"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Walmart Christmas Story

Life's lessons come in the strangest places.

It was midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning of this week.  I was in the Easley, South Carolina, Walmart with two of my daughters.  We have this tradition every year.  Once the Fab 5 are in bed fast asleep, the men folk are watching a movie, football game or are otherwise engaged, the three of us take off for a late night, post-Christmas Walmart run to scope out the remainder of the holiday ornaments, paper, ribbon and scrapbooking stuff.  Do we need any of this stuff?  No, but the challenge of getting something cheap for next year calls....it is an addiction and we have it bad. 

So there we were.  Laughing and having fun.  Paige rounded a corner and went down another aisle.  That's when Gabriel and I heard it.  This woman, words slurred, asked Paige a question and Paige responded with an "I'm sorry, but I can't understand you."  Gabriel and I cautiously and curiously peeped around the corner.

There sat a woman, probably in her late 30's to mid 40's, in a Walmart scooter chair. She struggled to get to her feet and asked Paige for some help.  The item of interest was a box of do-it-yourself Christmas water globes in which you inserted a picture before filling it with water and "snow".  "Are these half off of this price?" and "If I buy all of these, how much would it be?" were her questions, spoken carefully and slowly in order to make herself understood. Gabriel and I strolled by, knowing that Paige had the situation well in hand, answering her questions, assisting her putting the box of snow globes into the basket of the cart.  That's when we noticed that one hand was drawn.  It was obvious that this woman had a physical disability that affected her coordination, her speech.  She was friendly and extremely grateful for the help, explaining that she could afford her find and that she was going to put her three daughters' picture inside and give to relatives for presents.

By this time, Gabriel and I had made it to the end of the aisle and I turned to see Paige retrieving her shopping cart.  At about the same time, this lady struggled out of her scooter and approached Paige once again.  She pulled from the inside of her sweater a lanyard very much like that of a company ID card.  As she hobbled closer to Paige,  I clearly heard her comment that this was the picture of her daughters.  Paige patiently looked and admired the dog eared, well worn picture in its plastic sleeve.  Until....

Until the woman explained in her slurred and slow speech that her children were "gone".  Yes, "gone".  "They are all in heaven now", she said and Paige's eyes went from hers to mine, back to hers.  It was the look of one mother speaking her heart to another mother.  Someone who would understand the pain.  Without prompting, she went on to tell Paige that "Wayne drove the car off the road one morning taking them to school.  They all died."  I cannot hear what this mother is saying now.  All I can do is stand frozen watching my own daughter's face, eyes so huge and full of tears, softly and tenderly hugging this stranger and expressing her so sincere and heartfelt sympathy that I want to cry myself, yet I remain planted on the spot, as if I am viewing a movie.  As the woman sinks back into the seat of her shopping scooter, she dropped her head and said softly, "This is the worst Christmas ever."  She thanked Paige once again and Paige made her way to Gabriel and me, crying.....crying for this complete and total stranger's loss and pain.  As Paige reveals the parts of the conversation Gabriel and I had not been privy to, we contemplate who "Wayne" could have been....the father? A friend? How and where did this accident take place?  Was this lady in the car, thus the physical disabilities?  Was she brain damaged from the wreck?  Had she had a stroke from the stress of losing her family? As Paige talks and cries, Gabriel and I cry with her.  We cry as mothers who can only imagine this woman's pain; we cry as people who know the loss of loved ones at any time of the year, but especially at this holiday time; we cry for the sheer beauty of the moment - one person reaching out to another for some strength and validation, for witnessing the sharing and baring of that person's soul.  And we cry for the absolute joy of our blessings.

Yes, we went on to enjoy our late night shopping spree at Wally World.  But there was this underlying tone we each felt in the pit of our stomachs and in the depths of our hearts.  I have to say that our once-a-year, late night tradition will never be the same, as I will think of that precious woman for years to come.  It brought into undeniably crystal-clear focus how very blessed my family is.  As a family, we play hard, we love hard, we fight hard.  Sometimes the "fight hard" takes it toll, but we always come back to the "love hard" part.  I never want to forget that even in our hardest times, we still have each other. 

