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Keep Your Fa-La-La-La-La Opinion to Yourself

Last night, after a looooooong day at work (where, by the way, I have learned the very precious currency of living and loving every day), I had to run some errands. After snagging my kitties their favourite food and a few discounted Hallowe’en toys ( they don’t care if the feathers are purple and orange), I stepped out into the  crisp November air into some of the first here-to-stay snowflakes of the year.

It felt like Christmas.

It was a Wednesday evening, and the little strip mall was relatively quiet. There was a calm, cozy feel in the air, and I felt a simple joy. I was drawn into a shop to stroll through the aisles laden with Christmas items. I had a short conversation with another woman who was experiencing the same simple pleasure. There in the aisle, we talked about how she likes to come out early to pick up a few new items to add to her Christmas village for her autistic son to enjoy. She says he is mesmerized by the detail of the tiny village, and the lights.  We shared a small part of our selves as we shared our stories. We brought a little bit of humanity to one another’s life in this busy world.

It was just five minutes of connection. But for me, that’s what the season is about. Moments of connection; Slowing down to reconnect and appreciate the people in our lives who bring us light.

Sounds lovely and perfect right? Which leads me to wonder about the mental health of people who rage against how others experience joy.  Actually, I don’t wonder so much any more as I just wish they’d fuck off.

Yes, it’s harsh, but it’s true. Misery loves company, and joy just doesn’t really give a crap. Joy is too busy shining and casting out shadows.

I’m a Christmas person. I have always chosen joy.

I have already loaded the PVR with scheduled recordings of Hallmark Christmas movies. Although I’m way behind on my shopping, I’m over half way finished. Today I will set up the spare room to be our ‘wrapping room’ for the family so that everyone has access to all of the paper, bows, gift tags, tissue, boxes and thoughtful little gifts that make the season happy for so many of our friends.

I have a menu planned for our Christmas Cottage FamJam. The itinerary for our ultimate Chistmas-in-New-York weekend is set, including hard to get reservations and a reminder to book our appointment at Santaland. It has been plugged in so at midnight on the day that reservations open, I will be up, sipping cocoa spiked with peppermint-vodka and clicking us into the magic of every kid’s fantasy.

I spent days and weeks in the summer prepping homemade gifts to bundle up for my friends, who at this age and stage have every ‘thing’ that they need, but I don’t get to spend enough time with. Gifts are now tokens of friendship, and a lovely introduction into the hours spent during the Christmas season catching up and rekindling our connection.

For those of you who have the opinion that people who use Christmas as a time to reconnect are hypocrites, you are most welcome to your opinion. And those of us who use the season as an excuse to spend time with loved ones, and celebrate the beauty of life, are entitled to our joy.  In the parlance of our times; haters gonna hate.

eggnogJoyful people do not need miserly permission to be joyful, so hold your smug bullshit. Better yet, strap on a nightcap, grab yourself some spiked eggnog, (I recommend Old Tom’s), and chill the hell out. Smug is the opposite of sexy, get over it already.

Those folks who meme the hell out of celebrating Christmas too early (before; Remembrance day, American Thanksgiving, or some other arbitrary chosen date) make me wonder if they need to up their dose. God forbid anyone be joyful and not offended by something. If marking another day is more important for you, gobble ’til you wobble, make your front porch a giant poppy-laden memorial, but for the love of God, get off your lazy meme-clicking ass and do something about it. Celebrate, decorate, bake…live out your preachy preference, and be happy. Happy oozes sexy. Happy can fix all that’s wrong in our little worlds.

Drink the spiked egg-nog, watch the Hallmark movie.

 

 

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Why I Open My Door At Thanksgiving

give thanks…because I’m truly grateful for the abundance of friends in my life.

My Thanksgiving celebrations are always potluck, jeans and t-shirt style. I put on the turkey, and everyone else brings something to share. That way no one has to do a lot of work and I’m not too stressed out to enjoy my friends.

Potluck is also a good conversations starter; Mmm! I love this! Who made it? What’s the recipe?….and the conversation goes on from there.

That’s what life is about.

I’ve been through hell and back as a child and as a young woman. Throughout all of it, I’ve had wonderful friends who are each, in their own way, unique and perfect.

Holiday times used to be sad for me, lonely even . I was often new in town, without family, and I felt very alone. As time went on, my new friendships deepened, and although I went through times of despair and loneliness, my friends would always show up in ways that helped me understand what was really important.

So at Thanksgiving, many people are caught up in family tug-of-wars about who goes where and who is hosting what. Or, maybe they have no family at all.

Autumn is the time of year when we start turning inward. The changing colour of the leaves wave us into shorter days and cooler nights. We cozy up inside, in big sweaters and under cozy blankets. We begin the journey into a season often spiritually described as one of mystery and hope.

