Tag: family

Happy Holidays… by JoAnn

Well, another year is coming to an end, and it’s time to celebrate the holidays once again. Thanksgiving was the first tradition to enjoy with family and friends. It’s usually my favorite because it is more relaxed. There are no worries about gift exchanges or the weather being too cold. It’s just a laid-back time to enjoy the company of people we love being around and having a delicious meal together. This year I spent the day with my oldest daughter, her husband, and my three grandchildren. My youngest daughter also joined us. We had a wonderful meal and even better conversation. My favorite thing has always been the laughter, so it’s great to get together with family that laughs a lot. It is therapy to me and the best part of every get-together we have.

Next week is Christmas, and everyone I know is rushing to finish their preparations. There are gifts to be purchased and grocery shopping to do. Recipes are to be chosen for each and every meal. Everyone wants their favorite goodies made year after year. Decorations and Christmas trees are up. I need to take a drive after dark and admire the hard work of my neighbors. I am always amazed at how many lights some will use to decorate their home. But they sure are beautiful to look at.

It’s been quite a few years since I did any of the abovementioned things. Oh, I have a few decorations scattered around and a jolly-looking front door. But I last had a Christmas tree when I adopted my cat four years ago. Every year I think maybe she has gotten old enough that a tree wouldn’t phase her. But then I watch another video online of a cat knocking over a fully decorated tree and lose my confidence. Maybe next year.

I no longer cook all the goodies I did when my daughters were growing up. I leave all that to them now. They are excellent cooks, and I enjoy trying their recipes for a change. But I do miss the specialties my own mother used to make. What I wouldn’t give for a piece of my mama’s fudge or a slice of her delicious fruit cake she made every Christmas. That fruit cake was everyone’s favorite. I even wrote a story about it. You can find it among all my others.

This year I hope to spend Christmas day with all three of my daughters, their husbands, and my three grandchildren. I hope we have a glorious time just being together. Good food and entertainment will be nice, but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing them all in person and giving them big hugs. Oh, and the laughter. I’m really looking forward to the laughs we will share.

Wherever you are this holiday season, I hope you are with someone you love and feel blessed to be in their company. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!!

Every Child is an Artist


💫  “Every child is an artist until they are told they are not.” I read that quote by John Lennon and wasn’t sure that I agreed with it. I yanked back into existence memories of my childhood that had long ago faded away, and I distinctly remember wanting to be an artist, to draw the cartoon characters in my comic books. And I remember the moment of reckoning when I realized I did not possess that special talent: I was on the floor in my bedroom with my drawings of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Yosemite Sam spread everywhere. I never showed my drawings to my brother, parents, or friends. It was easily discernable that they weren’t good 

As a young boy, I had a grand collection of comic books, almost as tall as I was, and I took excellent care of them. My attempts to recreate the characters within and put my own words into their mouths failed dismally. No one had to tell me I was a terrible artist. I knew it, so I abandoned my desire to become one. When I was a kid, adults did not heap praise on a failed effort. If you weren’t good at what you were attempting to do, you would be told, and it wouldn’t be done politely.

Sigmund Freud (the id, ego, & superego) gave us a lot to think about, but it led us down the path to thinking we had to always encourage our children by telling them they were great at whatever they were attempting to do. My mother and father never succumbed to that tenet, and I didn’t with my two children. If my brother or I came home with poor grades, it usually ended up with a whipping. Those same rules applied to my children.

My son and his wife (JoAnn) have three daughters. I remember him telling me when they were three/four years old that they were going to raise them without spankings. I applauded their efforts but secretly believed they would fail. I was wrong. Three wonderful adult granddaughters are what I have now. I am unaware of how they feel about it: was the replacement punishment worse? My dad only spanked me (whipped) twice as a kid, but in its place, he would get mad at us and stay mad for weeks. Mom would whip my brother and me, and that was the punishment. After a good night’s sleep, she was back in love with us again. I was grateful for that. But my father withholding his love from his children for 3-4 weeks, to me, was unconscionable. I promised never to do that to my children.

Neither of my two children have expressed to me their opinion on how their mother (deceased) and I raised them. I don’t know why I would expect them to. I never told my father how much I disliked his punishment for my brother and me. Florence Nightingale said it well, “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” Flo may be on to something.

💫 I read recently that you form your first permanent memories around age four, and I agree with that. But I believe I can go back earlier. I can recall my mother nursing my brother, who was fifteen months younger than me. That is quite a bit younger than four. Science has yet to figure out how we store memories. The human brain is the least understood part of our body. When things start to go wrong with it, the psychiatrist chosen to correct the problem seems to guess. I have a close family member that needed their help, and it consisted mostly of being doped up all the time and walking around in a haze. The medicine had side effects, and they were required to take other medicines to counteract the side effects.

