Not Changing My Christmas Day Plans

Lot of interesting things going on at the moment concerning the pandemic and once again people have been asked to change their holiday plans.

We started hearing that 20 people could gather, which quickly dropped to 10, but seriously, I’m just not changing my original plans. I’m not.

Last Christmas my husband and I spent the day at the hospital with my mother who was not doing at all well. It was a quiet, miserable day confined within the walls of the hospital. The man in the next bed had ALS and couldn’t speak but came over with his tablet and wished us a Merry Christmas. It was touching. Turkey dinner was served to my mother, but she hadn’t been eating for many days prior to Christmas. That day was no different. Honestly, it didn’t look that appealing. We tried to get her to take her medications. I can’t remember if she did that day, but my thought is that she didn’t. Most days she wasn’t able to even do that. She remembers nothing about last Christmas and so you might wonder what point there was in our being there in the first place–but there we were and I don’t regret it. It was Christmas and Christmas is for families. At that time each patient was allowed two visitors for the day. We probably stayed eight hours.

Weeks later, we were able to have turkey dinner with more of our family which was absolutely delightful. While we are told that Christmas is December 25th and we should celebrate then, the actual celebration is only a part of what Christmas is about. Many of us insist it’s about family and spending time with loved ones, and if that is the case why are we so hung up on it being that one specific day. Being with family can be a special time, any time. Don’t take the people in your life for granted or the time spent with them. There people who live far away from their families and rarely get a chance to spend time with them, while others get to see family every day. If you believe and celebrate Christmas as being the birth of Jesus, there are likely many ways for you to honour that on December 25th without having a house full of people.

One year later, we’ll again spend Christmas dinner with my mother but that has been the plan all along– the three of us for turkey dinner. What’s wrong with that? The size of the gathering does not determine the amount of joy you feel in your heart on Christmas. Big gathering or small, it’s still Christmas.

Later, in the New Year there will be time to spend with our kids and grandkids. Yes, it’s Christmas and Christmas is for families but so is every other day of the year. I guess what I’m saying is that there’s no point in getting hung up on a date on a calendar page, enjoy the time you have with your family or friends whenever that is. Those moments are precious and we never know when they’ll come to an end.

Like I said, not changing my plans. And I’m fine with that. Last year sitting at my mother’s bedside has certainly made me appreciate the Christmas we will have this year.

I’m not sure if you’ve changed your holiday plans and whether that has been disappointing for you, I really hope it hasn’t. My wish is that you enjoy the day and have someone to share time, some turkey and memories.

Things for 2019

I’ve made a list for 2019—me, the person who is not by nature a list- maker.

Will wonders never cease?

What’s on the list, you might ask?

Well, things.

What kind of things?

Things I want to accomplish during the year, things I’d like to see happen. Things like hopes and wishes and dreams. You know –all that important stuff deemed not so important by some, but extremely important to this writer. I’m a dreamer, a hoper, a wisher–what can I say?

Not all of these things are of a writing nature, mind you. Even though I often feel that my life is lopsided and I’m too immersed in this world of words and sentences and pages for my own good. But then I remind myself that I do things other than write.

Family–always number one, even before writing. Family are the people who support you though the good and bad. They accept you, not only at your best, but our worst. They are the people you laugh with and cry with and share with. They are your safety net when life gets tough.

I knit. Sometimes, but not often. There just doesn’t seem to be the time.

I garden—in the summer months—but not as regularly as I should. Much of that falls onto Hubby’s capable shoulders.

I grandparent—not as often as I’d like, distance being the primary reason. Is that a hobby? I don’t think so. That’s just life. Little people rock!

I’m not going to claim to be a cook. I gave that up when the kids all moved out. Cooking now feels like an inconvenience at the best of times. I now have a daughter-in-law who can cook circles around me, and I just love that!

Okay, I do housework…sometimes. While matters of sweeping and laundry and dishes don’t invite me to use my imagination to the fullest they are sometimes a necessary part of living. Dust bunnies do not rock!

I have a job—for about eight months of the year I get up early in the morning and spend maybe ten or eleven hours away from any kind of technology. If I must write, I “head write” then wait for a break, or lunch time, to jot down all those clever thoughts. Did I say clever?

I have friends. Having friends means putting effort into that friendship, taking the time to have coffee or just phone to say hello. Sorry, a like or a comment on a Facebook status just doesn’t cut it so far as I’m concerned. I need real contact of some kind. I know it’s time consuming, but isn’t friendship worth it?

Maybe 2019 will be the year I try something new, or even a plethora of new things. Why stop at one?

