You’re WHERE?


Old people complain about how things have changed all the time. I used to let it go in one ear and out the other, never really registering what they were really complaining about. That is simply this, the loss of manners, traditions, and common sense values.

It used to be, when we got a chance to take a bathroom break, as soon as we sat down the darned phone would ring. Back in the day, the phone was on the wall in another room, so we figured whoever it was would call back if it was important. Then we got the phones we could carry around in the house and yard, and it would still ring on our bathroom break but it would have the phone number of the caller and we could call them back at our leisure.

Now we have cell phones. When they first came out, we didn’t take them into the bathroom, it was rude and tacky to talk on the phone while doing our business. We weren’t attached to the phone at the hip and many of us could actually not rush to answer it day and night as if our life depended on it. It was a tool, a convenient tool, but nothing more than that.

At this point, we have a second and third generation who grew up with cell phones in their hands. And God forbid they miss one second of phone activity. It is no longer unusual to hear a phone go off in a bathroom, even in a public place, and someone answer it. And the tacky part, they tell the caller they re in the bathroom. Instead of getting off the phone, they carry on a conversation as if they are sitting in the car or in their home. What the hell happened to manners and common sense values on phone etiquette? Since when is it imperative that the phone be answered or a text be sent immediately, no matter where we are or what we are doing?

Back in my day, (there is that awful phrase that makes the younger generations stop listening) no one wanted anyone to be aware they were in the bathroom, let alone what they were doing. It was rude, immodest, and well, gross. Those of us who were raised in that era of modesty and morals generally will not answer the phone while in the bathroom. Generally, because there are always exceptions to the rule. I won’t even answer my house phone while in the bathroom, nope, not happening.

Other than technology, what has changed to make even the most old fashioned manner driven people do something so low class? Is life so hectic and busy that the only time to talk on the phone is while you are in a compromising situation.? Is that the only time folks have time to simply talk on the phone? I don’t understand that sort of behavior.

It used to be that if we wanted privacy on the phone, we would stretch the cord as far as it would go and sit in a place with a door we could close. Generally it was a closet or a small room next to the phone, but it was never the bathroom while we were using it. I still spend more time searching for the house phone that I left in an obscure place when I need to answer it then I do talking on it. But you won’t see me running to answer any phone, I am not a good study for Pavlov’s theory. ( Go look it up kids, I imagine there is an App for that somewhere on your phone.)

A phone, to me, is a convenience, nothing more. I am not a slave to the darn thing, and most of the time they annoy me with all the ringing and such – especially phones with irritating songs as ring tones. To many of today’s younger people and to some old folks like me, they are a life line of some sort, like oxygen is to heart patients. Life cannot go on without their phones attached at the hand. And as such, folks are becoming slaves to the technology around them. I expect we will soon have tech built into our bodies from birth. But I still want to know why common sense is gone when it comes to private things like bathroom breaks. I don’t like how things have changed in this area. Not one bit. It makes me feel old and cranky about things.

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Downsizing


We are getting ready to retire at the end of the year. Since we will be moving to a new home, we have started packing unnecessary things. We are constantly saying things like: What’s this? When did we get that? It’s not yours? I don’t know? Why would we need anything like that? I know, I didn’t buy it. Which kid did this belong to? Should we keep it, sell it, or toss it? Wow, this is cool! Does it still work? Who bought this stuff? Hey, that’s a keeper! I forgot all about this!

Downsizing is a new fangled word for getting rid of junk and clutter when preparing to moved. All of the above comments are the things we mutter while clearing out all the accumulated things every household seems to collect over the years of living in one place. None of it is planned, it simply happens as time rolls by and the family grows or shrinks, we redecorate rooms, or move things around and run out of space for items over time.

When we start going through everything we have collected, on purpose or through neglect, it is amazing the things we discover. So far, I have only started with my bookshelves and it is surprising the things I keep finding. It makes it really hard to get anything done when I keep stopping to read from books I forgot I had or haven’t read in years. If it is this hard to get through the bookshelves, I can only imagine what is going to happen when we get to the garage and attic.

