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MONughDAY

Day 109

Welcome to my UGH day. I woke up dreading today. It is holiday cleanup day. (At least inside the house.)

Hubby loves Christmas and always hates to let go. This year was harder because of the death of his mom days before Christmas. It did not feel like Christmas at all this year.

So, I have tried to be understanding about leaving the tree up, but it WAS a live tree and now it was more like Jacob Marley — dead as a door-nail.

Decorating is always so joyful, but taking everything down and repacking it for a year is NOT fun. Thanks to Marie Kondo, however, a few things are going to be donated rather than going back into storage.

I am happy to be putting the pictures of the grandkids back on the mantelpiece. I have missed those faces!

Dinner has already been prepared. We will have the 15-bean soup I cooked last night after the power came back on.

Tomorrow I will do a thorough cleaning and get things back to a little more normal.

It’s time to plow ahead into 2019.

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Ornaments

Day 52

I love the consistency of my life. It might be boring to some but to me, it is perfect. Our days usually start out the same way and I love that. When we were working, mornings were always such a rush and a blur. Get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, pack lunch, then a 45-minute drive to work. That part of my life is in the past now and I appreciate the freedom of retirement.

More Tree Decorations

Today, I added some ornaments to the tree. I always start with some of the most sentimental ornaments. I have ornaments I made when my children were small, ornaments my children made in school and ornaments received from friends and family throughout the years.

IMG_7890<==This ornament was made by my son (with a lot of help from his teacher) in 1st grade. He now has a wife and two children of his own so it’s been a bit since this one came into the collection.

IMG_7889==>This one was made by my daughter – it’s a pierced piece of copper. The ribbon has yellowed and every year I add a little glue to keep it together. It’s special though. She, too, is married and has a child of her own.

IMG_7888<==My great-aunt made this for me about 40 years ago. It’s made of wooden spools. The dress was hand-made. She passed away last year. The last of my great aunts and uncles.

IMG_7892==>I once had a dear friend who I thought would be a life-long friend. But some things do not turn out the way we think that they will. I keep it and hang it to remember the good times. Sometimes people are only in our life for a season.

IMG_7885<==My sister passed away in 2010. When I lived in Florida she came to visit and we took a trip up to St. Augustine. She bought this ornament for my husband because she knew how much he loved lighthouses. They had a good and kind relationship.

IMG_7891==>Our grandson made this ornament for us maybe when he was 8 or so. He’s now almost 17. Another wonderful addition with great memories of the sweetest little boy.

IMG_7886<==This one always makes me smile. I made this with my step-daughter and my two granddaughters. It was to be an easy project but after hot gluing all those pom poms we were ready to be done. It was a day filled with great joy and laughter.

 

When my children were small, I made a number of ceramic ornaments for the tree. Many have been broken through the years, but I still have about 5. These are two of my favorites. A partridge in a pear tree and an elephant — because elephants never forget.

There are more ornaments and more memories to be placed on the tree. All in all, it was a day filled with wonderful memories and thoughts of people and times and places that can never be replaced. Tonight I am blessed.

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” 
Steve Maraboli

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The Floodwaters

Day 51

Today started off with our normal routine of coffee, a walk and then breakfast. Afterward hubby brought in all the Christmas boxes from our storage area so I could start unpacking and decorate the tree.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with one of our daughters in South Carolina. It was a truly beautiful day with lots of good food and conversation. Lots of children there, too, which always makes it fun.

Today I talked with my son. He spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with his wife’s family. They are a wonderful group of people and I know they had a great time and a lot of wonderful food as well.

Christmas Memories

christmastreeToday I chose the Martina McBride Christmas channel on Pandora — decorating is much nicer with Christmas music. I love the mix of music on this station so it was perfect.

Hubby helped me start the lights because the tree is just too tall for me. I unpacked boxes and pulled out more lights so we could see if we had enough to go around the tree. Once the lights were low enough for me to reach he went back outside and I continued the lights.

All was going well until “How Great Thou Art” came on. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. It is a song that touches me in ways I cannot fully explain. When my mother died, that song ran through my head as I flew back to Ohio where I was stationed while in the Air Force. I remember writing my Dad a letter on that flight and somewhere I have packed away the letter he wrote to me in return. This song brings the memory front and center.

As I unpacked decorations, my life from the time I was a child, until the time when my children were growing up through our life as we gained six grandchildren and all the way to this time of retirement poured out in abundance. I was overwhelmed with — not sadness — but a great wave of emotion for all the people who have come and gone in my life and those still here but yet so far away.

I was starting to struggle…

Thankfully, my daughters and my granddaughter video chatted me on Facebook. It was such a great lift. For most of the Christmas seasons in the 22 years since hubby and I were married, they were with us. We shopped together, had Christmas coffees together, and talked ‘nunya’s’ from Thanksgiving until Christmas when we would celebrate together. Now they have a daughter and seeing her enjoy the first Christmas she can somewhat understand is amazing.

