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.

Magnificent Monday

Today was a wonderful day. The Babe and I had separate things to go do, so he went to the VFW Post, and I picked up my girlfriend to go to a movie. What a life we retirees live!

We saw “Richard Jewell”, directed by Clint Eastwood. It was very good. I can’t help but feel sorry for the Richard Jewell’s of the world, people who have good hearts, know lots of things about the subject at hand (bombs), and are sweet men who take care of their mothers. Everything that could go wrong does. It is very interesting that he is very observant and ends up being correct in his assessment of the backpack bomb. He was smarter than the government. The G-men were pretty terrible. I know there are some who are very bad men (and women). They are nothing like the G-men the Babe and I know, and have met. Trust me, Babe’s son works for the government. He and his colleagues would never behave in this way.

I went to the Target after the movie, and was amazed at the people shopping for Christmas gifts. When we bought gifts for everyone, I was always done by December 15. Seriously. Either I made gifts for people, afghans, dinner napkins, ornaments, fleece pullovers, jackets, or something personal. Always. I enjoyed it a lot. As I’ve gotten older, it’s tougher to crank out gifts like I used to. Not as much time, and there are so very many crafts and hobbies I really enjoy. And now that I’ve added writing to the mix, it’s a toss up as to what I would do for the people in the family. My siblings and I don’t exchange gifts, neither do Dan’s. We have stopped doing gifts with our adult children, and we do for the four beautiful grandkids. Most of the time they or their parents want gift cards. It is just not as it used to be. And that’s ok.

I cannot imagine being financially secure enough to buy whatever my kids wanted. That never happened in my life until after they left home. I started out behind the 8-Ball and was just catching up twenty years ago. I earned whatever minimum wage was in 1982, the year I was divorced. That was $5 something an hour. $200 a week, minus taxes. I can hardly believe that. In those days, I could walk to Woolworth’s downtown and put stuff in layaway for my eleven, seven, and four old. I’d pay weekly or monthly, and get the gifts out near Christmas. That’s what they received. I don’t think they lacked anything. Certainly not love. My mom used to tell me when you finally had enough money, it just didn’t matter anymore. And she was right.

The best Christmas eve I ever had? It was in about 1986, I had sold our family home, and I rented a house near 84th Street and the Interstate. My younger kids were picked up by their Dad, the oldest who was 15, did not want to go. He stayed at his friend’s house, and missed the 5:30 p.m. pickup. His dad made his brother and sister tell him where the friend lived, so he stopped by there on the way. Frank, Jr., was so embarrassed, he wanted to die. I don’t blame him. You just don’t embarrass your fifteen year old. Ever. When I picked him up, he said he wanted McDonald’s for dinner, so we went there. As we ate burgers and fries, he told me how he wanted to do things in life that were different than his dad wanted him to do. He expressed his opinions about things, told me he’d rather not go visit his dad, and I told him his thoughts and needs should be acknowledged. He was fifteen, after all. We had a wonderful time together as time went on, and one thing I really miss is going Christmas shopping with him. We would shop for hours for his brother and sister, and have lunch, and go to Menard’s for more or new decorations, it was so much fun. I miss those times to this day. It just hasn’t been the same.

So now, in 2019, as we near 2020, the Babe and I have two grandsons, and two granddaughters. We love them all. Two live in town, two live out of town. We wish we could spend holidays with them all and their parents. It just is not possible. As life is, we are here, and they are not. They do their thing, we do ours. It’s substantially different than I ever thought it would be. And that’s ok, too.

The reality of this changed world we live in is we sometimes need to give up on our dreams and hopes of how life should be. We need to take it as it goes. That is very hard to do. Once we relax into a different normal, it’s ok. It seems like normal because it is, it’s our new normal. And we need to embrace that whoever we are, and wherever we are. And I finally have this year, at least I think I have right now. It could change twenty four hours from now, but for now, it needs to be different than I always imagined. We will all be all right.

Just so we make an attempt

Yes, an attempt. We need to admit things will be different. That is not always bad. Sometimes it’s very good.

And today, as I purchased my $52.00 of groceries at Target, I was glad I wasn’t buying last minute gifts, things I forgot, or things unexpected company might like if they happen to stop by. I bought a card for the Babe, and that was it. Bagels and Yogurt. That’s it. No stress.

No muss, no fuss. Do I wish all the kids were coming home? Heck yes. But since they are not, they will probably be in their own homes, where it’s familiar for their kids. That’s what Christmas is, it’s for the kids. Not for we adults. I may be way off base, but I’m delighted with what we have. At least for now. We love them all, and love that they can handle their own families. We raised them to do that. Way to go!

Thank you for reading today. I will be here tomorrow, when it’s really Christmas Eve. I hope you will be as well. It’s kind of a big deal. We’ll talk about that. See you then!

Superb Sunday

This was indeed, a superb Sunday before Christmas. We didn’t have to be out with the masses shopping for last minute gifts, but we were able to use our mad Ninja skills and help our cousins, Rob and Joleen, a/k/a Father Christmas and Mrs. Claus, to pay a visit to our 90 year old Mom before the old boy gets too busy in a couple of days. It was great to surprise her, she enjoyed it a lot.

