Believe the ending of this good year births a new beginning, the very best of the rest of your life.”
Whoever you are in all of this world
I wish for you comfort without worry
Safety with warmth and freedom from fear
Faces to love, voices to hear and hands to hold dear
Bright stars in the sky to light your way here
And love deep within to sense you are home.
From My Family to Yours, Wishing You A Very Happy Holiday with A Peaceful New Year.
*Note to Readers: I wrote this post nearly two years ago to the day. Things haven’t changed and if there was any way on earth possible, this is the gift I would choose to share with you.
If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father. I suppose many daughters think this about their own. The lucky ones. Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or ever known.
My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk. It was near a cold, dark bay of Michigan during the year of 1932. Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during the years shortly afterward. My father was always the only brother…his parent’s only son.
A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true. He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life. As a young girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry sponge dropped in a Michigan millpond. One of my father’s most repeated lessons was, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Akin to the Bible, I guess. It has stayed with me forever and always. Shortly after my own two boys learned their first few words, I passed it down to them together with tender hugs and faint kisses upon damp foreheads. They are having their own little ones, now. If the cycle continues it will be a lesson for their children as well. It is the most important one of all.
Of course there were other teachings to be learned. Important mental notes written in imaginary pencil from my father for me to follow. Like, “How to live life with a positive attitude in spite of adversity,” or “To smile when your heart hurts,” and, “It’s okay to cry.”
Once, when one of my sons was very young and very ill, I called my father in Arizona all the way from St. Louis. Choking back tears I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to have him very long.” He paused for a few seconds before finding the right words. I don’t remember exactly what they were, but together with his quiet tone, my father calmed me down. I hold that single moment deep down inside of me. Today, it is here within the whole of my chest…near the inside of my heart where it will stay for all eternity.
My father has taught me lessons my whole life through. We are both older now. It seems he is my guide and advisor only if I ask him to be. We value our time together more than ever before. Like children on a playground who have been friends all of their lives or even before, we laugh and play. Sometimes we swing on a rubber tire hanging from an old frayed, cream-colored rope. Like babes again, feeling our heads dangling in the wind! Other days we walk slowly along a new path, discovering speckled rocks to help us find our way.
Last night, me and my father sat in a puffy, padded booth on a western patio. Surrounding us was the warmth of a golden desert sun setting deep into cocoa sand of a saguaro cactus land. We talked for hours about nothing, telling stories while sharing jokes. I sipped red wine from a glass of clear. He drank more. Older teeth opened wide revealing burgundy red. I giggled, he laughed. A head of thick hair…now grey, tossed back…like always…
“That’s my father,” I whispered aloud, to no one except golden coyotes hidden in the distance of the desert there.
Yesterday I was flooded with last year’s same day of memories. My ‘Babies of Two’ amazon.com/author/2babiesauthor celebrated their first birthday. A year ago they had been born into this world, taken from their mother’s womb with hopes and prayers that all would be well. It was December 18th 2014.
Last January began and blossomed just as my youngest son met and married a beautiful girl. Before long, springtime was in the air. New life sprouted here and there and everywhere. Grass turned lush and green, flowers bloomed with scents so sweet and birds began to tweet. Soon came an announcement that a new baby was expected the following year. A few weeks later, a surprise for everyone. “We’re going to have twins!”
Often, I drove my daughter-in-law to her doctor’s appointments where an ultrasound machine was in the room. Lights were tuned down low. My face felt all aglow. Directly in front of us was a large screen shining as though lit from behind. Shades of black and white appeared with undertones of dove gray. Little shapes unknown became grand-babies right before my eyes! I thought my heart would stop then and there.
‘Babies of Two’ were not due until early 2015, the time of year when snow starts to settle on branches of trees and into the tracks of animals on curving paths in between. But, from early October until nearly the end, tiny lives and that of their mother were often in jeopardy. Every precaution was taken to prevent and stop early labor until finally nothing more could be done. God had decided the day had come.
Early in the afternoon of December 18th, 2014‘Babies of Two’ arrived one by one. My son was in the delivery room where he comforted his wife while his daughters of newborn were carefully delivered. Immediately afterward they were whisked off to a Special Care Nursery to be monitored 24/7.
Exactly one week later, in the moon of Christmas night, ‘Babies of Two’ snuggled and cuddled next to each other in a cradle of their very own. Out of the hospital and under the roof of their very first home.
