Christmas to You

Hi Mom and Dad,

It’s me. And it’s Christmas. A time of year that is for those of us who have lost loved ones. Oh, and I do miss you so much that my heart aches. But I have to tell you something – I am happy. Blissfully, wonderfully, ridiculously happy. For the first time in many years. Happy like I was I my early 20’s, carefree and loved. I wish you could see my smile, and hear it in my voice. But maybe you can as you watch over me.

Even with this happy, wonderful life, I still miss you. No matter how long it has been, no matter how happy I am, I will never stop missing you guys. There ar still so many times I have thought, “I have tell call and tell Mom about this or that…” Even after this many years. I suppose I’ll always want to pick up the phone and call you.

And it’s Christmas Eve, and in my new life, there is so much love and happiness. So many people to see, and love, and gifts to wrap and wonderful to experience. And yet, I still think back to our Christmas Eves, when all of us gathered at your house, wrapping and laughing and living and drinking wine, and sneaking things into each others Christmas stockings. And how to integrate some of our traditions into my life with this family now.

And all of your recipes and cooking and reading your book. And so much love. The amount of love you raised us with is truly amazing. But I guess that originated from your faith in God and your love for each other.

I just wanted to let you know that I am happy this year. In the new house, with my wonderful man, making this life together. But I will always love and miss you guys. And I love when you visit my in my dreams. And I really love when we get a chance to hug in those dreams. No matter how long you live, there can never be enough hugs.

This is what you always wanted for me. I am here. And I hope that you can see me. I hope that you still send me signs, hope that you keep watching over us. And I hope you are proud of me. Because the older I get, the more proud I am of the two of you, and all that you did, and were, and taught me.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. I will love you forever and miss you always.

The Happy Christmas Tree

There are times in life when we look up and realize that things have all worked out, that we are good, that life is good.  This realization can happen in the grocery store, at home, at work, in the car, or just about anywhere. And many times it is not one huge moment either. Many times it is a quiet moment, a small stitch in time, when it happens. And when it does, you the reaction isn’t always big, but many times small as well.  Subtle, maybe even unnoticeable to those who are not observant.  But you smile and feel warm all over.

It is the holiday season, one of the hardest seasons of the year for many people. Those who are alone, who have lost loved ones or who are away from home. Last Christmas was terrible difficult for me. And throughout the year, there have been some very hard moments.  There has been some very deep healing. And many times, you do not even realize that the healing is happening, because you are simply going through your day and your life, getting things done.

Last night I was putting up the Christmas tree. I decided that this year, Christmas was going to be celebrated. The tree, the ornaments, the decorations, the lights, they were all going up.  This year, life and all it’s trappings will be celebrated. And I put the lights on the tree, quietly humming and smiling. And then it was all the ornaments, placed carefully, finding the perfect place for each of them.

And there in my living room, I had a wonderful, small, quiet moment. I looked up from the tree and felt a warmth in my heart. There I was in my little house, decorating the tree, celebrating the holidays and my little life. And it occurred to me that I am happy.  Blissfully happy.  In this moment,  everything for which I have prayed: A life full of love, wonderful friends, a great job, a wonderful career, I am no longer alone and everything is falling into place.

And maybe that is how it is in life…slowly, surely, as we are busy taking all of those baby steps, we travel thousands of miles to where we are happy. And so seamless is the transition, we don’t even feel it until we are fully in its embrace.

Then when we get to that happy place, we get to decorate our life however we want.  Because we feel joy borne from tragedy. And that kind of joy bubbling up from the deepest places is so true, so distinct, so strong, that it can make any life beautiful.

And so it goes.



The Phases of Christmas

There are different phases of grief, it is a process. And this year, this Christmas is a big milestone as far as that process goes.  The first holidays without loved ones are especially hard.  This entry is very raw and very vulnerable.  Honestly it makes me a bit uncomfortable, but if you are going to be honest and pour your heart out, then do it with purpose.  I am not the first to be here and I will not be the last.This is the end of this year, the end of all the loss and the end of the sadness. So, here it is, for anyone who might be going through the same:

Phase 1
I woke up for the first time in my life to an empty, quiet house on Christmas morning. I’m still not sure how to feel about that. I walked around and my Christmas lights were beautiful, the Christmas tree was beautiful, but it was so quiet. There was no one in the kitchen making breakfast for hungry eyes. There was no one inspecting the gifts under the tree. There was no Christmas music playing, or the sound of quiet conversation and laughter as people who got up early tried to be quiet and considerate of people who were still sleeping.

How lucky I was and have been, to have had so many wonderful Christmases filled with family. And how many people wake up on Christmas morning alone, like me that morning?
All the sudden I felt so much love for my mother. Every year from the time she had her first child at 27, until the Christmas right before she passed away when she was 74, she made an amazing home where everyone wanted to come and have Christmas morning. I thought of all the years that I woke up, ready to have breakfast and rip open presents. I thought of when I was a child and my sister and I had the tradition of getting up at 5am to play Monopoly until 6, and then would sneak out to see what was in our stockings, and then gently, carefully put everything back in our stockings. We would go back to play Monopoly again until 7am (when Mom and Dad said we could wake them up).
And I remember even after I’d grown up and moved away, making sure that I was home for Christmas, driving sometimes on Christmas Eve then wrapping all the gifts when I got in. Most of the time Mom’s gifts had already been wrapped as she would have bought them months earlier. When I was young and broke, I could afford the gifts but not always the wrapping paper and accessories. So I would wait until I got home to raid Mom’s impressive wrapping paper, ribbon and bow collection.
And wrapping was an art in our family. It wasn’t just wrapping a simple gift, no, it was trying to be mischievous and fool the receiver. A small box would be wrapped and then placed in a larger box and wrapped and placed in another larger box and wrapped again. There would be candy and buttons and things that make noise that would be placed in a box that held a book, so that when the gift with shaken, they would never know that it was just a book.
For many years I was The unofficial photographer of Christmas morning. When everyone got up and started to unwrap the gifts. it was I who would capture it all. All the wonder, and happiness, and family togetherness, and laughter, and surprise, and delight, and love of Christmas morning.
I wonder if my wonderful, sweet, brave mother ever spent a Christmas morning alone? If she had ever woken up on Christmas morning to an empty house? She came from a large family and so did Dad, so did she ever have that experience? She was married at 26, had children by 27. And did Dad ever wake up and spend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day alone? It’s amazing how many questions you think of to ask your parents after they’re gone. Ask them now. I am acutely aware that they are gone. And I miss them so very much.
I’m blessed to have friends who have become my family with whom to spend Christmas dinner. And even more who have extended wonderful invitations. Life is a balance of appreciating what is gone and accepting and being thankful for what is now.
Phase 2
As I’m getting ready and going around the house, the memory of Last Christmas Creeps in. I was so sad and depressed… it was awful. I showered my Dad with as many gifts as I could possibly afford, getting him everything from new shoes to funny things for his cell phone, to clothes, to socks to everything I could possibly think of. I was trying desperately to make up for the fact that he was so miserable without Mom. I thought that maybe if I gave him enough gifts that he liked, I could make him smile an forget that he was miserable, if only for a second.
I buzzed around smiling and being Jolly, but I think he knew. And I remember my ex, who was so completely disinterested, but who tried to pretend anyway. Looking back he was always on his cell phone, now I know it was talking with strippers and prostitutes even then. I lavished him with gifts too, trying to bury the guilt of having involved him in my ordeal of Mom dying and then having to live with my terminally ill father.
I bought him a huge Craftsman tool box among other expensive things. Looking back I was trying to fill the terrible hold that grief had left inside of me by trying to make those in my life happy.  And trying to make up for the fact that life had imploded with death and being a full time caregiver. I thought that if I could give enough gifts, make enough people smile, try to make enough people happy, then maybe I could forget my grief for just a little while too. It didn’t work.
And last year, after a delicious Christmas dinner, it was time to take Dad back to the rehab center. I picked him up that morning and had to have him back before midnight that night. It was miserable too because he wanted more than anything to just be home. It was heartbreaking to leave him there Christmas night. And even more heartbreaking to go back exhausted to the empty, loveless house that I called home.
And that is why I even if I have sad moments now this Christmas, even when I shed tears and miss my parents so very much, I’m incredibly thankful that no Christmas will be as horrible as last year – hands down the worst holidays of my life. It is why I face this Christmas with an open heart and understand that there will be some heartbreak and that’s okay. Because last Christmas was the most heartbreaking Christmas of all, and I’m glad for all the opportunities for joy this year has given me. And I’m thankful for what the next year seems to hold. There’s been a lot of lost this year, but I’m still here. I still have the ability to love and to trust and to believe in people. And that in itself is a huge gift wrapped in a big bow.
Phase 3
I realized that I had the hang of this. That I could do this. The Yule Log was playing with a pretty fire and Christmas music. The cats were running around with new toys. I heard from many family members and friends exchanging Christmas and holiday wishes. I was feeling lots of love. It still felt really weird and surreal as I looked at pictures of Mom and Dad and thought of Christmas in my childhood.
Phase 4
Christmas dinner with at a friend’s house. There was rushing around to get everything  done and on the table at the same time.  There were people who loved me and who wanted me there.  And that felt really good.  It hurts to have my parents gone.  But I have found my roots, my family of choice.
There is validation and vindication at the same time. It feels good to be back, to have made it through this huge emotional time.  It feels good to have it done, because I feared the unknown of the holidays.  I have lost both parents, three siblings, one boyfriend and all of his family in the past 18 months. And now I have gone through the first Christmas without any of them. And I made it. If I made it through the past 18 months, I can make it through anything.
There is nothing more to dread. No more dates of the unknown, no more huge emotional triggers or timeframes.  New Years will be pretty easy – a celebration of saying goodbye to the bad, and saying hello to the wonderful happiness that is coming. I shed the skin of what has been and step into what will be.
Then the next moment is the first anniversary for Dad.  But since I have been through it with mom, I know what to expect.  That anniversary won’t be easy, but ti also won’t be the unknown.  I know what I am facing, head on. And I have the love of my friends and that love will build this life strong and good and lasting.
Phase 5

