To each his own. To me my own.

Holidays

Mom

The following is a widely spread story/poem in which the author remains unknown… I felt Mother’s Day weekend was a most appropriate time in which to share. I wish all of you exceptional ladies a very special and memorable day spent with loved ones.

And, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. 🙂

The child asked God, “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?”

“Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

The child further inquired, “But tell me, here in Heaven I don’t have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.”

God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel’s love and be very happy.”

Again the child asked, “And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don’t know the language?”

God said, “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”

“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to You?”

God said, “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray.”

“Who will protect me?”

God said, “Your angel will defend you even if it means risking it’s life.”

“But I will always be sad because I will not see You anymore.”

God said, “Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, “God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name.”

God looked softly down at the child and whispered, “Your angel’s name is of no importance. You will simply call her ‘Mom’.”

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Cupid Rhymes with Stupid

Does anyone out there actually like Valentines Day? Start looking forward to it as soon as the new year rolls around? Hello… any takers? Anyone at all? I apologize beforehand for my overly pessimistic curmudgeon-like attitude today. All of us need to rant now and then, and today looks to Be Mine. Pardon the pun.

If you look up a Valentine Grinch in the dictionary, you’ll see a big ole picture of yours truly. Seriously. Most people associate this day with love – but for reasons different than you might think, I associate it with hate. Valentine’s day happens to mark the anniversary of the worst day of my life. Through a dark and hellish series of events which originally started as a ‘gift’, this so-called special day actually ushered in the beginning of the end of my marriage. Such is life.

A couple of friends recently told me they dread Valentine’s Day this year because they’re single. Upon my response, “I hate it too, I wish we could just skip it”, each fired back with something along the lines of, “Yeah, but that’s easy for you to say because you’re currently with someone”.

Well… that might be how they see it (perhaps rightfully so, from their perspective) –  but it’s not how I see it. The fact that I currently have someone in my life will neither make the day more bearable or ‘easy’. Thing is, no one will ever see that evil day that took place years ago like I myself still see it. Although it’s frustrating knowing that most people will never ‘get this’ about me, I’m not at all certain I would even want them to. Sometimes an attempt to understand is accompanied by a strong sense of pity, of which I want none of. Suffice it to say that I would never wish upon another person this same catastrophic set of circumstances, especially when it’s all you’re left to mark a holiday like Valentines day with.

I’ve waited years for the after-effects of that abominable day to soften, to ease up, to heal. However fine I may appear on the outside, my inside is still just as raw and tortured as it was nearly a decade ago. I am the not-so-proud owner of a silent hell which has left me in an everlasting war with it’s demons – when all I ever wanted was for it to go away. The more time that passes, the more I realize this nightmare has likely taken a permanent residence within the balm of my existence.

V-day will come again, as always… and I’ll deal with it, as always. I don’t need a designated day on the calendar to celebrate my love for a person – I’m a big girl and I can choose to do that on any of the 365 days we’re annually afforded. Thanks.

I have earned my Grinch status. So kiss this, V-Day.


Merry Christmas To You

It’s early, barely past twilight, and it’s Christmas. I’ve been awake for a couple hours now even though bedtime came late last night.

Christmas is here, the celebration of our Savior’s birth. The little baby whose bed was a manger on that cold star-filled night. Little did he know what was to lie ahead for him. Then again, maybe he did.

This has been the most amazing Christmas ever. Our girls are here and still snuggled tight under the covers fast asleep. I’d love to get a picture of them, but I don’t feel like getting killed today. 🙂 Stockings are filled, and I’m simply biding time with this little post before I start cooking breakfast and have to wake everyone.

I wish every one of you the merriest of Christmases, spent with good friends and family.

And Happy Birthday, Jesus.


A Christmas Vacation

“The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thspirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath.”

~Clark W. Griswold

“Where ya gonna put a tree that big, Griswold?”

“Bend over and I’ll show you.”

My daughter and I are literally obsessed with the movie Christmas Vacation. I’m definitely not the best at remembering some of the quotes, but my girl can pull one out of her the air with absolutely no notice in less than a fraction of a second.

