Sunday, December 24, 2023

How to Christmas in Grief

Christmas Eve 2023

My heart is so full on this Christmas Eve day with family in Indiana.  It is full of gratitude for memorable Christmases past with my parents, sisters and their families.

The memory of piling all our family Christmas in the car on Sunday afternoon so we could make a quick escape after the Sunday evening Christmas music of which Dick was in charge.  We gladly and with eager anticipation made the three hour drive down to South Central Louisiana to my parent's home.  Of course, we charted Santa's sleigh the entire way and even caught an occasional glimpse as it flew quickly overhead.

Once we spotted "Poppa's Light" - the only caution light in the village - John and Christy were either in my lap in the front seat or hanging over our shoulders waiting to see who would get the first sight of Poppa and Larla standing in the yard waiting for us.  This was way before cell phones so how they knew it time, I'll never know.

Daddy would always have a bowl of his finely and lovingly crafted fruit salad waiting for me.  That is what I miss most of our traditions because he delighted in spending hours cutting up the apples, bananas and cherries just right and seeing my face when I took the first bite.  We always arrived first because my sisters lived much closer and didn't require a midnight arrival, but came the next day with all their entourage.  

These were precious memories that will always declare not only my childhood but that of my children and their cousins as well.  Dad left us shortly after our Christmas in 1993, and our family Christmas was never the same.

The death of our mother is 2005 was another milestone, and now the deaths of Thomas and Sarah will forever be a milestone for their families.  New traditions will begin while they desperately attempt to hang on to those most precious.  Things are never the same, but out of sadness, grief and lose can come beauty and life.  That is my hope and prayer for both Thomas and Sarah's families this year.  That is what they would have wanted.

May Jesus Christ be honored and glorified as all of us gather to remember, to reflect on our Father's great gift in sending His Son to earth so that we might know His great love and sacrifice for us.  Thank you, Father God for showing us how to live with loss and gain simultaneously through your example.

As I was writing this, I was summoned up stairs to be given a private preview of #4 Granddaughter's wedding dress. Through tears, I was reminded again that life does indeed go on and how best to honor our loved ones than to embrace that life to its fullest.  To rejoice in good times; to support, encourage and love the ones left behind, is how to live in times of grief.

Christmas 1993

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

A Final 2023 Hodgepodge Tea Party

Merry Christmas

Thank you for joining in for the final Wednesday Hodgepodge blog post for 2023.

1.  Did you do more talking or more listening yesterday?  Was it by choice or by necessity?

I think I did more listening yesterday.  We are currently at our son's home in northern Indiana for Christmas.  Yesterday brought the most beautiful wintery lake effect snowfall, so I spent most of my day watching the flakes swirl and fly around before landing on the many surfaces that this morning reflect the abundance.  Listening was definitely by choice.

2.  Are you a tea drinker?  Hot, cold, or both?  Flavored?  What do you like in your tea>  do you make Christmas tea this time of year?  What time of day do you like to sip your tea?

I am a tea drinker, and the above is my early morning preference year round.  During the warm temps I enjoy a mid-day glass of sweet iced tea with a touch of lemonade.  We call it an Arnold Palmer.  Now, for a teabag cup of tea, I prefer it in the evening with a touch of honey or my favorite liquid sweetener.  We used to make a Christmas Spiced Tea using instant tea and Tang, but I haven't made it in ages.  Maybe something to think about doing again.

3.  What's an activity you won't try, an event you won't attend, or an athletic challenge you won't take part in not even for 'all the tea in China"?

Won't try:    Hang-gliding
Won't attend:    Rock concert, NWA (professional wrestling) match
Won't take challenge:    Rugby or anything else involving contact, movement or agility skills

4.  What's something most people seem to love but is not 'your cup of tea"?


5.  How does your family celebrate New Year's Eve?

It is usually only Dick and I for New Year's Eve so it is a quiet evening usually in front of the TV.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

The past couple weeks have been the most sad and emotional time for my family.  On Dec. 1 both my sisters and my middle sister's husband were involved in a head-on car collision resulting in the death of my brother-in-law and youngest sister.  How do you deal with such loss?  Only through the assurance of knowing they knew Jesus as their Saviour and through the strength and comfort He provides.

