Words for Wednesday: forcynthia

blogIMG_7647You read that title correctly. No, I did not make a typographical error there. I didn’t misspell the word forsythia, I truly meant to post forcynthia.

What in the world? you may ask.  As she nears that ripe age of 65 is she starting to lose her faculties? Or is it simply that the appearance of sunshine and spring-like weather addled her brain? Is she giddy with spring-time bliss?

To answer those questions: No, I don’t think I’m losing my almost-65-year-old mind. No, my brain isn’t addled…at least not yet. And maybe, yes, I could be giddy with spring-time bliss.

But the most accurate answer is there is a story behind the title of today’s post and I am going to share it with you.

In our yard there is one forsythia bush. It has been planted in the same spot for several years now – almost 10 this summer – and this is the year it has bloomed its best. The bush exists for one specific reason; it was a gift to me because of a childhood story I once shared with a friend.

I’ve always loved seeing forsythia bushes blooming their golden yellow, delicate, skinny petaled flowers clustered on tall spires in spring. Forsythia are so cheerful to view, even if some folks consider them invasive as they can grow quite large and can take over an area of landscaping.

But to me, they are special and I’m going to tell you why.

Unless you know me personally, you do not know that my given name is actually Cynthia. It’s right there, written on my birth certificate although the only person to call me by that name was my mother – when she was angry with me.

I’m more known for the nickname associated with Cynthia – Cindy.  But my birth name is Cynthia, a name derived from Greek, another name for Artemis, the mythological goddess of the moon. But even from my earliest memory, I knew my ‘real’ name was Cynthia and that I certainly was not a goddess.

As a youngster, every time I heard my parents discussing those bushes that appeared in spring with their bright sunshine-color blooms as forsythia, I honestly thought they were saying “for Cynthia.” So at some point in my childhood, I claimed those plants as my own. And when they bloomed, they were for me – for Cynthia.

I related this silly, little story once to a friend and it made her chuckle. But she remembered my tale. Not quite 10 years ago, my father passed away. The loss was difficult for me as he was the last remaining parent either my husband or I had. Losing Dad came right on the cusp of empty nest hood too, so my emotions were kind of a mess.

Imagine the joy it brought me when the friend gave me a gift to express her condolences at my father’s passing. The gift was a small forsythia bush which she spent a good deal of time searching for.

blogIMG_7640A gift to bless my heart. This Cynthia. This Cynthia who loves forsythia. This Cynthia who still thinks of this particular spring bloom as exclusively mine – my forcynthia.

And my forcynthia still blesses me each time I look at it, but especially in spring time. And that joy of remembering my parents, remembering that little girl who loved her parents so dearly and also her forcynthia stays with me.

Sometimes joy comes in yellow.

“Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When there’s pie in a blizzard

img_6583 (3)What day is it anyhow?

Did you ever awaken after a deep sleep and be just a little bewildered about what day it is? It happens to me every so often. I open my eyes and think, “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?” Or “What is today’s date, do I have somewhere I have to be today?”

Yesterday I crawled out of bed at my usual time – early morning before dawn – to go walking with my life-long friend. Upon awakening, I knew it was Wednesday and I needed to don my walking clothes.

But what I didn’t know until I glanced out the window was that it was snowing. We walk no matter what the weather brings unless there is a deluge of rain, so I bundled up and slipped on my hiking boots.

After returning from our morning jaunt, which was so peaceful with snow gently falling, I looked at the date on my calendar because even though I knew it was Wednesday, I didn’t remember the actual date.

Seeing that it was January 9th, I remembered that it was my maternal grandfather’s birthday. And just like that (snaps fingers), memories of Grandpa came back to me.

Grandpa died when I was nine, so my remembrances of him aren’t plentiful, but I do have some treasured and humorous memories of him, like when snow fell in huge, fluffy snowflakes, he would comment, “Look at those big cakes coming down!”

I also remember stories about him that my mother – his only child – told me. Stories that happened long before I was born.

My grandfather was born back in the 1870’s (yes, you read that correctly). Having a birthday in January as he did, chances are there would be a lot of snow on the ground and it would be blustery cold on his special day.

Yesterday’s snowfall on the ninth day of January in the year 2019, 143 years after my grandfather was born, reminded me of a sweet family story about Grandpa’s birthday one year.

