One May evening

blogDSCN0017Three years have passed since I snapped the photo above. The lighting was dim and I only had my small digital point and shoot camera with me, but I wanted to capture the moment for later.

I stored that photo in my desktop computer archives and a blog post idea away with it. And then as it always does, time has a way of passing by. And writing ideas have a way of being shoved back to the recesses of my brain where they may or may not be retrieved.

The calendar pages have flipped over to the month of May already and a brand new month found me without any good, solid concepts to write about. So I did what I normally do when I stare at a blank computer screen in an effort to produce a post, I open up my photo library and start viewing pictures I’ve captured but may have forgotten about.

And there it was. A photo of an elderly gentleman from our church showing my sister and me his handmade violin.  Three years ago this month.

Much has transpired in those three years as this kind, gentle, soft-spoken man, a farmer by trade but a talented musician and skilled woodworker passed away this year.

But let me take you back to the evening this photo was taken.

Every year, our church holds a mother-daughter banquet in May.  My sister and I usually attend and sometimes, if her daughter-in-law and grandgirls and my daughter and grandgirl can make it, they come along.

But three years ago, my daughter lived away from home and our grandgirl was just a whimsical thought, a gift waiting to be given to us a year later.

So my sister had a wonderful idea when it came time for the mother-daughter dinner. Since our own mother and mothers-in-law had passed away many years before and our girls couldn’t join us, it would just be the two of us attending the banquet.  

Sister’s thoughtful idea was to call a sweet, elderly lady in our church who had never married and, of course, had no children to join us for the banquet. This dear woman was in her 90’s then and relied on her brother (the fiddler) or other relatives to transport her places, so we arranged to pick her up at her family farmstead to ride with us to the church hall.

I remember when sister called Esther to invite her, she replied that she wasn’t a mother. Sis told her but she was a daughter and she could be our mother for the evening since ours was in heaven.  Esther agreed to come.

We traveled down the country lane to her home and helped her climb into my sister’s vehicle. At the banquet, Esther was all smiles, as she usually was, and I do believe she truly enjoyed herself. Afterwards, we drove her back home and she really wanted us to come into the house for a little visit.

We sat at her kitchen table and talked over days gone by, and relatives now long gone, and Esther told the story of how we were distantly related and how her mother and our grandmother were great friends. 

Her brother Paul sat with us and shared his stories too and we had a chuckle over the old tale of how he got his name when he was born. One of his older brothers, yet a child, had asked his mother to bestow our mother’s name, Pauline, upon the new arrival. Well, the new arrival was a boy so their mother agreed to name him Paul.

I shared how well I remembered this musical family playing their instruments at church when I was just a little girl.  Each one of their siblings had God-given musical talent. And that’s when Paul got up from his kitchen chair and left the room, returning with a weathered violin case.

He opened it and showed us a lovely violin, one of his own making. He even tuned it up a little and played a bit for us. I marveled at the fact that he had handmade the instrument and how nicely it sounded.

It was one of those sweet little moments in life you try not to forget. When you know in your heart that you’ve done the right thing just by taking the time to spend an evening conversing with two elderly, and possibly lonely, folks of the older generation.

Both Esther and Paul are gone now, but the memory lingers. And I’m so glad to have the photos to remind me of that warm, spring evening in May.

“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.” ~ English Proverb

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Treasured thoughts

 

blogIMG_9493

You know that old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Truth be told, huh? Items I consider valuable might be something you would toss into the garbage bin with no hesitation.

Treasure is Day 8’s theme in the Developing Your Eye photography workshop, which I’m determined to complete. That word – treasure – stirs up some recollections which swirl to the surface of my memory pond.  

The photography directive to zoom in with your camera on something you consider a treasure prompted me to hone in on my grandma’s glasses sitting atop my well-worn Bible – both items treasures to me. While doing so, my thoughts zoomed in right along with these remembrances.

When our children were very young and we lived in the Midwest, our family dentist had a treasure chest in his office.  Each time my little ones visited him for a check-up, they got to open that cardboard box resembling a treasure chest and choose a little trinket from it.

Oh, the excitement of it all! Well, that and a trip to the nearby TCBY frozen yogurt store with the coupons he always gave us made it going to the dentist fun for them.

For our oldest daughter’s birthday one year, we had a treasure hunt at our house for her and her friends. Clues led those little girls from place to place until, with squeals of delight, they finally found the treasure chest and opened it to find birthday party goody bags full of fun stuff and candies.

