Friday, November 23, 2012

Never Again!

I had to stop the world and get off today. I do this a couple of times a year when I work especially hard and wear myself out. After the reason for working so hard is over and I'm not stressed any longer, I sleep as late as I want, don't answer the phone and do exactly as I please for as long as it takes me to feel normal again. My family understands.

Four days of Thanksgiving preparations almost did me in! Okay, I’m a wimp. Many others do it, enjoy every minute of it and then go Christmas shopping early the next morning.

I could never do that!

By the time I bake five pies – assorted kinds – everyone’s favorite, with homemade crusts (the family won’t accept anything else) and prepare the rest of the food in massive quantities, I’m so worn out; I’d just as soon go to bed. I grew up with a friend whose mother did exactly that! Like me, she spent days cooking the Thanksgiving feast. When it was done, she put it all on the table for her husband and two children, said, “Enjoy!” and promptly went to bed! And there she stayed until late evening, when she got up, ate a bite and tackled the messy kitchen before going to bed for the night. My friend told me it was the same every year. The family accepted it as “her choice.”

As much as I’d like to do that, I don’t. I smile, sit down with my family and try to enjoy the meal it has taken me days to prepare. A meal I don't even like!

Then, when everyone is stuffed with rich foods, I look around my kitchen, which looks like a bomb just went off, and wonder if I’ll ever get it all cleaned up.

We don’t have just one meal time for everyone. Ours is like “open house” all day! People come and go at different times until late evening. Before I can get one mess cleaned up, others arrive, ready to eat. This goes on all day long. When Mr. H. and I got the last of the mess cleaned up last night, it was 10:30!

When I was younger, I took it all in stride and enjoyed the fact that everyone wanted to stop by to eat and visit... but as I get older, it gets more difficult to handle an all day affair like this. I think my family honestly believes I’ll always do it. Why wouldn’t they? I always have!

And you know what? Even though I complain every year and say, "I'm never doing this again," I probably will do it for as long as I’m able. Some things you just do.  

Providing nobody minds if I stop the world and get off for a couple of days afterward.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Music And Sunshine!

I’ve been counting the days for about two weeks, since I heard that my favorite radio station would start playing Christmas music twenty-four, seven on November 17th – today! I couldn’t wait to turn my radio on this morning and sure enough – one of my favorites, The Little Drummer Boy, was playing!

And it’s a sunny 54º. How could I be so lucky? Christmas music AND sunshine all in the same day!

Not many things make me quite as happy as holiday music. Some people get tired of it and think they start playing it too early, but I could listen to it year around.

It makes everything a little easier for me. For instance: Although I’ve done it for many years, I really don’t enjoy preparing the big Thanksgiving feast, but having the Christmas music playing full-blast while I’m making pie crust or chopping celery makes it almost enjoyable. I get so wrapped up in the music that things seem to go much faster and smoother.

This year, I’m still whining about the fact that my eldest daughter and her family, who have always been here for Thanksgiving, won’t be this year. I have other children and grandchildren who will be, and I’m grateful for each one of them. However, the way I feel reminds me of The Parable of the Lost Sheep. You all know it. It's about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and one of them strayed. That shepherd left the other ninety-nine sheep and searched for the lost one until he found it.

Common sense tells me that I'm being selfish. My daughter has a family now and it’s okay if she cooks Thanksgiving dinner for her family one year out of her whole lifetime. But as I said in another post, tradition dies hard for me. It seems that the pattern our lives fall into is backwards. As we get older, we need and want our children around us more, but that’s when they’re busy with jobs and families and don’t have as much time for us. It doesn’t seem to bother them. They are living and enjoying their lives the way they desire but frankly, parents begin to feel neglected – as if they are just in the way!

I say these things from first-hand experience. I’m remembering what it was like after my father died and I was duty-bound to do all the things for my mother that she couldn’t do for herself. Sometimes I hated it! I really wanted to be at home with my husband and family, doing the things I loved, but she had to come first. I knew that, but honestly, it was sometimes difficult not to resent it. Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I’d do things any differently. I hope I would.

My father had a million little sayings he enjoyed sharing at opportune times. One I remember well was, “If I could go back to twenty years old and know what I know now, I’d do things a lot differently.”

But would he have? Would any of us? I doubt it.

We live our lives the only way we know how, and yes, sometimes most of us live a little selfishly because we take pleasure in doing what we want to do. Unfortunately, we only begin to learn what we should have done after it’s too late to go back and change things.

So we vow to do better from here on out. Most of us do. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know where we’re going now and it’s okay. Life, in retrospect, has been good.

So, turn on your radio and enjoy the holiday music, sing, dance, be nice to others; smile at everyone you meet. You’d be surprised how powerful a smile or a kind word to a stranger can be.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Dazzling White World

Yesterday was my kind of day! It was a beautiful 47º and sunny. I had a dental appointment. As I drove to and from the dentist’s office, my fingers tapping the steering wheel to the beat of my favorite music, I couldn’t have been more contented! If I were in control of the weather, every day of the year would be just like yesterday.

No, wait!

I’d miss the snow! Some of the happiest times of my life were winters when my children were young.