I did it. I made it through Christmas without you.

There were some tough and lonely moments, but I am blessed to have amazing friends that got me through. There was also joy and celebration. You guys raised me strong and loved me enough for a lifetime, but it doesn’t make making a life without you any easier. But I will be OK.  I love you Mom and Dad. For so many wonderful things, for so many reasons and for so many wonderful holiday traditions and memories. Most of all, I love you for being the most amazing parents in the whole world. Merry Christmas. Love and miss you always.

The Glamorous Life

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway

One of the things I have heard over and over in writing is write what you know; write from the heart.  And I do believe in this when it comes to not only my writing, but others as well.  I write for myself, because these things must come out.  I write because it is in my soul.

Recently my writing has not been glamorous. It has been about pain and grief and confusion and finding your way. Because right now, in this moment, that is what I know.  And that is the thing about life, many times it isn’t glamorous. Many times we are just trying to get through it the best we can.  And those bad times do not last.  Whatever it is, it will not be like this 10 year from now, or 5 years, or 1 year or even 6 months from now.

This space, this pen on paper or words on the screen, is a safe and cathartic place. So it pours out of me in all of it’s raw, unglamorous and unpolished glory.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. – E. L. Doctorow

When you write from the heart, others will connect with it.  Because you cannot hide the emotion or passion. Or comes out not only in the words, but in the flow and rhythm of the writing.  It cannot be faked or taught.  It just is. And to me, as a writer, that part of the process is sacred.

The best compliment anyone could give me is that my writing made them feel something, made them think. Because the glamorous life is wonderful, but cannot be sustained. We all love to read about exotic travels and adventures. I hope to have some soon. But sometimes real life gets in the way.  Real emotion.

I never understood how the holidays could possibly be a hard time for anyone. It is such a festive happy time.  A time of celebration, giving, and family.  But now after suffering loss, I do understand.  While I still love the holidays, there is an acute awareness now of all those who not with me.  Next year will not be as hard.

No one promised us an easy life, and there will always be tough times here and there.  The secret is reaching deep down into yourself.  It’s about tapping the joy and strength that is  within, where the soul meets the heart.

It is about finding what inspires you, even when it is dark inside.

And it is about being still and listening to the whisper of God’s voice.  At least it is for me.

So it’s not glamorous right now.  But it is real and it is what I know and it is from the heart.  And the heart, no matter how ragged, never looses it’s shine.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

Oh Christmas Tree

In life there are many firsts.  Some of them good, some of them bad, some fall smack dab in the middle.  This first is bittersweet.  It is the first Christmas without my Mom.  Which means many other firsts too – the first Christmas tree without her, the first gift wrapping without her, the first year of my life that I will not be buying Christmas gifts for her.  You never realize just how many gifts that a person would enjoy until you lose them….and you still see gifts around the holidays that they would love. But somewhere along the way, you have to find more sweet than bitter if you are going to survive the holiday season.

This past weekend was time for another first. We went to pick it out, and Dad searched and found just the right tone.  I admit, I have never had a real one.  Growing up we always had an artificial Christmas tree.  This dates back to, what I have been told, the first Christmas that Mom and Dad were married.  They got a real tree, and loved it.  And then the holidays were over, and it was time to take the ornaments off and put the tree, well, whereever real trees go after Christmas.

This is where there was an impasse.  Dad firmly believed that it was the woman’s job to handle the Christmas decorations, including the disposal of the tree.  Mom felt that it was the man’s job to carry the large Christmas tree out the curb.  Both my parents are very stubborn.  Neither one was willing to budge.  And so there the Christmas tree sat, needles brown and falling off- through New Years, past Valentine’s day, and St. Patrick’s Day.  It was the Easter tree, the Maudi Grad tree…

I have been told that late in the spring, when they moved from that house, the movers finally took the tree and put in on the curb.  Thus there were no more live Christmas trees.

Until now.

So we went to the nursery and  found the perfect 8ft Christmas tree. And it does indeed smell wonderful.  And we have been decorating it a little each night.  And that is the hard part.  Because my mother collected Christmas ornaments for over 40 years.   And now I have them.  And they are wonderful and beautiful and amazing and make me feel close to her….but they also make me aware that she is not here. She Loved Christmas

I sobbed while hanging the first few ornaments on the tree. It was surprising how hard it was to see these glistening ornaments, some I remember as a child and was not allowed to touch (Small klutzy child + delicate ornaments = disaster). There were all the angels, and animals and Christmas mice, and even the cute little Christmas Octopus ornament (I bought that one for her).  There was the little sequin drum that she made with my sister and cousin.  There was the ball with the cork oriental building inside. There was the Christmas Skunk ornament (it sounds weird, but is really cute).

And there was putting up her absolute favorite Christmas display – the nativity.  It is a sight to see.  While it is not an ornament on the tree, it is a display that was very close to her heart.

Slowly, as each ornament is hung, and each display or decoration is arranged, and the tree  glistens with its lights, it gets just a tiny bit easier.  Because I do feel like she is near.  And because she did love Christmas.

And so as I smell the scent of the tree, and see her ornaments hanging, I find the sweet in the bitter. I find the comfort in the quiet glow of the lights and the soft sound of Christmas carols…I miss her so very much, but know somehow, someway, she and Santa are having a great conversation. I hope she puts in a good word for me.

Season of Thoughts

To Wear it well

We must let go of the life that we planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell

This is the time of year of festivities. Parties, gifts and resolutions.  And it is usually about this time of year that in addition to enjoying all that this happy season will bring, I start thinking about what I want to accomplish next year.

Most of the time, the things on my list are the usual:  Travel more, spend less, smile more, loose that 10 lbs that has been on my hips for the last 5 years. For this next year though it is quite different.  My goal for next year is quite simple: To wear it well.

