The People Away

“She always spoke about “the people away” and how important it was to remember them and to keep in contact. She knew from listening to some of them when they came on summer holidays that at Christmas their thoughts turned to home and they loved to be remembered at that time. For others the cards was even more important; it provided the only link they had because they never made it home. I visualized my mother’s Christmas cards as so many messengers winging their way to scattered family members all over the world from the nest from which they or their parents had all flown. She was the warm glow at the heart of our Christmas, but that warmth stretched much further than our house.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

Christmas cards.

So many memories come up when I think of Christmas cards.

Early in my “adult” life, I’d spend hours upon hours writing cards to all my family members. It was really the only time of year many of us heard from each other.Today, there are very few of our branch of the McDonald family around.

For me, writing Christmas cards was a major production. I started looking for cards as soon as the stores started putting up their displays. My cards had to represent something of myself.

One of my favorite memories revolves around the year I found Ziggy cards–remember that character? His life was always just a little bit sad and off kilter. To me, he mirrored my own life and this one year I’d found a whole box of Ziggy Christmas cards.

I was ecstatic.

I grabbed my box knowing these cards would be sent to a very select group of people. That was not unusual. Most years I’d have several boxes of cards subdivided into stacks for different groups that made up my life.

A great example of this would be my very prime and proper Aunt Eve. She  would not have appreciated a Ziggy card. She and the rest of the family would require a much more traditional type card.

The best part of this memory is the young guy who was at the checkout that day. He rang up my box of cards and other supplies while going through all those questions the sales staff are required to ask.

Smiling, he told me it was a perfect time to take advantage of their imprinting service. Was I interested in having my cards professionally imprinted?

We were both quiet for a couple of seconds and then I started to laugh.

He stopped, looked up at me with a questioning expression. What was so funny?

I shook my head as I apologized, explaining I did not think it just did not seem right to me to have a Ziggy Christmas card imprinted. He looked down at my box of cards, chuckled, and quietly agreed with me.

May your Christmas preparations also give you many reasons to smile.

“Mrs. Casey, do you love Christmas? 

Well you know, she answered reflectively, Christmas can be a sad time for people too. It’s a remembering time for us older ones. We remember the people who are gone.

Oh, I never thought of that, I told her in surprise.

Well that’s youth for you, she said; you don’t start to look back over your shoulder until there is something to look back at, and around Christmas I tend to think of the Christmases past and the people gone with them.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

I am…

B…simply being…




More Treasures

“The greatest treasure in life is the possession of time.” 

Sunday Adelaja, How To Become Great Through Time Conversion: Are you wasting time, spending time or investing time?

I found another treasure in my little used bookstore.

It’s the small book pictured above and it is packed with things that make me sit back and think.

Finding books that were gifts to others always tugs at my heart and makes them very special to me.

I always wonder if the person gifted the book actually had the time to appreciate it?

These are the books that become immediate treasures for me because I now have the time to scour the pages and share what I find with others.

In some type of odd unspoken ceremony, I’ve become the surrogate recipient.

There is only one page ear-marked in this little book which makes my choice of what to share first very easy.

Heart Of My Heart

While striding on life’s pathway

fill up your days with cheer

just laugh at rainbows, small or great, 

to banish every fear.

Hold tight to what life offers

content with all you do

for all adventures help create

the treasure that is you.

~Kris Ediger

I am…

B…simply being


O’Christmas Tree

“A tree.” She spotted one. It was hidden behind a much larger tree, its limbs misshapen in its attempt to fight for even a little sunlight in the shadow. “Dana has this tradition of giving a sad-looking tree the honor of being a Christmas tree.” She walked over to the small, nearly hidden tree. “I like this one. “It’s…”

He laughed. “Ugly?”

“No, it’s beautiful because it’s had a hard life. It’s struggled to survive against all odds and would keep doing that without much hope. But it has a chance to be something special.” 

B.J. Daniels, Cardwell Christmas Crime Scene

My dear friend, Mary, sent me this picture of the Christmas tree she and her grands decorated. I absolutely love this little tree and asked if I could share it with one of my stories. Thankfully, she agreed.

It is so special made even more so by the fact she fought back the urge to re-arrange! Proud of you and love you.

The older I get the more special these types of photographs are to me.

As I looked at this picture, I smiled and thought of some of my own childhood Christmas stories.

Like many young families, money was always tight at our house. Even more so at Christmas time.

I remember one Christmas when my parents had a rather heated discussion about buying a Christmas Tree. Dad didn’t think we should spend the money. Mom felt having a tree was important for “the kids.”

As I stood just outside of the kitchen door, my usual eavesdropping spot, I silently rooted for mom.

This “discussion” ended in a stalemate. This was not good. I knew from previous experiences our little house had just been put into the quiet zone.