Gifts that only God can provide…
Gingerbread. A word to stir in ceramic colored bowls of molasses memories atop kitchen counters at Christmastime. Frosted lips of little children upon their mother’s cheeks with imprints of white icing left behind. Warm cups of cocoa atop plastic tablecloths decorated with Santa. Mini mallows floating to the top. Treats of striped canes of sugar hanging to the sides waiting for Mama to test the temperature. Ahhh, just right!
Gingerbread houses have a distinct history behind the craft dating back to the 17th century when baking them became an acknowledged and esteemed profession. After the publication of Hansel and Gretel, the Grimm’s fairy tale in 1812, some of the first gingerbread houses were made in Germany at Christmastime. Not long afterward they became popular here in America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingerbread_house.
Late in November, the Grove Park Inn http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park held an annual National Gingerbread Competition, http://www.romanticasheville.com/gingerbread.htm. It was simply by chance that I happened to stop and stroll through the hotel’s massive halls during the same week of the contest. How lucky to catch sight of the pure artistry that was on display. Gingerbread? I would have never guessed.
While stopping to view each entry, audible “Ooohs and Ahhhs” were heard inches to my right. Children and adults alike were taken in by their next sight. Each house had its own theme, its own story to tell and all one had to do was stop to see. “Look at me,” kids made of sprinkled sugar whispered quietly.
I lost count of the number of Gingerbread Houses entered into the competition. Nor did I know of all the rules with the exception that every piece was required to be edible. Gazing at the intricate details in construction, it was amazing. There were herds of candy cotton sheep, valleys of painted sugar snow, miniature acres of black licorice fencing and much more than I ever could have imagined. So tempting it was to snatch a chocolate shingle off of a roof or two!
At the end of the day, I wandered into the lobby to order a cup of hot chocolate from an adorable cottage decorated in red brick gingerbread fashion. To the left of a green gumdrop was a recipe card listing a vast quantity of baking ingredients. Such a surprise to learn that the sweet girl behind the counter was standing inside an actual house made of the same!
This coming weekend, I’ll be baking my own Gingerbread House where the oven will spill until it fills my home with scents of cinnamon and molasses and cloves. Luckily, the final baked confection won’t be entered into any competition. Yet, surely my little grandchildren will be delighted with my attempt at artistry.
Yes, there is a plastic table-cloth decorated with Santa where my family will gather round full of excitement. Christmas memories will be made of imprinted baby lips frosted upon my cheeks. Warm cups of cocoa will be served with mini mallows floating to the top, striped canes of sugar hanging to the sides. And, in the quiet of the night their mama will test the temperature.
Ahhh, just right.
*Shopping for gifts yesterday among the hustle and bustle of the holiday chaos, I was reminded of a post I had written long ago. Words of it kept gnawing at the back of my mind the whole night through. Please keep good spirits of the season within your heart, remembering that everything may not always be as it seems.
While shopping for a gift for my son’s birthday, I stopped at one of our major department stores. You would recognize its name if given here. It’s one of the mall’s Anchor stores.
Bending down to peer inside a case of clear glass, I was awed by its riches, a medley of valuables in all sizes and shapes. I was quite intrigued by an array of special ball point pens. Most were made from artful mosaic glass, with cases to match. Lying next to them were sleeping lead pencils in beds of deep blue velvet. Together, they created a beautiful display. Like a painting that should have been hung on someone’s wall instead of hidden behind a case for the likes of you or me to see.
A trio of young women soon swooped by, nearly knocking me off my wobbly feet. I was still low to the ground to see the unique treasures inside the case of clear. None of the women stopped to apologize, instead they giggled and laughed, moving on their merry way. Instinctively, I grabbed hold of the nearest thing to break my fall, leaving my DNA upon the showcase. The police did not have to be called to dust for finger prints. There they were in plain sight.
Quickly, a tall dark Model girl came rushing from behind the counter, her designated sales spot. “Don’t touch the glass,” she scoffed at me! “I’m sorry,” I answered back. I was just admiring your pens. A gift for my son,” I went on to say. I thought about mentioning the three women who nearly knocked me over, yet I didn’t bother. This Model girl’s main priority seemed to be cleaning the glass. She sighed. Clicking her tongue, she rolled her big brown eyes. Quickly, she grabbed a white cloth together with her blue cleaner.
When the Model girl finished her task, I was about to ask to see one of the beautiful pens behind her spotless, clean case. It was then that I noticed her eyes glistening with dampness. I sensed something in her and in return she sensed something in me. Lowering my voice, I said, “I’m truly sorry that you’re having a bad day,” from behind the counter a few feet away.
