…slow as molasses…

That’s how I feel as I set about decorating for the holidays. What use to take me a week and a half, may take me until Christmas morning this year. I kid you not. In the past I’d decorate 7 or 8 trees, 3 big ones and the rest smaller, potted types. All pre-lit, artificial. I’ll be lucky if I get the 3 big ones done. I feel like my get-up-and-go…got up and left.

Even hubby’s taking a nap.

We can’t seem to push ourselves the way we use to when we were in our mid-60’s. Now that we’re in our late 60’s, our energy level is kaput. Takes me a long time to decide how to rearrange the living room to accommodate the giant tree. In fact, I decided…in the midst of moving stuff around…to have the slipcovers on the sofa and club chair dry-cleaned. Thank goodness they’ll be back on Wednesday, all nice and clean…after years and years of accumulated dirt has been laundered away. Not surprisingly I found a partially eaten Dorito chip hiding beneath one of the seat cushions.

Another thing that’s slowing me down is the desire to get rid of some of my furnishings, specifically my vintage things of which there’s a lot. I’m an antiques dealer who loves to collect, in addition to selling, of course. Most of us in the business are passionate collectors. I discovered my passion after moving to Long Island, New York in 1977. I got bitten by the “bug” during the first antiques auction I’d ever attended. I left with a massive oak roll top desk which I recently donated to charity since no one was interested in buying it. Folks didn’t find it too practical in this day and age.

Thing is, the holidays are no time to think about downsizing. It’s a busy enough time without doing major overhauling. And definitely not for a couple of seniors whose adrenalin levels have seen better days.

We normally have three or more groups of friends and family in to celebrate during Christmas and New Year. We’ll be lucky if the house is up and running when our daughter returns home…AFTER Christmas.

What drives me to make Christmas great every year is that my husband and daughter are like wide-eyed children when everything is in place. They absolutely love Christmas and all its trappings. It’s the best present I can give them.

So I’d better get back to work…

…wrapping my christmas gift with love.

………hugmamma.

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…above and beyond…

‘Tis the season to be…the best mom I can possibly be.

If there’s one thing in my life I’m particularly proud of it’s that I’m a good mom. No. I’m a great mom!

Forgive me for tooting my own horn, or as is more appropriate nowadays…taking my own selfie and sharing it with all of you.

But even I have to admit that I might have gone a bit over the top in my latest venture as a great mom.

A few weeks ago my daughter was home for a long weekend. Misty Copeland, the first African-American ballerina recently promoted to the level of principal dancer with NYC’s American Ballet Theatre had asked my daughter to be part of a question-and-answer panel following the Seattle premiere of “A Ballerina’s Tale.” While only a short 3-day stay, my husband and I were thrilled to have our daughter with us. Unfortunately not many attended, but those who did enjoyed a lively discussion about women of color and muscular physique struggling to make a career in the elite world of ballet.

While she was here, I offered to help my daughter shop for Christmas gifts for her fiancé as well as her friends. Knowing how busy she is dancing, teaching and choreographing, I felt I could help relieve some of her stress during the days leading up to Christmas. Besides which we always have such a grand time shopping together. We laugh lots. We commiserate. We eat. We gossip. Our common adrenalin keeps us pumped and going strong. Although when it comes to shopping, I’ve more stamina than my daughter. She’s a wuss by comparison. And she’d be the first to agree.

So after my daughter returned home to her hectic life, I got busy wrapping, boxing and shipping packages. A few packages found their way to Las Vegas, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. These were to close friends of my daughter’s. The bulk, however, were postmarked to my daughter and her fiancé…gifts from her to him…and from us to both of them. There were a couple of items earmarked for the mother-daughter team who own the competition dance studio where my daughter teaches. In all there were exactly 7 boxes, mostly 12/12’s, but a couple 18/18’s. I hate to tell you what the costs were in wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbon, tissue AND airmail postage.

I told my husband…and my daughter…we’d send them on a cruise next year. She and …her husband of 6 months. (They wed next summer.) Of course I was being facetious.