Last weekend, I cleared out my closet like I do every year, twice a year, to get rid of things I haven not worn over the past season or two. I also cleared out the clothes I can no longer wear because they are too large. Some of the things were hard to let go because they have special meanings attached to them. For instance, the dress I wore when the Mr. and I went dancing at the Rainbow Room in New York City, and and the out fit I wore when we went sailing on The Flying Cloud in the Caribbean the first time. Both are many sizes too big, and I will never wear them again, but it was hard to let them go.

I noticed, today, I have many keepsakes in my craft room from our travels, from my children and grandchildren, and from my own penchant for collecting things that I am unsure we will have room for in the house we are retiring to in the new year. I don’t think I can get rid of them, especially the things from my boys and my grandchildren. I mean, how can I toss out the handmade paperweight my son made for me when he was a teenager, or the painting my budding artist granddaughter made for me when she was eight? I have no idea how people do things like that. I would sooner toss out my dishes. And that is just the stuff in my craft room. I have as much in my office, more in my bedroom, and even more in the living room – and that is not counting the art on the walls.

The Mr. and I are veteran collectors of everything from music, art, and books to gizmos, curiosities, and did I say books? All of that has found homes in various rooms in the house. We are also preppers, so that means our spare spaces are filled with all sorts of items in preparation for any disaster. The garage is filled with gear, including a generator and a multitude of tools and boxes of “just in case” items. Because we love to decorate for various holidays, our attic is stuffed with boxes and boxes of those decorations. I know I have sixteen boxes filled with Christmas decorations for inside and outside the house alone. Those are not going to be left behind or sold, because we will still want to decorate our house when we are retired and some of that stuff is impossible to replace since it came from abroad.

We are obviously stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have lived here for eleven years, longer than we have ever lived anywhere since we got married. I used to be an expert at moving, we did it on the average of every three years. I never collected anything bigger than a thimble. Now I have too much of everything, and a house big enough for all of it. The new place is almost as large, but configured far differently – with fewer, if larger, rooms. I guess I will have to bite the bullet and just learn to let go of things that don’t have an emotional connection. But I want to go on record stating that I hate downsizing. It, quite frankly, sucks.

Worrying


I saw a meme on social media that basically encouraged the reader to remember back to the days when they had no worries and simply played barefoot in the sunshine. I suddenly realized that I never had days like that as a child. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t worry about things in my life. It was, I think, a built in reflex, like breathing. I even worried in my sleep, come people call them nightmares. Now I wonder, is that normal, or is it something specific to me?

I can remember always worrying about being late for school, even though I don’t remember it ever happening. I was always afraid I would have to walk into a classroom late and draw attention to myself, making me open to ridicule and teasing from the other students – and heaven help me from the teacher. I worried about failing subjects, I worried about making a mistake, and I dreaded, above all, making myself a laughing stock. Nothing upset me more than for other kids and adults to laugh at me.

I worried about forgetting to do things, or doing things and messing it up. I worried about homework, chores, and taking care of things that were my responsibility. In fact, I still worry about those things. I worried about doing something or saying something that would upset other people. Even worse was trying to express myself and messing it up. So I just didn’t say anything to anyone most of the time, even if I did know the answer to a question, or had a different opinion than others. That has completely changed now, I say what I want, when I want no matter what others may think. But, back when, I was always self conscious and fearful of consequences, so I simply didn’t speak up.

I worried a lot as a young wife and mother. I worried that the Mr. would fall out of love with me and in love with someone smarter, prettier, sexier, and more interesting then that plain old boring girl from nowhere Oklahoma. I wanted to be everything he needed in a wife, but always felt insecure in my value as his wife. I was always aware that his parents never thought I was good enough for their son, and it made me both angry and frustrated. I always worried he would believe the gossip and idiotic nonsense spread around by those who didn’t want me in his life. But somehow, we found our way back to each other time after time.

I worried that I wasn’t a good mom to my boys, fearful that they would be bratty little monsters around others and fingers would be pointed at me for being a bad mom. I worried about their health, eating habits, and all the other things mothers worry about when trying to be a positive influence on their children. I worried when my oldest started driving and hanging out all night with his friends, I worried that my youngest would follow in his footsteps, but he never did. I always worried that I would lose one of my boys, and when we did, it nearly tore us apart.

