I wanted to share a Christmas poem, but the words just weren’t flowing. So, you won’t read anything fancy today, only that I’m taking a breather from blogging for the holidays and this will be my last post until I return sometime in January. As we all know, breaks are necessary so that we can recharge our minds, bodies, and spirits. But before I go, I want to thank you all for your continued support! It has beenwonderful to meet and get to know so many talented artists in this virtual community.
On that note, I wish you all a holiday filled with Peace, Joy, and Love, everything we’ve heard before but all we truly need. ❤️
Sending holiday hugs, stay safe, be well, and I’ll see you in 2022! Cheers, Lauren ❤️🎄❤️
This holiday season is different for my husband and I, a bit quieter around the house because we became empty nesters several months ago. And I admit that with Christmas just around the corner, the quiet is a bit thunderous. I remember past holidays when our son and daughter were little; we’d keep the magic going and would look forward to witnessing their wonder of the season each day up until the morning when we watched them with delight open their gifts. They knew that just the night before, Santa had come down the chimney with the hefty pack of presents on his back.
Holiday baking is a tradition that I carried into my family from memories of my sisters and I baking with Mom. She was beautiful and festive, wearing her Christmas apron as she taught us how to make sugar cookies and her German Christmas Stollen – a delicious recipe that I’ve made only once in my life but will attempt again when I have the required energy in both mind and body. The recipe is complicated, involving yeast and bread rising and everything that I know very little about, hence, the need to muster up that energy! Baking with my young children was a time when their excitement and giggles bounced off the walls as they helped make sugar cookies in different shapes: bells, boots, Christmas trees, angels, stockings, candy canes, holly leaves, and more. Licking the beaters was a must, and no one ever got sick. Their tiny little hands had so much fun with the cookie dough as if they were creating with playdough. Christmas carols played in the background adding merriment to the mix.
I must have inherited my love of dressing festively for the holidays because when our children were little, I loved painting on t-shirts and sweatshirts for family and friends. I was no artist, but my daughter and son were thrilled to wear their white “Merry Christmas” sweatshirts with candy canes and Santa’s “Ho, Ho, Ho!” The grandparents wore their Santa Claus sweatshirts with pride, and they looked cute! My husband and I still wear ours and that paint has never peeled off, even after thirty years! Having fun was the main objective!
But this past Saturday a new tradition began when just the two of us drove to our most patronized grocery store to look for a live Christmas tree. He’s an Arborist and an avid tree hugger, so as long as the prepping of the tree – fitting it onto the stand and keeping it watered – doesn’t become physically challenging, a living tree will be our preference. For the first time, we brought home a beautiful Grand Fir. My husband prepped the tree outside, trimming the bottom branches, making sure the flush cut was level with the base of the tree, then drilling holes around the center hole to allow water to be soaked up. Inside the house, I rearranged furniture, vacuumed, and pulled the red festive tree skirt from the closet, prepping the perfect spot by the large window in the living room. When the tree was set up, I poured sugar water into the base and waited a half hour to ensure no water was seeping through.
Tony Bennett sang Christmas carols in the background while we strung the lights around the fragrant tree. As we picked up each ornament, precious memories flooded our minds. Most ornaments were handmade by our children as they were growing up, and many have photos of them from kindergarten, first, and second grades. Oh, the memories! Now our beautiful Grand Fir stands tall by the window adorned in red, green, and white lights, adding magic to the room. The tree topper is our very own precious angel that our daughter made when she was a little girl. She used a toilet paper roll. Hilarious, but clever, and so special that this angel will never be replaced.
I realized early that day, I didn’t feel the same excitement to put up the tree as I’ve felt in years past. But we had a great time, perusing the trees on the lot, then getting both tree and house ready. Feeling reminiscent of those years when our children were little invoked gratitude for the blessed Christmases we’ve had when we all lived together, or at least, when one child was home while the other was away at university. So, even though we missed the presence of our adult kids during this tradition, I’m grateful for my husband to share another holiday season with. Perspective is key: this is the next chapter for each of us, and it’s all good. Most importantly, we are healthy and safe.
Everyone has their own struggles and sorrow from various life events; some are just a matter of going along with the progression of natural changes like becoming empty nesters, and some events are so tragic that joy drifts far, far away. Hopefully, though, joy can be found wherever our hearts and minds may be this holiday season, even if only in tiny, fragile fragments.
