaven.

For the family who’s lost, or about to lose, their home, accept the gift of a new place to live that will be the perfect home, cozy and peaceful, with enough room for everyone.

For the couple who desperately want a child of their own, may you receive the gift of the child you’ve wanted so badly, a child that was meant just for you. Because Christmas is about the birth of a long-awaited child.

For the family struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, may you receive a gift of financial blessing, a new job, or a salary increase, that will ease your worries and allow you to provide comfortably for your family.

For those who are facing a serious illness… may you receive the gift of healing and the knowledge that the word of the Lord is always true and faithful.

Christmas is a time of hope. A time of renewal of faith and a renewal of the promises we were given over two thousand years ago in a manger in Bethlehem.

On this Christmas Day, be blessed. And may the light of His love shine forth over you as never before.

Merry Christmas to all!!!

The Magic and Miracle of Christmas Eve 2022

This is Christmas Eve. It’s a special day. You can almost feel it. The sense of anticipation, the magic. The sense of knowing something is about to happen.

You can feel it in the air, see it on the faces of children as they visit Santa. You can sense it in the softly lit decorations placed in strategic places in restaurants, storefront windows, in our homes, and yes, in the images we see on line.

You can almost feel the hope, the sense that something miraculous could actually happen. That sense of a peaceful quiet that ushers in something incredibly beautiful…something more special than you’ve ever experienced before.

You can hear it in a favorite Christmas song, the words penetrating your heart and your spirit, bringing a tear to your eye as you realize you truly do believe in Christmas miracles. And you know that one is coming for either you or someone you love. You don’t know what, or how, but you believe it’s coming.

After all, it’s Christmas Eve.

Because on that very first Christmas something miraculous did indeed happen. The world received the gift of salvation, hope, and everlasting love. In the form of a tiny baby.

So take heart. And be of good cheer, as the angels said to the shepherds a little over 2,000 years ago. Because there are still Christmas miracles to come this year.

They come in many forms. A kind or loving word from a stranger to someone who’s hurting. A surprise phone call from a loved one far away. A stranger unexpectedly buying your coffee as you struggle to find your wallet at the checkout register An anonymous gift left on your doorstep, or in your mailbox, and it’s something you really needed.

Or you may be the one who causes a Christmas miracle without even realizing it. A smile to someone in a store who feels totally lost and alone. A “thank you” to someone who isn’t expecting it. Holding a door open for a young mother struggling with a baby stroller and arms full of packages. Giving a gift to a stranger from an angel tree or Christmas shoebox sent overseas.

Yes, miracles still abound, and it seems we’re more aware of them at the Christmas season than at any other time of year, because we need them more at this season than at any other time. It’s the season of love…and loneliness. The season of giving…and sadness because you think you have nothing to give. It’s the season of hope…and wondering when you’ll ever have any again.

But somewhere out there your miracle is coming. In a way you least expect and may not even recognize, even when it happens.

The magic of Christmas is also the miracle of Christmas. It’s not the gifts, or lack of gifts, under the tree. It’s how you feel in your heart, how your feelings toward others suddenly change, and how you see the world around you in a new way, even if only for a few days.

For us, the miracle of Christmas also came in the form of a baby boy. Our long-awaited grandson was born 5 weeks early on December 20. I had prayed so hard for this baby to be healthy, since our daughter had so many problems during her pregnancy. Yes, I was nervous, and I believed God would do it, but there was still that nagging voice in the back of my head “What if?” But God came through with a healthy baby boy, who was actually 6 pounds at birth, even at 5 weeks early! And mother and baby are doing fine, and we have received the best gift, five days before Christmas.

That being said, this should give all of us the incentive to totally believe in and enjoy the magic…and the miracle…of Christmas this year. And let’s share it with as many people as possible.

A smile. A kind word. A loving gesture. A handwritten note to say “I love you.” A prayer for those who are hurting, and there are far too many of those this year. And a prayer of thanks for all of the miracles we have received this year.

