Three Days Before!

This day marks three days out from Christmas. As happens frequently in the Midwest, the State of Nebraska is smack dab in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning. We don’t have an enormous amount of snow coming, but the winds are producing blizzard conditions. A small amount of snow can move into deep drifts because of the winds. What a treat!

I’m not caring too much about all of this – we don’t need to go anywhere later. We were gathering for a friend’s birthday later, but I’m thinking they will cancel it. We live twenty-five miles from the Post, which is where the gathering will be. It may be much worse here than there, too.

The song I’ve chosen for today is a favorite. “Silent Night,” by Jackie Evancho. This little girl has grown up and is still singing; she is amazing. This recording is from when she was younger. Silent Night is another song that takes me back to Midnight Mass. I think especially of our dad when I hear it. For over thirty years now, he’s gone, and while I don’t dwell, I miss him at Christmas and on the New Year, his birthday. Enjoy this angelic voice and remember good things. We may not gather this year, but we can call, Zoom, Skype, and many other wonders of technology. It won’t be that hard. It’s a sacrifice, but it will be worth it a year from now.

Carol Gino’s Book, The Nurse’s Story and My Notes for the Next Two Blogs!

The book “The Nurse’s Story,” by my friend Carol Gino is the most fascinating account of nursing I’ve read. She tells her own story with experiences with patients she cared for – and lost – over the years. Many girls I went to high school with became nurses; I wish I could have become one, too. Money was a big issue back then, and my timid personality didn’t help. I didn’t want to ask my folks to pay for it, and I didn’t know how I could get the money. Heck, I didn’t drive or anything.

Nursing has changed in the last forty years, and I would bet this lady lobbied for a lot of the changes. A nurse is the true caregiver in a hospital setting, they observe the patients during their best and worst times, and she ought to have some input into their care, and ought to have respect for what they do. My dad always said, “Nurses never get enough respect.” He worked closely with nurses in the MASH unit in Korea and in Europe, boots on the ground.

Doctors (now, a hospitalist, who doesn’t know you) plot your care out and visit. It’s rare for your regular doctor to care for you in a hospital. Yes, surgeons, cardiologists and oncologists are more hands-on doctors, but those are the exceptions.

This book is amazing, and I want to finish it over the next few days. I highly suggest it if you enjoy reading medical-based stories. And it’s real. Those are the best stories. Thank you, Carol Gino, for a beautiful book!

The wind is so harsh today, I can’t help but think of the homeless population who endure this weather. It is such a sad thought, especially at Christmas. I’m glad the VFW Post became a supporter of Moving Veterans Forward this year. We actually can see the difference we can make in the lives of these men and women. There, but by the grace of God, go I. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be the Change. Be a Difference. Be Safe! Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Another Day, Another Carol

No, not a “Carol” person, but a song. Another song I enjoy during the Christmas Season. I’ve just heard this artist perform this song recently, and I love his voice with it. It’s a voice that commands attention, as does the man himself; he is tall and could intimidate in the wrong situation. (Wrong for you)! But he uses this gift of his to sing one of the most tender songs about Baby Jesus. There is no doubt about his belief this Baby changed everything. Today, I offer Ray Scott, singing O, Holy Night. Enjoy!

The memories of this Christmas Carol go back to my days in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Choir. All the girls were in choir, most of the boys were altar boys. Really strict in those days. No whispering in Church, perfect attention, blah, blah, blah. It amazes me the boys had a choice. Of course, way back in the day, they needed to know the Latin Mass. That is pre-historic, isn’t it? My brother knew it, and I helped him drill on it, so I knew it too. Most of us could read along to it in our Missals (I think that’s what they called it). I don’t know where mine went. It was pretty educational, with Latin on one page and English on the other adjoining page. You could at least try to figure out what the Priest of Monsignor was saying. Midnight Mass in Latin meant we sang the Catholic Carols in Latin.

Oh, Holy Night reminds me of the semi-dark Church. Once the celebrant declared Jesus was born, all the lights turned on immediately and we sang “Joy to the World.” It truly made us feel like the world became a good place again since God sent his Son to save us. Theologians tell us now this is not the feast or event we should celebrate; it actually is Easter. Easter marks Jesus rising from the dead and defeating death itself. Our souls had the chance of eternal life from that moment on. Of course, the nuns told us this too. No little kid on earth could agree with that theory. For believers, however, it is true.