So, no, I don’t remember playing in the sunshine without worries, because I have always been a worrier, and that hasn’t changed much over the years. Only now I worry about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I worry about the Mr.’s health, I worry abut being becoming decrepit, I worry about my mother living on her own at her age. I worry about the state of the country and the America haters who wont’ live elsewhere, but still hate what we stand for as a country. I worry about money, health care, and getting old. And I still worry that the Mr. will find someone prettier, smarter, more interesting, and younger that he will fall for. Silly of me, but it is a bad habit left over from years of worry. Folks say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” I always look at worry as a way to be prepared for what ever might happen. Then I am prepared for the worse, but joyful for the positive things that happen, no matter how much worry I put into it.

I wonder, am I too old to play barefoot in the sunshine and learn to leave the worry behind for a few blessed moments in time? Now I will probably worry about that too.

The Farmer’s Market


Every Saturday morning from spring through late fall, there is a Farmer’s Market on the court house square in Hernando, Mississippi. We try to attend as often as possible. It isn’t a huge market, most of the sellers are local men and women who grow fruit and vegetables on their land. After awhile, they recognize buyers who turn up regularly.

It is a rather eclectic group of people. There is one man who sells fresh milk and eggs, but you had best be there early since he always sells out in the first two hours. The lemonade and fried pie guy has delicious products. We always buy lemonade, pies not so much since the Mr. isn’t all that fond of fried pies. I love them, especially the peach, but they are a no go on my diet. Darn it. The man who does sharpening for knives and anything else that needs a sharp edge is both affordable and super friendly. He does a great job, my kitchen knives have never been sharper.

There a several ladies who sell their home canned goods. I have never had better piccalilli, and the jams and jellies are delicious. I especially like the blueberry jelly the elderly couple who are always on the north side of the court house sells. They also make pickled okra that runs from mild to super hot. I get the medium because it is hot enough to be spicy but not so hot as to take the hide off my tongue.

Last week, we bought Addie a butterfly plant complete with caterpillar that had hatched that day. The vendor wrapped the plant in one of those wraps that will keep the caterpillar from getting away and still let in sunlight and made it easy to water. Once the caterpillar hatches into a butterfly we can let it go and re-pot the plant so it will attract other butterflies next spring. Addie is avidly watching the caterpillar for growth every day. There are several vendors who sell plants for gardens, flowers, and herbs at the market. Each one seems to specialize in different areas. We enjoy talking to them as we wander by.

There are a few hippy dippy types who specialize in things like soap and honey and lemon based products for the home. There are always a few folks who only sell holistic products, and they seem to do a booming business with the young mothers who are all about that sort of thing. And the vendors who appeal to the older folks are mostly down to earth farmers who simply sell good vegetables at a good price.

One of the charming things about the market is that most of the stalls are family operated. Kids from about nine and older help out. The Mr. always engages the kids, asking them questions about how the food is grown, if they helped harvest the product they are selling, all sorts of questions that sometimes stump them. He will buy from the kids who are the most informed and willing to talk to him. They can’t be a good salesman, or woman, if they aren’t willing to talk to the customers.

Among the vendors are artisans of all sorts, from bread makers, to candle makers, to pottery makers. It is always interesting to see what they have for sale. My favorite is the knife maker. For several years, I had looked for a knife that wouldn’t fall out of my hand when I used it. I have arthritis issues that makes it hard for my fingers to bend properly. Not only did he have what I needed, he was willing to make it so it fit my hand perfectly. Best of all, it was affordable, came with a sheath, and was as sharp as the knife sharpening guy could make it. A true artisan was at work that day.

The one stall we always stop at is the one operated by the local animal shelter. Every week they have kittens, puppies, dogs, or cats for adoption. I have to force myself not to take a new pet home every week. It is especially hard when they have kittens and puppies. We stop and love on the animals, then keep on going. One day, though, I know I will weaken and end up with a new pet. The Mr. won’t like it, but he will get used to it. He always does. I love the Farmer’s Market, it is a family destination.

Planning The Future


Addie wandered into my office holding her favorite baby doll. She needed help with the tiny buttons on the dress it was wearing. As I helped her we fell into conversation, as we always do.