As the New Year approaches tonight in about 11 hours from now, I will count my blessings and ask for a good year to come.  But I think the most important thing I will ask for is peace and healing and comfort for a complete stranger that touched my daughters' and my heart on a cold winter's night in a Walmart, of all places.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas House Tour - Conclusion

It's Monday, Dec 27th - the THIRD day of Christmas. Time to wind down the Christmas tour of my home.  I appreciate all who have visited and hope it has made you smile!  As time is so precious, I will post the pics and let you look, then send you on your way.

We ended the last  tour in the living room.  Today is the kitchen, breakfast area and my bedroom.  So here we go for the final edition of the Holiday House Tour 2010.

In the breakfast area corner, I have a baker's rack.  That is where the other elves live...some of them year round, I might add.

The angels on the candles, the little elves in front, the Christmas boot/stocking and the cardinal picture in the back are all new additions for this year.

 On the breakfast bar I have a tray of vintage Candy Cane Kids and other ceramic Santas and porcelain pieces from the 40's and 50's.  I add to this collection occasionally but it is getting increasingly harder to find these without paying an arm and a leg for them.  
 Also on the breakfast bar, there are some Santa candles mixed in with my fave Yankee Candles.

On the island in the kitchen, the rest of the Yankee Candles are on trays, as well as a gingerbread planter.

On to the stairs.....
There are snowmen in my bedroom!  Lots and lots of snowmen!  Same rules apply here, some new, some vintage, some handmade, some gifts. 
There is so much more, but since the Big Day of Christmas is over, I will refrain from posting more.  I hope you enjoyed these little glimpses into my home this year.  I know I enjoyed sharing it all with you!

Treasure the rest of the Twelve Days!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

O' Holy Night

It is Christmas Eve and the anticipation is almost over. The presents are bought and almost all are wrapped, save for a couple.  The baking is done, the steaks for tomorrow evening's dinner are in the fridge. Tonight, this one night of the year, is particularly precious to me.

After rushing out today to get a few last minute gifts, I am home and writing this at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Two of the Fab 5 are in the great room watching the Christmas programs running non-stop today.  It is comforting to hear their chattering banter.  They are both so excited they can hardly contain themselves.  They are on Santa watch and have already seen that NORAD is tracking his flight across the world.  Last time we looked, Santa was making good time in Asia. We are waiting for their mom to come pick them up after her own last minute foray into the last day shopping frenzy, and we expect Ed, their DaDa, to come home from putting in a few hours work, the last work day before a week of holiday leisure.

Now, as we settle in for the remainder of the day, the holiday preparations are complete and the "busy-ness" has reached its climax. In a moment, I am going to turn off the televisions and have the grands lie down for some quiet.  I haven't decided if I am going to a Christmas Eve service.  Probably not.  I have just a few presents left to wrap - surprises for me and Ed in the form of new slippers, a book and a CD to share.  Gabriel and the kids will come tonight and spend the night.  We will prepare the plate of cookies for Santa, as well as a cheeseburger from Burger King!  As we ready for Santa's visit, I will watch the midnight Christmas Mass from Rome. 

Soon, the peace, that comes when the afternoon of Christmas Eve melts into the evening, will descend upon this home.  This night, the night that I have waited now for 365 days, is here.  Before I go to bed, I will turn out the lights of the trees, blow out the candles and spend just a few moments looking at the Nativity scenes, contemplating the meaning of the day yet to come in the morning. It will be a moment of prayer - for peace and joy, for gratitude and forgiveness.

I hope that each of you find your own moment tonight for your own Christmas prayer, whatever that prayer might be.

Merry Christmas to you all......

Monday, December 20, 2010

Flash Mob Monday - Fun in a Train Station

Today's Flash Mob Monday five days before Christmas is delightful. Although it isn't a Christmas flash mob, I thought it was so good that it would be appropriate anyway! Hope you like it!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is YOURS a Wonderful Life?

Today it is quiet at my home. It is the last Sunday until Christmas, which presents a time to reflect and ponder the Season's blessings and miracles.  Even though I should be wrapping presents or cleaning up my disaster of a craft room, I must write this entry while the muse leads me on.  If the gift is given, don't let it go to waste!

I told you on Friday that I would let you know what is my all-time favorite Christmas movie.  As with many people, I am sure, my fave is It's a Wonderful Life.  I was talking to someone just the other day whom had not seen this particular movie, much to my surprise.  If, in case, you have never had the Wonderful Life experience, please, please, I implore you to get it and watch it in its uncut version as it is meant to be viewed.