My Faith leads me to believe all things are possible with God. It’s not a Catholic religion but just living on earth all these years. I’ve had many miracles in my life; my 5 and 1/2 year old son survived drowning and is now 49 years old, my younger son, now 45, survived a ruptured appendix at 10 despite a severe abdominal infection, and I can still walk after nearly being paralyzed by an arachnoid cyst in my spinal column twenty-five years ago. God’s love amazes me. So do His miracles.

Just doing some website updates for the VFW Post this afternoon. I’ve been procrastinating on that project a bit, so I just need to finish scanning some documents. New endeavors are a bit intimidating, I hope my hardware is current enough to handle the job. I think it is. Life is all about learning, folks. And I enjoy it all, especially as I get older. Yes, it can frustrate the heck out of a person, but achieving is what it’s all about. Relax. Don’t Stress!

While you contemplate the coming Holiday of Love, spread some of it around yourself, ok? Be Patient. Be Kind. Be Grateful. Be Safe. Wear your mask and let’s get vaccinated as soon as our own personal MD’s think it is a good idea. Thank you for reading, see you tomorrow!

Countdown-Six Days to Go!

These last days before Christmas, I’m noting some seasonal songs I enjoy hearing at Christmas. Today’s is “Celebrate Me Home,” by Kenny Loggins. This was the extended version, so it’s a nice nearly ten minute break in your day. I love the thoughts about being home for Christmas. I never lived away from home, where I couldn’t come home for Christmas. All my siblings live in town, as do most of our cousins. My first husband took leave the first Christmas he was in the Army. He came home early from a cushy gig in Germany in December 1972. His older brother was in Thailand and missed two Christmases with the family.

I only had a few gifts to wrap, three for grandkids. I have one more for Gavin to assemble, then wrap or gift bag it. It’ll be fine. I’m coping pretty well at the moment about not seeing the kids at Christmas. My daughter hasn’t been home for that in many years, and that’s ok. They have two babies and it’s hard. Her mother-in-law would be alone unless they invited her along, but I’m not sure she would like to come. That’s ok, we wouldn’t want her to be alone.

It took a long time to come to terms with what Christmas is now, for empty nesters. Because of COVID, my one son who is in town doesn’t want to get together. His restaurant chef job could be shaky, and if he became ill, he wouldn’t have any PTO. It gets so complicated.

The cute header photo of two ornaments, two of our little neighbor children made. It was such a sweet surprise! The entire family walked over to present them. It was just so thoughtful. Mom is home-schooling because of COVID, and Dad works from home. My hat is off to her. She schedules them time to be outside; run their energy out and go back inside and be quiet to not disturb Dad’s ZOOM meetings. It’s lovely to see how they work together.

This is so true. Find Joy in the Snow, whether or not you love it. Rather be joyful than negative.

I decorate with snowmen once the Christmas decorations come down. It is less of a shock to just change out some decorations instead of looking at a naked house in the cold, dark days of January. Hopefully, we will have mass vaccinations by February and we can live our lives again. I’m praying for a good outcome that is safe.

If you know of anyone alone this Christmas, try to communicate with them. They would probably love a phone call or a little bag of candy and cookies. It takes very little for a stranger to brighten a person’s day. Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Courteous. Be Safe. And Spread the Christmas Message of Love, not COVID. Blessings. See you tomorrow.

Christmas, 2020

The tree is up, we will stow the empty decoration boxes today. I’ll mail the gifts to Colorado grandkids today, and this morning, I came upon this beautiful YouTube video posted by Sally Walker, my friend from the Nebraska Writers Guild group. Isn’t this child precious? His eyes are so full of wonder and love. I want to see the world through his eyes. The eyes of innocence. The eyes of grace. The eyes of pure love.

I’m catching the spirit. I’m glad. Christmas is hard for me sometimes. Too many losses and enormous changes in families happen sometimes. Let’s just call it that. We need to adjust when things don’t resemble what they used to. It happens to everyone; people who deserve it and people who don’t.

It made me happy to buy Christmas stamps at the Post Office. The Winter Version of the Forever stamp kind of reflects the life at Raabe Ranch. I jokingly refer to our home as that; we have a giant yard for the dogs to run and play, and we are fortunate to have a wetland behind our home. It’s beautiful during any of the seasons. I actually saw a couple of these owls in flight very early one morning. Be quick to catch a glimpse, or you miss it and wonder if you really saw what you thought you saw. We are grateful for living here.

We don’t see deer or teams of horses, but we see various birds, coyotes, wild turkeys and assorted other creatures.

