Another Welcome Home


We live in a neighborhood with three streets. The families are made up of thirty something parents with children and older retired folks for the most part. It is a tight knit group of people who have known each other for years and everyone watches out for each other. In July we found a note on our door inviting us to a neighborhood block party. We thought it would be a good way to meet everyone and for Addie to have fun with her new friends.

There would be, according to the note, a bicycle parade for the kids, hot dogs with all the trimmings for everyone, swimming for the kids in one of the pools, and when it got dark, popcorn and a movie on the lawn for one and all to enjoy. Sounded like something out of the 1960’s when I was growing up.

You see, in our little neighborhood, it is very much like it was when I was growing up. All the kids run free from house to house riding bikes and playing games. Everyone keeps an eye on the kids, and the idea of something as artificial as a set play date is laughable. Kids just gather and play, swim, and have fun. The girls who took Addie into their group are great kids. Friendly, kind, and downright loving, Addie was welcomed and treated like she had lived here all her life. One particular girl, A.J., was Addie’s age, blond, wore glasses, and loved the same things Addie does. They were immediate best friends. It was everything a child could want out of summer break. And we were thrilled to see her so happy.

We all gathered, met and chatted with almost everyone, enjoyed the hot dogs and drinks, and had fun watching the kids ride their bikes. I counted 25 children between 18 months and young teens at the event. That is a lot of kids for three blocks, but a few of them came from areas around us who had either friends or family in our neighborhood. Addie had a great time, and the Mr. wore his outgoing personality hat. It was good to see him talking to everyone from young to old. I was exhausted from dialysis so I only stayed for a bit, but it was nice to see what child belonged to which family and to get to know folks who have lived here for ages. I went home early, but the Mr. and Addie stayed until the end of the movie.

They came wandering home well after her bedtime, and it took an hour for her wind down enough to get ready for bed. As I kissed her goodnight, she looked at me with a happy smile and said, “Nana, this was the BEST day EVER. I had so much fun I didn’t want it to end. I love this place!” That made the whole summer the best for me too. We moved here because we fell in love with our new home, we were simply blessed to move into a neighborhood filled with loving families who extend that love to strangers, welcoming us with kindness and acceptance. I guess that is part of living in a small town in the middle of the country in Oklahoma. Another welcome home that blesses us for moving here and gives us a feeling of peace.

Worry


I have met women from all over the world over the years. They came from different cultures, countries, religions, and spoke different languages. They were single, with or without children, married with or without children, elderly, and of various levels of education and walks of life. But we all have one thing in common, other than loving others; we worry.

We worry all day, or late at night, or both. We worry about our lives, our children, or careers or lack thereof, money, paying bills, and if that odd noise is something important breaking on the furnace, or someone breaking in.

We worry about meeting the love of our lives, or if we have, if we are letting our relationship get stale. We worry about our weight, our hair, our clothes, and our abilities. We worry about making decisions and if we have made one, if it is the right one. We worry about our parents, especially if they are elderly, and we worry about our health too.

Depending on where we live, we worry about feeding our children, making sure they get the medication they need, and if we are good mothers or not. We worry about our teenagers and the choices they make, and we worry about letting them make mistakes without rushing to rescue them. We worry about their grades in school, or how they are doing in their work – even if they are in their forties and long since on their own.

We worry about life, death, our pets, and what to do next. Even if the choices are clear and the road laid out before us, we still worry. Sometimes worry paralyzes us, keeping us from moving forward or backward, keeping us in a holding pattern until something forces us to make a decision.

Sometimes we worry because we have no regrets and wonder if we missed a step or not. Sometimes we worry when we look back and realize how happy we are, and wonder if we deserve to feel so good about our lives and our choices. All of us worry, even if we never show it, act like it, or share our worries with others. It is simply something we, as women, have coded into our DNA.

As we age, we worry about different things, but we often reach the conclusion that we need to pick and choose what we worry about because we can’t change what other’s choose to do, and we can’t change the past, we can only accept life is what it is and keep on moving forward. At my age, I can’t be bothered to worry too much or I would make myself even crazier than I already am. I simply learn what I can change by changing myself or my choices, or I can look forward to seeing the outcome of those choices in the future. Worry is a part of life, but it is my choice to allow it to consume or control me, or I learn to control its influence on me heart and mind.

