A Little Seasonal Magic

A bit of nature's magic.

Despite my somewhat Grinchy posts of late, there is something I love about the season.

It’s not the “true meaning” of Christmas because I can’t believe. It’s not Santa Claus. It’s not the buying and giving frenzy which I find utterly repulsive.

It’s what I call the magic.

This is the time of year when people seem to believe anything can happen. When twinkle lights fill the air, and the world takes on a festive look. This is the time of year where tiny villages decorate homes, in nostalgic reflections of times gone by where people sang carols and visited in horse-drawn sleighs.

It’s the time of year when the magical tinkle of bells rings everywhere, and you truly believe that another angel has just gotten wings.

It’s the time of year when people, or perhaps elves, create beauty out of almost anything imaginable. For example, Kathy (a blogging buddy turned dear friend) creates these spectacularly beautiful holiday ornaments out of recycled materials. Or these fantastic creations I saw on display at a nearby botanical garden (which I wish I had discovered this summer, but will revisit often throughout the year).

Sleigh full of simple loveliness.

A bucket full of magic berries.

All natural decorations all for the cost of some creative magic.

White twinkle lights must be magic.

Looking for an appropriate and natural holiday outfit?

A Victorian Christmas done the natural way.

A close up on a magical red tree.

But still, the most incredible artist of all, who makes the season truly magical whether there is snow or not, is Mother Nature.

Decorations only Mother Nature can create.

Occupy Thanksgiving: The Five Senses of Thanks

Warning, today’s post is a somewhat rambling journey into nostalgia brought on by the five senses.

The delicious aroma of my Mom’s recipe for stuffing permeated the house last night, making me want to dive into its comforting flavor-filled memory. I admit that I conducted a taste test to be sure it was perfect, which it was.

 

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite non-religious holiday. I used to love rushing down to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade back when the parade itself seemed longer than the commercials (now, sadly, the opposite is true). I am determined to make it to New York one of these years to see the parade live and without commercial interruptions.

For some strange reason (perhaps because I have been spending the week trying to OCCUPY Thanksgiving) the build up to Thanksgiving this week has been filled with moments of nostalgia and flashes of memory brought on by the power of my senses and some strange moments of serendipity.

 Today the house will fill with other scintillating smells,  as well as the delicious flavors that lead to overindulgence and (hopefully) create fabulous memories for my daughter, as  we have a family Thanksgiving.

While our family Thanksgivings have become more about a decadent meal than anything else for the past few years, I am still thankful for the memories of Thanksgivings past–memories that are carried in the scents and flavors of our traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Part of the joy of Thanksgiving was the rush home the day before after a half-day of school. The cool but crisp autumn air making me walk more quickly to get inside the warmth of the place called home. Yesterday, Sarah rushed in with excitement and energy, partially incited by the thrill of a homework assignment (believe it or not) where she is asked to interview a family member about his/her life as a third grader and Thanksgivings past. It should be fun hearing the stories, and I might encourage her to interview everyone not just one person.

Yesterday evening we decided to head to the movies to watch The Muppets which added to my feelings of nostalgia with the songs, sounds, and beloved characters of my youth. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the movie (once I got over the slight disappointment of character voices that weren’t quite right. Frank Oz was not part of this movie, and Fozzy Bear suffered for his lack). I found myself singing along to songs old and new, with a flashback to a favorite childhood performance of mine as I joined the muppets in a moving rendition of “Rainbow Connection.”

Yesterday, as I wrote my post in honor of Anne McCaffrey, I had an instant memory of a story I wrote for my class in sixth grade. Actually, it was a collection of stories and poems that I wrote and copied precisely into a hard covered dark green book with a gold pattern on the front and a red ribbon bookmark attached. Each story or poem has illustrations, also made by me.  I have that book somewhere and had hoped to copy the pages of the dragon story inspired by my reading of McCaffrey into my post, but we cannot find the book as it is lost in some of the boxes yet to find a place.  It is amazing how I can still picture the writing and the smell of that book and even the feel of the smooth pages in that book. I even remember the feeling in my hand as I cautiously drew light pencil lines on the blank pages, followed by penciled in letters, followed by tracing each letter in black marker before adding the illustrations.

The creation of my first book.

