Reviving Lost Traditions

It begun with the Christmas tree – a small, three foot artificial that my mother had bought me many moons ago. As I pulled down and plumped up its synthetic limbs, I couldn’t help but remember the day I entered my apartment and found it set up for me. I was being rather humbugey that year, refusing to succumb to the conventional need of decorating. She had snuck into my humble abode, adorned it with lights and miniature ornaments. I still remember the pleased expression on her face when I hugged her, thanked her, and told her it was beautiful. It was something I hadn’t realized I had needed that year.

Mom’s miniature Christmas Ornaments

“We used to go The Property and cut down a tree every year” my hubby says from behind us. His eyes have taken on a glassy, far way look, akin to a person who is trying to retrieve the last vestiges of a dream.

“We did too, that first year we were together. And you picked out the homeliest looking little tree. We brought it home and set it up in the corner…”

“…and those two cats…”

“…would use the rocking chair as a launching pad to hurl themselves into the tree…”

“…there were pine needles everywhere…”

“…and you swore that you would never have a mess like that again…”*

“When we were kids, we used to travel all across the country visiting family.”

“Us too. And mom would drag out the gold plated china on Christmas Eve…”

And so the memories flowed, the way they do every Christmas. Our voices soft and dampened with a slight touch of sadness as we remembered the celebrations of long ago.

*It was the last year we ever had a real Christmas tree. It was also the year his father passed away. Strange, that it took me this long to make the connection.


 

I spent the better part of last week prepping and preparing for a melancholy-free Christmas. As a stepmother, there were just certain areas of life that I did not intrude upon, and Christmas was one of them. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, or that my attempts were met with scorn – they would, at least, bravely stick out their tongues to sample the dishes and  admit that they weren’t too bad. It just wasn’t their thing. They couldn’t taste the warmth I was trying to recreate. Truth be told, neither could I. And that was probably more the reason why I didn’t continue on with them.

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The Property, 32 acres of bush, 8 acres cleared for a campsite

And we did make it out to The Property this year. We went, as a family, when my youngest step-daughter came home for Christmas.(I cannot tell how great it is to be past the teenage years.)

We hiked through the forest. We talked. We laughed. We reminisced about how things were and we all agreed that we should go out there more often. It was a pretty great Christmas for us this year. It was the first year, in a long time, that we were able to look back at the past without having it degrade the present. We were able to generate some of the warmth that this holiday season should be filled with and created some tender memories to help carry us through till next year.It was more than my little heart would have hoped for.

Happy Birthday Flem!!

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Dear Fellow Bloggers,

Today is Flem’s birthday! I think we can all remember what it felt like to be a new blogger, nervous and anxious for acknowledgement? How about we try to make Flem’s birthday extra special by liking/commenting/following and showing her what a lovely, supportive community she has entered?

SHARE THE LOVE!!

Dear Flem,

Welcome and Happy Birthday! Instead of buying you some crap, I just took a picture instead! Hope it makes you smile!

xoxox

See you shortly!

Butterflies

rehashing this older post for writing101:day9

Dear Mom,

I needed to let you know, mama, that I am still thinking of you. If you were here I would let you braid my hair like you used to. I might let you brush it if you promised to be gentle. Maybe you could cook for me, and we could measure your “little bits”, so I could get it right, because, somehow, when I try, it just doesn’t taste the same.

You should see my girl mama. She looks a lot like us, she has our eyes. She reminds me of you even in her young age. She likes to dig in the dirt and pull out the flowers. She thinks she is weeding. And, yes mama, I am trying to teach her just like you taught me, but she doesn’t like to listen all the time.

I need to thank you mama, for all the love you gave me because now I know how to give it to her. I hope I give her enough to help her through her hard times just like yours helped me. I hope she can carry it with her and pass it onto her own family.

Remember these mama?

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They were the butterflies you pulled off of the grill of uncles’ truck when he came for a visit. No mama, it isn’t gross, and don’t tell me to throw them away. They have kept well all these years between the glass and they remind me of you. You touched these wings , you preserved them, you found beauty in their death. I keep them beside my bed as a reminder of the lesson and I hope you have found beauty where you are too. xoxoxoxox

Just a Reminder

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Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the Earth
“You owe me.”
Look
What happens
With a love like that
It lights the whole sky
– Hafiz

I am not going to tarnish this beautiful quote by following it with a lengthy post. I will tell you this: this poem repeated itself over and over in my mind the evening I took this photo. I couldn’t help but watch in amazement as the sun caressed the clouds with its golden glow before dipping below the horizon, just as if it was kissing them goodbye.

