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Archive for December, 2009

Letter to the future

December 31st, 2009 2 comments

Dear 2010,

Be nice.

No, seriously. Be nice. Your predecessor, 2009? Talk about your evil woman! I say good riddance to her. Don’t let the champagne cork hit you when you go.

I should be fair and admit 2009 had its good aspects. One of which was my laying the groundwork for the future professionally. And within that, I know in my heart that you, 2010, will be successful.

It has to be, and thus will be.

I don’t make New Years resolutions. I choose to make resolutions throughout the year, and personally I feel like making a New Years resolution is setting yourself up to fail at those goals. Because its hard to take goal seriously when its made because you feel like you should make it, versus making the goal at a time you are prepared mentally to truly succeed in that particular goal.

I do, however, choose to look to the new year with an unspecific and broad feeling of hope and determination.I’m going into the new year with a positive outlook on it. Stress and worry and pessimism be gone! Determination and activism and optimism enter!

So, you see, 2010… you really have no choice but to be nice. I will accept nothing less of you. I allowed 2009 to dictate me too much. And, as a result, 2010, I am taking over as boss. And you WILL be better, and you WILL be successful.

I will welcome you with open arms at the stroke of midnight with my husband and family and friends. And I will be very glad to see you. Welcome to 2010…

- Me

Categories: faith, family, holidays, optimism Tags:

Weekly Winners (Dec. 20 – 26)

December 27th, 2009 20 comments

Christmas arrived and has passed… wonderful memories, wonderful times. One last Christmas-heavy Weekly Winners post. For more Weekly Winners, go visit Sarcastic Mom. You’ll be glad you did!

Traveling to Texas from Nashville... heading West into the sunset.

Traveling to Texas from Nashville... heading West into the sunset.

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Gifted

Gifted

Ornamental reflection

Ornamental reflection

Candy cane hot chocolate

Candy cane hot chocolate

Tillamook cheese tray

Tillamook cheese tray

Peace in Christmas lights at BLORA

Peace in Christmas lights at BLORA

Nativity

Nativity

Texas tree top

Texas tree top

All of my photos on Flickr.

Categories: photos, weekly-winners Tags:

Christmas in my heart

December 26th, 2009 2 comments
Family -- Christmas 2009

Family -- Christmas 2009

Last Christmas, I wrote about there being “No price to the holidays.” This year, it felt like all I saw leading up to Christmas was dollar signs… the cost of living had me down in the dumps and stressed. It seemed like we were on this strange teeter-totter; once I’d be up, something would come out of no where to bring me back down.

Then… we began our trip towards family and a much-needed reprieve from everyday life. And, frankly, our bad luck followed us. In little ways — slamming my finger in a car door, my husband spilling hot coffee on himself — bad luck began to become funny. My attitude began to change, and I began to see the humor in almost every situation.

I also began reminiscing.

See, I’ve started this Christmas blog entry at least ten times in my mind over the course of the last two weeks. A dozen different angles. Hundreds of little stories and memories. All of which so precious. All of which deserve an entry to themselves.

My nephew made a video for a class project, and he gave us all a copy of it. “What Christmas means to me” is a gift I’m going to cherish forever… he did a great job on it, and as I sit here it makes me think… what would I say if I did such a project.

At around his age (ok, maybe more around my niece’s age), my answer would consist of stories about going to Grandma’s house with the whole family. It would talk about our “Christmas Program” in which the family gathered in the living room to sing songs, recite poems and read Christmas stories. I’d talk about Happy Birthday Baby Jesus cake, family photos, and lighting candles on the tree in order of grandchild’s age.

I’d talk about Children’s mass at church on Christmas Eve, where I’d sing in the children’s choir and Mom and my brother would be in the adult choir — complete with songs in Czech! I’d talk about how I never got to carry any of the main pieces of the nativity in during procession. Always either a donkey or a cow… no offense to the animals, but as a child you want Jesus, Mary or Joseph… or an angel… or at least a shepherd!

Finally, I would talk about Christmas morning and the wide-eyed wonder of Santa having come leave gifts over night. There were Barbies and Baby-Sitter’s Club Books. Board games and new jeans. Living in Texas, it wasn’t unusual to be warm enough to go outside and play in the afternoon. Or perhaps we’d go visit my Grandpa in Bryan.

Christmas would mean to me family, church, good food, and presents.

Today, my entry would look slightly different. So far, my husband and I have alternated Christmases with each other’s families. One year in Oregon, the next year in Texas. While both families have their own traditions, some things remain the same no matter where you are or how old you are… Christmas is still all about family, celebrating Jesus’ birth, good food, and presents — though today I am more into giving than receiving… Not that I don’t like receiving (new camera and an A&M Snuggie for the WIN!)… haha!

Ultimately, we should keep Christmas in our hearts year around. Its simply a magical time of year if only you’ll let it be so. Its a time of peace. Its a time of joy. Its a time of love. Its a time of hope. Its a time of faith…

Christmas means all these things to me.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate)… May the joy of this season carry us into the new year.

Categories: family, holidays, memories, optimism Tags:

Weekly Winners (Dec. 13 – 19)

December 19th, 2009 16 comments

Christmas has pretty much exploded into my Weekly Winners this week… bring it on!!!