It's a Wonderful Life is about a man, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, an all-around good guy who has big plans for his life.  He wants to go to college, study architecture or engineering, build big structures, be successful monetarily.  But a series of events, of which he has no control, including the Great Depression, his father's untimely death, and his brother's career, keeps him minding the store at Bailey Savings and Loan in the little town that he has always dreamed of escaping. He marries a sweet young woman, raises a family, battles the meanest and richest man in town from taking over the town, and places everyone else and their needs before his until a monetary crisis leaves him desperate and contemplating taking his own life so that his family can collect his life insurance money.  In his utmost despair, he prays to God for guidance but issues the thought that everyone would be better off if he, George Bailey, were never born.

  In answer to his prayer, he is sent Clarence, an old, endearing, but bumbling angel who is out to earn his wings. Granting his wish, Clarence lays out before him what the lives of people he loves would be like without his existence on this earth.

It is a lovely story and I cry like a baby each and every time I watch it.  George reminds me of my dad and that makes it all the more emotional for me.  The message of how we touch the lives of those around us, even complete strangers, without even knowing  what influences we have on them is strong and powerful. Here is "George's prayer":

I was fortunate to see a television interview with Jimmy Stewart years ago.  He was asked about It's a Wonderful Life and his role.  He told how that was his favorite of all the movies he had made over the years.  In elaborating about his role and the meaning of this movie, Mr. Stewart revealed that this particular scene had touched him when he read the first draft of the screenplay.  However, it was during the filming of this scene that the enormity of its message hit him.  Hit him so hard, in fact, that the director, Frank Capra, had to clear the set for a while to enable Mr. Stewart the opportunity to recover from the emotional impact. It was that cut that made it into the movie....the raw emotion exhibited by Mr. Stewart could have never been improved no matter how many more times they may have filmed it. Knowing the fact that the message of how we influence others just by our existence meant something to Jimmy Stewart, a famous actor and celebrity, makes the movie all the more special to me.

In the end of It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey discovers how truly wealthy he is, only not in the way he had always strived.  Through the help of Clarence, George comes to the realization it is the people in our lives and how we touch those people through our actions that make us what we are.  That, my friends, is something money cannot buy.

As I sit here writing, just as when I watch Wonderful Life, I ask myself if I have had a positive influence on people.  Have I been kind to someone today?  Have I snapped at someone who may have been having a hard time, thus making their day worse?  Oh, I am sorely lacking in this aspect!  We cannot see the ripple effect that our actions have as we live each day.  Did I pay enough attention to those I love?  Was I friendly to a stranger?  Did I take the opportunity to reflect on the small things in my life and take appreciation in them?  I try, oh, how I try, but some lessons are lost at times!

So to my friends and family, and even those who do not know me who may be reading this blog, I want each of you to know how much I love you, how dear you all are to me.  This Christmas, I want for you all the blessing of a wonderful life -  rich in friends, good health, loving family, pleasures big and small, experiences fulfilling and adventurous, and most of all much joy!  I hope you have time to do your own reflections this week in the midst of the final preparations of Christmas weekend!  Please leave a comment below to tell me what makes you rich beyond your wildest expectations!

Oh, and remember that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!  I'm going to go ring some right now and help some deserving angels out!

Merry Christmas! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Confession Friday - Christmas on the Big Screen

Surprise!  A second Confession Friday for the week!  I tried to warn you!!!!

Let's get right to the meat of the matter.....I can't get enough of Christmas movies!  Just wanted to share a few of those with you.  Yesterday, I shared clips from a couple of versions of A Christmas Carol.  While that is my second all time favorite written Christmas story, it isn't my favorite Christmas movie.  However, I will not reveal that movie to you today, as well as my second favorite now. I am saving that for next week and other insights.  You will just have to wait till then for those.  But I do have a very long list of Christmas related movies that I will share.    I am sure you are just dying to know...if not, that's ok.  I'm writing this anyway!

These are Christmas movies that I love to watch and have been known to pop them in to play during the middle of the summer when I need just a little Christmas spirit to get me through. The following movies are not going to be presented in any particular order, as in where they rank in preference on my list.  Warning:  You might want to run get some popcorn and coke, or a candy bar or some cheese nachos.  Just have fun and enjoy.