Addie said, “Nana, when I grow up I want to have two girl babies.”

I said, “What about having a boy baby? It could happen you know.”

A: “Nope, I don’t want a boy baby, they are messy and loud. Besides, I don’t like boys.” (She is six.)

Me: “Well I had two boy babies, and I loved them very much. You might feel the same way.”

A: “No I won’t. I only want girl babies.”

M: “Keep in mind that you need a husband to have any babies. To do that, you will need to love him too. Just like I love your Papa.”

A: “Oh, yeah. I know that.” Long pause. “Well maybe just one boy baby, because my husband will probably want one since we will have two girls. But the Dad can take care of the boy, since I have no idea how to do that after they are little babies.”

M: “That would be a good compromise. But I bet you will love your boy baby as much as you will love your girls. Any baby is hard work, but it is worth every minute of your time and effort.”

A: “Oh I know that, Nana. You worked hard to raise my Grandpa Arron and Uncle Riley. and my Mommy, and now you work hard to raise me. I want to be just like you when I am a mommy.”

Me: Blinking back tears. “Oh Addie, I love you very much. I simply want you to be who you are and do what you want with your life.”

A: “I know, Nana. You will always love me all my life. So will Papa.”

With that, she wandered off to change her baby doll’s diaper. I heard her singing a song to rock it to sleep. In so many ways, I see her copy behavior she has seen from me and her Papa. It warms my heart and fills me with hope for the future, and she will eventually soften her attitude on boys. At six, all little girls find boys hard to understand. They are loud, dirty, and messy, but that is all part of being a boy learning to be a man. Just as she is a girl learning how to be a woman. Today she wants to be a mommy, tomorrow, she may want to be a unicorn or a fairy. Either way, we encourage her to discover her imagination, grow as she wants to grow, and love her no matter what. She is our angel baby, and one day, she will be a mommy who knows how to care for and love her children. She makes us proud every day.

New Normal


The newest adventure in my crazy life is Kidney dialysis. I am supposed to be in Italy, but a case of bronchitis led me to kidney failure bad enough to need emergency dialysis. That mean the insertion of a catheter into my heart and a week in the hospital as they pulled over seen liters of water from my body. That was two weeks ago.

Now I am booked at a dialysis center three days a week for four hours or more a day. It is an out patient center, and we all have turn up for therapy. The center has a few offices up front, but the room for dialysis patents is one huge room. There are around sixty recliners, each with its own dialysis machine next to it. I usually get either number 48, 49, or 50. I call my machine of the day Kevin. They do the hard work, so I figure they need to be acknowledged and greeted every day. The nurses think it is funny. I take it seriously.

Once in the room, we are weighed for water gain. Then the nurse takes you to the chair. While they are getting set up with our Kevin, we are allowed to take out our gear. I take a blanket, because they keep it COLD in there. I take my Kindle, my coloring book and pens, Mp3 player and headphones-and a small snack since I get out after 8:30 in the evening. They have a TV screen above each station with limited stations, so I can watch that if I get bored. I generally don’t bother to turn it on.

Later appointments mean there aren’t a lot of people in the room. Most people nap, so it is very quiet. Most people don’t talk to each other, just with their nurse and aide. The later it gets, the more the medical people talk to each other. I find it interesting to listen to their stories, gossip, and frustrations with difficult patients. It is easy to see who likes whom, whose personalities clash, and those who simply avoid each other. It is even easier to see who is there because they love their work and who is there just marking time until they can move on. Fortunately, my team – always the same people, love their work and it shows.

What makes me sad are the patients. Some are so fragile, and it is clear they are getting near the end of their lives, versus people like me who are just starting out on this journey. I have a good chance for reversal of issues, and if not, a transplant. While they don’t talk in the dialysis room, they too greet each other and talk in the waiting room. They all come on the same day and see each other every time, so they share information, hints, tips, and ideas. They even make sure to greet me and welcome me every time I get there. They haven’t become super friendly yet, but this is the south and it is only a matter of time.