My grandparents were married in 1900; my mother was born 19 years later. Since she remembered this birthday story about her father, I know it was sometime in the 20’s or early 30’s but I don’t know exactly when.  

Grandpa’s birthday was on a Sunday that year and my Grandmother, who was a queen of hospitality, invited many friends and family members to their home to celebrate Grandpa’s birthday after church. In that particular year, some fortunate folks owned automobiles, but some still traveled by horse and buggy or on foot.

The day of Grandpa’s birthday party, it snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars had a hard time traversing the country roads from church to my grandparents’ home for the party. So all of the invited guests walked through the snow and cold, some for miles, to get there.

And some of them carried pies on their journey. See, Grandpa wasn’t a big fan of cake but oh, he did love pie. So Grandma asked ladies to bring pies so she could cut a piece of pie from each one, arrange them on a big plate in a circular fashion to resemble one huge pie, and present it to Grandpa for his birthday treat.

His eyes lit up when he saw his birthday pie consisting of all of those different kinds of pies. And I suppose the “big cakes” of snow continued to fall as the party continued.

I wonder in amazement about several aspects of this story. First of all, the resilience of those who lived before us comes to my mind. Snowfall didn’t stop them from attending my grandfather’s party. They trudged through deep snow carrying pies and thought nothing of it, making the best of a bad situation. Now we seem to panic when the slightest bit of snow falls. 

They could have said let’s not go, it’s snowing too much, but they didn’t. They could have decided it just was too much trouble, but they didn’t. I wonder would we walk through deep snow and blustery weather just to go to a birthday party?

No doubt they meant what they said when they agreed to attend, no matter that the snow piled up high all around. They knew the meaning of the word commitment. Are we still as committed to following through with our promises today? I wonder.

Secondly, how generous they were to all bring pies, carrying them while trudging through snow,  to surprise my grandfather. Those folks were so willing to go out of their way to bring a slice of happiness to my grandpa.

Happiness that didn’t come in a wrapped, expensive gift but instead in a home-baked goody. Why do we place so much emphasis on monetary gifts we give or receive instead of just sheer thoughtfulness? Why do we think happiness comes with an expensive price tag?

And finally, this story reminds me that often times we encounter a “blizzard” of unforeseen circumstances in life. But we must trudge through the deep “snow” and make our way to where we need to be, no matter what.

And when we finally arrive, there is something worth achieving.

A piece of happiness. A slice of joy. A portion of gladness. A wedge of bliss.

Grandpa’s birthday story is enough to make me want to eat pie during a blizzard and be thankful for both the blizzard and the pie.

“You don’t really get Jesus saying very often there’ll be pie in the sky when you die. He’s really talking about now and today, and it’s supposed to be like that. You’re supposed to delight in what’s right in front of you.” ~ Greg Boyle

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Digging up the past

abstract black and white blur book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I caught up with my past today.  It was buried deep in cardboard boxes high up on a shelf. Dusty and forgotten for so many years.

I hauled it down, blew off the dust. And all the years and memories unfolded in front of me.

There were cards and letters, trinkets, and junk with meaning only I would remember. But the past became as vivid as today’s raindrops beating on my window pane.

When my youthful diaries revealed so many faded memories, the joy and pain of adolescence gripped my heart once more as I read of long-lost friends and school girl crushes. So much teenage angst.

Hurt, rejection, misunderstandings swirled together with excitement, thrills of shared smiles, first kisses, first love. It was all there written down for safe-keeping in my own handwriting on lined pages in small books entitled “My Diary.”

I read them from start to finish while scenes from the almost forgotten past floated through my memory. Of course now, looking back on those days with grey-haired wisdom, I marvel at how fickle youth truly is.

Love him today, hate him tomorrow. Best friends now, not friends at all as time marches on. As I read the short passages written in between empty spaces, I observed with hindsight and a little sorrow how easily a young girl can be manipulated as well.

Yet, those long ago years seem so romanticized. They seem golden in my mind. They shout fun, exuberance, and excitement of being young in times past. When life was as simple as worrying about what to wear to school tomorrow and whether that cute boy in history class was really looking at me or merely out the window beside my desk.

And I laugh out loud at my girlish thoughts which I put into written words.

