“Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,
Joyful and Triumphant!”
Even though the Holiday has come and gone, I’m still basking in that warm and fuzzy, lingering feeling of love and caring, otherwise known as Christmas Spirit.
Like many folks who celebrate, Christmas is deeply rooted in tradition for me. My European parents have always emphasized Christmas Eve as the more celebrated day of the two. Unlike my all-American friends who opened their gifts Christmas morning, Santa always came to our house after dinner on Christmas Eve. When I was a child we would trade off each year with my Dad’s sister, celebrating in Westchester or Upstate New York with my two, older boy cousins who lived in the woods. By the time my children were born, my cousins had already started their own families and carried on the tradition in their own ways. Ours was tweaked slightly so we could continue to celebrate Christmas Eve with my parents at their home and celebrate Christmas Day, the American way, in my home. Santa’s magical flexibility allowed for him to drop off a few gifts at Nana & Opa’s house after dinner before making his way to our house Christmas morning.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years however, it’s that like it or not, change is the only real constant. You can go with the flow, embracing it the best you can or be miserable.
An incident at the beginning of December unfortunately, made it clear that this Christmas was going to be different, forcing me to rethink how we normally celebrate Christmas Eve. Even though my parents would be celebrating as they usually do with our extended family, being there for us, was not an option. Circumstances beyond our control and careful consideration made it necessary for me to decline the invitation, in effect, displacing us and leaving us with nowhere to be on Christmas Eve.
Each generation tries to do better, provide more guidance and opportunity for their kids but mostly we all just want for our children to be happy. My kids love their extended family. Talking to them about why we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas Eve with my family this year was really hard. And even though after everything my kids have been through, it’s been important to me to try to keep certain things the same for them over the past two years, I realize life is filled with hard stuff. All we can really do for our kids is arm them with the truth and let them know we will always be there to love and support them.
“Sing Choirs of Angels Sing in Exultation,
Sing All Ye Citizens of Heaven Above!”
I believe in magic; Christmas Magic.
It’s the gift that appears from seemingly nowhere and has no tangible existence to speak of, like the unlikely turn-of-events in a situation that you couldn’t foresee working out — working out. It can come in the form of an unexpected act of kindness or an expression of gratitude. It’s when all things align and the view is suddenly clear, making way for something special to occur, like the sighting of a shooting star or the appearance of a rare blue moon.
It’s getting what you need, not necessarily what you’ve been asking for and recognizing it when it shows itself.
I love Christmas because it embodies the spirit of giving (and I don’t mean of things) from one person to another.
An unexpected, greatly appreciated phone call came about a week before Christmas. My Dad’s sister, the aunt we shared Christmas with when I was a child invited me and my children to join her, a friend and one of my cousins on Christmas Eve.
I haven’t spent a Christmas Eve with my Tante Christine in over 20-years.
She hasn’t spent a Christmas without at least two of her four grandchildren present in over 25-years.
This year Christmas Eve was different. None of her grandchildren could be there.
My kids and I needed some family for Christmas.
My aunt, needed some kids.
We — needed each other.
May the Magic of the Holiday Season fill your heart with joy and gratitude, as it did mine.
The holiday season has been creeping up on us since right before Halloween. Like a strong, silent ivy spreading its way through cities all across the country. It’s been lighting up homes and leaving its mark on lampposts and in storefronts everywhere! Neighborhoods are all aglow with colorful lights and twinkling trees peering through living room windows. It’s a special time of year that promotes peace and giving and kindness, which my 12-year old daughter recently noted: is free.
The Holidays can be magical, often making the seemingly impossible, possible and like so many other people, it’s my favorite time of year.
For some however, it can be a struggle; a sad and difficult time, especially this year, with fewer than normal days of breathing room in between the great feast of Thanksgiving and the arrival of Christmas Eve. Hanukkah is already over! There’s a rush to the finish and the hustle and bustle of trying to get there, can quickly lose its charm and become frustrating, exasperating even.
Most people come forward with their best. But honestly, you never know what’s going on just below the surface of a carefree wave, an absentminded smile or a soft, slightly distracted gaze. Everyone has a cross or two to bear. It could be anything from a forgotten appointment to coming off of the end of a long work shift or suffering from indecision about something. Maybe you’ve had an argument with someone or are recovering from an illness. Perhaps there is a sick child at home or you simply miss someone, terribly.
Whatever the burden, no one is exempt from worry.
This season, if you can, pause to be compassionate toward the people you meet.
You never know what someone is going through.
