One could sit like this forever

blogDSCN7262All’s quiet on the western front.   Hubby and I live in the western part of the homeland and we were spared the gargantuan snow storm that blew through our neighboring states.

We do have a blanket of the white stuff; actually we’ve had snow on the ground for a few weeks now, but we didn’t get the blizzard this time.

So the weather has been calm here and now our house is quiet and serene as well.   The happy festivities of the Christmas season are over and for those few days we celebrated together as a family, our time was merry and bright.

Our Christmas spirit meter zoomed upwards significantly on Christmas Eve.  At first, we were all subdued and somber as we dined early because middle daughter was scheduled for the night shift at her hospital.  But then, she received the magical call stating she was free – staffed down and not needed!  We literally cheered aloud and immediately, our spirits soared.  It was like we were bi-polar!

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis (pseudonym used by the late William Vaughan, columnist).

We had some serious Christmas celebrating to do as a family!  The rest of the evening was lovely.  We laughed, we teased each other, and we followed our tradition of choosing a gift to open on Christmas Eve.

Later, perched in church pews at candlelight service, we joyfully ushered in Christmas Day at midnight with candles glowing, voices raised in carols, and the old country church bell pealing through the crisp, dark night.  Greeting our fellow believers with hugs and “Merry Christmas!” ended our evening on a high note.

Christmas Day found us feasting and cradling a newborn baby in our arms.   My nephew and his wife were blessed with their first child a few days before Christmas, a precious little girl – the princess.  (Read here if you missed why she is the princess:  http://mamasemptynest.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/continuing-to-give-thanks/)

Baby girl’s grandparents on both sides and my family of five gathered at my nephew’s house with dishes of food, plates of goodies, and good cheer eager to meet and greet this new family member.  And she won over all of our hearts; she is adorable!

After church on Sunday, we indulged once more with yet another home-cooked meal of our favorite Christmas food, spreading out the holiday to make it last a little while longer.   But now, since the plentiful presents have been presented and the delectable delights doled out, Mama and Dad are left home alone once more.

Middle daughter departed Monday morning for the city and her nursing job.  Today son set off for the next-door state and oldest daughter joined him for a couple of days.  She wants to see his new residence and the two of them will venture into the big, big city for some sightseeing fun.

This time around as the nest emptied out, even Dad got a little melancholy.  But they will all return for New Year’s Day dinner.

It was nice to forget about our troubles during the season of Christmas, spend time with our family and focus on the reason for the season.  For now though, it’s back to reality land, where there are more challenges facing us.  Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge proclaimed in A Christmas Carol, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year.”

That is what we need to do – keep Christmas in our hearts all year.  “I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month,” wrote Harlan Miller in Better Homes and Gardens.

I think we can do that.  Instead of putting love, joy and peace in jars, we can put the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts where we can use them every month of the year.  So hubby and I are going to try with all our might to retain “that holiday feeling” as we face what the New Year has in store for us.  But most of all, we’ll continue to remember that we have a Savior who will never forsake us.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Have a holly jolly time

Have a holly jolly cookie or two or three or more.   Go ahead and eat so many you won’t fit through the door!

Middle daughter and I baked cookies until we were sick of looking at them today. We didn’t make as many sweets as we usually do, but we have more than we should eat, that’s certain!

We just picked out a few favorite recipes and made those.  Our gingerbread men and teddy bears are a little deranged looking but they taste yummy.  Daughter also made our favorite salty snack – Chex mix – which we usually devour in no time at our house.

We were so tired of being in the kitchen, we ate leftovers for dinner and settled down in the family room to watch our favorite pro football team on television.  And oh yeah, right now they are crushing their opponent!   Total domination.  Wave the terrible towel!  Merry Christmas to our favorite team!

While watching the game begin, I suddenly spied a figure jumping up and down on our deck in front of the French door and it wasn’t Santa.  A few minutes earlier, I thought I had heard a car door slam shut, but decided it was too early for son to be arriving from the state next door.

But there he was, jumping up and down, dressed in a hysterically funny decorated “ugly Christmas sweater” (bright red sweater on which he had tied jingle bells and candy canes) and singing a made-up “Merry Christmas” song as loud as humanly possible. What a picture!  I told you he was our funny one.