To all the women in my life, take a deep breath and a step back from the worries and love yourself a little more before taking on the day. After all, the worry will still be there tomorrow, or something new will crop up to worry about, that is a given fact. Just don’t let the worry get in the way of unconditional love and joy. Give your friends a hug, and ask for one on the hard days. We all need to stand together in this world of worry.

Two Stop Lights


We finally retired. Something the Mr. has looked forward to doing for the past three years or so. We packed up everything we felt was important to keep with us, loaded up a big old moving truck and moved to our final home until we take up our plot in the cemetery near our son and my mom and day.

We lived in a pretty big place, just south of Memphis, Tennessee. Lots of traffic, loads of school buses and a constant hectic pace was normal for us. We lived there for twelve years, and it became the way we lived. The Mr. had his morning commute into Memphis from the neighborhood we chose to live in, and then would reverse the trek every evening. I hated it, he hated it, but it meant we had a pay check every pay day. And, like most folks, we got used to it and it became part of our life. But as time went by, we began to yearn for a life where we could spend time together and with our family without rushing anywhere.

We have been retired for about a month. Our new home is in a small town in Oklahoma. There are two stop lights, one at either end of town. The only fast food is a Sonic Drive-in, and there are two restaurants, one traditional southern food, the other Mexican. Both are quite good, but we had to learn the times they are open because the hours are erratic compared to some place like Chili’s. Mother Juggs breakfasts are great (bisquits and gravy are highly recommended.) The Mexican place has great fajitas. The only grocery in town is a very small family run place that always has a place to park and they even carry out your groceries for you if you are old like me.

Our house is in the ‘nice’ side of town. Read that the houses cost more that the average home in this town. The town was founded by the Black Seminole Indians after the Civil War. Their reservation runs right along the road that goes past our house. On our side is the Creek Reservation, on the South side of the road it is fully Seminole. One of the most asked questions is what tribe we belong to. Doesn’t really matter, the Mr. is a card carrying Creek, so he is more than welcome. We love our house, it is exactly like the kind we used to visit when we were first married. We never dreamed we would be able to afford one, but here we are, living in one, unpacking boxes, and slowly making it our home.

It is interesting the things we find, like a very fancy restaurant just out side of town with amazing food. It may be fancy, but we can afford to each there several times a month if we want. There is a museum about the Seminole Tribe in town, a library, and a genealogical society available to everyone. This is the county seat for Seminole County. The old part of down town and much of the old neighborhoods are run down and empty. But new growth in the county is making a difference. The folks in charge are welcoming and friendly. Looks like we might get a bit involved with the local activities.

Last night we went to Mother Juggs for supper. As I tried to get out of the booth to leave, my legs gave out and I nearly fell. The lady in the booth behind me got up and helped me stand. She didn’t know me, I had never seen her before. It didn’t matter, she just got up and helped. As I thanked her, embarrassed that I couldn’t just stand up and walk out, she just shrugged and said she would help anyone in need. She patted my hand and told me I would be better soon and to take care of myself. The Mr. came back from paying the check to see me and a strange lady holding hands. As I hobbled to the car, I told him what had transpired. He was pleased someone offered help. I realized that people in Oklahoma stand back and watch the new folks with a bit if suspicion, but if in they are truly in need they will step up and make a difference in their day.

We live in a small, quiet town filled with the under privileged and poor, but they have pride, traditions, and a sense of community that is admirable. We may only have two stop lights, but folks here have a lot of go.

Looking At The Past


As I was packing up the bookshelves, I found several Junior High and High School year books. I started looking through them, boy did we have ugly hair styles and uncomfortable clothes in Junior High, but by the time we were in High school, the hippie look of long hair, peasant blouses, and jeans were in style. It was definitely a solid change in how one style changed the way we dressed. In fact, I know many people my age who still live in jeans and peasant blouses. Guys still wear long hair and jeans and T-shirts too. Although I think any guy over forty needs to rethink the long hair and bald spot look.

