I have lost a loved one this festive season and it has made me simply crave quiet, to crave peace. Although, both are in short supply at the moment. I’ve not visited here, because I’ve had little to say. I’ve been lighting my candles, listening to music, baking bread, cooking, reading; just being.
It’s made me step back from the edge of the surging river, that is the holiday season. I love Christmas, it makes me sad that it is such a rush. There is too much hustle and bustle. When do we stop to take in the beauty of the season around us? To enjoy family and friends? Everything seems to be moving more and more to a harried finish line, where once crossed, we come out the other side dazed, dishevelled and confused, wondering what happened to Christmas in the first place?
Christmas is about being with the people you love, cherishing the time you have and being present in the moment. And that is exactly what I plan to do – to relish the quiet moments; to enjoy the noise of jovial voices and laughter; to find myself amongst all of it whole again.
The memories you make with those that you love are so very important. For it is memories that you are left with.
Quiet. That is how I feel lately. Quiet. My family suffered another loss last weekend, this time of the four-legged kind. We lost an angel. I know that everyone feels this way about their pets, but this wasn’t a pet, this was a family member.
We got her just before Christmas when I was home from College and after the holidays, everyone went back to work and it was just me and her. We were buddies. We had almost 13 wonderful years with her.
On her punky days, the fur behind her ears smelled like popcorn. She was a people person, she preferred two legs to four. She was most content when you would just sit with her and she would often call break time when you were busy cleaning the house. Butting you in the leg with her head to tell you it was time to sit with her for a while.
She saved my dad’s life when he had pneumonia, she wouldn’t leave my mom’s side when she was unwell, you would physically have to carry her outside to go to the bathroom, because she refused to leave the room. She was always chief of security and would make her rounds to ensure everything was well. She loved candy. She loved laying in the sunshine, her long eyelashes resting on closed lids with her gentle little face turned to the sun as she sat sphinx style.
She loved children. She would sulk when suitcases came out and would often lie down inside them, daring you to start packing it. She loved visitors and hated when you left. She was so many things, but most of all she was a furry comfort, a four-legged friend. She had been through moves, deaths and births with us. She kept her wings hidden, but we knew they were there. She’s left her paw print on our hearts and for that we will forever be grateful. I’m reminded of this, which I shared long ago, but wanted to share again today, Lessons From Lucy.
My family has lost a loved one this week. It was sudden. I don’t think that anyone has quite come to the realisation just yet. I mourn for the loving spouse and children and grandchildren they left behind.
There is someone else I am very close to who has already walked this path. She knows the loss of a spouse, her child knows the loss of a father. I hope that they can offer some kind words, a bit of wisdom, or simply a hug and knowing look for they have been down this road and they know what is ahead for the ones left behind. Sometimes our most difficult of situations become our greatest blessings as they give us the hindsight to help someone else. We grow in the valleys, not the mountain tops, right?
It is in times like this that I feel we must listen to our hearts, we must do what we feel is right to help someone, to support them. Be that a loved one or a stranger. For life is so very precious and fleeting. We are the tide, we are one wave, that hopefully, slowly builds to maturity before we crash against the shore to return to the vast ocean from whence we surged forth. And, if we’re really lucky, we leave an imprint on those we’ve left behind, not to be forgotten.
“Don’t fight it!” That is something that my Grandpa, used to say. When something just wasn’t working out and you were trying your damnedest, he’d say, “Hey, don’t fight it!”
I’ve taken his advice to heart this week as everything seems to be breaking. The fan in the bathroom, a leak in the bathroom that is causing water damage on the kitchen ceiling and the dryer deciding that it was ready to give up. I’ve arranged for the calvary to arrive, but that won’t happen till next week.
So, I can’t stress about something that I can’t do anything about. I just take a deep breath and I don’t fight it, because everything will eventually just fall into place.
Over the last few years there has been a serious wave of superhero movies. Maybe it is because we are living in a time where we desire the need for a superhero to make us feel safe. Maybe there has always been this need to know that we have a guardian looking out for us and he/she takes their manifestation in the guise of a superhero figure. I think that superheroes do exist and walk amongst us. I think that for the most part they are the every man; but to someone or some people in particular there is nothing every day about them.
That is the case with my dad. He is my superhero. He is one of the hardest working men that I know. Yet, he still appreciates the little things. He stops to watch a sunset, a deer cross through a cornfield, the birds eating seeds from one of the feeders. He always compliments my mom and my sister and I (even though we are married ladies). He’s a wonderful chef. He makes the best cheeseburgers known to man and his lasagna and meatballs are to die for! He is a non-complainer; a gentlemen through and through. He has a tender heart, but a strong will.