The miracle of Christmas is within each of us, if we only let it come forth.

It’s Christmas Eve. And it’s time…..

A Message from Santa Claus – 2022

You know, it’s not easy being me. It truly isn’t. Like a lot of you out there, I’ve always got too much to do, and not enough time to do it.

You see, there are a lot of children out there in this world. And it’s my job to make them happy on Christmas Day. That is, if they believe, and if their parents cooperate. More about that later.

Throughout so many decades past, I’ve delighted the kids who believe in me with gifts under their Christmas tree every Christmas morning. Sometimes they’re beautifully wrapped, and sometimes they’re not. Their parents tell me what they want, you know.

All year long I’m working behind the scenes at the North Pole, putting together lists for each child that believes in me, and collecting all the toys that each kid wants. The elves very seldom make them anymore; they’re just too complicated. Instead they go to the stores, the factories, and the warehouses to fill the orders.

That’s not an easy task either. Plus, we have to have huge warehouses to store them, with each child having his or her own compartment for their gifts. Can’t have them confused, you know; that would really upset the kids!

Even working hard all year to make just that one night special doesn’t mean we don’t get rushed. Right now things have really heated up, and we’re working almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll sleep on Christmas Day, after everything is delivered.

The reindeer are getting ready, too, exercising to make sure they’re in great shape to pull that sleigh. It’s not easy, you know, because with all those toys, and me, well, it’s quite heavy to start out with.

Now I’m asked a lot of times about how in the world all those toys for all the world’s children, can possibly fit in one sleigh. It’s big, but not that big, you know. It’s really quite easy, but unfortunately I can’t tell you. You see, Santa has to have a few secrets that no one knows about, and that’s one of them. Most of the elves know; they have to, because they pack up the sleigh. But every year we have a few new ones, and until I can totally trust them with such a huge secret, they do other jobs rather than packing my sleigh.

I’m also asked a lot about how the reindeer are actually able to fly through the sky, let alone pull a heavy sleigh behind them. That’s one of those secrets I keep to myself as well. I will say this, they are very special reindeer, specially trained, and very trustworthy.

I’m also asked a lot how I can be in so many places at the same time. At the malls, department stores, in Christmas parades…in all honesty, I’m really not. Not personally anyway. But each and every one of those Santas carry a little piece of me with them. A piece of my heart, and a piece of my love for each and every one of the children who believe in me. And all of those pieces come back to me and settle into my heart as the children tell Santa their secrets and their Christmas wishes. But please don’t tell the kids. That’s between us.

Some of the children are really concerned that I can’t get in their house to deliver their toys because they don’t have a fireplace for me to come down. Actually that’s one of the easier problems to solve. Because Santa has a very special key, made just for me, that will unlock any door. But only on Christmas Eve; no other time of year. And it only works in Santa’s hand, so if it were to ever get lost, no one else could use it.

Those cookies and milk are certainly appreciated, too. I have a hard job that night, and although it’s a lot of fun, it certainly works up the appetite! And my favorites are butter cookies with sprinkles, chocolate chip, and some of those fluffy meringue cookies with chocolate chips. And a bit of egg nog here and there would be good in the place of milk. You know, just varying the selection a bit. Just don’t leave a slice of fruitcake! The reindeer don’t even like that!

And those letters the children send me? Yes, I read them. Fortunately I’m a speed reader, so it’s not as hard as you might think. And I’m probably the world’s best multitasker, because I not only read them as I’m doing other things, I dictate my responses as well, and the elves handle the rest.

The Naughty or Nice List? Yes, I do have those. Unfortunately. But just so you’ll know, in order to not get at least one gift from ol’ Santa, you have to be really, really naughty. You see, I love kids so much, I never want any of them to go without gifts from me at Christmas time. I always try to find something they’ve done right enough to be able to qualify for a gift!!