I open my door at this time of year so that friends have a place to come and relax. My friends are my family, and I love them all.

I don’t have much, but I hope I offer a safe space to be yourself, laugh, and be nourished; both body and soul.

 

 

 

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Christmas is For Friendship

elcatrin.png
I had the pleasure of getting out for dinner/dessert with a handful of people whom I don’t get to see too often.

We agreed on a place and a time, and enjoyed an evening at a gorgeous restaurant.

Life is busy, and as I get older, I prioritize my free time very carefully. Well, at least I try.

Many times I’ve heard that getting together at Christmas time is hypocritical. That the Christmas spirit is bogus. That if you can’t make time the rest of the year, why bother at Christmas time?

I’ll tell you why. It’s a damn good reminder that there is more to life than work, bills and wishing you were living on a secluded island with a muscular, pool-boy who who knows how to shake a mean margarita.

It’s a good goose on the bum to motivate you to make plans.

So, tonight was a kick-off to what I hope will be a season of cozy catch-ups over coffee, boozy brunches with the gals and lingering dinners with friends.

Tonight, as I sat listening to, and talking with my friends, I realized just how fortunate I am to have people in my life who are genuine, kind, and more intellectually and spiritually evolved than the general public.

I’ve come to beware of people who zap my energy and I know my personal boundaries.

So rest assured, if I’m spending time with you, I not only like you, I respect you. Ok, ok, I admit that I do spend time with some folks for the sheer entertainment value they provide. Use your imagination…

My wish for you this Christmas is the same as my wish for me; that you have enough time to spend with your friends to refresh your soul, and enough entertainment to keep some fire in your soul.

 

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Happy Birthday To Me: I Don’t Give a Rat’s….

Birthday GirlI don’t get it. You know, the people who guard their age like the Hope Diamond? What is with that?

For the love of all that’s holy, give it up you pretentious nit-wit!

Life, if you’re lucky and appreciate the journey, is a grand adventure, of which not a single one of us is guaranteed another day.

Years ago I denied a very creative, photog of a lover the privilege of taking pictures of me a la mode. “One day you’ll wish you had pictures,” he said. I should have listened to him. I miss that twenty-something body. I miss the perky firmness of all of the soft spots.

I should have taken his advice. He was older. He knew.

Sure, money might buy you life-extending medical care, a bimbo with a boob job, or a gigolo with a gigantico jiggler, but none of us get out of this circus tent alive or with parts that don’t break down. I figure you may as well appreciate some of the gifts that come along with loss of skin turgor, middle-age spread, and loss of your faculties.

For instance, as I look at turning another year older in a few days, I realize that I no longer really give a shit about what people think of me. I know who I am, what I stand for, and where my ethical boundaries are. I’m a good person.

I’m more confident, and even more certain that I fall short of perfection and always will. At this age, I know that I will make mistakes, and I’m not devastated by it. In fact, I appreciate, however inconvenient it may be, that mistakes have always been one of life’s most effective (if not efficient) teachers.

A bad hair day no longer makes me wish I could disappear. I don’t worry about taking sick days because I know that the only thing that heals me is rest.

If he doesn’t call back, or ever again, I know that it wasn’t meant to be – in other words, I’ve learned to temper my romantic expectations.

I know you can’t get blood from a stone, so there’s no use trying. I know that life goes on even when you’re blinded by tears and wounded with a broken heart. Nothing lasts forever; the bad stuff, or the good stuff.

When someone asks me how old I will be on my birthday, I tell them. You may think I’m too old, or too young to understand you. You might think I’m crazy or brilliant. Perhaps you have an opinion about my hair, my make-up or my weight. Frankly darling, at this age, I don’t give a rat’s ass…

…and that’s such a liberating feeling.

Happy birthday to me.

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Happy Birthday To Me!

now at lastIt’s my birthday.

Today I officially begin the second half of my life. I am, by most accounts officially middle-aged. 40.

Time to step up my serenity and sense of adventure.

Time to be gentle on myself and keep myself occupied learning new things.

Time to settle into the contentment that comes with accepting that this is, in all likelihood, as good as it gets.

Time to do exactly as I please!

I’m so very much looking forward to my birthday party, a birthday cake, and a room full of the best friends anyone could ever dream of having!

 

 

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For Our Kiddos on Mother’s Day

mammaMother’s day, next to Valentine’s Day is a quintessential ‘Hallmark Holiday’. After all, great mothers are celebrated every day through the wonderful relationships which they cultivate with their children.

Whether you are a biological, surrogate, adoptive, or fur-baby Mama, you wake up every day, and do your best to make another  being feel confident, capable, loved and secure.