I believe we need a psychiatrist/psychologist, but we must monitor what they do closely. They will never say you are well, and the bills will just keep on coming. I know I cannot control the involuntary part of my brain, but I’m guilty of believing I can control the conscious part of it. I know I can control what I choose to think about, and if any unwanted thoughts creep in, I can toss them aside. What I can’t control is what I dream about, but I have tried to have only good thoughts before I drop off to sleep. Sometimes that works, and other times it doesn’t. Often, I get up in the middle of the night to follow the obligatory bathroom adventure, go back to bed, and resume the dream I had before waking up. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Here’s my plan; My mother used to sing to my brother and me as youngsters before we dropped off to sleep, and I never had a bad dream when that happened. I am going to attempt to persuade my wife to do the same as an experiment and see if it holds true with her. I’m not sure she will do it because I take much longer to go to sleep now 😊.  John Rockwell said, “There are times in life when nothing happens but in quietness the soul expands.”  That seems like something I should try.          

💫 There are stories I tell myself about myself. You’re probably wondering why I need to do that since I already know the story, but that’s not entirely true. I have to tell myself the story to focus my mind and force it to recall whatever it is I want to remember. True, sometimes things from the past will just pop into my mind, but that’s always at the mercy of something triggering the thought/thoughts. Recall that in the previous paragraph, I told you about my mother singing to my brother and me before we dropped off to sleep. That memory came alive because I forced myself to recall it. As I was telling the story to myself and you, the memories came rolling in. I often tell stories from my past at our dinner table, and I’m quite confident that my wife and our two constant dinner companions (Nancy & Richard), tire of hearing them. My tales from my youth are meant to entertain them, but I must admit, they also entertain me. I try not to repeat my favorite ones, but I’m sure I do. My mind is not as agile as it was, and so family and friends are forced to endure my musings. I doubt my wife and dinner buddies have noticed, but I have an alter ego, and I have given him a name. I will tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else. My alter ego is aptly named “Fat Boy.” This fellow is nested as far down inside me as I can stuff him, but he’s always fighting to get out. He puts up his most fierce battles when I’m looking at the dinner menu or gazing out over the dessert table. Buffets bring out the beast in my alter ego, and he enjoys dancing on my shoulder as he encourages me to put some of everything on my plate. Before I go to bed, he sometimes tries to force me to get a handful of the peanut butter-filled pretzels my wife has stored in the drawer beside my coffee container. I’m always aware that “Fat Boy” is fighting for survival, but I also know that his survival is not good for my survival. Like everyone else addicted to calories, I’m looking for the “silver bullet” that will put an untimely end to his existence. Every time I approach our scale to weigh myself, I can hear it screaming, “go away Fat Boy.” Oops, even the scale knows the name of my alter ego! I have to get rid of it and buy one that doesn’t know my alter ego’s name. Stephan Sagmeister said, “Everybody who is honest is interesting.” I sure hope that’s true. If not, I’m a really boring guy 😊.    

Year Round… by JoAnn

I was watching one of my favorite people on YouTube the other day, and she said something that I have not been able to forget. She was showing the new Christmas decorations she had bought for her front porch. It’s their first holiday season in their new home, and she is eager to decorate. Her dad is planning to put up the lights around the outside of her house. He asked her if she wanted to have them up temporarily or if she wanted him to attach them more permanently. As in, leave them attached to the house forever! What? Did I hear that right? Does he suggest she leaves her home strung with holiday lights year round? She asks him the same question, and he answers that it is the new thing people are doing.

At first, I chuckled at the thought of doing such a thing. What first came forward into my memory bank was the vision of a dilapidated tin can of a mobile home, with twinkling lights of every color, strung in no particular order, around every inch of the trailer. We’ve all seen them either in person or in the movies. A redneck couple usually lives there. I’ll admit I have a few of these festively lit homes in my neighborhood. That’s how I know for sure they exist. I am thankful that I have never been so colorful myself.

As lovely and joyful as holiday lights are, is it necessary to leave them up all year round? I understand the chore of placing them on the outside of a house. I used to put them up just around my front porch back in the day, and it wasn’t easy. I’ve watched my grown children and their spouse venture into decorating with outdoor lights, and there is a struggle. No one wants to climb a ladder and feel unsafe just for a few lights. I can understand someone thinking it’s a great idea to string up the house and leave them there. Maybe they think if they are not turned on, people won’t notice the lights are there. I would know! And it would drive me crazy.

The YouTube video ended with her saying she would have to think about it and decide if she wanted temporary or permanent lights. I hope she decides temporary. The home is a beautiful, classic brick farmhouse built around 100 years ago. I think permanent holiday lights would bring the classiness down a few notches. I hope she agrees.

Where’s The Turkey?… by JoAnn

My favorite dinner of all time has got to be the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Complete with a delicious roast turkey and all the sides the kitchen counter, stove top, and dinner table can hold. Bring it on!