In a bizarre twist of nostalgic fate, just last night, Mrs. Jorgenson, the fabulous teacher who assigned the project to me accepted a friend request on Facebook that I had sent long ago. Coincidence or a reminder that we should be thankful for all of our past experiences, and all of the amazing teachers who have guided our hands along the way?

Finally, in the mail yesterday I received a book sent to me by someone who I have known since grade school at least, if not earlier. Milton has been following my blog (thanks for that)  and staying in touch via Facebook and he wrote me last week saying:

“I came across a book of quotes I thought you might like today and wanted to send it along. It’s called “The Quotable Woman”. My Sister in Law was giving it away and I thought you might get some use from it.”

As soon as I got it I started reading,  and of course my eyes were filled with wisdom and words from women of all types. Some you’ve heard before, some you haven’t, but all of them lend food for my thoughts about the power of women’s voices. So thank you, Milton, for this special little gift.   I have a feeling these quotes will be appearing in my posts for a while, starting withe these two found in the chapter called “Time and Change.”

“Memory is more indelible than ink. ” Anita Loos

“Sometimes I would almost rather have people take away years of my life than take away a moment.” Pearl Bailey

I leave you today wishing you all a wonderful day, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Take today and enjoy every moment with all of your senses.

Variations on a Challenge (100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups)

The challenge:

“Now for this week, I’m pinching (with permission!) an idea from my dear friend Jenny Matlock.  You may not be old enough to know this rhyme:

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

Now it has a rhythm to it – yes? Your challenge this week is to write something with the same rhythm using only 21 words that include ‘ …in winter we shiver…‘ Easy!”

Once I started the challenge, I couldn’t stop, so here are three variations:

Version I: Seasonal Silliness

Whatever the weather in winter we shiver
Whenever the wind does blow
‘Tis the season, surpassing reason
Making men from snow.

Photo by Steve Kramer

Version II: Celebrating the Season

In winter we shiver, limbs all a-quiver
Whenever winds do blow
Still many a reason, a smiling season;
Stupendous sparkly snow.

Version III: Season of Doom

Come hither children, in winter we shiver
as death creeps ever in.
Play, play, forever; undefeatable never
for seasons always win.

Be sure to read all the other entries.

Ice Cream Tastes Better . . .

I’m feeling a little nostalgic and lone today. I haven’t given my daughter the Memorial Day she deserves as a child. Maybe next year. But, thanks to her, and the little tinkle of music coming down the street, I got to eat a strawberry shortcake and find some words to write (words that have avoided me all day):

 Ice cream tastes better
when it comes off an ice cream truck.

Fried Dough tastes better at a county fair.

Marshmallows taste better after a barbecue.

Ice cold lemonade tastes better after playing in the sun all day.

Everything tastes better in the memories of childhood.

Birthday Wishes

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

Image via Wikipedia

I am reposting this birthday post from last year, because I think I should.

I don’t know what it is about March 14th but I know more people born on that day (myself included) than any other day of the year. It has never really just been my birthday, since I was born on my cousin’s sweet 16–which completely freaks me out when I do the math. One of my closest friends in college had the same birthday as well, which led to interesting celebrations involving kidnappings and late night diner adventures. On Facebook alone I have four friends celebrating their birthday today (the college friend included). Happy birthday to us all.

And of course, we are not alone, as there are numerous historical figures of all types who were born on this day, perhaps the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1879. I share my actual birthday with actress Megan Fellows who performed in Anne of Green Gables which is one of my favorite books and mini-series. There are also plenty of historical events including war and peace, joy and sadness.

But, let’s face it, the reason the day is important to me is because it is my birthday.

I admit, though, that I have a slight dread of birthdays now, as the years pile on and life becomes harder in some ways. I know that the looming date of my birthday has influenced the past week of posts, and I apologize for the kind of general gloom and doom of my recent posts.

But, I have decided ENOUGH OF THAT! I am going to chase those birthday blues away by putting some fabulous birthday wish energy out into the universe! It’s my birthday, I can wish what I want to. And what better place to do that then into the blogosphere?