At least once every winter – usually in January – it would snow – and snow – and snow. It almost always happened during the night and we’d wake up to a dazzling white world! Sometimes it was so deep that everything came to a halt! School was out, businesses closed and traffic virtually stopped. It was like being in a time warp – until all of the excited kids, and some adults, went outside to play in the snow.

In every neighborhood, parents and grandparents were busy building snowmen with their children/grandchildren. There was at least one snowman in every yard! Some people even made whole snow families! They also made snow angels, had snowball fights and went sledding. Our family joined the fun.

Retrieving our sleds from their hangers on the garage wall; we pulled them behind us as we climbed the steepest hill in the neighborhood. When we reached the top, we’d lie face down on our sleds and, with a little push, take off down the nearly vertical snow-covered hill, picking up speed as we went, and praying all the while that we wouldn’t lose control of our vehicle and veer off to the side of the road, ending up in the small creek that ran parallel to it.

After everyone was soaked and rosy-cheeked and very cold, we’d go inside, put on dry clothes, and sit by the fire sipping hot chocolate. Later, after dinner, we’d gather in the family room for TV or a game of monopoly and a big bowl of popcorn.

Those were unforgettable days. I’d like to go back there for a while, as long as I knew there'd always be days like yesterday, too. I'm very grateful to be living in the perfect part of the country for me. I'd be awfully bored stuck in a place where every day is the same.

I thrive on changing seasons!



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tradition Dies Hard

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I can almost smell turkey roasting, yeast rolls rising and the spicy aroma of pumpkin pie wafting through the house. It’s time, once again, to honor a tradition that most of us have been paying tribute to since we were born.

I have a large family. For as long as I can remember, we have gathered on Thanksgiving for celebration. Like most families, we sate ourselves with the mouth-watering foods of the season, laugh a lot and enjoy each other’s company to the max.

But, although tradition dies hard for me, I must accept that this year will be a bit different. Due to work scheduling, my daughter and her family won’t be able to come. For the first time in her life, she won’t be spending Thanksgiving at the home where she was raised. She won’t have dinner with her parents, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. Instead, she’ll prepare a nice dinner at her home for her husband, herself and their two children. They're sure to enjoy it; she's an excellent cook!

But our day won’t be the same without them.

There’ll be a very important link missing from the family chain. However, I’m sure we'll manage to enjoy the holiday regardless.

She wrote an apologetic e-mail this evening promising that it will be different next year. My answer was: “Who knows what a year may bring?”

If there's one thing I've learned from living so long, it's that everything changes - nothing ever stays the same!

And life goes on.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Bat Dance

My daughter phoned this evening to tell me about something unusual that happened to her. Last May, her children bought her a beautiful blooming plant in a hanging basket for Mother’s Day. Although she admits she doesn’t have a green thumb, she babied that plant all summer long. It hung on her porch right in the hot sun and probably would have “fried” had it been my plant – or anyone else’s, for that matter. It was her love and attention and sheer determination that made it live and flourish throughout the long, hot summer and into November.

This evening, as she patted herself on the back for keeping a blooming plant looking beautiful for so long, she decided it needed water. But when she reached up to water the plant, she got the biggest surprise of her life.

A bat flew out of it!

It was enough that its sudden movement almost caused her heart failure, but it didn’t just fly out of the pot and into the night... it flew right into her thick, curly hair! She said she was sure she entertained her neighbors as she danced around on her front porch screaming and flipping at her head with both hands, while trying not to lose her pajama pants that were a size too large.

Thankfully, the bat – not her pants – finally fell to the floor of the porch, seemed stunned for a few seconds, then flew under an awning and that’s the last place she saw the repulsive creature!

“I want it out of here!” She told me. “It can’t stay under my awning. What should I do?”

I was laughing so hard just imagining her little dance on the front porch that I undoubtedly said the wrong thing – trying to tease her.

“It probably won’t go anywhere.” I said. “It most likely has a couple of babies still in the flower pot.”

Now she’s very upset and won’t believe I was joking.

How do I fix it?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Day At A Time

It makes me sad that my beloved October is gone for another year! It seems
only yesterday I was jubilant about her arrival! I wonder why the things we love are so fleeting while bad things like illness and pain seem to last forever.

I have such a hard time letting go of my favorite things. Times. People. I want to hold onto them forever. I'm reluctant to move on – fearful of what tomorrow may bring. Yet, I try as hard as I can to live one day at time, existing only in this moment, this hour, and this day.

The idea is to make the most of each day, since we simply cannot know what will happen tomorrow.

I recently ran across these inspirational words and thought they might help me learn to let go, to move on and to truly live only one day at a time. I’d like to share them:

There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
two days which should be kept free
from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday
with all its mistakes and cares,
its faults and blunders,
its aches and pains.

Yesterday has passed
forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world
cannot bring back Yesterday.

We cannot undo
a single act we performed;
we cannot erase
a single word we said.
Yesterday is gone forever.

The other day we should not
worry about is Tomorrow
with all its possible adversities,
its burdens, its large promise and
its poor performance;
Tomorrow is also beyond
our immediate control.

Tomorrow’s sun will rise,
either in splendor or
behind a mask of clouds,
but it will rise.
Until it does,
we have no stake in Tomorrow,
for it is yet to be born.

              ~Author Unknown