The first one I want to share is Elf.  Oh, my gosh, there are so many scenes in this one that I want to share.  I guess the movie trailer will just have to do!

Let's go back in time to the era of Carey Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven for this next one.  The Bishop's Wife is a tale about a charming angel in the form of Carey Grant who has come to help the Bishop (David Niven) get the funding for a grand cathedral and the Bishop's wife (Loretta Young) who is trying to figure out how to help her husband recapture his love for Christmas and why he became a minister in the first place.  David Niven originally wanted to play the angel, but it is my opinion that the casting director got the parts just right.  Here you go!  Enjoy this little nibble from the movie!

Who hasn't seen A Christmas Story? I love the 24 hours it plays on TBS Christmas Eve into Christmas night!

Here's one you may have never seen.  If you ever have the chance to see this short film, do so. The Snowman:


This is Chevy Chase at his best!  I give you National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Let's not forget Bill Murray's SCROOGED!  Bill Murray plays the executive director of a TV channel company which is preparing a live performance of A Christmas Carol that will be shown nationwide on Christmas Eve.  The promo is a hoot!  Bill's reaction is great!  Enjoy....
Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

And two of Bing Crosby's movies are on my list.  The first, The Bells of Saint Mary's isn't a Christmas movie in its entirety, but there are some Christmas scenes in it and it's such a lovely film that I just have to include it.  Charming!  Let it load to see this trailer in full!  Give it a couple of secs. And if you click on the teenie little red circle in the upper right hand corner, it will skip the ad and take you straight to the clip.  I promise!

The second Bing movie is the iconoclastic White Christmas.  What else could it be? And Danny Kaye is a treasure in this one!  Sappy and fun to watch!

A Charlie Brown Christmas makes the lists.  I love this simple little animated classic.  Here's just a short little clip. 

A new classic.  If you haven't seen this one, I think it's about time!  The Polar Express is about belief and faith in things you know can't possibly be true!  Enjoy this trailer!

There are lots more, but I have to end this sometime.  So I leave you with the last for this list this Christmas.  Jim Carey is superb and the ultimate Christmas villain, The Grinch.  And it all takes place on a snowflake!  Enjoy!
Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

If you watched all of my teasers and have run out of popcorn and coke, you can take a potty break.  You deserve it, God bless 'ya!  Thanks for letting me share my latest confession with you! Now go watch a Christmas movie, for Pete's sake, the whole darn thing from start to finish!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Tale of Epiphany and Redemption - Confession Friday a day early!

Is it really just nine days until the BIG DAY?  Can it be December 16th already?  There is so much to write about and absolutely not enough days on the calendar to get in all the posts about December and Christmas that I have mapped out in my mind!  The days are flying by....... so let's get on with today's subject.

I may make this a confession.  A day early, but there is nothing that prevents me from having more than one Confession Friday, right?  Ok, so I just decided to confess!

Other than the actual story of Christ's birth, my favorite written Christmas story is A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  You would have to be raised by illiterate desert nomads with absolutely no access to books, TV and other modern conveniences of storytelling to not be familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit's family, particularly Tiny Tim, Bob's crippled but ever so effervescent son.  Dicken's tale has become so ingrained into our Christmas experiences that the phrase "Bah, humbug!" or "you're being a Scrooge!" needs no further explanation when uttered.

Ebenezer Scrooge, as the main character of the story,  is a man to be hated and scorned, but also pitied in a standoffish, don't-get-too-close way.  What Ebenezer Scrooge is inflicted with may be catching and this is the time of year that we don't want to come down with the Bah Humbug virus, even though there are many that walk among us that have already been infected and try to spread their misery to the general population.  But I digress.

Scrooge hates any and everything Christmas - the revelry, the gift-giving, the fellowship, the money that, in his opinion, is wasted.  Ebenezer's story is one of lost dreams, lost family, lost love, lost soul.  There is not any redeeming quality that he possesses, at least that we can see.  We all know how Marley, Ebenezer's dead and departed business partner, comes warning him to change his ways and then the three Spirits present themselves to Ebenezer in his dreams to show him his past, his present and his future, as well as some of those around him, Tiny Tim and Bob specifically. By the time the Ghost of Christmas Future is done with him, we are pulling for old Scrooge to change his ways.  The old curmudgeon. has become endearing to us, the readers, and everyone loves an underdog. 
 (Please bear with the short ad at the beginning.  It is worth putting up with to be able to see the video linked above. Just click the back or return button on your computer to return to this post.)