This Christmas and days and months following will be difficult to say the least, but treasured memories abound and the bond we shared as sisters will bring so much peace and comfort.  Below is a collage of a few Christmases past when we all gathered at our parent's home.  You may notice that we are touchers and huggers.

Don't leave anything left unsaid or unshared this Christmas season, and may God's blessings abound.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Post Thanksgiving Hodgepodge

After months of being away from the Hodgepodge, I finally found a Tuesday with time to sit a minute between appointments to put together a blog post.

Thank you Joyce for always being here even when one of us isn't.

1.  Does anybody really know what day it is?  Last week we skipped the Hodgepodge and I just assumed this week would find us in December, but nope.  Still November.  Do you wear a watch?  Use a paper calendar or strictly electronic?  What's your favorite hour of the day?  Why?

It really does seem like November has been unusually long for some reason.  The most longed for month has gone on long enough for me.

I do not always know what day it is and that is why I keep both a paper calendar and electronic.  Even with these helps, we get confused some days.  In fact, just this week, we both realized we had doctors appointments set on the day we are to be out-of-state for a funeral.  Alas!

I do wear a watch.  While my Apple watch is charging overnight (why do they not hold a charge longer???) I wear my Fitbit watch to sleep and for my early morning walk.

My favorite hour of the day is just before daylight.  I love to be outdoors walking at this time, regardless of the temperature.

2.  Tell us something about how you celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday.

We traditionally celebrate the day with our daughter and her family as well as her husband's family.  I will let the following pictures describe how our day was spent.

Nothing quite like enjoying special days through the eyes of toddler, especially when he is your Great Grandson #1.

3.  What's a sound you hate to hear?

It used to be an alarm clock but thankfully we don't set those anymore.  These days it would be the sound of emergency vehicles because it means someone is in trouble.

4.  Where do you not mind waiting?

I seriously cannot think of anywhere.  Waiting is not my favorite pastime; however, I do try to be content and keep my mind preoccupied in whatever long wait I find myself.

5.  I really wish all my family could be together for Christmas.  But, since that will not happen, I wish for a new administration to be in charge of running our government in 2024.  This may also be a stretch.

My biggest wish and prayer is that all those who are struggling and without the knowledge of and belief in Jesus Christ would come to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Although we were not with our Indiana bunch for Thanksgiving, let me share a few of their special pictures, simply because you need to see our big Great Grandson #2.

We can't wait to spend Christmas with this part of our beautiful family.

Friday, October 6, 2023

September Anniversary Trip - Santa Fe & 58 Years

Because Santa Fe is one of our favorite places with lots of family memories, we chose to return after almost 25 years to celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary.  The last time we were there, we introduced this place of enchantment to our oldest grandchild, Chandler.

The old marker on the right side of the road that we always stopped and climbed on to take a picture has been replaced with this large overhead sign.  It is not nearly as much fun as the old one.

Cline's Corner was always a stop as it is where we would turn to go toward Glorieta.  It hasn't changed a bit.

The view on this road brought back memories as we always got excited when we could see mountains in the distance.  This trip was no exception.

The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was to walk to the Plaza.  They were having a big Labor Day Festival with all sorts of vendors.  It was quite a busy place on this Monday, but we didn't mind.  It was exciting to just be there.

We enjoyed an ice cream cone while people watching and enjoying the atmosphere.

We enjoyed visiting with this Native American jewelry maker and hearing about his history and heritage.

This lady was also very interesting as she told us that her disabled daughter was the inspiration for her jewelry.  Everyone has a story and most are eager to share it with someone interested in hearing it.