And by the way…that Elf on the Shelf? He’s NOT one of mine. Not at all. I don’t know where he came from or why he’s trying to horn in on my territory, but he really needs to stop. Santa doesn’t participate in that one, and he’s certainly never reported back to me! I think he’s around just to cause a bit of disruption and to irritate me!

Which leads me to my comment concerning parents cooperating with me. This is a tough one. And it really hurts my feelings.

You see, there are parents out there who refuse to tell their kids about me. Or they tell them I don’t exist. That I’m just made up, and that every kid who believes in me, is just totally wrong and should be set straight as soon as possible. There are even adults out there who aren’t parents who spread those same words and thoughts around without even thinking about it. Without even stopping to think what they’re doing…what they’re destroying.

And those children don’t get the pleasure of Santa delivering gifts on Christmas Eve because I’m not welcome in their homes. And I don’t go where I’m not welcome.

Just because you don’t see the real me doesn’t mean I don’t exist. I’ve been around for a long time, doing the things I do for a long time, and making millions of children happy every year. The smiles on their faces and their screams of surprise and delight make it worthwhile. And as I said, their parents do help, because I couldn’t possibly do it all on my own. They are an important part of the magic of Santa Claus at Christmas time.

Those who say Santa isn’t real don’t understand the reality of Santa. They don’t understand I live in the hearts and imagination of children, who pass on the mystery and the wonder of Santa to their own children. And that causes me to continue to live on and on.

Others say I keep kids from focusing on the real meaning of Christmas, so they won’t let their children believe about me. Rubbish!! Let me say this. Over half of the homes I deliver toys to have a nativity scene in their homes, or ornaments on their tree depicting that first Christmas. Obviously they know the real story of Christmas. And they still let me in.

As I said in the beginning, it’s not easy being me. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of late nights. But the happiness I bring every Christmas Eve, the smiles I see on so many faces on Christmas morning (yes, I do see them, you know – just don’t asked me to explain how) make it all worthwhile.

You still don’t believe I’m real? All I can say to that is, I’m really sorry. Because you’re missing out on so very much….

And now….back to work! Christmas Eve is almost here!

What Do I Want for Christmas?

My husband has asked me that question several times. And I can’t give him the answer he’s looking for.

Because what I want just cannot be bought in a store, put in a box, or wrapped in a fancy package.

This year has been difficult with many challenges. We’ve lost friends, and friends have lost loved ones. Our daughter is going through a difficult pregnancy and this mother’s heart is stretched with worry.

In years past I always had a Christmas gift list. This year I have one for family members, and close friends, but I honestly can’t think of a single material thing that I want or need.

Because the things I want cannot be bought online or in a store. They aren’t even for sale.

First on my list is our new grandbaby arriving safely and healthy. And to see the smiling faces of our daughter and her family in person, as we’ve been quarantined from them since Thanksgiving.

My list includes good health for us all. And affordable and easy to get healthcare. And I want our healthcare choices to be between us and our physicians, and not dictated by politicians seeking re-election. And this includes access to mental health care as well as physical health.

My list includes the epidemic of mass shootings and senseless violence to end. I can’t remember many days this month in which I haven’t heard about someone going on a rampage with a gun, ending lives for no reason and destroying countless families. I want this to end.

My list includes our country retuning to a semblance of unity. For the political parties to end their partisan games, vicious name calling, and ridiculous conspiracy theories. I want all of the sides to come together and work for the good of what’s left of our system of government and put it back together instead of calling for senseless investigations that waste time and money, and calling for an end to the Constitution, which in effect could result in a civil war.

My list includes people being free to love who they love without being afraid to make their relationships public. Who a person loves is a private choice and I have no right to condemn anyone for that choice. And neither does anyone else.

My list includes an end to homelessness. No one should have to be without a roof over their head and food on their table.

My list includes an end to the war in Ukraine, and the lives of those people so devastatingly affected being put back together.

My list includes an end to racism, an end to antisemitism, and an end to people hating others simply because their religion is different from theirs. (And by the way, that’s definitely not love, if anyone is wondering.)