One think that was clear in the yearbooks was who the popular crowd was. Their faces were plastered all over the books. Cheerleaders, class president, football players, all were involved in every sort of club and activity. Well, there were the nerdy groups like chess club and the motor heads (aka greasers) who were big in things like shop and band. But it was always the popular kids, those that were the favorites of the teachers and administration who were front and center, even in crowd photos.

I remember that there was one table in the cafeteria where they gathered and spent lunch putting down the rest of us pathetic losers who simply didn’t measure up to their beauty and power. And they did have power. One hint from them that someone in their group no longer belonged and that person was immediately personae non grata. The girls were much more vicious in this behavior than the boys. It was a sad thing to observe.

I wasn’t part of that group, I was a nerdy kid who stayed in the background and simply observed the world around me. I didn’t exist in their world, I was a total non person to them. Fine with me, I didn’t have to deal with their behavior and attitude. I wondered, as I flipped though the pages of the yearbook, what happened to the school leaders and popular crowd.

The internet is an amazing thing when it comes to finding people. A few stokes of the keyboard keys and low and behold, they are found on various sites. Interestingly enough, most of them had their glory days in High School and haven’t really done a great deal since then. Thye mostly still live in the same area, working regular jobs, married with kids. Some went to college and hold white collar jobs doing the mundane white collar things. Not a one of them has burst out of the shell around them and become an outstanding policeman or woman, a military hero, or a political leader in their home town or state. What a waste of potential and ability. Not that I am all that different.

However, I have met most of my dreams and items on my bucket list. A college education, living abroad, traveling the world, raising children, and staying married to the love of my life. I’ve written two books and published them on Amazon (under the name Jo Calhoun). I have lived every day to the fullest, and in my aging days I am still trying to learn, grow, and make a difference in my world. When I look at folks who never tried to fulfill their potential, it makes me sad and a bit frustrated.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with staying home and raising kids, I did that for years. Not that there is anything wrong with being a hands on kind of guy or woman who stays at the same job for years. It is a comfortable way of life. But there is so much more to see and experience in the world. Sometimes, all it takes is one step out of the comfort zone and the power of discovery takes over.

Now that most of the folks my age are retiring, it is a great opportunity to step out of that zone and step into discovery of a whole new world. Maybe I will see you there, Mr. or Miss Popularity, and this nerdy girl will be able to enhance your life too.

A Girl and A Horse


On Saturday our Addie had a great day. She is quite horse mad right now, and wants riding lessons. Its a long story, but the other grandparent with whom we share custody, isn’t keen on the idea. To help Addie learn about horses and have the chance to be around them, we try to get her to events that will give her hands on experience.

The woman who trained our granddaughter and her horse in the hunter/jumper events put on a program for her younger students called a play day. The girls got to groom and bathe a small horse, lead and ride a horse, and play together in the outdoors on the farm. It was, as Addie said, “Totally Awesome!” And for my husband and myself, brought back happy memories of her mother learning horsemanship from one of the best trainers in our area.

There is something magical about being around horses. I know they seem huge, and they can be scary to little kids, but give them a minute or two with a horse sniffing them, nuzzling them, and kids just fall into love with the animals. There is nothing more sweet that seeing a child reaching up to hug a horse, and the horse all but climbing in their lap to hug them back.

Horses are wise, gentle, ornery, funny, goofy, spirited, and stubborn, just like people tend to be. A good match between rider and horse is a beautiful thing to see. It seems girls are more drawn to ponies and horses than boys, and it isn’t unusual to see a young girl out in the pasture with her best friend lying across his back and telling him all her troubles.

We used to live near a stable and on Saturday the parking area was filled with cars, trucks, and trailers as a gaggle giggling girls between six and womanhood took lessons, competed in events, cared for their horses and spent time making friends and enemies. Between the horses, dogs, people, teachers, and competition it was a noisy, joyous affair.

Girls learned responsibility, and how to work hard because their horses needed them to be able to understand and be aware of problems. Horses learned to work with the girls, treating them with gentleness and making them earn their respect. Having a horse is a lot more work than most people expect. It is an every day responsibility, and there is always something to take care of, be it making sure they horse stays healthy to keeping up with the maintenance of the animal. Brushing, shoes, trimming, checking for sores, cuts, making sure their teeth are in good shape, it is always something. Then there is the equipment that requires care. A good trainer will make sure the girls know how to keep their saddle and bridal in good condition, how to choose the right bit for their horse, and how to get their horse ready to ride.