Peace & Good Wishes to All!
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house,
Everything was scurrying. Why, we even drove out that mouse!
Our clothing was packed in boxes with care,
In hopes that the moving truck would soon be here.
Not a jingle or a jangle or an ornament could be found.
Somewhere they were buried among the boxes that abound.
There’s furniture to buy and curtains to be hung.
No time for wrapping or Christmas carols to be sung.
There were no plans for decorating or baking, it’s true.
And while the timing seems off, it’s just what we have to do.
We’re moving that’s right, in the HEIGHT of the Holiday season.
But amidst all of this craziness, thankfully, came the quiet voice of reason.
It was born from a terrible, awful, worry.
And came to me through the words of an innocent ten-year old’s query.
“Mommy?” she whispered, as I tucked her into bed.
Lifting herself slightly and tilting her head.
“Will we have a tree this year?”
I paused and thought, ‘Oh my, Oh dear.’
Will Santa find us, in our new home, is more likely this little girl’s fear.
I had to catch my breath and hold back a tear.
I was so unprepared for her question, that it gave me a start.
Like an arrow that came rushing through, piercing me, in the middle of my heart.
There were no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.
Thoughts of setting up cable and internet were swimming with the fact that I have no bed.
Why I haven’t had any time to entertain thoughts of the man in red.
I looked at her face wide-eyed with wonder.
How could I omit this and create such a blunder?
My girl is always so brave — wise, even bold.
I forget sometimes that she’s really not that old.
It was in that moment, I realized the importance of this.
A reminder that Christmas is something we-just-can-not miss.
So, I smiled the most reassuring smile I could muster.
Desperately trying to hide any sign of startle-ment or fluster.
“No worries sweet baby, we will have a tree.”
“Sleep tight now,” I said.”Rest easy. You can count on me.”
No matter what, come hell or high-water,
There will be a Christmas tree in my new home, for my son and my daughter.
Sometimes it’s the smallest voice that speaks quite loud,
Bringing with it clarity. Moving out the dark cloud.
Yes, sometimes it’s the smallest voice that helps you NOT to lose sight.
Be sure to hear it as it’s usually right.
So, with that I will say, Merry Christmas to all!
And to all, a good night!
I’m a first generation American. My parents emigrated from Europe. At times, it was a little screwy growing up in our house. My parents were strict and unfamiliar with the school systems and how they worked. We never watched football or baseball although we often went to see Pele play soccer in his hay-day. They didn’t abide by American traditions. Santa came to our house after dinner, on the eve of December 24th. Hamburgers were made with large chunks of onion incorporated into the meat and the finished product was always draped in a homemade mustard sauce. There was no bun and ketchup just wasn’t allowed. Saurkraut was always a side dish.We went to more Oktober-fests than we did street fairs and instead of hot pants, my sister, brother and I had our very own pair of lederhosen. My parents came to this country to make a better life for themselves and they did.
It’s befitting then, that their son should grow up to serve in our Armed Forces. My brother spent over ten years in the Air Force. He lived in Germany, was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and served in the Gulf War. I will always be proud of his service to our country. To serve in the military is probably one of the most honorable professions any American could have for any amount of time and it is right that we should pay our respects in some way, to the millions of men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, even if it’s just a private thought in between barbecues, picnics and reunions this Memorial Day.
The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. ~ Thomas Jefferson
Freedom is such a big word. Used in just about any context, it packs a lot of weight and thought behind it. Whether it’s from a bad habit, an unfulfilling job or a relationship that has become too constrictive, people will seek liberation. The desire is innate. For America, defending it’s freedoms is paramount, it’s people will go to any lengths to preserve them. And although we may not all agree on how to protect our precious freedoms, there’s no doubt, regardless of our politics, that our right to choose, to vote and to express ourselves are critical to the core of the foundation this nation was built upon. Our freedom is the most important attribute of this country, making it equally important I believe, to honor and thank the millions of men and women who actively continue to put themselves in harms way and devote their time to the cause of safe guarding the freedoms we enjoy. For me, it’s important that my children appreciate them as well. I try to be an example to that end. Whenever I see a person in uniform, I try to find an opportunity to say,
Thank you for your service.
It’s not much but it’s genuine and it’s a start. I’ve never been met with anything but a smile or a respectful nod when I’ve said that and I’ve never been sorry I’ve said it either. So, if it moves you, speak up and thank a service person the next time you see one.
Be safe and enjoy your Memorial Day!
