Blue Velvet

“In the New Year, never forget to thank your past years because they enabled you to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

I found this necklace a few years ago as we were packing to move. The memories that this little piece of jewelry brought to me were vivid and came with a soundtrack–Bobby Vinton singing Blue Velvet.

I’ve had this necklace since New Year’s Eve, 1966. If I did not have the necklace, I would have thought this memory was just some sort of dream.

1966 was a tough year for me. My Dad had remarried and I was pretty confused. That was not new. I’d been questioning many things for several years, from the time of my Mom’s difficult pregnancy which resulted in the loss of my little brother to her cancer diagnosis to her death. Having a “new mom” was uncomfortable–for lack of a better word.

I was twelve and lost. No one talked about my Mom. I think they were afraid talking about her would hurt me. I ached to talk about her and confess how sorry I was for not spending more time with her. When Dad told us he was getting married to Irene, I felt like he was slamming the door on the past, on every memory of my Mom.

I started to act out. Looking back with my adult eyes, I see classic acting out behavior. To my Dad and his new wife, I needed discipline. In my kid’s mind, I think I thought if I acted up enough, Irene would leave. The only thing my bad behavior did was create more tension in an already very tense household.

On this New Year’s Eve, I was still grounded for lying about having chorus practice so I could go and hang out with my friends. This was an incredibly stupid lie that marked the beginning of my year of rebellion. My home no longer felt like home so I needed my friends more than ever.

At dinner that night, Dad and Irene told us they were going out with friends. I was relieved to have them gone–it would be a night my sisters and I could do what we wanted.

Now’s when things get a little odd.

Later that evening, the phone rang. It was one of the boys from our group of friends. He wanted to know if he could come over–he had something for me.


I kinda had a boyfriend–in an extremely broad definition of the word–and this was not that boy.

Well…I said yes. I knew Dad and Irene would be out until well after midnight–my sisters were asleep and both could sleep through just about anything.

Irene had a Hi-Fi system set up in our dining room so I had an album already playing when he got there. If nothing else, the music would cover up the sound of the front door opening just in case my sisters did wake up. I imagine we probably shared a pop and then we began to dance. I can’t remember if we played other albums. I remember we danced for hours to Bobby Vinton. If I really thought about it, I’m sure I could sing you every song on the side that played over and over that night–the song that brings me back immediately to our darkened living room is Blue Velvet.

The picture in my mind is so clear. We were two kids, really, holding each other–we did not talk or even look at each other. We danced–slowly, closely and innocently.

Shortly after midnight, he left for home. As he was heading out the door, he handed me a little box with this necklace inside. I think he said something like, “I got this for you. And no, I did not steal it.”

This little necklace is yet another thing that has survived many moves. It represents one of the sweetest evenings of my life. I don’t know why he came over, I don’t know why he bought me this present, and I don’t remember either one of us ever talking about being together that night. I don’t think I ever told anyone about this night and I doubt he did, either. It was yet another thing at this time of my life that seems like it just never happened.

Maybe he was an angel in disguise–sent to hold me at a time when I needed that simple act of kindness.

As I’ve written my stories these past few months, there are some memories that seem to have a life of their own–they continue to take me surprise by the depth of emotion they bring with them.  This is definitely one of the best and dearest.

Happy New Year, my friends. May God bless us all.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.




Looking Back While Looking Ahead

“I am grateful for all that this year has given me, including the lessons it has given to my soul.
This year I will be kinder and more compassionate to myself and to all beings.
I will stop being so hard on me.
I will laugh more.
I will unplug more.
I will shift into my heart more.
I will make the time to connect to the Divine and feed my spirit.
I will let go of the small stuff.
I will surround myself with uplifting people and activities.
This is my truth and so it is. Amen.”
― Eileen Anglin

Oh, the title of my story today sounds like I am multitasking. It has been pointed out to me that I am NOT good at doing more than one thing at a time. I am painfully aware this is true. Even with that knowledge, I continue to do so.

In June of this coming year, I will celebrate my third year of retirement. I’m not sure how that is possible, but it is true.

For those of you retiring in 2018, prepare yourself mentally. I was unprepared. It took me until this year to feel okay with myself and realize I needed to find a way to learn and grow. The hard part of this was, to do what I knew I MUST do, I needed to let go of the fear of failure.

As I hit the publish button on my first story, I was petrified. I’d proofed, re-read and re-written every single line several times. I finally listened to that little voice in my head. She said that there was no reason to be afraid. Those who loved me would read with love and stay with me as I learned and grew as a person and as a writer.

