Holidays

Gobble…Gobble…Gobble…Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dearest Readers:

On this date, November 28, 2013, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As we grow, there are many traditions made, and some traditions are broken. Growing up in the State of Georgia, my family taught me many traditions during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays were for family. I recall celebrating Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents. Although when I was little, I often was curious why my maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents did not come together for the holidays. Later, I discovered how strange our families were and I did my best to welcome all of my relatives.

I remember my maternal grandmother always prepping, baking and cooking for the holidays. Our table was filled with most of the foods we celebrate and gobble down a bit too quickly. We always had a country ham, turkey, homemade biscuits that felt and tasted like a cloud and I recall eating too many of them. OK…so homemade biscuits are my weakness, and that is why I do not make them! Additional foods included cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, Southern potato salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course, we had a variety of desserts. My grandmother was a great Southern cook, so you can just imagine all of the food we ate. Another tradition we shared was always saying the blessing at the dinner table. Joining hands, we would ask my dad or grandfather to lead us into prayer.

Some traditions must be preserved, and that is why when Phil and I eat at the dining room table, or at the breakfast table, I always remind him we must ‘say grace.’ Phil did not grow up with that family tradition, and the more I discover about his family, the more I recognize that his family was more estranged than mine could ever be. His mother did not cook a Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. His mother said she hated turkey because it was dry. She changed her mind when tasting mine! After moving to Charleston, I went to the trouble of inviting Phil’s family for Thanksgiving Dinner; however, after the way his mother behaved, I was a bit annoyed with her. Just picture it. As the cook for the Thanksgiving Dinner you are tired. For many days you have prepped the foods, thawed the turkey and prepared it. Baked. Cooked. Cleaned the dishes. Dressed the dining room table with your finest linens, china, candles and all the fun things I enjoy doing for the holidays, only to be told — perhaps in a dictatorial tone — that you are hungry and want to eat…NOW!

I asked Phil if I could speak to him privately, letting him know I was furious that his mother was so demanding. He shook his head, refusing to speak with his mother. I returned to the kitchen, letting his mother know I had some peanut butter and bread and if she wanted to EAT NOW…she could fix a peanut butter sandwich. She growled at me… “Just give me a paper plate and I’ll dig in…”

“You’ll do no such a thing. Dinner isn’t ready!”

That was the last Thanksgiving I shared with Phil’s mother. New traditions were made, in hopes we as a family could teach our child that holidays were family days and were not to be dictatorial.

Now, our son is married, building new traditions with his wife and child. As for us, I still prepare a Thanksgiving meal, and I dress the dining room table with china, a lace tablecloth, and candles and we take the time to enjoy our meal. Occasionally, I invite our friends over but as life has a way, most people have plans for the holidays.

A new tradition we started two years ago is to decorate our Christmas tree on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I was so sick with acute bronchitis I did not feel like cooking Thanksgiving, although I did. Weak and exhausted by dinner time, I did something I rarely do.  I asked Phil to help with the clean up. That weekend he put the tree up. When I asked him to help with the decorating he grumbled, so like his mother —
“I HATE decorating the tree…”

I gathered the decorations and with tears in my eyes, I decorated the tree. Exhausted, I went to bed, furious with Phil and his hatred for the holidays.

This year, I’ve let him know how his cold, and demeaning words hurt me last year. There I was as sick and as weak I could be, and all he cared about was watching his stupid football games! How dare him! Never did he consider how sick I was and how hard I worked to keep the traditions going.

Traditions are important to me, and they should be for everyone, especially at the holidays. Much to my surprise, Phil has mentioned twice that we are decorating the Christmas tree this weekend. Sometimes I cannot help wondering just who is this strange man I married. His moods change quicker than the winds!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are sharing it with friends, and on Friday, I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal at home. After all, some traditions need to continue. Since early marriage I have cooked the Thanksgiving meal. That tradition must continue. Additional traditions will continue, and a few will change. We have a family of four-legged children to celebrate the holidays with. This year, all of them — Shasta Daisy Shampagne, our 12-year-old, frail Maltese will probably share her last Thanksgiving with us. She has seizures now. Until last evening, the last was three weeks ago. Our pet sitter describes her as a frail, little old lady most comfortable in her rocking chair. Only for Shasta, she is most comfortable curled on a pillow with her blanket at my desk. Last night’s seizure scared us and I prayed, “Please God, let her live just one more Thanksgiving!” She made it through the night, and she is curled at my feet now.  Thank you, God!