And speaking of memories, if you’re looking for a holiday gift for family or friends, my memoir, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose, is available on Amazon:
“More than Coffee is a heartwarming collection of memories and anecdotes in which the author reflects on her early life, her marriage, her love for family and friends, and her appreciation for the great outdoors. In poetry and prose she writes poignantly (and often humorously) of love, loss, sadness and joy, and I found myself relating to each section. The overall feeling I had after reading More than Coffee was one of optimism and upliftment. A wonderful book!“
I believe there is some meaningful discovery for each reader, or at least, this is my wish.
Sending you all hugs of joy during this holiday season. Lauren ❤️🎄
Oh, What do you see As clear as can be? Hope on the horizon – A glimmer of possibility!
When you hear the word “expectation” what thoughts come to mind? I immediately recall the many times my expectations of others were unreasonably too high, thus, leaving me extremely disappointed. A lesson learned…
On the other hand, expecting something to occur or to change can also be a form of positive thinking. Here’s how the wheels in my brain have been working lately: after such a tumultuous 2020 that so many are eager to view only from the rearview mirror, I expect the new year that is literally just around the corner, to outshine this current year without question or doubt. A vaccine is already accessible to some and will be available to the rest of us, hopefully, in the first quarter of the new year.
Am I too optimistic? Maybe so…we may have a few more months to mask up and social distance before normalcy arrives again. But I want to believe that we will be able to walk down the street someday soon and see others smile and not just through their eyes. We won’t be so paranoid about dodging droplets and touching surfaces.
So, I choose to be optimistic as we clink our glasses at midnight on December 31st and to expect good things to come after all the stress, loss, and pain. After all, what have we got to lose? When positive thoughts abound, our hearts and minds remain calm, and calm is certainly a place where we should hunker down.
Their eyes see twinkling magic Unaware of worldwide discord. Children, innocent in youth, Show how joy can be restored. Let their wonder guide and excite With their eager anticipation – Let our worries fall to the floor As we welcome exultation.
Christmas memories from when our son and daughter were little are still so vivid – how they became excited awaiting the rooftop-arrival of Santa Claus and Dasher & Dancer & Prancer & Vixen & Comet & Cupid & Donner & Blitzen & Rudolph!!! They were my little helpers in the kitchen baking cut-out sugar cookies for Santa and we made sure to leave a bowl of carrots for his reindeer to chomp on.
Those were magical timesof make believe, yet times also for believing. 🌟🌟🌟
May we hold that magic of innocence and our inner child in our hearts during this holiday season. 🎄💗
I’ve lost blogging momentum because of some health issues in our family and procedures during the holiday. My mind has been a little preoccupied. But on the morning of Thanksgiving, my husband and I enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood. The sun was shining and the temperature was invigorating and brisk. After turning a corner, we stumbled upon a van that invited passersby to write their gratitude on the colorful hand turkeys provided. Sharpies and hand sanitizer were also conveniently supplied. We gladly participated and added our turkey to the eye-catching and humbling collection. God Bless the owner of this van, for even in dark times there is much to be grateful for.
Just like many others, we were ready for some Christmas joy, so we bought our tree on black Friday and we’ve never seen the line so long! Patience really was a virtue that day! We call our tree the “Family tree” because most of the ornaments are homemade from our son and daughter when they were little. The angel on top is our daughter’s creation and there is no reason to replace it. Our senses are heightened by the Noble Fir fragrance and the room is cozier than ever now.
Copper enjoys the warmth and coziness of the fire, but he prefers not to be too closeto the snap, crackle, and pop.
Lastly,WordPress tells me that I have a 10-year anniversary to celebrate!Time sure flies when you’re having fun creating, along with meeting wonderful people all around the world. So, Thank You, for your support and friendship!
I hope those of you in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wish you all a blessed Christmas and holiday season. Stay safe and well, too! Lauren 💗
Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? It seems unreal because of the virus – how our everyday living has changed. Even though it’s hard to fathom that the year is coming to a close, my trusty calendar says it is, so I thought it would be a good time to post this Christmas tale from last year.