Or was I? Hmmm…

Thankfully her dad weighed in by hauling the boxes to our local post office and paying for the shipping. I wouldn’t have had the energy, nor would I have been able to withstand the unwelcome stares by other customers, or the humorous comments by the postal workers. My husband has the skin of a rhinoceros when it comes to other folks and what they think. He could care less. Me? I’m still in training.

Mind you my daughter never asks for my help in such matters. She’ll always get around to doing what she can, when she can. She doesn’t stress like me that way. There’s just something about her that makes me want to be her mom…always. Helping her however and whenever I can. 

My 6 decades+ old body is telling me…very vehemently…that I cannot keep this up. I cannot burn the midnight oil doing extra work on top of what I already pile on top of myself in my own life, which includes my own antiques business.

Don’t feel overly sorry for me though. I do reward myself with little pleasures now and then…like dining out on Thanksgiving Day. A treat hubby and I will repeat when we partake of another sumptuous buffet at the same restaurant on Christmas Day. No cooking. No cleaning.

…just smiles and happy vibes all around.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

charitable gifting…a holiday twist

The Food Bank in our community recently held a holiday event for parents unable to provide gifts for their children.

Rather than having donors make the selections for family members, we were invited to bring our unwrapped donations to a specified venue on December 8th and 9th. The Food Bank’s website provided the age categories and a list of possible suggestions of gifts for both boys and girls. Donors were asked to indicate, if possible, what items we were planning to bring. Most likely it was to have an indication of what and how much to expect.

Parents wanting to participate in the shopping spree which occurred on December 10th and 11th, were asked to register online. Again, it was probably to ensure that there would be a sufficient inventory from which they could make their selections.

A friend and I had fun shopping for items to donate. With no child of his own, he relished purchasing a couple of things to make someone else’s child happy. It brought me joy as well knowing that the toys and clothes I bought would bring great pleasure to the parents who would, in turn, give them to their children.

What a wonderful way to give during the holidays. Letting parents shop from among the donated items, allowing them to have the same experience as we who have the means to buy gifts for our own children.

…anonymity for the donor…dignity for the parent who can give…

………hugmamma.

an act of kindness…warms our family’s heart

My hormones were raging today, the downside of hormone replacement therapy treatment…Wiley Protocol in my case.

How do I know? My tear ducts were working overtime today. 

I think it began with An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. No matter how often I see this tear jerker, I always weep in all the same places. 

When Grant returns to his grandmother’s home after she’s died, remembering when he was last there, Kerr at his side. In the background, the haunting melody is playing which starts my tears. And then, of course, when Grant learns Kerr had been in a car accident and was, therefore, unable to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building. That’s when the flood gates burst, and I was a blithering idiot.

After gathering my wits about me, I went about my day.

In the evening I paused intermittently to listen to a couple of the singers on The Voice. When each of the 5 remaining contestants returned to their home towns to thunderous applause, again I choked up. How proud to be recognized by one’s own community, and to represent it on the national stage. How proud, indeed!

Then my daughter phoned. She has a way of making me sentimental mush. No, I didn’t cry…not then.

After filling me in on all she’s been up to since we last talked, she told me a story which had me choking back my tears once again.

An elderly gentleman stopped at a Discount Tire store to have a tire repaired. Upon looking it over, the young salesman informed the customer that, in fact, all of the tires on the old truck needed replacing. The man explained he only had enough money to make repairs, that he was doing it for his daughter. He paid the bill, indicating that she would return the next day to pick up her truck.

When the 17-year-old returned with her boyfriend, the salesman told her what he’d said to her father the day before. Again she reiterated that she had no money to buy new tires. She went on to say she had been accepted into veterinary school which took all the money her family had to spare.

The Discount Tire rep happened to be the Senior Assistant to the store manager. Making an executive decision, he authorized his technicians to replace all the tires with new ones. Noticing what they were doing through one of the store windows, the young woman was understandably upset and asked what they were doing. The young man, a 25-year-old, assured her that his concern was for her safety. He was probably also thinking about the safety of others she might encounter on the road, driving alongside her. She cried as he wished her a happy holiday season, inviting her father to make whatever payments he could…whenever he could…if he was so inclined. 

A Good Samaritan story for which I was not prepared. I cried when my daughter told it, and again when I retold it to my husband. It brought tears to his eyes as well.