Not everyone is blessed with a dad like mine, not everyone is blessed with a superhero. I’m lucky; I am.
The kisser of boo-boos; the maker of pancakes; the whispered words that banish bad dreams; the cool fingers that ease a fever; the hands that hold, soothe and dry tears; the lips that kiss, that speak words of love and encouragement. The ears that hear what is being said and often what is left unsaid. The arms that offer hugs when no one else’s arms will do. The smile that let’s you know that everything will be okay. All these things and so much more only begin to scratch the surface of what it means to be a Mama.
My Mom holds all these qualities and so much more. Through the miracle of invention, I get to speak to her every day, even though we are thousands of miles away. I think so often of those brave pioneers who stepped up onto their wagons and set off down a road that would lead them so far away from their families, that they might never see them again. Occasionally we have the chance to Skype before I leave for work. After that I am set for my day. It doesn’t matter what else happens from that point forward, I have seen her face and all is right with the world. We laugh, we have our “little” secrets, we enjoy each other’s company.
I see the same thing between my gorgeous sister and my sweet pea of a niece. Even though she is still itty bitty, they laugh together, they have their own language, they share looks, they have their own little jokes and things they do to tease one another.
We are blessed to have Mothers, GREAT Mothers. Not everyone can say that. I’m very lucky, I can say that! I have a wonderful Mother and a sister who is a wonderful Mother too. Moms are often under appreciated. It is the hardest, at times least rewarding, non-paid job there is. But, it is an important job. Jacqueline Kennedy said once, that “if you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” I think that is so true. You are shaping someone’s life in your hands. Being a parent is an important job and we should celebrate Mom’s, not just today, but everyday.
Happy Mother’s Day to two of the most important women in my life. Like all good Moms I have more than two women in my life who have guided me and celebrated my ups and downs, have been my cheerleaders and confidantes and I celebrate them as well. I love you all.
Chinatown is an area I criss-cross through often when I’m traveling here and there in London. Yesterday, while going to pick up a goat good luck charm for the Chinese New Year, we happened upon the lion dance.
This is one of my favourite things to see! Every year, usually by chance, we come across this tradition being performed. There are two performers inside of the costume (which is how you know it is a lion and not a dragon dance) and they go from door to door performing “cai qing” which translates to, “plucking the greens”. The lion dances around the doorway where the greens are hung, moving cat like backwards and forwards, or bending low as if hunting prey and slowly works his way up to pulling the greens down.
Occasionally we’ve seen a shop put out oranges on a small table to which the lion happily gobbles up. Yesterday one store on the second floor placed their greens, tied to a stick, out through the window. The acrobatic team worked with each other, standing on shoulders and stretching the lion’s neck, they plucked the greens from the second story window, to the delight of all of us below. There was a lot of cheering.
As we headed out through the gates, the Hippodrome Casino was handing out fortune cookies to advertise their business. Unfortunately, the fortune inside wasn’t a fortune, but was another form of advertisement for a big gaming event. But, Mr. Michie didn’t know that, he only saw the side written in Mandarin.
I told him it was I good thing that I could read Mandarin, to which he just stopped and looked at me with raised eyebrows. With a smile, he asked me what the fortune said, to which I replied that it said: “Help! Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!” to which we both busted out laughing.
That is a very old joke, but it never gets old! When we were little and would go out for Chinese food with my grandparents and it came time for the fortune cookies to be passed out, we would go around the table and everyone would read their fortune. My Grandpa, would always say:, “Oh, No! You’ll never believe this, my fortune says: Help! Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!” to which everyone around the table would bust out laughing and there would be a short pause while my sister and I puzzled this one out for a second! He was a great teaser!
Oh, to be little again! I’m happy that we had the good fortune to see the lion dance again this year, it is always magical to share in this experience.
The house has been filled with the sounds of Christmas music today. The candles are lit, the pumpkin pie has been baked, fresh vanilla whipped cream is in the fridge and the turkey is in the oven along with carrots which are roasting in an orange juice and brown sugar glaze.
The mashed potatoes are being kept warm and the stuffing and other sides are in their final stages as well. We are celebrating Thanksgiving today. Work has kept us from celebrating it sooner as Mr. Michie had a late school night on Thursday and a school commitment yesterday as well. So today is our Thanksgiving with each other. We have had a quiet day, which is something that doesn’t happen often, I have loved it!
On this first Sunday of Advent we are celebrating love, family, a roof over our heads, food on our table and the blessings of the Season.