For more Weekly Winner participants, visit Sarcastic Mom!

Christmas Stage

Christmas Stage

The stockings were hung by the speakers with care...

The stockings were hung by the speakers with care...

I love you, too, honey!!

I love you, too, honey!!

A beautifully decorated house we drove by in Brentwood, TN

A beautifully decorated house we drove by in Brentwood, TN

Poinsettias

Poinsettia

OH HAI

OH HAI

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil...

All of my photos on Flickr.

Categories: photos, weekly-winners Tags:

An unexpected angel

December 17th, 2009 No comments

DSCN0615-1Yesterday, I wrote about having the Holiday Doldrums. Today, I write about an unexpected burst of Holiday Spirit.

It was a frustrating beginning to the day, when a bid to get some much needed funds to cover a few bills hit a brick wall. We attempted to sell a couple of my husband’s old keyboards to a used music store, only to be turned down cold. We left feeling frustrated, angry, and admittedly a little depressed. On to Plan C. Whatever that may be.

We went from there to a place in which we needed the Christmas spirit.

See, my husband is a Mason, and his lodge puts together gift baskets for the widows of Masons who have passed away. We had a basket in our backseat, and two keyboards in the truck bed. The cab of the truck filled with a feeling of… well, anything but Christmas.

We arrived at the widow’s condo, and we went to the door. Both fighting to find the Christmas spirit to bring to this woman who would either welcome us or send us on our way immediately. We had no idea what to expect!

I know one thing for sure: we certainly didn’t expect to leave her home with smiles from ear to ear, and the feeling of Christmas in our hearts. I felt like a Christmas Angel had just swooped into my life in that half hour we spent visiting with this most delightful of women.

She told us of how she’d lost her husband in 2005, and how the first two years after his passing she felt her own life over. How she cried every day, missing him deeply. Then, one day, how she decided she needed to live, and has since joined a cards club, and a gardening club. How she has so many friends, and how she goes all the time.

Then she explained how she’d had a car accident earlier this year, and how four of her five doctors told her she’d never survive her injuries. But then how her primary doctor told her she could survive… and the next day she was out of bed walking around the hospital. She told us of how she doesn’t use the wheelchair nor the walker in her living room, and how she is determined to eventually be off oxygen completely.

She was filled with such life. She was filled with such determination. She was filled with such a positive glow.

How could we not leave her home feeling like WE were the ones to have received a gift. An intangible gift that you can only see in our new moods and demeanor. Things suddenly didn’t seem quite so bad. And those keyboards? Well, they’re back in our garage, to be dealt with at another time. Instead of lamenting our “loss” of not selling them, we’re saying thank you for our many, many blessings.

We found our Christmas spirit in a very unexpected angel. And I am so very thankful.

Categories: faith, holidays, husband, optimism Tags:

Holiday doldrums?

December 16th, 2009 2 comments

I’m trying really, really, really hard to be in the Christmas spirit this year. And as I look around me, I see that to be true for so many people this year.

I got laid off last Thursday. Two weeks before Christmas. TWO WEEKS! Now how do you tell a 7-year-old Santa lost his job before he’d finished his shopping? — A friend

It seems like the true pain of the economy has struck many this holiday season. Funds are low. Bills are high. Christmas dreams seem almost impossible to be dreamed. These woes have been fact for many for years, but for others its a new experience. I know I find myself with a deeper appreciation for my ancestors who survived The Great Depression.

As the press spends airtime trying to convince us all that the economy is getting better. That the recession it taking a turn. That its okay to spend money again. I call BS. If anything, now is the time we’re all feeling the pinch more than ever. That the true collapse of our economy has begun to settle, and we’re all looking around at the pieces around us. Pieces that come in the form of bills we can’t pay. Homes that today sit empty. Unemployment numbers that have reached near record highs.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle in their journey. – Author Unknown

A friend wrote that quote as their status update on Facebook tonight, and that really made me stop and think. It’s very true. We all have our own battles to fight every day. Some are facing potential job loss. Others are trying to find a job. I know of people who have family members in the hospital fighting for their lives. We are still hearing stories of families losing members — children — to the H1N1 flu virus.

We all have our crosses to bear. And in a season in which we’re all encouraged to be a little kinder to each other, it seems that this year that need is a little greater. Smiles need to be a little brighter. Hugs need to hold on a little tighter. Transgressions of the past year need to be forgiven. Time spent counting our many blessings needs to be taken a little more often.

Losing the spirit of the season only hurts you more. I was happy to address and mail Christmas cards, even as I grumbled about the postage hike that made it a little more difficult to afford. I couldn’t pass up participating in a recent “Dirty Santa” game at a Christmas Party… the laughter and friendship that occurs in a game like that is priceless. It’s memories that keep you warm in your heart all year long.

I have been so blessed lately to be surrounded by dear friends, and I look forward to a trip to spend Christmas with family. I can’t wait for midnight mass — a chance to truly remember the reason for this season. And even when life and my own personal “battles” get me down, I’m reminded to take a moment and let this season sink into my heart. It’s a time for joy. For family and friends. For hope. For love. For faith.

Perhaps even for a little magic. Christmas magic. That thing that takes the holiday doldrums and turns them into holiday cheer… I, personally, believe in magic.

Don’t you?