A Christmas Tradition

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“Lord, give me strength.” She pulled up to the house in the dark of night, cut off the engine, and leaned her head back against the seat. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. And so began her nightly ritual as she arrived home from her second job each night. She reached across the seat and grabbed the small bag containing toilet paper, toothpaste, a gallon of milk, and a loaf of bread before exiting the car. She prayed it was enough to hold them over until Friday when she would once again stretch her small paycheck like a magician pulling colored scarves out of a hat.

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She quietly entered the old house, treading lightly across the creaky old floorboards so as not to wake anyone. After placing the milk in the fridge, she willed her tired muscles to carry her up the stairs, knowing once she reached the top her exhaustion would be forgotten as she stopped in for a glimpse of her sleeping angels. Her life wasn’t always that of a single mother with three children, but life doesn’t always turn out the way we once dreamed. She was living proof of that. And yet, she wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world if it meant erasing the three greatest blessings in her life. As usual, she found the twins cuddled up together in one twin bed as though reverting to the comforting days of the peace they experienced in the womb. She covered them with a second blanket, kissed their foreheads, and made her way down the hall. She passed Jacob’s room, knowing she would find her ten-year old son asleep in her bed once again. She no longer moved him back to his own bed, taking as much comfort from sleeping with him as he did with her.

As she did every night, no matter how late she arrived, she filled the tub and soaked for a bit. Surely, it made more sense to take a quick shower and jump in bed, but she needed these baths. It always felt like a cleansing of sorts as she imagined washing away all her troubles before laying her head on her pillow. Otherwise, she knew her worries would circle her mind and sleep would elude her when she needed it most. Thank goodness she still had her mother with her to stay at home with the kids while she worked. She wouldn’t know what to do without her help, but she also knew she was getting older and that wouldn’t always be the case.

This time of year was always the hardest and loneliest for her. It was when she seemed to feel the full brunt of being a single mother the most. She wanted a magical Christmas for her children, but she had stopped believing in magic long ago. How do you continue to help your children believe when the world has stripped you of your hope, your dreams, your faith? As she lay beside him, she watched her son sleep and realized the tranquil look he once possessed was beginning to fade even in his dreams. “Lord, please give me strength.”

She woke before the sun. Gathering the envelope labeled “Savings” in her nightstand before heading out once more. She hoped to make it back before the kids woke up. As she pulled into the Kmart parking lot, she ran the numbers in her head and knew she would have to choose only one item on the list for each of her children. She didn’t have enough for the rest of the items she had placed on Layaway, but Christmas was just days away and she had to have at least one gift under the old Charlie Brown tree in the living room.

She asked the Layaway attendant to please pull up her list so she could select the items she could afford. The list wasn’t long, although she had surprised herself that day by allowing herself to dream for a bit, imagining she actually had the means to give her children the items they asked for this year.

The young girl hit a few keys and said, “Paid in Full.”

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“There must be some mistake,” the woman said and repeated her name. The young girl gave her the biggest smile she had ever seen. “I was working the evening shift last night, when a couple came in with their two young children. I heard them explaining to their kids the meaning of putting something on layaway and how blessed they were to be in a position where they had never had to do that. They then asked me to pull up a layaway list that included children’s items and paid it in full. When I asked them if they wanted me to contact the person, they said no. Just tell them we said, Merry Christmas and God Bless.”

The young lady then proceeded to hand the items over to the woman who stood motionless, tears streaming down her face. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” The young lady handed over the final item and said, “Don’t thank me, that family gave me faith that magic still exists. Merry Christmas to you and your children.”

This is our yearly tradition with our children, and all of us have come to look forward to it more than any other aspect of our holiday season. The story above is just one of the versions I’ve imagined in my heart throughout the years.

How do you give back during the holidays?

When I Get Old, I Hope To Look Back On My Life And…

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When I get old, I hope to listen to the steady creak of the rocking chair beside me and know that you are still by my side on our front porch. I hope to look over and not only see the aged man you’ve become whose every wrinkle reflects my own, but also relive the stories each line on our skin has told.