I want simple things to not take so much energy.  Things like putting on my pants, going through daily routines…breathing.  To put it quite simply – grief is bitch.  Grief is like that bad roommate you can’t get rid of.

But the fact is that Grief will be with me for quite a while. So I must learn to wear it well.

What exactly does that mean?  It means that You hold your head high, smile anyway and get on with it.  It doesn’t mean you still don’t feel it in every part of every bone, you just don’t let it wear you, you wear it. Right now, I feel like Grief is cutting off circulation, because it is a very ill-fitting outfit that is tight in all the wrong places and loose in all the wrong spots.

From all the research I have done, grief never really leaves you. So I have to learn to wear it well. And defiantly better than I have.

Ultimately, I would like to make this grief a place from where love can grow and prosper.  I would like to make it a beautiful garden of compassion and goodness. I want to do more than wear it well; if it has to be with me for my life, then I want it to make me a better person. I just don’t know how to get there yet.

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. – Rumi


The Smell of It

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to equip my child to do this – to grieve when grief is necessary and to realize that life is still profoundly beautiful and worth living despite the fact that we inevitably lose one another and that life ends, and we don’t know what happens after death. –  Sam Harris

It is funny the things that you miss.  And as cliché as it sounds, the laundry smelled so good when Mom did it. I never thought I would miss that smell so much. I cherish anything I find of her original laundry.   And I finally found out her secret.  I found her stash of fabric softener and smell good stuff.  The one problem?

I cannot find it in any stores here in the Atlanta area.  Seriously…in a city of millions…I can’t locate any of it.  Dad and I are both searching for it.  Where did she get this stuff?  Did she ship it in from another country?  Or planet?  Because this stuff smells like Love.

It is somewhere, and somehow I will find it and get as many bottles of it as possible.  Love in a bottle cannot be overrated, neither can the magical smell of laundry.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. – Abraham Lincoln


Hard Candy Christmas

Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. – Anne Roiphe

Tis the season for all the holiday festivities. It is also a very bad time for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.  And while the grief cannot be fixed or erased, we can, if we choose, still find the beauty in every day.  We can, if we choose, appreciate the happiness and joy around us, and maybe even have some of it seep in.

And so it goes this holiday season.  The Christmas tree is going up this weekend.  A big real tree.  I’ve never had a real Christmas tree but have been told that they smell wonderful.  And there will be Christmas music and carols.  And lots of Christmas lights.  We are going to see a large light display, complete with hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows by a fire afterward. The house will have a lot of Christmas decorations, some old that have been passed down to me, and some new.

This Christmas will be hard, and that cannot be changed.  It cannot be fixed.  But. But, we do not have to drown in it either.  We can still smile through tears, celebrate through grief and see joy in the world. A broken heart still beats. The world still turns and life goes on.

So, bring on the eggnog, Christmas carols and fires.  Let’s light the house up with Christmas displays.  Let the stockings be hung, the dancing Santa’s dance and the angels sing.  No doubt my mother is one of those angels now.  May we hear her voice this Christmas, and all others to come.

I think faith is incredibly important because you will become overwhelmed with what’s happening and you will have waves of grief, but when you turn to your faith, I believe God will give you waves of grace to get through it. – Joel Osteen


And a Merry Christmas to All

It is Christmas Eve, and I have to think back on the past year as I get ready to see my family.  It has been a long hard year, one that has seen unprecedented struggles within my family and friends.  I am so very blessed to have another Christmas with my wonderful father, and for that I am very thankful. But this year has also seen the struggle to purchase the House of Mold, discovering the mold and now the process of getting the house mold free and dealing with the legalities of being a victim of mortgage fraud.

And I am so very thankful to have my little house now, comfy, cozy, and warm. It is much smaller than what I am used to, but it is mold free, safe, and a great place to start over.

And with this year coming to a close, that it what the new year represents; starting over. And as my friends post the pictures of their year in that cute little book, I have no desire to post mine.  I remember this year well and have no desire to revisit in pictures. I am just happy I lived through it all!

But then there have been the wonderful moments too. Like purchasing my own home, finding out it really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.  Swimming my in pool and watching fireflies dance in the evening sky in the back yard.  Taking another chance and believing in someone.  No matter how many times I get hurt, I just cannot believe that taking a chance and opening your heart to someone new is a bad thing.  Maybe it is the hopeless, eternally optimistic person in me that believes that eventually – if nothing else than by the sacred geometry of chance, it will work out.

I have met wonderful new friends that have shown me so much love and support, even when they did not know me that well. They unknowing renewed my faith in humanity with their compassion, empathy, support, and kindness to someone they barely knew, and was not in a position to repay them. It was a beautiful and humbling experience.

And so I welcome this holiday season as the last part of the year.  And it will end well, I have decided, and hopefully the Grace of God will see that it is so.

To end this year with smiles and laughter, the quiet moments of love and family and thoughtful conversations that make memories that last a lifetime.  Preparing for the next year of my life, as I close the chapter on another.  For this year has been tumultuous and long. But that is no reason not to keep my chin up and stay always hopeful for the future.


The Oposite of Seasons

This is the season for parties, festivities, socializing, seeing old friends, making new friends and just a lot of hustle and bustle. It is a season of extraverts. But this season I am feeling anything but extravert.

This year I am feeling very be cozy and warm mama bearish. I just want to be home, or with a close circle of friends. Yes, the invites have been pouring in for this and that.  And surely these are people whose company I have enjoyed in the past. But my couch is so very comfortable and the fire is warm.

This year, after being terrible displaced from my home due to toxic mold, I am more appreciative of e safe place to hang my hat.  I want to make this space warm and welcoming to all those whom I love and care.

And as the pictures of festive parties, pretty dresses, fixed hair, perfect make up and lots of drinks are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets, I smile and click like from the comfort and warmth of my own hearth, on my flannel PJ’s and fuzzy socks (yes, super sexy, I know).

I sip wine and listen to my favorite music, unpacking, organizing, arranging furniture and getting settled.  And who says you have to be and about on the town seeing and being seen to be social? I have my friends close by, still meeting for dinners and drinks.  I run to theirs or they come to mine. It is nice and quiet and small and quaint.

There is home cooking – soups and sauces, new recipes and old favorite, smells and fragrances filling the house. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, with all the old ornaments from childhood that make me smile and love my parents. There is eggnog and mistletoe and kisses and laughter. There is the gentleness of starting over.

And sometimes, in the big world, it is good to be small and close.  It is good to make sure that all of our fingers and toes and accounted for and painted pretty colors, enjoying the small comforts that build the foundation of a good and happy life. Sometimes the small celebrations are even more meaningful than the big ones.

And sometimes, when it is all said and done, it is the building of many of those small moments that make a life worth living and loving. Sometimes being the opposite of the season is what gives it it’s meaning.

My Sitcom Life: American Tashedy Story

We all have those days where everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Otherwise known as Murphy’s Law. That was my morning yesterday.

I set a pack of chicken out to thaw the night before in preparation of cooking a favorite recipe.  Those who know me know that I foster rescue kitties… So I get up yesterday  morning and what to my wondering eyes does appear? But the sight of pieces of chicken breasts, half eaten and scattered far and near. So the morning was spent tracking down what remained of the chicken. And let me just say that stepping on a piece of chicken early in the morning before even having coffee is not fun.

After the chicken was all cleaned up I got ready and it was time to leave. As I leave I realize it’s trash day. So I lean in to put my things in the car, and put my knee up on the seat. As I try to get out of the car…I notice the heal of my stiletto shoe is caught in the hem of my dress. So there I was, bent over, half way leaning into the car, hopping on one foot while reaching around to unhook my shoe. Finally got untangled.

