Archives for posts with tag: holidays

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

In a conversation with some of my grandkids, I was surprised that they weren’t thinking about gifts for their parents or siblings. When I was little, I bought presents for my parents, brother and sister and my grandparents. I had a memory of going to the dime store with $5 to buy all the gifts and coming home with Evening in Paris perfume for my mother and I can remember buying a lot of handkerchiefs for everyone.

This past few days, I’ve taken a couple of the grandkids on shopping trips so they could buy gifts. My 12-year old granddaughter has been finished for weeks, everything perfectly selected and probably wrapped by now. She’s got the whole thing figured out. No need to help her.

I took my 4-year old granddaughter shopping for her mother the other day. Since it’s just the two of them, I thought she needed to have a surprise or two for her Momma. And she’s old enough to start learning the giving part. I asked her mother likes jewelry and she replied, “Yeah, she does.” I wish I could write the inflection she uses for that phrase, because it is way too cute. She had a bit of a time picking out things because a 4-year old doesn’t understand prices very well, but we found something appropriate and special. Then we went to Target for some fillers. That’s the true test, because it was hard to get her away from the toys and what SHE wanted. She picked out something, a little treat, and I asked her if her mother liked that. She said, “Well, I do.” I guess Mom will, too. That was harder than I thought it would be because I had to watch her all the time. They get away from you so fast at that age and we all know that panicky feeling of turning around and finding them gone. In a nanosecond. She’s pretty proud of herself and promised to keep it a secret. I think that will work since she’s already moved on to something else. The learning part will come when she presents her gifts to her Momma and sees the delight.

Today, I took my 12-year old grandson shopping. He had $20 to buy gifts for his parents, his brother, and three grandparents. I told him I could help out, but he quickly made it clear he wanted to stay in his budget. We started at the sporting goods store, which was having a store-wide sale. We circled the store as the reality of prices settled in. Up until now, he’d done his holiday shopping at the little store at his elementary school where kids could buy cheap gifts, really cheap gifts, things only a parent or grandparent could smile at. He had looked so stricken when his older cousin told him that they didn’t have those stores in the middle school that I offered to take him shopping.

I told him to watch for Clearance signs, which would have the best prices. We were about to give up when he found something on the sale table for his brother. He was trying to do the math and decided this was what he wanted. We walked around some more and he found something cheaper for his brother, so he chose that to have more money for his parents’ gifts. Smart thinking going on here. He found some things he knew his parents would use, one of his criteria, and handed over his $20 bill. With the discount, he had $3 and change left, so I suggested we go to the Dollar Store to buy presents for his grandparents, since he knew what he wanted for them.

The Dollar Store is a miracle of bargains for someone on a budget and he found what he wanted immediately. He also found something for me, but didn’t want me to see it, so I gave him some change to cover taxes and hid in the car. He was so proud of himself. He had done all his shopping in less than 45 minutes, even counting driving several miles in 5:00 traffic, and stayed basically within his budget.

His next concern was hiding the gift. . .like all of us would be tearing his room apart to see what we’re going to get. I was the same way because I was a gift snooper myself. Can’t wait to see what the perfect useful gift was for me!

There’s not much cuter than watching kids learning the joy of giving and giving from their heart. Whatever we end up with really doesn’t matter. I need to check the progress of a few more grandkids in their shopping, hoping a couple more need my help. It’s one of the sweetest things about the holidays.

DSC_0077

This is the time of year when my husband would go quail hunting and come home with not only birds, but a special treat. He would shoot down a clump of mistletoe from high in a tree and bring it to me to hang in the house for the holidays. It was a treat to me because he was so proud of himself and would hold it over my head for a kiss before he hung it over a door. It wasn’t the mistletoe, it was the look on his face that I loved. Big ole guy with his clump of mistletoe, a romantic at heart.

There is a tree in my neighborhood with a lot of mistletoe this year. Mistletoe’s a parasite, a holiday tradition, the Oklahoma state flower, and that combination makes me smile. My morning walk takes me by that tree and I have sweet memories each time I pass it.

May someone hold mistletoe over your head this season!

IMG_4300

This weekend, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I did some shopping here and there, getting ready for the holidays. Everywhere I went I left with a smile on my face because of how friendly and nice everyone was. The clerks were friendly and smiling. In the grocery store, people laughed when we bumped carts and made light conversation with strangers as we picked out or favorites for the upcoming feast. One lady and I almost collided as I left an aisle and she joked that she shouldn’t be texting while driving.