It’s true I wouldn’t want to return via time travel back to those days of my youth. There were lessons to be learned, some the hard way. A lot of growing up needed to be accomplished.  Some dreams were foolish; some were worth achieving.

But what’s passed is past.

 “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So today I find myself placing those youthful memories back in their box, back where they belong. But before I do, I realize that I am grateful for those times, those long-ago events that shaped me into the woman I am today.

What that young, naive, and flighty girl has become. Wife of a good, faithful husband, Mama of three wondrous children, Nana to two precious grandchildren, Daughter, Sister, Friend.

For what’s written in the past made future me the present me.

“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.” ~ Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Never let it fade away

blogfallingstarMaking a long-lasting memory is like catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket and last night, or I should say early this morning, I secreted a falling star away in my pocket.

If you’re not familiar with that old song, Catch a Falling Star, here are the lyrics:

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away.

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.

Actually I caught 20 falling stars in the course of one-half hour.  Determined to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower that is peaking right now, I mentioned it to middle daughter last night.  I had read that the shower would peak some time in the wee hours of the morning in our area so I asked, “Who’s going to get up with me to watch for falling stars?”

I knew hubby wouldn’t take me up on it because he was already dead tired and it was only 10 p.m. Besides he had to go to work today as well.  So I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter, who is a sleep-deprived new mom of our six month old grandbaby, said she wanted to witness the meteor shower too.

Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  We agreed when we headed off for bed that I’d set my alarm for those wee hours of the morning and that I’d awaken her to join me on our back yard deck for the show.

We all turned in for the night but I didn’t sleep much.  Whether I was too excited about seeing the stars or just worried I’d sleep through it, I tossed and turned until I heard my alarm sound.  I tiptoed downstairs and opened up our front door.  Brrr.  One of those crisp, chilly nights reminiscent of fall greeted me.

I threw a sweatshirt and sweatpants on over my nightgown, found my fuzzy warm slippers, and entered the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping soundly.  Gently calling her name, I half expected her to say she wanted to stay in bed, but she climbed right out of that warm, cozy bed to join her mama in pursuit of a meteor shower.

I grabbed the soft fleecy Steelers blanket for her on the way to the deck and my daughter wrapped herself in it.

The night sky was absolutely magnificent.  Being out here in the country there aren’t many bright lights to interfere with observing the stars on any given night, except when there is cloud cover. But oh, not last night. 

The heavens were breathtakingly clear, no cloud in sight and the expanse of stars was absolutely awe-inspiring.  I honestly don’t remember seeing so many stars lighting up the darkness covering our surroundings.  Bright orbs of light even hung low on the horizon giving us the feeling that we were in a planetarium looking up at the starry show.

And then my daughter spotted it.  The first shooting star.  And there.  Another one.  A quick flash of light and sudden streak. And oh, look there, that one left a trail.  We kept count and even though we were only on the deck for 30 minutes, we spied 20 falling stars (and a couple of jet planes too).

We talked about constellations and how we wished we knew more of them so we could identify them because the jet black expanse of nighttime was chock full of them.  We spoke of how utterly amazing it was that God created the heavens and that He knew how many stars He placed in the sky.  And we fell silent thinking that over.

And then I sang so softly… “catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…”  And my daughter cracked me up with her immediate quip, “Well, that would be kinda hot, don’t you think?” And we laughed and pointed to yet another shooting star.

We made a sweet memory to last a lifetime and shared an experience bound with love while we shivered on the deck catching falling stars.  A memory to store away in the pockets of our minds to pull out later on those rainy days when life seems so difficult.  

Shooting stars are blazing bright one moment and faded away into nothingness the next.  But the time spend with my middle born child (okay, she’s an adult) will never fade away. And I wouldn’t have traded those 30 minutes of stargazing on the deck with my daughter for anything, not even a pocketful of stars.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

And I’m not fooling

blogkiteI hope you won’t be offended but I really want to tell you to “go fly a kite!”

No, really, I mean it.  And this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.

Usually when someone tells you to go fly a kite, he means “get away from me.”

Leave me alone!  Scram!  Get outta here!  Go jump in the lake!  Beat it!  Or my personal favorite – go smack yourself silly!

So naturally, I don’t mean any of that because I love my readers, really I do.  I’d love it more if you commented and let me know you were here reading and enjoying (or not) my blog, but regardless, I feel the love when I view my site statistics.

