If you aren’t familiar with Elf on a Shelf you might think this picture is a little odd. The idea is that you use the elf doll and tell your children that the elf is watching good boys and girls for Santa. Now the elf moves at night to a different location to further convince your kids he is real. Sometimes this little elf will even play tricks at night while children are asleep. An example would be you find him on the kitchen table with your cereal ready, or maybe he picked out your clothes while you slept. You get the idea.
Now this sounds like great fun BUT most parents start this little game around Thanksgiving and it’s played up and until Christmas. This can be troublesome in many ways. Trying to come up with different ideas as to where to put the elf while the kids are asleep and what trick or new discovery the elf might create. That’s a lot of work! Or heaven forbid the parent is to tired to do the elf relocation one night, then you have to come up with why the elf did not move. The worst or maybe best idea is the elf is partially eaten by the dog, hence the picture.
I’ve always been a talker. I love people and I love being around people. Now don’t get me wrong I like my alone time too, but my teachers didn’t call me jabber jaws when I was in elementary school for nothing. The teachers would write on my report cards ; “she is a great student but needs to stop talking”. I was reading an article the other day which explained that children who are left alone a lot tend to well, run at the mouth , so to say.
I definitely fit in that category. I always did all the talking for my introverted little brother. He liked listening to me and it always made him feel more secure when I did all the talking, or so he told me once. My little brother passed away 24 years ago but I’m still talking.
Now the problem with this is it’s nervous talking . Not necessarily good conversation. I have been practicing meditation to help me silence that inner child who needed to fill the awkward silence. When I was young silence was always scary, nothing good ever came from silent moments. The meditation helps, not a cure, but it helps, and that’s all I have to say – for a change.
I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.
These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.
At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.
If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.
I lost many loved ones on special or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided i needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.
Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.
As a cradle catholic I understood the feast days of All Souls and following All Saints Day. What I understood was that meant two “extra” masses in addition to Sunday mass in a short seven day week! I always assumed the extra masses were meant to keep children in line gluten with thoughts of massive amounts of candy.
When I was 20 I had the privilege of traveling to Mexico the week of Halloween and I have never enjoyed the holiday more. The people walking to the cemetery in a quiet but gay line as they talked to each other in lowered voices with smiles on their faces and bright boquets of flowers, food, trinkets, and wrapped packages for their loved ones laid to rest.
This was done in such a festive and proud way that it was easy to understand and didn’t seem at all morbid to my young mind. For that fleeting moment I felt sad that no one would ever visit me when I was gone and celebrate my life with gifts, flowers, food, and community. This feast for the dead is a very old custom or tradition in Mexico.
Maybe we could learn from this old custom to create a new tradition for Halloween.
If you are a mother then you are part of a very special group of people. Only mother’s carry their children inside their body for nine months before giving birth. It’s a special wonder to be part of that group. Being a mother is a job I took very seriously. To teach and shape the minds of little humans is a huge responsibility.
There’s another group of mothers that no mother wants to be a part of. The group I refer to is mothers who have lost a child. When I was raising my children I knew women who had lost their infants, toddlers, or teenagers. Our hearts would break to hear about the death of a child we knew. Deep down we would not admit it but we feared the thought of being a member of that group. Some mothers would avoid another mother after her loss as if her grief would rub off.
I saw this happen to my own mother when my oldest brother died at age 24. I was only 19 and not yet a mother myself. I didn’t understand her grief until I became a mom myself and discovered that love. I do remember others avoiding her. I guess they just weren’t sure what to say or do. I do remember people telling her things that I’m sure they thought were helpful but they couldn’t possibly understand her pain. These mothers don’t need you to understand their pain but they need to know you remember their child. My mother said that everyone not wanting to talk about my brother hurt more than the people who just avoided her as if her loss would “rub off on them”.
I have been amazed by the women I have known that have suffered the loss of a child. These women are fierce and their love is forever. Their child is no longer on this earth but their love is far beyond what we can see or understand in this life.
I met one of these amazing fierce loving moms recently – Maria’s mom.
Maria’s mom will celebrate every holiday, every family triumph , every family birthday with Maria.
When I moved into my apartment a few years ago I picked my childhood neighborhood. Maybe I was being nostalgic or maybe I just felt a comfort come over me when I first saw the duplex apartment. The House was old , like all the others, it had the original woodwork, leaded windows, and hardwood floors. As weeks went by I worked up the nerve to knock on a neighbors door. Now this neighbor was a lifelong friend of my moms but my mom died over 15 years ago and I wasn’t sure if she still lived in the home or if she was still alive. I knock nervously on her door it flew open and a smiling woman hugged me and said, “Missy!”. Not only did she recognize me but was happy to see me.
That started a friendship that would grow over the next 3 years. She ask me to come back after that first reunion and it became a daily ritual. At first we would just catch up on each other’s lives. Then it became stories about my family that I had never heard. She was an amazing story teller. She was also a great listener and I needed one. She always had a smile on her face and never complained. She never judged anything I said or did. I would walk her dog with mine and sometimes we would share a quick meal together at her house. I would ask her if she needed anything and sometimes she did. Somewhere in the very back of my head I knew that this would not last forever but I didn’t care. Just having her friendship and love was all that mattered. I knew how old she was but she didn’t seem old to me. She was always wanting to learn something new and her mind was so open that age was not present in our friendship.
my friend died a few weeks ago and the pain in my heart is the lost friendship. Her children held a celebration of her life and it was just as special and unique as she was. I could have not taken the time to reunite and create this friendship but the pain I’m feeling now is worth the love I received from her. She touched my life and I have grown.
