christmas wonder

Those are my husband’s slippered feet, relaxing as he sits back and admires the Christmas tree. We put it up last weekend. Mrs. Scrooge (that would be moi) questioned whether we should bother, we usually have it up at the beginning of December so we can enjoy it all month long. But sick mom’s, bad backs, and other stresses slowed down the holiday fa la la-ing around here, and while I was ready to make do with the fireplace and mantle adornments alone, Doug wanted (actually seemed to need) the tree up. So up it went. While the movie, “Elf”, played in the background, we hung the ornaments one by one, remembering the significance of each as we filled the empty branches of the tree with keepsakes of our 32 years together.

There was our son’s “Baby’s 1st Christmas” satin ball, the tiny red sleigh our daughter made in 2nd grade with her school photo glued in the center, the dancing Kokopelli from a family trip to Sedona, the yellow cab from our New York City adventure, the hand crocheted bird’s nest Doug’s grandmother made us, the little wooden nutcrackers we bought when we were first married and couldn’t afford the beautiful Christopher Radco glass ornaments we have since collected. I must admit, I’m glad we put the tree up. There’s something very relaxing about the evenings now, sitting in the family room with Doug, wrapped in the sparkling glow of the Christmas tree lights.

At the end of my book, one of the characters is reflecting on his life, on the fear and the grief that has literally driven him deep into the woods. He comes to the realization that what he’s feeling is okay, that he hasn’t been indelibly damaged by loss, that “the monster he had been running from wasn’t really a monster after all. It was simply that place in the heart that holds the measure of your history, the joy and the grief, the laughter and the tears, the magic and the wonder; all the ingredients that add up to the story of a life well lived.” The holidays can be difficult. Too much running, too much spending, too much forced holiday cheer when really all we want from Santa sometimes is a little peace and quiet, or better yet, a little peace of mind. To me, a Christmas tree is kind of like that place in the heart, the ornaments we choose and those given to us are delicate echoes of the joys and the losses that make up our stories. So yes, it was worth the trouble, putting up the tree and filling it with our memories. Whether it’s for one week or four weeks or one hundred weeks, taking the time to honor the wonder and magic of Christmas, of our lives, is a worthy and lovely way to spend an afternoon. Merry Christmas Mr. Day, and to all my friends and family near and far whether or not you celebrate Christmas, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, and wonder filled 2012.

birthday boy

Today is my son’s birthday. He’s a dad now, with two little ones of his own, and yes, I watch my baby hold his babies and I wonder how we got from there to here so quickly. Of course, I was warned. By my mother and grandmother and aging aunties; I was told to gather the tender moments from the childhoods of my two children and hold them close because they would fly by. And I tried, I really did. But there was housework to do and bills to pay, a marriage to maintain and health problems to overcome, and before I knew it I was sitting in a hospital waiting room looking forward to holding my new granddaughter in my empty arms. The greatest joy of being a grandparent is that you get one more chance to honor the precious days of childhood as you watch your grandchildren grow up, and as an added bonus, you do it armed with a good night’s sleep and a little more wisdom. I think of my mother on days like today, dancing with Andy at his wedding 6 years ago, her head on the shoulder of her first grandchild and I know exactly what she was thinking…how did we get from there to here so quickly?

holiday flashback

Me, my brother David, and my sister Amy on Christmas morning a few years ago

1. No, we will NOT go on another vacation until we pay down the balance on our charge card!
2. My mom told me and brother about the birds and the bees one afternoon while eating lunch at the old kitchen table. I laughed out loud and didn’t believe her!
3. I watched the steam rising from the hot cup of coffee and thought: I love starting my day with coffee and a newspaper.
4. When I look at my granddaughter I know I’m going to be okay.
5. I’ll take more iStock and Getty photos today, love a job where you can stay in your warm house on these cold, dreary Michigan days!
6.  Photoshop CS4 is a lot fun to use, but sometimes the learning curve is somewhat overwhelming, at least from my point of view.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to wrapping presents, tomorrow my plans include holiday dinner out with friends and Sunday, I want to finish shopping and just relax!

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teaser tuesday

Teaser Tuesday asks you to : Grab your current read, Open to a random page, Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. This teaser is from one of my novels, and like me the main character has hit those mid-life years where you feel like the future is finally just around the corner, for better or for worse! That’s my mom with my sister Amy and my big brother David, and my dad steadying baby David as he takes his first steps.