As 2017 comes to a close, I urge you to take risks this coming year. Be brave and confident in yourself and in those who love you. Those calendar pages will continue to fly off the wall. Please do not wait. Take a deep breath, listen, then believe what your soul is urging you to do–and do it.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.








Remember is the last month,’ said Festival.
‘Remember’s not a month.’
‘Of course it is,’ said Festival. ‘There are twelve months thirty days long and the five days at the end of the year that are left over are called Remember. It’s when we all remember what happened in the past year, all the people who were born and all the people who died. You have to have Remember, otherwise you’d start the next year out of balance.”
― Colin Thompson, How to Live Forever

2017 is drawing to a close and we are all preparing to begin a new year. In years past, I’d be planning a big house party so we could gather together, enjoy great food, drink excellent wine, and enjoy each other’s company. Those were the days when we lived our lives, unknown to us at the time,  much more superficially. Looking back, it was so crazy. We had a very tight-knit group of friends, busy with our careers and life in general. We celebrated birthdays, watched football games, rang in the new year, christening new marriages and surprise babies.

Oh, that fickle finger of fate teamed up with the persistent ebb of time, wearing away at the edges of the grand illusions we’d all created. Kids left for school, soon graduating, and lives began to shift and evolve.  Before we realized it, our tightly knit group had already begun to unravel.

This is one more reason we need to find a way to have our own rituals of change. Change is often very personal–what is difficult for me is my friend’s cause for celebration. Our personal take on these events should not negate anything for either of us. It does, however, make it very difficult for us to join together in any type of mutual acknowledgment. Who of us have not been friends with couples who have divorced–now what? Can you be friends with both people from that fractured relationship? Rarely does that work for long.

My message today is as the year comes to a close, make your own rituals of closure. Take the time to think of those in your life who are important to you. Think of the joys, the challenges, and the losses you’ve all endured. Acknowledge and celebrate them fully so you can move on to the new year balanced and ready for every experience and opportunity.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.



Last Time for Everything

Using a fake ID at a college bar
Getting caught with a girl in the backseat of a car
Running out on the field for the senior game wearing number 17
There’s a last time for everything

Like a George Strait cassette in a Pontiac
Or telling Supercuts, “Let’s leave it long in the back”
Wearing a tux in a high school gym
And she’s wearing your class ring
There’s a last time for everything

Last call, last chance
Last song, last dance
Sometimes you just don’t know when that’s gonna be
Hold me baby, give me a kiss
Like tonight is all there is
‘Cause there’s the last time for everything

Throwing the ball with the first dog you ever had
Spending all day on the lake with your grandad
Watching Glenn Frey sing “Already Gone” at the Forum in LA
There’s the last time for everything

Last call, last chance
Last song, last dance
Sometimes you just don’t know when that’s gonna be
Hold me baby, give me a kiss
Like tonight is all there is
Cause there’s a last time for everything

Kissing goodbye on her porch and driving away
Introducing her as your fiancee
Getting woke up at 5 am to see if Santa came
There’s a last time for everything

Biscuits and gravy at your momma’s house
(Last time for everything)
Spring break on a fold out couch
(Last time for everything)
Little Jimmy on the Opry stage
(Last time for everything)
Hearing Prince sing “Purple Rain”
(Last time for everything)
(Last time for everything)Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

The first time I heard this song by Brad Paisley I was caught off guard by how much emotion it stirred up. I’ve talked about this song before. In case you are not a country fan, I thought I should share the lyrics. If you are like me, as you read the words that talk about so many universal life experiences, memories will flood into your mind. These flashes back to your past will not be just for today but will continue to pop into your head for many days to come.

The words have been on my mind a lot these past few days as I’ve thought back to many Christmas dinners spent with family over the years. How many times had I assumed those dear but sometimes annoying people would be sitting in their usual chairs telling their usual stories next year?

Sneakily, ready or not, there is a last time for everything.

As you put away those decorations, head out to the stores to make exchanges, or gear up for that walk, run, or aerobics class, take a moment to reflect on your holiday. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Compose a handwritten note to those who shared their time with you yesterday.

Fate. She is fickle, relentless, unknown, and unpredictable. Yesterday may have been the last time for many precious things. Do not allow time to continue to steal minutes and opportunities from you. Tell those you love you love them. Do not rush it or make light of it. Tell them as if were the last time.

