Claus Creativity

I begin with the fact that I am a Christian, attend church, and yes, I know the reason for the season.

That said, my husband and I decided to make Santa Claus the spirit of generosity in our house and to make it FUN! As the girls grew old enough to appreciate it, there was always a special last present from “Santa Claus,” and it was often the most desired gift on their list.

But that was not the good part, believe it or not! 

Each year Santa was left a cookie or two, a glass of milk, and perhaps a little treat for his reindeer by our daughters. He always responded with bites and sips taken from all and with a lovely, handwritten thank you note to them.

The delight on their faces each Christmas morning as they discovered evidence of Santa’s visit will live in our hearts forever. One year there were ashy footprints from the fireplace to the dining room. Another year, reindeer prints and reindeer poop (oatmeal mixed with chocolate powder and glitter) joined the mix. (Note: Do NOT do this on the carpet!)

As they added their precious gerbils to our family, Gabrielle and Xena had to join the party and those clever little rodents shredded some festive wrapping paper to decorate their cage and managed to put some of their little chew toys into the girls’ stockings.

Time went by and Santa got messier. Sometimes he apologized for making a mess, saying he tried to clean up but ran out of time and didn’t have time to put the Dustbuster away. 🙂

The girls started admonishing Santa in their yearly notes, to “be neater!”

Inevitably, they asked, “Is Santa real? Should we believe in him?”

My husband and I were prepared. We explained that Santa was merely the spirit of generosity and giving in our home, and when the time came that they no longer wanted to believe in him, he would go away. It was that simple. They looked at each other and decided to believe just a little longer, but one year they had both expressed their doubts and so that was a special Christmas morning.

Santa said goodbye. He thanked them for believing in him so long and said he knew that their lives would be filled with happy Christmases. Then he added, “I really tried to be neat this year and even grabbed a shower, but I seem to have forgotten something important, and I can’t remember what it is! I am sure you will figure it out. Love, Santa.”

Hanging on the light fixture in the dining room, in all its red and green glory was a huge pair of Santa’s boxer shorts. Giggles galore, and we said a fond goodbye to a glorious family tradition that may very well be revived with the next generation of beautiful children.

Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Quest for Turkey Perfection

Thanksgiving Turkey TossOh, Thanksgiving.

You should be one of my favorite holidays with your legendary link back to my Mayflower ancestors, the opportunity to gather with family, all of my favorite fall colors, and what may be one of the greatest excuses to bag the diet for the day EVER!

But, sadly and inevitably, when it came to my production of a perfectly browned, succulent turkey for that important day, the answer came back from fate with a resounding “No.”

My fortunes changed a bit after I married my husband and discovered that he had a deft hand in the kitchen and was not only willing but interested in making the turkey for our Thanksgiving feast.  Yes, he IS the perfect man. Continue reading

A Legacy of Pearls

This is a story of pearls.

When I was in my late twenties, a friend I worked with got an opportunity to go to China. This was not a usual occurrence at that time, and she asked me if I would like her to pick up some pearls while she was there.

“How much are they?” I asked. She wasn’t sure but she thought she could get me a really good strand for $500 or so. I told her I really loved the baroque style of pearls and a pink hue would be awesome.

“Baroque, huh?” she said, “Well, then maybe $400.” Done!

The pearls and 80’s hair – always a classic combination!

She brought back a strand of the most beautiful, lustrous, and baroque pearls and it was long enough to drape around my neck twice over. I wore them frequently, with business suits, dress up, whatever!

Then Dan and I got engaged and I decided I would like to wear them on my wedding day. My mother had done some jewelry making in the late 70s and had ground a large, oval opal herself and gave it to me as a birthday present. My husband and I discussed it and decided to have the jeweler who was creating our custom wedding rings look at it and see if he could create a strand enhancer for my Chinese pearls that would protect the opal and coordinate with the calla lily theme that was emerging from my engagement ring design and the pearl and gold earrings Dan was having made for me. Brian was up to the challenge and created a gold and pave diamond enhancer that was perfect!

Decades went by, and our older daughter was graduating from college. I had an inspiration that led me to have my pearls restrung, holding out two of the most perfect for Brian to make into earrings as her graduation present. They turned out great!

In 2017, our younger daughter got engaged and I was again inspired to take two more pearls from my string to create her wedding earrings. She had an elaborate gown and the simple, shining pearls at her ears were a lovely accent for her special day.

Our older daughter then got engaged and I thought again about those pearls. She had the earrings from her college graduation, but since she had chosen a very simple gown for her Spring 2018 wedding, would a matching necklace work?

It would, and while we were at it, I asked Brian Hoover of Avant Garde Jewelers (Still our jeweler thirty plus years later and the source of our older daughter’s engagement ring!) to look at my wedding necklace one more time and see if he could mount the opal on two single strands of pearls with a simple clasp. My plan was to wear my wedding jewelry for my daughters’ weddings and with the successive gifts of pearls, it was no longer as comfortable as a strand enhancer. Brian was up to the challenge, and there were enough pearls left over with the change to make a simple bracelet of them, as well. It was a lovely memory for me and a meaningful way to share the pearls along with my wishes for happiness in both of their marriages.

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My wedding, Dani’s wedding, Devin’s wedding…and the pearls continue! Photography by Wayne Long, Teale Photography, and Amanda Pomilla Photography.

My hope is that these will be heirlooms they will treasure and pass on to their daughters or granddaughters.

This is how legacy works, right?

You invest time, talent and treasure in something you feel passionate about. You pass that on and they pass that on, and someday many decades from now, a square-chinned young woman with bright eyes and a blinding smile may be touched when she wears these old and treasured pearls that the women in her family wore on their wedding days. I do love that image and perhaps she will wear them for her wedding and continue the chain of wonderful marriages. You never know!

Here’s to heirlooms and may they travel down the ages, bringing delight and memories of time past into the future.

 

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Grief, Anger & Pain – How Can You Help?

“Anger can be grief unexpressed.”

I read that somewhere recently and thought, “Wow, I never really thought about it that way.” I knew that anger is often linked to fear, but didn’t intuitively link it to grief. Most of us know that anger is a stage of grieving before you reach acceptance, but what if you or a friend or family member simply gets stuck there. Is there an appropriate time limit to mourning?

The answer is no.

I recently saw a lovely video about helping your grieving loved ones and knew I had to share it with you.

Check it out at Refuge in Grief’s video: How to Help a Grieving Friend. There are Spanish and English subtitles you can choose if you need them, and it was a brief and lovely way to convey some very important information.

If I were grieving, I would hope that the person trying to comfort me had seen this video, and if I was comforting someone, I would be glad I had seen it.

Take a moment and check out the awesome power of acknowledgment. It will feel awkward at first; I won’t kid you about that, but it really can help that person you love or care about.

Be radical.

Let things hurt and acknowledge that it hurts instead of trying to fix it, cure it, or argue those you love into happiness.

You can do it, and so can I…so let’s make a choice to handle pain, grief, and sadness differently and start today.

 

Do Gerbils Go to Heaven?

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(c) Can Stock Photo / zsv3207

Our Pastor told a story in his recent sermon, and in it, a little boy’s hamster had died and he asked his father (a fellow Pastor) if “Timmy” had gone to heaven. The boy was told in no uncertain terms by his father that nothing that has not professed faith in Jesus Christ shall enter the gates of heaven. I am paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

We were all a bit appalled to hear that blunt and dismissive statement from a father to a grieving son, and our Pastor said that he took the little boy aside on his way out and told him that Timmy sounded like a great hamster and he was sure that he was now playing in heaven.

Sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it? Continue reading