I’ll be working on the edits for my two books due out in 2020. I’m a so excited about this. I love working on edits. It’s where the magic happens.

If all goes according to plan, my list of things for 2019 will continue to grow. It’s not simply a January list but one that will evolve over the weeks and months ahead.

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope 2019 has something truly remarkable in store for you.

Are you a list-maker? All the time, some of the time, never or just occasionally?

Family Literacy Day—January 27th

This coming Friday is Family Literacy Day in Canada.

So what is Family Literacy Day all about? Well, it was created back in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada and is held every year on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. The idea is for parents to take an active role in helping to strengthen the reading and writing skills of all family members. It’s a great idea!  I’m not sure if there is any such program in other countries, but we hear plenty about it here in Canada.

In celebration of Family Literacy Day, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto comprised a list a few weeks back consisting of 25 picture books and 25 works of fiction that “share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations.” What was particularly nice about this, for me, was that Bitter, Sweet was included in this list. Feels kind of good to be a part of this especially since we’re talking about a subject that is near and dear to every writer’s heart.. Here’s the link if you’re interested in checking out all the great Canadian books on the list.

I think what’s important for us to understand about literacy is that creating a home environment where reading and writing is a priority doesn’t necessarily take oodles of time. I’m told that even fifteen minutes a day, reading, writing, playing a game, following a recipe or even singing a song will help to strengthen your family’s literacy skills. I know many of us are busy, especially those of us who work full time. One thing I found that worked well, when I was really busy after a day’s work, was to have my kids read to me while I prepared supper or did other chores in the kitchen. It was lots of fun when they were first learning to read. Reading was always an important part of our day, and while I can’t imagine a day going by without reading something, I know this isn’t the case in all families. So anything that helps raise awareness for this worthy cause if okay by me.

So even if you don’t celebrate Family Literacy Day where you live, perhaps you can help do something wherever you are to bring awareness to the importance of reading and writing in our every day lives.

Those Tiny Details

Each year my mum hosts a family potluck at her home before Christmas. So far the weather has always cooperated and she’s never had to cancel. We have lots of great food and plenty of laughter. This weekend was no exception. There were twenty-one of us there, and in Mum’s small house it made for a LOT of people.

Although Mum looks forward to the potluck each year, it also ends up being very stressful for her. I have yet to figure out why she allows worry to overshadow what should be an enjoyable occasion. She worries that there won’t be enough food to go around or that someone will notice that her floor needs to be swept (even though she will sweep them several times that day) or heaven forbid, she might have forgotten something crucial, like napkins, and we might have to improvise and use paper towel. She wants everything to be perfect.

Here I am with Mum, my sisters, and brother. You have no idea how difficult it was to get a few family photos. We just couldn't seem to stop laughing.

Too many times we allow ourselves to get caught up in the unimportant details in life as we struggle to make everything perfect. I question whether the perfect moments in life are the ones that are finely orchestrated by us, contrived down to the tiniest detail, or do they happen spontaneously without an ounce of anticipation? Do those details we feel the need to control really make a difference so long as we reach the desired outcome? Are there times when we get so caught up in the details that we end up ruining our chances of reaching a certain goal because of our preconceived notion of how thing should unfold? I guess what I’m trying to say is, does it really matter which path we choose so long are we find the way home?

Writing can be like that, too. Sometimes I get caught up in the finer details of a story that I overlook the fact that the story I’m working is not progressing.Even though I may have a clear idea of what will take place, in my efforts to get the wording just so, I stay stuck on the same few chapters. I’m working to overcome this, settling my mind on the end result, working to get that first draft complete. Later, I can go back and polish to my heart’s content, decide what scenes need to stay and which ones need to go but before I can do that I need that story— beginning, middle, end.

I’m hoping that one day my mum will come to realize that it won’t be those tiny details that we’ll remember in years to come, it will be the laughter and the fun, those spontaneous moments that she had no part in planning. Those will be the memories that we will savour and remember in years to come.

Busy Weekend

Today I signed books in New Minas and tomorrow I’m off to Halifax. I’ll be missing the yearly potluck our church has but I’m making a dish tonight. I guess it’s impossible to be in two places at once.

This is going to be a short post until I have time to write more. New Minas was so much fun. I met a lot of great folks. Some friends and family members dropped in to say hi. I was served chocolate, hot chocolate, was given a gift of raspberry jam, had someone ask to have a photo taken of her and I, met another writer, reconnected with a guy I remember from elementary school and did I mention the chocolate. Oh yeah, I did that already.

When I have a bit more time I’ll elaborate. Needless to say there were many terrific moments during this day.

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