That treasure chest was actually a large, beautiful tin box that military friends of ours had sent us from Germany one year chock full of goodies and chocolate candies for Christmas. Getting packages delivered to your doorstep always seems like a treasure, at least to me.   

Adults aren’t much different than children when it comes to our treasures – the things that make us squeal with delight. They might include material things like an accumulation of wealth or expensive jewelry studded with the finest gems. Or you may think your fancy car is your treasure or your lovely home.

Or possibly, you consider items that just can’t be replaced as your treasures. We have a few of those caches here around Mama’s Empty Nest.  Personal possessions that once belonged to our parents and grandparents, while of no great monetary worth, are treasured keepsakes because of their sentimental value.

I need to sit down someday and make a list of all of those mementos so that my children know who they once belonged to.  Of course, they may not consider those items to be treasures because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so folks say.

Many years ago when we lived in the Pacific Northwest, one of my friends and I decided to start attending estate sales.  As we walked through homes of dearly departed folks perusing their former possessions in hopes of finding our own treasure, I often had a sense of sadness.  Not because I knew the deceased but because I imagined that the person had once treasured some of those items marked for sale and now those revered things were on the liquidate quickly list.

Treasures no more.

One of my estate sale finds was a lovely, well-aged, pale green porcelain teapot with a music box inside its base that played “Tea for Two.”  It still sits among my teapot collection and when I take it off the shelf to clean it, I sometimes wonder about its previous owner, what kind of person she was, and whether the teapot was a special gift from someone she once loved.

That’s the thing about treasures.  They have stories to tell, but far too often those stories are lost or not remembered by the next generation. (Which again is why I do need to record some of those stories about my family treasures in written word.) 

So many of the “treasures” in my home that I cherish would be inconsequential to you. You might even shake your head and wonder why I consider such things as treasures. If my children or grandchildren don’t desire to keep them, these items will most likely be purchased by a sale seeker, donated to a charity organization’s thrift store, or discarded to a dumpster someday.

Treasures no more. I accept that fact because, as I said, my idea of a treasure may not be the same as yours.

But when I think of treasures, I also reflect on things I cherish that aren’t necessarily concrete. Memories of loved ones now gone, time spent with my family and especially my adorable grandchildren, heart happy conversations with dear friends, meaningful and thought-provoking moments in worship. Those are treasures as well.

The Bible tells me, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Luke 12:34)

That truth causes me to place what I consider treasures in perspective. Where should my heart’s focus be placed? On material wealth, possessions, my time-honored family heirlooms, myself? Absolutely not.

Earthly treasures never satisfy that longing in our heart for something more. Something to fulfill our deepest need. Something that fills our cup until it runs over. Possessions only make us happy for a moment then lose their appeal.

What I treasure most is something eternal. Something that is even hard to explain sometimes. Something magnificent and more loving than I can even imagine yet powerful and majestic to inspire awe to the maximum. Something that fills empty holes in my heart like no earthly treasures can ever fill.

His name is Jesus.

“You must keep all earthy treasures out of your heart, and let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It’s suppertime

blogIMG_6251The evening meal.  Some folks call it dinner.  If you’re an Englishman, you might call it tea.  Or maybe you just call it a down home, folksy kind of way – suppertime.

My parents always called the evening meal supper.  Lunch was called dinner, don’t ask me why. It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I began calling the evening meal dinner instead of supper.  But the two terms are always interchangeable in my mind.

Whatever you call it, the word dinnertime brings up memories.  Of gathering around a bountiful table of food. Joining with family to eat a meal together. Maybe an outing with special friends. Dinnertime.

It’s the topic of this week’s WordPress photo challenge and it conjures up several memories for me. 

When our three were growing up, we tried eating this meal as a family every night together, gathered around the kitchen table, not glued in front of the TV set in the family room.

It’s true that some evenings, Papa was absent because those were the days when he traveled often in his sales job. But dinner time was important to us as a family, a time we wanted to spend together.

Even as our kids started playing sports and joining numerous activities, we endeavored to eat together, waiting until the family was gathered, no matter what the time, just for dinnertime.

When I was a youngster myself, I played outside almost every day, even in the rain (unless it was storming) and in winter’s cold as well.  Most of the time, I was in the company of my neighborhood friends as we raced our bikes, sledded down a wintry snow-covered hill, or played make-believe under the shade of the apple trees.

As suppertime approached, we would hear our mothers calling us home.