Our other children are Shakespeare Hemingway, a salt and pepper mini-schnauzer, Sandy Bear Sebastian, a blonde mini-schnauzer,  Sir Hankster the Prankster, a smaller mini-schnauzer who grumbles and grumbles and grumbles… Our youngest is our biggest, a giant wiry schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter last year after my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus crossed Rainbow Bridge. All of these precious children will enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving this Friday with us. Yesterday, the rescue I volunteer for requested for us to consider fostering a pup from a kill shelter. Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas needs fosters willing to help these little guys adjust to a life away from kill shelters and crates. At first, I thought “No, I cannot do this again.” If you recall, my last foster was Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet…the Pup Who Ran Away, But Came Back! I confess, I fell in love with Sweet Cletus and hated to let him go when he was adopted. I am happy to report he is progressing ever so slowly with his new parents. It has been a long process for him to forget the abuse he tolerated as a puppy mill stud, but now, he has a caring family who do everything they can to give him a life filled with love and tender care. Together, Cletus, now named “Little Buddy” and his family are taking baby steps. Baby steps leads to independence and trust, and I look forward to the day when I hear that Little Buddy is now a changed guy!

I am happy to announce, Phil has agreed to take in another foster – a Maltese. So now, this Thanksgiving, even though we do not have the newest foster in our household, we have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2013. This year I have good health again! We are still together in this marriage. We have love and peace in our world at home. We are thankful for our soldiers who are away this year, and we are hopeful they return home safely, soon. We are thankful for our grandchild, William; and we are thankful and so appreciative of our good friends. May we all have a toast for Thanksgiving, and may we all give thanks to God for another Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your special day!

 

Losing Weight, Uncategorized

Losing Weight Is Such A Challenge


Dearest Readers:

Today is a new day. A new month. Tomorrow, Phil and I will celebrate another anniversary. How many years….that I am keeping to myself. Let’s just say, I was a teenage bride…much too young to marry at such a young age…but my marriage has helped me to grow, to blossom into the woman I am today.

Today was my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in, only this time, I could not go. Last night my right knee decided to make popping noises again, and when it did, I knew I was in for another challenge in my life. All night long I fought with the pain. Using a pillow to elevate my leg and knee. It hurt worse. I tossed and turned and today, I am totally exhausted. Earlier, I chose to climb back into the bed, to see if relaxation would help the knee to stop throbbing. I coated the knee with Bio Freeze, placed a cool pack on it, freezing it. An hour later, I hopped out of bed, literally. The knee actually bent as I slid off the bed, and it felt better. Still, it hurts, but nothing like it did last night. No doubt, I’ll not wear platform heels for a few days, but never fear, this chick will wear them again!

Now, I’ve missed two weeks of weekly meetings at Weight Watchers. Next week I WILL be back, even if I have to hop around. The knee is feeling better now, after a day of rest. I planned to use the treadmill today, deciding it might be best to take a day off from working out. The knee doesn’t appear to be swollen, but it is extremely tight. I will give it a few days and if it doesn’t get better, I’ll phone my doctor. No way will I have surgery. I’m simply determined not to give in to the pain. As long as I can move around, dance, and exercise, all will be fine. Yes, it hurts to sit down, and getting back up, the first step is a challenge, but this determined, stubborn chick will not give in!

So today is a day to recognize that when life makes lemons, I must make lemonade. I truly miss my meetings at Weight Watchers, but I know another week will come, and I will see improvement with my leg. Exercise is truly the key. Through exercise and moderation, I will step back into the meetings, see my friends and know that soon I will reach my goal.