Front Porch

As I reach out my trembling hand for yours like I have done so many times since we met as young college kids, I hope it reminds you of all the times your hand in mine made a world of difference in our relationship. I hope we recall as we sit and rock during days of no demands and no schedules, all the obstacles we faced and more importantly all those we surpassed to reach this day.

I hope we remember where we started, our trips through stores we could only dream of shopping in as a young couple just getting started on life’s journey, creating our wish list of items we would one day purchase for our first home as a couple. I hope we will have filled the shelves with photo albums of all the places we only dreamed of visiting back then.

When you look at me, I hope you not only see the young girl you met who became your best friend before our first conversation even ended, but also the strong woman and loving mother she grew up to be with you by her side.

I hope as we take in the view from the comfort of our front porch, we take a deep breath and thank the Lord for having made our dreams come true. I hope we never forget the struggle and hard work we endured to reach this moment, because it will be those sacrifices we made that made us who we are today.

I hope we open our minds and hearts, dust off the cobwebs, and turn the pages of our life’s album together. I hope if we listen hard enough, we can still hear the patter of little feet, bedtime giggles and even the cries, wails, and tantrums that will now be music to our ears.

I hope we will have filled our home with more laughter and happiness through the years as we created memories with our children, their children, our family and many friends.

I hope when I get old and I look back on the roads I have traveled, I see you and our children always walking alongside me, hand in hand. And, when I get old and look in the mirror, I hope each and every line on my aged skin, reflects a life lived, all the love bestowed upon me in each and every crease, and many many laugh lines from smiles shared with my best friend.

 

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday prompt, where writers and bloggers each finish the same sentence and link up to read one another’s answers. This week’s prompt was “When I’m really old, I hope to look back at my life and know that I…”

Twas The Night Before Blogging…

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‘Twas the night before Fabulous Blogging, when all through the HomeOnDeranged

Every bloppy was blogging, even time-zoned Lizzi (not that she’s deranged)

Pen Paper Pad laid on the desk with care

In hopes that Hasty Words would soon be there

Carrie Anne Foster and TwinDaddy nestled all snug in their beds (not together)

While visions of Enchanted Seashells danced in the rain – I mean danced in their heads (it was the weather)

Gunmetal Geisha with Sand in Her Toes, and Aussa Lorens and her wonderfully unkempt locks,

Rattled their brains against the muted voice of writer’s block.

When out in Our Land there arose such a clatter,

I summoned my Left Brain Buddha before seeing what was the matter

Off to social media I flew like an indiebutterfly

Threw open all tabs, and let out a sigh.

Words of deliciousness and musings on motherhood

Gave a lustre of calculated chaos out in the bloggerhood.

And what to my wrinkled mommy eyes should appear

But closet confessionals from a recovering pessimist! Elleroy was here?

Like an honest mom with some bitch and some wine,

Thanksgiving, Place Setting, Thanksgiving Table

 

I knew in a moment Don Of All Trades was online.

More rapid than eagles, his comments they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and tagged all by name:

Now, Samara! Now, Kim! Now, Beth and Jhanis!

On, StephanieOn, Katia! and Her Royal Thighness!

To the top of the Twitter feed and FB walls!

Now blog away, blog away, blog away all!

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot

A bundle of toys (sex toys if I had to guess), he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack,

His eyes how they twinkled (no doubt what he was thinking)

As the cursor on his screen continued its blinking

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

As he encouraged the bloppies to give it a go!

The stump of a pencil, he held tight in his teeth

And he wielded his words on the keyboard beneath

He was witty and funny, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed at his comments, in spite of myself;

He wrote and he wrote, of home and of work

Filled all the comment threads, and was sometimes a jerk,

But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave all to know there was nothing to dread.

And like the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow

Bloppies’ computers gave a lustre of midday glow

As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up the google ranks, the bloggers they flew

With a folder full of drafts, and some good leads too

And then in a twinkling it was heard all around

The clicking and clacking as their fingers did pound

I took a brief pause to kiss my list of so then stories and notes from the shallow end,

Of well tempered bards, my chef’s last diet, and laugh lines to mend

Of nurse mommy laughs, the Science of Parenthood, and Sarah’s brand new chapter

Of A Mother Life and that American Small Town feeling I wanted to capture

The words came to life on the glowing screen

An early gift from St. Nick or was it Don Re?

