When I saw the date of my last post here, I shivered with thoughts of how much time had passed since then. I thought, like so many people, about how quickly time slips past us. But as I sit here in my kitchen typing this note, inhaling the aroma of baking cookies and enjoying the smooth flowing rhythm of white twinkling lights on my Christmas tree just a yard away, I realize how much “life” and “living” has been packed into these last few months. Months BEFORE Christmas had been announced in stores.
It’s true, I haven’t posted anything here since July. I have stopped by intending to post, though. Inevitably, something would require my attention and off I’d go again. If I didn’t stop to give some deep thought to why this blog has been so quiet for so long, I’d say the days simply got away from me, time has moved faster than ever, I’m lazy, I’m void of ideas…
None of those excuses/reasons are true, however. I’ve been writing. I’ve been a second pair of eyes for my daughter’s college essays, I’ve designed digital albums for my husband’s customers, visited with friends, paid bills, cooked, cared for sick pets… and worked on Book 2 of my erotic novella trilogy which I intend to self publish in the spring.
I’ve been busy. I’ve had richness in my life. I may be moving a little slower now than when I was in my teens and twenties, but time is not moving any faster. However, more is expected of us than ever before. We read and post tweets and status updates that provide minute by minute reporting of what we’re doing and before we know it an hour has passed. Two hours… But we’re so focused on the reporting of it, that we’re not living it. At least I’m not.
It’s my desire to step back a little. To head into 2014 with a new appreciation of time’s ethereal design. It’s not meant to be captured. It’s meant to be lived – and acknowledged. It’s the foundation for memories.
2014 will be a year of doing, and of savoring every moment. If that includes tweets and status updates – or even blog posts – that’s great. As long as the moments themselves are not shrugged off, as long as the focus isn’t on the outcome but the path to it.
My husband often says something that I tend to shrug off because I’m “too busy” and “need to get there”.
“It’s the journey,” he says. “Without the journey, the destination is just more of the same.”
May your 2014 and beyond be a journey and may your destination be that much richer because of it.
The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. It’s when I don’t mind the cold so much. When snow is actually a welcomed sight. When a hectic day isn’t as exhausting as invigorating. It’s when you know people will come to your home with smiles and evenings will be filled with warmth. Whether you’re traveling or staying put, the holiday season seems to bring out the lighter side in many of us. The side I wish we could all show and see throughout the year, every year. I guess that’s why this season is so special. It’s when more of us allow ourselves to let go, unwind a bit and actually have a little fun – without thoughts of our work load or overdue bills.
We were going to spend Christmas Day on our own this year. Just a quiet day – us and the cats. However, last minute plans have joined the ‘lonelies’ and so we’ll have a houseful of guests after all. I was out late last night doing a last dash grocery stop and I was up early this morning getting some of the food ready. Tomorrow, the good china will grace the table, the crystal will sparkle, and laughter and Christmas wrap will fill the house.
I wish everyone the happiest time they could have. I wish for it to last well into the new year – and hopefully beyond even that. I wish for all of us to slow down, enjoy more moments, realize each is precious and unique, and I wish for health, above all, for everyone.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Thursday… Happy Holidays to all.
I received this in an email and am more than happy and proud to pass it on.
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”
“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”
PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.
LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq
The holidays are such a busy time that we sometimes forget to think of the less fortunate among us. Many of us will stick within a budget, but still do our best to get something special within that budget for everyone on our list. This year, my family will be adding two special children to that list and to that budget.
We have no idea who those two children are. We know only that without us, they would have little to nothing with which to celebrate the holiday. While I know gift-giving and receiving is not what Christmas is all about, I have to say – and those who know me know this already – for me it is not about religion so much as about family. As a non-religious person, I want to give for the sake of giving. I want to share the warmth and love we often forget to acknowledge in our normally busy lives.
Samaritan’s Purse’s “Operation Christmas Child” will help us do just that. Samaritan’s Purse is a religious organization. In fact the mission statement from the organization’s parent webpage is this:
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I deeply oppose having someone’s religion pushed on someone else but what I’ve heard about this organization is that they often give out gifts in countries where they are not allowed to include any religious instruction. So, although this organization’s purpose is to spread the message, gifts given are not limited to that purpose.
Bottom line with this program is this – through Operation Christmas Child, we have the opportunity to bring excitment, smiles and innocent pleasure to children who would otherwise do without.
So, what is Operation Christmas Child? It’s simple – it’s a gift-giving program for needy children around the world. To participate, all you have to do is find a standard-sized shoe box and fill it with small age-appropriate gifts like paper and colored pencils, tennis balls, rubix cubes and other stocking-stuffer-type items children will enjoy. You wrap the bottom and cover of the shoe box separately, enclose a $7.00 check (for shipping to the country where “your” child lives) and drop it off at a local drop center (or ship it directly to Samaritan’s Purse).
The mission of Samaritan’s Purse is to spread the word of God. The mission of my family is to spread the word of hope, of happiness and of life’s simple pleasures.
Go, and do likewise.
The holidays are coming. There is no holiday more exciting for me than Christmas. I become a kid again at the very thought of it. I romanticize it. There’s a ton of work involved and while I’m in the thick of it, I do grumble. But that passes quickly and I get back to being a happy Santa’s helper.
Since Christmas is so special for me, I like to make it last. Instead of waiting until Christmas week, it’s been a tradition in my home to put up our tree right after Thanksgiving dinner. (Don’t worry – my tree isn’t up yet. The photo above is from last year) That entire weekend is spent decorating the house and setting up the Christmas village. (the rest of the month is spent trying to keep the cats away from said village ) The transition from plain to warm and festive always gives me pause. We play, we tease, we exhaust ourselves but it’s all worth it. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, gifts I’ve already purchased are wrapped and set under the tree and we’ve taken our holiday photo.
Now THAT is an adventure in itself. Cats. Remember – we now have four of them. They’re fine on their own – investigating to their hearts are happy – so happy, in fact, they practically glow. 🙂
But, a camera on a tripod scares the willies out of them and so gathering them for a photo op is not the easiest thing to do. In fact, if ever you’ve heard the expression ‘the fur was flying’, well, that certainly applies to those couple of hours in my home when we round them up and try to take that perfect shot. We’re always laughing in the Christmas photo and when we send it as our Christmas card, I’m told those who receive it see the fun – and stress – we had while posing.
Sharing smiles. Sharing warmth. Sharing good food and best wishes. It’s what the season is about. I’ve loved the holidays for as long as I can recall and hope to always feel that hot-toddy warmth deep inside of me each year as it comes around again.
Which holiday is your favorite and why?