It may be…

I have talked about this expression of love a lot these past few months because it is important to me to share and make others aware. I have been blessed with so many things. One of the greatest has been the gift of time. This gift comes with a flip side–I realize the assumptions I’ve made over the years came with a price tag–regret. This lesson has been painful and costly. Use my stories as a type of study guide. Learn from my mistakes so you can test out and sidestep as much regret as possible.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.





Silent Night

Silent Night
On Christmas Eve in 1818
A blizzard stranded the tiny village of Ogledorf
Nestled in the Austrian mountains
That same day the people of St. Nicholas’ church found their organ broken
So the priest and organist began composing a song that could be sung without
An organ yet beautiful enough to express their Christmas joy
All day and all night long they worked
And at midnight the gentle carol Silent Night was born
The pure clear tones echoed through the hills
And the world has been captured by the beauty of that simple song ever since.
Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent Night
Holy Night
Shepards pray at the sight
Glory streams from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing hallelujah
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born
Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm
And all is bright
Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent Night
Holy Night
Sleep in heavenly peace
     Every time I sing this song, I cry. I guess it brings back the memories of all the times I’ve been able to sing it in my lifetime–from sitting beside my Mom at Midnight Mass to singing along with the radio just a few days ago.
     There was a time, in my previous life I’ve visited so often these past few months when this song was sung a lot. My co-workers and I followed a certain singer around the city of Waterloo for months. He was probably our age, sang a lot of John Denver, and tolerated our singing along while we drank and danced. As a group, we worked hard. We saw a lot of people in both mental and physical pain. Because of that, we partied hard. The experiences of our day were often carried around with us and it was not always easy to get those images and stories out of your mind. So, for a few hours, we escaped with Jim Miller, I think that was his name, and we began to forget.
     At the end of the night, after the last song, he would request we all stand and join hands. The first time I was there for this, I wondered what in the world was going on. We stood, took the hand of the person beside us, and listened. Regardless of the time of year, the guitar chords were unmistakable. We all sang–I would cry–Silent Night.
     Now, years and years later, I firmly believe that it was the singing of this song that alerted our guardian angels to the fact we were all headed home. God knows there were many of those nights I never ever should have been driving. By the grace of God, we all arrived home safe and more-or-less sound.
     On this Christmas Eve, I have a few things on my wish list. If they fit your needs, I wish them for you as well.
     I ask for the time to continue to read and learn so I can write and share. There is so much to learn I  often find myself overwhelmed. When that happens, I have to remind myself of Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, and it one thing at a time.
     I ask that my teachers continue to appear–whether they are friends sharing their life stories or books I discover. I am beginning to see that lessons are not always taught in traditional ways. I pray I stay open and aware of each opportunity as it presents itself. Some days show me so many new things I feel like that kid who has only the very basic understanding of arithmetic and is handed a book about algebra. Where to start and when to stop are still big questions for me.
     With each lesson, I feel as though I am given new tools from an unknown tool chest. I pray for the patience to learn how to use these tools so I can share all this better and more easily. 
     May God give me the wisdom to see my own strength and to believe in the beauty and power of the Spirit I am. 
     May God’s love and grace surround me today and always. 
I am…
B…simply being…
Peace be with you.

Christmas Eve Eve

May you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of His love at Christmas and always. 

I simply ran out of time yesterday and something had to take a backseat. The easiest and least complicated thing to put on the back burner was my storytelling. I appeased myself by making the promise it would be done immediately after my morning were completed.

It was dogwash day yesterday which ended up taking much longer than I expected. Our three dogs are great for their baths but by the time dog number three is in the tub, my back and shoulders were protesting loudly. The reward is immediate and wonderful–all three dogs and our house smell so much better.

Time is running short for pre-Christmas activities. Today Michael and I get to go to the Walk of Lights here in Marble Falls. The picture is from last year’s visit. I am looking forward to spending time with our friends Dayne and Donna. This year, Sara, their oldest daughter and their grandson Evan are joining us. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything better than to have the opportunity to “see” Christmas through the innocent eyes of a child.

If you are searching for the last-minute gift, let me share a gift idea with you that friends of ours gave each other last year. I thought it was perfect.

Jim and Ann, have two adult children. Ann suggested they give each other the gift of time in 2017. Kevin, their son, went on a backpacking trip with Jim this past summer; Elizabeth and Ann went to New York City the first part of December. It was the priceless gift of time and adventure. We can all go to the store or go online in order to fulfill that gift requirement. Committing yourself and gifting your time is a present on an entirely different level. If you are stumped on what to get that very important person in your life, think about making your own gift certificate of time. Seems to me to be a true win/win situation.