While putting away the bins for Christmas decorations, I’m moving all the art supplies I purchased this year in my creative storage area – downstairs, all in bins, handy for when I get some time to spare. I thought I’d be able to do an online art instruction this year, but the writing happily got in the way. I have written little besides the blog this month, but I needed to take a break from it. I know exactly where to pick it up again, and I will soon.

I plan to publish a children’s book in the first quarter of 2021. I have an illustrator in mind, just need to connect with her. I will also connect with a local printer for publication on demand. I believe that will work for the first go around. And before there is anything like those things done, I need to consult with an attorney to become an LLC.

You all can help me, what do you think? Shall I name it:

Kathy Raabe Publishing Company, LLC

OR

The Little White Puppy Publishing Company, LLC

Please comment to voice your opinion! On one hand, I believe a Publishing Company in my name would be easier for someone to find in a Google search; I got serious about blogging the day a car killed our Little White Puppy. Someone left our gate open after retrieving a parachute firework. The dogs both ran out the next morning, and Roxie died. The book is about that and how our grandson learned to cope with the grief.

As you continue your day, I hope it’s a good one. I hope we’re all good to each other, and others are good to us, too. We need to make it a kinder world. Let’s start today. And don’t forget to vote on my LLC name, please? Thank you, see you tomorrow!

Ruh-Roh!

Just a Couple Weeks

I remember Christmas as a kid. It was so much better as a kid than it is as an older person. There is something about having little kids around that makes the celebration more full of hope and joy. When we were kids, our home life and Church life overlapped. Being Catholic, it thrilled us about Baby Jesus coming along with Santa Claus. We practiced for weeks for the big Christmas program, all our parents came (Dad didn’t, he worked nights and slept in the daytime); we sang every religious carol known to man at the time and all developed the high falsetto voice the Music Nun insisted we sing. To this day, I’m haunted by the excessively high pitch she had and expected us to all mimic. I am not even sure where my voice range is, I’m embarrassed to try singing. I admire those who can do it as easily as speaking.

Although we knew the real meaning of Christmas, it still thrilled us to think Santa would come and leave surprises for us. We didn’t ask about how he entered our house; we had a fake fireplace and knew it did not go to the chimney. We were happy for what we received most of the time. When I was about four or five, I wanted a ballerina doll so badly.

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

At that age, ballet fascinated me. I must have seen it on television or something, because I didn’t take lessons. My cousin did. I was jealous of that. I never saw her dance, though. The dancing just blew my mind. I loved the costumes; they were unlike anything I ever saw in my brief life. The tulle, the sparkles, the slippers, were so different from other things in my life.

The big day arrived. My ballerina doll did not. Santa upset me that year. I received a baby blue teddy bear with a music box inside. You could wind it up and listen to a tune I’ve since forgotten. I set it aside and waited my turn to open another package. The usual clothes, puzzles, whatever else.

Later that winter, my brother and I had a lot of the “childhood illnesses;” we had severe chest colds with mumps, and maybe had measles or chicken pox, too. Maybe not all in one year. But we missed school a bit. When we missed school, Mom required we stay in our pajamas. And we stay in bed. Period. No matter what. Rules are rules.

That bear, who I named “Teddy,” became my best friend. I snuggled with him as I went to sleep, when I laid there awake, and I listened to his music to help pass the time. My dad would come in to see me and play a game or two of checkers. I loved playing checkers with my dad. It was always when I was sick, and always just the two of us. Mom didn’t have the patience or time to play games or entertain us. Dad did it enough to make it special.

Before my brother and I had any little brothers, Mom would read to us. She made us listen to her read “Tom Sawyer,” and “Huckleberry Finn.” I don’t think at our young ages it impressed us. Finances being what they were in those days were not so she could go out and buy books for kids. She read from her own collection of books. But we sat on the bed and listened to her. There were no pictures to see, either.

And the ballerina doll? I received it five months later for my birthday, from Grandma and Grandpa Bobell. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It sat on the shelf with all my dolls. And she wasn’t anything special. I still loved the dancers, the tulle, the sparkles, and those toe-shoes; but slept with the Teddy Bear. As I’m now “mature,” I’ve realized how much of life turns out the same way.

We think we want something; it doesn’t happen; we find something else within our reach, so we take it and it’s better than our original “want.” That’s God; answering a prayer we make with a firm “NO,” and guiding us towards what will do us the most good. Once I learned God answers all prayers, some of them are a “no,” I was less disappointed in life. It frees us up to receive more openly. Try it, you’ll like it!