Maxine had only to close her crinkly farsighted eyes and she could see her father, young and healthy, putting on his felt fedora and blowing her a kiss as he left for work in the morning, or her pretty young mother setting a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies down on the table in front of her after school. She could see a six-year-old Sela at her first ballet recital, the ten-year-old Sela doing cartwheels on the front lawn, and the confident young college student waving goodbye in front of her dorm at Brown. It all went by so fast. Too fast. Maxine often wished she had a pause button that she could hit on the really good days. She didn’t want to stop time—she just wanted to slow it down and give herself more time to take it all in.

friday fill-ins

1. I remember, I remember when my kids were younger. That’s a photo I took of Andy and Lizzi for our Christmas card one year, they were so cute!

2. Dear Mom I want you to know I can’t believe it will be a year next month since you died.

3. Is that my freakin’ age!!???

4. I’m trying to resist the temptation of buying more camera lenses.

5. I’m saving a hug just for you!

6. If I made a birthday list spending a day with my new granddaughter would definitely be on it!!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to a birthday dinner for Andy, tomorrow my plans include errands and lunch out with my hubby and Sunday, I want to go for a drive and try out my new wide angle camera lens!

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ten thousand days

That’s a photo from my wedding day, thirty years ago today. I pulled it out of an album, scanned it, and then adjusted the color, taking out the yellowed tone of the old paper with a simple click of my mouse button.  I still have my wedding dress, I don’t know why, it was certainly nothing fancy. I bought it off the rack, I couldn’t see spending a lot of money for a dress I’d wear for only one afternoon. I’ve moved it many times over the years, from house to house and closet to closet. Like the photos from our wedding day, it’s yellowed and a bit faded and I don’t know how many times I’ve picked it up and began to stuff it in a bag for donation, but I could never quite bring myself to do it. My mother saved the dress she wore that day too, she loved that dress. Near the end of her life, after illness caused her to lose enough weight so she could fit into it once more, she asked me to find it just in case an occasion came up for her to wear it again.

I’ve been married for thirty years, in a matter of days I’ll become a first time grandmother, in September I’ll celebrate my fiftieth birthday. Looking down at my hands as I type this post I see my mother’s hands. The skin is beginning to get that crepey loose look to it and the truth is it surprises me to think that those hands are attached to my body. I suppose if I could I wouldn’t mind clicking my mouse button and tightening up a few things, perhaps doing away with some wrinkles here and there while I’m at it. But you know, there’s not one day from the past ten thousand days with my husband that I would change. The good days, and even the not so good days, are strung out behind us like the tail of a kite, steadying our marriage and keeping us on course. I guess that’s why I hang on to my little yellowed wedding dress, and why my mother kept her favorite dress stashed in the back of her closet for so many years. They carry the footprints of our memories, a diary of new beginnings and of slim healthy young bodies, of ten thousand more days stretched out in front of us like so many promises.

Happy Anniversary Mr. bookbabie, there’s no one else I’d rather crawl in bed with at the end of a long, tiring day…See other Wordless (and not so wordless!) Wednesday participants here.

thursday challenge: sweet

At Thursday Challenge a theme is announced each week. You may either take a new photograph related in some way to the theme, or select one that you have taken previously. This week the theme is sweet. I thought about using one of my iStock pics of strawberries, but decided to go back in time and post a photo of my kids when they were little and oh so sweet! This is one of my favorite pics of them. They were playing in the backyard on a hot summer day, naked as can be, filling buckets with water and turning their sandbox into a lake. I suppose I have babies on the brain lately. Meagan is doing well and due in just two weeks. I bought a really cool little stroller to keep here at the house yesterday and the Fed Ex guy brought the Noah’s Ark toy box I ordered (which came in a million pieces so Mr. bookbabie will have to put it together this weekend!). I know Meagan is ready over at her house and the two grandmas-to-be are definitely ready too…now we just need us a baby to spoil:)

Sweet memories remind us of the roads we have traveled and the people we have loved. ~Flavia

easter memories

Once upon a time, on a lovely sunny Easter morning just like this one, three little girls got all dressed up in their Easter finery. Before they left to go to their grandmother’s house for supper, they posed with their pretty mom for a picture. When their daddy said “smile” they did, thinking the whole time about the Easter egg hunt, the coconut cakes dotted with jelly beans, and their many cousins waiting for them at the other end of 8 Mile Road.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with family. ~Anthony Brandt