time & treasures

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Due to recent weather events in my part of the world, my original plans for the past few days have been canceled – no district wide children’s Bible quiz on Saturday, no tours for the 9/11 Tribute Center or ladies small group on Monday and no teaching ballet this afternoon. I see that type of change in plans as having extra time. Laundry, cleaning, answering emails, finishing books for book club all fit into my regular schedule. So when extra time presents itself I try to think of something I don’t think I have time to do and get it done or I fall into the “binge watching” trap.

On Saturday I organized paperwork I will need for my 2014 taxes. I shredded stuff I don’t need and filed the rest. With a sense of accomplishment I then binge watched most of the first season of Parenthood. Sunday was a regular day. On Monday I organized my address book which consisted of very old addresses of family and friends and lots of little return address labels that I had stored in the book. I tossed out most of the written pages and simply taped the labels in the book. Yes, I do have contacts on my phone and computer but I don’t need to carry all of those people around with me. 🙂  Then I watched a couple more episodes of Parenthood finishing season one and starting season two.

On Monday evening I decided I should accomplish something else as I had extra time due to no ladies group. So I decided to clean out the small drawer in the cabinet that sits next to my favorite chair and has become the catch-all for this and that. Since it is a small drawer I always assume what I place in there well be safe because it won’t be swallowed up as it could be in a big drawer. I wasn’t surprised to see post-it notes, small pads of paper, rubber bands, paperclips, cleaning cloths for my computer, my amazon credit card and my checkbook. I was surprised by a few treasures:

  • a box of rose petals – a friend had collected the petals from the yellow rose that was placed in Bruce’s name  by the National September 11 Memorial on Veterans’ Day. Friendship is an amazing treasure.
  • a small metal kazoo – “a dad gift”. After September 11, my daughters and I purchased a gift for each other that would have been something Dad would have bought or something that reminded you of Dad. We continued that tradition for 10 Christmases and then decided to make it an optional Christmas tradition. Meghan had purchased the kazoos for Emily and I in 2013. Many years ago while on a long road trip from NY to KS a stop at Cracker Barrel had resulted in Bruce (Dad) buying kazoos for the girls. Thankfully it took a few miles for them to get the hang of it. Family and memories are treasures.
  • business card from Dith Pran – In 2005 (?) I had a telephone interview with a New York Times reporter and that reporter asked if a photographer could come to my home. A few days later a gentleman arrived at my home and began to take photos. In the course of the photo shoot, I realized that the photographer was Dith Pran, the man whose life the movie the Killing Fields is based on. We spoke of his passion to tell the next generation the story of the Killing Fields because one time was too many.  It was a totally surreal experience. There is a You tube video of his last words. Passion and purpose are another treasure.

Extra time and random treasures have been a blessing the last few days. Tomorrow is back to real life if Mother Nature allows. 🙂

I have to be honest I watched a few more episodes of Parenthood. Not sure why I never saw the show in real time. 🙂

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Christmas – packed up and put away!

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IMG_1779There are still a few signs of Christmas hanging in my home. My gifts haven’t been put away in their proper spots, photo cards from family and friends are still displayed and the bin of wrapping paper is readily available even though no longer needed.  Slowly the everyday items are replacing the Christmas items.Traditionally I would take down my Christmas decorations and put away my Christmas dishes around January 6 – Epiphany or the twelve day of Christmas. This year my daughter and son-in-law were arriving for “Christmas” on January 10 so everything stayed in place awaiting their arrival.

To be honest with the busyness of buying a house in December I didn’t decorate as much as usual. There was even a moment I thought I won’t decorate at all but I love Christmas so I decided to “do a little” decorating. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving I pulled out a couple of items. At first I didn’t put any Christmas dishes out but for some reason hot chocolate didn’t taste as good in an everyday mug so I pulled out a few Christmas mugs. As the days passed I pulled out a thing or two this day and then a thing or two the next day. My Christmas decorations didn’t seem complete  without Nana’s tissue box cover, or the ceramic Santa, or the Nativity snow globe. Slowly the decorations found their usual spots or a new spot and I was pleased.