“You surprised to see us, Clark?”

“Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now…”

Now I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but this kid of mine is a huge pile of awesomeness. Seriously. Just when I thought her awesomeness couldn’t get any more awesome, last night she sends me this picture of a sweater she made for an ‘Ugly Sweater’ Christmas party she was attending. In true Christmas Vacation fashion. (Did I mention the fact that she made it?)

She could market these things. The sweater, that is. 

“They had to replace my metal plate with a plastic one. Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so.”

This kid could take table scraps and turn them into the most fabulous Cinderella gown you’ve ever seen. Just like clockwork, her Christmas Vacation quotes start annually around October 1st. She still has that same laugh as when she was a baby, and gets a big rise out of making others laugh. And hey, who couldn’t use a little hilarity in a sometimes often stressful season?

“Oh, I was just smelling – smiling. I was just blouse – browsing. I, uh, heh heh. Well, I guess it just wouldn’t… Oh hee hee, it wouldn’t be the Christmas shopping season if the stores were any less hooter than they – HOTTER than they are. Whew. It is warm in here, isn’t it?”

She’s gonna shoot me for posting this, but see, I just can’t help myself. Now I’m getting all nostalgic in typical Clark-fashion. Seems like it was only yesterday when I dipped her in the ocean for the very first time… yeah, just like yesterday…

“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

“Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.”

Mele Kalikimaka to you all!


Christmas in Boogertown

It’s very entertaining to me to learn the nickname of the area I now live is called ‘Boogertown’. When I first saw it listed that as my location on social networking sites, I honestly thought it was a joke. It’s not! Well, it’s probably a pretty good joke for the people to the north of us. 🙂

It’s true – I live in Boogertown. Hey, at least I’m outside the city limits.

I’m just about ready for the Christmas holidays to be upon us, good thing because it’s happening quickly. I got about the best news ever last night when Keith confirmed that his daughter will be here for Christmas – that means we’ll have BOTH our daughters home for the Holidays! We’re so excited about it, you just can’t get any better than to have your kids together at home on the most important holiday (to me, anyway) of the year. My own family gets together and celebrates on Christmas Eve – my mother, her husband, uncle and aunts – and Christmas Eve will be held here at our house this year. (Did I mention we’ll also have our daughters with us this year?)

‘The Stockings Are Hung By The Chimney With Care…’   (the one in the middle is Camille’s)

We’re already hot on the planning of the Christmas Eve menu. So far I have on the roster a turkey breast, dressing, meatballs, broccoli casserole, cranberries, my Mom’s most famous potato salad, a cheeseball, and many many other delectable goodies. My family will open up presents to each on the Eve, then later in the evening when everyone leaves we’ll all four have a family Christmas with our girls. The fire will be going, Christmas carols on, the lights outside twinkling. Christmas morning Keith and I will get up and cook our special breakfast, and let the girls sort through their stockings full of goodies. After that, we’ll pack up the car to head to Keith’s sister’s house for his side of the family’s Christmas. Just the mere thought of it all is so very magical to me – I already know it’s going to be a Christmas we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.

What have you all got planned for the Christmas holiday? ♥


Giving Thanks, Part II

Reasons why I am blessed: 

    • My one and only child, my daughter, is amazing. I have absolutely no doubt she was heaven-sent. She’s smart, beautiful, kind and God-fearing – and she loves me as much as I love her. Well… almost. 🙂
    • My mother and my father are alive and well, and are each amazing in their own right. Our individual relationships are more precious and meaningful than I’ll ever be able to convey in words.
    • I’m fortunate enough to have found an honest, genuine, beautiful man who possesses the rare ability to love me unconditionally (and I love him more). His awesome family members are added gems.
    • A warm, comfortable, quiet house to come home to every day is my refuge, my peace, my tranquility.
    • My job affords me the ability to live. It’s a good job with good people at a reputable company – something I’ll never take for granted.
    • I own the most reliable vehicle in the history of reliable vehicles. I really do have the ‘little engine that could’. My little sedan has proven herself for many years now and still performs like a champ.
    • As of current I have no known debilitating disease or other affliction that would affect my daily life. I say this while I watch so many around me suffer – including children.
    • I count the small circle of genuine friends I have as part of my life’s riches. Because true friends are indeed a treasure.
    • I’ve never gone hungry. We always always have more food than we need.
    • My little furbaby Camille has brought more joy to my life than I could ever repay her with. It astounds me just how much love God has bestowed into these little hearts.
    • Never will I take my individual freedom to come and go and do as I want for granted. As a law-abiding citizen, I may travel at whim and make my own decisions – all benefits of free will.
    • My most beloved blessing… the most glorious gift from God for anyone who is willing to accept it – the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Making New Waves…