At one store, some lovely people were handing out papers asking shoppers to purchase goods on the list to help with Thanksgiving dinner for men at a shelter in town. I gladly did so and was greeted with smiles and genuine gratitude from the volunteers. People were talking to strangers about the big game that night and laughing about the cold outside while they went about their shopping. The people handing out samples of food were laughing with the customers. It was the same everywhere I went. When I picked up a prescription, the lady commented that our birthdays are both coming up in a week or so. We talked about that.

It shouldn’t seem strange or unusual, but it really kind of was. Nobody seemed in a hurry or annoyed or frustrated. Everything was moving smoothly in all places. People pointed to their cars so I could follow them to get a place, people thanked clerks, clerks thanked customers. It was nice out there, running routine errands.

I hope everyone stays this sane, this relaxed during the coming weeks. I’m going to try and do my part and make sure I shop with a smile on my face. Aren’t we supposed to enjoy the holidays? Aren’t we supposed to be shopping for people we care about and doing extra things for people who need us? Isn’t this season supposed to be fun?

Remember during the coming weeks, when you feel rushed or pressured, to slow down, relax, hum a holiday song, smile, and do what you can to make this season, no matter what holidays you celebrate, what it’s supposed to be. . .the nicest time of the year!

Unknown

Mother’s Day is over and it reminded me of the days when I owned a gift shop. Mother’s Day weekend was always a more than usual number of men, usually late in the day on Saturday, rushing in to get a card for their mother or wife. It was the same on Valentine’s Day. They grabbed a card and were out of there, not taking a lot of time other than to make sure it said something. At least they were making an effort to do something on a holiday that was obviously forced on them by the gift industry, the flower industry, society.

Some people are just better at acknowledging how they feel than others. Some don’t like being told to do something just because it’s a declared holiday. Some don’t like to be told to do anything. Some just don’t know how to do it. It’s nice to have specified days to remember our mothers, fathers, veterans, whoever. It seems like it got out of hand when we started having days for secretaries, grandparents, teachers, bosses, and anybody else the card companies could think to honor.

Starting when I was a little girl, I always – well, always may be a bit strong – but almost always as I remember, gave or sent my grandparents and parents cards and presents on the holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, their birthdays, Christmas. It made me feel good to do it, to let them know I loved them.

Today, there are even more, even more convenient, ways to keep in touch…text, Facebook, Twitter, old-fashioned email, and there are still phones. In fact, now we have phones with us all the time, some with FaceTime. And there’s Skype. It would be nice to think that people were using them to communicate more often, with more love, from the heart. That’s what the ads show, after all. And there are always handmade cards and gifts that fill the bill. Here’s one my son made for me…I wish I’d dated it, but it looks like he was about 10 or so.

Scan 19

Anyway, my point is that people need to tell the people they love how they feel while they can. If it takes a manufactured day to remind them, then that’s ok. If they could do it all the time, it’s even better. Don’t assume that your actions, although also important, speak louder than words. Everybody needs the words. Everybody. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted. Those manufactured holidays are a double-edged sword. They are a good reminder to acknowledge how you feel. For those who don’t receive anything on those days, it’s another kind of reminder and a different kind of loneliness and isolation. Some people are surrounded by loved ones who take it lightly. Some have nobody to remember them. It can be the happiest of days or the saddest or somewhere in-between (I know they love me, but it hurts that they forgot this day, even though I know it’s just a Hallmark Holiday). You know what I mean.

I’ve been lucky all my life. I have people who remember me on the days they are assigned to do so and I have people who tell me all the time. My husband and son were the best at bringing me surprises for no particular reason on top of the other holidays. They both started as little boys, doing sweet things for their mothers. Girls seem to be a little better at it…maybe it’s that shopping thing or that showing your emotions thing. Are the exceptions to those gender expectations born or taught by their parents? Hmmmm…

In the best of worlds, we tell each other how we feel in so many ways. We tell them out loud, we whisper it to them, we tell them with printed words, we acknowledge them to others. However you do it, just don’t forget how important it is to everyone…everyone. Thank them, tell them you love them, hug them. While you still have the time. Because none of us ever knows how much time we have.