And now it is time to put it all away. Unfortunately since I pulled a little from this box and little from that box finding where I pulled items from is slightly challenging.  I had a wonderful Christmas season. It was different from past years and that is okay. I was perplexed by one thing over this holiday season though. Do people really give cars as gifts? And why were children asking for cars? I couldn’t believe how many automobile commercials there were. I found it totally bizarre even stranger than chia pets!! 🙂

I will leave you with this thought:

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.” Howard Thurman

Earth Day – not!!

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Yesterday, I drove past what up to 5 weeks ago had been my parent’s house. We had sold the house “as is” and I will admit the house and the property needed a lot of TLC and work. I was however shocked to see the new owners had chopped down every single tree. I mean every tree. My first reaction was saddest. Wait! Some of those evergreen trees had been our Christmas trees a very long time ago. My second reaction was really!? You cut down every tree. Didn’t I learn something in science as a kid about us needing trees to breath. Then I thought wow! I really hope people can’t look down from heaven because my tree loving father, arborist/firefighter husband and my environmentally conscious brother are going to be pissed. And then I laughed at myself because really my Heavenly Father, Creator of the Universe could be a little annoyed, too. Wait, wasn’t it just Earth Day!
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FYI: not my parents yard just some beautiful trees in Alaska. 🙂

Christmas stories

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The one of the many things I enjoy about decorating for Christmas is unwrapping and displaying the different items and remembering the stories associated with them.

1. Some have funny stories like my handmade wooden reindeer, a gift from a student, that has burnt antlers because years ago Bruce accidentally threw the antlers into the fireplace. I walked in the room and said “what happened to his antlers” and there was a strange look, a fireproof glove and a hand reaching into the fire to retrieve it. Or there is the slightly gnawed on wooden tree, a gift my brother-in-law had made, that the dog decided to eat. Others have sentimental stories like the adorable clothes pin nativity scene Emily made in elementary school. Yes, mommies save and cherish those projects.

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2. Some have travel/adventure stories like my travel ornaments. I personally think that ornaments are the best kind of souvenirs so my Christmas tree is decorated with a fuzzy bear from Alaska, a buffalo from Mount Rushmore, a pretty hand painted ball ornament with a scuba diver from St Thomas and an official Plaza Hotel ornament.
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3. My daughters learned early on that books were the one thing mom would buy them so we have many books and many Christmas books full of wonderful stories. Golden books, pop up books, classics, poetry and gift books – A Cup of Christmas Tree, God with Us, The legend of the Christmas Prayer, What does Christmas Sound Like?, A Family Christmas, and The Legend of The Three Trees to name a few. A few years ago I didn’t put the little kid books out and Meghan commented “what happened to the kiddie books? I still like to look through them.” Thus why the kiddie Christmas books are still displayed.

4. By far the best Christmas decorations are those made with paper, glue and a photo of those you love. For those decorations come with a lifetime of stories.
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two identicial nutcrackers

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Why? Why have two identical nutcrackers? Because as I was cleaning out my parents home I discovered that my Dad had bought my mum and I the exact same nutcracker. My mum had said to divide up the decorations thus two nutcrackers. Through the years my mum bought most Christmas gifts that I received from my parents but on occasion my Dad would sneak a special one in. I realized something this morning as I thought about my two matching nutcrackers. My dad started buying me a special Christmas gift each year after Bruce died. Thanks, Daddy. 🙂

My Dad loved decorating for Christmas. What made that so funny was that my Dad was a very well read, logical thinker, he was an electrical engineer by profession but he delighted in the wonder of Christmas. He had his Dickens village that was historically correct in the placement of the buildings. No really, it was. He always hanging stuff from the ceiling especially geometric shaped ornaments. He had wildlife ornaments hanging from every indoor plant. He would take a break from decorating to scatter wild bird seed in the backyard for his bird friends. There was a nativity on the mantle. Byer’s carolers on the end table. A carousel of musical animals on top of the hutch. He was never done. To quote my daughter “it looks like Christmas threw up at Nanny and Poppy’s house”. The Christmases of my childhood were full of wonder due to my Dad decorating and decorating some more. And when he was done he would build a fire, sit on the couch with my mum and enjoy a snifter of brandy.

Thanks Daddy for instilling in me the wonder of life, the power of knowledge and the love of family.