Those memories prompted the tune and chorus of a very old song from my childhood to waft back through my thoughts.  The song, Suppertime, was performed by a country singer named Jim Reeves and was popular in 1958.  You can listen to the song here.

As in all of those old tunes rambling around in my mind, the lyrics soon flooded back as well.  

“Many years ago in days of childhood
I used to play till evenin’ shadows come
Then windin’ down that old familiar pathway
I’d hear my mother call at set of sun.

Come home, come home it’s suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home it’s suppertime
We’re going home at last.
[Spoken]
Some of the fondest memories of my childhood
Were woven around suppertime
When my mother used to call 
From the backsteps of the old homeplace
Come on home now son it’s suppertime. 

Ahhhh, but I’d love to hear that once more
But you know for me time has woven the realization of
The truth that’s even more thrilling and that’s when
The call come up from the portals of glory
To come home for it’s suppertime.

When all God’s children shall gather around the table 
of the Lord Himself and the greatest suppertime of them all.

Come home, come home it’s suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home it’s suppertime
We’re going home at last…”

While I was considering a photo to choose for this challenge, I could have selected the obvious, my family seated at the dinner table enjoying our dinner/supper and each other. 

But instead, I opted for a sunset photo, which seemed to fit those old long remembered lyrics to a song.

Come home. It’s supper time. Or dinner, if you prefer.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Looking through my treasure chest

blogthreekidsIt’s been a quiet week at Mama’s Empty Nest.  We’re still ensconced in the winter season and snow continues to blanket the earth.  Somehow, snowfall makes everything seem more hushed, more silent, more subdued.  Even the wild creatures that visit the plot of land that we call home must be huddled down, burrowed in, and waiting for warmer weather as evidenced by the lack of animal tracks in our yard.

In the stillness and tranquility of my home this morning, when the only sounds that reach my ear are the refrigerator singing its humming song and the furnace kicking in to shoot some heated air up through our vents, I contemplate.  Winter proves a good season for doing so.

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is treasure.  Treasure.  We all have our idea of how to define treasure.  And the old saying comes to mind – one’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 

It seems we humans continually either search for treasure or attempt to acquire treasure for most of our lives.    For some, material possessions are the treasures they seek.  That might be a special piece of glittering jewelry given by a loved one or handed down from one family member to another.  Some folks count their abundant bank balance as a treasure while others always wish for more to stockpile. Silver, gold, and precious gems come to mind as treasures held in high esteem.

I wander through the quietness of my home and glance at items in each room and am reminded of a quote I recently read by an architect named Le Corbusier (1887-1965):  “The home should be the treasure chest of living.”

My home does resemble a treasure chest, at least to me.  My eyes fall upon treasures here and there.  This.  This is a treasure.  A piece of jewelry created in a far-off land and bestowed upon me when my soldier husband came back after a year-long assignment halfway across the world over 30 years ago.

There on the china cabinet shelf in the dining room.  Those are treasures.  Beloved items passed down to me from my parents and my husband’s parents.  Items that belonged to our grandparents.  Surely these are treasures.

And there.  The piano gracing the living room, the instrument I longed for and we saved to purchase all those many years ago.  A source of beautiful music and hours of enjoyment.  A musical treasure for certain.

Yes, there are many treasures in my treasure chest of a home.  Physical things.  Tangible treasures.  Perhaps not much in monetary worth, yet valued and cherished by me.  But as a believer in Jesus Christ, I’m reminded what He told us about earthly treasures. 

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” ~ Matthew 6:19-21

So yes, my worn copy of the Bible, with passages underlined and starred, with notes scribbled in the margins.  God’s Word surely is a treasure to me.  Yet, as much as I cherish my personal copy of His Word, that treasure could be replaced with a new one.  And much of God’s Word I have hidden in my heart.

So what precious riches which I’ve carefully wrapped in love and stored away into my treasure box could I live without?  Truthfully, all of them.  Yes, I would be saddened to lose them but they are merely things.

There is one treasure, however,  I value more highly than any other.  And it’s not stored in a jewelry box, a glass shelf, or on my desk.  It’s not a tangible item adorning my treasure chest home.  Instead, my treasure is stored away in the recesses of my mind. 

Memories.  Those are the treasures I cling to most.  They appear in my mind as I survey each room of my home searching for hidden treasure.  Each item I spy prompts a memory.  My eyes linger on one photo on the family room fireplace mantel.  It is my favorite photo of my children and it brings back memories as if they just happened yesterday.