New Year’s Eve is kind of a funny holiday for me.  I can remember celebrating it in a bunch of different ways, from 7 parties one year…and it was icy & snowy out, for gosh sakes…to staying home with the kids, banging pans on the front porch.  It’s such an interesting ritual, watching the calendar change and hoping for a better year coming in.  Even when the last year was a good one, we always hope for a better one.  When it was a bad year, we hold our breath.  It can’t get any worse, can it?

We’re somewhat obligated to do something.  We’re either part of the festivity or we watch it on TV.  We can celebrate all around the world as the new year comes round to us.  We can get up and cook black-eyed peas (yuk) and watch football, even though the bowls aren’t what they used to be, and then it’s back to what we were doing the next day.  We wake up on January 2 with resolutions to lose weight, exercise, get organized, be a better person, and anything else that comes to mind.

And, I like that we do this…take stock of ourselves and our lives and the world…see how to make us or it better.  What a positive way to start a fresh new year.

This year is a quiet one here.  My three year old party animal has flaked out on celebrating, so we’ll do it tomorrow.  What does she care?

Here’s my oldest grandson celebrating with me when he was almost two…he’s almost 16 now.  One thing about it…the years keep coming, thank goodness!

Scan

Cheers to you from my family!  May your new year be all that you want it to be with a few adventures thrown in for excitement!

Celebrating the holidays on Facebook is a somewhat new tradition.  I have friends who won’t go near it and even more friends of all ages (from ages 10 to 90s in my case) who embrace it.  What I’ve found is that you have your community of friends at the moment you need them…or at least those who are online at the particular moment.  It’s different from emails, where you don’t get the same immediate feeling, more engaging than texts, even with cute emoticons.

I’ve seen Facebook at its best and at its worst…depends on how the user knows how to handle it.  Some things shouldn’t be public and not everyone understands where to draw the line.  At its best, it’s brings people closer together and closes the distance gap.  People reach out with questions, in desperation, in loss and to share happiness.  They reach out to help other people, they reach out to support groups, they reach out to share a precious memory.  And, in return, they get answers, they get comfort, they get shared laughs, and they get love.  Sometimes, they find lost friends or family, sometimes they find people they would like to lose again.  Sometimes, they hear from the least likely people to help them and it’s a nice thing.

It’s no wonder that there are billions of people on Facebook worldwide.  It’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s high tech for even non-techys.  For me, it’s been an open adventure.  I’ve found people I’d lost over the years, gotten wonderful birthday wishes, shared grief and happiness in my family, and learned more about my friends than I ever could, even if I saw them every day.

Yesterday, Christmas, I loved seeing my friends instantly on their holiday!  I loved seeing how their families are growing up.  I noticed some who were missing and reached out to them.  I shared my family.  It wasn’t time consuming.  I didn’t spend hours on the computer while my family was around.  It was a glance here and there as I rested during the day or kicked back when everyone left.  It was touching people I love for a few seconds and knowing that all was well with them.

I consider it a wonderful gift to be able to connect with so many people so easily and I’m grateful for it.

Hope your holidays are joyful!

DSC_0046

I’m a confirmed list maker.  I was just looking at my lists…shopping list, To Do list, Ideas for Blog list, Christmas gift list, things to take on a trip list (I don’t have one planned – just a list).  Even my calendar is a kind of list.

When did I start doing this?  Maybe always.  Some of it is because I don’t want to forget something.  That is more important as I get older, although once it’s written down, I remember it most of the time.  Of course, I spend time looking for where I put my cell phone.  I think I only have a land line so I use it to locate my cell phone.

Mostly, I think it’s for the satisfaction of checking things off.  Making sure you remember to do it and then actually doing it is a big deal in life.  Time is my most valuable treasure and I like to use it wisely since my supply is running lower.  It’s not about filling every minute, which just wears you out.  It’s about accomplishing the things that need to be done or you want to be done so that you have all that free time to just fritter away a few hours watching sunsets and grandkids and people or thinking, just thinking.

Does it sound like I’m super organized?  Not so sure about that.  I don’t get everything on those lists done as quickly as I could.  And lists never end – we just keep adding to them.  I do know that I like to look back at each day and know I did something with it.  It’s kind of my mental exercise that keeps me alert and functioning, which is as vital as physical exercise.  Since retirement, I’m aware that I could spend everyday doing one thing without thinking about it.  I could watch TV all day or work on the computer all day or clean or work in the yard all day (well, that’s an exaggeration).  The lists make me get up and do a variety of things.