“If you take Christmas to heart and get past the anxieties in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year at this time and experience a birth in yourself, just like the one so beautifully described in the Gospel stories. It will be a celebration of both the birth of Jesus and the birth of your soul”
― Thomas Moore

Enjoy this Christmas weekend and each other.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all and keep you safe on your travels.


The Best Gift

“Someone once said: “We do not make friends, we recognize them.” And you’ll know who they are because they play according to the same rules that you do.”
― Ken Niimura, Gotham Academy #16

Someone once told me that he did not have many friends. I was just amazed at that statement. From my young point of view, it seemed he had many friends. He must have noticed my surprised look because he went on to explain to me that he had many acquaintances, but very few friends.

Because I was young, I did not and could not fully appreciate the difference he was trying to point out to me.  As I’ve aged and my life experiences have grown, I understand and I agree.

I have been very lucky in my life with the friends I have made along the way. This past summer I was able to spend some time with one of the best. Thank you, Mary Beth, for opening up your home to me and spending an evening like the old days, talking, eating, and sharing wine around the kitchen table. I love and cherish you.

Our lives were different but so similar. We both worked with the public. Over the years, she was in law enforcement in one capacity or another and I was in healthcare. We’d whine together when we were both on call and wine together when we were not. We loved our dogs and watched over each other’s pups whenever we needed that type of help. Mary Beth–MB–was mostly single and I was alone often because Michael traveled a lot for his job. Because of that being on call thing, there were times when we needed each other to take care of each other’s furry family. We were across the street neighbors for almost twenty years.

We grew older together and it was comforting to have another woman to talk with about how life and the world were changing. Our conversations were all over the board because of the type of work we both had done over the years. We’d both seen people at their worst and at their best. Living these types of experiences daily over many years gave us both a very unique viewpoint on life. Add into that equation the fact we were living in the Denver area, we had a wide array of alternative lifestyle information to discuss and teach each other. What a hoot to share what I knew about things and compare that with what MB knew–the cop vs the healthcare worker. We really could and should write a book.

Mary Beth moved from the hood a few years before we left. It was painful for me to see her go–but her new home in the foothills called to her too strongly. It is beautiful and I am so thankful she shares it with me whenever I get back to Denver to visit.

‘Tis the season to appreciate those who are important to you. I cannot imagine my life without her even though we are nearly a thousand miles away from each other now. Man, I miss those nights when we could just walk across the street to share the wine and stumble back across the street afterward.

Take a moment, my friends, to think about those who care for and about you. As I have learned, a real friend is rare and precious. Treasure them and let them know how important they are to you.

If there is anything this past year has tried to teach us all is the fact that life is precious. In a blink of an eye, that rock that makes up so much of the foundation of your life is built upon can tumble. Bolster it up and hold on to that and them for as long as you can.

“Friendships – and indeed most relationships – are measured in the closeness of hearts,
minds and soul ties… not in the distance of physical miles or even the passing of time.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, my dear friends.



The Rest of The Story

“… it’s a blessed thing to love and feel loved in return.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Today I’m adding to my story from yesterday. I think it will make you chuckle.

It wasn’t long ago I learned one important detail about the blind date scenario I shared with you yesterday. When the backstory was revealed, I had to smile. It was so typical of my life and so characteristic of Michael and Sue.

Sue, our matchmaker friend you met yesterday, had been trying to get Michael to call me for as long as she’d been trying to get me to accept his call. The little detail Sue did not tell me was Michael had been asking her out. As she tried to sell him on me, he insisted he was not interested in some other girl in Denver, he was interested in her. As time and life moved on and lives evolved, Sue told Michael she’d made some important decisions. She was moving to Michigan and getting married. After sharing her plans, she told Michael she’d talked with me and I’d agreed to talk with him after I returned from vacation. Hearing Sue was planning her wedding, Michael recovered with the indestructible spirit of a true salesman, agreeing to call me.

While I was at my reunion, Michael was scuba diving in Roatan. Although our experiences were very different, we both returned to Denver ready to take the risks needed in order to move on with our lives.

As far as that lunch date, Michael clearly heard DeeDee call out “5” as she talked with me. Here I thought I was being so clever! I was busted before I even met him. He was surprised he only rated a “5” but never thought twice about it–he knew he was far more than a mediocre “5.”