The photo taken when they were young and we lived in the Pacific Northwest sits inside a frame that reads:  “Children are special.  They grow and change.  Children question everything.  Children laugh, frown, grin, pout, and smile.  Children give meaning to silly things, small things, big things.  They give meaning to us. They teach us to be open again, to appreciate everything, and take nothing for granted.  Children teach us what’s important because sometimes we forget.  They show us what it means to be young at heart.  Children are our future.  Children are life.”

Surely, my children are my treasures as well as my husband, my family, and my friends.   But life and all of its memories is one of the most precious treasures we can ever possess.

“Memory is the treasure house of the mind wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved.” ~ Thomas Fuller, Clergyman 1608-1661

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Last minute nostalgia

blogDSCN0379 (2)Nostalgic.  Who would think that such a word would prove difficult for me?

This past week’s photo challenge on Word Press was “nostalgic” and I wrestled with that word all week long much to my puzzlement. 

Nostalgia as defined in my trusty dictionary: 1. a longing for things, persons, or situations that are not present. 2. Homesickness.

I think I often write nostalgic posts, so I figured posting a photo to convey this concept would be a snap.  Snapshot in a snap.  That’s what I expected.

Today is Friday, a new photo challenge will be issued today.  Yesterday, I found myself still struggling to choose which picture means nostalgic to me and what to write about it.

My first thought was to post an old family photo from my childhood.   I pored through old pictures in my collection and couldn’t find just the right one.  Next, I decided it would be appropriate to show a picture of my grown-up and flown the nest children when they were small.  I can’t get any more nostalgic when I think about those years when my little ones were still in my nest.

Yet, that idea just didn’t seem right either.  Several more suggestions came to me, but I rejected them all.  Finally, out of desperation to beat the time line imposed (post a photo before the next challenge is issued), I asked my son what he thought of when I said the word nostalgic.

Son drove in the night before from that state next door because he is in a college friend’s wedding this weekend in our nearby city.  When he took a short break away from his laptop where he was working at his job by computer, I posed the question to him.

He paused a minute thinking but then responded with his first thought.  Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Yes, that was it.

Our family sold my parents’ house after both of my parents died.   That home had been in our family for well over 100 years and it was so very difficult to let it go.  My children have some of their most fond memories of traveling back here to my home state to visit their grandparents.  We enjoy all of our stories about the memories made while staying in that very house where I lived most of my growing up years.

The actual house, owned by a different family now, still exists but it doesn’t look the same.   Its things, people, situations, history, and the family tie that it represented are what we miss the most and what we carry in our hearts.  And that’s what makes it the very essence of ‘nostalgic’ for me.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tis the season for nostalgia

blogIMG_0089“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!” ~Charles Dickens

It happens every year in December.  Once Thanksgiving gets pushed out of the way by the onset of Christmas songs non-stop on the radio, we start hauling out the holly, lights, and tinsel, and the Christmas season gets launched at Mama’s Empty Nest.

And just like clockwork, I commence remembering past Christmases.  What is it about this holiday celebration that elicits so much nostalgia?  My birthdays don’t produce such a foray into the past.  I don’t reminisce about Easter or the Fourth of July or any other holiday quite as much as I do Christmas.

Thoughts of Christmas always take me back.  To my childhood.  To remembrances of family now gone, my parents and grandparents.  To my childhood home.  To memories of decorating the Christmas tree, or getting that one special present, or riding in the back seat of the car bundled up in hat, mittens, and scarf exclaiming oohs and aahs while our family observed brightly colored Christmas lights decorating houses in our area.

Christmas invokes remembrances of the hustle and bustle of downtown Christmas shopping when the air was brisk and my breath made visible vapor and my parents’ arms were loaded with Christmas packages to take home and wrap.

It reminds me of home baked aromas of goodness filling the house and the scent of pine in the living room from the real Christmas fir tree.  I close my eyes and remember how it sounded to hear bells jingling outside your house and how my heart seemed to skip a beat at the prospect of Santa and his reindeer up on the rooftop.

I can envision the old-fashioned glass Christmas ornaments placed on the tree, the tinsel and shiny icicles hanging from the boughs.  Christmas time meant carols played and sung at the upright piano.  It meant worshiping the new born King at church services.  It meant ribbon candy, and candy canes, and a sweet smelling orange at the bottom of my Christmas stocking.

