No Pressure

20161128_201112Thanksgiving came and went quietly……….. quietly. It drifted in with a thick damp fog and passed with the same stillness. I spent a contented few days at home curled in the warmth of blankets and hot drinks and woolly projects and seasonal movies. I felt very still myself and for that I was thankful.

The past few Thanksgivings have seen the Oldest Child make the trek down from points north. We would fill the days with traditional dinner and movies or football, and the weekend with fun events.  This year, however, she is in a new home and spent a happy weekend with friends and busyness and running here and there, and I was happy for her to be able to do the things she wanted to do.

Long ago I went through a time when obligations took over the holidays. There could never be any variations in the plans, and no matter what may have been going on elsewhere, I was not allowed. There was only one place where I spent holidays. Looking back, I’m glad to have been where I needed to be, but now, with my grown children, I want them to know that they ARE allowed.  They are allowed to make the best holiday plans that they can. If travel comes up – I want them to go. If a binge of parties are offered, I want them to accept.

I’m lucky, because I know I am invited.  I know there is always a place for me if I want to jump in, and for that too I am thankful. I also know that if a time comes that I want to travel, or take advantage of invitations, or, as was the case this year, stay quietly at home and catch up on some much needed rest, that I am allowed.

20161128_200813I love my girls; I love spending time with them and I love spending Holidays with them, but we all live busy lives and the one thing I don’t want is for our special days to be clouded by a cloak of obligation that could easily morph into a burden.  How Blessed are the times we spend together because we truly want to be with one another! How fortunate that as my adult children gain in years and experience that we also grow in friendship!

Living from the heart – living from a place of love is really what I wish for all of us this Holiday Season.  I hope your days were joyful and blessed. I hope that the places you went or the people you were with were met heart to heart. I hope the days to come will be magical.

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Season-ing

20161106_083553The season is upon us. Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is only a week away. The November super moon has had it’s moments and we are moving toward winter and the solstice. Have you ever thought that it’s odd that winter begins only when the days start growing longer?

It’s been an odd Autumn where I live. I’ve talked about the weather this year – from hot to cold and back again. We’ve had our first frost,

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and yet we’re in the middle of another warm spell as I write this – 78 today again before dropping into the 40’s this weekend. The trees, while turning little by little, seem to be really struggling this year and many have just turned brown. Some had color until that first frost a few days ago and some still do but the grass is still green. 20161115_132126

20161107_180457I’ve had this little Christmas Cactus for many years now. It never seems to get much bigger (I probably need to re-pot it) and it has always bloomed for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. It has also never had more than one or two blooms per year. Back in the summer I managed to remember to look up the care and feeding of these little plants and come August, I stopped watering it. I didn’t put it away or do anything unusual with it besides the lack of water. Just before Halloween it suddenly sprouted little buds all over it’s wee self.  Although it is not impressive by many standards, I felt like this year it was a gold metal winner. 20161112_234711_001

There’s not much going on for the holidays here on This Side. Thanksgiving promises to be a quiet and restful long weekend. I have Friday off work, as well as Thursday, and I will be staying close to home. I’m afraid I’m not one of the Black Friday shoppers. Years and years ago I tried it once – but it didn’t take and I’ve avoided it ever since. Good luck, though, to those of you who are brave enough to get out there. I admire your stamina. Christmas will be spent with the Oldest Child in her new home and should also be a lovely time.

Here’s hoping we can all be Grateful and Happy for the Holidays and always. We’ve still got a few weeks to go, so let’s be kind and respectful to one another. Let’s enjoy the sparkle of the lights and the beauty of the carols and the Peace of a peaceful season.

Grateful

It’s Veteran’s Day here in the US – Remembrance Day in Canada. After this tired, angry, spiteful election,  this is a good day to remember what it’s all about.

We live in a fought-for nation. Both of my parents were veterans of WWII. My father reenlisted, even though he had already served his time in the US Army. My mother enlisted in the WAC’s and served her time in London (during part of the Blitz) and France. Thousands upon thousands of young men and now women have laid down their lives for us since the whole idea of a United States began. We were, and still are, a GREAT NATION though it may have been hard to see it in the last few months.

Why, you ask? Because I can go to the grocery store without fearing for my life. Because my children and grandchildren are given the right to an education. Because in the most desperate of times, I can still find something to eat. Because if I want it, there are people who will be sure I always have a place to sleep. Because I can walk into any church I want and raise my voice and my heart to the God I believe in. These are the basics. These are the things that we expect, and deserve, and HAVE.

Today we remember those who made it possible. All we have to do is resolve to be worthy of the price they paid.