As you may shop today, prepare for Christmas, or visiting friends and family, make sure you’re safe. Even though we have a vaccine now, we may not receive it until spring, or later in some areas. Be safe. Be Careful. Be Thoughtful. Be Patient. Wash up and Mask up. I don’t want to lose any of you now. Thank you for visiting. I’ll see you tomorrow! Blessings!

Fun Friday

Did some errands earlier today, and we just had lunch. The knees are still bad right now. We’ve had a busy week helping with getting Addison to and/or from school, taking Mom to get her hair done, and my other appointments as necessary. This is a very busy time of year. Sad to say, in three weeks or more, Christmas will be over. For the next three weeks, some of us need to get started with cheerful, grateful attitudes. It becomes a habit after three weeks, and will be easier to summon when we need it.

We received the best mail today! Billy McGuigan recorded a solo album during quarantine. What else is a musician to do when in quarantine? He wrote and recorded everything. By himself. It should be great. I’m going to wait until tomorrow to give it a listen while I’m writing in the morning. It should be great. I know it’s old school, but I do like CD’s.

This weekend I’m gathering and wrapping all the little gifts for our grandkids in Colorado. I’d like to mail them by next Wednesday. Should make it. I also want to decorate, too. I have nice decorations for our new tree, and it’ll be nice to have it up again. We don’t exchange gifts among any adults in the family. It’s all part of preparing for the holiday. Preparing your heart is important, too. Stories abound of generosity and goodwill during the season, yet, as soon as it’s over, people, being human, go back to selfishness and stinginess. So sad. Let’s try not to do that anymore. Let’s all try to be wonderful humans.

We had a new Keto meal tonight. The Babe found it online and suggested we try it. Ground beef, broccoli, cream cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake it. It was tasty and there is enough for another meal. Those are the best dinners to cook. After a month, we’ve both lost about fifteen pounds. It’s strange, though, it shows much more in how our clothes fit. That is the real test. It’s a process. We didn’t gain it all in a day, we won’t lose it in a month, either.

It’s a brief blog, tonight. It will be longer tomorrow, it’s time to say good night. Proof I write much better in the mornings. I’ll see you then. Thank you for reading. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Thoughtful. Take care.

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

What Day is It?

Seriously, what day IS it? Monday? Wednesday? Friday? Yes, I think it’s Friday. There are hardly any cars out on the road. I am at home on the couch, with Rachael Ray on in the background and doggies napping on the sofas. The traffic report is courtesy of the Babe, who is out and about to the accountant for the VFW, the VA for his hearing aids, and a couple of errands.

The beautiful new tree is looming over me. During the day, I can pick out the special ornaments. They make me smile. There are snowflakes with photos of the grandkids in the center. A tiny pink Converse high top shoe, from when we found out Becky was pregnant with a girl. Her mama Becky also had brothers with no sisters. Yes. Male domination by sheer numbers. Becky and me, along with my cousin Jilla, Aunt Mary Ann, second cousin Amy, and I think that’s the total of girls with two or more brothers on the Jewell side of the family.

The Bobell side? The Conrad’s had three boys and three girls, the Wheeler’s, two boys, one girl, Burbank/Bakers, two boys. Again, there was domination by sheer numbers.

Back to the tree. The ice skates make me smile. That was such great fun as a kid. And, out of loyalty, I have a Nebraska ornament on the tree. They will come back. I guarantee it. They will. There is a glass angel ornament that my Aunt Lois used to have on her tree. She passed away several years ago, and this is a great memory of her. There is a glass nativity ornament that my former mother in law gave me one year for Christmas. It was so nice of her to do that. I also have a pair of sparkly blue ice skates with white fur around the tops, with white pom poms on the laces. Another wonderful winter memory.

This week between Christmas and New Year’s is sort of tough for adults. The workforce may still report for duty, but the folks high enough on the food chain usually take the week off. It was great when I was a corporate peon, because working while your boss was gone was sweet. You could catch up, clean your work area very well, and do some miscellanous tasks and go home every day. It’s a vacation while at work. Everyone loved it.

If you are home with the kids during this week, they are pretty busy with their new Christmas toys, gifts, games, etc. A win/win for the family. It was fun, too. I did always have a tremendous letdown after Christmas, it was so sad when it was over. Now, I’m just happy for it to come and go. As I’m older now, I love for it to come and go. I love the decorations, the smells, the lights and sights, and the faces of the children. The children are who this is all for. Next year, I’m going to see if I can provide something for kids who don’t receive much.