Augusta E. Rundel wrote, “Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”  

Yes, that’s it.  I’m spellbound by Christmas, engulfed in the enchantment of nostalgia.  The Ghost of Christmas Past comes to visit me, but he never allows the other ghostly visages from A Christmas Carol the opportunity to show themselves.

blogIMG_0073That strong sense of nostalgia for Christmas past proved why I thoroughly enjoyed a little excursion Papa and I took one Sunday afternoon recently.

Here in our little town, a stately Federal style house built in 1842 serves as home for our county’s historical museum/genealogy society.

A weekend Christmas Open House at this house enticed my sense of old fashioned sentimentality enough to want to take a tour and the opportunity to get a glimpse of Christmas from yesteryear.

Each room of the house sported a different Christmas tree and decorations, many of them vintage, sprucing up the antiques and relics on display.

It was a nostalgic wonderland, a trip down memory lane.   My husband, being the history and military buff that he is, enjoyed the “military room” immensely.

I loved the parlor with its antique organ, piano,  and furnishings bedecked with old fashioned Christmas decorations;  the sewing room with its display of hand-made antique quilts; and the kitchen with its homey and familiar cooking utensils from the past all festooned with yesterday’s Christmas flair.

Each room of the house caused my mind to wander with memories of my parents and grandparents.  In the kitchen, tin cookie cutters decorating the tree were exactly like those my mother used to bake Christmas cookies.  Vintage Christmas greeting cards festooned a pine garland and reminded me of my grandmother as did the old sewing machine and kitchen utensils.

blogIMG_0093Interesting tidbits of history related to us by museum volunteers enhanced our walk down Christmas memory lane.  It truly was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

As we departed the house and stepped back into the 21st century, climbed in our car, checked our cell phones for texts or missed calls, and drove back home, I pondered.

What will our children remember about Christmas?  Will they wax nostalgic for the traditions and special memories their dad and I tried to create for them?  Or will it just be another holiday like so many others?

Each December as they ready their homes for Christmas, will they remember and relive special memories of us and growing up in Mama’s Empty Nest?

Only time will tell.

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Here today, gone tomorrow

Just a few days ago, they dotted my green expanse of yard with cheery spots of bright yellow.  And now each and every one of them is gone.

They were the dandelions.  The sunny little bloom that most people think of as weeds.  When I see them though, they remind me of childhood.  Of warm, spring-like days when the sun shined brightly as I hopped off the school bus and walked through our yard to my home.

I would stop here and there and gather up a handful of blooming dandelions.  Their juicy stems left a sticky sap on my fingers, but I didn’t mind.  As I presented my little bouquet gift of dandelions to my mother, she never once said, “Why are you picking these weeds to bring to me?”  Instead she would ask, “Aren’t they pretty?” and put them in a jar of water on the kitchen table.

Today people use weed killer spread over the lawn in an attempt to eradicate these bursts of color in their yard.  But I don’t.  Because yellow, perky dandelions remind me of spring and sunshine and childhood memories and even my own children.  And they make me smile and fill my heart with happy thoughts.

But time marches on and so the dandelions come to the end of their blooming cycle.  Where once were lemony colored petals on the stem, only wisps of seeds remain.  When I was a child, I picked the stems after the blooms turned to white balls of fluff, closed my eyes, made a wish, inhaled a deep breath,  and blew with all my might to send the dandelion seeds and my wishes sailing into the air.

A spring gust of wind would lift the feathery seeds up and carry them along as they floated and sailed in the breeze.  Fluttering.  Gliding.  Drifting.

Today in my book called Opportunity, I’m reminded that life is much like the dandelion.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

Bursting forth with vim and vigor, and then fluttering along in the air of life. Floating.  Sometimes soaring, but eventually brought down to earth until we wither and are no more.

But the story doesn’t end there.  The dandelion seeds produce more happy yellow blooms next spring.  For us humans, our legacy lives on in our children and their children.  Just like dandelions.

In reflection of that, I’m savoring my thoughts and memories today, holding tight to these joyous moments of life as we prepare to marry off our three offspring.   Just yesterday it seems my home was noisy and full of rambunctious children.  Now it is quiet and tranquil.

Just yesterday it seems my middle child, the one full of spark and livelihood, was a youngster.  And now she is a grown up young lady who will be dressed in white lace and escorted down the church aisle by her father to be given in marriage in just one short month.

She’ll fly off with her husband …. her husband…my daughter is old enough to have a husband!   There will be new adventures for her, a new home, a different state in which to live, even a new job.   She looks forward to this exciting next chapter of her life with such joy.  I saw it glowing in her face at her bridal shower this past weekend as she opened her  gifts and talked about the wedding.