Most of the patients are elderly, the youngest is probably in h is forties. Some are very fragile, and most are brought in by family. But what you won’t see is a pity party or whinging. You will hear them laughing, talking about family, and sharing about their religious beliefs. Being forced to use dialysis as a way of survival brings our lives into a new normal that causes a whole new way of balancing everything, No matter if we go through outpatient dialysis or do the at home program, that means being positive, accepting that it is what it is, and that the machine keeps us alive one more day.

It is exhausting and leaves me tired. I can hardly walk at the end of a session, but it will get better as I adjust to the new normal for my body. Meanwhile, I am sure to greet Keven, 48, 49, or 50 each time, follow the rules, and learn to live this new normal of my crazy life, and keep moving forward. Italy will still be there in a few years, and so will I.

Play With Any Toy


“Nana?” she asked, “Do I have to play with boy toys if I don’t want to?” I was surprised at the question, she is all girl, and only has pink toy cars that match her Barbie stuff. “Why?” I asked her. “Well, Papa said that sometimes girls play with toys boys like more than girls do. I don’t like boy toys, they’re boring and dumb. I want to play with girl toys because I have fun pretending with them. And I love my babies. (She is crazy about baby dolls.) So I don’t want to play with boy toys.” I assured her that she didn’t have to play with boy toys if she didn’t want to, but if she did she could. It didn’t matter one way or the other. But it had to be her choice what she played with and when. She was satisfied with that and went off to play with her Barbie doll house. Later, I got the whole story from her.

Come to find out, it is a big issue at school from last week. There was a deep discussion between the other kids sitting at her table. There are four of them two girls, two boys. One of the boys was playing “house” with the mostly girl group. He was “the dad” and he was babysitting so the “moms” could go grocery shopping. All normal play as far as I am concerned. They were mimicking their home life. Sounds a lot like our house too. At one point one of the girls said that the boy was silly for playing with a doll because it was a girl toy. This led to a huge discussion about what a boy toy or girl toy was, and why it was fine for anyone to play with either. Except for one small group of girls who insisted that boys who played with dolls were sissies and not acting like boys. Addie, who has been raised in a traditional family that has no such rules was confused. She was raised to think that she could play with any toy, and even if boy toys were boring and dumb, she could still play with them.

The play ended with a young boy with hurt feelings, and several snippy little girls feeling smug and superior. Addie felt bad for the little boy, he sits at her table, and he is her friend. The next free play time, she went to play with him and his boy toys. They had fun wrecking their trucks. Then they decided to organize the baby stuff so that everyone could find it and play with it. They were happily folding “laundry” and putting everything away when another girl started in on the boy again about being a sissy. Addie stepped in and told her she was being a mean bully to the boy. He quietly walked away and played with the boys again. The girl and Addie ignored each other the rest of the week. Apparently, it really bothered her. Enough that she sought out adult opinions from the Mr. and I.

She told me that when she went back to school, she was going to tell the boy and the mean girl that anyone could play with any toy they wanted to, and it didn’t mean they were anything different than anyone else. She was indignant for her friend, which makes me proud of her. My problem is simple, what kind of home life does the little girl have that it gives her the idea everyone has to be the same, and if anyone is different at all, then it is okay to ridicule them and call them names?

I don’t believe in forcing my kids to play with gender specific toys, who knows, my girls might want to be mechanics, and my boys might want to be a kindergarten teacher for all I know. It is sad enough that men are denied the opportunity to work with and be around young children because the are automatically suspected monsters due to their gender. Now other children, who have been brain washed, want to control a boy’s instinct to parent by telling them doing so makes them suspected in some way as abnormal. Why? At this rate, boys will grow up to be men who are afraid of being involved with their own children for fear of being labeled as predators, homosexual, or inept as males.

I am proud of Addie for standing up for her friend. I am glad she felt able to come to us and ask about something that really bothered her. I hope we gave her an answer that would help her navigate the social issues of kindergarten children. Most of all, however, I hope that girl has zero influence on Addie’s acceptance of everyone just as they are.

Your Attitude Makes or Breaks the Vacation.


