Monday, December 28, 2009

Bonne Annee!

To my dear family and friends, I wish you a very happy and healthy new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life!

Christmas Eve we attended the Candlelight Program at church. The service consisted of several congregational carols, musical performances, and an inspiring talk by the pastor. Then a flame was passed from one candle to the next, up one row and down another, until the church was lit with the beauty of all holding their candles high as we sang Silent Night and Joy To The World. It was beautiful!

This morning I am the first one up in my household. Some quiet time to reflect on our Christmas. Gifts to open from my daughters and far-away sisters. Smiles and sounds of delight with the unwrapping of each present. Cooking and setting the table and the flavors blending as we loaded our plates. Phone calls to family in other states. A new puzzle spread out on the card table while we reminisced. Warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream in the evening while we played games. It was a sweet Christmas.

Five days left of 2009. I looked at my new year's resolutions from last year -- I hit several, some were missed. Maybe the important ones were accomplished, though. The one relating to having more patience, for example. And while we strive to improve ourselves, our lives, our health, our homes, I need to remember to be thankful for what I have that is right in my life now. We've been blessed. It is a wonderful life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas Concert to Remember

And Heaven and Nature Sing! That was the theme of a Christmas Concert we attended this weekend at a local church and it was fantastic! One of the show-stoppers was their version of The Little Drummer Boy -- played like you have never heard it before! You have to be there in person to fully appreciate the vibrations of all the drum beating and the lights and fog, but please take five minutes and enjoy this as a gift to yourself:

The Little Drummer Boy

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Enjoying the Spirit of the Holidays

Do we 'get it'? A couple of days ago I was stressing. How would everything get done before December 25? This morning I woke up and reminded myself that I will get a lot more done if I am relaxed and enjoy the process. I realize that things won't be done 'ahead of schedule' as the born organized people recommend. It might be 5:00 December 24, but they will get done. Included in my list of still needing done are:

1. Finish shopping for my girls
2. Finish my dad's custom Christmas gift
3. We have our artificial tree up in the living room, but we really wanted a small real tree in the family room -- we were all too sick to get one last week. So we'll carve out time to get one and decorate it in the next couple of days.
4. Gifts to wrap
5. Cookies to bake
6. The home office that I had started reorganizing looks like a disaster zone -- I had to stop in the middle of clearing out cabinets and the storage closet due to major life events. Now it is half done and in boxes and piles all over the place! I wanted to have it done before my dad arrived, but since he arrives tonight he will get to share in the joy of the process. ;)

Sometimes just making the list helps bring order and calm as you realize it is possible to do it. Plus I'm off work after tomorrow for two weeks break.

Enjoying the holidays is not just about tearing into gifts on Christmas morning and eating a dinner you slaved over. It is about the fun of anticipating the looks on loved ones faces when they see the effort you put in to finding something just right for them, or laughing and reminiscing as you roll out the cookie dough or cut up the vegetables. It is finding pleasure in tying an especially pretty bow on a package, and taking a plate of cookies to the neighbors.

So from now on, no stress -- just enjoying the moments one by one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Portland in December!

Portland, Oregon was my home for awhile back in the 70's. I've always loved the city -- not too big and not too small, as far as cities go. Between the great outdoors and educational and cultural offerings there is something for everyone.

We took a few days off and went up to the City of Roses this past week. With relatives on both sides of my family in the area, some of whom I hadn't seen in years, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting and sight-seeing! My Uncle Don and Aunt Darlene live in Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River, so we stayed in a hotel down the road from them. My uncle graciously loaned us his car so we could get around on our own schedule -- what a treat! My dad had arrived a day earlier so he joined in the reunions as well!  It was especially wonderful to see my cousin Becky and her husband Darryl after several years--we keep in touch through cards and letters, but face-to-face communication reminded me what a fun personality she has.

I also got to visit with cousins Nancy and Priscilla.  Nancy and I see each other every once in awhile, but I haven't seen Priscilla in years, so that was special, too!

Lys wanted to check out Portland State University as a transfer option for next year. The brochure said that it is difficult to tell where the campus begins and the city ends -- so true!

The Visitor's Center on campus:Lloyd's Center still has the ice skating rink I remembered:
We took Dad with us to tour Pittock Mansion which overlooks the city. Each room was enchantingly decorated for Christmas! We were inspired to come back home and decorate our rooms more intricately.

One very cold night we went to The Festival of Lights at the Grotto. This internationally known Catholic shrine is a rock cave carved into a tall cliff. For the Christmas season, the story of Christ is told with lights, a beautiful nativity scene, and choirs singing in the chapel.

Missing from the photos are:
~ The wonderful dinners we enjoyed each night with our relatives,
~ Learning how to play a new card game,
~ Driving through Washington Park, past the zoo, rose garden, children's museum, and so
much more,
~ Our rosy cheeks from staying out in the sub-freezing temperatures a bit too long,
~ The scrumptious breakfasts provided by the Marriot every morning,
~ The welcome warmth of our gloves and scarves,
~ The time spent inside the world's largest new and used bookstore (Powell's!),
~ The delicious taste of Stumptown cocoa and coffee drinks,
~ The bridges criss-crossing across the rivers,
~ Mt. Hood keeping watch over the city,
~ The jokes and teasing and oh so much fun.

I miss it already.

Note: Some of the photos are courtesy of my daughter Ash who has a real eye for photography and a much better camera!