Just like the dandelions I once held in my hands, I also once held my precious children.  And now the day draws near when I must release them completely.  As the wind carries the wispy remains of dandelions to and fro in this spring season, my children also will soar into their futures, to their upcoming marriages, to their new lives in this current season of life.  I will watch and rejoice as they float and glide along and I will remember dandelions.

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Making a Withdrawal from the Snow Bank (again)

blogProject15(Today in Chapter 12, Page 9, in my book entitled Opportunity, I’m visiting a post that I wrote last year in December when I was still suffering from those empty nest blues. )

Christmas memories float in and out of my mind like a delicate, intricate snowflake swirling and twirling through the air as it journeys downward.

One of two events must take place – either the bit of snow lands softly on the icy backs of all the other flakes that fell to earth or the tiny fleck alights on something of warmth, like my outstretched hand, where it melts away forever.

I make concerted efforts to make certain my cherished memories land on heaps of other memories, to deposit them like snow in a snow bank, where at any point in time, I can withdraw thoughts of a pleasant place, event or a meaningful conversation with a loved one and remember.

I’m not sure who Augusta E. Rundel was, but I found this quote she wrote tucked away in my quote notebook –  “Christmas — that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”

The Christmas season always sends me to my memory bank.  I feel blessed and fortunate that it invokes delightful memories that I can wrap around myself like a magic blanket.  I can only hope my children will have pleasant recollections to also remember someday.

For the last two days, my co-workers/friends and I have been weaving spells of Christmas nostalgia at our office.  Well, if the truth must be told, we’ve been relating our fond Christmas memories in between gobbling down all the goodies that have been pouring into our office non-stop.

Just today –  and I am not exaggerating – we were treated to several plates of Christmas cookies, pizza, sweet snacks, salty snacks, homemade candy, chocolate and raspberry candy, nutty homemade caramel candy, (who makes homemade caramel these days – a lovely supporter of ours, that’s who!) and six different flavors of fudge!

Perhaps our sugar highs contributed to all the reminiscing, but I heard some great and heartwarming stories.  One of my dear friends has grown children like I do.  She was very near tears as she shared that this year, for the first time, neither of her children will be home for Christmas morning.  Her family will be together later in the day, but she felt blue about the changes in her Christmas tradition.

I tried to console her (although I don’t think I managed very well) and I thought about those changes that will someday affect me.  None of my children are married yet, so they have nowhere else they must be on Christmas morning.  But how will I cope with those changes when my children spend Christmas morning in their own homes with their spouses and families or with in-laws?   Hmm…considering that inevitability caused me to make a withdrawal at my memory bank.

Let me take you back about 18 years ago…..  My family, consisting of hubby, our three young children and myself, lived in the Pacific Northwest.  The day after Thanksgiving, as was our tradition, we had ventured out to chop down our fragrant Christmas tree, one with such a large trunk we had to purchase a sturdier tree stand.  They grow big trees out there!

Our three were beside themselves with excitement as we hauled out the ornaments, lights and the special angel who always sat on top of our tree.  That evening, we extinguished all the lights in our living room and gathered around as hubby plugged in the decorated tree.  Our children squealed with delight, and then fell into silence as we sat enthralled and basked in the shining beauty of it!

I have the most vivid memory of sitting on the living room floor with oldest daughter, who was probably 10, cuddled up on one side of me; middle daughter, at age seven, on the other side; and four-year-old son on my lap.  Our twinkling, sparkling Christmas tree glowed like something magical as we began the season in which we celebrated the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Emotion welled up inside of me and I started to weep.

“Mommy, Mommy, what’s wrong?” my children asked.  “Why are you crying?”

Hubby looked at me questioningly, probably thinking, “What did I do wrong now?”  But he bravely inquired, “What’s the matter?”

It was difficult to get the words out and make any sense of them.  But the joy and happiness I experienced sitting in front of our tree with my three little ones and my husband had suddenly turned to melancholy.   Even now, recalling that night and writing about it brings tears to my eyes once again.

I tried to explain my tears to my husband, knowing my little ones wouldn’t really understand.  I remember saying, “I just want to sit here and hold our children close, to remember this moment forever because some day, they will be all grown up and times like this will be just a memory.  They will grow up and leave our home and we will never get these moments back.  And I don’t want to lose that.”

That’s the truth.  I really did think that all those years ago.  This memory is stored in my bank.  I saw a glimpse of the unavoidable future that night and I knew that when that time came, it would make me sad.  And here I am, those years are upon me.