In excitement we wriggle from head to toe anticipating our daughter and fiancé’s visit from Nashville. The newly-engaged couple flies out early December to beat the holiday airport chaos. Thanksgiving dishes barely sparkle when we push and pull our Noble Fir through the front door. I want the house to be dressed in holiday attire for when they arrive. But the day after Thanksgiving is early to buy a tree, so the pickings are slim and the cost is a heart-stopper. Yet, there in the living room by the window stands the evergreen, reflecting in the paned glass.
My husband takes charge of putting up the outside decorations – hanging the Christmas flag, stringing the lights on the house, and sprinkling big ornaments on our shrubbery. My son and I begin indoor decorating by winding the lights among the branches on the tree. As we hand the wiry bunch to each other, around and around, they blink awake like eyes opening brightly. But then suddenly, they go out like sleepy eyes closing. When we tested them earlier, they lit up just fine, so their slumbering is surely a mystery. Feeling frustrated, we fuss with the tiny bulbs, and eventually, they blink “Merry Christmas” again. (Problem solved or so we think.) Then come the ornaments – many made by our children’s’ little hands: photos of them skirted in gold stars or in the arms of pink angels. The clothespin reindeer look excited to join Santa on Christmas Eve, and the homemade sequin ornaments from my husband’s grandma transports him back to the sixties. His grandma was stern but kindhearted, and when she cooked each Sunday for the following week, there was enough food to feed everyone in the county. Then my fingers feel around in the box for another ornament, latching onto the white puffy heart engraved with Dad’s birth and death date. It’s like hanging memories one by one, triggering teardrops or raising smiles. When the tree stands fully adorned, it truly looks Noble.
Outside for onlookers, the house lights blink a winter white with a splash of red, gold, green, and silver hanging among the greenery, but more Christmas spirit arrives with our Nashville kids. They gave us a beautiful wreath which hangs on the front door and completes the decorating. In the evenings, we gather around the table, catching up on life and sharing delicious food. They share their wedding plans and we hear their excitement to search for a special place to exchange vows. And we bake! Having my daughter home to help mix up some sweetness conjures up delightful baking memories.
I want to freeze time – for it alone is an illusion: drifting by like the slow drip of honey, yet, flying by like a hummingbird seeking nectar. With a blink of an eye, our visit with them has ended and it’s time for goodbye-hugs which are never easy; bittersweet tears fall like liberated water over a broken dam. Too soon my cell phone pings, telling me they’re boarding their plane. Once their feet safely touch Tennessee ground, I push the restart button in my routine. Phone calls, Facetime, and text messages don’t replace their presence but will suffice until their next trip.
Our focus is back to the Noble Fir and we notice it doesn’t appear to be thirsty. This evergreen that cost an arm and a leg is beginning to dry up faster than a drop of water on a sun-kissed sidewalk. Then to our surprise, the bottom lights go out! A couple of days later with one tilt of our heads, we spot the lights on top of the tree are out! Frustration seeps into our veins for a second, then trickles of laughter follow, and because we’re too busy to shop for new lights, our tree remains topless and bottomless where festive colors once shimmered! We join Charlie Brown and call it our Peanut’s tree – a little forlorn to our eyes but beautiful just the same. The angel our daughter made years ago, though only a toilet paper roll with lacey craftsmanship, sits in a place of honor on top of the tree. Replacing this dear angel is out of the question, so we look to her for hope that the tree lasts until the big day!
Moving on from our tree-light calamity, it’s time to bake again. I find my mother-in-law’s gingerbread recipe, preheat the oven, then press the button on my faithful hand mixer. When all ingredients are blended, I dip a spoon into the sweet-spicy batter. I have to make sure it’s fine for others to eat. Of course, I do. I was about to put the pan in the oven, opening the door, when I realize 350-degree heat did not whoosh out at me in the face. I call my husband over and we do some button-pressing, hoping our magic touches will perk up the oven. No luck, but no need to panic fully because the burners work, so not a total loss. The gingerbread stays overnight in the fridge, but I’m unsure as to how refrigeration will affect the batter. I call on a friend for help and use her oven the next day. When the timer beeps, the bread looks done, except for the molten-looking center – mushy, but honestly, gooey and delectable.