So I literally mean go fly a kite!  All month if you’d like.  You see, I turned over a new chapter and page in  that  book of Opportunity this month, Chapter 4, Page 1.  It’s April and this month just so happens to be “Go Fly a Kite Month.”  Really!

I wouldn’t make these things up.  As it turns out, kites have always fascinated me.  When I was a little girl, every spring I tried making my own kites out of paper, sticks and string.  I’d run outside on a windy day and expect my kite to suddenly take flight and soar like a bird.   And it never did!

Apparently, I didn’t understand the aerodynamics of kites because my homemade ones wouldn’t lift off the ground.  No matter how hard I ran around the yard holding onto my string, the kite just followed me on the ground like a lost puppy.

My mother would sometimes let me purchase a store-bought kite from the five and dime store.  I felt certain those flimsy pieces of plastic cut into the perfect diamond shape would take wing like a bird.  Alas, those kites never were inspired to much flight either.

After a while, I abandoned kite flying and left it to the grumpy old dad who finally realized he was missing out on fun with his children in the movie, Mary Poppins.   I watched that film in the movie theater way back in 1964, when it was released, and wondered why my kites never flew like those in the movie.  Probably because I didn’t have a nanny named Mary Poppins!  Heck, I never even had a nanny!

Years later, I became a mother with three children and on a whim one day, I bought a kite for them.  One gusty day in April, we assembled the kite and attempted to fly it in our Midwestern back yard.

I watched my children flit around the lawn, and I was still skeptical that a kite would actually fly.  Suddenly, it ascended into the sky and swerved and darted with each blast of air as my kids giggled with delight and I marveled.  I think I was as happy about it as they were!

Fast forward a couple of years.  Our family had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and we drove to the coast (FYI for you eastern folks, we go to the “beach” here but in the Northwest, it’s the “coast.”) for a day of sightseeing and fun.

Driving through one of the coastal towns, we decided to stop and venture out onto the beach where a kite-flying contest was in progress.   Our eyes just about bugged out of their sockets.  What a sight!  There were huge kites, box kites, kites of every description floating and flying, soaring and swerving.

Eventually on one of our coastal trips, we visited a kite shop and bought ourselves a modest kite.  That kite fluttered and glided in ocean breezes in both Oregon and Washington giving us much delight as we took turns guiding it.   Even after we moved back to the home land, our youngest sometimes flew our kite.  But then he grew up and the kite lost its appeal.

You know what?  I’m pretty sure that somewhere out in the garage, that kite sits on a shelf unused and dusty.  You already know I live in a wind tunnel.  [If you missed that post, read  stirred-but-not-shaken]

So good grief, there’s plenty of gusty breezes at my house.  I’m thinking it might just be a good day for flying a kite! Oh wait, it’s snowing outside and that’s no April Fool’s.   Oh well, I have the entire month of April to go fly a kite.  Want to join me?

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


I smell a memory

blogDSCN0618 - CopyI’m a smeller.

Oh, I don’t mean I smell awful, although on a hot summer day I imagine I don’t exactly smell fresh!  I’m a smeller because I possess a pretty keen sense of smell.

If there’s an odor in the air, pleasant or malodorous, it seems to reach my nose before my husband’s.  Often I ask him, “What’s that smell?” and receive this reply, “What smell?”

The sense of smell, which apparently triggers memories in a powerful and instantaneous way, fascinates me.  Actually, my earliest memory is a smell – not a person, not a sight, not an event, but an odor.

When I was a just a toddler, my grandparents lived on a farm for a time.  I have no memory whatsoever of visiting them, but I’ve seen pictures of my little self there, petting kittens, posing with my older sisters.   So I know I’ve been to that farm, but I can’t recall what it looked like or any event that happened there.

As I grew up, whenever I smelled a particular smoky odor, for some reason it reminded me of my grandparents.  One day after puzzling over the connection, I asked my mother about it.  She informed me an old smoke-house (where meat was smoked) existed on the farm so that odor permeated throughout my grandparents’ home.

Aha.  My first memory – smoked meat – explains why I can’t turn down bacon, doesn’t it?

I’ve read that our sense of smell, more than any other sense, is vitally linked to the part of the human brain that processes emotion.  It’s no wonder then that every time I handle a handmade quilt crafted by my grandmother long before my birth,  I inhale the smell of it and it brings me to tears.  That quilt smells like my beloved Grandma, who I lost when I was nine.