This year as our Christmas tree was lit for the first time, only hubby and I were here to experience it.   In the near future, we, no doubt, will encounter Christmases when our children aren’t home for the holiday.

That’s why this Christmas with all of my kids home, I will once again cherish the memories, guiding each whirling, twirling thought into my snow bank of reminiscences.

I hope you will do the same.  Hold tightly to those you love this season, take a moment to savor the sweetness of your time together, and then stow your lovely thoughts away in a spot for safe-keeping, whether it’s in your memory or written down – lest like the snowflake, they melt away.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

2 good 2 be 4 gotten

Back in the day before kids wrote spitefully mean things about one another on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking media, they actually wrote pleasant words in something called an autograph book.

Instead of ‘sexting’ obscene photos to each other, they would  draw funny, harmless illustrations, with an actual writing instrument like a pencil or pen,  in your autograph book for you to remember them by.

Autograph books became passé eventually.  But if you’re of a certain era, you’ll remember those small hardbound books and you might even have one stashed away in a box of school mementos like I do.  I actually own three of these little gems from my elementary and junior high school days.

All this simple fad required was taking your book to school with you and asking your classmates to sign it.  Mine had different pastel colored pages,  and I still remember the girl who wrote, “Just because I’m writing on pink doesn’t mean that I stink.”    I never thought she was stinky, so I always wondered why she wrote that particular ditty.

Friends penned funny lines in my book like “Yours till the ocean wears rubber pants to keep its bottom dry” and “I love you, I love you, I love you divine.  Please give me your bubblegum, you are sitting on mine!”  One silly friend wrote, “I went to your funeral.  The preacher did say, This is the shell, the nut has passed away.”

Some entries proved sweet and sentimental like “In the golden chain of friendship, consider me a link” and “In the ocean of friends, count me as a permanent wave.”  As a young girl, I always hoped some handsome young man would write something endearing in my book and my wish came true with this one:  “Roses are red, violets are blue.  Sugar is sweet, but I love you.”

On one special page, my elderly grandfather signed his name.  Nothing more.  Just his name.  But I treasure that signature since both of my maternal grandparents died six months apart from one another when I was nine.

My mother purchased all three autograph books for me and I realize now that she must have wanted me to cherish memories of my school years just as she did.  When my parents passed away and my sisters and I were clearing out all those years of accumulation at our folks’ house, we found our mother’s autograph book from school days dated 1929 to 1934.

The rhyming lines written in my mother’s book are clever and poetic.  I suspect children today don’t memorize poetry very much like those youngsters of yesteryear.  I’d like to share some of the sentiments from my mother’s autograph book and a simpler day and age with you along with my thoughts in parenthesis.

“Remember me well, remember me sick.  And when you buy candy, remember me quick. Your friend, Hazel” (Hopefully, Hazel wasn’t just my mother’s friend when she had candy.)

“Roses are red, pumpkins are yellow.  You’re the girl that stole my fellow. Your friend, Margaret” (Well, at least Margaret was still her friend!)

“When hills and vales divide us and you no more I see, pick up your pen and paper and write a line to me. Your friend, June”  (Friends whether they were near or far.)

“Far out on the ocean carved on a rock are these three words, forget me not.  A friend, Eleanora” (Isn’t that a sweet thought?)

“Remember me and bear in mind, a good true friend is hard to find.  But when you find one good and true, change not the old one for the new.  Your classmate, Marie” (Marie understood friendship well.)

“When you get old and ugly as people often do, remember that you have a friend that’s old and ugly too. Your friend, Esther Olive” (This dear lady is still alive at age 92, elderly but she’s certainly not ugly!)

“A wish for a friend is often given, but my wish for you is a home in heaven.  Your dear friend, Mildred Marie” (Since Mildred Marie cared about my mom’s spiritual life, she was a dear friend.)

“When you get old and are mending britches, think of me between the stitches.  Your friend, Carrie Belle” (This dear lady sewed a lot of stitches right beside my mother over the years.)

“I dipped my pen into the ink and grasped the album tight, but for my life I could not think a single thing to write.  H.R.” (This gentleman was my mother’s cousin – a man of few words but a kind soul.)

My uncle wrote this one in my mother’s book:  “Germany is a country but Texas is a state.  I can see it on your face when you have a date.”    (Since the word date was underlined, I think he suspected a romance was in the works for my mother and his brother, my father, don’t you?)