While on the cruise recently, I was amazed at the number of children on board. Over seven hundred in all. They came in ages from tiny babies (Why anyone would do that is beyond me) to teenagers. The thing I found interesting, is that with all those kids, there were very few meltdown tantrums among them. Generally, when kids get over tired, over stimulated, out of their normal routine, or in a strange place, tantrums, tears, meltdowns, and stubborn acting out ensues among them. We didn’t see that in the smallest kids, nor in the kids between five and twelve. However, teenagers of all ages and adults were absolutely invested in tantrums and meltdowns from the first moment we were at sea.

Couples were arguing with each other, parents were telling off children for no apparent reason, and teenagers, well, you know teenagers, everything that wasn’t on their phone or tablet was a reason for meltdowns and irritation. Shocking. Annoying. Hilarious. Immature. Generally undeserved by the person whom the tantrum was directed at and embarrassing to watch an adult act like a tired two year old on too much sugar. I don’t get it, really, I thought a family vacation was supposed to be relaxing and fun. Apparently not for anyone between thirteen and fifty, according to the melt down count down.

I expected frowny faces and bad attitudes in children, but it was the parents who had the, “I hate the world” faces. Unless, of course, they were eating, drinking alcohol, or hanging out in the smoking areas. It was easy to tell that most of the parents couldn’t wait for the Kid’s Clubs to open so they could park their progeny there until meal times and escape to do adult stuff. Teenagers clumped together in pools of dissatisfied texting groups as long as they had access to the ship’s texting program, and when they didn’t they sat in glum silence playing games on their phones, ignoring the swimming pools, mini golf, and other activities available for them from dawn to dusk. It was as if they wanted to be bored and dissatisfied with everything. I don’t get that either.

We had a great time from playing with Addie in the pools to mini golf, to talking to the server in the buffet room who chatted with us about Philippine food for a good half hour. Addie loved the Kid’s Club, and while she was making friends there, we had a good time relaxing and wandering around the ship. We laughed a lot, held hands, teased each other, chatted with other passengers, and simply allowed ourselves to enjoy the moment. When the three of us were together, it was clear that I was the odd one out since Addie is in the “I Adore My Papa” stage of her life, so I read a book and let them rush about doing things like water slides and such. And the bonus was that Addie didn’t have one single moment dedicated to being in a rotten mood. She was dog tired by bedtime, but there were no complaints. She would climb into her top bunk, roll over and go to sleep in moments. She did get up one night to go have pizza and ice cream in the “middle of the night” around ten p.m. She got a huge kick out of that. Even after pizza and ice cream, she climbed right back into bed and went to sleep in five minutes.

Meanwhile, every time we took her to the Kid’s Club, there would be a parent there ranting about something, embarrassing their child who couldn’t wait to escape mom or dad and go play somewhere stress free. The last time we picked Addie up, the ladies who worked in the Club gave us a note telling us how much they enjoyed time with Addie. She was polite, kind, sharing, and friendly to everyone and she was very respectful to the adults working in the Club. Everywhere we engaged with crew, they always complimented us on Addie’s behavior. Our server in the restaurant made her origami dinosaurs and the steward for our room went out of his way to make her adorable towel animals on the bed everyday. I know they must miss their children terribly since they are at sea for nine months at a time. Addie was unfailingly polite to all the adults with whom she interacted. We raised her to be polite and kind, and to always use her manners. The rest is all her doing.

I am not saying she was the best kid, there were lots of kids who were good. There were also rude and mouthy kids who talked back to adults, didn’t listen to the crew when they were told not to do something or to do something, and who ran wild because their parents didn’t care what they did as long as they didn’t bother them or get into trouble with the crew who would then bother them. That I really don’t get. As a parent, grandparent or guardian, I want to know what my kid is up to every second of the day. They don’t have to be under my feet, and I don’t hover, but I keep an eye on them. It is very easy to injure themselves on a ship filled with stairs, heavy doors, and over three thousand people on board.

I suppose people brought their daily issues to the ship with them. We try to leave all that on the shore and have a new and exciting experience. This was Addie’s first cruse, we wanted it to be positive, fun, and something she would want to do again. I guess we did it right. She can’t wait to go on another one as soon as possible. As for the grumpy folks who turned their holiday into a whine fest, I’m sorry they were such a miserable group. They missed an opportunity to have a great time. Especially the teenagers who were determined to hate everything from not having internet connections to having to be around their parents and siblings for more than five minutes a day. Oh well, what goes around comes around. Next time they want to have a good holiday, Mom and Dad have an excuse to make it as miserable as they possibly can just because they want to.