What a glorious moment in literature and in film when Scrooge wakes up to the ringing of church bells the next morning and realizes that he has not missed Christmas after all!  Scrooge has had his epiphany and nothing is going to hold him back.  He is going to make up for lost time and enjoy every Christmas from now on. After all, he is an old man and there might not be that many Christmases left for him.

Scrooge is now a redeemed person, helping Bob Cratchit and his family, making sure that Tiny Tim has the medical treatment he so deserves, giving to the poor and celebrating Christmas all year long.  Here is how Dickens describes Ebenezer's epiphany: ""I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Which brings me to my point....I love epiphanies, mine or other people's.  Even pronouncing the very word "e-pi-pha-ny" gives me a good feeling.  So exactly what does epiphany mean?
Well, for the Christian, it means the visit of the Three Wise Men to the stable to see the Newborn Christ.  This is traditionally celebrated on January 6th, thus the 12 Days of Christmas!  They had followed the Star to Bethlehem for a very long time and had found the Holy Child.  After presenting him gifts and their adoration, having participated in a miraculous experience, they departed on their return journeys to their homelands, leaving, I presume, as changed men.  I have often wondered who and what they told about that experience upon their arrivals home. 

In general, an epiphany is when a person realizes like a bolt of lightening something he has not realized up until that moment. It is the instant comprehension of  an idea or philosophy that has always been right in front of you, like putting the last piece of a puzzle into its proper place and being able to see the puzzle's image.  It can come with a new experience or insight, sometimes significant, sometimes small.  But the most important part is that an epiphany can, and most often should be, life changing, just as in Ebenezer Scrooge's case.

Now to the point of all this and the lesson that I think Charles Dickens was trying to convey to us.  Epiphanies are wonderful turning points.  But epiphany without REDEMPTION is nothing.  I cannot emphasize this more: Unless we ACT on our epiphanies, they are useless in our lives.  Redemption is defined as "the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil" or "the act of purchasing back something previously sold".  The ACT. In Scrooge's case, he is delivered from his lifelong hate of Christmas and he acts on getting his soul back by being the best Christmas participant that ever was.  He ACTS on his epiphany.

Dickens describes the new and improved Ebenezer with this: " Scrooge was better than his word.  He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father.  He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.  Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laugter in the onset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms.  His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him."

My own Christmas epiphany came years ago.  I have always loved Christmas, from the time I was a little child until now.  I will always love Christmas.  But it was something that my father, my wise, wise Daddy, told me  when I was in my late teens or early 20's.  He, too, loved Christmas, and the Christmas spirit just bubbled out of him.  We were having a discussion about people not enjoying the holidays and he phrased it this way:
"Pamela, (when he was serious, he always called me Pamela)..."Pamela, the way I think about Christmas is this - if we are really lucky we may get to celebrate Christmas about 85, 86 times in our lifetimes.  We don't remember the first few, and we may not be able to remember the last few we have on this earth, so I figure we better make the most of those other 75 or 80 we get - IF we're lucky.  Seventy-five times to do something you love isn't very much. Celebrate each Christmas you get because you may never get another."  That was my personal Christmas Epiphany and why I celebrate it the way I do.  My dad got his lifetime 86, God bless him, and I think of him so delightfully but with a touch of heartache at Christmas.  He gave me wonderful Christmas memories that I will treasure for MY 86, if I am that lucky.

I am hoping for each of you your own Christmas epiphany, big or small.  Celebrate it! Act on it!  Share it with us by leaving a comment!  And I leave you with this -

" "God bless us every one," said Tiny Tim, the last of all." ~ Charles Dickens

P.S. If you have never read A Christmas Carol, here's a gift from me to you!  Enjoy!  The language is wonderful! There is a menu at the top to continue with each section of the book:  http://www.stormfax.com/1dickens.htm

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home Tour Wednesday - Week 3

Today is the third installment of the Holiday Home tour!  Welcome and come in!

Last week we toured the front door and entryway and the week before we saw the mantle only.  As I promised that first day, I would show you all of the fireplace.  And since we are in the living room, let's complete that room before next week, with the possible exclusion of the Christmas tree.  So here we go!
Elves abound at my house, some little, some small!  

