Family blessings

blogIMG_9695I find myself writing frequently about family because it’s a topic near to my heart. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the close-knit family I have and it grieves my heart for those who don’t have that blessing.

During the almost 40 years of marriage to the Papa of this empty nest, we lived over half of those years away from our parents and siblings.  So those times we actually were able to spend with our families created special memories we hold dear.

Because of that, we tried our hardest to create a sense of family togetherness with our three children.  We made it a point to attend events together as a family whether it be a Little League baseball game or a musical choir concert.

Papa and I attempted to instill in our three that family means supporting and loving one another no matter what because so much of the time, it was just the five of us alone. Our children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins all lived too far away from us to be part of our daily lives.

Long distance phone calls were the only means we had to stay in touch back then, along with the occasional trips back “home” or when family came to visit us.

So gatherings with the extended family became precious because they were so few.

And now, it seems that history is repeating itself. Two of our adult children and their spouses live several hours away from Papa and me. Again, time spent together is such a blessing – truly something memories are made of – especially now that we have two adorable grandchildren in our family.

This past Easter weekend, Papa and I loaded up the car, left the empty nest, and headed west to our son and daughter-in-law’s lovely home to celebrate the holiday.  Our oldest daughter and son-in-law traveled a couple hours from their home to join us as well. Unfortunately, our other daughter and first little grandchild couldn’t be there with us and their presence was sorely missed.

But we were grateful for the time most of us got to spend together this Easter.

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How many people does it take to make a baby smile??

Loving and cuddling our newest grandbaby, snapping family photos, recalling funny family stories, taking a walk as a family to the nearby park, the guys’ skeet shooting outing, sitting together on the deck one evening just conversing, preparing and cooking meals in the kitchen together, attending church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. 

Those were the highlights of the weekend.  Those moments don’t sound exciting but they fill my heart with such bliss.

And make me feel so very blessed. Isn’t that what a family should be? A true blessing. This family gathering was my special Easter blessing. 

“What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.” ~ Robert Brault

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for showering

blogIMG_4625Thanksgiving Day 2014 may have been relegated to our memory banks, but my 30 days of thanks giving continues until tomorrow – the last day in November.

I’m pretty worn out from all the celebration at our house but every minute was oh, so worth it.  We consumed a feast at our Thanksgiving table and all of us seated there made mention of the blessings for which we are grateful.

As soon as we cleaned up and cleared away the remnants of our gathering, oldest daughter and I switched into high gear and prepared for the baby shower we hosted for my expecting middle daughter.  In honor of the new baby girl that will join our family in February, we ‘painted’ the house pink!

Family and a few of daughter’s friends and mine all congregated at our house last evening for a “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” shower complete with hot chocolate bar and a wintry theme.  (More pictures later.) The weather even cooperated by providing snow-covered scenery around our house but thankfully, the roads were clear for travel.

Daughter and the new little life she carries were immensely showered by the outpouring of love and gifts.  And today, how can I be anything but grateful?

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for family

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My 30 days of thanks giving are winding down and the countdown to Christmas will begin soon.  If you’re a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you know that family means the world to me as I do write about my loved ones often.  

I consider myself ultimately blessed to have a close-knit, loving family – don’t get me wrong, we’re certainly not perfect and we have our squabbles but we love each other enough to work things out and forgive one another.  I realize many folks can’t say the same.  For those who struggle with family situations, my hope for you is that you find caring, supportive folks who will love you within the family of God.

Not all of our immediate family is able to venture home for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Many miles separate us but love binds us together and I pray it always stays that way as our family grows and increases.

I’m grateful for the loved ones who will be around our dining room table tomorrow, including one of son-in-law’s buddies who can’t be with his own family clear across the country.  And I’m so thankful all of my family will congregate to celebrate Christmas together before oldest daughter and son-in-law leave on their grand adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  (They are top left in the photo above taken two years ago; middle daughter & son-in-law who are expecting our first grandchild are top right; son and daughter-in-law are bottom left, and of course, the two who started it all – Mama and Papa – are bottom right.)

And for now, I’m thankful for a house full of people I love and the opportunity, God willing, to all be together again for Christmas. 

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  ~ Desmond Tutu

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Giving thanks in all things

blogIMG_2113Thanksgiving season is one of my favorite times of year.  It renders me  nostalgic and I enjoy spending time reflecting on all the blessings I’ve experienced, even when times were difficult. 