In searching for the post I wrote about last New Year’s beach trip, I found I never wrote one. This surprised me since it was such a beautiful time and the weather was so mild. I guess this is old news now, but at least it’ll get posted in the year 2011. Oh, well.

Each year we go to the coast to bring in and celebrate the New Year. It’s become customary for us to do this, and I like traditions. We stay somewhere different every time, and have found the winter season a good time to familiarize ourselves with the different hotels in the area. The hotel choices can even be a bit more exclusive in the winter because of the rates. The lodging possibilities really are endless.

Glow-bracelets and necklaces are a must for New Years Eve at the beach, because you’ve got to be able to see each other. 🙂 After that, they’re assigned a proper resting place on the terrace.

In addition to the firework show at Broadway on New Years Eve, the fireworks are also plentiful on the beach. You don’t even have to buy any, just sit back and enjoy the ones that others bought. 🙂

On our most recent trip we visited the Aquarium, I’d wanted to go for years now. We instantly fell in love with it, and when it came time to leave almost couldn’t pry ourselves out of the large ‘tunnel’ area where you’re able to walk under the sharks and other marine life. It was like being ‘at one’ with these amazing animals. We talked about how awesome it would be to spend the night in there – the pictures really don’t do justice.

Oh, yeah. I could definitely handle spending the night in this thing.

In looking back over my photos, I was disappointed that I’d not gotten pictures of the thing I fell in love with most there (aside from the sharks) – the stingrays. There were many different kinds, and they seemed to really enjoy seeing the people and showing off for us. The ones I loved the most looked like they actually had a ‘head’. They seemed the most entertaining, and even appeared to be smiling for us. I’ll definitely get some shots of them if we go back to the Aquarium this year.

Just leave it to Keith to find the hidden entrances…

There’s enough people here still during the New Year’s holiday to keep things interesting… but it’s still not crowded. I do think this coast at New Year’s thing is catching on, though. If the sea is your thing, being here for the holiday is magical and enchanting – dare I say, almost dreamlike. It’s definitely a different state of mind, and makes a great start to a brand New Year.

Only a fine line between sea and sky. Almost resembles a tidal wave…


Bed, Breakfast and Wine

I hope all the mothers out there had a fantastic Mother’s Day weekend! Saturday night we took both of our mothers out to eat (they finally got to meet each other, yay!). Sunday, my daughter took me out to lunch then drove me about an hour down the road to Old Stone Winery. There we enjoyed a wine tasting then some down time on the patio which overlooked the vineyards. I fell in love with the peach wine, of which she bought me a bottle to enjoy later. 🙂

Once back in town, Keith met me over at my place and we gave our best attempt at getting my bed to his house. My mattress is one of the heaviest ever made, I’m convinced of it. As far as help goes, unfortunately I was no good to him so we ended up enlisting help from a fellow apartment-dweller. Many thanks again to a good samaritan! Since my bed’s now a permanent resident of a spare room at Keith’s house, I am as well. There’s still much to do before the final move when I rent the truck, but since I pass right by there on the way ‘home’ at least it’s convenient to be there every day to pack.

It’s now nineteen miles one way to work. I realize some people drive much further than that, but it’s still a big difference from what I’m used to. From the angle I’m seeing it, it averages about two gallons of gas per day. Ugh. But, I knew this beforehand.