More of Hafiz’s work (born app 1320 a.d.) can be found here.

writing101 day 7: Hook ’em with a quote

The Openness Scale

My husband says I have trouble communicating. For the life of me, I cannot understand why he feels compelled to constantly tell me this. I suppose, in his defense, that it stems from years ago when I used to bottle everything up and explode in a slew of screaming swears and wild and violent hand gestures. I imagine he just says this in case I am withholding some pertinent information that he will only hear about during my next angry outburst.

I should add that my outbursts, now, are less angry and more of a highly emotional variety. I am pretty sure it’s a woman thing. And I am pretty sure my hubby can’t tell the difference between the two.

I am hoping that, by the end of this article, I will have some solid answers for him but I all ready have my doubts. Please bear with me while I work through this.

My husband works away from home and phones me every morning. A typical conversation goes like this:
Him: ”How are you?”
Me: ”Good. How about you?”
Him: ”Alllllriiight. What do ya got going on today?”
Twenty ideas flash through my mind. My reply? ”I dunno…”

That’s communicating… right?

He asked me the other day “On a scale of one to ten, how open are you? I am about a nine.” I agree with his number – there is some crazy shit that comes out of his mouth.
”Six.” I say. My stomach clenches and curls inward – I know I am lying.
”Really?” His tone is disbelieving.
I concede.”Okay it’s more like three or four. Six on a good day.”

Why is the real question. I love him and trust him and do not fear his judgement. While there is a certain amount of tongue biting and holding back in every relationship, I do not feel like I do this (often). Granted, it is not my first response to phone him as soon as something funny or tragic happens but I do intend to tell him during our next conversation. If I am honest, sometimes I just forget. So, why then, would I only give myself a score of four?

The more I searched for an answer, the more I began to realize a few things.

1. My to do lists are consuming my brain. Initially I created them as a way to focus my time and energy. I could be proud of my accomplishments – look at what I got done! Now they are a source of frustration and guilt. A large portion of my day is spent glancing at the list I made three weeks ago and wondering which one of those things I could conquer and scratch off. The other portion of the day is spent grumbling because I don’t want to do any of them.

2. I am not one to reiterate every small thing that transpires in a day. It doesn’t appeal to me . My sister can do it. Just yesterday she told me about her trip to Wal-Mart, the new sale items she picked up and how, at the end, she debated about stealing cherries because the guy never looked in her bag as she was leaving. The conversation lasted 120 minutes and I was thoroughly entertained through them all. I do not have this talent.

3. My husband isn’t a part of the day-to-day things that occur here. I know he wants to be that is why he asks me all the time. It is his way of being supportive even though he is miles away.

4. We are what we know. My parents were not very open. Sure, we had the normal conversations at the supper table – my dad would ask what we learned in school and we would give the common reply of ”nothing”. Their sentences never started with “When I was your age..”  When we weren’t getting along my mother would say something threatening like “Should I get the spoon?” And dad would shake his big, thick index finger and offer us “tsks” of disapproval. They didn’t tell us how they solved disputes when they were younger. They never entertained us with stories of their past.

The meager amount I know of my mother’s childhood, I learned on her deathbed. And my father? There were some amazing, eye-opening facts that I learned from his sister as she read his eulogy.

I am crying now. I cannot help it. It is not necessarily because I miss them – because there will never be a part of me that doesn’t wish they were here. I am sobbing over the missed the opportunity to learn about the things that shaped their lives. The small insights that I do have only make me realize how similar I am to them. How, a generation later, I can see both of my father and my mother in me.

I refuse to lament and say ”if only we had more time.” Because the time and the opportunity  were there – they just didn’t take it. And I was too young to ask. It saddens me to admit that there is more to parenting than teaching your child what is right and wrong. It is about you, who you are, and how you came to be. Your life experiences will reflect on your child’s.

So I implore you to tell them. Tell them how when you were little you used to skip out on chores and run to the creek to pick flowers. Tell them that you dropped out of school at the age of fourteen to hunt and trap fur-bearing animals to help support your eight younger siblings. Tell them that everything you learned in your life was self-taught, through a lot of experiments and errors. Tell them about your trials and tribulations and the dreams you surrendered in lieu of being the provider that your family needed you to be.

Because years later, as they grapple with grasping aspects of their own personality, they will remember your tales. And it is only then that they will truly have a better understanding of themselves.