Meanwhile, the Combs Family will be the three people trying to catch the wind while walking on the deck or eating ice cream and pizza at ten at night just because we can.

Ornaments and Traditions


Every year since we got married in 1971, the day after Thanksgiving is when we start decorating for Christmas. No matter how broke, despondent, worried, angry, or disappointed our life is at that moment, we begin to build our home into a happy place designed to celebrate the traditions of our families and the birth of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, we have collected many decorations, some made by our children and grandchildren, some bought in the far off places we have lived and traveled to, some handed down from friends and family. Each one is a treasure, carefully packed away every year to be brought out and rediscovered the following year. As time goes by, some of them get a bit worn and tattered, but they still go on the best place for them on the tree. As I see them being hung by my family and myself, memories flow through my mind about how and when they came to be part of our tradition.

I have twelve cloisonne bells that were given to me as a gift when we lived in Hong Kong, each one has a slightly different sound when it rings. I have a set of lovely hand carved Angel ornaments that I bought when we were visiting Bruge, Belgium. And the lace ornaments that I bought in different countries to make a special collection is beautiful. But the ornaments that I love the most are the ones made by my children and grandchildren, and now, great grandchildren. Some were made at school, others were made in scouts or as projects we did together as a family. They aren’t fancy, and they aren’t perfect, but they are unique, one of a kind, filled with love and memories. I have hand prints in paint on plastic bobbles, I have ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter. I have drawings on paper, hung carefully next to the crystal angel that I bought for my first grandchild’s first Christmas. It doesn’t matter what they are made of, they are more treasured than the most expensive ornament on the tree. Because my babies made them, I would rather have them than any other treasure on my trees.

Now I have two trees, one for my fancy store bought and gifted ornaments. It is lovely to behold. Sparkling and glittering with lights and special stones. I put it up in my home office, where it can be seen from the front of the house. It is an addition to all the sparkling lights outside. The other tree is for all my special treasures from my family. It is in my living room, and it glitters and sparkles unlike any other tree in the world. Each ornament is a memory or a story to pass down to our progeny. Each one is a part of our traditions, sacred, and delightful. Usually, the youngest in the family puts the star on the tree, but the one on the tree is built in now. This year, the youngest will be eight hours away, he is two, the perfect age to start telling the stories about each ornament. Instead, our five year old will do the honors when she comes to visit this weekend. She gets a kick out of decorating the tree her way. Meaning most of the purple ornaments are at her eye level, in one place on the tree. She has a thing for organizing colors that way. If she can’t reach a place she wants an ornament, either her Papa or I patiently position it until she is satisfied. Then we have hot chocolate and play until bedtime.

As the days lead up to Christmas, our entire house is decorated inside and out. While I do the baking creating goodies to share with friends and family, the Mr. hangs lights and swears under his breath every time he has to repair another string of lights. When we are done, our home looks like a place of joy, it smells delightfully of chocolate and fresh baked goods, and the music of Christmas fills the air with both sacred and fun sounds of happiness and celebration.

Traditions bring us together as a family. The stories bring us laughter and teaches us through example. The decorations remind us of the past, the people, and the love we all share one generation to the next. I love Christmas, it completes my life, just as the month of December completes the year. Merry Christmas One and All. God Bless Each and Every One of You.

Is The Screaming Over?


I thought, probably naively, that once the election in 2016 was over, people would go back to being regular Americans and life would go on. That’s how it usually worked all my life. Not this time, politics became a war cry for the party who lost the run for president. And everything went to hell in a hand basket for those of us who wanted to move on and improve our lives and the lives of all Americans.

Here we stand, two years later, further divided by political angst and anger stemming from that loss to the elitist left. The rest of us keep having to defend ourselves from the hatred spewed loud and long in words and actions. Doesn’t matter if we are the most descent people on earth. Doesn’t matter if we didn’t even vote for President Trump, all that matters is that we are not part of the minority of people who loved Hillary Clinton. Even the Bernie voters either had to get on the liberal hate wagon or suffer a constant barrage of anger and threats.