Other odors – and not just onions – cause me to weep also.  If I catch a whiff of Chantilly perfume, I automatically recall my late dear mother-in-law; that scent, her favorite, reminds me how much I miss her.  Smelling freshly laundered and hung outside to dry clothes evoke sweet memories of my mother as does the clean aroma of soap.

Fragrances mesh firmly with my memories, nice or otherwise, which is also why the men’s after shave, Brut, brings my first boyfriend to mind, although I’d definitely rather forget him.  I don’t enjoy the scent of roses, although I love to partake of their beauty.  Just don’t make me smell them.  There must be some negative connection to their fragrance, but I haven’t figured out yet what it might be.

Researchers say children possess more acute senses of smell than older folks and that as we age, we start losing some of our smell-ability.  I lost my ‘smeller’ once when I had an atrocious case of bronchitis, sinus and double ear infections all at once.  It was Thanksgiving time and I couldn’t smell a darn thing.

No delicious aroma of roasting turkey or pumpkin pie registered with me, not even a hint.  To top it all off, I lost my sense of taste at the same time.  When I closed my eyes and chewed my food, I couldn’t distinguish mashed potatoes from peas – certainly not an enjoyable Thanksgiving feast!  So I hope to maintain my sense of smell as long as possible!

Not only can odors flood our thoughts with memories, they supposedly influence our moods and even affect work performance.  You could try to use that one as an excuse.  “Boss, I just can’t finish my work today because there’s this awful smell here.”  Just don’t blame it on the person in the next cubicle or your boss!

Yesterday I realized how grateful I am for the sense of smell.  As I arrived home, I inhaled a most aromatic odor – roasted chicken wrapped in bacon, baked to perfection by my hubby – which almost smelled as good to me as he does.     Nothing welcomes us like a house full of home-cooked aroma.

Helen Keller, who lost her sense of sight and hearing at an early age, once said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”

The aroma of fresh-cut grass transports me back to my childhood.  What about you? What smells conjure up pleasant memories for you?  Take a minute, reflect and share your thoughts on this 11th page, Chapter Three in my book called Opportunity.

“Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  You’re only here for a short visit.  So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” ~ Walter Hagen

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Video gaming…those were the days?

play-fun-blocks-block-591652.jpegRemember when.   Is everyone who passes the half century mark programmed to utter those two words?

Today on Page 27, Chapter Two, in my book of Opportunity, I’m contemplating that.

With more than half of our lives over, is that why those of us who cross over the big five-o threshold tend to look back at the past instead of forward to the future?

Recently I ate lunch with a co-worker who is just a few years younger than me and we started talking about “the good ol’ days.”

At first, we discussed restaurants and stores long gone from the main street of my hometown and then we delved into childhood reminiscences.

Most of our conversation revolved around those two words, “remember when.”  Remember when the drug store had a soda fountain counter?  Remember when there was a five and dime store?  Remember when you could eat at the snack bar in that store?  Remember the candy counter?

My friend remembers her grandma taking her to the “five and ten” (as we called it) where she allowed my friend to pick whatever candy from the big bins that she wanted and she would happily go home with a ¼ pound of goodies.  I also remember salivating there as a kid surveying all the candy and salted nuts you could purchase.

In the middle of the wooden floored store stood a wide staircase that led downstairs to where the magical toy department existed and the pet department where you could buy not just fish but tiny little turtles too.  I know because I had two of them.

I was one lucky little girl because my oldest sister worked at the five and ten store while she was in high school and sometimes I was the lucky recipient of a treat from there.  I especially recall receiving packages of cut-out dolls.

Life was a whole lot simpler back in the day.  Children played with simple toys.  We didn’t have electronic gadgets that blinked, beeped or lit up like a Christmas tree.  Computer games, video games…non-existent.  A computer was something mentioned in science fiction books.

Indoor play consisted of items like jacks, yo-yos, pick-up sticks and cut-out dolls – cardboard folders with a flat cardboard figure (mine was National Velvet) and sheets of paper clothing that we cut out with our scissors. The paper clothes had tabs on them that folded down on the doll to keep the outfit on.