My sisters and I understood this place all to well. Until some type of truce was called, words would be scarce–replaced by quick, sharp looks and heavy sighs. In kid-time this often seemed to last forever.

Being the super responsible oldest child, I felt it was up to me to help smooth things out.

I had a plan.

For a few days I checked out the different places trees were being sold. I knew I could find the perfect tree at a do-able price.

Because the adults were not speaking, I had the perfect set-up. Each evening at the supper table, I shared what I had found. I’d describe the trees I saw–the type, the size and all the different prices.

As I talked, my sisters and I looked from mom to dad, and back again. Each of us watched carefully, looking for any indication an answer had been found and we would have a tree and peace would return to our little world.

After a couple of nights of silence and sighs, I stopped reporting.

There was not going to be a tree.

As Christmas inched closer, I had a new worry.

This was serious.

It was now Christmas Eve.

If we didn’t have a tree, where would Santa put our presents?

This was a real worry for this oldest child. This worry kept me awake. Because I couldn’t sleep I noticed there was something different about the light outside our bedroom door.

It was red, and green, and yellow and….

Wait a minute.

Was I dreaming?

I climbed out of bed and walked slowly in the direction of the living room.

Wait a minute.

I rubbed my eyes. I blinked and blinked again.

Was this possible? Was it real?

There, in the middle of our dark living room, sitting on a small table, covered in the most brilliant lights I’d ever seen, was a beautiful, perfectly shaped Christmas tree.

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

I am…

B…simply being…





The Sorcery of a Name

“A name can’t begin to encompass the sum of all her parts. But that’s the magic of names, isn’t it? That the complex, contradictory individuals we are can be called up complete and whole in another mind through the simple sorcery of a name.” 

Charles de Lint, Dreams Underfoot

This is such a tricky time of the year.

So many emotions come bubbling up to the surface when we are least expecting them and least prepared.

What I once called the season of magic is now a little more haunting.

Memories steal into my mind when my guard is down–before I’ve had the chance to reinforced all my weakest check-points.

I know I am not alone.

I’m thinking one of the most beautiful gifts we could give each other right now is the gift of time. The gift of an evening filled with conversations about those we are missing this holiday season–whether this is the first or the sixtieth. A time filled with names that are rarely–if ever–heard these days. An evening where names and stories are shared without the guilt often associated with those things judged to be well past the appropriate time frame of grieving.

The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 

Lois Lowry, The Giver

I am…

B…simple being…


“Names are a way to keep people in your mind” 

Maggie Stiefvater, Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception  




The Gift of Laughter

B...simply being...

Re-posting from December, 2017, because it is just such a great memory. Love you Doug and Lana Flemmer.

The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far, but we will walk carefully.  

Russian Proverb.

Oh, the holidays are so stressful. Honestly, I am feeling some stress this year because I have no stress–zip–nothing–nada.

Let me remind you all that it is okay–really okay–to say no. You do not have to accept every invitation or attend every gathering or buy every single person who ever entered your life a gift. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to say no without some excuse. You, my friend, need time to unwind and relax. You cannot give to others without taking some time to recharge your own batteries.

For all my recently retired friends, know that your retirement is not the time for you to run errands…

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A Change of Worlds

There is no death. 

Only a change of worlds. 

~Chief Seattle

Today, my friend, Judi, and her husband, Ernie, said good-bye to their beloved Nina.

I met Nina for the first time nearly two years ago.  Judi and I had compared dog notes for sometime before I actually met Nina and her younger sister, Ira. I knew Nina had been struggling and had certain expectations set in my mind. I was 100% wrong.

The gray-faced dog greeting me at the door both surprised and impressed me by her agility and determination. It was if she was telling me she may be old but she was still a lady and a competent, gracious hostess.

In one short run to the door, Nina won my heart and my admiration.

I am grateful for the bravery she taught me and how she showed me to just forge on. I will remember her every morning when I “chat” with Judi as remind myself I do not need to ask about Nina because I know she is at peace.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have dogs or had dogs in our lives know a dog gives you some of the best days of your life but also one of the hardest ones.

I think part of the dog’s magic is their ability to erase those pain filled last days with the more vivid memories of their crazy, mischievous ones. Come on, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about–those chewed up remote controls, shoes, brief cases, and dinners cooling on the table when you turned your back for just a second. Those things that made you crazy and endangered their very existence.

These and many more are the memories that will bring slow smiles to your face and a much needed lightness to your heart–

It’s true—

When I come to you in dreams,

I’m really there.

When you see me out of 

The corner of your eye, 

I’m really there.

When you ‘sense’ me

Around the place, 

I’m really there.

I haven’t left you, not really.

My spirit is everywhere,

But especially with you. 

~Author Unknown

I am…

B…simply being…