Do you know who Nellie Olsen is? She was the mean, bossy, rich girl with blond hair and big ringlets that hung on the side of her face who tormented poor little Laura Ingalls on Little House On the Prairie in the mid-seventies. (Yes, I know I just dated myself but it does say “middle-aged mom” above!) Well, it’s not my fault that my sister cut my best friend’s hair and made her look just like Nellie when we were in the 4th grade. Really. She could have said no. And it wasn’t that bad!
“It will grow out.” I reassured her.
It wasn’t my fault either that the bike we were on sped recklessly out of control while we flew down hill at what felt like 55 miles an hour that same summer. Yes, it was me that lost control of the two-wheeler but it was because she was sitting on the handle-bars and I couldn’t see! I’ll admit, that more than a few bruises were had that day and lots of blood marked the occasion, but we survived. And come to think of it, I am not going to take the blame for having to stop short at the entrance-way from the street to the parking lot at the Mamaroneck Diner. There were cars coming in for crying out loud! Surely, she could see them? But no, instead she continued on, ramming her bike into the back of my mine causing me to fall and smack my head against the concrete. I was left in a semi-conscious state, only coherent enough to tell her to “get help” after she knelt down beside me and asked,
“Are you okay? What should I do?”
It would be 34-years (and another story later) before I found myself riding in the back of a “cop” car again. We left our bikes at the diner to be retrieved that evening by my dad and his Volks-Wagon bus while a police officer drove us to the emergency room to get checked out.
Come, on! She didn’t know they were wild and out-of-control? Puh-leeze!
And, well, I don’t think it’s my fault either that when we went back to retrieve the pink box of treasures we buried some 25-years earlier, it was gone. Hopefully, someone who loves Wacky-Packages is enjoying them now as much as we did then.
I suppose it’s neither of our faults or both of our faults, depending on how you choose to look at it, that after cutting ourselves and mixing our blood to become blood-sisters, we both ended up being RH-Negative as adults. RH-Negative is the blood type that can create all kinds of problems when you’re pregnant by producing antibodies that can attack the blood of your fetus. It requires shots as soon as you know you are pregnant and necessitates that you carry an ID Card stating your type. Not that I had any clue what my blood type was before becoming blood sisters with her at age 11 but somehow I doubt it was RH-Negative and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we both ended up being this type.
None of this is my fault. That really is true and it’s not hers either. No one is at fault here. Fate will take responsibility for the predicaments that paired us. And even though we’ve been physically separated by miles and states across the country, fate has sealed a friendship that’s lasted over 35 years. And it’s fate I thank, when I think back to all the silly and serious things we did together, the happiness, tears and secrets that we’ve shared and kept over these years. So, thank you, fate, for my forever friend.
Tell me, has fate found friendship for you?
“Love is the transformative power that turns our brokenness into something beautiful.” Meg Casey
Taking the world on with a smile is no small task when you are trying to do it every day. Let’s face it; no one can be that cheerful, not even at this time of year. Oh, how I try though. Everyday I get up, make a conscious effort to smile and I tell myself, it’s going to be a good day. But as happy as the holidays can be, they are not always the easiest of times. They can get very stressful. This year they raced in like a roller coaster full of emotion, filling my head with memories that make my heart long for things that used to be or yearn for how I would like them to be. Sometimes I find myself feeling down. I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are affected by the season, in one way or another. It’s hard to pick yourself up and pull yourself out of the darkness. So when things start to get a little bleak, especially this time of year, I look for the magic.
The holiday season really is a time filled with hope and wonder. Possibilities abound and if you believe, it truly can be a magical time. I believe in Christmas magic and I believe you don’t even have to celebrate Christmas to find it. If you look for it, you will find it but you really have to be open to it. You have to want it, expect it and maybe even make it happen for someone else before it can happen to you. It’s like when it’s a cold, dreary December evening and you’re exhausted, feeling overwhelmed by what needs to be done and can’t imagine doing it. The phone rings and on the other end is a dear friend who you haven’t spoken to in two years for no other reason than life getting in the way. He makes your day in a big way. I guess you can look at it as just another phone call or you can see it as magical because it really did lift your heart and make you feel good when you really needed to. That’s magic, isn’t it?
Sometimes just knowing that someone you care about is out there thinking about you is all the magic you need to get through. It’s called love and if you keep your heart open, it will surely find its way into it.
Christmas magic is love and love has the power to turn something broken into something beautiful.
Christmas Magic, you can give it and receive it.
I believe in it. Do you?