Christmas 2018

2018-12-25_19-46-57Another Christmas has come and gone, my heart is filled with love and my stomach with goodness.

Watching the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old is about as good as it gets.  Their glee-filled joy at every gift, while their kindness and appreciation for everything they receive is heartwarming and their genuine excitement to give the gifts they have picked out for others is even more of a blessing.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, we honor traditions that have been part of my life since day one and create new ones each year.  My favorite day of the Christmas season is Christmas Eve, now at my house, on that day I feel closer to my mother than any other day of the year.

I do my best to make it as special as she always did, I don’t come close to her expertise, but I do my best.

As a child we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve and had Santa on Christmas morning, now, we have turned Christmas Eve into our “tacky sweater” competition, and like most things we do, we all compete hard to win!

Christmas Eve is also filled with lots of laughs, at some point everyone is the butt of a joke as we tell old and new stories on each other.  As the night ends, we depart, hopefully with memories of fun and love that will be called upon again and again in our minds and hearts.

Christmas morning, everyone heads to my niece and nephew’s house for Santa, breakfast and gifts.  An embarrassment of riches fills the floor of my childhood home, now made anew by my niece’s family.

The giggles and joy of sweet girls now fills the room where rambunctious boys once played.  More memories are made and heartfelt gifts with special meaning get interspersed with toys, clothes and housewares.

After breakfast, we all return to our respective homes, I usually take a nap while my sister-in-law is busy preparing one last Christmas feast.

In the early afternoon, we gather at my brother and sister-in-laws home for a traditional meal and more laughs.  Another new tradition we have incorporated over the last few years is board games after we eat and clear the table, once again we fight to win and play hard to come out of top.

As evening approaches and the sun sets on another Christmas we make our way to our respective homes, filled with love, laughs and stomachs bursting after the consumption of more food than humans should eat.

Now in my mid-50’s Christmas memories are even more precious than when I was young.  It no longer has anything to do with the brightly wrapped gifts, the real treasures I get on these days are the memories and gifts of time that I am able to enjoy with my family.

We aren’t perfect, we all know how to push the buttons of each other and sometimes do, but overall, I can say we do a pretty good job of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, the one where love prevails and the joy of that first Christmas miracle is celebrated.  We’re definitely not Normal Rockwell, but we are about as good at being Rumsey as you can get!

I hold these memories close to my heart, I try to remember each word, each laugh and each expression of love, I hold these memories in my heart in hopes of many more with the people I love most.

Merry Christmas friends and to my family, thank you for another great celebration, filled with the magic of Christmas!

Love One Another…. It’s That Simple.

Once again, over the last few days we have been witnesses to acts of unspeakable violence and hate.

Once again, our differences have torn us apart.  I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how someone can hate an entire race, creed, orientation; I don’t understand how someone’s heart can grow so hardened that the fears of our differences bring us to such a place and I am thankful for that lack of understanding.

For decades, I suppose centuries, our differences have continued to define us.  At what point will we find our similarities are so much more important than our differences?

Unfortunately, these acts of violence have hardened all of our hearts.  We send our love to victims, we pray for entire cities and we tweet about our heartbreak, but what do we actually do?

It’s not about guns, or politics, it’s about hearts, minds and a lack of understanding.

There are billions of people on the planet, each one of us different and that is what makes the world such an amazing place.  I can’t fathom a world where everyone was like me, short, fat, bald, old white guy, how boring is that?  What makes the world so amazing is our differences, our vast beliefs, religions, races, why can’t we seem to accept that and get along?

Our society has grown so hardened that we witness these senseless acts and then go on about our day, we just keep moving along and wait for the next atrocity to happen, we then send out thoughts and prayers and wait for the next, unfortunately it seems on a weekly basis.

Like all of you, my heart breaks a bit more each time one of these mass murders takes place and I am lost, I am lost to know what to do, I am lost to understand…. I am lost.

I don’t think I am the only one who is lost, I think we all are, we are lost to find answers when the fringe of our society begins to define us.

This isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, it isn’t an American issue, it is a human issue, one that brings us down instead of building us up.

I will always believe that 99.999999999999999% of the planet is good, but sadly today that infinitesimal percentage that is filled with hate and rage define us.  Our fringe should be just that, fringe, not the voices that we hear most often, but the ones who are set aside and witnessed to about the goodness of humanity and not encouraged and held up as a voice that should be leading our charge.

What do we do as people to stamp out this hate?  What do we do to celebrate our similarities and allow good to overcome evil?  What do we do?

Several years ago there was a movement in our society, it was begun by young people and it was symbolized by four letters…. WWJD?

What would Jesus do, a simple phrase with a simple answer….. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus gave this simple command to his people, he didn’t say love one another except for those you disagree with.  He didn’t tell us to only love those who were like us, he told us to love all people, everyone.

We can’t love when we continue to allow our differences to separate us, if we are to truly love we must first look at how we are alike and then in voices of compassion, resolution and understanding we must work together to work together to overcome our differences.

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have studied.  I can’t find a place in the Bible where we are told to love someone unless they are Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Jewish, Gay, Muslim, the only command I see is LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

At some point, if we are to survive as a people love has to overcome the hatred that we have for one another.  Hatred of our differences will only continue to tear us apart, continue our heartbreak and our tweets of compassion, when a tweet is simply too late.

Thankfully, all hatred doesn’t end in violence and death.  In our society today, we see people being harassed on a night out with a loved one, hate is hate.  We tear each other down over our beliefs, families are torn apart , people we value as friends are swept aside over simple differences.  Imagine how things could change if we just talked to each other, kept the temperature to a slow boil and discussed differences to find solutions like respectful humans.

I don’t hold myself aside from these actions, I am as guilty as anyone else, maybe one day we will all learn and embrace our similarities and stop letting our differences overtake us.