The personal blessing for our family? The Good Samaritan is…

…our daughter’s boyfriend.

………hugmamma.

 

Letter to Santa Claus

I know this is a month early. However, it touched me instantly. I hope it does you as well…and ushers in a holiday filled with peace among all mankind…believers and those who believe differently.

………hugmamma.

Maxim Sense

santa_gifSanta Claus is very much alive, and to think this way out from a Muslim’s perspective, is doubly amazing, I think. I can’t speak for the Christians and those who likewise celebrate Christmas with Santa as the other prominent figure in addition to the Nativity. But for our Christian neighbors here I have not seen any difficulty in the way they hold  the religious Christmas from the fantasy and celebrate them both, and in doing so they both give and receive.

I have my own bias for this post which was originally posted in my blog last year at about the same time as now.  Just as Santa Claus seems to be seen as more of an immortal being now, or at least in the eyes of the innocent children, so is his memory and the way we fantasize him still, bring a lot of wonderful experience every Christmas. I…

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daily prompt: mid-season replacement

I’m sitting in the midst of a mess, because my daughter’s bedroom underwent a remodel. 

Meanwhile, outside the skies grow darker earlier, and remain that way until later the next morning.

I’ve started turning up the heat to stave off the chill indoors. And when walking the dog…I’m all bundled up.

I don’t think I’d want to go backwards to the sunny days of summer. 

That’d only delay the onset of winter…and beyond…the sweetness of spring.

I might have felt differently had this mess not occurred. 

Now that the remodel is done…I’m excited…

…to have friends over for the holidays!…

………hugmamma.

 

birds of a feather…flock together

A post written by Candice at http://wrygrass.com/2013/08/28/fire-frenzy-and-calmness-in-a-fur-coat/ had me laughing…and thinking I’d found a soul sister.

Could it be that there’s another woman out there who lacks common sense? I thought for sure I was the only one. I’ve never admitted it before, but reading about Candace’s behavior in the face of a crisis empowered me to speak up. Until now, only those nearest and dearest to me knew the truth. At least…I hope so.

“Common sense” according to Webster’s is “sound practical judgement; normal native intelligence.”Well, I’ve never been practical and at times I’ve jokingly told my daughter that I was “aby-normal.”

Cover of "Young Frankenstein [Blu-ray]"

If you’ve never seen “Young Frankenstein,” you should. When Gene Wilder asks his hunchback sidekick, Marty Feldman, whose brain he got for Frankenstein, Feldman replies “Aby someone.” Wilder asks “Aby who?” To which Felman says “Aby Normal.” I loved that line and have since borrowed it. 

Now where was I? Oh, yes. I was talking about Candice and I being…birds of a feather…or chickens with their heads cut off…or Chicken Little running around crying “The earth is falling! The earth is falling!”

Like Candice, I had a run-in with my oven.

When I was in my late 20s living on Long Island with my hubby, I decided to take a sick day from work to bake up a Christmas gift for some friends. At the time I was heavily into making, and eating, chex mix snacks. Still in my flannel nightgown, I put my first batch into the oven and wandered off. Not long after, the smoke alarm started going off. Hurrying back to my teeny-tiny kitchen I was alarmed at the sight of a fire in the oven. In a state of panic I reached for the phone and dialed my husband at his office…in NYC.  I stood out in the small, enclosed foyer talking to him as the fire continued to burn. Ever the practical one he told me to call 911 and get out of the house. I did as I was told, feeling slightly foolish standing in my snow-covered front yard with the phone cord stretched to the max as I dialed for help.

In no time the fire engines arrived…two, I think…with firefighters hanging off the sides and backs of the trucks. Of course the neighborhood was alerted by the sirens blasting, as if calling one and all to bear witness to my stupidity. I’m sure I wanted to find the closest mole hole and crawl inside with my heretofore sworn enemy…Mr. Mole himself.

The firemen stormed into the house, hatchets and fire hose in hand.  Soon one of them emerged flinging my baking pan onto the lawn. All that remained of the chex mix was a charred blob. Meanwhile, the windows and doors of the house were thrown open to allow the billowing smoke to escape. I don’t recall if any water was used. I don’t think so. But with the passing of time I can only recall what I did…and didn’t do.

