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holidays

The Fourth of July Canceled?

I was dismayed to find that many of the fireworks displays in my area had been canceled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  Not that I would attend the big ones in the towns around here, but I at least would have had that option.  I realize that our nation’s birthday happens with or without fireworks, but it just doesn’t seem the same without them.

I had settled down with hubby in front of the TV to watch Macy’s Fourth of July celebration when I heard a big boom outside.  We have some neighbors who have been known to shoot off fireworks during holidays, but the trees usually cover them up.  Still, I had to investigate.  I sprang from my chair with Stella the Boston terrier on my heels.  We had to see what was going on.

To my utter surprise and delight, my next door neighbors were shooting off those big fireworks like the cities do!  I texted my mother who lives next door on the other side and she picked me up in my dad’s golf cart so we could drive across the road to watch the fireworks.

It wasn’t a big public event and there weren’t scores of people sitting on blankets or tailgating, but there were fireworks and we got to see them.  What could be better than having big fireworks at your next door neighbors?  I didn’t even have to bring a covered dish or dessert.

So, thank you, Turner family, for rescuing Independence Day for our quiet country neighborhood.  I’m sticking my tongue out at you, COVID 19.  You tried but you didn’t stop it.  

Maybe 2021 will be different, but I wouldn’t give anything for the lessons 2020 has taught me thus far.  That sounds like good material for another blog post.

I hope you had a safe and happy Fourth of July without a visit from the unwelcome coronavirus.  Here’s to the Red, White, and Blue!

XOXO

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Categories
holidays

I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions Any More

Yep, you read that right. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because I break them, so it’s a waste of time.  I used to write down five to ten resolutions on fresh new journal paper, and by the end of the month, I had broken most if not all of them.  Resolutions, after all, are supposed to begin with the words, “Be it resolved. . .”  Pretty serious words, right?

However, being a new year and all, I feel like I need to make some effort to make some positive changes.  So. . .I’ve made a list I’ll call my New Year’s Efforts.  And here they are:

1.  Attend church more regularly.

2.  Eat more healthfully in smaller amounts and less often.

3.  Move more.

4.  Spend less.

5.  Write more.

6.  Love more.

7. Complain less.

8.  Be content with what I have.

9.  Make do whenever possible.

10.  Practice gratitude more.

There you have it–my New Year’s Efforts.  What about you?  How is your 2020 going?  

XOXO

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Categories
holidays

9 Easy Ways to Enjoy a Black Christmas

First of all, let me clarify.  “Black” is referring to being on the good side of your bank account, “in the black,” as opposed to being in the red, overdrawn, or in debt.  How does one stay in the “black” during the season of overspending?  Gift-giving doesn’t have to mean going into debt or draining your savings.  Gift-giving is supposed to come from the heart, anyway, not Amazon.  So how do you do it?  I can tell you how I do it.

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1. Set a spending limit per person or per gift, whether it’s $5 or $500.  Don’t allow yourself to go over that. 

2.  Set a gift limit for kids and grandkids.  For our kids, hubby and I limited their number of gifts to three, like the gifts from the three wise men to the baby Jesus.  If one was a big ticket item, we added two smaller items.  We also filled a stocking for each of them, and everything fit inside (most of the time).  We are limiting ourselves to two gifts per grandchild, usually pajamas and a toy.  They have so much already I think their parents appreciate limits.

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3.  Stop buying for friends, coworkers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, business owners, etc.  If you must give them gifts, bake cookies or give them gift cards and candy.  You have to set a limit on gift card amounts, though.  One gift I like to give is a unique coffee mug filled with candy or Christmas trash.  

4.  Make your gift decisions and stick to them.  I’m the world’s worst about choosing something and then second-guessing myself about whether they will like the gift, it’s appropriate, they already have it, etc.  Just make your choice and let that be it.  If they already have something like it, it’s up to them whether or not to keep it or toss it or even re-gift it. That is out of your control.  Isn’t it the thought that counts anyway?

5.  Don’t underestimate thrift stores and garage sales.  Where is it written that a gift has to be new to be valuable?  My sister has a knack for finding wonderful gifts at thrift stores that make mine look paltry in comparison.  There I go again. . .

