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A Christmas Story

    “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” — Norman Vincent Peale

Merry Christmas to all! I'm taking a break until the New Year.

Merry Christmas to all! I’m taking a break until the New Year.

When Two Thought as One

The year was 1979. I was recently divorced, four of my five children had left the nest, and I had just moved to a new town where I and my youngest teenage daughter knew no one. After school let out for the holidays, my daughter went to visit friends 50 miles away for a few days.

After she left, I thoughtfully looked at our Christmas tree.  It was large, and generously decorated with the ornaments I had collected over the years, including the bright red plastic poinsettia flowers that had been the only decorations I could afford for my first Christmas tree.

So why did it look so sad?

In years past, with my large family still intact, the floor beneath the tree had always been stacked high with wrapped presents, as everyone bought gifts for everyone. But all that was under the tree on this day were the two gifts I had bought my daughter, and the one she had bought for me.

This wouldn’t do, I decided. While money was tight, and I couldn’t afford big gifts, I did have enough for a lot of small items, whose presence beneath the tree would go a long way to cheer it up before my daughter returned home.

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter had come to the same conclusion about our tree. And when she returned, it was with a lot of small gifts that she had bought for me with the small amount of money she had with her.

Our tree no longer looked sad – and when I think of Christmases past, this is always the one I remember first.

Merry Christmas to All!

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 We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

freechristmaswallpaper.net

Travels With Maggie

The day I discovered there was no Santa Claus is as clear in my memory as the day it happened. I had persisted in believing well after most kids had wised up. Finally my mother sat me down on the couch and explained the facts of life to me.

She said she didn’t want me to make a fool of myself in front of my more knowledgeable friends.

I remember saying: “But if he doesn’t come down the chimney, doesn’t he just use the door?”

My mother was persistent, however, and ignored my desire to continue believing.

hellokids.com

While I was devastated at the truth, my own children relished in ferreting out the truth and destroying the Santa myth at very young ages.

As these same, less naive kids grew up and left a fractured home behind, Christmases became smaller and smaller. Jobs, school, obligations, in-laws and economic realities meant my children began celebrating Christmas in their own homes.

For many years, at least one of my children would make it home for Christmas. But even that finally ended. In response I became the floater, rotating among my children for Christmas.

This year finds me at the home of my son, Lewis, celebrating Christmas a day late so my son can have all his children around him. And guess who’s coming to dinner? His ex-wife, the mother of his four children.

You see, it was her year for Christmas, but Lewis still wanted all his kids around him for the holidays. And yes, I agree, his current wife is a saint.

The compromise, however, is a great beginning for eventual world peace. Wouldn’t you agree?

But if you don’t, keep it to yourself. I already suffered enough being told there was no Santa Claus. And Maggie, who was feeling well enough to walk the park loop this morning, doesn’t want to know either.

 

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 Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” Eric Sevareid

 

Yesterday was drab and overcast, but these two blossoms that I found growing beneath a hedge cheered everything up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

Travels With Maggie

Maggie’s short little tail was finally wagging again last night. And she slept the night through. While all may not be well,  my canine traveling companion appears to be on the mend. The new ear medication appears to be working. And that cheers me tremendously.

Christmas is looking brighter. So Merry Christmas all. Have a good one.

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Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

Travels With Maggie

 

Rocky considers himself a family member, too, and wonders what's beneath the tree for him. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t post a blog yesterday. And I didn’t add a 1,000 words to the travel book that I’m rewriting.

So what, you may be asking, did I do?

I walked Maggie, of course, and cleaned her ears, a daily chore because of her proneness to chronic cocker spaniel ear infection – and I went Christmas shopping.

It is that time of year you know. And because of that I’m not beating myself up too badly for what I didn’t do. You see, I’m a traitor to my gender. I HATE SHOPPING!

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, I LOVE CHRISTMAS, and giving gifts to my loved ones. The challenge for me is finding something I think each person in my growing family will like within my limited budget of $20 or less per person.

We break into this blog for an Important Announcement: Believe it or not just as I was mentioning my large family, I got a text message saying one more has been added. My granddaughter in Orlando, Florida, just delivered a beautiful (I know he is even though I haven’t seen him yet), healthy 6-pound-9-ounce boy to it.

 

Maggie and I passed this tree on our morning walk in the park across from son's home. I thought it as festive as any Christmas tree. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We now take you back to our regular program:

Anyway, I try to pick up things in my travels that I think will appeal to one loved one or another, but this year I didn’t do much of that. It left me with a hard day of shopping, but with only two presents yet to buy.

That’s actually way ahead of schedule for me. I’ve been known to frantically be shopping the stores at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shout the news of my new great-grandchild to the world.

And then hopefully tackle my travel book.

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 “The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain, and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” – Erma Bombeck

D.C. with his long green thing during one of his Army deployments.

Family Memories

“Hey Mom, I brought back a surprise for you from Afghanistan,” was the message I got from my oldest son, D.C. I was in Idaho at the time, and the only thing I wanted from Afghanistan was my son, home, safely.

Later, I wondered what the surprise could be.

“It’s a long green thing,” my daughter-in-law, Cindi, hinted.

It took a few minutes, but then I burst out laughing.

“Oh, you mean his Christmas stocking,” I said.

This is a thing that goes back many, many years, back to the time when my son was a pre-teenager. It was a time when money was in extremely short supply in our family, and so our Christmas stockings were just that – everyone’s own clean sock. And the kids always found the biggest ones they owned to hang up.

Now D.C. always was an ingenious kid. He chose his long Boy Scout knee sock, but decided it still wasn’t big enough. So he cut the foot off one of the socks and sewed the rest of the stocking to the top of the other one. It was such a brilliant idea that he didn’t even get punished for the deed. I think I filled it up with oranges that first Christmas.

The pillow, given to me by my oldest daughter, Deborah, that sits on the couch in my RV. Laughter is good for the soul is my motto.

In the meantime, as kids do, D.C. grew up, joined the Army, married, had kids of his own and made the military his career for the next 35 years. It was during one of his three tours in Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot that I came upon that long-forgotten green stocking.

As a joke, I filled it up with goodies like smoked oysters, canned chili, Vienna sausage, nuts, toy cars, hand warmers, a Pez dispenser and a heck of a lot of other stuff and sent it to him that year for Christmas.

He’s made sure the stocking was returned to me every year since.

I guess in thankfulness for my son’s safe return from the war zone, his upcoming retirement and all the laughter that stocking has provided the family over the years, I’ll have to fill it up yet one more time.

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