While I know this wasn’t the first time I pulled a humdinger of a boo-boo, it was the first of many, many stories my husband has loved retelling. Thank goodness he has a funny bone that runs the length of his body. If not, my marriage might not have lasted as long as it has…42 years.

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...

Have you a “Chicken Little” story of your own to tell? Or are you…

…the one with the common sense?…

………hugmamma. 

weekly photo challenge: create

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Furnishing dollhouses was a hobby my daughter and I shared as she was growing up. The first dollhouse was a gift for her which my husband assembled from a kit. We painstakingly finished it off with paint, wallpaper, roofing tiles, and electricity. We were quite pleased with the finished product, as was our daughter who squealed with delight upon seeing it Christmas morning.

The following year my husband’s aunt and uncle visited from California, bringing with them a surprise for our daughter. Driving their trusty trailer the 3,000 miles to our home in Redding, Conncecticut, they eagerly presented her with a dollhouse that uncle had built with pride. He’d built dollhouses for 3 granddaughters as well.

To our great surprise uncle had built the exact same dollhouse that we’d presented to my daughter! There was a slight difference, one that made his more convenient for 360 degree viewing. Attached to its underside was a turntable. This dollhouse could be placed anywhere, unlike the first which had to be situated so that the front of the house and the inside could be seen at the same time. Displaying it took some creativity on my part when trying to incorporate it into our home furnishings. A dilemma not easily solved in a 100-year-old, 1500 square foot, Victorian farmhouse. But I managed.

Now there were 2 dollhouses to display and furnish. Over time, the one built by uncle  was furnished with pieces selected by my daughter. She lovingly arranged each as she imagined a house should look…lived in. Miniature food was left out on the table, pumpkin carvings on newsprint on the floor, magazines and games strewn about.

The one my husband had built became a haven for the vintage finds I favored. I was delighted to have another outlet for my insatiable passion for antiques…of any size. Normal size or miniatures, originals or replicas, none of that mattered. The “look” is what I obsessed about. This dollhouse began to resemble the feel of our house…only in miniature.

What fun my daughter and I had creating comfortable dwellings for imaginary people. And she and friends spent countless hours playing house like the wee folk…thanks to 2 creative geniuses…

…her father…and great uncle…

………hugmamma.   🙂

swept away…on a tidal wave

That’s how I’ve felt these last couple of months. And while the “waves” have subsided, I’m still dealing with the upheaval that is currently my life right now. Suffice it to say that the New Year is bringing changes…possibly to my daughter’s life…and definitely to my house.

As my daughter contemplates her life going forward, my husband and I are in the midst of a bath/bedroom remodel. I’d forgotten how time consuming and involved it is preparing for the day it all gets underway.

Four years ago when we remodeled the kitchen/dining and living rooms I worked closely with the contractor’s project manager. I specified how I wanted things to look, and he made it happen. This time around I’m working with a different contractor and I’m my own project manager. Saves the cost of paying a “middle man.” However I now see that the job isn’t as easy as I might have thought.

As project manager I must see to all the details, making certain that they are absolutely correct. Not only do I now get to pick out the tiles for the shower walls, floor and curb, the bathroom floor and the baseboard, but I must ensure that the square footages are accurate when I place the orders. If not, I’ll be to blame and money I thought I’d saved by doing the job myself, could be a loss instead.

Of course with remodeling comes the inevitable packing up and storing all the stuff that is normally kept in the bathroom and bedroom. So until I get it all neatly stored away elsewhere, all the other rooms in my house look like an earthquake hit, tossing everything around.

It doesn’t help that Christmas still peeks out from around every corner. Yes! I’ve not yet put the holiday decorations away. I planned to do it in February once all the last get-togethers were finally over and done. But then the “tidal wave” hit, engulfing our family in changes that we knew were coming, but for which we were nonetheless unprepared.

Rather than sweat the fact that I’ve not been as adept at handling the fallout as I like to be, I’ve tried to emulate the calm in the “eye of the hurricane.” What needs to get done, will get done. What can wait will have to wait…like housework and blogging. 