Either way the bloppies were grateful (Thank you Honey)

And went about writing both the sad and the funny.

Whether you’re still becoming super mommy or it’s after the kids leave

Write like chocolate with grace, the words flowing  – no reprieve

Whether an Indian American Mom, An Inquiring Parent or a CarPool Goddess

The Mother of Imperfection, In Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, or Blessed but Stressed

This talk ain’t cheap and perfection may be pending

Cellulite looks better tan, and our passion for words is never-ending

Whether 10,000 followers or merely just ten, let your light shine

Can I get an Amen or Another bottle of whine?

May your readers eyes twinkle, their spirit be merry

May the agents start calling when they’re blown by your query.

Celebrate your talents and let out a whistle

Let your words blanket the net like the down of a thistle,

Be true to yourself in your writer’s plight

Happy Blogging to all and to all a good night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please and Thank You…Say It With Me

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From a young age, we are taught to say please and thank you. Over and over, we are told to use our manners, thanking someone for inviting us over for a playdate, thanking someone when we are given a compliment. We are encouraged to say thank you when a treat is bestowed upon us and we are expected to say thank you when we are given a gift.

And yet, as we grow into adults focused on getting through a busy day, we throw out “thank yous” without truly meaning them. We often go through the motions, rushing to the next appointment, meeting, deadline without really seeing all the little moments we have to be thankful for, the little gems throughout our day, our week. We fling a thank you in the general direction of the person wishing us a good day, throw out a quick thank you to the one who paused to hold the door open for us.

The slightest smile when we’re having a rough morning can change our mood if we allow it. A few words from a  friend, letting us know they’re thinking of us is something to cherish. We read them, smile, let them wash over us and warm our heart, yet often quickly move on after hitting send on the little eight letters that make up T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U, the response that has likely brought a smile to the recipient.

Trees, Landscape

Looking back, I would like to thank ten people who have made a difference in my life this past week, big or small. I challenge you to do the same!

1. To the doctor who really listened to me and ran the proper tests to help me find answers. I thank you. It makes a huge difference to find a doctor who cares enough to listen.

2. On that note,  I am thankful for the medical system in the United States. After having experienced others firsthand, I will no longer take this one for granted.

3. To the school bus driver who made it a point to wish me a good day every morning when picking up my son. It’s a nice start to the day. Thank you.

4. To the stranger at the grocery store who complimented my hair. I’ve been having good hair days since moving to a less humid climate, but it is always nice when someone notices. Thank you.

5. To my husband, my other half, who was home all week instead of traveling. It’s nice to have you home sharing the responsibilities of this exhausting thing we call parenting. Thank you for being my partner in life.

6. To the people at Nordic who make treadmills, thank you for making mine. It has been a savior as I try to ease myself back into exercising as I continue to recover from my fractured foot.

7.  To my daughter, I thank you for wanting to sit and talk to me about your day every, single, afternoon. I cherish those conversations with you and it warms my heart that you ask me to stop what I am doing and sit at the table with you for our afternoon snack.

8. To the trash guys who must be so sick of picking up my numerous empty moving boxes. I’m almost done. I promise! Thank you.

9. To my son, I thank you for your humor.  Your laughter is contagious and you make us all laugh when we need it most. I treasure the fact that you still enjoy cuddling with me and can’t walk past me without stealing a kiss or wrapping your little arms around me for a quick hug.

10. To God, who has blessed me over and over again in so many aspects of my life. I can’t thank you enough. My heart is full because of you. Thank you.

 

Link up your Ten Things Of Thankful Post here!

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Photo Friday: Off With Her Head!

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Execution was a public spectacle; free entertainment for the masses. Vendors sold hot potatoes, fruit and gingerbreads, and peddled gin. Life was cheap in an age where diseases raged and life expectancy was short. So frequent were the tortures and punishments, the exact number of victims will never be known.

 

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Photo Friday: Napa Valley

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“[I]t is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

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Wheels – Photo Friday

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“Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always comes around to where you started again.” – Stephen King

 

 

When the wheels come down 
When the wheels touch ground 
And you feel like it’s all over
There’s another round for you
When the wheels come down 

- Foo Fighters