A package of cut-outs could keep me occupied for a long time.  I loved playing with them so much, I would even make my own from the huge Sears and Roebuck catalog.  I would cut out an entire family, their clothes and a household full of furniture and appliances all out of that one catalog.

But a large segment of my play time was spent outdoors.  My neighborhood girlfriends and I even set up elaborate Barbie doll arrangements outside under the trees or on the front porch.  We ran as we played different versions of tag, we jumped rope, we rode our bikes, we swam in their pool.

We made up our own games and imaginary playtime scenarios.  Sometimes we played secret agent, sometimes restaurant, sometimes house and we did it all outside.  If it wasn’t raining we were outdoors.  If it snowed, we couldn’t wait to be outside sledding, making snowmen, building snow forts and engaging in snow ball battles.

Hours of very inexpensive and simple fun.  All accomplished without a computer, an expensive game system or TV.

When today’s children reach their half-century marks in age I wonder if they will sit around and reminisce, “Remember when we stayed inside all day with our noses stuck to a computer screen or the TV playing video games.  Those were the days.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Making a withdrawal from my snow bank

blogproject20

One of our Christmas tree hunts in the ’90s

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

Dancing in September

pexels-photo-707697.jpegDo you remember the 21st night of September?”

For those of you too young to remember, that’s an old disco song performed by a group called Earth, Wind and Fire.

For some reason, songs really stick in my brain and I can recall lines from songs better than remembering what day is trash pick-up day.

Speaking of trash, some of the songs being played on the airwaves today should be relegated to the trash bin if you ask me.  I often wonder what will happen when the younger set becomes the older generation.  Will they look fondly back to their “golden oldies?”   Will they wistfully listen once again to today’s songs and reminiscence about days gone by?  You know, songs from Lady Gaga and Eminem.

Many of today’s hit songs would make a well-seasoned pirate blush, that’s what I think. Songs from yester-year are mild and tame in comparison, but even better yet, they are tasteful.  Even in the rebellious years of the 60’s and 70’s into the me-decade of the 80’s, most songs did not have foul language in their lyrics, let alone sexual language too crude to even think about.

Call me old-fashioned, but give me the real oldies – songs from the late 50’s and 60’s.   My sisters were in their teens in those years and  songs from that era are filed away in my memory bank because I heard those songs a lot back then.  My oldest sister would have “pajama parties;”  we call them sleepovers today, except back then no one would ever think of inviting boys to a sleepover!

Sis would set up her pink and grey record player, with a big stack of 45’s waiting near by to be played during the party.  Yeah kids, record player.  Songs were recorded on vinyl discs called records – small ones were 45’s and they had one song recorded on them.  They were played on a contraption which had an arm with a stylus (needle) inserted into it.  As the record revolved, the stylus picked up vibrations off the grooves in the records, which magically emitted music from the record player speakers.

So Sis would invite all her teenaged girlfriends and they would dance to the records, eat snacks,  and just have fun all night, I assume.  I was never allowed to stay up for those parties because I was just a youngster of four or five.  The pajama parties were usually held in our basement, and I would sneak down the stairs part-way, sit on a step, and watch with envy as the girls danced, laughed, and squealed at their fun.  My sister would shoo me back up the steps, but sometimes one of her friends would take a shine to me and let me come down to dance awhile.  I not only remember the parties but the songs on the records they played.

Songs like “Cathy’s Clown” and “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers, “Soldier Boy” by The Shirelles, “Papa Loves Mambo” by Perry Como, “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone, “The Monster Mash,” “Leader of the Pack,” and the list goes on and on.  Simple music from a simpler time.

My adolescent years took place in the 60’s and early 70s’s.  The music from that time is also ensconced in my memory.  The first record I ever purchased was “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits.  I listened to typical teenage fare back then and graduated to songs by Elton John, The Doobie Brothers, and Chicago in my college years.

And then the disco era hit. By then hubby and I were married and starting to settle down.   The songs from the late 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s are scattered in my memory.  I was too busy producing and raising children to listen much to popular music, but I do “remember the 21st  night of September…Say do you remember, ba dee ya, dancing in September, ba dee ya, never was a cloudy day.”

If I wasn’t still sick with this nasty flu bug, I’d get up and dance.  No energy though.  Fits of coughing would ensue.  So I’ll just watch this little guy boogie on down.  Come on, get up and boogie with him, you know you want to!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com