Archives for the month of: December, 2014

Looking back over the holiday season, starting with Halloween, it’s been a different one.  For sure.  Nothing was the way it usually is in my life up until Christmas Day, which was its typical madhouse of family and fun.  Thank goodness for that.

Maybe I’m more aware these days, now that I’m not caught up in all the things I did in my past lives, things like racing four children around to Christmas programs and parties, cooking madly every day, sending out Christmas cards, running a retail store during the holidays, preparing for a Christmas fundraiser (several times at various stages of my life), or wrapping a million presents.  I still do cook and shop and wrap presents, although I don’t have to run around town or the whole state looking for a rare Star Wars character or a special purse or all the “had to have” gifts for my kids that we had to physically look for in the olden days.  I shop both local and online, so I can find what I want pretty quickly, unless I don’t have a clue what to get.  Still a problem.

Thanks to Facebook, I traveled the holidays with friends far and near, watching the preparations of the younger families, sharing memories with my older friends, delighting in masses of photos of how the kids and grandkids are growing.  It’s a gift that keeps on giving, this sharing of lives.  Thanks for Mark Zuckerberg and whoever invented Instagram for that and don’t let me hear your gripes.  It is what it is and you don’t have to be a part of it if it’s not your cup of tea.

Mostly, I’m taken with the people I know who have suffered through the holidays, suffered with loneliness, depression, health issues, grief, anger and bitterness, debilitating illness.  There are a lot of people battling demons during the season in which we are supposed to be jolly.  There were political issues and divides and scary world threats and all kinds of things that should have made the season not so great.  No matter how hard we try, we can’t make the world perfect even for a few days to celebrate the rituals of our faith or the beginning of a new year that we hope will be more perfect.

But, we keep trying.  I watched as people I love reached for the joy of the season to stave off the realities of the days that will follow, days of realization that a loved one is gone, days of facing new situations in life due to job loss or illness or more days of loneliness ahead.  Some are beaten too far down to lift up for the holidays at all.  They suffer through, waiting for it to all be over.  Our hearts are touched, even in our own days of celebration.

So, we’re mostly past the season of being jolly, just waiting for the end of this year, waiting for the new year that will bring us…well, we really don’t know what it will bring us, do we?  So the message is to celebrate each day we are here, celebrate the good things in our lives, reach out to those who need us to be there for them.  There are no guarantees in this life and we really have no idea what lies ahead, no matter how much in control we think we are.    The best we can do is to love – love life, love nature, love others, love ourselves.  The love of this season and every season and every day is the message.

I hope your 2014 was good and that your 2015 is the best!

DSC_0493 - Version 2

There are so many ways to mark the history of a family.  Birthdays, holidays, seasons, vacations, school events and every day activities are signs of passing years.  Before photography…well, I can’t even imagine what they did. There weren’t that many paintings or drawings per family that I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know when the first pictures with Santa started, but they were probably with department store Santas as a way to get customers in the door.  I know there were visits with Santa before that, but the photos were a commercial addition to our holidays.  When I was little, we didn’t seem to do it every year.  In fact, I only have one.  Here is me with my brother and another one of my husband, both photos taken in 1950 when my husband and I were both 5.  SANTAAlan with Santa - around 1950By the time my children were born, it became an annual event, part of the traditions of the holidays.  I took them to shopping centers and later to Santa House, a non-profit fundraiser which I worked on for years.  Here is one taken in 1975 with me as the elf, weeks after giving birth to my son.  The matching dresses were made by my mother-in-law.  Don’t ask my youngest daughter about having to wear those hand-me-downs for years.  I was President of the group that year…with four children.  To be that young and energetic again…Santa House 1975Here they are a few years later, towards the end of our Santa picture years.  How in the world did I ever get the four of them that scrubbed up for a picture?  xSo the years went by and those children grew up and started families of their own.  Our first three grandsons were born the same year, all within 8 months.  This was in 1997…  1997And those little families grew and had Santa pictures of their own…1452295_10202508196683924_1336243979_nIMG_7009148290_1699078767564_1555751205_31657769_3390214_nAnd these children grew older and then their cousin came along…eAnd she is the last of this generation to visit Santa.

We measure our lives in so many ways, counting the years through as many memories as we can.  Photos like this are a mirror of the years, the generations, and the commitment to making more memories for those we love.  No matter what your beliefs, I’m sure there are special events to record.  It’s nice to be able to look back and take it all in, put it in the perspective of Santa visits for this particular memory thread in the ever-weaving pattern of my life.

Cheers to more generations to come, adding their own memories and love.

As we get older, we forget about skipping.  My youngest granddaughter has learned how and tends to skip rather than run these days.  At five, it’s a relief to her much slower grandmother because she doesn’t get so far away from me.  I still tend to be behind her, watching her move.  Here’s her ballet class, skipping across the room.  IMG_5643I’m not sure little boys skip, but little girls sure do.  There’s something so fun about it.  Also, I hear her humming while she skips.  A friend told me I hum when I’m happy, although I’m not aware of it.

A friend of mine married late and has younger children than most people his age. He was in his 50s when his daughter was about 7 or 8.  One day he stopped by my house to help with something and brought his daughter.  I looked out the window and saw him skipping with his little girl.  I never said anything to him but I think I told his wife.  It was so very precious and I hope his daughter remembers that moment forever.

There’s a new movement to add skipping to exercise programs.  Why not?  It certainly gets the old body moving and lifting off the ground and the heart pumping.  There’s a youthfulness to the movement, described by one on-line dictionary as a hippity-hopping movement.  Cute.