The fireplace is where the "big" elves warm themselves.  All of the elves have been known from time to time to get into some mischief!  There are other elves in the house but they don't live in the great room.  We will get to them at a later date.

I love coming into the living room with all the decorations.  Besides the tree, I have to say I probably like the fireplace the best.

Over in one corner is my piano.  If you look closely, you will see the North Pole village.  The elves and Santa are hard at work there!  This is Olivia's favorite of the Christmas collections at PamPam's house.  She is second in line by age of the Fab 5.  She loves working on getting the North Pole Village just right each year and tells me if I get things out of order!

In the opposite corner nearest the dining room are where the Santas have their yearly convention.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  It's a great collection and it grows every now and then, only God knows where any new ones will go!
There are some even on the floor at the base of the table!  As with the other collections, some have been given to me, some rescued from yard sales, some I painted, and some I gave myself just because I love Santas, especially unusual ones.

And these stick ones I painted years ago when I had my painting business!  Oops, one is bashful and won't turn around!  Silly Santa.....  He and the other stick one were painted from pine trees that were downed in a tornado that came oh, so close to my neighborhood almost 25 years ago.  My painting partner, Faith, and I gathered lots of free tree branches and turned them into Santas!

 On the top of the entertainment center sit two wooden geese decoys adorned with their big red bows.  They like their vantage point up above everything so they can watch whatever is happening.  And on the shelf, a vintage reindeer and two vintage choir boy planters peeps out from the greenery.

 Now for my absolute fav...the Christmas tree.

I love all the ornaments on my tree.  These ornaments have been collected for 38 + years and I still collect them whenever I receive one or find an unusual one.  It's just so much fun!  There are handmade ornaments, there are ornaments from the White House Association, Hallmark and high end stores and there are ornaments from WalMart, ornaments from friends, ornaments from family. It doesn't matter how expensive or inexpensive an ornament is.  If I love it, I buy it and embrace its own little personality.  Everyone who comes into my home is drawn to the tree and lots of people spend a  very long time just looking at all the variety of ornaments.  One of my favorite decorating tricks for Christmas trees is to tuck bigger ornaments "inside" the tree or to put some ornaments in places that surprise the eye.  And don't be afraid to hang more than one ornament on a branch.  Just make sure the bigger or longer one is further back on the limb and the smaller ones are up toward the front.

That ends today's tour.  Make sure that you come back next week for the final installment of the Christmas Home tour.  Oh, and I will share the latest addition to the outside Christmas decorations....a cute and thoughtful gift from a lovely friend and co-worker.

Thanks for reading the blog and share with friends.  Come be a follower.  Just click on the Followers button to the right side of the blog and make it official that you really do like to read what crazy things I post!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Flash Mob Monday - Have you flashed today?

Christmas spirit a little down?  Well, it won't be after today's Flash Mob Monday!  Come join in the fun!

Merry Christmas! 

Sometimes I need reminding....

Christmas can be such a bittersweet season.  There are many things that bring a lump to my throat:  missing my parents and James, as well as other family and friends that are no longer with us or who are far away, the thought of hungry children who may not be visited by Santa, the elderly left with no family, memories of Christmases past.
Sometimes somethings need to stand on their own.  Sometimes words aren't needed.  With that said, I hope you enjoy this reminder of what this season is about, whether you believe or not, whether you celebrate a spiritual Christmas or a secular one or a little of both.

What makes you melancholy this Christmas?  Please share what's on your heart today.....leave a comment below.
Merry Christmas!

Confession Friday - The Nutcracker and the Pas de Deux

You know what Fridays mean! Time to confess!  Okay, I know it's not Friday, but let's pretend I am not 2 days late with this installment, shall we?

Welcome to another Confession Friday....

I am not a dancer.  That is not a confession, just a fact.  Like Eugene Levy's character in the movie "Best of Show", I have two left feet.  If I want my feet to go one way, they have the infuriating knack of doing the opposite.  My family has been known to make fun of me about my lack of coordination, it is that bad.  But just because I can't dance doesn't mean that I can't appreciate dancing and the talent that dancers have to make their bodies do these miraculous mystical things.  I love all types of dance, but I am very partial to ballet, especially this time of year.