John and Michelle gifted us with a delicious anniversary dinner at a wonderful steak house.  We started with a complimentary glass of champagne, then an appetizer of roasted bone marrow before having the most delicious steaks.  We loved our special gift and are so grateful for their thoughtfulness.

Afterwards we walked around and enjoyed many examples of the extradentary sculptures along the streets.

After our long and wonderful day, we did feel much like this fallen Indian - exhausted and in need of some rest.

The next morning we met Prestonwood friends, the Clarks for brunch at the Laredo Hotel.  They have had a home there for almost 15 years and had sold it just a day before meeting us.  We so enjoyed this time with them.

We then began our walking tour of the town beginning with the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.  We had never been inside so decided it was time.

It is beautiful and we were so glad we finally took the time to visit.  It had a baptismal pool for anyone wanting to be emersed.

There were not nearly as many Indian vendors in front of the Governor's Palace as there used to be.

We saw the State Capital Building which was not far from our hotel before visiting the Poteet Victory Art Gallery.

My hairdresser, Kent James had been telling me about his father's best friend who is an artist in Santa Fe.  I knew when we visited this would definitely be a stop.

While I looked around, Dick had the best visit with Poteet's wife.  She is the most friendly and down-to-earth person you could ever meet.  It was a delightful time.

And this is the artist himself.  Such a high point of our stay in Santa Fe.

We ended our memorable day and stay in Santa Fe with a snack and the most delicious shake in this outdoor cafe right on the Plaza.  We could not have celebrated our special day, and relived memories in a better way.  Tomorrow we go to Moab, Utah.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

May Family Florida Beach Trip

For some now unknown reason, I never published about our April 29 - May 6, 2023 Family Florida Beach Trip.  Although I posted daily on Facebook what we had done each day with accompanying pictures to prove it, I never compiled it for my blog book.  

So, here goes a very belated record of our amazing week with our amazing family.

April 29: First evening at the beach with the family. We are looking so forward to spending this week with our kids, grands and greats.

Our first full beach day began with Brad, Jackson and Michelle preparing a delicious mid-morning breakfast before we all headed to the beach. It was 57 degrees and wind was 20 mph so it wasn’t a perfect beach time, but fun nevertheless. After naps, snacks, reading, starting a 1000 piece puzzle, making a coffee and cornhole run, we later went out for a fun dinner and another late night together.

Day 3 @ the Beach the morning was perfect for spending time in the sand. Dick and I did our routine walk before joining the family in our Day nest.

Jax still is not sold on the sand but Landon wore himself out and did his own nesting in Mommy’s lap for an hour.

Savannah, ever the domestic princess prepared blueberry muffins, bacon and cheese grits for a brunch in the sun.
We saw neighbor fishermen catch a baby shark which was exciting.
In the evening we divided, with the 2 sisters dressing up and dining together; the two grandparent couples walked to The Perfect Pig Grill and got back in time to babysit and put babies to bed so their parents could have a delightful evening alone before Brad had to return to Dallas.

Our Day 4 Beach Trip started early when Brad learned at 3:30 a.m. that his 3:30 a.m. driver to the airport had cancelled. God had me & Dick awake so we were able to drive him to Panama City in time for his 6 a.m. flight back to Dallas.
The majority of the day was spent on the beach. Both boys decided the cool water and sand could be fun after all.

The evening was spent on a different beach for professional Day Family pictures and a gorgeous sunset. You will find them at the end of this post.

The final 2 Beach Days were rather slow and relaxing. The girls went shopping, ate the best delivered pizza, shopped some more and ate leftover pizza. Thursday night the Day family had a special night out for Mother’s Day and birthdays while we had an evening with Chandler and Landon. Friday, the girls went to Rosemary Beach and the boys saw a movie. Then we all celebrated with Mexican food brought in while gathering all our belongings into 4 different vehicles for an early morning departure.

This truly has been a blessed time together with our family, for which we will forever be grateful.

Our group reluctantly parted ways this morning leaving nothing undone, nothing unsaid, and love unshared. Until next time!