The beauty of attending meetings at Weight Watchers is the encouragement, knowledge, and social aspects of recognizing that when we have unexpected challenges, such as my battles with my knee, or whenever life dictates my schedule, I can return to Weight Watchers and feel better about my losses, gains, or setbacks. What I have learned the most is that every day is a new day, and when life gives lemons, I simply move to get myself back in the saddle again. Perhaps a cliché, but — that is my way of thinking now. I no longer beat myself up with negative thoughts, I simply move — like now, while I force my painful knee to move, so I can continue the pursuit.

I am hopeful that next week I will be able to report that my knee is better and so am I.

Until we meet again — “stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit…It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit…”
-Anonymous-

Free Writing, Short Stories

Antique Shopping — Melissa’s First Shoes


Last week while running errands, my husband wanted to know if I had additional errands in mind. Occasionally I enjoy walking through antique shops. A few years ago, one of my favorite shops was Hungry Neck Antique Mall, but it closed and now is Trader Joe’s. Driving along Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant, I’ve noticed a sign for Six Mile Antique Shop. I dropped by once, noticing many, and I do mean many, venues of antiques, trinkets and interesting items. Since I have a birthday this summer, I suggested dropping by Six Mile Antiques, just to see what they had. I’m interested in an antique mantel clock, one that chimes.

Years ago, I considered shopping in an antique mall a form of shopping for junk. Not anymore. Walking along the booths, my mind grew curious. To many people, antiques are simply junk that no one wanted anymore; however, to someone who appreciates treasures from years past, ‘junk’ and antiques are a silent story form that writers cherish. I glanced at tiny trinkets, glassware, silver, plates, cups, pictures and art. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. How I wish I had the room, or the financial freedom to purchase so many of these treasures.

Shopping at an antique mall takes me back to the history of my grandparents, maternal and paternal. My mother’s parents I knew well, since I lived with them as a teenager. Grandma had many trinkets I loved, especially her ‘what not’ shelves, placed gently in the corner by the front door. Every Saturday, I polished it, removing the ceramic ladies, dressed in antebellum Southern attire, shining them with a toothbrush to keep them clean. Then, I polished the wood, hoping that someday I would have the what not shelves in my home — in memory of Grandma. Never did I get them, after her death.

My paternal grandmother had many antiques. Tiffany lamps, statues, porcelain vases, china, depression glass and silver. I did not have the pleasure to get to know my Dad’s mother well, since our family situation was dreadful. After her death, I managed to smuggle three pieces of depression glass, and a few pieces of silverware, dating back to the 1800’s. My mother busied herself with placing these inherited items into boxes, in route to the pawn and antique shops. When she turned to answer the phone, I found several items and rushed to my bedroom with them. Today, I still have those items. After my dad died, I kept his secretary desk that has been in his family since the early 1900’s and a beautiful wooden library table. These cherishable pieces have taught me to appreciate antiques.

Leaving my IPhone in the car, I walked along more booths, following the entrances to additional interesting areas. Glancing at china, cherishable depression glass, which I collect, dolls, jewelry, trinkets, or ‘what nots’ — stopping to look at an interesting pair of baby shoes.

Remembering when my son was little, there was a scuffed, well used white pair of baby shoes. The price was $18.00. I still had my son’s first baby shoes, somewhere, boxed up for preservation. I picked up the scuffed shoes. The leather was soft from little baby steps moving, bumping, falling, stumbling, and finally, walking, taking that first little baby step to independence. I turned the shoes over. Written in blue ink were the words, “Melissa’s First Shoes.”

The wheels of my curiosity began to race. Who is Melissa? Is she someone local? And why did someone give the shoes away? Why didn’t Melissa keep the shoes? Her first shoes. Melissa. Just who is Melissa?

My husband’s voice broke my trance. “I found a clock.”

“I’ll be there in a moment,” I said. “Look at these shoes.”

“Baby shoes. Who cares!”

“They’re Melissa’s baby shoes.”

“Whatever. Are you interested in seeing the clock?”