As a person of faith, Thanksgiving provides an opportunity for me to be retrospective, looking back over where I’ve been and how far I’ve come with God’s help. 

In humility and gratitude, I take time to pause and give thanks to God and yet again reflect on my favorite verses in the Bible:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Recently, I looked back over the last several Thanksgiving holidays to once again count my many blessings and offer up my thanks.  Here’s an abbreviated version:

  • November 2005 – By Thanksgiving of that year, I was so thankful to be alive.  My cancer diagnosis that summer frightened me, brought me to my knees, and made me realize how much of my life I took for granted.  It also caused me to examine a bitterness that had taken root in my heart.  Through much prayer and atonement, not only did I praise God for His forgiveness, but I came to fully forgive others.  The chains of bitterness that encircled my heart were broken!
  • November 2006 – I was happy and grateful to have been given another year of life to witness our son’s senior year of high school, tearfully and proudly watch him graduate from high school as valedictorian of his class, and send him off to college.  I was also very thankful for the high quality medical care in our city for middle daughter’s concussion treatment, appreciative for oldest daughter living in the city nearby, and so fortunate to enjoy time spent with my elderly father.
  • November 2007 – Another year graciously given to me chock full of blessings.  Despite some set-backs, God was working in all three of our children’s lives while teaching lessons about careers, college life, and loving relationships.  Good medical results from cancer screenings for me provided more fodder for my grateful heart.  We celebrated the holiday at my middle sister’s home with a feast of her awesome good cooking – always something for which to be thankful!
  • November 2008 – Celebrating Thanksgiving that year, we had a full house – my father, my sister and her family, and all of my own family, especially wonderful since oldest daughter had moved to another state.  What a joy it was to sit at our bountiful table with some of the people I love the most, name and count our blessings, one by one.
  • November 2009 – That Thanksgiving was quiet and reflective.  Hubby was unemployed, and we had just lost my father the past summer. Grief was still fresh, especially on the first holiday without him.  But oh, there was so much for which to be thankful!  God supplied our needs; we were warm in our home and had plenty to eat.  Middle daughter had graduated from college and launched her nursing career.  Son had scholarship money to pay for his next semester of college.  Oldest daughter safely traveled home from the south for the holiday.  My father had lived a long, full, rewarding life of 90 years.  God took him home quickly before his suffering became too difficult and for that I was also thankful.
  • November 2010 – That fall marked the first time Papa and I were truly in the empty nest as the last of our grown children had graduated from college, initiated his career, and moved away from the nest to another state.   The nest was brimming full for Thanksgiving and we were thankful for jobs and our time together but when oldest daughter left to drive back to her home in Dixie, middle daughter headed back for her home in the city, and son said goodbye to travel back to the state next door, this Mama lost it.  Sadness, loneliness, and a feeling of emptiness filled my heart and not even the boxes of Christmas decorations waiting to adorn the house made this Mama’s heart happy. 
  • November 2011 – Celebrating Thanksgiving that year, we were grateful to have oldest daughter back living in the city with newly engaged middle daughter, and we looked forward to family times planning a wedding.  As we all gathered around the dining room table and counted our blessings, a realization suddenly dawned on me.  By the next Thanksgiving, our family would expand from five to six as middle daughter would be married to the young man we already loved as a son.  By the end of our celebration, we got an inkling that our family would expand even more!  
  • November 2012 – Last year, our hearts overflowed with love and gratitude as we spent the entire year celebrating THREE weddings and welcoming two sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law into our family.  Our Thanksgiving plans were different than usual though.  Papa and I traveled to the state next door to celebrate the holiday with newly married son and daughter-in-law.  Thanksgiving Day found us on Staten Island, helping Hurricane Sandy victims clean up after the disaster they had endured.  To witness how so many had lost so much grieved our hearts and instilled in us how very much we had to be thankful for.  Giving back to others, helping them in their need, and being a part of the body of Christ in ministering to the needy made that Thanksgiving one of the best ones we’ve ever celebrated.

And here we are, November 2013.  Another year of life.   Another year of joy and celebration but also loss and trials.   But the love of family and friends remains strong as does our faith in the One who provides and hears our prayers. 