I blog because I love to write, and tell stories, mine and those of others. I know that readers who enjoy my storytelling will return when I’m back on track. At least I hope you will. Until then I pray your lives are full, but not as overloaded as mine is at the moment.

I thank God for the New Year… in which I’ve promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep.

…i just thank god that i’m alive…and able to do…what needs doing…

………hugmamma.  🙂

christmas…lives on…

Had a wonderful post-holiday celebration Saturday night, with friends who happen to be neighbors. Two retired couples joined my husband and me for a Hawaiian smorgasborg. One couple married less than a year ago are heading to California shortly, for some relaxation in the warm desert sun. How we will envy them…especially since snow has been falling for a few days, making driving conditions somewhat sketchy. Icy roads…icy everything…icy me. Brrr…

English: Venus orbits the Sun at an average di...

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Food, wine, and laughter flowed easily. When close friends gather there’s apt to be much good-humored teasing about men being from Mars and women being from Venus. That night was no exception.

Friends married the longest couldn’t seem to agree as to who it was that hung the towel-warmer in their remodeled master bath. She was absolutely certain it was her husband; he swore that it had been the contractor who’d done the installation, even though he’d initially tried to talk them out of it. The humorous exchange continued throughout our after-dinner conversation on a variety of topics.

I was certain our newly married friends would have nothing to share on the subject of discord. Lo and behold, the wife finally spoke up after her husband talked at length about a military-tactic he used with his children when they were teenagers, holding them responsible for their own actions.

Lost Luggage (Decide Your Destiny)

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What ensued was a lively discussion about bed-fixing and luggage-packing. The husband had spent many years as a military man, so an attention to detail lingers to this day. The wife attested to being able to make up a nice-looking bed in 3 minutes. Her hubby, she explained, took that long to tuck in the corners.

When it came to packing for their warm-weather trip, the wife informed us that she got everything together beforehand, but didn’t actually assemble them neatly into the suitcase until the day prior. Hubby meanwhile began packing last week. His reasoning was that in the ensuing days he could winnow it all down to only what was absolutely necessary.

 
English: File name: 07_11_000366 Title: Woman ...

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Then both wives commisserated on needing much more in the way of vacation wear than the husbands deemed appropriate. Of course I agreed. There’s day-wear and evening-wear. Then there’s the accompanying accessories…sandals, casual shoes, evening shoes…day purse, evening purse. And then, of course, the jewelry, makeup, toiletries.

Deciding to serve our friends a “typical” islander meal wasn’t made until the morning of. People are always asking “So what do Hawaiians eat?” It’s as though we have exotic tastes 24/7. Truth be told, we eat meat and potatoes, like most Americans. Of course the seasonings make the difference.

Fried rice from Fried rice from Andy's Chinese...

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Instead of southern fried chicken, I made shoyu chicken. Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, I served sweet-and-sour meatballs with Chinese fried rice. Sides included potato salad-a-la-Hawaiian style, a platter of tomato and mozzarella slices over which I’d drizzled Paul Newman‘s balsamic vinaigrette, and julienned carrots sauteed in a little butter then sprinkled with dried tarragon to taste. Wanting to give our friends a small sampling of our local Chinese restaurant‘s menu, we also included their Honey Walnut Shrimp.

Everyone helped themselves to some of everything. And that’s how the Hawaiians do it…a little of this…a little of that…or a lot of this…and a lot of that. Whatever pleases. There are no formal rules except to make yourself at home…and eat, eat…no be shame! Eat! 

The piece de resistance it seems was my homemade pineapple upside down cake. The husband-newly remarried, according to his bride, never…ever…eats dessert. Well when I set the cake down in the middle of the table…his was the loudest exclamation of delight. The only dessert he’d ever eat, happened to be the pineapple upside down cake made by his aunt. In his mid-70s now, that was a long, long time ago. Needless to say I sent him home with a large piece…for the next day.

Venus reflected in the Pacific Ocean

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After our friends left, hubby and I had a lot of cleaning up to do. But we both agreed that the evening was well worth the effort. Easy camaraderie, conversation that flowed, nonstop laughter, appreciative eaters, and never-ending compliments for the hostess…well, of course, that’s anyone’s dream evening.