The combined wish energy of all the people born today has potential power. So today, I am going to make birthday wishes for every year of my life–not just selfish wishes, but wishes that I hope will bring some wonderful things to this world. In case you are dying to know, that means 43 wishes. That’s a lot of wishes I think. I am not listing them in any particular order of priority, I just want to put that wish energy out there in the universe and see what happens. I recognize that some of my wishes are nearly impossible, but if we all put power behind our wishes maybe we can change the world.

Emma Thomson, Felicity wishes

So here goes:

  1. I am putting this one first because it is the most immediate. I hope that all goes well with my friend Elizabeth’s custody hearing today and her wonderful boys remain with their intelligent, beautiful, talented Mom.
  2. May the pain and suffering caused by natural disasters worldwide (especially in Japan now) bring this world closer to recognizing that we have to help and support each other rather than thrive on hatred and war. May the survivors be helped swiftly and gracefully. (Does that count as two wishes? I don’t think so.)
  3. I wish that Nathan, Sarah, and I could find the place/job/situation that we really want to call home soon (as in during this coming year).
  4. I wish that all of us with dreams of publishing find homes for our manuscript babies.
  5. I wish that my blogging family continue to grow and support each other, and create opportunities to meet, to create, and to expand our relationships.
  6. I wish that the government would come to its senses and leave women’s rights alone, embrace marriage equality for all, and support programming (such as the arts) that will strengthen our country, our educations system, and our health care. [This is probably my most unrealistic wish, I know ;) ]
  7. I wish that discoveries would be made to help bring my father back to us, even if only for a short time.
  8. I hope my whole family stays healthy this year.
  9. I wish that I could continue the path towards becoming healthier and getting control over my own weight. I would like to not have to be on medication for my whole life, so I want to lose weight, exercise and eat right to enrich the life of my entire family.
  10. I hope that Sarah embraces whatever changes may come, and learns to love the friends she has and live in the Now.
  11. I wish for puppets, lots and lots of puppets.
  12. I wish that Nathan and I could take that trip to Ireland that we have been wanting to take. And that all three of us can take a real vacation together somewhere fabulous.
  13. I wish that all the people I have met recently who are searching for their purpose or some change in their lives can find their bliss and create a world that fulfills them.
  14. I hope that I can write another novel without second guessing myself.
  15. I wish that Tori Nelson would get book contract and mention me on the acknowledgments page. :)
  16. I hope that my dissertation writing friends complete their dissertations, graduate with glory, and then move on to discover whatever it is they really want to do. :)
  17. I hope my brother is able to pursue his passions and find his way to move forward.
  18. I wish I could create a really beautiful piece of art. I’m not sure what kind, but I want to create something really wonderful.
  19. I wish I could have a weekend at a spa, treating myself to peace, quiet and massage.
  20. I wish that I could organize my time better, to allow for more time to read, to write, to create and to spend with my family.
  21. I wish for some fabulous adventures of all types with my family, including some adventures abroad.
  22. I wish whatever was plaguing my e-mail would be fixed soon [perhaps the easiest wish to solve]
  23. I know that it is unrealistic to wish nothing sad would happen over the coming year, but I hope the times of joy are more numerous than the times of sadness.
  24. I wish we could sell our house in Durango . . . SOON!
  25. I wish that I could have a house that I am allowed to decorate again, the way I would like to.
  26. I wish I could have a reunion with all my Durango friends who I miss so much.
  27. I wish that I could reunite with other friends that I have been thinking about a lot lately.
  28. I wish Sarah would embrace happiness.
  29. I would like a slice of my mother’s chocolate cake.
  30. I hope that we can get my older dog’s health issues under control so that we find fewer poop balls lying around the house.
  31. I wish that I would figure out my new dreams soon, so that I could then make them happen.
  32. I wish the economy would be better so that the unemployed will find employment.
  33. I wish for books, lots and lots of fabulous books.
  34. I wish that, as I lose more weight, I can finally begin developing my style again–a style all my own I’m sure, but one that I would like to have.
  35. I wish Jasper, my younger dog, would realize that home is better than running away.
  36. I wish I could ride a horse.
  37. I wish Sarah could ride a horse.
  38. I wish Sarah and I could take a mother-daughter belly dance class together.
  39. I wish I could learn to meditate, or at least find more inner peace.
  40. I wish to be “Furiously Happy.”
  41. I wish the war would end, and no more wars would begin.
  42. I wish for a warm cup of chai every day.
  43. I wish I could take more naps.