K’s new pool liner was installed yesterday! It’s gonna be a good summer…


Hibachi Hearts

Oh how I’ve missed my little blog. Seems like there’s not been enough time lately to do anything. I’ve got some catching up to do on my reading as well! Today makes it official – the month is now half spent. In lieu of content, thought I’d bore you with some pictures today…

The sunrise this morning was beautiful – it cast a pinkish-purple hue on the buildings around me.

Pardon the office lights in the background!

This past weekend was perfect weather. We took full advantage of it Sunday by gathering our daughters together and climbing a mountain. Okay, it’s not the biggest mountain around, but a mountain nonetheless. It was a great time to be had – we took on the climb, had a beautiful scenic view for a prize, and partook in a nice picnic lunch afterwards that sweetened the deal.

Feel the vogue. Feel it.

The last stairway to the top...

Our prize for the climb - whatta view!

Our lovely ladies – mine on the left, K's on the right.

Last night my sweet man brought me roses for Valentines day, both stem as well as a plant for the yard. ♥ We went to dinner at our favorite Japanese steakhouse, Sasaki. My gosh how I love that place! It’s so nice to walk in there and be greeted by our first names – and we always seem to find another friendly neighboring couple to chat with.

St. Valentine's dish o' the day. Yessir & thank you.

Good times.


No Shadow… Spring is Near!!

It’s not gonna be difficult for me to find a subject for me to hop on today…

It’s Groundhog Day, and for the first time in a long awaited while Punxsutawney Phil is not afraid… that’s right folks, NO SHADOW!! Know what that means?

Spring is near!! Spring is near!! Oh gosh… Spring is near!!

The story of Groundhog Day begins with Candlemas, an early Christian holiday where candles were blessed and distributed. Celebrators of the holiday eventually declared clear skies on Candlemas meant a longer winter. The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germans, who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, a hedgehog would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather or “Second Winter.” German immigrants brought the tradition to Pennsylvania, but how did Punxsutawney Phil emerge?

In 1887, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves “The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.” One member was an editor of Punxsutawney’s newspaper. Using his ink, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on Candlemas, and yes, Groundhog Day. Phil’s fame spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report his Gobbler’s Knob prediction. Info from http://www.visitpa.com/groundhog-day

In related news, February 2nd is exactly the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is the winter midpoint or ‘cross-quarter’ day. The coldest, bleakest part of our winter season is now officially half over!

Spring is near!! Spring is near!! Oh gosh… Spring is near!

Visit the official Groundhog Day site: http://www.groundhog.org/


A White Christmas for the southeast

Really, Charlotte… snow??  Yes!! We actually got our white Christmas after all!!

Imagine that.

According to National Weather Service statistics, the Charlotte area hasn’t seen the likes of a white Christmas in 63 years. Since the NTS doesn’t count anything below an inch on the ground Christmas day as a ‘white Christmas’, 1947 was the last recorded date of snowfall on Christmas – which totalled around 5.5 inches on that day.

View from my third-floor treehouse this morning.

The forecast has made headlines for days now. Not just us, but many of the southeast area states of the US did in fact receive a packet or more of snowfall for Christmas this year. Our such packet didn’t arrive until after sunset last night, but it came nonetheless – and it’s still coming! Heck, it’s still snowing in Georgia this morning, and it was snowing in Myrtle Beach around 7am. It’s funny though… there doesn’t seem to be any bad roads out in the immediate vicinity. The accident rate is low so far, and the parking lots and roads look clear. It’s almost as though God brought us lovely snowfall that we can enjoy and get around well in. What a blessing!

My balcony got a little snow as well. So far my geranium, fern and palm tree don’t mind a bit!

This morning I was reading the probability ratings for various cities across the US (as well as different parts of the world) on the ‘probability’ of snow on Christmas. I found it hilarious that Charlotte, NC ranks right alongside Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ – all three sporting a whopping 1% probability rating. I heart Wikipedia (umm, except for that leakage thing)… so go ahead, see if your city is on the list and what it ranks. Wiki factoids and probabilities for a White Christmas in your city

Where I usually type my little blog… this morning I very much enjoyed a memorable wintry view.