And as a gift for the guests? The husbands went away with a neat trick for next Christmas.

Unbeknownst to my husband and me, who thought everyone knew to install remotes to turn all the Christmas lights on and off at one’s fingertips, our friends were clueless about such gadgetry. My husband was only too thrilled to show them how the remotes worked, and how he’d plugged them into electrical outlets.

One of the husbands exclaimed he’d be off to Home Depot the following day to get himself the gizmo. No more unplugging the Christmas tree lights manually. In fact he was going to try it now, since their tree is still standing in their living room. The same was true for the other couple.

…looks like christmas lingers on…in our neighborhood…how about yours?

………hugmamma.  🙂  

jimmy stewart’s bedford falls…the real deal?

It's a Wonderful Life

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I never stopped to think that Bedford Falls of It’s A Wonderful Life might really exist. Perhaps the fact that so many films were made on Hollywood‘s back lot in the good old days, had me assuming that such was the case with this Christmas classic. That Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed graced the streets and inhabited the buildings of one lucky town, seemed unlikely.

New friend and fellow WordPress blogger, Judy Berman, wrote a fascinating post about visiting the real town of Bedford Falls. I was intrigued enough to comment that I might have to add it to my bucket list…to be fulfilled when hubby retires. 

You might want to take a trip back in time, reliving a vintage, black and white, Hollywood Christmas…strolling down memory lane…by clicking on http://earth-rider.com/2011/12/17/jimmy-stewarts-bedford-falls-comes-to-life-2/#comment-107. 

Maybe you already know which town she’s referring to…and maybe you don’t. You’ll only find out for sure if you hop on over to Judy’s blog, earthriderdotcom and have a look-see for yourself…

and tell her…i sent you…

………hugmamma.  🙂

christmas day…”it was greeeaaat!!!”

…was my daughter’s enthusiastic remark to time spent serving food to the needy at the community center on Christmas. My husband and I couldn’t have agreed more. Spending a portion of our Christmas Day bringing joy to others in a tangible way felt good…really good. I don’t think it’s possible to measure the blessings our family felt in giving to those who have so little, when we have so much by comparison. Having individuals approach us with thanks for what we’d done, was truly the best gift of the day. I highly recommend such gifting. To give what we can of ourselves…be it materially or spiritually.

While it was my idea to answer the call to volunteer, my husband and daughter joined in wholeheartedly. They agreed we could delay our own Christmas celebration until after we’d brought a little merriment to others, among them…the homeless…seniors on a fixed income…unemployed unable to afford regular meals…young families finding it difficult to support families…individuals living alone who crave companionship. No one is turned away from partaking of our community meal.

An early riser my husband got things rolling with a recipe for sticky buns. After washing the sleep from my eyes I helped slice the rolled dough with its tasty cinnamon mixture tucked inside. My husband carefully placed the slices in a couple of pans prepared with a syrupy glaze and chopped walnuts. I then whipped up a couple of pans of an ambrosia salad using mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, flaked coconut, mini-marshmallows and sour cream. Quite yummy, if I must say so myself. We finished off by working together on a couple of pans of a spinach souffle. In addition, we contributed two pans heaped full of juicy, flavorful spiral ham.

My daughter awoke last since she’d been up wrapping presents for my husband and me into the wee hours of the morning. We wanted her to be her smiling best when helping to dish up the homemade goodies brought by all the volunteers. It’s amazing how, when given the opportunity, we can reach past barriers, real and imagined, to offer companionship…if only for a few hours. We all benefitted, I’m sure, by socially interacting with those we might not otherwise ever approach.

I’ve great admiration for the more dedicated volunteers. They share an easy camaraderie with the regular diners. Newcomers surveying the group wouldn’t easily discern the volunteers from the needy. All sit down together to share the meal. Conversation flows. Laughter and smiles abound. Today my family and I took our turn at sitting and visiting a spell. Usually we remain posted behind the table of food, happily dispensing spoonfuls to the hungry.

One gentleman diner shared a bit of prideful news with me as we sat across from one another.