As a mother, I often reflect upon what being a mother has meant to me. All of a sudden, my baby has turned into a handsome, capable, thoughtful 6’3″ (and growing) young man with his own perspective and life.

I do believe that had it not been for motherhood, I would have been found dead in ditch somewhere by now, with fabulous stilettos, a designer bag, and a great tan.  Ah yes…becoming a mother certainly sets a girl’s priorities straight!

Motherhood is a journey of a lifetime, often only realized and experienced in retrospect. In present moments, we are bustling to cook a meal, do homework, get to practice on time and make sure everyone has what they need for the day.

…and then they grow up. Just a little bit. A little more independent. A little more sure of what their preferences are. A little bit more their own person.

You notice when you give them a kiss good night, or when they walk in the door after having been away for a few days. Your baby isn’t a baby, or even a child any more. They have, in those rushed moments, turned into a young woman or a young man, and they are their own person.

Sometimes, even when life happens right in front of us, it’s only through recollection and nostalgia that we piece together how those tiny babies we gave life to have become the wonderful, awesome people that they are at this moment.

From all of us moms out there to all of our kiddos –  Thank you for the most amazing times of our life.  We love you.

….did your take your jacket?….do you have enough money?….call me if you need a ride, even if it’s at 3am…

 

 

 

 

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This is How I See You: Grandmothers & Christmas

Frosty Footpath - winter snow
Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

This post is for all of the Grandmothers out there.

It’s for all the grandmothers who teach us how to bake and cook, how to always make room for one more at the table, why homemade gifts are the most meaningful.

In doing so, they also teach us how to hold our heads up day in and day out, even when the magic of Christmas has been gathered up and stored away for the next year.

I start celebrating Christmas as soon as I get the itch to play Christmas music. That usually happens in July sometime.

Most songs make me sing along happily, but one always makes me stop and remember the wonderful Christmas times I shared as a  young woman with my Grandmother;

“Sense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and  I see
You’re a star up there”

(Wintersong, Sarah McLachlan)

 I’m writing this today because today would have been her birthday, and being only three days apart from my own birthday, memories of her start flooding my mind from now until Christmas.

My grandmother seemed to have a magic kitchen. For weeks she turned out baked goods and meals for our large family.

The space around the bottom of her Christmas tree was a black hole that just kept delivering gifts for the entire family, many of them handmade.

Every year she decorated her tree in a different theme. All of the decorations were handmade, and she made at least 101 of them. When I asked her why she made 101, she said it was so that she could say, ” I made over one hundred….”, and then she laughed.

Each year the tree took on her whimsy. One year it was Cabbage Patch Kids, one year it was farm animals, another year it was quilted hearts, and yet another year her tree was graced with finely crocheted white angels.

No matter who tagged along for the holidays; boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbours, clients, friends….there was always room for ‘one more’.

Whether it was a happy year, or a sad year, Grandma taught me that life, indeed, does always go on, and it was up to me to make the most of it, and carry on with my dreams.

For the grandmothers out there with grandchildren whose toddling threatens to break all the decorations on the tree, or the ones with teenage grandchildren attached to their cell phones, don’t lose heart.

We learn more from you than you could ever imagine, and we are deeply grateful. Well, at least when we grow up we are.

Things My Grandmother Taught Me During Christmas Time:

1) You can never, never, ever, have enough butter.

2) A deep-freeze is a lifetime investment.

3) Always have a little hooch stashed away for the really, really long days.

4) Do a little bit every day, and it’s not so difficult.

5) Handmade gifts always hold more meaning than anything else.

6) There is always room for one more at the table.

7) Invest in a table that expands

8) Presence is a gift, not presents.

9) Buy flour, icing sugar, coconut, cocoa, gingerale, and green and red maraschino cherries in bulk.

10) Stop to enjoy a cup of tea by the light of the Christmas tree at the end of the day after everyone else is in bed.

In honour of my wonderful Grandmother, I dedicate this song. It’s ‘her’ song during the holidays. I hope you listen to it, and remember your grandmother, and the wonderful things that she taught you.

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Lake is frozen over Trees are white with snow And all  around reminders of you Are everywhere I go

It’s late and morning’s in no hurry But sleep won’t set me  free I lie awake and try to recall How your body felt beside me

When silence gets too hard to handle And the night too  long

And this is how I see you In the snow on Christmas  morning Love and happiness surround you As you throw your arms up to the  sky I keep this moment by and by

Oh, how I miss you now, my love Merry Christmas, Merry  Christmas Merry Christmas, my love

Sense of joy fills the air And I daydream and I stare Up at the tree and I see You’re a star up there

And this is how I see you In the snow on Christmas  morning Love and happiness surround you As you throw your arms up to the  sky I keep this moment by and by