Blog, Holidays

Share Your Story – A Valentine’s Day Invitation

Day 132

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day in the U.S.

A few days ago I mailed valentines to all of our grandchildren. Valentine’s Day is not one of the holidays hubby and I put much stock in. We have never given cards, or flowers or candy. It is usually a day we choose to just spend together doing something we both enjoy.

This morning I saw a blog post by Toritto which was a poignant reminder that tragedy can strike at any time — even on a day set aside for celebrating love.

Most of us have several love stories. Some ending well, some not so well, some as only a witness, some a love for a pet, and some an ongoing love in our lives. I wondered how best to tell several love stories all in one day. After much thought, I have decided to write them all as single line stories in one post.

All these stories are a witness to the power of love and I think telling them in this way is a challenge as a writer.

If you care to join in, you can certainly link back to my post tomorrow, or if you are not a blogger, just leave it in the comments. Of course, you can just post privately if you would rather. I think it’s good to reflect on the many loves in our lives whether we share or not.

I will be working on my one line stories today and will have the post up shortly after midnight Eastern time the U.S. I will approve any pingbacks if you want to share your stories. I would love to read them.

In honor of tomorrow and to set the mood, I thought I would share one of my favorite love poems.

ValentineThirty-Six
Rod McKuen, Listen to the Warm

I live alone.
It hasn’t always been that way.
It’s nice sometimes
to open up the heart a little
and let some hurt come in.
It proves you’re still alive.

I’m not sure what it means.
Why we can not shake the old loves from our minds.
It must be that we build on memories
And make them more than what they were.
And is the manufacture
Just a safe device for closing up the wall?

I do remember.
The only fuzzy circumstance
Is sometimes where-and-how.
Why, I know.

It happens just because we need
To want and to be wanted too,
When love is here or gone
To lie down in the darkness
And listen to the warm.

Blog, Holidays

What a Wonderful Day

Day 86

Today was nice. It was a bit of normalcy after a few weeks of difficulty. We are still trying to take in the holidays a little and today was a last-minute bit of holiday spirit.

Winter Lights

IMG_8305We had tickets to go to see Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum with our daughter and her family back before Christmas. We ended up canceling when we learned that Mom, sadly, would be going into hospice.

After Christmas, hubby and I decided we would like to try to get tickets to go see the lights and were delighted when our daughter and grandson wanted to go with us. We went last year and had such a good time we knew we would love it again this year.

Family Time

There is nothing better than just hanging out with those we love. The family came up and spent the afternoon with us. We went to a local pub-style restaurant for dinner and then drove up to Asheville to the Arboretum to see the lights.

It was much warmer this year than last. Last year was so COLD — in the 20’s F.  Brrr.  This year was in the low 40’s F so it was much warmer. We dressed warmly nonetheless.

The drive into the Arboretum was beautiful. Lights were strung in all the trees in the parking lot and throughout the grounds. It was beautiful and it was a clear night to boot. No rain in sight!

Chandeliers hanging from the trees, bottles of water lit in huge cylinders, lights synchronized to music, and trees decorated like ball gowns. It was fantastic!

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Times like this remind me of what is important. The time we spend with those we love just enjoying one another’s company is the absolute best. We are not promised any time, so take advantage of the time you have.

Mom wanted to come to Winter Lights this year. She had planned to come up with her sister and go see the lights with us. Unfortunately, she was not able to do so. I kept thinking over and over tonight how much she would have enjoyed it.

At the exit point of the light display, there is a Cocoa Shack. We had hot cocoa and I enjoyed a gingerbread cookie! It was a little bit of holiday joy in an otherwise tumultuous December.

That’s it for now. Time to publish this and hit the sack.

 

 

Blog, Holidays

Finding Christmas

Day 80

Tonight I am thinking about Christmas. This is the first Christmas in a very, very long time that Christmas is arriving in an unfamiliar way. We normally would have our presents purchased and wrapped and under the tree. This year it is not so.

IMG_8181We walk into Christmas Eve accepting all that has transpired. We are suffering a tremendous loss and having a Christmas that sets that memory aside in favor of shopping and exchanging gifts seems wrong.

We will do that a little later, but on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will simply enjoy each other and give thanks for all we have and yes, all we have lost. We are both looking forward to just sitting with each other in front of the Christmas tree without any concern for gifts or expectations. We will just be together and focus on why we celebrate this holiday.

I have experienced a lot of loss in my life and this Christmas comes on the heels of another devastating loss. We will take our steps slowly with great reverence. And that’s okay. It is the way we will regain our footing and move forward into the new year.