I could go on and on about my lists…guess I’d better get busy.

Blog.  Check!

Halloween has become one of the biggest holidays of the year.  Back in my day, we dressed up in simple costumes (gypsy, ghost, hobo) or wore the cheap ones from the dime store with the funny mask, grabbed a pillow case and ran up and down the streets trick or treating.  My grandmother had candy corn in a dish through Thanksgiving – a sure sign it was fall.  After a certain age, we didn’t need our parents with us and ran for blocks, filling our case and coming home for another one. We had sacks of candy (full size bars), popcorn balls, and carmel apples hidden under our beds for weeks.  Nobody worried about poison from the neighbors and nobody worried about us getting grabbed off the streets.  Sometimes there would be a party with bobbing for apples, cider, popcorn and snacks.  I don’t remember ever seeing an adult in costume unless a rare one dressed up as a witch with a caldron of dry ice steaming at the door.

My, how it has changed!  By the time my kids were big enough to go out, there were more decorations than just the construction paper cut outs we made.  I dreaded the costumes since that really wasn’t one of my strengths, but we muddled through.  Occasionally there was a costume party with our friends.  In our neighborhood, the dads went out with the kids and you could see them in the streets laughing, drinking a beer, watching the kids run up and down while the moms opened the doors with treats, waving to all.  Then that first bit of aspirin was found in candy and people started having private parties and strangers started bringing their kids from the “unsafe” neighborhoods to the nicer ones for treats so we didn’t know who was at the door.  That was ok since treats were getting more expensive and I understood those parents wanting to give their kids a better experience with less worry.  I was sad when my mother started turning off her lights and pretending she wasn’t home for fear of the big kids who came to the door long after the trick or treating should have ended.  It was a new era and Halloween had gotten a little scarier.

By the time I opened my gift shop in 1992, the Halloween phenomenon was an explosion.  Decorations were getting pretty fancy and adult parties were the norm.  Costumes were more elaborate and the kids I had handed treats were not wanting to stop dressing up.  Parties in bars, parties at churches, parties in neighborhoods…Halloween was everywhere!  The candy companies got smart and learned the power of packaging with treat sizes and holiday themed wrappers.  Smart business!  What an array of treat choices we have today with the greatest danger being buying them too early and then having to get more when you realize you have eaten them all way before the holiday.

I still get a kick out of the kids coming to the door.  They’re always polite, sometimes shy, sometimes bold.  Great costumes. Their parents come right up to the door these days…hovering over the kids.  That part is a little sadder.  Some of the fun is gone for the kids…but, that’s just my opinion.  It’s still a great holiday and I love that it’s enjoyed by all ages!  Have a Happy Halloween, come by my house for treats, and be safe out there!Scan 6

My childhood Halloween memories include jack-o-lanterns, but I don’t remember where we got them.  They must have come from the grocery store.  It wasn’t until I married a man who was in love with Halloween that I discovered the pumpkin patches.  Every year we headed for the country to find the best pumpkins.  Around here, it was in Bixby and we stopped at the pumpkin farms to go into the patches and pick our own.  Everyone had to have a pumpkin, with Daddy’s being the biggest, and we took them home to carve.  Over the years, the pumpkin patches got a little more sophisticated and added animals and places to pose for photos and sold cider and gourds and corn stalks.  Halloween was becoming a big deal everywhere!  The pumpkins got bigger and bigger and then they came out with the tiny ones and the odd ones and it was an adventure.  Even after our kids were grown and in college or married, we had to go get our pumpkins.  I miss watching him carve the faces – he would be amazed at the design industry built around pumpkin carving today.

Our grandchildren have always gone to the pumpkin patches.  Now the atmosphere is like a fall carnival with hay & corn mazes, more rides, and higher piles of pumpkins.  This year I was thinking about how much time the farmers had spent on all these extras and wonder if they make enough money selling pumpkins to cover the costs or if it’s just as fun for them as it is for the rest of us.  It’s kind of an innocent tradition for our family and bring memories of long drives, nights at the kitchen table watching Daddy carve the pumpkins, and then the final lighting of the jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night.  Boo! – to your family from mine…