Quite honestly, I don’t understand that sort of rhetoric. It seems as if the haters of President Trump will do anything to find a way to twist everything he says. In spite of the fact that he has done everything he promised to do for and in behalf of all American citizens, the left refuses to believe he has done anything worthwhile. The desperation in behavior is shocking in its vehement verbiage. And not only do they blame him for every bad thing in their personal lives, they blame every conservative as well. As if each of us had the time to bother with such things. Most of us are busy trying to pay our bills and take care of our responsibilities.

But, if you didn’t know better, it would seem that every single white man, young or old, is a born terrorist determined to decimate every liberal man or woman in the country. Which is, quite frankly, nonsense. If you listen only to leftist propaganda, every white person in the United States of America is a racist, homophobic, violent, gun toting, vicious, hate spewing, killer. When the truth is, the majority of white people, by far, don’t give a rats pattootie about skin color, who someone sleeps with, or how someone lives their life. We do have guns, to protect ourselves and our families. But so do many people of color. The white people I know don’t spew hatred nor do they want to kill anyone. However, they will defend their rights given by law and the Constitution of the United States by standing firm on their beliefs.

But, because they don’t bow to the wishes of the leftists, and refuse to give into fear of the mob, that somehow makes them evil and corrupt. Corrupt is the governments, local and state wide that are ripping off the very people who voted for them and allowing crime to infiltrate their cities to the point that hundreds are killed in their slums and poverty ridden areas every year. They don’t care, because they already got their millions through selling their souls to those who would illegally gain through the corruption. Most of those local governments are run by democrats. Go figure. Kind of sad for those who voted them in.

Because conservatives live the letter of the law, do their best to be honest and straightforward in their beliefs and wishes for themselves and the country, we somehow are seen as greedy and self serving. Really? See the above paragraph for the meaning of greed and self serving. Strangely enough, conservatives would rather avoid an argument and simply get on with living. But we are often faced with out right hatred from groups such as Antifa and the Hollywierd leftists who support things that we do not. You all know what they are, I don’t need to give you a list. Just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we want to be enemies.

America was founded in the belief that everyone has a right to believe as they wish. Over the centuries, even the most down trodden among us, the enslave, the indentured, women, and children have gained equality and freedom. The poorest can evolve to be the wealthy in our society. (For example, Oprah Winfrey who climbed from poverty to unimaginable wealth in her lifetime. And my personal favorite, Madam C.J. Walker and uneducated daughter of slaves who was the first black millionaire.) All they have to do is work hard and believe in themselves. Now, it seems, it is evil to be wealthy, unless you are a person of color or a female of liberal persuasion. Anyone else who is wealthy must be evil, because they had all the advantages. Unless, of course, they didn’t, like the founder of the Walmart stores. But he was a white man, so he is a natural born horror story according to the left.

All of the suppositions about conservatives is starting to wear on conservatives. Without fact checking, reading history, or using logic against the arguments of the left, folks are buying into the rhetoric. I am so tired of being accused of things I don’t believe, never have or would do, all because I want our country to be run on constitutional law as it was intended to be from the beginning. I am tired of fake innuendo and accusation being used against the truth: Conservatives want everyone to have a part of the American Dream as long as they are citizens of our country. I am tired of having to defend myself from idiotic comments and downright lies and I am really, really tired of having to walk away from decades old friendships because I will not back down from my beliefs, which are, by the way, backed by facts, not emotional knee jerk responses.

Mid term elections are next week. I hope that once they are over, the screaming will stop. But it won’t if the left doesn’t get its way. Like all two year old children who are told no, they will continue having tantrums if they don’t get what they want. And it will get worse, because they can’t accept the fact that folks are fed up with their whining and lies. People get tired of being denigrated when they have done nothing wrong. If however, they win, they will be like a bunch of teenage mean girls, and go out of their way to destroy that which Conservative people hold dear – our country. Will the right march and destroy things? Doubtful. Will they threaten and call for death of the leftist leaders? Not likely. Will we lie down and let the left destroy us? Of course not. We will keep on doing what we have always done. The right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time.

God Bless America, we are going to need it.