This entry tickles me pink.  “Remember me and don’t forget you have a friend in [our town].  Pickles are sour, sugar is sweet.  Candy is sticky and the [our town] girls are very tricky.”   (I laugh out loud when I read this one, not just because the verse is silly, but because of the writer’s initials signed at the bottom of the page.  Those initials belonged to my father.)

Out of all the clever, corny, or cherished verses written in my mother’s autograph album, I really like this one:

“When your walk on earth is ended and your paths no more I trod, may your name in gold be written in the autograph of God. Your cousin, Mabel” (I am thankful both my parents’ names are written in the Book of Life.)

My favorite entry though is one written and dated January 8, 1963 in one of my autograph books.  It reads:  “Dear Daughter, I wish I were a tea cup from which you drank your tea, and every time you’d take a sip, you’d think of your mommie.  Lots of love, Mum.”

On this chilly day, Chapter 10, Page 27 in my book of Opportunity, I sip steaming,  hot tea from my lovely tea cup given to me by one of my own dear daughters as I write these words.  I think of my mother, her life, and all the things she taught me like cherishing memories from an old, faded autograph book.  I think she taught me well and I pray I’ve taught my own daughters the same.

Copyright ©2011 mamasemtpynest.wordpress.com

Labor of love

Meet Cutehead

Meet Cutehead

You may have noticed Mama’s been mum again lately.  This mama’s been too busy to blog, bogged down with a bevy of tasks. 

Baffled by bedrooms, I’ve bandied items around the basement, and now that I’ve burst through the barricade, I’m happy to report I’m breathing easy again.

Usually here at the empty nest, there’s not much astir.  But just as surely as the cool wind and rain brought a change to the season – temps drastically dropped down the thermometer from 90’s to 60’s today! – change arrives soon at the nest too.

Oldest daughter is moving back to the homeland from that place down south.  She’s commencing a new chapter with a new job in the city near us.  And can I just say that I am ecstatic that she will be nearby once again?  Until she gets situated though, daughter will move in temporarily with the ‘rents.

So you know what that means?  Mama and Papa have been shoving and pushing and cleaning and purging to make room for daughter’s kit and caboodle.   First we tackled the basement to make room for storage of some furniture – didn’t we just do that not so long ago? Click  I Declare War if you missed that one.

Next project was oldest daughter’s bedroom.   Along with the empty nest syndrome, parents of certain age fall victim to another malady called SOE (Spread Out Everywhere).   Since that room possessed a somewhat empty closet (well, don’t look on the top shelves at the Barbies, books, and Girl Scout mementos), Papa and Mama took over the closet space with extra clothes, extra pillows, mementoes and pictures…and stuff.

That situation required remedy since daughter needs closet space while she stays here.  Solution?  Just move everything over to other daughter’s closet….no wait…can’t do that, there’s a wedding gown, wedding decorations, and a miscellany of other items belonging to middle daughter there.

No problem.  Let’s just open up son’s closet….oh dear.  Why does that young man have so many items of clothing still hanging in here?  Not to mention, shoes, backpacks, 9th grade framed artwork from an art show, AND Papa’s suits (SOE, I tell ya!).   Pushing and shoving and squeezing uncovered enough room to transfer some items over there.

Time to address the chest of drawers.  Good grief, each of the five drawers is full of extra sheet sets, blankets, etc.   Now to where shall we divert this stuff?

All of this labor finally completed on Labor Day (Chapter 9, Page 5, in my Opportunity book) uncovered a plethora of paraphernalia and pleasant memories:

  • 16 gowns including bridesmaids’ dresses from weddings past, Christmas dance formals, Prom finery, and one 34-year-old wedding gown (that one is mine).
  • 6 high school and college graduation gowns.
  • Assorted college textbooks.
  • 3 high school letter jackets still adorned with pins for each sport (track, cross country, soccer, and basketball) and year won.
  • Stuffed animals with special significance (Rocky 2, Cutehead – that’s him grinning in the picture – and various other friends).
  • 1 lonely pair of Eeyore slippers strangely out of place next to the pairs of glittery, spike heels from aforementioned formal events.
  • 1 Science of Scent perfumery set (oldest daughter wanted to be a scientist from early age).
  • Childhood books galore, Barbies, and an array of special dolls.
  • Keepsake gifts given to our three as babies.

So what do we do with it all?  For now, it’s crammed into whatever space we could find and waiting – just as it has for years – to be surveyed, sorted, saved, or shed by its owners, our three adult children.

But that labor of love will remain for another day.

©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com