For all of you who read here, I wish you a Blessed Christmas. It will be filled with moments that will become memories — hopefully more good than bad. For those of you who do not celebrate this holiday or who also find yourself in similar circumstances, I encourage you to just embrace the time to find peace within yourself.

“This Christmas mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love, and then speak it again.” 
Howard W. Hunter

Blog, Holidays, Home

A Potpourri of Thoughts

Day 46

What a day. It has been a blessing from start to finish. All I have to share are lots of jumbled thoughts about various topics. No concise thinking here tonight.

Morning

IMG_7836When I woke up this morning I was worried about how the day was going to go. I woke up and my knees and my shins were killing me. I assume it was from my over-zealous walk yesterday. We started by going uphill and I was pushing it. So, this morning I paid the piper.

We had coffee and went for another walk. This time we chose the other direction which goes downhill with a more gradual incline on the return. As we walked back I couldn’t help but think how easy the walk looked to be, but it is a good healthy incline. The road home looked like it could have come out of a poem. It caused me to think about the journey I’ve been on and how much I still hope to do.

The good news is the walk helped with the pain. I think I’ve just been too sedentary too long. Time to kick it up a notch.

Preparations

IMG_7840As I mentioned, we will go get our Christmas tree on Friday. So, in preparation, I have been cleaning some and getting ready to make room for a tree and the accompanying decorations. I put together a small kitchen cart so I can move my mixer and food processor off the kitchen counter.  Nice to feel accomplished.

I fixed a nice fresh lunch — lettuce from our garden, avocado, cucumber, radishes, walnuts, and a balsamic reduction. I made the reduction myself and I cooked it a bit too long because it was too thick, but yummy just the same.

Surprises

IMG_7842Since technology has emerged, I get very little ‘real’ mail. Today hubby brought in a package from a dear, dear friend I met online. As a matter of fact, we have only met once in person. Inside this ‘snail mail’ package was the most beautiful hand-made journal, a beautiful handwritten letter and an assortment of wonderful bobs of inspiration. As I read the letter, tears streamed down my cheeks.

IMG_7843It is so touching to be thought of in this way. I treasure the journal and want to use it for something very special. Every time I touch it, I will think of my dear friend and her kindness in thinking of me.

Who said you cannot make ‘real’ friends online? Pish posh. The friends I have made in this way are some of the best and I will be forever grateful for the path that brought us together.

Now NaNoWriMo

It’s been a busy day so we will have leftover soup from last night and then I will retreat to work on my novel.

I feel blessed in SO many ways. Another good day on the books.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” 
Anais Nin

Blog, Holidays, Home

Pre-Holiday Decorations

Day 32

IMG_7559We really enjoy a cozy atmosphere around the holidays. Yesterday, I pulled out a couple of small Thanksgiving things, like table cloths and our Publix pilgrim salt and pepper shakers our daughters bought us years ago. It helps get the season off on a positive note.

Department 56

I married into a family of collectors. Everyone in the family had Department 56 villages. Some Dickens, some Christmas in the City and some North Pole. We decided we would collect the New England Village. It is more holiday-like rather than Christmas-like.

Over the years we were gifted pieces or bought pieces. We do not have a huge collection like others, but we have 12 buildings and a few accessories. Eventually we stopped buying them because we did not have practical space to display them.

In years past, hubby created a village base with ice ponds and rivers complete with street lights that always housed the village. Now, in our retirement years, we have a smaller space so the village gets displayed above the kitchen cabinets. It is mainly ambiance and the lights at night give you a really cozy feeling. Just enough to make you smile.

Decorations Are Work

IMG_7696Today, I unpacked the buildings to the village and put the lights in them. Hubby is busy rigging up extension cords with timers to make turning them on and off easier. The smaller grandchildren love getting to turn the lights on when they come to visit. Such small joys make sweet memories.

It starts out a mess, with everything piled on the table with bits of styrofoam falling everywhere from the unpacking. This is how it begins, but it is short-lived and then the joy is there to enjoy every night thereafter.

Lifting Our Spirits

When life gets us down, sometimes a small thing like this allows you to put your cares aside and focus on something more joyful. It is a choice we make to enjoy the holidays especially when families are so scheduled and so busy that we do not get to see them as much as we would like.

So, it’s not a Christmas village, it is a New England Village. We know many of our friends celebrate holidays other than Christmas and we like that. We aren’t rushing Christmas or skipping Thanksgiving or anything like that — we just plan to enjoy every minute of the upcoming holiday season because, well, that’s just how we roll.

“It’s not about presents but it is about your presence.
Therein lies the spirit of the holiday season.” 

Julieanne O’Connor