Comfort and Joy

Comfort and Joy!

Christmas celebrations continue – lots of food around – too much – but there is nothing like being inside a warm cosy home with lots of good food – left over turkey – lots of homemade baking – hot apple cider – and a fresh pot of coffee first thing in the morning.

 I love sitting by the fire, drinking my coffee, and not getting dressed for hours – so relaxing!

Comfort and Joy!!

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The Gift of Laughter

T’is the season for the giving of gifts! Would you like to find a gift that costs almost nothing but is worth a million dollars?

Give the gift of laughter!

Laughter is contagious – just as a smile is contagious!

They say that laughter is the best medicine – and actually this is quite literally true!

Studies have shown that laughter can help relieve pain, bring greater happiness, and even increase immunity!

 Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins. It also increases the number of antibody-producing cells meaning a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.  When they say laughter is the best medicine they are serious!

Its a great physical release and distraction from negative emotions.

Laughter connects us with others. Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well.

My mother had a wonderful laugh.  In fact she was quite well known for it.  Best story about my mothers laugh?  The police were called to a pool party she was attending because it was too rowdy – it was my mothers laugh that was the culprit – imagine my meek, mild, and conservative mother creating such a scene!  I laugh to think about it – but the fact is laughter is contagious – and when my mother started to laugh – others wanted to make her laugh more – and it wasn’t hard!

We miss her laughter at our family gatherings now that she is gone – but we still have a lot of laughter in our family – all it requires is a few good stories and a lot of love for each other.

This year give the gift of laughter to your family and friends.  It is not expensive and it produces huge dividends for everyone!

I wish you lots of joy and lots of laughter this Christmas season!

A Reason to Celebrate

I had a birthday this week!

I have a sister who loves to celebrate her birthday – and now her daughter follows in her footsteps and we are given fair warning a month before and we celebrate all month long. Well I am exaggerating a wee bit – but the fact is they do love to celebrate their special day! Given that my birthday is in December, there is always so much going on and my birthday is a bit of a distraction to the Christmas preparation – or so I have always thought. I am beginning to change my mind on that – partially because I am getting older and partially because my family and friends are so good to me in expressing wonderful love and birthday wishes. This year I am beginning to see that birthdays are worthy of celebration – and we should embrace our own birthday and celebrate in a big way – whatever that may be!

Someone recently described me as a behind the scenes person – someone who will work to make others look good.  And there is truth to this – I would rather set up the party to honour someone else rather than be the centre of attention.  Probably this is why I have always shied away from celebrating my birthday – I don’t very much like the attention on me – its just the way I am.

However, what I am realizing now that I have reached the ripe old age that I am – life is full and ups and downs – sadness and joy – and at the end of the day it is a journey to be celebrated.  Call me crazy but I love getting older – I may not say that 10 years from now when my bones creak even more than they do now – but for now I do love getting older.  With each year comes greater experience – and greater wisdom – and with greater wisdom comes greater insight – and with greater insight comes greater depth of character and understanding.  The older I get the more I realize that I know very little – and that in itself is greater understanding!

What I do know is that with each passing year I realize that my purpose here on this earth is to embrace my journey – learn and grow in love of God and others – and whatever path that takes, I will embrace the lessons learned to the best of my ability along the way.  And so with that in mind – this journey is to be celebrated – and so I celebrate each passing year with joy and gratitude for the many blessings that I have – and more so for the things I am learning along the way!

A Country Christmas

There is just something special about the Christmas season!

  There is also something so busy about it!

We try and fill the 31 days of December with all things festive – baking, decorating, entertaining, shopping, concerts, school and church musicals, parties, correspondence, wrapping, connecting, and the list goes on – all in 31 days!

Add on top of all of the above – our busy work schedules – with the pressures as great in this day and age as they ever have been!  How to balance it all and still come out of this month with the joy that this time of year is meant to celebrate!

 I love this season – it is a beautiful time of year with the gorgeous lights, and greens, and the excitement of getting together and eating great food and laughing with family and friends.  I would not change it for the world!

Maybe this is why I love the country Christmas theme so much – in my mind I see Christmas as a time of year where we can slow down, and enjoy the simple things in life – like family, friends, music, good food and the beauty of nature.  I suppose so much of this is in my imagination – to create this open door, candle lit, snow covered picture requires planning, and lots of hustle and bustle and work!

How do we balance all of these expectations in 31 days?  The age old question that many people are asking I am sure.  Maybe there is no answer other than to realize that Christmas is about creating memories – and there is no simple way around that.  It requires planning and shopping, and decorating and it is tiring!

But at the end of the day – what better way to be rewarded than to see the joy on children’s faces on Christmas morning, or the laughter that spills out from the turkey laden dining table, or the comfort that family and friends feel when they nestle into a cozy living room with a twinkling tree, glowing candles, and drink hot apple cider and nibble on the home baked goods that you thought you would never get baked.