Wow! It was actually really difficult to think up 43 wishes. But its my birthday, and I can wish if I want to.

What do you wish for?


Resolving to Forgive

Happy New Year World (2010)

The New Year is right around the corner. As usual I have put in the back of my mind the resolution to lose weight, to get healthy, to exercise more, to write more, etc. However, those are promises I’ve been making and breaking too often now, and I just recently recognized that there is one resolution that I must stick to before I can accomplish any of the others.

I am resolving to forgive.

This resolution runs deep, and underlies my ability to succeed in any other resolution I could possible make. This is not just about forgiving others for any perceived wrongs on their, part. This is about forgiving myself for the abuse I have given myself over the years, both mentally and physically.

Thus, my New Year’s Resolution for 2011 is to Forgive.

I forgive myself for the weakness that made me make some poor choices in the past, especially when it came to friends.

I forgive myself for not becoming the person I thought I wanted to be. After all, I may still be wondering what I want to be when I grow up, but the person I am right now is pretty interesting.

I forgive myself for gaining weight and not taking care of myself physically. I can only change that if I can forgive myself for doing it.

I forgive myself for my failures as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend. I know that I have many failings in these ares, but I also have many successes.

I forgive myself for my inability to completely forgive those who have hurt me. At the same time, however, I think I am very close to honestly forgiving if not forgetting.

I also must include in this resolution forgiving myself for the mistakes I have yet to make. I’m finally learning that I dwell too much on mistakes and not enough on achievements. So perhaps part of this New Year’s Resolution is to not just Forgive but to Honor.

That’s it! I hereby resolve to Honor myself  and others throughout the year 2011 as well as the coming years. I also resolve to continue to forgive.

I honor you, my readers. I hope you forgive me for this post.

Later in the day . . .

I spent much of the day reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. It’s a beautiful and intriguing book overall, but the following passage gave me chills as the universe sent me a message:

“All forgiveness is self-forgiveness. . . . But I do not yet know how to forgive. Or who, in the end, really needs to be forgiven. ” (Barry 383)

Kindling the Lights of Hanukkah

A Brooklyn resident lighting candles on Hannuk...

Image via Wikipedia

My daughter quivers with excitement, unable to sit still or concentrate on homework. It is the first night of Hanukkah, and she cannot wait. I wonder though if to her this night is only about opening one of the presents that are piled on the table. She counts the number daily to see if there are more. Eight presents, eight nights, but she hopes for an extra one.

She watches the sun waiting for the minute she can light the candles. My orders are clear, “Mommy, you light the helper candle (the shammas) and I get to light the other one.”

“Of course,” I say, thinking back to my own childhood memories of Hanukkah.  I remember wondering if it was my turn to light the candles that night (since we alternated between the three of us). I loved the sound of the match striking, the smell of the sulfur sparking, the sizzle of the candles lighting. I loved deciding how to put the candles in, alternating colors some nights or using all one color the next.

I also remember debating the present issue. Should I open one present or all of them? Should I open the big one or the littlest one? (Often the best things came in the small packages as I soon learned). I know that presents became the focus often, but I don’t think it was just that for me.

To me the holiday was about light in darkness. It was my little bit of color in cold winters.  I had this tiny little ceremony that warmed up cold winter nights. The colors of the menorah were as bright to me as Christmas lights. It was what made being different, being Jewish, worth it.

I think that is why I still light them with my family. They represent something joyous to me. I’m not super religious. I’m not even sure what I believe. But I cannot let go of the tradition. I want so much to leave Sarah with fond memories of candles lighting the house on a cold winter’s night.

I worry that all she sees is the presents.

As I type this, Sarah runs into the room, a smile on her face. She doesn’t say anything, just glints at me with a twinkle in her eye. She runs into the other room and says “The sun is down!” as if I am not sitting in front of a window watching the colors of day fade.

I ask Sarah, “Why are you so excited to light the candles?

“Because it’s fun.”

“Do you know why we light the candles?”

She answers, “I know part of the story. The oil lasted eight nights. I think we have a book.”

“Would you like to read the book?”

“Yes, after I finish my homework.”

Maybe I am creating a tradition that goes beyond the presents.  It’s time to light the candles.

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