Then it was time to get the trash can out to the curb. The very heavy trash can. And I tried to walk this very heavy monstrosity down a very steep driveway in 4” heels. And thought several times I might get run over by momentum of said trash can.  Legs can only go down a steep incline so fast in heels…and the trash can was gaining speed. Suddenly I saw my life flash before my eyes as I imagined the headline:

American Trashidy: Death by the Can

Forget Grandma getting run over by a reindeer, try singleton gets run over by the trash… the headlines would find ever clever way possible to frame the events that led to my death.  Thankfully I was able to steer over to the grass where I could dig my heels in (literally) and the trash can did not roll so easy. But it was a close call and I thought the trash can was going to win.

I am sure these events were very entertaining to my neighbors to say the least.  They were probably drinking their coffee and laughing that the new girl was dancing around and trying not to die a trashy death.

The rest of the day went surprisingly smooth, after I actually got out of the driveway. Such is the life of a clutz.

I can hear you laughing.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve. That magic night when all things are possible.

The usual Christmas preparations have commenced- a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, talking, visiting and planning. And now it all comes together. We all come together.

Two dear friends lost their parents this year recently. And I am acutely aware of how fragile is this thing called life, how precariously it is all balanced. And it makes me so very thankful that everyone is healthy and present via year.

And this is is extra special bcause my wonderful man will be with me. he has already met my entire family, and they all love him. It will be the first I many celebrations with us.

And yet, my thoughts and prayers are wig hose who have lost loved ones or who cannot be home to celebrate.

So Merry Christmas!

A Burch Family Christmas

The holidays are a time for family. And with family comes that family quirks. We all have them, no family is complete without them. And no matter how much they may or may not get on our nerves, they are familiar and it would not feel like the holidays without them. It may be and aunt’s tendency to drink just a little too much spiked eggnog. It may be the annual sibling holiday argument. It may be an uncle’s habit of pinching everyone on the behind…whatever it is, we love them anyway.

And so it starts, the family craziness that happens around the holidays.  What started out as a simple drive down to my parents quickly turned into an all day driving adventure. Suddenly I was driving down to Valdosta to pick up my sister. But first I had to stop by one of my best friends houses in Columbus – the opposite direction that I needed to go to pick up my sister.

When I got to Columbus I picked up my sisters new, wonderful, beautiful cat. This cat was not very happy riding my my car  and cried howled the entire time. Finally tired of hearing this poor this howl and tried to claw his way out fo the carrier, i pulled over and carefully let him out, to rest free in the car. He promptly went to the back seat…and peed. Nothing smells quite like at pee in small confined are a like a car.

I pulled over again short time later to try to everything up. Then i drove with the sunroof open and windows down. And it still smelled.

I arrive to my sisters house, delivered the cat, who had settled under the passenger seat of my car (probably trying to get away from the smell of pee as well). My sister thankfully had some fantastic air freshener that negated the cat pee. so we were able to enjoy the rest of the drive with the windows up. And we could still breath.

A total of 9 driving hours total later we arrived at my mothers. Tied from driving all day, we were all happy to sit at the table and eat my mothers world famous and delicious spaghetti.

And now today, it is the calm before the storm. The rest of the family will be arriving later. and then it will be crazy hectic and chaotic. There will be the annual Christmas Eve wrapping of presents. We all show up with our gifdts…but none of them ar wrapped. So after dinner, we begin drinking wine wine and wrapping gifts. And you can definitely tell which gifts are wrapped at the beginning and which are wrapped at the end, after several bottles of wine. But it’s fun and the later it gets the more “creative” the wrapping gets.

Then there is the annual giving of gifts. this is a flurry of activity as the boys choose the gifts and distribute them to everyone. After that there is paper flying everywhere, screams,, laughter, smiles, and hugs. We gather around the fire and bask in each other. we have such a wonderful close family. It’s loud and crazy, but it’s my family and I love it.

I am so beyond blessed to have this family. I am so beyond blessed to have both my parents here and healthy. I am blessed to have all the love in my life that I do.  Right now, my life is perfect.

Rules for Christmas

I saw this on a friends Facebook Status and had to share!  Please enjoy and get ready to laugh!!
1.Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare… You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if …you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? LaborDay?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “YEE-HA!!! WHAT A RIDE!!!”

The Joys of Christmas

Day 28, Christmas decorations:  Today I am thankful for Christmas decorations.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, my Mother decided to pass her huge collection of Christmas Ornaments on to My sister and I. This was sad and exciting at the same time. Sad because she will not be putting up a Christmas Tree, exciting because the ornaments I have looked at since I was a little girl will now be hanging on my tree.

The decorating has already started and by the time it is all done, it will look like Christmas exploded in my house. Already there is mistletoe, Mr. and Mrs Claus by the front door and big red velvet bows.  There are Christmas place mats and table clothes, bowls, candle holders, stockings and stocking holders. There are Christmas pot holders, mantle decorations, a table top Christmas tree, tinsel, wall hangings and Salt and pepper shakers. And that is just the beginning! 

The Christmas tree will be put up and decorated tonight. My little Charlie Brown tree will be loaded down with Christmas ornaments old and new. There will be lights, balls, crosses, angels, bears, sheep, candy canes, mice, bells, bows, Santas, and even a Christmas Octopus. Oh, it will be wonderful. And the whole time the tree is being decorated, there will be Christmas music playing.

Did I mention I get a little excited and go maybe a little bit overboard with the Christmas  decorations? But it makes me happy to sit at night, with all the lights off, except of the soft glow of my little Christmas tree, lights shining like little diamonds. Once I even kept it up until September. It was the New Years Tree, the St. Pat’s Day Tree, the Easter Tree, the Labor Day Tree…it was great even if all of my friends made fun of me and called me a redneck. I just hated the idea pf taking it down. (note: The ornaments get very dusty when left up that long. Dust often)

The first year I had a cat I made the mistake of putting the pretty tinsel onto the tree…and then I discovered a very colorful litter box. Oh you have not experienced the joys of pet ownership until you have fished multi-colored tinsel out of a little box.

Then there was the cat who loved to get a running start and fly into the Christmas tree. His name was Taz. I came home once and found all but one branch torn off the tree that year. Well, the branches he did d not try to eat anyway. That was also the year he ate my favorite strappy sandals, my iPod and my favorite sweater. Alas, I do not have that very sweet, albeit hungry kitty anymore.

There was the time I got tangled up in my Christmas tree and fell to the floor with a thud. I am sure to the outside public it might have looked as if the tree had come alive and was flailing around the floor. It might have even  looked like a Christmas tree monster. Oddly enough, my cats have been terrified to come near the Christmas tree since then.

And this year will be extra special. I did not put a tree up last year as I was just too busy. That was the first year of my life that there was no Christmas tree, so this year must be extra special to make up for it.

So let the decorating begin!




Christmas Angels

Christmas time is always special, but this year, it is just extra special. Maybe it is because my Father is alive, maybe it is the love my parents share, maybe it is because we are all together, maybe it is because I am alive and not married to a monster, maybe it is because we truly love each other and enjoy each others company. I don’t know, but this has been the most wonderful and happiest Christmas we have ever had. No one has taken anything for granted.

The sweetest thing has been watching my father’s delight in spoiling my mother. He absolutely showered my mother with gifts. Now, Christmas is not about gifts, it is about love and the birth of Jesus, but it is been wonderful to watch my fathers expression of delight as my mother opened everything from him. My mother is the least materialistic person on the planet. She appreciates and loves my father no matter what. Their love for each other serves as example to me, and the kind of love I want to have when I get married, and nothing less is acceptable. Because I know true love really exists. Not only because I have felt it, but because I have lived with it as an example all my life.

I watched and took pictures and videos of my father while Mom was opening up her gifts. He was glowing. He just delights in pleasing her and making her happy. They not only teach love to their children and grandchildren, they live it. They have not only taught us how to treat our loved ones, they have lead by example. I know how a man is, and is not, supposed to treat me, by watching how my father treats my mother. He has never raised his voice or his hand to her. He cherishes and loves her her above everyone else, and would never do anything the hurt her, physically or emotionally. And that is one of the many reasons he is and always will be one of my hero.