“Do you like to read nonfiction?” he asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

Removing a book from the huge pocket that fronted his hoodie, he handed it to me with instructions that I turn to page 50. There, he explained, I would find an interview between himself and the author. Reading the passage I soon learned that my fellow diner identified himself with the being who personified inner, radiant light…as described by the writer. I smiled, handing the book back to its owner.

No, I didn’t think I was sitting down to sup with a loony case. If I’d wanted, I’m sure the gentleman would’ve been an engaging conversationalist. It is I who lacks the expansive imagination to visit other worlds. I would love to write fantasy…but alas, I don’t. But I would love to…maybe one day…for a story’s been brewing in my non-fiction brain…for some time.

Musicians from my church came by to entertain with Christmas carols. All joined in the singing…eyes twinkling as the spirit of the holiday sprinkled its magic upon our heads…and in our hearts. God‘s presence was palpable.

We who volunteered a little of our time and energy…received so much in return…from the downtrodden in our community. Through their intercession, we were filled with the Almighty’s mercy…and the grace of the Blessed Virgin.

No, I’m not a religious zealot…

…but I am a believer…in compassion…and hope…for each other…as well as ourselves…

………hugmamma. 

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tis the season…to give

I’m certain moms everywhere will agree that this is the season when we’re called upon to give, give and give some more. How we manage to get through the holidays when additional tasks are piled onto our already overflowing platters is beyond comprehension. But we do.

Public Photograph of Stewart Udall walking wit...

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Shop for and wrap gifts, for family and friends. Write greeting cards and letters sharing news of interest. Shop for, prepare and host festive meals. Acknowledge all those who are of service throughout the year with special tokens of appreciation. Plan and prepare for holiday trips to visit relatives, or to have them come and visit. Remember the less fortunate with hand-selected presents or volunteering one’s time and energy. As the poet Robert Frost wrote “But I have promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”

It took me nearly 2 weeks to decorate my house to the nines, being mindful not to exacerbate my back pain. Knowing of my daughter’s love for family traditions makes the effort more than worthwhile. Then I arranged for our menagerie of pets to be cared for while we made a long weekend visit to see my daughter perform in her ballet company’s Nutcracker. And, of course, I offered to finish the Christmas decorating she’d begun in her apartment.

I couldn’t resist cooking a huge pot of chili, most of which I froze for meals my daughter could easily defrost and heat later. I did the same with  salisbury steak…hamburger patties with mushroom and onion seasoned gravy…a favorite of our family’s. I laundered her bed linens so that after spending the holidays with us, she’d return home to a freshly made bed in the New Year.

Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog

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My husband and I grocery shopped, stocking the refrigerator and cupboards with favorite foods. No more “old Mother Hubbard,” when “hugmamma’s” around. And while our daughter spent her days at the theatre preparing for performances, we scrubbed and vacuumed and cleaned so that she wouldn’t feel the need to tidy up before heading out of town for some much needed R and R.

And now that she’s home with us, my husband and I dote upon our daughter, cherishing the limited time we have together as a family under the same roof once again. We tease each other good naturedly, laughing at “inside” jokes.

Cover of

Cover of Holiday Inn (Special Edition)

Late into the night my daughter and I watch black-and-white videos like Bing Crosby’sHoliday Inn and Barbara Stanwyck‘s “Christmas in Connecticut.” Other times I groan as she and her dad watch “Polar Express,” a favorite that he plays every evening…dozing off and on throughout. I’ve probably seen more of it than my husband…not necessarily a good thing.

While dad’s up to his eyeballs in paperwork at the office, my daughter and I scurry about like Cinderella‘s mice…driving to appointments…last minute shopping…visiting with acquaintances for a few minutes…catching quick bites, whenever and wherever we can.

In the evenings, we all collapse into our favorite chairs…and veg…like lumps of coal. Not a bad thing in this case. Time to catch our breaths before starting all over again tomorrow…more appointments…more waiting…more driving. But this mom wouldn’t have it any other way. Time with my daughter is a gift which I never take for granted.

English: Michelle Obama served food at Miriam’...

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And we’ve decided to add one more thing to our holiday “to do” list…to spend Christmas Day preparing dishes to serve to those less fortunate in our community. We’ll join other volunteers in trying to bring a little happiness to some who might otherwise find it very difficult to come by.