And my list includes an end to all the bickering, back biting, name calling, and meaningless hate messages I see on social media. It’s not healthy, and it’s certainly not in the spirit of Christmas.

My list includes friends, former friends, and families starting to care about each other again, and remembering what they once loved about each other, and finding that love again.

There isn’t anything on the list that just one person can give another. Everyone has to work together to make these gifts a reality. Yes, we will get to see our family very soon now that we’re finally well, but the other things…they require all of us to work together for that goal, and at this point I’m not sure that can even happen anymore.

Yes, that’s what I want for Christmas. 

Who else wants that as well?

Not the Way to Start the Season

There’s never a good time to be sick. Especially for someone who never gets sick. And especially with Covid.

My husband and I are fully vaccinated and boosted. We never thought it could happen to us. But it has. He’s been sick with bronchitis for almost three weeks and now we’ve both tested positive for Covid.

Fortunately because of the vaccines we probably don’t have it as bad as without them, but it’s definitely not a good thing to get. We’re exhausted, achy, coughing, and generally miserable. 

And thankful we don’t have it any worse than we do, because it could be so very much worse.

However, I had one of my feelings that we needed to get all of our decorating done before Thanksgiving, which we did, because we don’t know when our grandson will make his appearance and we wanted to be ready. And most of our shopping for the grandkids is already finished and wrapped thanks to Amazon.

But there are still things I want and need to accomplish, like making cookies and doing gingerbread houses with the grands, and having friends over for dinners, but that’s certainly on hold for now.

However, lying around like this is actually giving me time to reflect on some of the things that are important, especially at this time of year, that we tend to forget about in the hustle and bustle of “doing” rather than “being.”

Yes, the decorations are important because they give our home a Christmasy glow, but decorations cannot be fully appreciated unless family and friends are around to enjoy them with us. And right now, it’s just the two of us. And we don’t know how long it’ll be before we can be around others, or even go out and visit our friends and finish last pieces of shopping we can’t do online. Sending pictures and Face Time isn’t the same.

But then I start to think about how we are still so richly blessed, even feeling as bad as we are. Because we have access to good medical care, a warm home to keep us safe while we recover, and enough food and other essentials to last us through this quarantine period, however long (and hopefully not much longer) it may be. Very fortunately it’s not like in the beginning of this pandemic when so many who were struck down didn’t survive, and I credit that to the vaccines we have had.

We are not facing forced isolation because we contracted this virus, as has been happening in other countries. We are quarantining ourselves because it’s the right thing to do.

It also gives me time to reflect on the blessings we’ve had during the year. Yes, it’s been challenging in a lot of areas, but we’ve gotten through it. And the blessings have outweighed the challenges.

There are still things I really want to do before Christmas, but now I’m not sure if all of them will happen. Making cookies is a Christmas tradition we’ve enjoyed for many years. It’s not only about the goodies themselves, but it’s the family involvement with our daughter and now her daughters, the fun of seeing them helping decorate their own cookies and being able to take them to their friends. It’s also the fun of sitting with them decorating gingerbread houses, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it’s a special time together, and right now I’m not sure when we can even get together for it.

And there is still some shopping to do, but it’s mostly for each other, and there’s not really anything we really need, so if doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Christmas is not all about giving and getting gifts. It’s about love for each other. And we have lots of that.

But one of the worst parts is that our grandson may be coming into this world soon, and we may not be able to be there for the event. We may not be able to see in person our granddaughters meeting their baby brother for the first time. We most likely won’t be able to meet him in person for several days or more after he’s born unless we get well very quickly. But that’s not in our control either, and as long as mother and baby are healthy that’s all that matters.

No, this isn’t how we planned to start the holiday season, but it is what it is. And hopefully we’ll be over this sooner rather than later, and will be able to get together with our family and friends and continue on with our holiday traditions. And appreciate them a lot more.