My nephews had a great Christmas as well, and they felt very loved. As I walked around taking pictures of everyone, I heard the very happy contentment of conversation. The oldest and youngest nephews looking at the latest electronic gadget, and the middle working with his grandfather putting another together. My Mom looking after everyone like she does, the pets playing and running around exited by the wrapping and happiness in the air. And somehow, The Man has made me feel very wanted, appreciated and needed from many miles away.

There was a flurry of activity as we ran in between family houses to wrap all the gifts…where we the scissors? Who was the last person to have that particular paper, and where is the tape?  We ran out of boxes, a first for our family, so gifts became strange lumpy wrapped shapes. At some point bows and ribbon we just abondonned, as the hour was getting late. We are usually very creative with gift wrapping – even making one gift with antlers called it Rudolf a few years ago. But after the boxes ran out, creativity took on a new meaning. I did have the honor of recieving the worst wrapper of the year.

And then there is the food. Oh, the food, food, food. My mother knows how to feed an army. She is an amazing cook and baker. We have been stuffed with homemade candied peanuts (a favorite of all who have tried them), turkey, and lots of tasty treats. There have also been a lot of phone conversations with loved ones far away. There was one strange phone call from a man whose voice Mom did not recognize at 3301 Glenwood Circle, holiday, Fl and he hung up before speaking to my father, but outside of that, the conversations have been good and the laughter free flowing.

Last night we stayed up wrapping gifts…then the boys (my nephews) wanted to stay with the tradition of everyone unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning. However, once they started they could not stop. It was a joy to watch, as I tried to keep up with taking pictures of everyone. Today there was breakfast, then we all perfected the art of lounging. Do not be fooled by it’s seeming easiness. You must work very hard to truly master the art of lounging. And we all worked very hard and worked up an hearty appetite for our delicious Christmas Dinner.

Yes, this is the kind of Christmas we will always cherish, because of the amount of love in our house. I have to thank my parents for this. It is their love for each other that truly sets the tone for the holidays. So much laughter, kindness, quirkyness and fun. I love my family and am blessed to have them around me. It has been said that angels are among us, and looking at my family I know it is surely true.  🙂

Christmas Rush

And so it is…the day before the night before Christmas, and I’m busy, busy!  Working to get the last of projects completed before leaving, rushing to get the last few gifts bought, rushing to see friends before celebrating with family. Oh, but I am having the best time, because it seems this year, that people are having the best time, they are nicer and kinder. Even yesterday, driving to the airport in horrible rainy, tornado warning weather, people let me over when I needed to change lanes. No one was speeding, cutting off, or going to slow. This year there just seems to be a general kindness in the air.

I have seen happy shoppers, happy children and parents at restaurants, happy couples holding hands and snuggling in the cold. I have seen happy grandparents, just a happiness in general. No, not that everything is perfect, not those people not not still struggling, they are. But even those who I have seen struggling are thankful for t=what they do have.

Maybe it’s Christmas? Maybe it is the economy and people being aware that whatever the party, we are all in this together. Maybe it is thankfulness that we have family and friends in a most unsure time. Maybe people are more acutely aware tight now, that we all have things to be thankful for, no matter where we are in life. Whatever it is, i have seen more laughter, kindness and happiness recently. And it is nice. And contagious.

So this year, the Christmas rush is feeling so happy, so thankful and blessed. This year, the Christmas rush is driving and letting that person in, because someone let me in when I needed to change lanes. This year, the rush is putting a little more in the Salvation Army bucket…because I can and I should. And this year, may you have a a lot to be rushed about too.


My Own Limitations

Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.
Richard Bach

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.

We all must know our limitations. Knowing what we can and cannot do keeps us out of trouble and in line. Yes, even for a risk taker like me, knowing what my limitations are keeps me in line. We must also never take ourselves too seriously that we cannot not at ourselves and our limitations.  So here, for your knowledge and entertainment are a list of my most glaring limitations and things I simply will never be able to do or be good at.

Grace: No matter how hard I try I will never be graceful. Period. Not even if I trained at the Russion Ballet would I have grace…and I am pretty sure they would not even let me in the building, because I would probably trip on a piece of floor on my way into the building. The grace police would come and escort me out Yep, it would ugly.

The Ability to sew: I skipped Home-Ec in school, and it shows. I can sew a button back on a coat, or maybe fix the hymn on my pants, but beyond that…you really don’t want to trust me with sharp pointy objects (see above).

Singing: I can only sing in my car…and occasionally in the shower. Well actually I can sing everywhere, but I do not because my voice is so beautiful that no one would ever buy any album but mine, and I would not want to ruin all of those other music stars.

Drinking: I will never be able to drink more than two drinks before getting tipsy. Trust me, I’ve tested this one.

Poker: I will always loose at poker. Unless it’s Texas Hold’em, then that is completely different. I rock that game. And I suck at all others.

Jeopardy: I will never be able to question all the answers, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many books I read, no matter how much I cheat…it will never happen.

Whistling: I will never be able to whistle. I have been trying to do this since childhood. Maube it’s time to stop.

Wiggling my ears, rolling my R’s: Same as above, though I will also never quit trying. I keep thinking that, just like the lottery, today may be the day…

My check book: Ever since I was a little girl I have been able to do math in my head but not on paper.  It took forever to find a teacher to understand that I was not cheating when I could tell her the answers without actually working the problem. My check book is the same way. I can keep track of every bit of math…until I actually try to write it down in the registry.

Shoes: I cannot pass up a great pair of shoes that are on sale. I have tried. I have failed. Now I just don’t go into the shoe store unless I have money.

Spelling: I try, I really try…but typo’s will be the death of me. And the sad thing is that I am an editor. But I can spot  misspelled word or bad sentence structure a mile away on someone else’s work. But my own? Fahgetaboutit! IT must be like a psychic trying to read their own future…

Christmas Trees: I cannot Not put up a Christmas tree. Yes, it leans a bit to the left because of the Christmas Light Incident of 2009…but I don’t care. It is still my little tree and I will put it up every year…with as many lights and ornaments as it can possible hold. IT may be a little tacky, but it’s my tree.

Oreos: There is a reason why it is plural. It is because I cannot eat just one…or two…or even three. I must eat the entire bag.

So there they are, my limitations. Of course there are many more, but those are a good start. My therapist would be so proud!


“You can try to escape the story of your life.  But, you can’t.  It happened: the baby died, the dog died, a heart broke.  I knew you when you were young; I know your heart broke, too.  I will know you when we are both old, and maybe wise.  I hope wise.  I know you now, your story.  Mine isn’t the one I would have chosen in the beginning.  But, I’ll take it.  It is my story.  It’s only mine.  And it’s not over.  There’s time.  There is time.  There is so much time.” – Laura Dern’s character in enlightenment.

Yes, it is that time of year again, time for reflections on the past year…and I almost did not do it, as my writings have already documented the events – all the writings here, in other blogs and in my handwritten journal (yes, that is where most of my thoughts are kept…and yes, I am always writing in one way or another.) The quote above pretty much says what I feel about this past year.

This year, like every year, has been an adventure. I have been very lucky and blessed that there have been many more of the highs In 2011. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot run from your own life, your own story, though it may not be what you would have chosen. We’ll take it, we have to. Because it is ours. Ours. It is our own.  And no one else can live our lives or tell our story, only us, and only in our time. But I would not want to run away from my life, because over all, it is such a great life.

I am very possessive of my story, because it is mine, because I am the only person who has the rights to it. This year so maybe things have happened, so much that it is almost hard to comprehend it all. And through it all I have stayed true to myself, though I am surely not the same person as I was at the beginning of the year. I have taken chances, dared myself to go further, work harder than I ever thought possible. I found what I was searching for and found treasures I never knew existed. There have been long walks, long talks, long nights, long skirts and short hair.