I find the best part of Christmas is…in the giving. I know I come by that trait from my mom. Growing up I remember when she painstakingly crafted wreaths as gifts from wire hangers, newspapers and fronds of evergreen gathered in our annual outing to the countryside in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

English: Eucalyptus globulus (view towards Kul...

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Yes…there were groves of evergreen scattered here and there in the more elevated temperatures in Kula on the island of Maui. The trees were usually on private property where my mom would venture to knock on the door of the owner’s house, and ask if we might cut down one of their trees. I can’t ever remember being turned away. Perhaps the sight of a single mom, an island native, with several children in tow tugged at the heartstrings of those who heard her humble request. 

English: Christmas Trees. Christmas tree farm ...

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Thinking back upon such times, images flood my mind of being invited inside to partake of cookies and milk and warm conversation. My mom, at her best, genuine conviviality overflowing onto those in her presence. Who could resist granting her wish for a Christmas tree for her family…and refusing the $5 she offered wholeheartedly?

So in turn, my mom would find joy in giving to others…what she herself made. I would always help deliver the products of our own labor…for we too learned to make what we couldn’t buy. At the time it always seemed far more exciting to receive the store bought items given to us in return..candies, small toys, board games. 

Although handcrafting presents has long since fallen by the way side, giving to others brings me great pleasure and is something that I’ve continued in the tradition of my mom. Seeing someone’s eyes light up with wonder at receiving a tangible expression of my care and concern for him, or her, is a gift to me…that lasts a lifetime. And so… 

…i wish you happiness…in the gifts of small, precious moments…throughout the holidays…and all the days…of your wonderful life…

………hugmamma.  🙂

under the christmas tree…

What is it I want this Christmas? Is there anything I need? What would make a difference in my life?

 

 

 

For starters…how about peace of mind…body…and soul.

For the main course…how about relief from so much negative stuff…on the news…in my community…in america…in the world.

For dessert…how about love…love…and more…love! 

What could I do without? What would I give away? What would I share…with loved ones…with strangers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

For starters…how about all the material stuff I’ve accumulated…just because.  

For the main course…how about some of me…some of my time…some of my compassion.

For dessert…how about more helpings…of everything…already mentioned.

…a holiday feast…fit for royalty…or plain folk…like you…and moi…

………hugmamma.  😉 (imagejpg.com)

not like wildebeest…

Ongoing issues with my back have prevented me from sitting at my laptop for any length of time. Funny how we humans can adjust our routines to accommodate unforseen circumstances.  Not all species are as fortunate as ours. In fact the poor wildebeest comes to mind. en.wikepedia.org

I can remember feeling utterly hopeless for the poor animals as I watched a TV documentary long ago which showed the wildebeest traveling the same route as its ancestors when the seasons changed. Despite the often treacherous terrain they would press on, even when it meant the weak and young would be like lambs led to slaughter. For crossing the river they would undoubtedly encounter hungry crocodiles eagerly awaiting their next meal. curve.jpg

While I have tried various and sundry things to eradicate the pain in my lower back, including chiropractic adjustments, massages, rest, exercise, and medication, I’ve continued to prepare for Christmas. Of course it’s taking me a lot longer than in years past. However I’ve learned to lower my expectations. I’ve made it a point to cut myself some slack. I focus upon what does get done, rather than what doesn’t. And I’m content with that.

From my perspective, middle-age, life is for savoring what’s good. When I’m unable to shut down at 2 a.m., my mind still abuzz with words, I find a smile spreading across my lips as I contemplate my blessings. And I count them…as the old adage suggests. Among them…my continued desire to write…and the devotion of those who continue to read…what I write. Although the number of hits has dwindled, I’m still amazed at the few who still stop by, leaving a comment, liking a particular post…no matter that it’s weeks old.

So as I struggle with ongoing aches and pains, my spirit feels the healing salve of others’ well-wishes. The holidays are upon us., and we are all preoccupied with making them the best they can be, regardless of our circumstances. I’m hopeful that 2012 will see the road we travel…more forgiving of our human frailties. For unlike the wildebeest…

…we do have a say in the matter…we can change the course…of our lives…

………hugmamma.  😉