The very first time I saw The Nutcracker Suite Ballet was on television and I was probably already a teenager or close to it.  I can remember being quite entertained by the whole production.  It wasn't something that I went just gaga over, mind you, but I do think it planted a seed.  Years passed and I don't recall sitting to watch it in its entirety when it came on.  Also, I am not sure that there was ever a ballet studio in my hometown that would have taken on the monumental task of putting on such a production.  The closest place to have had the opportunity to see it live, even in an amateur setting, would have been in Nashville.  Let's just suffice it to say that my family was not of a ballet-loving background so we didn't go searching for the Nutcracker Suite and let it go at that!

Fast forward to marriage, my firstborn daughter, a transfer by Ed's company and a move to Milford, Delaware, about 20 miles south of the capitol of Dover.  Paige was 2 years old at the time and was already showing an early interest in dance, ballet to be exact.  By the time she was three years old, she loved to dance.

It was the Christmas season she was four and I made the fateful decision that would resonate down the years and effect our lives in ways we never would have imagined.  As a treat for her, I bought tickets to a small Dover ballet company's production of The Nutcracker.  It was a Sunday afternoon and we dressed up in our Sunday best as though we were going to a performance of the New York City Ballet.  What a treat! With that one performance the die was cast.  We went every year after that while we lived in Delaware.

After that initial event, Paige begged to take dance lessons and we enrolled her in a local dance studio for several years.  She showed great promise and her teacher was wonderful, but then we had to move back to Georgia.  Between finances and not finding the kind of dance classes we were used to, ballet lessons were shoved onto the back burner.  But at Christmas time, there were a few times Paige and/or her sisters were treated to a visit to downtown Atlanta to see the Nutcracker. But the best times in her (and my) mind was the little company's productions in Dover, DE.

Now Paige has a daughter, my oldest of the Fab 5.  Since she was 3, Erin has been taking ballet lessons.  And is she ever talented. Last year, she switched dance schools and is now a student at the Carolina Ballet Theater in Greenville, SC.  Part of the pleasures of being a grandmother is making sure you go to performances that occur throughout the year.  For the past 6 Christmas seasons, we have made the trek to South Carolina to watch her dance in the Nutcracker.  It has become a family tradition and kicks off our holiday happenings!

Last weekend was Nutcracker weekend.  Erin danced in 4 performances -Friday night, Saturday matinee, Saturday night and Sunday matinee.  On Friday night, Paige and I went to pick her up at the Peace Center in Greenville.  Apparently we were running early or the performance was running late.  We sat in an empty lobby on some steps, watching the monitor showing the dancers onstage and the strains of music were barely audible from the auditorium.  After just a few moments, one of the lady ushers offered to let us sneak into the back of the theater to watch the remainder of the performance.  So there we were, Paige and me in the dark of a back theater, sharing the Nutcracker, just like when she was 5 or 6 or 7.  And then it happened.

The pas de deux of the Cavalier and the Sugar Plum Fairy.  For those not familiar with French ballet terms, a pas de deux is a duet performed by a beautiful ballerina and a strong male ballet dancer.  He supports her, lifts her, twirls her and it is usually the most wonderful part of any ballet, especially if the two are well matched and equally strong.  There are many that stand on their own merits, but this particular pas de deux in the Nutcracker is enchanting and mesmerizing.

By now, Paige and I are so familiar with the music and the order of the Nutcracker that we knew before the music started what was coming.  The music began and Paige grabbed my hand.  Cold chills ran down my spine. She and I are swept away by the beauty of it all.

And now I confess -by the time the music swells and reaches its climax, I am crying.  We are both crying. Crying with the loveliness of the moment, of the dancers, of the magic of the Nutcracker.  My daughter whispers into my ear, "Mom, I can't believe we are sitting here together alone watching this just like when I was little, just me and you.  Thank you for taking me way back then."  And I whisper back, "I am so glad that I could give you that experience and memories."

So even though I am hopelessly awkward and cannot dance a lick, my daughter has been the recipient of a lifetime of love for the ballet.  And she has passed that on to HER daughter. 

Could there be any better gift than that of an experience with wonderful memories?  Yes, being thanked for that memory thirty years later.....Priceless. 

Make your own magic memories with someone you love today.  Don't wait...time is fleeting.

Merry Christmas!