Mom, Father Christmas, and Joleen
Father Christmas, his wife, and Baby Brother Tim
Father Christmas looking all regal

Joleen is my cousin on Mom’s side of the family. Our mothers were sisters. Aunt Judy died a couple of years ago. Both of Joleen’s parents died within a few months of each other, and that was difficult for her. Her folks were good to all of us nieces and nephews, and we are grateful to have been close when we were growing up. I was older, so I usually babysat everyone, so that was quite different than growing up as a peer or playmate. I was another authority figure to most of my cousins. One said he always wanted to call me “Aunt Kathy”, because he knew I was close to his mom. His mom just died in October. I miss all my aunts.

Mom’s family had quite a few characters in it. And like many families, there were a slug of cousins who were the same age. At one time, my mom, her aunt, and her cousin were all pregnant, and 1951 saw three more males born into the family. Mom’s Mother, Grandma Bobell, always said when more boy babies were born, there would be another war in fifteen to twenty years. Sure enough, Vietnam reared it’s ugly head in the 1960’s. Has anyone else ever heard that? I’ll have to do some research on that subject and let you know. It could be old wives tales or just how population increases, but I though it sounded like the truth. Grandma could really sell a bill of goods, let me tell you. She was pretty funny. She passed away just before my dad did, in 1988.

Rob and Joleen had another engagement after they left Mom’s house. They were going to a NICU, at the request of a grandmother, who wanted her tiny, new grandbaby to see Santa. It was beautiful to hear them say they weren’t sure what the situation was with the baby. They have raised two daughters, and I’m sure they’ll give not only the little angel some comfort and love, they will do it for the baby, parents, and grandparents. Just like they did for my mom. This is what good people do for others at this time of year. Spread blessings even though they are not sure what to do. Just by being there, it says everything. It’s how Jesus wants us to be. I only hope I remember that the next time I’m angry, or the next time I’m too tired, or the next time someone hurts me. I want to respond with love. And patience, and understanding. I have a long way to go. We all do!

I hope this evening finds you safe, warm, and full of love. Thank you so much for reading this, the last Sunday before Christmas. I will be here again tomorrow, and I hope to meet up with you, too.

Suburban Saturday

Maybe Gretna, Nebraska isn’t considered a suburb, since it is it’s own little town. We don’t associate closely with Omaha, or Papillion and LaVista, so I suppose I should have titled this Small Town Saturday. The gist of it is, I’m snug at home, working on a quilt that has a darling scene on it. After it’s gifted, I will make sure to post the finished project. It’s a labor of love. Tomorrow, if time permits, I will begin quilting it.

I simply love to create things. Whether it’s with words or fabrics and thread, I love the whole process. My parents instilled in all of us a great imagination. Some of that, I believe, is from reading. Reading in and of itself helps create things in your imagination, your mind. Whenever I read a book as a child, I usually pictured scenes in my head. The characters were real people. Sometimes, the people resembled the characters in television shows or movies we saw. It was my brain, making something concrete out of something in my imagination, that happened to come from a book. Maybe that is why I still love fiction to this day. To think next year, I will see my name on the spine of a book I wrote is a thrill beyond belief. It won’t be without hard work. My goal is to get the process of writing so ingrained in me that it will be similar to doing a large quilting project, or a remodeling project. I’ve done lots of those over the years. When I was a single mom, it’s how my sons learned to use power tools, and make things. I had learned from watching my dad, and was able to teach them some basics, and with the help of shop class (before schools did away with it).

While I was working on my project today, it occurs to me to be mindful of those who dread the thought of Christmas. There are many, many people who are alone this year. I have been in that position, and it is hard. Yes, I had my children, but it was not the same as having an adult man to be in a relationship with. God blessed me with the Babe, and he even asked me to marry him on Christmas Eve, 1997. I couldn’t make that up. It was wonderful.

Some folks aren’t happy with their lives for one reason or another. Other folks need to make major changes in their lives to have a chance at staying alive until this time next year. Obesity, Alcoholism, Smoking, are all conditions people have control over. Their lives are dependent on it. All around us are people who are not secure in their lives and situations. Jobs can be unstable. Homelessness abounds. Children are cold and hungry. Women (and men) can be afraid of their partners. Abuse, both physical and verbal, is so rampant in life today, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to situations in front of us. Find a way to become involved to help people who cannot escape these situations on their own.

My brothers have worked out with a cousin to surprise my mom tomorrow afternoon. You’ll see it here, I think we may render the old girl speechless, which is quite a task. Good job, brothers! Can’t wait to share it with you all.

Keep your spirits up this next week. If the holidays are hard for you, take heart. They are hard for me, too. I’ll tell that story later. It’s another one you cannot make up. I like to think of soldiers who are away from home, and hope they know how we appreciate their sacrifices. It’s tough on a family to be separated at times of family celebrations. We are such a great country because of our soldiers, who have kept us free all these years. Thank you all for your service.

First responders, nurses, doctors, workers in nursing homes, hospital workers, anyone in the service industries, know we are grateful for what you do. These are usually thankless jobs. Make sure to thank those who perform these duties.

Thank you for reading today. Let’s meet again tomorrow, and you can hear about our surprise for our 90 year old mother. I’ll be here, I really hope you are.