No matter your beliefs, no matter who you voted for – or even if you voted, no matter the outcome, I believe it is our job as Americans to live the best life we can. All those quotes we love to frame and hang on our walls? Now’s the time to start practicing.

Become the change you want to see.

If you have a choice, choose Kindness. 

Love is the Greatest Gift of All. 

And remember  – the bottom line is how we treat each other. It matters.

 

One Horse Open Sleigh

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Approximately 28 years ago my Aunt gave me a sleigh. Not such a strange gift at the time since I had horses and lived in Wyoming where the winters are snowy. This little sleigh, a “cutter,” had belonged to my great-grandfather Koenig, from Freeport, Illinois.  For a few years the sleigh got some use but then there was a move and there were no more horses and it was carefully covered and stored away.20161102_092141 For a brief time I considered trying to sell it, because my children would simply be storing it also and probably selling it anyway. I came up with a better idea.

A few years ago I contacted the Stephenson County Historical Society to see if they wanted it for part of their collection in the local museum in Freeport, and they said, “Yes, thank you.”  My only problem was that I had no way to get it to them. After a bit of back and forth, they were able to find someone willing to make the five hundred mile journey to come pick it up and today my beautiful little cutter sleigh finally went home.

Along with the sleigh, I sent my great-great-grandfather’s bible,20161026_191030

My other great-great-grandfather’s tin plate and fork that he carried on the boat when his family emigrated from Germany in 1842,20161030_101647

My great-grandmother’s silver dresser set,20161102_145058

A copper and wooden nut tray made by my grandfather and a set of his 1916 field guides.

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I had a family who saved things and many of those things have fallen to me. On my mother’s side I can trace roots back at least five generations and I have little bits and bobs from each one. While I don’t still live in the same town or any of the same homes, it’s a comforting thing to know who and where I come from. I have lots of things for my children and I hope that they will appreciate their rich and interesting history as much as I do.

I admit I was a little sad to see the sleigh and the other things go, but how can I be unhappy when ultimately they will be taken care of and cherished for years to come? Years ago my family was a part of Freeport, and these things were a part of them. I have memories of the place and the lifestyle and some of the people that my children will never know. I’d like to think that someday they will make journeys to that lovely little town and learn even more about their history because it won’t be many generations before it is forgotten. Things are just things in so many ways, but some things have stories to tell and are worth preserving.

Do you have cherished items in your life? What do you tell your children about them?

Getting Real

I know the feeling all too well. Joints aching. Tired. Tears puddling just behind puffy eyelids. Feet almost too leaden to drag across chilled morning floors. Get up. Feed the dog. Brush hair and teeth and lint from shirt. Drag to work. Late again.

burgerThis is a day after gluten and sugar – an evening burger and a soda is all it takes for the food hangover. You’d think it would be easy to remember how it turns me into a puddle – all wishy-washy and frail-edged and snarled up inside.  You’d think after the infinite number of times I’ve managed to feel fabulous after NOT going there, that I would never want to go there again.

But the days drag on – too many little pokes and prods and irritations and issues and the evenings roll around with the need for something – anything – that doesn’t chafe. Too tired to cook, to clean-up after. Just need to get home and eat something and go to bed in time to get up and do it all again.

What would make a difference? What could change to make the change? Something must because, as they say, if nothing changes – nothing changes. The changes needed here are too big. A new job and a cross-country move. I hear a lot of talk about being brave – living the life you want to live – just doing it – what’s stopping you – and on and on. Sounds good when you’re twenty, or thirty, or even forty. In fact, I did just that at fifty. It’s a little more complicated these days. A little more important not to walk away from a good job and an affordable home. Insurance. Family not so far away.  It’s a little more complicated these days to wander off to a whole new place and take on the unknown.

And yet. . . . . . . .  This place hasn’t been healthy for me. As a matter of fact this place has been really hard. There have been so many traumatic events in the last decade that no matter how I look at it, I can’t separate them from this place.  Not that moving here was the cause of anything – but maybe because here can no longer be separated from those things.  Deaths. Divorces. Critical Illness. Financial disaster. Terrifying weather. Serious depression. It’s been a lot on all our plates – my children and mine.

My entire life I’ve been an advocate of fresh starts. I’ve never seen a flaw in beginning again in a new place. Sometimes you need to brush off the cobwebs and move on. Not like running away, but more like running toward. I’m ready for a fresh start and a new place, but for now I need to hang on. I need to push through every day and try everyday not to give in to the exhaustion that drives the things that make it worse. Eat right. Exercise. Take vitamins. Do the right things and hang on, because it’s never about just choosing the wrong foods – it’s about peeling the onion layers, one after another, till you can find the heart of the problem, then layer by layer working back to a healthier, happier space. In a little while I’ll be up for it, and will start again.  It’s what we do, right?