Thanksgiving will be celebrated at Mama’s Empty Nest.  Not all of our children will be able to come home.  Middle daughter and son-in-law, both medical professionals, will be serving others as they minister to their patients in their respective hospitals.  Son and daughter-in-law are hosting her family at their home in the state next door.  But, weather permitting (snow is falling heavily as I write this), oldest daughter and son-in-law will travel here for a few days to join our feast.

So even though there will be beloved faces missing at the table, joy and the blessing of family time together will be celebrated with my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew, his wife and family joining us.  And for the first time, there will be little ones at our dining room table also – my great-nieces, one almost three and one just two months old.

So many life events, some wonderful beyond measure, some daunting and trying, have transpired during the last few years.   But through them all, the Lord has taught me lessons that needed learned, shown me grace, forgiveness, and His faithfulness in countless ways.   Blessings overflow like the goodness pouring out of a horn of plenty – a cornucopia of God’s love – and we have so very much for which to be thankful.

“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.”  ~ Gerald Good

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Not just joining hands but hearts

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My three children showing off their wedding rings

“Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.” ~ William Shakespeare

The joining of hands led to lots of heart joining this year.  Our family’s “Year of the Weddings” is coming to a close.  What a year it has been!

We began January 2012 in the middle of planning one wedding – our middle daughter’s – and realizing we must gear up for two more.

Son became engaged the day after Christmas last year and oldest daughter received her marriage proposal at New Year’s.

In the course of the year, I’ve answered a lot of questions from friends about all three of our adult children heading for matrimony.

Here are answers to those questions for my blog readers:

  • No, I did not in my wildest dreams ever imagine that all of our children would marry the same year!  When they were small, I often thought about their wedding days and prayed they would find godly mates, but never once envisioned this happening.
  • Yes, I spent a lot of time in prayer for my offspring to be blessed with marriages.  This just goes to show you that old saying, “be careful what you pray for” is true.   God answered my prayers…boom, boom, boom.
  • Yes, I not only like my new children-in-law, I love them.  Each one of them is a joy, an amazing addition to our family.  I just told someone the other day, better marriage partners for my offspring couldn’t be found if I had picked them myself.   They complement each other and fit together so well.
  • Yes, I purchased and wore three different dresses to the three different weddings.  And I found each one of those mother of the groom dresses on the sale rack!  Fortunate me!
  • Yes, each wedding was entirely different.  Each one of the three couples has their own style, so different from their siblings.   Middle daughter is the nostalgic one.  The lover of antiques and old things, simple and practical.  She loves to chronicle life with pictures, so her wedding had a simple vintage theme with photography whimsy thrown in.  Son and daughter-in-law’s wedding was grand and beautiful, a fairy tale come true with a real life Princess and Prince Charming.  Oldest daughter loves elegance and sophistication.  Her all-white wedding décor at the reception reflected that, along with bits and pieces of Honduran flair since she and her beloved met one another on a short-term mission trip in that country.
  • Yes, I realize that Papa and I may become grandparents in the same fashion.  Three in one year.  But that remains to be seen because for now, all three couples tell us that is a long way off in the future.  Time will tell, won’t it?
  • Yes, I cried.  A lot.blog416

For the first wedding, I was a nervous wreck and stressed out.  Sleep deprivation and worry over wedding details caused me to be a bit numb for middle daughter’s wedding, so weeping was minimal.

Plus she exuded infectious happiness to be marrying her true love, so the tears that threatened to spill out were tears of happiness.  I almost succumbed to crying during the ceremony because the two of them just looked so sweet and so much in love, but I managed to squelch the tears.

Son’s wedding proved a little different.  My son was ecstatic and eager to take the responsibility of having a wife, so I was proud of him and happy for him.   But there’s something heart-wrenching about watching your son marry.  At the rehearsal, I found myself choked up and tears flowed.  At the wedding, watching my son become emotional caused me to force myself to keep my emotions in check.  Not an easy task.

The realization that blogIMG_9712I wouldn’t be the most important woman in my son’s life caused me to shed some tears.  But that’s exactly what must happen;  mom must step aside and allow her son’s wife to become the most important woman to him and rightly so.

For our last wedding, oldest daughter’s, I was much more relaxed and enjoyed myself immensely at the reception.  But still there were tears.  A few days before the wedding, I sobbed. Knowing my daughter, who had just returned from far away to live near home a year before, would be moving away again caused some of my tears.