Sadly, there are few places where we are safe anymore.  Churches, synagogues, restaurants, nightclubs, the workplace, have all been attacked.  Our places of work and play are now battlegrounds and sites of mass murder, it is truly a sad commentary on our world.

We can do better, we must do better, we must find a way to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

I don’t understand a hatred that engulfs someone, I don’t understand hatred of entire group of people, I don’t understand….. and I hope I never will.

Unplanned, Uneventful, Perfection

Do you ever have one of those days that is totally unplanned, totally uneventful and turns into total perfection?  Today has been one of those days for me.

To start, I didn’t wake up until almost 9AM, something I rarely do and three hours later than I usually rise.

After a leisurely morning around the house, I headed out around noon. I had waited until noon, as that is when the recycling center opens and I wanted to drop off my trash.

I arrived to drop my trash and no one was in line, again, something rare especially on a Saturday or Sunday.

I got out of the car and was greeted by the sweet lady who always has a smile on her face and kind word for everyone who stops by.  As I finished dumping my trash, she smiled and said, as she always does, “have a blessed day angel.”  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was moving that way.

I ran by the store and wrote my monthly column for Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine.   This month I had been struggling with my column.  I knew what I wanted to write about, but the words weren’t flowing in my mind yet, it was a struggle.

With tomorrow’s deadline on the horizon, I sat down at my laptop and 20 minutes later almost 1,000 words had flowed from my fingers onto the screen.  I did some edits, but somehow the words that I had been wanting to say came.  (I hope you all like them, the new GML will be out in early November.)

After submitting my column, I cleaned the inside of my very dirty car and gave it a quick wash.

I then came home and decided to rake and blow the leaves off my drive and then put out some Halloween decorations I had forgotten about.

Now, the day is coming to an end.  As I write this I am sitting on my screen deck, enjoying a beautiful Fall day, my girl Lita at my feet.  An awesome 70’s Disco playlist on in the background that Alexa chose.

See what I mean….unplanned, uneventful, perfection.

Mounds of Gratitude…

Gratitude 1.1.14At the end of last year, I saw a post from my friend Jan Norris about her “Gratitude Jar.”  When I read the post I was moved by the unique simplicity of concentrating on the good and making those special memories the focus of my day.

While we all deal with crap on a daily basis, we often overlook the blessings.  After reading the post, I started my own Gratitude Jar tradition.

All year the nondescript jar has sat in the middle of my table.  As the seasons changed,  colorful slips of paper have created a tapestry of wonderful memories contained within the glass.

Today, to begin a new year, in anticipation, I sat and opened each slip of paper.

I read the papers, I reflected and my heart filled with joy.  2013, while it had its junk, was a pretty awesome year filled with simple blessings and memories that I will hold tight forever.

I placed that mound of memories in an envelope and sealed it, placing it in my treasure box.  Someday I may relive those memories again, or the envelope may never be reopened; but the wonder of 2013 will be contained there forever.

Today, with my jar empty, I began to refill with 2014 gratitude.  It’s going to be a wonderful year, there will be challenges, disappointments and crap….  but I know if I let it happen there will be more Gratitude than anything else.

Happy 2014!

Tuesday 10 – Janna Renee, Perception is Everything – Blogger, 10.22.13

Tuesday
Meet Janna Renee, author of Perception is Everything a great blog that traces her life as a young married woman dealing with the daily challenges and the heroic challenge of keeping the home fires burning while her soldier husband serves.  But the blog is more, life, love and fun of a young woman with incredible energy and passion for life…. a good read!
Perception is Everything, is just what it says, and Janna has a unique and humorous way at looking at what life has to offer.
I love the way Janna describes herself and her blog…..
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Thanks for taking part in the Tuesday 10, Janna and thanks for your writing!
1)Excluding family members, who inspires you?
I find inspirations everywhere…blogging, reading, meeting new people. Other than family or my husband, there really isn’t one person that I fixate on. I simply try to keep my heart and mind open to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places.
2)What is your guilty pleasure?
I don’t actually do much that I feel guilty about, but I love chocolate, pizza, and other generic desires that one tends to feel guilty about indulging in.
3)If you were to write a book, who is one person you would want to list in the acknowledgements and what would you say?
“I would like to dedicate this book to my dear husband, without whom, this book would not have occurred. If only I had listened to him years ago, I would be ten books in instead of this first one. If by chance you don’t find this book entertaining, then you may also send the negative credit his way, as well. Like I said, without him…this book would not have occurred.”
4)What is your favorite sandwich?
Either Sour Dough buttered with garlic, parsley, and mesquite turkey or turkey, pepperoni, pepper jack, onions, and pesto.
5)What is the best professional advice you ever received?
Work to live, don’t live to work. May sound counterproductive to professionally excelling one’s career, but we all have different priorities and my priorities aren’t work related.
6)As a child, what was your favorite bedtime story?
The Giving Tree, and I still periodically read it to this day.
7)Who is the first Presidential candidate you ever voted for?
I plead the fifth on the particular candidate, because I mostly keep my political beliefs out of blogland, but it was the 2004 election!
8)What is the one career achievement you are most proud of?
Um…I don’t have a career, per say…but it could be a toss-up between work printing a full size poster of me or getting published in a Chicken Soup book.
9)If you could spend the day with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Harry Potter. I love to get lost in the series, and visiting the Harry Potter World at Universal Studios just made me even more obsessed.
10)What is the best meal you ever ate?
I have eaten waaaay to many good meals to narrow them down, but I love anything that my family cooks, and my husband is a god in the kitchen. I guess if I had to eat one place for the rest of my life, I would say Broadmoor Brunch. Brunch happens to be my favorite meal as long as there is a buffet to go with it.
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