There have been false friends, new friends, and things that end. There have been some tears, but much more laughter, lots of chocolate, a little bit of weight gain (but the ass is still Spanktacular), a new bra size, celebrations (yes, one did involve the new bra size and yes they are real and fabulous), lots of cooking, sharing, some drinking, lots of kissing, lots of tripping, some falling, more dropping, a good amount of cleaning out of things – refrigerators, friends list, desks, cars, contacts, that junk drawer that everyone has that seems to have every random thing in the house. There have been birthdays, funerals, reunions, weddings and births. There ahve been new loves, new jobs, new adventures, new chances, new…

But mostly, there has been love, so much love that my life almost could not hold it all. Love from friends, lovers, family, colleagues, and so much more. Yes, this has been the year of love. Funny considering I set out at the beginning of the year to ignore the L word…and then it found me in every face I saw, every voice I heard, every where I went. I could not escape it.

Protected: A Girls Night In, a Movie and a Lover

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What is Really Important

There are times in life where you stop to ponder and consider the things that are truly important in life. This has been one of those weekends. I went and saw my sister and nephews yesterday and had a wonderful time. Here are some of the things that are the most important to me:

  1. Family: My oldest nephew and I have always had a connection, and I pretty much put him through his first two years of college. The single most important investment I have ever made. To support and invest in someone’s future is an amazing thing. And as I watch him grow and develop into the amazing young man that he has become, I know all the sacrifices have been worth it. Spending time with my other nephews this weekend just makes me see how lucky I am to be involved in the young lives of such incredible young men. My sister and parents and two of my best friends and this year has only brought us closer. My father is my hero, my mother my biggest cheerleader, and my sister is…my big sister who always takes care of me.
  2. Friends: They are my heart and my support. I love them.  No man is an island and I could not be where I am today without them.
  3. Health: My health and the health of my loved ones is so very important. With my father’s cancer still going, every day we have him is a blessing. We hope and pray that the treatments will be done in January, but it depends on if the tumor in his liver is gone. My mother had stage 4+ Ovarian cancer and endured treatments from 2001-2003.  She survived, but those two years were two of the most difficult of all of our lives.My own brush with death this year made me face my own mortality and everything I truly have to loose. Without your health, you have very little.
  4. Believing in yourself: You must believe in yourself and your abilities. Forget what anyone else says, don’t pay attention to them. This is your life. It’s not about them, it’s about you. I forget that sometimes and get wrapped up in others’ opinions, and that can get me offtrack and off center. The secret is truly to just get away from it. Whatever it is, it cannot distract you if you do not let it in your circle, your world. Do what you know is right and listen to yourself and your own conscience. You will never go wrong in being the best you can be if you believe in yourself.
  5. Happiness: We all must find that place within ourselves, deep down, from which our happiness comes. You know that place that no one else can touch. I have found that place deep inside myself and it has helped me through many hard times. For me it comes from my Faith in God. That is where my joy originates. But everyone must find it for themselves, and keep it, hold onto it. What originates your joy will be the place you return to to get you through the rough times.
  6. Passion: No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, you must be passionate about something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you have passion. I am convinced that it is my passion for living life, for writing, for being the best I can be that has made my life so wonderful. Having passion is the difference between existing and really living.
  7. Love: Pretty self explanatory. Tis the season for love. But you must have it all year, not just around Christmas. Surround yourself with positive, loving people and you will always be in good company. And don;t forget about romance. I am truly enjoying that right now too.

These are the six things that are the most important to me and my life and this weekend has been a great reminder. Tomorrow is church then spending  time with the man. Life is good.

Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

This post was inspired by a post I saw on Freshly Pressed:

I know you are very strong willed and head strong, and are going to do what you want, but here are some tips to keep in mind along the way. Plus, everything that happens really does happen for a reason, and makes you into a great person who is strong and comapssionate. First, you are beautiful. You will later look back at pictures and wonder what you were so self conscious of. Life at this age is awkward, from your body, to boys, to school, to, everything. Don’t worry, it all turns out OK. And don’t worry about your boobs, they fill out. It won’t happen until in your late 20’s and 30’s, but it does happen.

Second, remember that man who read your palm at your parents house? He said you were a writer, and you thought he was a bit crazy – he’s not. You do become a writer and it is even more fabulous than you could ever imagine. You write a book, many articles and you are happier in your career than you ever thought you could be. You also make really great money. In addition to writing, have a great career in radio in your 20’s. Your first boss in radio will be one of your lifelong best friends. You will also do a stint in finance…though you make a lot of money at it, it is not your true calling. Don’t feel bad when you leave it. You are not a failure, on the contrary, you are becoming what you were meant to be. You work hard and create the life you always wanted, and all the sacrifices along the way are worth it. You live your dreams.

Forget about what otehr people say and stick to your guns about doing the right thing. It pays off and your will always respect yourself.

Spend more time with Wendy, you’ll wish you had when she passes just a few short years from now. Her passing will have a deep and profound effect on you. And know, when it does happen, that there was nothing you could have done to stop it.

There will be two years, from 19-21, that you call the dark ages. Know that the things that happen are not your fault and you did nothing to deserve them. Forgive yourself.  Listen to Amy, she sticks by you, supports you and loves you, even when you don’t love or believe in yourself. Know that these years help shape the canvass of your life and that you truly do become a better, richer, deeper person for your expereinces.

You and your sister fight a lot now, but later she will be your best friend and biggest champion. You will also be hers. The Link between you two only grows stronger with age. And she hides your keys in the couch (you’ll know when you get there).

Mom, she is . right. Always. Don’t talk back to her as much, and yes you do need to clean your room. YoYou don’t know it, but she has cancer now though it won’t be discovered for many years. Be prepared for the first time you see her in the hospital, your knees will almost give out…it doesn’t look good and she has enough wires coming out of her to look like the back of a stereo system.  She survives but the next two years will be rough ones. They will tear you apart inside, but they will also bring the family even closer. And go to Vegas (you’ll understand when you get there).

On Dad: Take pictures of when the two of you work to fix the caliper in the rain. That will be one of your most cherished memories with him. As you get older he will be more and more one of your best friends and you often say he truly is the best man you know. And he is. And go out to dinner with him when he asks. That is very important.

You will have many friends in your life, and not all of them will be true or honest. But that’s OK. That is just part of life. You  don’t have to understand why, just love them and know that it all works out. Through it all, there will be many who stay your friends for life.They will be your heart.

On love and Dating:   You love with all your heart and everything you have. That is a very good thing, but you hurt the same way and just as deep. It’s all part of it. Don’t change it, as each time you love, it is deeper and stronger, until you are capable of loving even more than you thought possible. Loving someone is never a mistake, it is a gift. Never pass up the chance. Even if it doesn’t work, you will have wonderful memories, and a great book to write.

Having said that, here are some things you need to know: Don’t worry about what happens with your high school sweetheart. The man you date after that will say he loves you – believe him. You will spend many years looking for a man who will love you as unconditionally as he does. The man you call the love of your life truly is. When sis sets you up on that blind date, and you feel it, you are right. But that does not mean that you will end up together or live happily ever. after. It does mean that you will forever and always be thankful. It is worth it. Every second.

Some men you date will be wonderful, some terrible.  Somewhere along the way you get the idea that you have to be nice to everyone who wrongs you. No, you don’t. You do not have to give chance after chance. Remember that. If they were worth your time, and treated you right, you would not be walking away in the first place. Be civil, but beyond that they can kiss your ass. That goes for men, bosses and friends.

On Marriage: You have a sneaky suspicion that you will never get married and will always be a free spirit. You very well may be right. You do get close twice. The first will be with the man you are with now, just 13 years later. At 37 you decide that you will probably not ever get married and plan to start a family on your own once in your 40’s. With the second man, remember to trust your gut instincts. Don’t stay in the hotel. You love both of these men with all your heart, but sometimes love isn’t enough, and you have to let it go. And that hurts, a lot. You don’t regret either expereince or planning to marry them.. You loved them, and that is all that matters. Yes it is worth all of it, and yes you would do it again. It is never a mistake to love someone, never a mistake to take that chance, even if it ends badly. Love them, just as much, just as true. Just learn from those mistakse so you do not repeat them.