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Holding hands with her daddy

As we waited for the ceremony to begin, I glanced at my oldest, my first-born, sitting with her daddy, holding his hand.  She expressed to him that she felt like crying and he spoke quietly to her and her alone.  She smiled up at him.

I felt emotions well up in me and the floodgate of tears threatened to break once more.   So I grabbed my camera and took pictures instead.

So yes, there were many tears.  And there was much laughter.  And there was so much joy!  Our year of the weddings has come to a close.

Now, it’s beginning to look like Christmas and our new family with three wonderful additions, will all be home for Christmas Eve.  Eight of us now, instead of five.  Our hands will be joined as we pray around the dinner table and our hearts will forever be linked as a family.

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Fall surprises

Surprise!  That’s the nice way I started my morning today in my book of Opportunity, Page 23 in Chapter 9.

A blogging buddy of mine Georgette Sullins bestowed the Versatile Blogger Award on me.  Thank you for thinking of me!  Georgette and I became friends way back in April when she commented on my Freshly Pressed post, When Nature Shows No Mercy .   I find Georgette’s blog always fascinating as she chronicles endearing stories to be saved and cherished for her family.

Since this is the first time I’ve been honored with the Versatile Blogger Award, I researched it to find there are rules to follow.   So here goes:

Rule #1 – Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.   (As the kids would say, Georgette, you rock!)

Rule #2 – Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.  (Prepare yourself, dear readers, these are very random!)

  1. I launched this blog on a whim, partly because of the weird funk I found myself in after my last child graduated from college, snagged a job, and moved to the state next door, and I also I thought I’d work through the empty nest syndrome by writing about it.  But this blog has morphed into more than just an empty nest activity.  Writing again has given me great joy and I’ve met some delightful friends through blogging.
  2. Hubby and I come from families with ‘three of a kind’ (I’m one of three sisters; he’s one of three brothers).  But we were dealt a ‘pair and a spare.’   After our two daughters, our third child was a boy.  We were so certain we were having another girl, we didn’t even have a boy’s name chosen!  Sonograms weren’t very definitive back then.
  3. When I was a young girl, I dreamed of being famous.  (What little girl doesn’t?)  At first, I thought I’d be a legendary actress, but later I decided I’d be a renowned writer.  Hmmm…so far, my only claim to ‘fame’ might be my one-time freshly pressed experience.
  4. I’ve experimented with a few different careers – teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, technical editor, and in the last 10 years, working part-time for a non-profit.  But my absolute favorite occupation (and my most important one) has been motherhood. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom for 19 years!
  5. My new found interest is photography – both taking pictures and looking at others’ beautiful shots.  I used to just click my camera to document special occasions, vacations, or my kids’ events.  Now, I grab it when I see something interesting or I just want to experiment.  I’m not very good at it, but I find it fun.
  6. My perspective on life totally changed when I was diagnosed with early stage and very treatable cancer 6 years ago.  The whirlwind of diagnosis, surgery, and treatment left me dazed, but later so profoundly grateful for life and much more aware of the precious moments in it.
  7. I don’t like seafood or coffee.  My husband loves both.

Rule #3 – Give this award to up to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers.

I’m veering from the rule here because my first award goes to a blog I’ve been reading for over a year now, so she’s not recently discovered, she’s one of my “must-reads” –  Homestead Rambling’s Blog.  We became instant and life-long friends when she found my blog and started commenting.  We’ve realized we are kindred spirits with so much in common, including our faith.  She truly is a versatile blogger because her posts may be informative, humorous, encouraging, or inspiring.  Right now, she’s writing about her recent journey to Alaska, a land that seems to be calling to her, and from her pictures, I can sure see why.

Crossing the Line  also deserves this award.  This blogging buddy has been one of my cheerleaders for some time.  Her comments always make me feel valued and appreciated as a writer.  I relish reading her posts on her relatively new blogging adventure.  As she honestly writes about the aspects of life that invite her to ‘cross the line’ and move forward on her personal growth journey, she reminds us all about our human frailties and how we can choose to take a different path.  She’s on my ‘must-read’ list too.

Rule #4 – Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news.  (Boom, done, finished.  Emails complete.)

