Friday, December 31, 2010

Packing list

In the final days of this year, I have spent some time reviewing my archives for the things that I want to carry on with me into the new year.  What I came up with were: charity, forgiveness, enthusiasm, compassion, reflection, taking time to remember those who are no longer with me, and gratitude.

So, those are in my bag of what I'm taking with me into the new year.

I hope you and yours have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and all the very best to you in 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Something to seriously consider bringing into the new year

I do not agree with some of her theories, nor have I read more than one of her books, but I have to say, in my mind and heart, these words are pure truth. No matter what, there is so much to be thankful for, always. 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Of Christmas past and present

The last Christmas my father celebrated was in 2004.  It was not a merry Christmas at all, not because we knew it was going to be my father's last but because my mother's dementia and a host of other problems made her behavior simiar to how I imagine a Grizzly Bear would act if you snuck up on it and yanked out one of its claws. She could not help herself, however, and while I know that now, at that time she was so confused, so angry, and so hostile, and it seemed to happen so suddenly, we were all vulnerable to the change and it was a very difficult time. 

In 2005, as a family we were all still very much shouldering the loss of Dad and very much missing him at Christmas.  Mother's confusion was powerful and she had become a master at hiding or working around it. She managed to be roused into a bit of celebration for the holiday but she was very confused, tired and sad, and her dim light of holiday joy faded quickly.  In 2006, depression kept her mostly uninterested in Christmas.  We celebrated but she did not get out of bed.

Before those Christmases, I always relished in going home for the holiday, even if home was a place I no longer lived but where my family could be found. Christmas was celebrated in a large way at our house.  For most of my life, my parents hosted an Open House on Christmas day.  By late afternoon, our house was filled with family and friends of all ages, and the tables were topped with smoked turkeys, salmon, ham, tenderloin, roast beef, an array of sauces and mustards, and cheeses, oh the cheeses, wheels of Baby Swiss, blocks of cheddar, and rounds of Brie, and plenty of champagne and punch.

When Christmas 2007 rolled around, I could not stay in Houston. I wanted a happy Christmas, a merry Christmas.  I wanted it for the kids and I wanted it for myself.  I reserved a cabin in Durango, Colorado, and we had a wonderful holiday in a snowy and mountainous backdrop.  We did the same in 2008, except the cabin was high in the mountains of New Mexico.  I needed for Christmas to be radically different than it had in years past or in my childhood, so that I could embrace the day and not feel overwhelmed by the loss of my parents, by the changes in my life that were completely out of my control, and by my realization that it was up to me to give my nieces and nephew happy holidays. 

In 2009, we decided to spend the holiday at our own cabin, on the Colorado river.  No snow, but a happy little family celebrating in a familiar and special place.

I have planned and organized each of the past four Christmas celebrations because I wanted to keep my two nieces and my nephew very close at Christmas. We are a little family, the four of us, and I wanted to provide them with a happy Christmas as well as a sense of peace and connection, in addition to the providing the framework for our celebration of the holiday.

This year, we celebrated the holiday at my house.  It occurs to me that I no longer go home for Christmas, I provide the home.  It's one of the many things passed to me from my parents, and I whole-heartedly embrace this very important baton. This year, I've had a full house.  My youngest niece arrived December 10th; her boyfriend arrived on the 22nd.  Sadly, they leave tomorrow. My oldest niece arrived on the 18th and left on the 23rd to spend the holiday with her boyfriend's family. My nephew and his precious daughter have been here throughout.  And, of course, Cheyenne.










Yes, this year my house became the home where family went for the holidays.  A full and happy house it has been!

Friday, December 24, 2010

On earth, peace

Each and every thing I could have wanted for Christmas, I have already received.  My family, my friends, the magical circle patterns the childred skated today.  Tonight's dark and thunderous sky, even the rain...Merry Christmas!  I think we all should know, and believe, that indeed it's a wonderful life.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

You know I love you.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010


On Friday night, my niece and a friend of mine and I took a drive through some familiar Houston neighborhoods to view the Christmas lights.  We ooohed and ahhhed our way through the city and marvelled at the houses and trees all lit up in seasonal spirit.  At times we laughed or gasped at what we saw, with some of the more enthusiastic displays of the season, or some of the less-restrained displays.  This tree though, we agreed was the very best of what we saw.  It took our breath away. 


Friday, December 10, 2010

Three kids and a dog, all mine

Today, my youngest niece arrives in Houston, and I get her until a couple days after Christmas.

This evening, I get to babysit the newest member of our family, and on her six-week birthday, no less. 

Tonight, I'll fall to sleep with gratitude for the above and exitement for Saturday.

Tomorrow, my oldest niece graduates from college. 

I swear it was just yesterday when both nieces and my nephew were small enough that I could hold them in my hands.  One is a sophmore in college, one is graduating from college and one is a new father.  They may have grown, but in my heart they will always remain my babies.  Thank goodness I can still wrap these arms around them!

These are my gifts today; what are yours?


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010