I was watching a video made in 1968 of my hometown on YouTube. I have a tendency to be nostalgic so it was right up my alley. I’m also a fan of history so I justified the 25 min out of my day to watch the video. A scene from a local hotel with a beautiful indoor swimming pool was one of the shots on the video. The hotel no longer exists but it reminded me of the times my Grandmother would reserve a room for me and my younger brother for a weekend and we would just swim all weekend until we were exhausted. It was such a treat when she did this for us. She would sit by the pool watching us and reading or knitting. When she decided we were waterlogged enough she would order room service or take us down to the hotel dining room to eat. It was always a great weekend and she always picked weekends in the wintertime so that made the indoor swimming all the more fun.
This was such a great childhood memory. How could I not have thought about it in so many years? My younger brother and I did everything together, but he passed away 20 years ago and the memories are fading. I think the reason why it’s harder to remember things from our childhood now is that I no longer have him to talk to and repeat the stories that make me smile, laugh and cry. When we were young adults and we got together these childhood memories no matter how embarrassing, funny, or just plain odd would be told over and over. The four of us ( my 3 brothers and myself) along with my mother would laugh and tease each other about these childhood incidents- now stories
I don’t tell you this as a sad tale. I just want others to remember that when your mother, brother, sister, or Uncle Joe want to share the same old stories with you about when you were young, just smile and say “I remember”.
These stories are your history and when the people in them are gone the memories fade. By the way, watching that YouTube video and remembering times spent with my brother and grandmother were the best 25 min. I’ve spent in a long time.
Once I realized that what I wanted was not the "norm" for people my age, and that I really no longer cared what anybody thought, I found my perfect little place to rent. Yes, I said rent. I had owned homes as I noted in the first part of this story and that was what I needed then but not really what I needed now. My children have grown and they all have homes which I enjoy going to. It was time to let go.
I let go of the control of family gatherings. I enjoy having them at my children's home. It nice to watch them grow as families and start their own traditions. I let go of stuff. How many of one item does any human being need? The holiday decorations were the first to go. I saved only the items that had meaning to me and gave the rest to the kids to sort before donation. All the the childhood memories I kept in boxes I gave to each of my kids to sort through on their own. My job as the memory keeper was finished. I was never one to hold on to a lot of clothing but it needed some trimming too. The next items to evaluate were " family heirlooms". I have a few things that are special to me but the ones that weren't I gave an option to my kids and if they didn't want them they were donated. I use my mother's China EVERYDAY instead of waiting for 3 times a year. The kitchen was last and easiest for me. One of everything with the exception of baking pans and casserole dishes. I also use the silverware given to me by my mother EVERYDAY. I set up my workroom in the loft of my apt and I only have one bedroom.
What? Is she crazy? Doesn't she want to pass down things generation to generation? Why is my answer. Unless you are leaving land ( which their not making any more of ) I don't see any reason. It's just STUFF. I lost all my family- mother, father, brothers by the time I was 45. People are important, stuff is just stuff. People who have a enormous amounts of it seem to be doing one or more of the following:
A) always looking for it B) worried about others taking it C) cleaning it D) wanting more
You get the idea. Oh and one more thing- I hate to break it to you but your kids don't want your stuff. It may be painful to accept but if your heirlooms have meaning to you then enjoy them everyday. Talk to your kids about your stuff. If they like something then why not give it to them now instead of waiting until your death? When people are grieving is not the best time for them to divide items among them. Feelings are raw and emotions are high and you expect your children to sit down and rationally sort through everyone of your items? I think we can all remember a family we know that this did not work for following the death of a parent, uncle, grandparent, etc.
I found it freeing. Freeing of my time, worry, emotion. I found it to be a very peaceful to purge. Just a thought………
A few years ago I wanted change and I took on a simple lifestyle or a minimalist life as some would call this change. All of my married life I had lived in homes. A small “cracker box” home to start and as the children came then a larger home to accommodate a family. The second home held all the memories of family get togethers, celebrations, block parties, holidays, well you get the picture. I loved that home but the memories could also cause sadness as family members one by one passed away.
Then I decided what I needed was to be a suburbanite. Living on the outskirts of the city where the lawns are perfect and the houses are architecturally the same. Now I had always lived in homes in the center neighborhoods of the city even as a child so the move to the suburbs was very different.
Now the neighborhood was neat and clean and the convenience of whatever store I needed was a few minutes drive to get to. I was sure I would love this quiet, neat living. I was so wrong. Everything about the center of the city I loved and missed. I missed the noise of the city- trains, sirens, voices, music, helicopters, all of it. I missed the people more. The neighborhoods are more closely knit with a wonderful diverse population. I love old houses with their history, imperfect windows or doors, craftsmanship that no longer exist in newer homes, neighborhood businesses, and living in the center of the city anything and everything is a short drive in any direction.