For now, I’m signing off.  My favorite season of fall arrives with some of my favorite people – the pair and the spare all will fly back to the nest this weekend!  We’ll have a full house with a family day Sunday.  That’s a gift that’s even better than a blogger award!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Keeping Thanksgiving

blogDSCN8143Thanksgiving memories are too precious to let slip by so I need to record them before they are pushed to the back of the filing cabinet in an old, unused, dusty folder in the storage compartment called my brain.

I love Thanksgiving.  I love its warmth, I love the idea of families gathering in the homestead, surrounding the bountiful table of delicious food with the beautiful faces of loved ones.  I love pondering and remembering to count all our blessings and name them one by one, as the old hymn my Grandma taught me says.

My memories of Thanksgivings gone by still come to my recall.  When I was a youngster and my older sisters were married, my parents and I would always celebrate the day of thanks at my aunt and uncle’s home.  If I close my eyes, I can still visualize my aunt’s steamy kitchen with its red and white gingham curtains on the windows.  I can smell the amazing aroma of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. 

I can hear my aunt and mom happily chatting as they busily prepare the feast for the day.  I can see my father and his brother, my uncle, talking seriously about world and local events in the living room while I am situated in the “sitting room” watching the Thanksgiving Day parade on the television.

Spending the day with family was an important aspect of Thanksgiving.  And to me, it is still essential.  Last year, Thanksgiving was a quiet and somber day.  Still reeling from grief over losing my dad, the only family I had to share this day with was my immediate family – my husband and our three adult children.  My oldest sister and her family live in other states and we rarely get to spend this holiday together.  My middle sister was sharing the day with her married son and daughter-in-law and her family.

But this year’s day of thanks was different and a more joyful occasion.  All three of our adult children journeyed home from the hinterlands for the entire weekend and my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece joined us as well.  I actually enjoyed being in the kitchen the day before preparing some of our favorite Thanksgiving goodies.

Wednesday evening our southern oldest daughter was the first to arrive home after a very long drive. How wonderful to see her beaming face at the door!  Middle daughter was scheduled to work the night shift at her hospital, but surprised me with a phone call happily announcing she was “staffed down” for the entire night – she didn’t have to work after all, so she was on her way home from the city!  Another smiling face at my door!

Shortly after her arrival, son also arrived home from the state next door.  Seeing his tall lanky form at the French door made my heart leap with joy!   By that time, hubby was home from his day’s work and what ensued was much hugging, laughter, story-telling and bringing in of luggage.  We talked non-stop – all five of us together.  It was as if we hadn’t seen each other for ages.

At one point in the evening, I quietly observed my dear beloved ones and I wanted to laugh out loud at what I realized.  The girls and I had gone upstairs and in no time at all, the boys (hubby and son) followed us.  I realized that all five of us were located in our master bedroom, sitting on the floor or the bed or standing while talking and laughing and enjoying our time together.

It reminded me of the past when there were three little children jumping on Mommy and Daddy’s bed to get our attention.  But here we were, five adults with a house full of separate rooms, yet we congregated in one room for much of the evening.  It was as if we just couldn’t get enough of being together and it was wonderful!

That evening our house was full with each adult child nestled in his or her old bedroom, but my heart was fuller yet.  Having our family together for Thanksgiving was the most precious of gifts and as I said my prayers that night I had so much to thank and praise God for.

Thanksgiving Day was just as delightful as we added full tummies to our gratitude list.  How thankful I was that we could afford to provide a sumptuous feast and that we have a warm home in which to live when so many of our fellow humans are hungry and cold and homeless.  What blessings we have and so foolishly take for granted when we fail to stop and thank God from whom all blessings flow.  I am reminded again how easily we squander our blessings instead of sharing them with those less fortunate than us.

That afternoon, my hubby received an unusual surprise.  One of his brothers, who he has not heard from or seen for a very long time, telephoned from out west just to catch up with the family.  They had a very good conversation – another thought of thanksgiving.

How grateful I was for fun and laughter as we played round after round of games with our family.  Hubby took the day off on Friday and how thankful we are for the job he currently has.  We’ve had a few bumps in the road with downsizing and job losses, so the blessing of a steady job is much appreciated.

That afternoon middle daughter met her boyfriend in the city for the “backyard brawl” (big rival college football game) and then they rejoined the family that evening. Another person to give thanks for – daughter’s bf – a wonderful, godly young man who obviously adores our lovely one.

blogDSCN7236Saturday brought even more fun and festivities. The girls and I attended niece’s baby shower – a real cause for celebration as a new little life will soon join our family. 