Some girls have full board horses, where farm hands feed and water the horses, and clean the stalls for them. Personally, I think it is important that a horse owner take care of their own horse every day themselves. Nothing like cleaning out a dirty stall to teach a child hard work. Hauling in hay, grain, and water gives them a chance to understand horse nutrition and health. Overseeing the horses makes them more than a weekend owner, it makes them understand the needs of their horse and how to relate to him better.

I always get a kick out of watching a girl learn to make her horse do as she asks instead of doing what he wants. It gives a girl courage to face down a stubborn 1500 pound animal with nothing more than grit and her 100 pounds of determination. I have seen girls take a jump and go head over heels off a 16 hand horse, just to get up, brush off the dirt and climb right back on to try again. No tears, no self pity, just hard core determination to learn how to do things right. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

So, our Addie isn’t taking lessons, yet. But she is learning her way around a horse and how to care for one from the hooves up. One day we will watch her compete like her mother did, and bring home a blue ribbon. But the point of competing, to us, isn’t the winning, it is learning how to cope with losing, and still getting back on her horse and trying again until she conquers everything ahead of her. And until then, she will have fun loving on horses every chance she gets. I love being a Nana.

Dealing With Mortality


I am a fatalist, when it is your turn to die, you will die because there is no escaping it. I am sixty-four years old, and I have had to face the fact that mortality is a finite thing. I have diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure – any of which will literally be the death of me. Oh, not today, probably not for years with all of the modern medicine and surgery available. But, I have a use by date stamped in my DNA somewhere and my body is making me very aware of that fact on a daily basis.

I decided that living with constant pain is something I can do, because life is worth it. I can live with the next thing to go wrong, because life is worth it. I can live with the unknown because life is worth it. As long as life is worth it, I will keep going. It may be slower than I am used to, it may frustrate me not to be able to do what I want because of limitations – both physical and emotional – but it is still living. I have long since come to terms with the idea that if I wake one day and nothing hurts, I will have died in my sleep.

I don’t fear dying, for many reasons from my faith to knowing I will get to be with my loved ones and friends who have gone ahead of me. I am also too stubborn and opinionated to let something as natural as death intimidate me. It happens to everyone eventually. I have thought a lot about what I want done at my funeral. No crying, no wailing, no feeling depressed. It is a celebration of my life, my death, and my eternal life! So I don’t want sad music, speeches about how good I was, or more likely, how difficult I was in life. I want loud music, and people dancing as the escort me to my grave. I have already told my husband that at my graveside, the song by the Muppets, “Moving Right Along” must be played as my final thoughts. I love that song, we always played it when we drove off on an adventure when my boys were small.

I don’t want people to sit quietly, whispering to each other, get up and greet each other with a hug and talk to each other in a normal voice. It won’t bother me, that’s for sure. Laugh, oh, please laugh. Laugh about the silly things I did, my stubborn slant on politics, how I would drive my car and smoke those idiot teenage boys who thought they could out drive an old woman. Tell jokes, and share stories. For heaven’s sake, whoever delivers the eulogy, don’t be preachy or maudlin. And above all, don’t be boring.

I want to do a video before I die, one to be played at my funeral. My last word on everything from love to death. Why? Because it is my funeral, damn it, and I can. I want the last memory people have of me, especially my loved ones, to be one of me telling them what to do and how to do it just like I do every day in my life. More than that, though, is a last chance to tell them not to cry, because I have gone on to a better place.

A place where I will have to answer for my mistakes, a place where I can hug my son, and then sit down and have a conversation about his daughter and her life. I will see my Grannie Vandenburg, and tell her how much I missed her. I will see my father, who left his world without giving me a chance to say goodbye. There will be so many ancestors I have questions for about genealogy and family history – and most importantly, I have a few questions for the big man himself, like why did he make platypus, and what was he thinking when he made dinosaurs.

Mortality is something we all need to address eventually. But I want a say so in what happens when and how things are done when I leave this world behind. And I do plan on haunting a few folks who need a swift kick in the attitude just for the fun of it. I may have died, but I will still be me.

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.