Two weeks pass since the oven’s demise, and no repairman is available until December 30th. It sounds like the death of many appliances! At least the oven functioned when my daughter and I needed it to for our upcoming cookie exchange. Four dozen buttercream-frosted sugar cookies were displayed on glass platters: stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and angels all bejeweled in red and green sprinkles. Now, as Christmas draws closer by the minute, I feel off-kilter because I’m unable to bake.
While the oven sits waiting to be repaired, the alternator in one of our cars dies! First the lights, then the oven, now the car! But wait, there’s more…our big TV is next on this chain of events! What a kerfuffle this holiday season has been with things going kaput! I won’t ask, because if I do, we’ll wonder what’s next! I didn’t ask!
Because of the unexpected and unfortunate events, our shopping sprees have barely begun. But we’ll still find merchandise sitting on the shelves, contrary to popular belief that Black Friday is the only day to shop for Christmas. And each time I walk past our unique Christmas tree, I am reminded of the quote, paraphrasing, of course, “It’s not about the beginning or destination; it’s about the journey.” Well, the tree’s middle glows with Christmas enthusiasm and so does our journey through this holiday season in spite of the blips.
These hiccups caused us to pause, but they’re not the end of the world. Baking later could develop into a new tradition. Our tree will remain noble until Christmas Day, or at least we hope it will. Those temperamental lights will be tossed when the tree comes down. The car is on its wheels again. So, regardless of these glitches, the blessings stand tall: precious family time, safe travels for our Nashville kids, and gifts beneath the tree acting as an evergreen anchor. Saving the best for last – our family’s good health. What more can we ask for besides new lights for our tree next year!
I hope this account of my family’s last Christmas brought smiles and maybe even a few giggles. And I have a strong hunch, this holiday season will look a little different. But if good health abounds, that’s what matters most. And Cheers to hoping 2021 is much brighterfor all!
I finally had my ERCP last Thursday – the procedure I had to repeat (after an incomplete try in October), and then wait six weeks for. Anyway, it went smoothly this time. I had no moments of consciousness, knowing there was a tube down my throat causing panic. The Good news is the positive outcome….no auto-immune liver disease or cancer. The cause for my attack and hospital stay in September was another pesky gallstone in the bile duct. I’m SO grateful for this diagnosis.
I will say though, that if you’ve had your gallbladder out, know that gallstones can appear in the bile duct, which can be dangerous. If the bile duct becomes blocked then the bile stays in the liver making it sick. Not a good thing. I’ve learned a lot since my daughter’s auto-immune liver disease diagnosis six years ago. Things I never cared to know.
Anyway, they kept me overnight for monitoring, so I was home in the comfort of my own bed late Friday afternoon. Since then, I had some unpleasant after effects, but I’m feeling better now. To rest and eat lightly are doctor’s orders for a couple of weeks. I can do that. 🙂
What remains surreal is that I’ve endured similar symptoms my daughter experiences with her disease. Maybe it’s the mom in me that has to truly feel the pain my daughter feels. I don’t know, but it’s very strange and coincidental. I have to add again that all of this is non-alcoholic related. Gallstones can cause havoc!
Needless to say, I’ve lost momentum for blogging, and at this point, I’ve decided to take December off from WordPress to focus on a little “me time” and the Christmas season upon us. I will miss all of you, but I’ll look forward to returning in the new year refreshed and invigorated. Wow, 2019! Time, she is a flyin’!
So, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year full of new adventures, possibilities, and lots of Love! Lauren❤🎅🎁🌲
Photo #1 – my hospital stay Photo #2 – Google Photo #3 – Copper during Christmas 2017 (my dog)
P.S. I also have to express how grateful we are for the outstanding team of doctors at Kaiser.
This season of Magic, Miracles, and Faith isn’t joyous for everyone; for many it’s a Blue Christmas. So, may the Spirit find itself embracing all people, but especially those who are dealing with stress or depression from tragedy, and may Peace weave its way into their hearts, minds, and lives. Let us remember the Vision of “Goodwill to All Men.”
I’ll be away from blogging through the holiday weekend, so I wish you all a Christmas filled with an abundance of Love, Joy, and Peace. And a Big “Thank You” to all of you – both old and new friends – for your continued support here on WP. ~With Love, Lauren 💝