It’s funny to see all the facebook statuses and pictures posted last night and into today from friends and family. The snow seems to have lifted spirits everywhere, especially households with small children who enjoy getting out and playing in it. Snow on Christmas has just put a whole different ‘air’ out, so to speak. Lighter, brighter and more joyful souls abound everywhere… dare I say, I can almost feel a renewed sense of hope for the new year to come? Whatever the case may be… it is very refreshing.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side ’til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me I pray

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there

No, I didn’t write it. But how tender a person that did! It all but takes you right up ON that manger, doesn’t it? An almost secret view, if you will. My most favorite Christmas hymn has always been O Holy Night… but the lyrics to Away in a Manger are probably the most meaningful to me of all the Christmas hymns.

This year I hope Christmas brings peace, tranquility and much love into the souls of us all. May everyone enjoy and appreciate good family and friends. May we all secretly do one special thing for another this year and sit back and contemplate the smile it might bring. May any sadness that exists within your heart be overridden with joy. May everyone share an abundantly overflowing cup of love this Christmas.

And above all… always remember that little baby who started out laying in a manger.
The One who started…

Christmas.


A Real Country Christmas

I received the below story via email this morning. The preface warned that the story was a little on the long side, and it is – but a great read nonetheless. I found the story not only moved me to tears, but more than worthy of posting as a blog subject. Hope you all enjoy.

Now this is what a country Christmas is all about…

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities.  But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors.  It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve.  I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.  We did the  chores early that night for some reason.  I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.  I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in.  It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.”  I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.  We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens.  Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.  Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job.  I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.  Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.  I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me.  I wasn’t happy.  When I was on, Pa pulled the sled  around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed.  He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said.  “Here, help me.”  The high sideboards!  It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever  it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?  Finally I asked.  “Pa, what are you doing?”  “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked.  The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road.  Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.  Sure, I’d been by, but so what?  Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”  That was all he said and then he turned and went back into  the woodshed for another armload of wood.  I followed him.  We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.  Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon.  He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.  “What’s in the little sack?” I asked.  “Shoes, they’re out of shoes.  Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning.  I got the children a little candy too.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a  little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence.  I tried to think through what Pa was doing.  We didn’t have much by worldly standards.  Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most  of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?  Really, why was he doing any of this?  Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.  We knocked.  The door opened a crack and a timid voice said,  “Who is it?”

“Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”  Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in.  She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.  The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly  gave off any heat at all.  Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour.  I put the meat on the table.  Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.  She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time.  There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best – shoes that would last.  I watched her carefully.  She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started  running down her cheeks.  She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said.  He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile.  Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood.  I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.  In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.  My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul.  I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.  I could see we were literally  saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared.  The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time.  She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you.  The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again.  I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.  I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth.  I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others.  The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left.  I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get.  Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave.  Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.  They clung to him and didn’t want us to go.  I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals.  We’ll be by to get you about eleven.  It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.”  I was the youngest.  My two brothers and two sisters  had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles.  I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you; I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold.  When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something.  Your ma and me have  been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.  Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.  Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.  I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.  Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities.  Pa had given me a lot more.  He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best and most memorable Christmas of my life.

My wish for you all is to have a real country Christmas!  It is, after all, what we do for others that makes CHRISTmas such a wonderful blessing…


Christmas Memories

I watched a special on 60 minutes Sunday night called ‘The Gift of Endless Memory’ detailing rare cases of persons that can literally remember every single day of their life since their memory started registering. The medical term given is Superior Autobiographical Memory. I, along with others who watched it, found the story fascinating.

My own memory is nothing of the sort, of course. That said, it is that time of year when certain memories of Christmases past will pop in and out, some being stronger than others.