I want to sincerely thank you for reading today. I’ll return tomorrow, and I hope you do, too. See you then.

The Day After

Today is a very cloudy, chilly day in Nebraska. The kind where naps all day would be great. A nice fluffy blanket, the fireplace, a good book, a dog to pet. All elements in what would be a nice scenario. Then you’d probably have insomnia all night tonight, so don’t do it! Be stronger than the lure of the fire, blankets, and all.

It has always amazed me how quickly Christmas is just over and nothing else (except post Christmas sales) is mentioned about it. In years past, I’ve just been glad it’s over, eager to celebrate with my dad and family on his birthday. Dad was the first New Year’s Baby in Omaha, Nebraska in 1924. For awhile, my mom’s whole family would come for a day of football, fun, and food. That was also the day Dad would unwrap and reveal his magnificent birthday cake. It was an honest to gosh home made fruit cake. And no joke about it, it was unbelievable how good it was. Mom mixed it up the day after Thanksgiving, and baked, cooled and wrapped in foil. Every week she would douse it with bourbon or brandy, and cover it back up. It was moist, chewy, and delicious. He loved it.

Those were the days. Cousins over to play, (I used to have to watch them, being the oldest girl), everyone was happy, celebrating the holiday and my dad. It was something I looked forward to every year.

We lost dad December 7, 1988. He was only sixty four years old. That’s all. Mom had to send back his first social security check. The fruit cake never saw the light of day again. The math is done in my head every year to calculate how old he would be by now, and I marvel at how I am older than he was when he died. How I wish he could have seen how his grandkids grew up, and that he has another little dolly in his life, great granddaughter Kayla. It is a thought, that’s all, and we all go back to doing our every day stuff. We have to.

One thing I’m working at is drawing a line where it’s healthy to think about the memories a person accumulates in life, and where it crosses the line into simply living in the past. That is a bad place to live. You will never be able to go forward. Life is not meant to be static. It is dynamic, ever changing. Just being alive requires our bodies to continue changing to function. Breaking down cells to do what they were designed to do, coordinating the work of the systems of the body to sustain our lives, and adjusting to the changes in the life of that body require that we be in the here and now, not back there in the past. Being safe is comforting but you must venture out into the living world. Into your life, and make the most of it.

About a year ago, I started to look at writing a book. I found some very supportive online groups on Facebook, and have really grown more towards that goal. Looking back to a goal from last summer, I wanted to get a blog up and running. You’re looking at it now. I have learned so much about blogging, and I need to learn more. So it will continue to be a part of my day, and I hope it’s part of yours. Every day something meaningful can happen, but writing about it all makes it worth doing. I’m proud to have met that goal. It all takes repetition and practice.

Next year, I’m adding some pages to my website. I need to honestly describe myself, talk about what I’ve done in life, and put it all down on my “About” page. That is very hard for me to do. It feels like bragging, which it isn’t, but being raised to be a compliant little girl who didn’t make waves puts me in a spot. I’m going to speak up from now on. I have to. I’m the one who will finish the book, and I have to be the one to market myself and sell the book. So I’m not bragging.

My goal for today is to start quilting the project I’ve put together for my friend. I want to be able to have it completed before New Year’s Eve, when we will see her and our friends for dinner at the VFW. Dinner, dancing, and live music will be the order of the evening. It’ll be fun.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are. And stop by again tomorrow. I will be here. See you then.

The Magical Day is Here!

We are just relaxing at home for awhile before going to a friend’s home for Christmas Dinner. We have enjoyed holiday dinners with Lou, his daughter Beth, and Dan’s daughter Tracy, husband TJ, and grandchildren Addison and Gavin. We have done this for several years. Lou’s wife Sharon was Tracy and Blake’s aunt. Sharon’s sister Sandy was Tracy and Blake’s Mom. This would make a good character line for a novel, wouldn’t it?? Sandy, Sharon, and I were friends. Yes, I was lucky enough to be friends with these two great ladies.