I Am Thankful

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’d like to share my list of “thankfuls,” because I don’t think we’re doing that nearly enough these days.

These days too many of us tend to be negative, concentrating on all the things in our lives and our country and the world around us that aren’t going the way that we think they should.

Yes, there are a lot of those right now, but there are a lot more things that are good in our lives, if we only stop to think about them; concentrate on them, at least today, on this Thanksgiving day.

So here’s my list:

I am thankful for the chance to still gather some of our loved ones together. I am thankful for my family, and the love we share, even though sometimes we don’t act like it (just like everyone else I know…let’s be real) or feel like it. But the point is we do love each other. And I’m thankful for that love.

I am thankful for my husband and the life we have made together these past 38 years. We’ve been through a lot: family issues and loss; infertility; successions of career moves; and some serious health issues. We have stood by each other through it all, and we have prevailed against a lot of odds. And we will continue to do so. Marriage is a commitment “for better or worse”.  No one ever said it would be easy, but it’s certainly worth it.

I am thankful for our daughter and son-in-law and our two beautiful granddaughters. And also for our new grandson who will be making his appearance in January, or maybe before. As sick as our daughter has been during this pregnancy, I am thankful that our little one continues to grow in health, and that he will be a special blessing to complete their family.

I am thankful for true friends who love us and stick with us, even though we don’t always agree on certain things. True friends remain friends and don’t drop us because of being on opposite sides of issues. We can still be friends without arguing over ideas that we’ll never agree on. If we can’t, we were never true friends. And unfortunately we’ve found that out over the past several years, but I am grateful for the years we did have together.

I am thankful for my health. As I grow older every year, that is one blessing I continue to be ever so thankful for. Because so many others my age are not as fortunate. And I am thankful that despite all the medical issues my husband has been through since our marriage, he continues to maintain a positive attitude and also continues to come through each medical challenge with flying colors! 

Along with that, I am thankful for the availability of excellent doctors and medical care, especially as it pertains to my husband. We are blessed with some of the brightest and the best in their fields, and as we age, and new diseases come against us, that’s extremely important. Some may not necessarily agree with our medical choices, but we are thankful we have those choices and are able to utilize them.

I am thankful for the home we have lived in for almost 30 years now. Yes it’s showing it’s age, with some wear and tear, but it’s our home, and it holds an abundance of family memories that we hold dear. We don’t know how long we will continue to live in it before we decide to downsize, but for now we’re still here, and making more memories every day.

I am thankful for a job that I really enjoy; one in which I am respected and able to use all of my past experiences in real estate to improve the performance of my department. Although I’m at retirement age, and actually past it, I’m not ready to stop working yet, and I have the opportunity to continue to do what I enjoy and get paid for it, and work for a wonderful company with lots of great people.

In a similar situation, I’m also thankful that although he’s technically semi retired, my husband is still working a 30+ hour week, enjoying what he does as well, and like me, working for a great company who appreciates him.

I am thankful we live in a country in which we are still free to express our opinions and maintain our right to free speech. Although we have a politically divided country right now, I still have hope that we can overcome our differences and once again become a country united for the good of all of us. Because if we continue on the divided path we are currently on, what kind of country will we be leaving our children and grandchildren?

And above all, I am thankful for all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us; the things He has walked us through, and the things He has protected us from. It’s been a challenging year, but we continue to remain strong and positive that our family will continue to also retain our strong love for each other no matter what challenges we may face.

May God continue to bless us all, both on this Thanksgiving Day and in the coming months and years.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. A day that families have traditionally gotten together to enjoy a huge meal and each other’s company. But over the last two-three years it’s not been the same, has it. We haven’t been able to get together as we’ve wanted because of a silent and unseen virus. It’s been really rough. It seems we take so long to prepare all the food, put out our best dishes and silverware, and then in just a quick 20-30 minutes, it’s all over with, the table is cleared, food put away, and then everyone goes their separate ways until the next time. Is that your day?