Like my uncle giving me a pair of black patent leather lace-up boots, oh how I loved those boots – I was no more than five. Another Christmas and uncle presenting me with a stuffed dog that was just as tall as I was at the time. Riding in the cold on my new bicycle, complete with new front basket with faux flowers. Our dog Archie running wild through the house with a red bow on his head – on the one day a year that he was allowed inside briefly, Christmas Eve. Opening a gigantic box from Mom, thrilled to find it filled to the brim with new books. My cousins as babies, each sporting a little bald head at the time in their adorable Christmas outfits. My mammaw and our calico kitty, Skitz – her touching each of her paws and saying ‘you just don’t match’. Baby girl sitting in her little black corvette with an upside-down smile, frustrated with sidewalk driving at the early age of 3. Bountiful meals and family time at Nanny’s and Nana’s houses. Baby girl walking into a sliding glass door thinking it was open, landing her smack on the floor. Mammaw being barely able to breathe one Christmas eve with her refusing to go to the hospital. Opening a small box from ex-hubby containing my wedding rings he’d had reset, thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world. The smells of BBQ weenies and sausage balls wafting through the air. Years later, hanging with boyfriend’s family enjoying their hearty laughter. Helping baby girl decorate her Christmas tree at her first new apartment…

I look so very forward to the future, and making many more memories along the way. I wish the merriest of Christmas blessings for you all…


Four short days away

It shan’t be long now! Hope everyone’s ready (or at least almost) for the big day.

The weather here has been so unseasonably cold for December that no one even knows what to expect anymore. I’ve watched the forecast diligently, and for two days now I’ve seen this:

Could it be, could it be – ohhh mama (said with my best Elvis sneer) could it really be… snow on Christmas? A light dusting to brighten the holiday itself would be nice. But I’ve got some traveling to do, and we all know how Southerners mix with snow and ice – kinda like oil and water.


Christmas, weekend and beach thinking

In reverse order.

The Christmas season has officially begun for most, but for some reason my mind seems to remain stuck on a warm, tropical setting. Instead of Christmas shopping this weekend, I’d rather be packing for a several-day stint at the beach for New Years. I can’t get it off my mind, and anxiously await the week before to at least see how the weather’s looking for the New Year.

I’m going to give my best attempt at finishing my Christmas shopping this weekend. I’m sure they’re will be a few extras to get next week, but even getting the majority done will be a huge relief. In the meantime, I’ll catch a few new oceanic documentaries that my love dvr’d recently for our viewing enjoyment. Uh-oh, here comes that tropical feeling creeping ’round again…


Happenings

The weekend is over, and back to reality we go. I probably haven’t gotten this much rest over a weekend since, well – ever. I forecasted exactly this type of weekend for ole’ Bon, and it’s truly been appreciated.

Saturday night we braved the crowds at Christmastown, USA – aka McAdenville, North Carolina. People come from out of state to see the former little ‘mill-town’ that has been decorating for 55 years now. There’s a certain way visitors need to enter in order not to sit in 2-hour or more traffic – the likes of which our hearts literally broke looking at on the way out. Since so many people do come from abroad, the interstate (I-85) is jammed up way past the Lowell-McAdenville exit. The most efficient route is to turn left from (I-485) Wilkinson Blvd. exit, and enter the Christmas lights to the right.

My favorite house… especially since Christ still Rules.

Later that night, we made our New Year reservations at the beach again. I can only describe last year as magical, and I can’t imagine anything less this year. Fluorescent armbands/headbands and adult beverages shall adorn the balcony, errr beach, whichever mother nature chooses to allow. It’s an awesome hotel, the rates being SO affordable out of season – and only 2 blocks from a very cool pier. I have a genuine feeling that it’s gonna be awesome, no matter what the weather holds.

I decorated a couple of trees at work Friday. Yeah, they’re only about a foot tall each, but they serve the purpose. Gotta usher in the ole’ Christmas spirit to the office one way or the other!