Again my mind turned to thanksgiving – we haven’t had a new baby join our family since my great-nephew was born about 12 years ago.  So this little girl arriving in December will be so lovingly welcomed.

The shower was lovely with a princess theme just like the wee one’s nursery.  We gathered with friends and my girls received an extra special treat when they got to tend a friend’s baby – a beautiful, sweet-natured boy.  We relished princess cake and my sister’s gift to her new grandchild of the Princess Potty Chair was a hit!

While we welcomed the princess, the boys were having some male bonding time at home.  Boyfriend brought his new shotgun.  Woo, boy, nothing makes manly men more excited than target shooting with a new gun in the back yard!  A few empty 2-liter pop bottles met their demise as well as some sweet potatoes cleverly disguised as clay pigeons.  As soon as we girls got home, my daughters wanted an equal opportunity – they tried their hand at shooting too. That’s when my thankfulness for living out here in the country kicked in.

Before I was ready, it was Sunday morning – departure day.  Oldest daughter, first to arrive now and 28 years ago, was first to leave.  Sitting in church that morning, listening to my young friend deliver the morning’s message, my heart was full of thanksgiving for my family, for my faith, for friends, for my Savior.

So many blessings, my cup of gratitude overflowed.  My desire is to experience those moments of gratefulness each and every day.  I do not want to let Thanksgiving Day go,  I want to keep it in my heart and mind not just for one day of the year but for always and especially during the upcoming Christmas season.

“Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his,
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name. 
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.” ~ Psalm 100:3-5 (New International Version)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Singing the same old song

An old Carpenters song from the 70’s is strolling around in my mind today.  It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and I am as blue as blue can be.

Back when I was a young mama and even a mama with college-aged kids, I had more motivation to prepare and decorate our home for the Christmas season.  Now I feel as tangled up as these Christmas lights and I need a good straightening out.

Back then by this particular Monday, I would have most if not all of my Christmas shopping finished; our Christmas cards addressed, stamped, and with the annual greetings letter tucked inside, ready to mail;  the Christmas tree erected and adorned with lights and ornaments; and our house completely festooned inside and out.

Draping and swathing our home in Christmas garlands during Thanksgiving weekend is a family tradition that hubby and I started as newlyweds.  The day after the turkey became a refrigerator leftover, we would start hauling out the holly.  When our children came along, the Friday after Thanksgiving was traditionally, every year without fail, the day we would venture out in search of the perfect pine tree to chop down, tie to the top of our car, and transport home to embellish.  By Monday, our home looked like the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future had been whirling dervishes inside and out at our house.

But not this year.  A wonderful Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone.  Oldest daughter left early Sunday morning to drive back to Dixie.  Middle daughter headed back into the city after church.  Son helped hubby drag all the Christmas decorations down from the garage attic last night before son left to go back to the state next door.  And that’s where the boxes still sit – lonely, unopened, and taking up too much space in the garage.

There are no cheery Christmas decorations beautifying any area of my house on this Monday after Thanksgiving – no pine tree (real or artificial), no twinkling lights, no garlands of greenery, no nutcrackers, no sparkly ornaments, no nothing.  Christmas cards are bought but sit unaddressed in their packages.  Christmas shopping?  Ha.  I have purchased a few items, but have lost motivation to finish.

Someone around here needs to find some Christmas spirit, and I don’t think it will be the cat.  Even hubby, who usually gets pumped about stringing the outside lights across the house, garage, and shrubs, said, “I don’t feel like it” when asked if he was ready to start decking the halls.

That’s why the lyrics to the Carpenters song “Rainy Days and Mondays” is on replay over and over in my mind today like a broken record.  (See, I can’t even mull over Christmas music!) The song lyrics are in black italic print, my thoughts are in brackets in blue.  [Of course.]

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old [Tryin’ to talk myself into puttin’ up Christmas decorations but feelin’ too old and lethargic today!]