Oh what joy!  Christmas is almost upon us.  Two are home, one more to go.  A trip to the airport awaits us tomorrow to pick up oldest daughter.  Then the festivities begin!   And we will have a holly, jolly Christmas!  You have one too!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Operation Christmas postponed (at least for a day or so)

blogDSCN0485Sometimes when my subconscious can’t get through to my awakened state of mind, I imagine it forms an alliance with my body.

The recessed part of my brain has been trying to communicate with the conscious component and since my daytime functioning brain (at least I hope it’s functioning!) isn’t picking up the signal, the subconscious has enlisted the rest of my body to join forces with it. 

I’m pretty certain I can attribute my current state of lethargy right now to this coalition.  It might not make much sense to you, but it makes perfectly logical sense to me.

See, I’ve concluded that my subconscious isn’t ready to let go of the Thanksgiving holiday quite yet, but since December has now arrived and Christmas is a mere 24 days away, my logical mind wants to plan the attack for Operation Christmas….get the decorating mission accomplished,  finish Christmas maneuvers (shopping), address those greeting cards and launch them into the mail zone, fire up the oven and bake some cookies, move it, move it, move it!

Let’s get this house ship-shape, toy soldier!  Tactical plans need to be made if you’re going to win the battle of the tangled lights and launch the attack on the hanging of the greens.  We’ve got a tree to erect!  Send out the platoon of nutcrackers to their observation tower.  Attention snowmen, line up on the fireplace mantel.   Lady, man your gift wrapping station!  Hut two, three, four!

But the mind can’t achieve what the body isn’t willing to do.  My body stammers and balks.

“Slow down a minute!  Too tired.  Didn’t get enough sleep.  Back is hurting.  Ow, what’s wrong with that knee?  It’s cold (shiver, shiver).  No energy.  Too hungry.  Need to get up early tomorrow.  Let’s just sit here on the couch, shall we?”

It’s obvious that my physical body is organizing a mutiny against my drill sergeant brain.  And somewhere underneath it all, the culprit behind my unwilling body is my subconscious mind.  It’s trying to reach me, sending out signals, communicating in code, but I’ve been ignoring the message, which is “Take time to be thankful before you race into the Christmas season.”

I’ve been contemplating this and my lack of Christmas spirit for the last couple of days. Today one of my fellow bloggers, another empty nester, confirmed my thoughts in a comment she left on my entry yesterday.  (Thank you, Reeling in the Years!)  She told me she was going to give herself the gift “of having several transitional days of missing them [her young adult children], saying good-bye to Thanksgiving, and not rushing helter skelter into Christmas.”

And that’s exactly what my little inner voice and my body has been trying to tell me all along.  Thanksgiving is truly one of the most endearing holidays to me.  It’s not just about gorging on turkey and all the trimmings.  It’s about family coming together, spending precious moments, enjoying home-cooked meals and conversation around the table, expressing love for one another.

Thanksgiving is about pausing in our hectic schedules of life and evaluating all the things we have been blessed to witness, experience, and learn from.  And it’s about being grateful for all of it.

The Thanksgiving season gets so left behind in the dust,  like the proverbial red-headed step-child  neglected and overlooked in between Halloween and Christmas.  Let’s face it, retailers – stores or online – don’t get much action with Thanksgiving.  That’s not where the money is to be made.  So Thanksgiving has become a little blip in between the other two holidays.  To me that is just so wrong and so heartbreaking.

I’m not a big fan of Halloween, but I do love the Christmas season.  However, when I was growing up, the Christmas season did not truly start until after Thanksgiving was over. 

Now Christmas lights and decorations start appearing, not just in stores but also on people’s homes, as soon as the Great Pumpkin moves along.  I can’t tell you how many houses I’ve seen on my travels with pumpkins still on the front porch and Santa parked in his sleigh in the yard with lights blazing long before Thanksgiving Day even arrives!

We’ve relegated Thanksgiving to a day to stuff ourselves silly with food, watch a few football games, and then forget about this treasured day and our blessings in our frenzied rush to hit the stores on Black Friday, even if it’s in the middle of the night. 

Well, this year I’m not jumping into the foray.  Instead I want to savor and cherish my season of Thanksgiving, so I will not feverishly and frantically charge into the Christmas melee, even if it is December 1st.

So please bear with me, dear reader.  For a few more days, I’m going to muse about the season of thanksgiving.  I need to meander my way through my thoughts about this so overlooked season and express ideas about that for which I am most grateful.  Only after I accomplish that mission will I be prepared – body, mind and soul – to enjoy the wonder of Christmas.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com