They both passed away from lung cancer, the same kind their mother died from. We have formed sort of a family, the group of us. Lou invites us for many family celebrations. Today, Christmas, 2019, is a celebration of not only the birth of Jesus, it will be the first dinner in Lou’s rennovated lower level of his home. He was among those with devastating loss after the flood last spring. The lake house has never, in over fifty years, been flooded. This past year, the once in a lifetime flood happened. And boy, did it. Many houses in that area are still waiting to be repaired. Luckily, Lou has many good friends and contacts in the construction industry in the Omaha area. He is retired but is what I still consider to be one of the good, honest, and reliable businessmen in the business. He is a wealth of information of how to get things done. He is a good friend to Dan and me, and he was always there for the kids when Dan wasn’t. I owe him a big one, too. If he hadn’t offered Dan a job at Watkins Concrete Block Co., Inc, Dan and Sandy would have never moved to Omaha. I probably would have never met him. So I’m thankful for Lou. He has indirectly affected my life and it’s outcome.

It was a beautiful day and meal. Lou is an excellent cook, and we all had tasks assigned to finish the meal off. The conversation was wonderful, lots of stories, lots of love exchanged. How lucky we are to have spent the day with such good people.

Now starts all the end of the year clearance sales, the weight loss ads, the gym ads. Don’t pay a bunch of money for something you won’t do a month from now. Remember any day is a good day to start a new behavior, to break a bad habit, to make a change that will be beneficial in the long run. Any day is a good day to start.

Thank you for reading today’s very short blog. I hope your Christmas Day has been a good day. It’s whats in your heart that counts. I’ll be back tomorrow, and back at working on the quilt, then the rewrite of my book. See you then!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

How are the stirring creatures in your house tonight? Have you had a busy day of last minute preparations? Need to shop? I hope you are through with the work part of this holiday and ready for the enjoyment.

No one came home for Christmas, and they’re all celebrating in their homes tonight. We will spend time with the Babe’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren tomorrow. It’ll be great, as always.

Do people need to do lots of returns and exchanges after Christmas anymore? It seems like it’s been decades since people had to shop in stores, so I’m not sure what customs are still applicable and which ones are not. I don’t think as kids we actually were ever allowed to return things. Usually everything fit, especially the underwear, socks, and pajamas. We received gifts that we needed, mostly, nothing frivilous, and no Easy Bake Oven for me.

In some ways, I can’t help but think that may be why Christmas seemed so magical, so special. We were always grateful. I want to consciously practice gratitude from now on. I am very grateful for my life as it is. I’ve been blessed in countless ways. Being human, I want to be sure I’m as grateful as I should be. I try to be mindful of teaching the grandkids little things to be glad about. They are really good at telling us about the good things in their lives. We love to hear the conversations with Addison when we pick her up from Middle School. We are learning so much! And we are grateful she so eagerly talks with us and shares so freely.

While I dearly miss my kids, I know that life at the present is what we need to concentrate on. I enjoy the here and now, and am so grateful for the time the Babe and I have together. We are getting to the ages where you never know what can happen to one or the other of us. He has ischemic heart disease. The past two years have seen new complications so we are counting any more time together as a bonus.

When I was a little girl, we learned first hand of how suddenly life can change. The Christmas Eve of 1964, our mom’s father had a massive heart attack and died. We were not at the family gathering that year, because one of my little brothers was sick. We received two phone calls. One, to say Grandpa had a heart attack and was in the squad en route to the hospital. The second call, to say Grandpa died, came within another half an hour. At twelve, I was devastated. So was my older brother. The other kids were little, as were most of my cousins. It was the most confusing Christmas ever.

I do touch on this memory every year, not to be depressing, but to be remembering. Remembering is what makes us learn from the past, and not repeat mistakes. From what I remember, there was talk of family division, differences of opinion, and unresolved conflict. The family was no different from others. These problems are present everywhere more than one person is living. How a family operates during times of crisis and loss is what makes or breaks it. Grandma did go on and have a productive life at the age of 59. She learned to drive and purchased several different homes. She moved quite a bit. We didn’t get to spend any summer days with her anymore, since she had to work. My mother and her sisters were close for a very long time. They seemed more forgiving than they had been.

So, if you are at odds with anyone, make peace with them. You may only have one chance. If you haven’t seen someone, call them. Forgive. And seek forgiveness. Go to sleep tonight with the gift of peace in your life. Wake up tomorrow with joy that you have another day to love and hope. Tomorrow is the first new day after the birth of Jesus. And all will be right with the world. Make sure it is with you, too.

Thank you for reading today. Please come back again tomorrow, we’ll have tales to tell of Christmas dinner with our dear friend, Lou. He is in his eighties and had to rebuild the damaged part of his lovely lake home. What a job!

Until then, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.