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Monday, December 15, 2014

The Light of the Season

This glass bulb, filled with milkweed silk, was given to me by a 79-year-old at the senior center where I work.  Just goes to show we're never to old to capture beauty.

For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed sitting in a room with the only light coming from the branches of a Christmas tree.  There's something about the glow that conjures up a connection to families that read together by candlelight, or popped popcorn over an open fire. 

This year, we have three trees.  The real one, in our family kitchen area, is strung with sentimental, homemade ornaments.  A "designer" tree filled with white and gold, glass and angels stands in front of the window in the living room.  My husband has decorated a tree downstairs, in the "man cave," with snowman lights and ornaments made during our daughter's classroom art projects. No matter what room I'm in, the light of a Christmas tree offers a warmth that seeps inside of me and makes me bubble up with a feeling of well being, of appreciation and gratitude.

I'm taking the rest of the year off folks.  Wishing you all joy and warmth and a season filled with Christmas tree light.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Small Town Festivities

Every year at this time, I write about the same thing, a festival put together by the churches surrounding our town common--a simple, soulful day that for me, kicks off the holidays.  It rained this year, but it didn't matter.  My girl was with me again after a three year absence, and together we picked out books at the book fair, gulped our steaming chowder, and sat in a 350-year-old church to listen to the town band play festive arrangements of holiday-inspired tunes. 

We arrive home as always, to discover the hard work of Mr. Christmas, who spends the day hanging lights and displaying nutcrackers around our house.  Later in the afternoon, it seemed like the right time to make some mulled wine.  I heated apple cider, a little Cabernet, cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange, poured it into mugs and we sipped, letting it warm us down to the core.  Yep, Thanksgiving was late this year, but it only took me a week to move on.  Christmas, I'm all in.

Welcome to the season.

Festival on the Common

Mulled wine

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG - The Book!!!

This is my December post for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a lovely group of writers helping and inspiring other writers.  To read more from this amazing group, click here.

I almost didn’t get this post written in time, but for good reason.  I downloaded The Insecure Writers Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond and started reading.  Do you have your copy yet?  No? What are you waiting for?  The book is chock-full of outstanding writing from talented folks who offer helpful and actionable suggestions about how to move forward in writing-related endeavors.

Monday evening, I’d slotted time to write this IWSG post but instead, I stayed up late reading the guide, and learning.  How could I not?  What a plum!  Over one hundred writers have contributed how-to and inspirational essays designed to help other writers, no matter where they are in the journey.  The depth and breadth of this publication made me step back and say, “Wow.”  

For three years, members of IWSG have been imparting wisdom and encouragement on a monthly basis.  Now there's a one-stop resource filled with similar support, I can turn to anytime.  Yippee! So today, like so many others, I want to thank Alex Cavanaugh and all the folks who helped him create this awesome anthology.  Please visit each of them and let them know how much their efforts have meant!

And, as a bonus, if you're interested in branding yourself as a writer, here's an intriguing take that will help you to do it like Hemingway, or Parker, or Fitzgerald...or Austen, or you!.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Last Bit of Reflection

Days of prep and days to recover, but I have Thanksgiving in my heart, and yesterday, as I walked off some of my food related misdemeanors from last week, I realized why.  During our oh-to-short gathering with extended family, a sixteen year old nephew told me how much he loved coming to our house for Thanksgiving.  Our twenty-six year old niece tells us it her favorite holiday too.

Twenty years ago, my husband and I volunteered to take Thanksgiving off of his mother’s shoulders which meant entertaining some combination of seven of his siblings, plus spouses, and children.  That first time, I was clueless how much effort it would take.  Our daughter, and several nieces and nephews were toddlers and I stepped over crawlers while trying to get dinner on the table.  I don’t even remember how many came that time, just that we managed through it and decided we could do it again.  And then again.  Who knew it would become a tradition?

Now, we look forward to it.  We have lists of what to accomplish each day leading up to a feast in which anywhere from twenty to thirty-plus folks may show up.  We know that on the day, Uncle John will arrive with a bunch of sides and join me in the kitchen where he’ll assure me the turkey is cooked, the stuffing is hot enough, and yes, it’s time to serve.  This year, our daughter made the pies, three delicious additions that saved me a half day of work.  Unbeknownst to me, one state away, the aforementioned twenty-six year old niece took over from Uncle John—her dad.  She made his traditional offerings, squash, sweet potatoes and veggie casserole.  When the "adults" (read that as, those of us with grey hair) sat down at the table, we marveled. “Look at us, passing it down to the next generation.” 

Across from each other, filling three of four adjoining tables, a group of cousins, those long ago “crawlers” talked about their jobs and college as if they’d been together the week before.  Those present live in five different states between them, and all of them (including the missing coast guard boys stationed in FL, and CA and one niece living in SC) keep in touch by a group text.  As I marveled about that, I realized Thanksgiving is one of the reason why.  This one day a year they're together keeps them bonded, in spite of schedules that make it impossible for them all to meet up at the same place any other time.

As I power-walked yesterday, trying to burn off the sins of dip, creamed onions and pie, I recognized  over the last twenty years, my husband, daughter and I have made memories, but not just for ourselves.  Someday, long after my generations is gone, the cousins will reminisce about their childhood Thanksgivings gathered as family at our house, and will remember joy.  That's an unexpected  life accomplishment for which I’m feeling pretty thankful.