Sometimes I’d like to quit [Quit? Heck, I don’t even want to get started!]
Nothing ever seems to fit [Hey, I don’t want to talk about my wardrobe here!]
Hangin’ around [And wanderin’ around the house, tryin’ to do laundry, and really tryin’ to find some motivation.]
Nothing to do but frown [Not really, I have LOTS to do but no gumption, that’s what’s makin’ me frown!]
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down. [Rainy days do get me down, but not my problem today.  It’s bright and sunny outside.  So let’s just blame it on Monday.]
What I’ve got they used to call the blues [Or the empty nest syndrome.]
Nothin’ is really wrong [Except I’m missin’ my children, my house is quiet again, and I lack some get up and go!]
Feelin’ like I don’t belong [Been there, done that.]
Walkin’ around [Walkin’ from the couch to the boxes of Christmas décor in the garage then empty-handed back to the couch again.]
Some kind of lonely clown [Or lonely nutcracker, heavy on the nuts!]
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down. [At least this Monday does.]

Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you [Writin’ in my blog.]
Nice to know somebody loves me [My family does love me, but my blog readership is down, so I’m not feelin’ the love, people.] 
Funny but it seems that it’s the only thing to do [Right now it seems like it’s the only thing I WANT to do!]
Run and find the one who loves me. [That would be Jesus, He’s always got my back.]
What I feel has come and gone before [Just wish it would go for good!]
No need to talk it out [Been there, done that too.]
We know what it’s all about [Yep, it’s called bein’ depressed because your kids are gone.]
Hangin’ around [At least, I’m gettin’ the laundry done and a blog entry written.]
Nothing to do but frown [At all those loaded boxes in the garage.  Wishin’ I could turn my frown into twitchin’ my nose to make those decorations magically dance to their desired locations around the inside and outside of my house!]
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down. [But tomorrow is another day, so said Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind anyway!]

Okay, I’m done singing the same old tune.  I’m gonna go look for some Christmas music.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanksgiving blessings

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

The season of Thanksgiving always makes me nostalgic and I love being retrospective and reflecting on all the blessings I’ve experienced over the years.

Today I re-read some of my earliest entries from a now unused blog I started five years ago when I was recovering from my cancer surgery.   Comparing my life then to where I am today evokes emotions that bring me humility and gratitude.

Here’s a quick look backwards:

  • November 2005 – Five years ago, I was so thankful to be alive.  My cancer diagnosis that summer frightened me, brought me to my knees, and made me realize how much of my life I took for granted.  It also caused me to examine a bitterness that had taken root in my heart.  Through much prayer and atonement, not only did I praise God for His forgiveness, but I came to fully forgive others.  The chains of bitterness that encircled my heart were broken!
  • November 2006 – I was happy and grateful to have been given another year of life to witness our son’s senior year of high school, tearfully and proudly watch him graduate from high school as valedictorian of his class, and send him off to college.  I was also very thankful for the high quality medical care in our city for middle daughter’s concussion treatment, appreciative for oldest daughter living in the city nearby, and so fortunate to enjoy time spent with my elderly father.
  • November 2007 – Another year graciously given to me chock full of blessings.  Despite some set-backs, God was working in all three of our children’s lives while teaching lessons about careers, college life, and loving relationships.  Good medical results from cancer screenings for me provided more fodder for my grateful heart.  We celebrated the holiday at my middle sister’s home with a feast of her awesome good cooking – always something for which to be thankful!
  • November 2008 –  Celebrating Thanksgiving that year, we had a full house – my father, my sister and her family, and all of my own family, especially wonderful since oldest daughter had moved to another state.  What a joy it was to sit at our bountiful table with some of the people I love the most, name and count our blessings, one by one.
  • November 2009 – Last year’s celebration at Thanksgiving was quiet and reflective.  Hubby was unemployed, and we had just lost my father the past summer. Grief was still fresh, especially on the first holiday without him.  But oh, there was so much for which to be thankful!  God supplied our needs, and we were warm in our home,  had plenty to eat.  Middle daughter had graduated from college and launched her nursing career.  Son had scholarship money to pay for his next semester of college.  Oldest daughter safely traveled home from the south for the holiday.  My father had lived a long, full, rewarding life of 90 years.  God took him home quickly before his suffering became too difficult and for that I was also thankful.

So many life events, some wonderful, some daunting, occurred during the last five years.   But through them all, the Lord has taught me lessons that needed learned, shown me grace, forgiveness and His faithfulness.   The blessings overflow like the goodies in a horn of plenty – a cornucopia of God’s love.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com