Also never forget who you are. You are magnificent, strong and capable. As in any life, there will be great highs and lows. Times you hurt so much that you can’t even cry, and great moments that you think you may pop from joy. I wish I could hold you through all those bad times, and tell you it will all be OK, but you already know that deep down, don’t you? Even if I could take away the pain and hard times that you will go through I wouldn’t, because that would deprive you of the knowleadge, expereince and depth you will gain from having gone through them and come out the other side. The pain you go through will carves out deep spaces within us, so that we may b=fell and experinece life even more deeply than we ever thought possible, but life must carve those deep spaces out first.

Know that as I look back on the girl you are, and the woman you grow into, that I am proud of you.

You will always be clumsy, that never gets better. Save more money, you’ll need it when the job market gets bad. Renew your tags every year – that’s important. And no, you really do not need to drive that fast. Give up on your sock drawer and your closet. Those will always be messy. You sing great…in the car. Never forget that.

There are many more things to tell you. I would love to sit down and have dinner and fill you in. But just know this…it is a magic, sometimes tragic, beautiful, wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking, joyfull, life. And it all works out.

Love You Always


Sitcom Moment #37…Oh Christmas Tree

Written a few years ago and thought I would share. Enjoy!

This year I could not wait to put up my Christmas tree, so last night I broke out the new artificial one (the cat peed on the one last year, so had to throw it away).  As I weaved the lights in and out of the limbs on the tree, my heart filling with the joy and excitement that only the season can provide, I noticed the light strand was a bit tangled.

Now, if you find yourself in this situation, please, unplug the lights before untangling.  I did not do this and found myself temporarily blinded when finished and looked back up at the tree.  Well, in the true spirit of a Pinktank (my nickname), I tripped over where the lights were plugged into the wall – falling, blindly, flailing, into the Christmas tree.

As the tree and I not so gracefully fell to the floor, I could hear “Chestnuts Roasting…” playing in the background.  When the fall had been completed, I was tangled in a combination of lights, light chords and Christmas tree limbs.  Surely anyone watching would have died laughing, as I clumsily tried to stand up, still attached to the tree; it jerking and moving in ways that are completely unnatural for an artificial tree, and I spitting out plastic needles.  The cats had run into the corner, shaking in fear that this Christmas tree monster might come and eat them (maybe this will be enough to keep them out of it).

I did finish decorating the tree and no ornaments were harmed…can’t say the same for the tree. It is now a little lopsided and leans a bit to the left.

Maybe Santa will put some Grace in my stocking…

The Happy Hum of Contentment

There is a place that I try to avoid at all cost. It is the mall during Christmas. Maybe it is the fact that you have a park to a mile away, maybe it’s the crowds and the long lines, maybe it is all the sales people in the center aisle to stop you for samples and make over’s, that just make me really not want to be there. I don’t know  But yesterday I braved all of the above mentioned to get some very specific gifts that could otherwise not be found.

And to my surprise, it was quite pleasant. The stores were very festively decorated, but not too crowded, the sales were good, the lines short and the people friendly. And I walked around, looking for things to purchase and truly enjoyed myself. There was the Santa who was taking pictures with pets, the large Christmas trees that reached many stories up to the top of the ceiling, and the wonderful Christmas music (did I mention I love Christmas music?). What I was sure was going to be a hustle and bustle kind of hurried night, turned out to be a very pleasant trip into Christmas Retailville.

And all along, I felt the happy hum of contentment. And this Christmas, that, along with my life and the health of my loved ones, is the best gift of all.

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

We all have those holiday traditions. And through the years, some change and some keep going. This year is a mixture of both. As my life changes, so do the traditions. A bit untraditional maybe, but I am very much getting rid of old baggage and things not needed. Some traditions may need to be taken out. I decided way back in June that this was the year to grab onto the new and trash what is not needed of the old. Traditions do give us  and consistency in an ever-changing landscape of life. But sometimes it is good to make new traditions, and new memories. And the nominees are:

The Christmas Tree: Every year I have friends and family help put it up. This year is not different, with cheesy Christmas music playing and the eggnog flowing, it is a tradition that must be kept. And my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree? Yes that is staying too, even though many have said I need a better tree. And, in keeping with my tradition, I may just let this years tree stay up past Easter. Again. After all, it is tradition!

The Date:  I typically avoid dating during the holidays. Like the plaque. If I am not already dating someone by the Beginning of November (possibly early October) I typically do not date until after the new year.  This tradition gets rid of the “I don’t want to be alone during the holidays” boys, and the awkward “What do I get someone I have only been dating a month” Christmas gift exchange. This tradition needs to go, obviously. And I am enjoying this year and shopping, which is a very pleasant surprise.

The Mistletoe: This tradition simply needs to be altered a bit. Even thought I do not normally date anyone during the holidays, I do usually engage in some holiday mischief. I hang up mistletoe and insist any man who crosses my threshold must kiss me. This year, that will not be the case, though I do plan to have the same amount of kisses, if not more, under the mistletoe.

The Cheesy Christmas Music: Blasting all the Christmas Carols I can in my car and house is a must. From Celine Dion, to Wilson Philips to Michael Bolton…the cheesier the better. This tradition stays. period.

The Stocking Shuffle: Every year, Christmas Eve, we sneak around each other and put “things” in the stockings. We are so Sneaky, we are Neaky…the S is silent (just an example of how cheesy things can get, and yes you can quote me). They are not expensive, could be pencils, candy and cute hand puzzles, but they are tiny little things that are given for the pure pleasure and enjoyment of it.  Every year my sis brings the stockings to my parents house, along with their hangers, and they are hung by the chimney with care. Yes, this tradition stays.

The Shopping: This defiantly gets changed this year. Usually shopping is done early, except for maybe a few last-minute gifts. This year, the holidays snuck up on me and I have not even started shopping. I may even have to go into a mall this year, which is something that I do try to avoid in a big city around Christmas. Pray for me.

The Socks: Every year, for over 20 years now, I give my father socks. This is more than a tradition, it is a requirement.  When I was about 15, the style was to wear the big, bulky socks. Well, I just went into my fathers sock drawer and took them. This went on for months when my mother finally came to me and said that my father thought is was sweet that I stole his socks, but he was running out. So, would I mind replacing them every now and then? And the tradition was started, that every gift giving opportunity, whether Father’s Day, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever, he was given socks along with his regular gifts. And I still steal mens socks (as all boyfriends know).

The Pictures: Every year I am the photographer for the family.  I don’t see this changing, though I may have some competition as other family members are also very good at snapping those great candid shots.

Monopoly: Growing up, every year my sister and I would get up at the crack of dawn (5am) and play monopoly until 6am. Thenwe would sneak out, and look in or stockings (something we were not supposed to do). We then went back to playing Monopoly until 7, when we were allowed to wake our parents up and start ripping into the gifts. While sis and I have not done this in many, many years, we still have very fond memories.

Decorating Mom’s Tree:  Yes, it is a fake tree. Mom has put up a fake tree since the “Live Tree Incident of 1971’ish”. Mom and Dad were married and put up their first live tree. They had a disagreement about who should take it down – Dad, because it was the man’s job since Mom put it up, or Mom, because she was in charge of the interior of the house. Needless to say, with both my parents being just a tad stubborn, the live tree stayed up until they moved the next April…after it had long died and all of the little needles had all fallen off. Now we do fake trees.

This has been a family tradition every year since I was a child.  And Mom putting up the tree has always been a huge deal. It took Mom several days to put up the tree, shape the branches, and string the lights from the inside of the tree onto each one of the 2,000 tips. Then there are all the ornaments she has been collecting for 30 years. We each get our favorite ones and hang them on the tree. Oh, and the Snitch Baskets – little baskets full of candy that you have to sneak to eat. The tradition has been modified a bit, it is now a prelit tree to help save time and Mom’s back.