But what if you don’t have family nearby? What if you can’t get home to be with them? Do you have friends to visit and enjoy the traditional meal with?

For many people, Thanksgiving is a stressful holiday. I said that just the other day. We’re bombarded with ads about family meals, showing families getting together for joyous times and fellowship, everyone laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Is that how it is at your Thanksgiving?

Many people at this time of year don’t have the luxury of these traditional family meals anymore, because their families are too spread out, or no longer with them. Or restrictions on travel are still in effect, or there are just no available flights. Many people don’t even have good friends they can go and eat their Thanksgiving meal with. It becomes not only stressful, but lonesome, and a very sad and depressing time.

So tomorrow, take the time to remember your friends and neighbors who may not have somewhere to go and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. If you’re having a big dinner, set the table for one or two more people and invite them over. And do it now. If you’re going somewhere, and you know someone who has no place to go, call your host and ask if you could bring that someone with you. Most likely they’ll say yes. After all, this holiday is about being thankful and grateful for what you have. And one of the best ways to do that is to think of others who may be less fortunate than you.

Yes, it’s something we’ve heard a lot, but this year, why not stop and do more than think about it. Do something about it. The year my mother passed away (a month before Thanksgiving) was particularly hard for my remaining small family. I didn’t know what we were going to do and how I was going to get through the holiday. All the memories of those past Thanksgivings were filling my mind, and making me so nostalgic and sad I didn’t even want to have a holiday! Then some very good friends asked us to come share their Thanksgiving meal with them, and it was a gesture I’ll never forget. It meant so much to us at a very difficult time. Good deeds are always rewarded, and this is the time to step out. Especially in these times we find ourselves in.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be blessed!

Thanksgiving Reflections

I always tend to get a bit nostalgic at this time of year because there’s so much emphasis on family and the things that tradition tells us we need to emphasize during the Thanksgiving season.

How about those of us who don’t have the “traditional” family unit? Whatever that is any more.

In our case, that’s sort of, kind of, true.  Our family has shifted quite a bit, and the closeness of years long ago is no longer there. It doesn’t mean we love them any less, but we love in a different way. 

Family dynamics have changed, and we no longer have actual physical gatherings with all of those who are still in our hearts. It’s a way of life, whether we like it or not.

Our traditions have changed. Around our table will be our daughter and son in law and our two granddaughters. Maybe others. Who knows? And we’re all anxiously awaiting next year for the addition of a new grandson who will have joined us after this year’s holiday season.

Our meal will still be the traditional turkey and trimmings, but our daughter won’t be able to enjoy her favorite dishes because she’s been so sick during this pregnancy. Snickerdoodle hummus with crackers appears to be her current menu favorite, with fresh strawberries and fruit dip. Whatever works for her. That’s all that counts.

But I can’t help but look back on Thanksgivings some 20 or so years ago before things started to change, and yes, I still long for those days again.

But then I stop to think about all that’s happened in the intervening years, and I realize I really wouldn’t want to change much of it. Certainly I’d still want my mother with us, but I wouldn’t want the friends we’ve met along the way to no longer be with us. I’d not want to give up my daughter and her husband and our grandchildren for anything in this world.

Unfortunately change happens. Change is inevitable. Families evolve and change as family members move away or sadly, pass away. And our holiday traditions evolve as well. Friends who can’t spend holidays with their families join with us at our Thanksgiving meal, traditional or not.

Friends become the family we choose for ourselves. And that’s ok. Because we no longer live in the world as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have. For those we love. A time to fellowship and share with others and allow them to share with us.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Sharing and giving thanks for the blessings we have.

And we have many. Sometimes we forget just how many because we’re all too often complaining that things aren’t the way we think they should be. And we almost overlook the things we should be most grateful for.

And if we stop and think about it, we can list a lot more things to be thankful for than things that we think are wrong in our life.

Try it. Be honest with yourself.

And you’ll see what I mean.