Hope everyone has a happy, warm and blessed week. 🙂


Birds Eye View

Up early getting ready to watch the annual Thanksgiving parades… just me. But it’s always been just me doing this – funny that for so many years now, it’s become a ritual. Through the years, my family would come wandering out around 11-ish – and only then because we had Nana’s to be at for Thanksgiving dinner. The annual kickoff to the Christmas holiday season was then born. An ever-joyous day off spent with good family, good food and no gifts required. Thank you very much for flying Thanksgiving Air… and oh, please don’t forget your Black Friday ads.

How I have missed my little blog. It’s been so busy at my work I’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone write. When I get home, it’s zombie nation and lights out early. It’s a good thing, I know – especially since these are our slow months, which usually occur between November through February. Bring it on. I think I speak with the voice of most Americans when I say I’m ready for a solution to this failed economy. Why, just yesterday a breaking news email passed my desktop stating the weekly jobless claims were the lowest since 2008. I know this is only one lone city, with screwed up statistics. But when I see this kind of stuff in media, as skewed as it may be… it gives me hope. I HOPE that it gives others hope too, those that are without jobs and on a diligent search for one.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all the holidays. As with any holiday though, there are those who left us behind for which we still grieve. My sister-in-law’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, she passed away only 3 short months ago. It still doesn’t seem possible. It will be a very hard day for her entire family, and my thoughts and prayers will remain with them throughout the day.

It is my sincere hope for everyone out there to have a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving filled with family and friends. God bless.


Giving Thanks

I had quite the little bitch session last night. I don’t like when it happens, and it seems the more time elapsed between releases makes for a heavier session. I reckon there’s a reason for steam needing that release valve.

So there’s your southern word of the day… reckon: to regard or think of as; to consider. On that note, I reckon I’ll do an about face and ‘consider’ my many blessings. We are, after all, coming up on the holiday in which we should be giving thanks – not holding bitch sessions.

I am thankful for a warm home to come to every day. Power, phone, water, all of it. I’m thankful for my job of almost six years, a job that I actually don’t dread to go into each day. I’m thankful for a good dependable car with semi-new tires that gets me to and fro with no problems. I am thankful for a wonderful daughter who continues to excel in life as I sit back and watch her in sheer amazement. I am thankful to have my loving mother and father in my life, for so many of my friends don’t have theirs. I am thankful for my friends, of which my circle is small – but the quality is off the charts. I’m thankful for my fully stocked cabinets and refrigerator at home. I am thankful to have a loving man in my life who I can trust with all my heart because he’s proven himself to me time and time again. I’m thankful for the couple of days I get each week to regroup and rest, which most people call weekends. I am thankful for the meow of my sweet cat in the morning. I am thankful for a cellphone, which is no longer a luxury but a necessity that some people still do not have. I’m thankful for the traffic in the morning, because it means people are working and just maybe this crappy economy will get back on track real soon. I’m thankful for living outside a big city, because I get to enjoy the quieter more laid-back lifestyle when I’m not working. I am thankful for being able to take off on a whim and go somewhere, and the freedom to do so. I’m thankful for a second chance at happiness in life. I am thankful to be healthy – so thankful. And I’m ever thankful for the immeasurable love our Lord has for us.

I hope everyone has a meaningful and blessed Thanksgiving.


Brand spankin’ new week

Goodbye to the three-day weekend – but oh, how I enjoyed it’s stay! It brought much cooler temps and beautiful skies – a chance to rest as well as the opportunity to get some things done.

A day-trip to the mountains was just what the doctor ordered. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and the crowds were even manageable. After miles of hiking on some not-so-desirable terrain, we could both probably use the care of a doctor. The statement “we’re sore” doesn’t quite describe the magnitude of the pain. Until today, I’ve never had trouble at all getting down my stairs. I had to laugh at myself this morning and hope no one was looking as I stepped sideways down the steps in an attempt to minimize the strain.

What amazed me about Sunday was the visibility factor. One worker pointed out two mountains in the distance that are ‘local’ to us – Kings Mountain and Crowders Mountain. Those mountains were now approximately 75 miles away, and we could still make out their silhouettes perfectly. Amazing!

Now if you’ll excuse me… I’m off to see how long I’m able to break the rules by donning my white threads after Labor Day.