Holding her head high, this lovely Model girl brushed back falling tears. From behind the counter, a soft, pink tissue appeared. Somewhere deep inside, she regained her composure, her strength. In thinking back now, I don’t know how. Reaching across the counter, she gripped my hand looking for comfort then. “I have breast cancer. My surgery is tomorrow.”
Without trying to, Mary has found the reason for the season.
I am elderly and my health is not the best.
I am always amazed when I go out with my oxygen tank how many people smile at me warmly, open doors for me, or ask if I need help.
Truly, I believe most people have kind, loving hearts and are willing to share of themselves.
I have an abundant life –
I have a husband who has loved me and been a strong support in my life for 60 years. I have children and grandchildren who have grown into beautiful adults, I have a roof over my head and am warm in the winter weather, I have an excellent medical team who work to make me feel better and I live in an agricultural area and a lot of the food I eat is farm to table.
Truly I have an abundant life for which I give thanks from…
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The True Meaning of the Season. Such a gift to have this poem shared with us. Blessings to all.
A long-time friend of mine, who I haven’t seen in ages but keeps in touch with me by snail mail, sent me this beautiful poem by an Unknown Author for Christmas.
I wanted to share it with all of you because it touches on how I feel about all who have touched my life in a positive way. Please accept this as a Christmas gift to all of you out there who have supported and helped me in some special way over the past year or so. You know who you are! Thank you!
My Christmas List of Blessings
My Christmas List is more than just a way to keep track of
The special people God has brought into my life to love.
It’s like a treasured scrapbook filled with pleasant memories
Of all the times God’s answered prayers through friends and family.
Every name’s a touchstone that leads to…
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It’s quiet here, dark and nearly silent except for the sound of wheels slowly rolling by. Intermittent, few and far between. Sleepy drivers headed off to work. I often wonder if they notice lights peeking from behind wooden blinds within my turret office space. The world has not yet woken to a new day dawning.
Life will never be the same from this day forward for a friend of mine who has struggled with the chronic condition of infertility. Yesterday, she and her husband were gifted the soft, sweet scents of a newborn baby boy during the twilight of yester night. Years of disappointment, medication, surgery, hope, miscarriage and financial hardship were finally rewarded with eight pounds of God’s miracle wrapped in cotton gauze at 7:02 pm.
It has been a difficult road for this friend of mine. For years and years, she too has been spinning her wheels. Rolling towards the day of motherhood. She married rather late in life by most standards. At nearly 36, she hadn’t found the right guy until she literally bumped into him at a local post office near closing one day. She had been busy running her own company while he was climbing the ladder in the mortgage industry. Babies were not even thought of until marriage which came soon after that fateful bump in the postal parking lot.
My friend and her husband traveled on a romantic Hawaiian honeymoon, settled into a beautiful home and immediately practiced making babies together. No luck. A couple of years went by without anything happening. She felt her baby clock ticking. Seconds turned into minutes. Minutes tuned into months which soon turned into a couple of years. Time was running out.
Gray clouds of depression surrounded my friend wherever she went. Babies seemed to be everywhere. If she saw a mother cradling an infant or heard a family member announce a new pregnancy, tightness tugged at her belly of emptiness. How could life be so unfair?
Before long my friend and her husband went to see a fertility doctor who referred them to a renowned specialist. Together, they tried several different protocols. Fertility drugs brought them no success. Soon they moved on to IVF. Hormone injections became a daily ritual followed by medical procedures, ultrasounds and careful monitoring. It was painful, frustrating and expensive. Twice, my friend felt the joy of early pregnancy, seeing two straight lines on an EPT test. Her husband smiled and big and wide while supporting her with all his might. Both times, she miscarried shortly thereafter, once ironically on the very morning of Mother’s Day.
Approximately five months ago my friend called to say she was pregnant once again. “This is our last try,” she said, hopefully. “I’ve taken a leave of absence from work to relax at home. No matter what happens, I’m going to enjoy this baby for as long as I have him.”
Tears of slight and salty ran down my face as I prayed for my friend together with her little family. Although unborn, the innocence within her womb was her last chance to birth a forever family.
So today I celebrate the miracle of life while congratulating my friend and her husband on their beautiful new bundle of baby blue. There are no words, not even for a writer to express what fills this new mother’s heart and soul as velvet skin rests upon the bare of her own for the very first time. It’s not only a new child that has been born into this world, but a forever family.
Welcome to the world little one.
*photo courtesty of Google
To touch a newborn’s innocence is to thank God for living upon this Earth.”
*photo courtesy of Google