Retirement can be a lonely time sometimes and tonight I am a little melancholy. Putting up the tree and decorating is always emotional for me. Our tradition has always been a ‘memory tree’. When we hang the ornaments, each one is named for someone who has passed on or simply someone we love who just cannot be with us at Christmas.  I have not started the ornaments yet. It is always an emotional time for me. So, why do I put myself through it?

I do it because the love I have been fortunate enough to experience in my life is worth the remembering and the tears. After the ornaments are hung, each time I pass the tree, I will think of and remember those people whom I love and miss so much.

I am Blessed

The early part of the Christmas season is always this way for me. I am so blessed and so thankful for everything I have in my life. We have much to look forward to this year. Two grandchildren’s birthdays are upcoming. We are going to see the lights at the North Carolina Arboretum with our daughter and her family. We also have a Christmas band concert and a piano recital to attend as well.

So, dear readers, I will love and enjoy this Christmas season as I always have. It holds every memory about where I come from, who I have been and who I am today. For me, it is symbolic of the faith I hold close and all of those things bring me great joy. I just need to get through this part. The tearful, wonderful and sacred memories of all the people I hold so dear to my heart.

And to my children. When I text too much or call too much just know it is because I am missing you. I am so thankful that each of you has full and meaningful lives, but it does not make me miss you any less. That’s the stuff that moms’ hearts are made of.

“Christmas is not a date on a calendar. It’s more than a state of mind. It’s a condition of the heart.” 
Toni Sorenson

 

 

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The Perfect Christmas Tree

Day 50

Finding the perfect Christmas tree is a tradition in our house. When we lived in Florida all those years, it meant going to a tree lot where we found a Frasier Fir trucked in from the Carolinas or even further north. Now that we live in the Carolinas, we get to go select our tree from the farm and they cut it down for you, tie it, load it in the truck and you’re on your way.

Trees of Christmas Past

My Dad loved Christmas so much. He was quite a kid about it for as long as I can remember. He will resurface several times here in my blog as we get closer to Christmas.

Growing up, we had two trees — both artificial. If we ever had a fresh tree, I do not remember it. One tree was green, with branches that looked nothing like a real tree. The other — Dad’s favorite — was a 5′ silver tree. They were the rage at the time and Dad absolutely loved it. He put multi-colored glass ornaments on it. In addition to the ornaments, we had a spinning color wheel that sat on the floor and shone red, green, blue, and orange light on the tree. Everyone thought it was hideous except Dad.

Each branch was stored in a stiff brown paper sleeve and was color-coded to the location on the tiny cylindrical trunk where it should go. I can still remember the whoosh sound as the branch was pulled from the paper tube.

Today, these trees are considered vintage. You can buy one on eBay and other retro sales sites, but they are quite expensive now.

Trees of Christmas Present

IMG_7854Hubby and I have been married for 22 years and every year we buy a real tree. The first year we were married was the first time he had celebrated Christmas in his own home in a long, long time. That first tree was sentimental and big and full. It seems he always tries to find a tree that either meets or exceeds his memory of that first Christmas tree.

IMG_7865Today we got up and took our normal trek north toward Waynesville. It was a very cool morning and the wind was cold. We usually buy our tree at Mehaffey tree farm near Waynesville, NC. The drive up was beautiful and when we got just past Canton, we could see snow on the mountain tops. So exciting!

We tromped through the farm and finally came to a decision as to the best tree for us. We stood up on the hill for a long time waiting for the helpers to come and cut the tree for us. While they were tying the tree up, I paid for it and had my complimentary cup of hot cocoa. (I prefer apple cider but it wasn’t hot and in the low 40’s, my complimentary beverage needed to be hot!)

Preparations

IMG_7871Once we arrived back home, the tree was trimmed up and carted into the house. It is a lot for the two of us to get an 11′ tree in the house but we did it. It takes a bit of time to get it straight in the stand, trim it up and then clean up the mess!

IMG_7872Finally, it was time to cut the twine off the tree and let it fall out. The water is in the tree and I am sure it will be gone by morning. After it gets nice and saturated we will start to put on the lights and the ornaments.

We don’t buy a lot of presents or shop a lot, so the tree and the decorations are what we do to keep us in the Christmas spirit. We will find a worthwhile cause to donate to and just sit and enjoy the ambiance of Christmas from now until the end of December.

Now We Enjoy

I hope that you have something in your life that also brings you this kind of joy. I am a Christian, but I am well aware that many of my close friends celebrate other holidays. I really love reading about their traditions and feel enriched by learning about how others spend this holiday season.

Now it’s raining and we are under a winter storm warning for ice and sleet. We have everything we need and there is no pressing reason for us to go anywhere. Now we just relax and enjoy!

“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There’s a kind of glory to them when they’re all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.” 
Andy Rooney