6.  Stop comparing your gifts to others.  For my grandson’s first birthday, we gave him a toy and some clothes, I believe.  His other grandparents gave him company stock.  I’m happy they have those kinds of resources and can give him a good financial start.  We don’t and can’t, and comparing is pointless.  Our grandson knows we love him.

7.  If you can’t afford the fancy clothes or giving parties, don’t do it.  Thrift stores are great resources for clothes; so is borrowing from a friend.  Let those with more resources than you give the parties.  You can bring a special treat in your borrowed or thrifted outfit.

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8.  Stop trying to impress.  That isn’t what Christmas is about.  Do what you can do and let it be enough.   Focus on the meaning.

9.  Give people the gift of you.  How you make them feel when they are with you is what they remember, not some fancy store-bought present you couldn’t really afford.

Let’s see if you can make this holiday a “black” Christmas!  I’d love to hear your ideas.

XOXO

Categories
holidays

I’m Not Going to be a Thanksgiving Grinch

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I could be, you know. All my life Thanksgiving Days have involved shuttling to or being shuttled to various and sundry homes of relatives near and far, whether I wanted to or not. As a kid I piled into the family car with my three siblings and parents and tried to keep my brother and sister away from my side of the car as we traveled the four plus hours to the Texas Hill Country. Once we got off the main highway, the roads to Grandma and Grandpa’s house were not paved then and the noise of raw caliche battering the underside of the car and covering it with dust stressed me out before the hoards of cousins descended upon us. 

Once we arrived we kids were banished to the outdoors as the grownups drank coffee, caught up with each other, and prepared the food.  Fortunately Texas Thanksgivings were not usually cold. Days later, or so it seemed, we would return home tired and usually sick with a stomach virus we invariably brought back with us. Or maybe it was food poisoning from eating food that sat out all day. Even with the drama I always looked forward to the road trip, though.

Being married with children meant a different kind of shuttling. Having to bring homemade dishes and well-groomed and mannered children to the in-laws for Thanksgiving created a different kind of stress. On the rare occasion one of us was ill, I’m ashamed to admit I was secretly almost glad I didn’t have to go.  “But honey, you go,” I would tell hubby as I curled up on the couch with a sick kid. We would be fine. And a tiny bit relieved to have to miss the gathering this year.

Now the kids are grown with kids of their own. I can never seem to get them home together for Thanksgiving, and I’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving meal, something I both looked forward to and dreaded as they were growing up. With hubby’s health issues, he doesn’t attend gatherings any more, so I will venture out to my sister’s home to her gathering. 

I will not be a grinch, though. I will bring my usual cheese potatoes and green bean casserole and try not to miss my hubby, children, and grandchildren too much. I’ll try not to long for those crazy days of shuttling all over creation to make it to Thanksgiving dinner.  I will miss the loved ones who are now gone, I will miss the children who are now grown and moved on, and I will accept that life goes on with all its changes. 

Later I will listen as my children reminisce about their childhood Thanksgivings and grouse about having to travel to family gatherings. It’s their turn now.

XOXO

Categories
Being a Grandparent holidays

My Christmas Cup Runneth Over

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I’ve lived through 57 Christmases, some of them memorable, some not so memorable, even though I have tried to honor God during most of them by celebrating the birthday of His Son, which is what it is supposed to be about anyway.

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But the real meaning of Christmas and the Nativity aside, this Christmas has to be the best ever.  Why?  Because both of my grandchildren visited my husband and me, together, for the first time.  What a great day!

The grands watching a video on Coco’s cell phone.


Our grandson is almost two, and our granddaughter just turned one. To see them open their gifts from Pop and Coco (with help, of course) and interact with one another was priceless, the best gift my children could have possibly given me.  To experience the wonder of a small child at Christmas again was a wonderful blessing, a privilege I don’t deserve but am so grateful for.

My two babies in 1989.


And then to get to share that with my parents, their great-grandparents, was the icing on the cake.  What better Christmas could there possibly be?  

I hope I find out next Christmas, if I am lucky enough to have the grandbabies together again.  I am so thankful to my children for sharing them with us this year.  I don’t suppose a person can really know the true meaning of the word “grand” until they have grandchildren.  Yes, my cup runneth over.

http://manaz.org/christmas-blessings


What special blessing have you received this Christmas?

XOXO