Over the years, Michael’s taught me there are many more important things than work. He opened my eyes to the fact that the world was ours to explore. We did that and we are looking forward to exploring much more. I conquered my fear of heights, flying with him in hot air balloons. I’d always loved the water but discovered the ocean was a scary force for me as I worked to learn to scuba dive. Passing my open water exams was like climbing a mountain for me. With him by my side, I conquered that, realizing I could do whatever I set my mind to do.

I made another discovery as I copied the picture for today’s story. The attached photo is probably from our first Children’s Cardiology Christmas party. I noticed today that our table number was–yup– you’re right–table number 5.

“Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?”
Jenny Han, Always and Forever, Lara Jean

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.



She’s Got a Great Personality…

“At the blind date,
deafen your ears
to hear the words
spoken with her eyes.”
― Khang Kijarro Ngu

My friend, Sue, had been trying to get me to go out with a friend and co-worker of hers for months. I’d just had one of the worst blind-date experiences ever a few months before we had this conversation–I swore I would never ever ever go on another blind date.

The picture above was taken this past summer when we were in Denver. That is our good friend and matchmaker, Sue, on the left. We love her.

I knew Sue. She was not going to give up. We’d known each other for years, meeting when she sold our department a new ultrasound machine. We were both young, alone, and single in Denver in the mid-eighties. But Sue’s life was about to change. She’d left the ultrasound world, working for a company who manufactured isolettes and warmers. Not only had Sue had a job change, she was in the process of moving back to Michigan and planning her wedding.

Sue and I met for dinner one last time before she left Denver. I was excited for her but I was very sad she’d be so far away.  As a way to get her off the blind date subject, I agreed to talk with her friend after I returned from my 20th high school reunion. Great, Sue said, he’s on vacation now, too. She said she’d leave him a message when she got back to Michigan and to expect a call from him.

Going home to Iowa was just what I needed. I was able to see my family as well as old coworkers and friends. The reunion was well attended, reuniting people from near and far. The halls of West High had been in our past long enough we were more interested in really talking with each other again than trying to impress each other.

I returned to Denver feeling I’d experienced closure on some old high school and other life dramas. I was ready to move on with my life.

Tuesday, August 13, 1991, I was in my office when the front desk called. DeeDee, one of the front desk staff, told me I had a call–a guy named Michael, could I take the call?Well…that was the name of Sue’s friend…I said yes.

I talked with Michael for a few minutes. He asked if I could go out for lunch? He apologized for such short notice. He’d just returned from vacation and had to come down to Children’s for an appointment. Would that work for me?

I checked with my co-workers and they were thrilled to hear that I had a lunch date. Yes, we all knew each other very well. They’d gladly cover so I could go out for lunch.

I told Michael I could go. He said he’d be there to pick me up at 11:30.

I quickly called the front desk, telling DeeDee I had a date for lunch. Her hooting could be heard without the need of the telephone connection–something that I should have heeded and taken into account when I made my next request. When the teasing subsided, I asked her to give me a number when she called back to tell me he was there–a rating of how he looked to her–a number between one and ten. I was feeling pretty smug in my game plan and went off to finish my morning schedule.

At 11:30 on the dot, my phone rang. I answered and I heard–again without really needing the phone connection, ” BARB, HE’S HERE. I’D SAY 5.” 

Well…that was subtle. Maybe he wasn’t listening or wasn’t paying attention to the Olympic style grading system going on at our front desk.

I did a quick mirror check, smiled at my co-workers, and headed to the front lobby. DeeDee nodded her head toward the chairs along the far wall and I headed that way.

Honest to God, it was like time went into slow motion. He was looking at his DayTimer and looked up as I approached. I remember his white shirt, khaki pants, and pastel, Monet type tie. When our eyes met, I felt as though I’d met an old and very important friend. We shook hands and headed off to lunch.

What I didn’t know was Michael had worked at Children’s when he first came to Denver as a respiratory therapist. He knew many of the physicians I worked with better than I did. When we walked into the restaurant for lunch, the large table in front was full of many of the neonatologists from the hospital–all shouting greetings to us both, commenting, “Wow, we did not know you two were dating.”

We both laughed, explained our first date status, and hurried off to have lunch–generous as my co-workers were–our time was tight.

Our conversation was so easy because we shared so many common things. From our mutual friend, Sue, to all the docs we both worked with in the past and now, and stories about our recent vacations, time flew quickly.

