Christmas Trees and Memories!

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!

Last year’s festivities

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:

US Amazon:
https://tinyurl.com/5bffee3t

UK Amazon:
https://tinyurl.com/fhy4mtaf

Below is another beautiful 5-Star Review from my dear friend, Betty at https://raindancepoetry.wordpress.com:

“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 ❤️🎄

Find Your Happy!

This past week has felt 21-days long! Last Sunday, our son moved out of the house embarking on a road trip across country. He left the nest not for college or his internship, but for his independence. The pandemic had delayed his original plans, but they are delayed no more. So, my hubby and I officially hold the title of empty nesters. Excitement swirls in this new chapter for all of us, but while he blazed through state lines heading east, I worried. My hubby worried. We busied ourselves doing things around the house, and of course, going to work, trying to focus on the job. Some of you may recall that I briefly wrote about this in my post from April 17th. Now it’s as real as ever.

While we are proud of him, we miss his presence – the conversations, the laughter, the hugs. We know Copper, our dog, misses his “brother” too, that his canine perception senses the change. The quiet in the house is also LOUD. So, this past week has been an adjustment.

But now that he has reached his finish line and holds the keys to his new apartment in his hands, WE ARE HAPPY! We wish that his chosen path could have been on the west side of the USA. But, he now lives closer to his sister who also lives on that side of the country, which makes us HAPPY! We are eager to make new memories in his home just as we’ve done with our daughter and son-in-law.

I have shed many tears during this exciting, bittersweet week. They fell out of joy for our son and the new adventures awaiting on the horizon. They gushed out of worry as he accelerated on those highways; I thought of other reckless drivers out there. And I have never felt such an affinity for my cell phone before as I anticipated his text messages to ping each evening, letting us know he is safe. It was in those moments when tears flowed out of relief. And if you’re wondering, my hubby shed a few, too.

So, this post is all about FINDING YOUR HAPPY!

Wherever it may be, it’s out there, loud and clear!!!!

Welcome it!

Embrace it!

And don’t let it go!

Reasons for feeling Happy float around us every day, but it’s up to us to capture them and relish in the joy.”

Lauren Scott 🥰❤️

(When I think of happiness, flowers also come to mind. The California Poppies are gorgeous and abundant around here, but I don’t have a good photo to share. So, of course, I visited Google, where I also found the Happy Face. The Daisies are from our garden.) 😍

Journal entry: April 16, 2021

Wrapping up my workday with fifteen minutes to go before stepping outside into Friday freedom, I hear my phone ping. A short text from my daughter: Hey, Mom, would you want to chat later?

It’s been a couple of weeks since we talked, and since she lives on the other side of the country, of course, I wanted to chat! My fingers tapped back: Sure! I’ll call in a half hour when I’m home.

For hours to fly by when we talk on the phone isn’t unusual at all. But this call turned out to beat that record by a landslide. When my husband walked through the door, home from work, I said, “Hi Honey, I’ve been talking to Steph for two hours.”

“Are you kidding me?” He asked, grinning, not understanding what in the world could keep a conversation going for so long.

And it kept going. We chatted about work – the fun and the annoying elements, and about friends. I asked her about the 3-year-old tabby cat, Oliver, she and her husband recently adopted. Somehow the weather swept into our conversation – another drought and fire season on the horizon for us, and lastly, about her brother who is moving out in a week, embarking on a new chapter of life. He’s been home with us for a couple of years post college graduation, working full-time remotely. But the time has come. The time is right.

Steph and I gabbed about Michael’s new chapter nudging “Dad and I” into our new Empty Nesters stage. Exciting times for all of us, but bittersweet where many different emotions whirl around in our heads and hearts. The thing is he’s moving across country, too, which means both of our children will be on the same coast as each other, but miles and miles and miles away from us. This is when our hearts become heavy. We can’t see Steph and Ryan on a whim, and the same will be for Michael when he’s moved.

I filled Steph in about Michael wanting to help us rearrange furniture in the bedrooms so that Mom and Dad can reap the benefits of having the house to themselves. Shortly after he signed his apartment lease, with each day came a new flood of tears for me. But as he moves furniture and rewires electronics, he has tamped down those tears by keeping my brain and emotions occupied. Though a tsunami will gush on the day he drives away. No doubt.

Steph understood. When she and Ryan moved, Michael lived with us. Tears still trickled down our cheeks, but it was different with having one of our kids still at home. So, when Michael leaves, it’ll just be Matt, me, and Copper, our crazy canine, who will watch the distance widen between us and his car. We know Copper will sense the emptiness in the house, missing the cuddles, too, from his brother.

After Matt watered the grass, he poured us some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and I carried the conversation out to the patio. He joined in, telling Steph all about his recent motorcycle trip, and how he checked off that box on his bucket list. He shared that his dad, two weeks shy of turning 98, is not doing well. “Give him a call,” he tells her. “And send him a birthday card with photos of Ollie. He’d love that.”

Before we knew it, tears from all of us struggled for freedom. The conversation stayed light-hearted, full of laughter, but also brimmed with love and poignancy. When we all finally said talk to ya later, four hours had passed!

Here’s my take-away: we love our children so much, yes, and sometimes to the point that it hurts. Parenting doesn’t get easier as age transforms into a larger number – with each new phase develops new sets of worries. But as our daughter and son pave their own paths, we couldn’t be prouder. They’re adulting and doing it well. We just wish their paths were on the west coast. Such is life. And as the gray hairs flourish and the wrinkles form, knowing they love us to the same extent is something so much bigger to be thankful for – and knowledge to sustain us until we or they hop on a plane, heading across country.

A phone call to treasure.

Lauren Scott ❤️