The Dinner: This will always be a tradition.  Mom, or one of us girls, cooks a wonderful Christmas dinner. It is usually Polynesian (or however it is spelled) ham. I tried to make it one year, but used too many whole cloves and it turned out to be…less than appetizing. I leave it to the experts, namely my mother, now. There are green beans and corn, and casseroles, and too many wonderful things to even be able to eat.  Then there are all the baked goods. Mom’s traditional Candied peanuts, which everyone goes crazy for. And the Pecan Kisses, than every one loves. Then there is the banana bread, pumpkin bread, sour dough bread. And the fantasy fudge and cheesecakes. YUM!

The Nap: It happens every year, it is just a bet to see who is the first one to fall.  We all end up falling and curling up in a bed, or on one of the world-famous, so comfortable you fall asleep on them couches, and nap. Happy, wonderful deep napping. OK, that tradition isn’t going anywhere either.

There are other new traditions I hope to start this year as well, but I don’t want to give those away yet, I want to savor them first. And these are my favorite Christmas tradtions.

The Best Gift

We all have that one gift that we have been given, that one that just stands out more than any other.  It could be a Red Ryder BB gun, a dollhouse, a whatever that one childhood toy that you always wanted more than anythign else in the world. And throughout the years, it stands out as the best gift. Ever. As I was watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, because I am a Christmas sap, my mind went back to my childhood and that one gist for me.

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 8 or 9, but I was very into Barbie Dolls. I loved my Barbie dolls like Ralphie loved his Red Ryder BB gun, maybe even more. My parents have always been craftly people, but that Christmas they surprised even me.  I got up on Christmas morning to the most amazing gift that has been given to me to this day.

There were all these little BArbie clothes laid out…wonderful patterns and modern outfits that were very well made, not like the cheap Barbie clothes you bought in the store…because these clothes, these tiny little clothes hadd been hnad stitched by my mother. Stitches so small a machine could not do them, they had to be done by hand. There were little jumpsuites and dresses made of soft wanderful flowy fabric, wonderful shirts, pants and skirts, all so very well put together and stylish. A thousand stitches by hand, sewn with love.

But that was not all. While some were laid out, others outfits were hung up in a hand made Barbie Doll case taht my father had lovingly made by hand.  This doll case had two drawers, perfect for holding all the shoes, brushes, rings, earrings, purses and whatever other Barbie Doll accessories. It had a litle mirror in it (for the dolls), compartments for storing the dolls, and even a wardrobe area to hang all the hand stitched clothes – and here is the wonderful kicker – the clothes that were hanging in the wardrobe area, were hanging on tiny little hand made wire hangers, that my father had also made for me. And this wonderful hand made with love, one of a kind case had an inscription: To Miss Ada Lamar Burch, with love, from her Daddy.

To this day, after many expensive gifts that have been given to me over the years, this one Christmas, those gifts are the best I have ever recieved. The time and the love it took to make those wonerful things for me make my heart warm every time I see them – and yes, I still have all of the clothes and the case.  I have the best parents in the world. And all my life, that has been the best gift.



My Thankful List

That for which I am thankful

As the famous dinner approaches, and as the end of the year draws near, I am left to reflect on the past twelve months. It has been quite a ride, quite an adventure. It  has been full of magic discoveries, heartache, happiness, hope frustration, kindness, anger, compassion. I have felt every emotion possible this year, I have felt them drinking wine and sharing in my best friends house. Eating copious amounts of cheese dip at my favorite Mexican restaurant, I have felt them over long talks and phone conversations, in loves and losses, in my travels and my failures, in my victories, losses, blessings and, mostly, entirely, completely, I have felt them in my heart.

And this year, I have a long list to be thankful for, mostly because, all because, they have carried me through the dark and made the light much brighter.  My list of things for which to be thankful:

Being alive: It may sound cliché and trite, but after having had someone try to kill me, and being made very aware of my own mortality, I am thankful for every breath I take, every day. I am even thankful for the bad days, the  bad moments, the tears, because they mean so much that I am alive, That he did not kill me, that my neck, while still sore and needing medical attention, is still capable.

My Life: Again, not too sound so predictable, but even t=with the bad moments in this year, my life is truly amazing.  I still have bad moments, confusion and anger still creep in, but all in all, especially when I could have lost so much more, I cannot complain.

My Faith: My faith in God and His grace has seen me through more than I can even fathom. He continues to bless me with His Grace every day, with every little bit that I heal. He brings wonderful people in my life who make it a batter place, He is the reason I am strong and can and did survive. It is also my faith that allows me to still trust, to still love, to still believe in the wonder of the human spirit as battered as it may be.

My Parents: I have been made very aware of how lucky I am to have the parents I have.  To have been given a wonderful childhood where all I knew was love and freedom. Where I still can go, to hear their voices, to feel their arms around me, to know their love reaches me, in the places where nothing else can, deep inside, and that I am never without it. To know that there is never anything that can take that love away.

Also I am thankful for my parents relationship and love for each other.  To be able to see and feel and know they love and respect they have for each other. To have it a tangible thing, an example for me and my life, hopes and dreams for a partner. To see them love each other and treat each other in such a loving way, and to know that this, what they have, is what I want and deserve.

Health: Not only my own but that of my loved ones. My father having been diagnosed and treated for liver cancer, now is deemed to be healthy again. We are optimistic, but cautious still.  My mother went through her fight with stage 4+ Ovarian cancer 10 years ago and is still in good health, even though she still smokes like a chimney.  Stubborn and feisty, she will outlive us all cigarette in hand.

My Career and my job: I still get the biggest thrill to be able to say that I am a writer.  To know that every day I get not only to write, but get paid to write, is the most amazing thing to me.  I did it. I, with luck hard work and a lot of prayer and faith, have the career I only dreamed of having. And the company for which I work holds it’s employees valuable. To be appreciated and held in high regard with my peers is on honor.

My friends: I truly have the best friends in the world, and this year has shown be just how lucky and blessed I am to have these wonderful people in my life.  They support me, love me, put up with me,, laugh with me, never at me (or at least they make sure I am OK after the lasted fall before they laugh at me). And they are my heart. My life would be a dark and barren place without their love and kindness.

For him: I am thankful for hima nd his comfort and for what he is teaching me.

Let the Madness Ensue!

It is that time of year again, that mad, mad holiday season.  And the mad dash begins, at least for me, to get everything done in time and on time.  OK, so I am perpetually late for everything, so who am I kidding about the on time part? But one can always hope.

Today I am working. I came in early so I could leave early, and I will make a mad dash to the grocery store, then home to clean and pack for the weekend trip, and get everything ready for my weekend company as well. A I am going out of town, some good friends are coming in to town and will be staying at my place.  Clean sheets and towels need to be placed, as well as instructions for the new security system, along with making sure everything they need is available.

There is vacuuming, dusting, picking up, litter box duty, making sure all dishes are done and a thousand other little details to see to so that there stay is comfortable. Then there is all I need to do to pack and get ready for the trip. The car, the coolers, the plants, the everything else. Getting my nephew situated. Getting to bed early and getting up at the crack of dawn, hitting the Waffle House for coffee and hitting the road.  The crowd at the family homestead will be a large on this year and there will be much laughter, wine, tears, love and memories shared. And lots of pictures.  I am the unofficial family photographer and I will make sure there are plenty of candid shots taken.

After gobbling up all the turkey, there will be the mad dash for the holidays…the shopping, the parties, the dresses, the pictures, the hobnobbing, the traffic, the decorations, the wrapping, the lights, the carols, the music, hot chocolate, the stockings, the stocking stuffers, the family, the cooking, the baking, the eating, wonderful deliciousn everything of it all.

So let the madness ensue!