Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Of Christmas Trees and Memories

Brookings Harbor, Oregon

1998 at home
I have been browsing back through old Christmas pictures and old Christmas letters from the early days of my 30 year relationship with my husband to the most recent Christmas celebrations. MY boys are getting to be adults, and many of their early memories are shared only by my husband and I but I wanted them to know all the places they have been and the people who have loved them, so I mean to assemble a Christmas scrapbook for them to take into the world as they move on.
My Sister-In-Law's home in Salem, OR
 There have been Christmases at Cody, Newcastle, and Laramie, Wyoming with two sets of grandparents and 7 sets of aunts, uncles and cousins, and uncounted great aunts and uncles and second or third cousins.  There were Christmases at home here, where it is filled with red maple leaves and redwood trees and green grass, and Christmases in the hospice where my dad lay dying while the snow fell 24 inches deep and the boys made snow angels in the hospital parking lot.  There were times we were at Salem with my husband's sister, before she died hiking the Grand Canyon, and times we were in Ashland, Oregon with best friends creating a new set of traditions.  There have been births, deaths, marriages and divorces, so my boys were born into an extended family, and live in one now, but they are not exactly the same, and of course, those who are gone, are missed, but those who have been added are celebrated.
Son playing with Crescent City Youth Orchestra

Me, at home
 There were 22 people in the extended family, and now there are 27, but there has been the loss of a grandfather, a sister, and a nephew due to death, and of a sister-in-law through divorce, and so the family has become something different, and the roles of the people in it now are not the same.
Love the home made ornaments the most

And there appeared a light in the darkness
What I have learned for sure, is that Christmas isn't about the tree and the package and the place but it is about the Love and the people you get to share that with, and you have to celebrate the now, because the next time that the season rolls around, it will be different, maybe equally special, but never again will you get the chance to celebrate your 2011 family.
This 2008 ice storm closed the roads and snowbound us 1/3 of the way to Grandma's
but still a great Christmas happened, unplanned

Christmas with friends who are family/ Ashland, OR

Christmas Roses

Lake Selmac, Days after Christmas

This is the red and green we usually have in our yard Christmas to New Years and beyond

pheasant visiting under bird feeder

Crescent City Harbor Crab pots

Winter above Ashland 

Fun Christmas scene across from cemetery in Salem, OR

Finally letting go of Christmas tree in January

Tree in my dining room

Mom's yard in Cody, Wyoming

My first "real tree" after getting married
I'd grown up with artificial and kept this up until Valentines day

combined two old Kodak snapshots of the tree we had every year as a child

Mother-in-law's tree in Newcastle, WY

Mom's Yard

My son visiting my classroom

hallway in Evanston, Wyoming the year we got snowed into a motel there

Home, with the tallest tree we ever had

Party at "Daycare Grandma's"

The first puppy my husband and I had
 I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane, and I'd love it if you logged off of here with the renewed determination to spend some time, loving your family, both the ones you were born with and the ones you chose to add.  There are a lot of packages in these pictures, and I can't remember much about what was in any of them, but I remember who I was with, and why I love the Holidays.

Family is the real Gift.
My first nephew, RIP Cody Kid

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Mid-Point - Waiting for Hope to Appear

 Today, I should be at 25,000 words on my newest NaNoWriMo novel, but I am not.  I should be at work, but I didn't get a call to sub for anyone today.  I should . . .  but I won't do many things.

     What I did do, was spend the morning with my boys and a girlfriend - and I drove a load, a major load of clothing that had been cleared from my closet for months but hadn't made it out the door, to a clothing give-away that was happening today, so that I keep going in now and smiling at nothing.

Nothing is so worth smiling at when it used to be a mountain of clutter and now it will be helping someone else stay warm through  the coming cold season.

 After the drop off, I drove down next to the beach and instead of seagulls and pelicans, smiled at the nosy pair of crows and then I came home and smiled at the full woodstove and the warmth it promises me.

I have been smiling a lot lately, even though the bills and the kids have added a lot of stress to my daily life.

Why the smiles?

I think it has to do with an experiment.

I promised myself that I would not just be Thankful on Thanksgiving, but that I would find something to be thankful for every day this month.

It wasn't easy to begin but now it is easy to continue.  Even for a perpetual grumbler like I sometimes am.

 So I have looked around me with my eyes open to the gifts that life has just deposited in my hands

and I remember a quote I one had hanging above my sink,

"thank God for dirty dishes,
at least you had food"
 Today I was reading a book of meditations, and I have to admit, I'm about a month behind in that too

but my stomach was in knots over the shortage of cash between now and the end of the month, and the abundance of bills

and the meditation brought me back into peace, so I want to share it with you,

I don't care what your faith is, so I hope you do not turn away from the wisdom here, if I tell you it is from Lamentations

"When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself.  Enter the silence.  Bow in prayer.  Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.  Don't run from trouble.  Take it full-face.  The "worst" is never the worst."
Lamentations 3:28-30 (MSG)