Hastily, I followed my husband. The clock is a steeple clock that chimes at the hour. It is beautiful. We tested it to make certain it worked and after a few minutes of bartering, we purchased the clock, for my birthday.

While boxing the clock, I went back to look at Melissa’s Baby Shoes once more. I showed them to the clerk. “Do you know anything about these shoes?” I asked.

“No…but look how scuffed they are.”

“Yes. Melissa obviously took her first steps to independence in these precious shoes. Someone actually took the time to write on the back of them, ‘Melissa’s Baby Shoes.’ Her first shoes. Why would someone give them away?”

The attractive, mature woman glanced at the back of the shoes, smiled and nodded.

“Poor Melissa.”

Thinking about those shoes and the name, Melissa, this week my curiosity continues. Someone actually cared enough to scribble, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” in blue ink on the bottom of the shoes. Now, those historical shoes rest on a shelf, in an antique shop. Where is Melissa? What happened to her, and why didn’t she, or a family member, keep those shoes, in her memory? Why would someone take the time to scribble her name on the bottom of her shoes — in memory of ‘Melissa’s first steps,’ only to have the shoes end up on a shelf, in an antique store?

Perhaps the title, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” is a metaphor for me, teaching me that to many shoppers, items in an antique shop are junk; but for me, these items are historical trinkets, taken from the life and memory of someone. Perhaps a clock, such as the steeple clock now sitting on my mantel, was a clock that a family had in their home for many years. Now, it will reside in my home, chiming on the hour, and I will cherish this clock for the rest of my life.

Still, the inscription, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” plays in my mind. Perhaps today Melissa is grown, with a family of her own. The shoes did not have a date, so my imagination can create a story about Melissa. Maybe she’s a dancer. Maybe she is someone, like me, who had precious items from her childhood tossed away, because no one cared. But for Melissa, I believe that someone did care enough to write “Melissa’s Baby Shoes” on the bottom, perhaps to remember Melissa and her first baby steps. Her first, unstable, but steady steps into the future. Maybe today, someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, forgetting the significance of Melissa’s first steps. I’d like to believe that Melissa was cherished enough to have the significant first steps of her childhood recorded in history, for others to know. Those tiny white shoes, with all the scuff marks and indentations of a child’s first steps will remain for someone to treasure. Melissa’s Baby Steps. So precious. So significant. Baby steps, leading to independence and freedom. Someone loved Melissa enough to preserve these moments. I hope Melissa’s Baby Shoes find a proper home. Melissa, if you are looking for your first shoes, contact me and I will be happy to share, “Melissa’s First Baby Shoes.”

Uncategorized

On the Fourth of July — Independence Day


Today, America celebrates Independence Day, or as everyone calls it, “The Fourth of July.” Today is a day to give thanks and appreciation to our independence, expressing our appreciation to our Armed Forces.

For you, the Armed Forces of the United States of America, I say thank you. Thank you for your willingness and passion to serve America during this horrific time of Twenty-first Century war. You stand in the hot zones, ready and willing to fight for your country so we, the citizens of these United States can pop fireworks, drink a bit too much, eat much too much and consider ourselves blessed because we are a free nation.

How I wish the fireworks would end. My husband is a Vietnam Veteran. Every time he hears fireworks, he jumps — sometimes to the ground. Yes, he apologizes for his actions. He doesn’t need to apologize. He is having a flashback of war — of the sounds of mortars, weapons, and the enemy approaching. Never have I been in a war so I can not relate to his fears, but on the Fourth of July, I do my best to make him comfortable. We stay away from the fireworks displays. Occasionally, I’ll step in to the back yard to see them bursting in the skies, and I say a prayer of thanksgiving. Thankful that we in America have the freedom we have — all at the emotional price of our soldiers in harm’s way.

To our soldiers, I say thank you and may God bless you. To America, I say — let us all give our thanks while enjoying the bounty that we have, along with the freedom. Happy Fourth of July. Happy Independence Day. Be safe and thankful for the United States of America.