Don’t get me wrong, I love ham. I’m a southern girl, and I’ve eaten quite a bit of smoked pork in my lifetime. And being a southern cook, I realize that ham is much easier and more economical to cook for a holiday dinner. But what if you are invited to a big holiday celebration and realize there is a HAM in the oven instead of roast turkey? Just please, not for Thanksgiving!

Is it even Thanksgiving day without a turkey roasting in the oven? The aroma of all that deliciousness wafted throughout the entire house. I would rather postpone the day altogether and celebrate when a turkey is available. That is how serious I am.

Growing up, I would awake on Thanksgiving day to the smell of roast turkey. My mama would have been up for hours already, getting an early start to a morning filled with cooking. The distinctness of the turkey, along with the smell of my favorite dressing, was something I looked forward to all year. My mama made the best dressing I have ever eaten. It was so very flavorful and never dry. I have never been able to duplicate it. She had a special flare to her dressing. It was the star of the dinner, and no turkey was complete without it.

Perhaps my upbringing, once again, spoiled me. How could I ever embrace any other type of Thanksgiving dinner when the one my mother provided us was so perfect. Of course, my brain returns to that beautiful memory and longs for an encore. And while I raised my own family, I did indeed try my best to replicate my mama’s Thanksgiving dinner. I did a decent job most years, and no one ever complained. However, my older sister nailed it! She wasn’t even the one interested in cooking growing up. Yet she can make a holiday dinner most reminiscent of our mama’s.

After my daughters were grown and I became an empty nester, the holiday cooking torch was passed along to my oldest at her request. She loves to cook and has a family of her own to impress. She does an excellent job. Yes, I miss cooking sometimes, but the older I get, the more it becomes a job rather than something I enjoy. My daughter still enjoys the dance of it all. Watching her makes me long for the days when cooking a big dinner for loved ones was a joy. I miss it.

Wherever you are on this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you find joy and a full belly. And you can relive a little bit of the wonderful memories you have of past holidays. I am looking forward to being invited to a loved one’s home, and I expect to be hit with the fragrance of roast turkey when I walk through their door. I will also try to prepare myself for disappointment if I’m hit with the aroma of smoked pig instead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grandparents… by JoAnn

Being a parent to my three daughters has been the most important job I have ever had. It is the one I am most proud of the successes and the one I have the most regrets for mistakes made and things left undone. With it, I have experienced every single emotion known to the human spirit. Some days have been long, and challenging, and some have been short and sweet. But every day spent being a parent has been filled with love. Pure love!

There is something so different about being a grandparent. There are many words to describe it, but the first one that always comes to mind is JOY. Ah, yes, the pure love is definitely there too. It’s the foundation that is already in place for the relationship between grandparent and grandchild to grow. What seems to be so different is the easiness of it all.

When kids are growing, parents have so much responsibility. It really is quite overwhelming and all-consuming. But in a good way. Still, it is a hard job. One that we would not trade for anything in the world, but nevertheless, it can be difficult.

When you become a grandparent, it’s no longer challenging. Everything is easy! The responsibilities aren’t there. All you have to do is love that grandchild, which is the easiest thing you will ever do. And what a joy. Pure JOY.

I have been blessed with two granddaughters and one grandson. Just thinking of them brings a smile to my soul. I am so very blessed to have them in my life. I also strive to be a blessing in theirs.

Growing up, I was the youngest girl of a very long line of grandchildren on both sides of my family. By the time I was born, my only living grandfather, my daddy’s dad “Pop,” was already in his late 70s. My only grandmother, my mama’s mom’s “Grandma,” was already in her late 80s. Unfortunately, Pop had dementia. I only remember seeing him a couple of times in my young life. I never got to know him as a man or as a grandparent. I didn’t understand at the time, but I knew in my heart that he should be an important part of my life, and I was clearly missing out on something. I knew Grandma a little more. Her mind was clear, but she was bedridden. We visited a couple of times a month, but being so young, Grandma’s situation was a little scary to me. So I never had the chance just to sit down and talk with her and get to know her as a woman.

When I had my own children, it was essential to me that they knew their grandparents. I wanted my girls to know each of their grandparents as individuals and have good relationships with them. I thought it was so important that they had what I clearly missed out on.

I am happy to say that my dream for my children was fulfilled the best it could be. My two oldest daughters have the most memories of all four grandparents. My youngest didn’t get to enjoy her two grandmothers and her grandfather (my dad) for as long. Fortunately, they still have their grandpa Tommy Hale. He means the world to them, and I could not be prouder of the grandparent he has always been to my girls! They were even blessed with a special grandmother Jerilyn, who they have come to love just as much as any grandparent.

What’s really wonderful is that my grandchildren have gotten to know their grandparents on both sides and even some of their great-grandparents. I couldn’t be happier! They may not understand the importance of it all right now, but someday they will. There will be a part of their hearts that will be complete because of it. If they have their own children, they will understand even more. What a blessing.

Guest Blog

    No posts found in this category