Christmas memories are forever – and there is no season that perhaps requires as much work as Christmas – but it is a magical time of year that brings great joy to so many – even if they have no idea how much work is required to create a laid back and relaxed country Christmas!

I find my joy in creating joy for others – creating memories – in seeing the beauty of the season in the faces of those who appreciate the creativity required to make these memories special!  It is worth all of the hustle and bustle and work!

After all, anything of great worth and beauty was not created without work – think of the great music and art compositions that we enjoy – or the books that are written that take our  souls to another place – all enjoyed with little effort – but  created with great effort!  Creating a Christmas celebration can be a work of art – a memory that touches the very core of who we are as families, and as communities of friends.

If you put the work into the creation you will be rewarded – the beauty of creating the memories and the traditions that touch the heart and soul of who we are is worth every effort!

I realize that as I write this post that this time of year is difficult for many people- those who have no families, those who have no home – those who are suffering in different ways emotionally, and physically.  This can be a lonely and desolate time of year – especially with so much emphasis on belonging.  I am reminded that the very one whose birthday we celebrate came in poverty – with no pomp or circumstance.  And I am reminded that we are called to care for those who are hurting, to feed those who are hungry and to give of ourselves in love.  I am reminded that we must open our hearts and our homes and give of ourselves and our resources to care for the weak and the poor.  May this work of art – this tradition that we create each year – may its beauty reach those who need it most – and may the love and joy that we have in our hearts overflow to others – not just in our families – or our communities – but those in our cities, our countries and all over the world.

This comes at the end of this post not to be a P.S. – but to be the final word  – the benediction so to speak to all of our Christmas thoughts – our Christmas plans.  May our hearts be open to sharing our wealth – our love – and our joy!

Peace

“Peace on Earth…”

It was four years ago today that we lost my mother so suddenly – a day that I will never forget.  I think of her so often and miss her so very much.  Life has a new normal now that we are adjusting to – not a “normal” that is better – but a “normal” that is real.  When I think of my mom I have complete peace that she is where she should be. I know she is at peace – and that gives me great peace.  Time helps to heal the pain of loss – but I still miss my mom – I so very much miss her!

I call my Dad most nights now – it is a routine I started when my mother passed away.  I used to call him just to make sure he was not lonely – and now continue to call him because he needs the extra care – and support.  You see, my dad suffers from increasing memory problems – actually its dementia -although it is so hard to say that word.  I think of my dad as he was – not as what this terrible disease has made him.  Calling him keeps him grounded – keeps him as much as possible in the present.  Calling him helps to keep his direction clear – as clear as possible in the ever downward spiral of dementia.

He has good days and bad days – some days where it is even hard to detect he has memory issues although those are very rare now – and days where he doesn’t know who we are.  Last night was one of those nights.    He knows my voice – he recognizes the sound and tone – those are his words.  But he doesn’t know my name – and he has to ask how I am related to him.  And when he realizes that I am his daughter he feels great relief – an acknowledgement that he belongs – he has an anchor to hold him in place – to give him a sense of security.  His mind is so lost at times – he fights to bring it back to a place that makes sense.  And when he hears my voice – he knows my voice – he may not know my name, but he knows my voice.  It gives him great peace to know he has someone that knows him and loves him – and will guide him – he knows he struggles – but he also takes great comfort in knowing he is in good hands.

My dad has great peace about his situation – he trusts that He is in the hands of his heavenly Father.  He tells me that when he feels lost or confused he prays.  It is so interesting that memory problems don’t seem to affect his spiritual being – He never forgets his faith, or his  relationship with God.  He can pray on his own – and he can lead the family in prayer before our meals with the authority of a great minister – that has never left him.  And he has great wisdom – he loves to hear what is going on in our lives – and although he doesn’t always quite remember the details of our lives – he wants to know how we are doing – and he can offer the greatest wisdom – as if his mind is in complete health.  I never cease to be amazed at his thinking ability.  He has never lost his humour  – still so sharp and so clear.  Little by little we are losing part of my dad – but his deep inner core is still very much there.  And I realize if we dig deep and hold on tight to his hand  – we find it – it comes back.  And that brings great peace both to my dad and to us.

We know it will not always be this way – the decline will more than likely continue – and there will come a day when he will not know us at all –  but for now he does – he may not know our names, or where we all fit into his picture – but he knows we fit in because he knows us and this gives us peace.

There is a saying – “Love the people God gave you because He will need them back one day.”  I know this to be so true.  And there is great peace in knowing that our brief journey here on earth is just a part of our journey – there is more – so much more to look forward to!

That gives great peace!