Just think back to a time in your life when you skipped.  It had to be a happy memory, didn’t it?  I can’t imagine anyone skipping sadly.  And you do tend to want to hum something catchy.

Skipping through life doesn’t sound bad at all.  I’m going to try it while I still can!

I had some time to kill at Oklahoma State University yesterday and there was a subject I wanted to research, one that OSU has in their archives. I’d walked past the library earlier in the day, always a beautiful sight, admiring the Christmas wreath and garlands. IMG_5764I’d been actually dreading going into this beautiful building because I have such warm memories of spending hours with the card catalogue, digging through shelves of periodicals for an article I needed for a research paper, copying notes onto index cards.  There were no copy machines or computers in those days.  You either checked out the book or did the research on site.  There was comfort in the shelves of books and periodicals, the dark wood tables and chairs.  I grew to love the search and the activity it took to find the information I needed to support my thoughts.

I knew it would be different – I’ve been in local libraries after all.  I understand the computers and having everything online and that the experience has changed.  I’m not against it, but I wasn’t quite ready to really see it in person in this building.

Approaching the building, the incredible chimes were playing the OSU alma mater, which was comforting.  I walked in the front doors…  IMG_5769…loving the brass doors.  I went through the security scanners and up the stairs with the beautiful brass handrails.  Reaching the next floor was like coming into a new century, to say the least.  There were tables and chairs and couches and lots of students with laptops.  I didn’t see any books at all.  There were some offices and a wonderful room decorated old style where students lounged and studied for finals.

I wandered around, wondering how you find anything and went back down the stairs to the lower level where there was an information desk and lots of tables with computers.  There was a space in the back of one corner where there were shelves of periodicals. Yay! Something familiar.   I realized I was supposed to find a computer, but wasn’t really sure about how this worked, so I approached the desk.

Me:  “Hi.  I haven’t been here since 1969.”

Student:  “Well, welcome back!”

She was great, turning her computer to show me the website.  I told her I had a log-in and could take it from there, so I found an empty computer and logged in.  I maneuvered around and found the information I was looking for, which I also accessed from home.  I was looking for more, but there it was.

I finished up and left.  What can you say?  I hadn’t wandered down a row of shelves or handled a book.  That was weird, at least for me.  It’s the library and I’m happy that students are in there, soaking up the information.  As I walked away, the chimes were playing “Frosty the Snowman,” which rang across campus and I passed three girls smiling with their arms around each other, singing to the music.  Their finals were over and they were probably heading home for the holidays.

It’s all good.  We’re moving ahead in our technical world.  But my memories of those long ago days in the quiet rooms of dark wood and shelves of books is still sweet.  Sigh.



I do believe in God.

What I don’t believe is that there is a God in human form watching us in order to decide whose side He/She is on.  That’s a bit hard to reconcile with a God that is loving, at least for me.  To me, we all want to complicate it.

The worst things ever done by man/woman to the each other, to other living things, to the planet are often done in the name of God.  I cannot believe that God, whatever name you use, is on any side in wars, causes diseases, wins sporting games, blesses or damns any individual among us for being gay, or of any race or religious preference.

From what I’ve read, most religions share some common beliefs, usually along the lines of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, in various languages and traditions.  Most people want the same things for their country, for their families.

We are our own worst enemies, all of us.  We, and I use that term to cover all humans, use the Bible, or whatever your religion uses, to justify all the worst fears, all the worst feelings we’re capable of having.

During this season of celebration for many religions, let’s remember the basics, the words that teach us to love one another.  In the beginning, there was…something.  And the beauty is all around us.

Peace and Love to all.  DSC_0002

This week I started my final year being in my 60s.  Technically, I’ve lived 69 years plus three days.  Where did it all go?  Really…

When I hit 60, I felt empowered.  There was something about it that felt strong, like I could do anything and not care what others thought.  Well, sort of.  There was an empowerment, though.  I was feeling very independent.  I had a great job, good friends, wonderful family.  I even semi-retired.  All was good.

It’s stayed that way actually.  I’ve been on many adventures, am not taken down by petty discussions and time consuming things I really don’t enjoy.  The only difference was that I suddenly noticed, when I turned 65, that there were some tell-tale signs that, uh-oh, my body was also getting pretty independent, not to mention developing aches and pains, wrinkles and age spots, more gray hairs and so on.  Uh Oh doesn’t even begin to describe that realization that your mind is still functioning quite well, running on all cylinders so to speak, but you are being sabotaged by your physical being.  I guess it’s better than the alternative, but it’s kind of a shock.

All my healthy check-ups through the years are still pretty good, but there are things you can’t help but notice.  Who is that in the mirror?  Whose hands are those?  Why are all my friends having parts replaced?  Things you did in your youth are catching up with you, as is your DNA.  I can feel an occasional pain in my thumbs that my doctor assures me is arthritis.  They also found some in my neck.  I haven’t broken any major bones, because then I know I would have more, but I can sometimes feel a pain in my knees on stairs.  Not bad – I still walk very well – but…

My annual hearing test shows some signs of loss at very high levels.  Hunh?  I really think I hear well, so what’s that about?  My sight is not as good without my glasses, so thank goodness for those.

Bottom line is that the downhill slide that you on after you’re over the hill is speeding up.  It’s all up to us how we take are of ourselves because all our bad habits are going to catch up one of these days.  On the other hand, I know people who took excellent care and still died.  Oh well.

Whatever happens will happen, so it’s time to enjoy everything on this wondrous earth.  Sunrises and sunsets, all the seasons, music, art, beautiful landscapes, and, mostly, all the beautiful people we meet along the way, especially those who are dear to our heart.

Sixty, smixty.  I’m just girding up for my 70s!IMG_5235