As he walked me back to the office, he asked when we could have a “real date.” I told him I was on call and really didn’t want to go out when I was on call. The odds of me getting called in were just too high. At that time, we covered call for a week at a time. I suggested we get together next week. What I really wanted to say was, “How about tonight?”

I walked into the office and I swear I swooned. I looked at my co-worker, Ruthanne, telling her I felt I’d just met the man I was going to marry. This was coming from a person who swore over and over again, she’d never ever get married again.

I did not know what to expect. I’d resigned myself to the fact I’d see him in a week. On Thursday, he called and asked if we could go out over the weekend. As luck would have it, the department was going out Friday after work because one of the old Irish pubs downtown was closing. I asked if he’d be interested in joining us–especially since he knew so many people anyway. He agreed.

And that, my dear friends, was the beginning of our twenty-six years together.

This is what I wrote in my journal the evening of August 17, 1991:

I met a very important man Tuesday, August 13. I do believe I am already in love with him. We went for lunch Tuesday. He met me after work Friday and had drinks with the people from work. How wonderful to have a man look at you all night and continue to tell you how beautiful you are! To quote Michael, “Wow-oh-wow.” We ate at Marlowe’s–had a carriage ride with “Peggy and Bob.” This is how it’s supposed to be~

So–yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and there is such a thing as love at first sight.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, my friends. God bless.


“The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There’s a kind of glory to them when they’re all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy.”
Andy Rooney, Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit

December 15th. Ten days until Christmas. Don’t you remember how time seemed to slow down so much after this day?

I remember my Mom giving me an old calendar to cross off the days as they passed. Oh, that seemed like such a huge responsibility to me.

Did I make my mark in the morning as the day began or in the evening after supper? When I made my X, did I cross off the whole day with a complete X? If I split my X, making one part of the X in the morning and the other side of the X that evening, I had something to look forward to as the day wore on.

Heaven help that sister who completed that X before I did! Those very loud fights nearly cost me my calendar more than once!

I remember at least one Christmas when we did not have a tree as Christmas drew near. The year I’m remembering was when I was in third grade. This was a tough year for me because there were several changes. One of the biggest changes was moving from our house on first street to our real house up the hill on fourth street. This move changed our lives a lot–we now had our own home–which was important to my Dad–owning a house and no longer being a “renter.” With my more “mature” eyes, I’m thinking this probably put some strain on the budget, which was always described to me as “tight.” One other part of this move was the fact my teacher was now my next door neighbor. I’m not sure why that was so hard for me–maybe because I was young, unable to separate Mrs. Stoakes role as my teacher from Mrs. Stoakes, my neighbor.

It was the tradition at that time to have a Christmas tree in each classroom. I can see this tree very well–a short needled tree standing on a wooden cross that’d been nailed into the base of the tree. For all the time the tree had been in our classroom, this tree had not had any water. More and more of the dried needles surrounded the tree daily, poking your arms as you walked by on the way to sharpen pencils.

The last day of school, after the Christmas party, the trees from each classroom were offered to families in need of a tree. Mrs. Stoakes made the offer and no one spoke up. I was old enough to understand that speaking up for this tree would put a certain light on not just me, but my family. But…we did not have a tree and I’d overheard that we could not afford a tree this year. My little kid mind was working fast and furiously.

That was a big tree, how would I get it home? Dad would be so angry with me if he had to take off work just to come up to the school to pick up a tree. But, if we didn’t have a tree, would Santa come? Oh, come on, did I really believe that Santa story anymore? No. Who could still believe that old crazy story? But…what…

As the debate went on in my head, one of the other kids spoke up and that option for a tree was gone.

Even though we did not have a tree, we had presents from our relatives stacking up on one of the end tables. Having those wrapped presents made me believe  Santa would definitely come–tree or no tree. I was so sad about that–a feeling I did not attempt to disguise from my Dad. I just knew he could not be serious and I never missed a chance to question him about the status of our tree.

The days marched on. It was December 23–Christmas Eve Eve. No tree. I gave up–my hope is gone–we would not have a tree this year.

Christmas Eve morning arrived. It was cold and cloudy–maybe we’d have a white Christmas. As I walked out of the bedroom and towards the living room, I could see colors reflected on the window pane–there in front of the three of us was a brightly decorated and lighted Christmas tree.

I will always remember the joy of seeing that tree. I think having my prayer for a tree answered that year was the best present ever.

“This Christmas mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love, and then speak it again.”
Howard W. Hunter

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace to Y’all.

%d bloggers like this: