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!

Run Lindsay Run!

It’s that time of year again, the annual battle of Jacksonville, the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the game between the borders, whatever you want to call it, today is the annual Georgia – Florida Game.

When I lived in Florida, they called it the Florida – Georgia Game… how rude!

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this game my whole life.  If your team wins, you have bragging rights, if the bad guys win you have to listen to the gator fateful for an entire year.

Each year the game is played in the neutral location of Jacksonville, FL and becomes one of the great parties of the year.  50% of the tickets go to Georgia fans and the others go to the bad guys.  When filled, and it always is, a line of beautiful red fills half the stadium and ugly orange fills the other half.

I have been fortunate to attend a few of these games in-person and have always had a tremendous time.  Jacksonville does a great job of hosting each year.

Of all the classic games played in this stadium, I have many memories, but my favorite took place in the comfort of my parents home, many years ago on a cold November day sitting in a dining room chair eating peanuts with my mama and daddy.

The year was 1980, I was a Junior in High School and Coach Dooley, Herschel Walker, Buck Belue and others had Georgia riding high, a perfect season going into the game and a possible chance to play for the National Championship in the grasps.

It’s funny how we remember moments in life just like they were yesterday.  This is one of those memories for me.

I’m sure there were other people in the house, but I only remember being there with my mom and dad.

I remember it being a cold November day, much like today.  I remember sharing roasted peanuts with my daddy, peanuts he had cooked on the top of our wood burning stove.  I remember my mama in her traditional red top, I remember my daddy cheering, I remember feeling nervous and invincible sitting there with my parents.

I remember the nerves going into the game.  Georgia was great that year, but the bad guys were good too and they wanted nothing more than to burst our bubble of historic destiny.

For some reason, I parked myself in a dining room chair I had pulled into the living room between my mama and daddy’s recliners.  We watched the game, a slobber-knocker from the outset.

As the game got deep into the 4th Qtr, Georgia was against the bad-guys end zone and behind on the scoreboard.  Things weren’t looking good, it seemed like the bad guys were going to ruin our dreams, they were going to step in and ruin the fate of our team, like satan himself, they were going to allow evil to overcome good.

Then it happened…. the stars aligned, the heavens opened up and Buck Belue tossed a pass to Lindsay Scott that had the angels rejoicing, the Bulldog faithful celebrating and the demon sent to the lockeroom in defeat…… forever immortalized as RUN LINDSAY RUN!

 

As Lindsay ran, my house screamed, daddy was out of his chair urging Lindsay down the field and mama’s encouraging cheers carried him towards the end zone.  For me, I ended up  in the chair with my mama, I landed in her lap and we embraced and cheered!

That play carried Georgia onto its National Championship Game and I was fortunate to be in the stands for that game with my best friend, my mama and daddy and Chuck Foster.  Those were heady, fun days culminating in my one and only time standing on the field of the SuperDome in New Orleans, celebrating a National Championship.

The Georgia / FL game still holds much the same gravitas as it did back in those days.  Seasons are won or lost during the 60 minutes played in Jacksonville, today will be no different.

I would love to be back in my childhood home, surround by my mom and dad, cheering the Dawgs, but that won’t happen.  I will however take comfort in knowing that two very special angels will be cheering from the heavens, she in her red top, him eating roasted peanuts and urging the good guys on.

It’s the classic battle of good vs evil, GO DAWGS!

Here Comes the Bride

My niece Chelsea is getting married next Saturday.  I have dreamed of this day since she was born.  Not just the wedding but a lifetime of happiness that she would find my marrying her Prince Charming.

Chelsea has found her guy and together they will bring their two daughters together to form a new family.

Ever since she was a little girl, Chelsea has been an independent, strong-willed mix of tomboy and girly-girl and she has found the perfect guy to embrace everything that she will bring to a marriage.

I have always heard that girls marry their fathers, well Chelsea is definitely doing that.  Brett, the groom, is a know everything, right-wing, sports loving, debating, strong willed guy just like his future father-in-law.  More importantly, like his father-in-law, he is a hardworking, protective, dedicated family man who will move mountains for those he loves.

We are fortunate that Chelsea found Brett and thankful for the family he will bring with him.  His mom, Baboo and daughter Jaydynn complete us.

Chelsea and Brett have a great relationship that is built on love, respect and commitment, values that I know will carry them into old age.  They both have strong alpha personalities, so that love and respect will come in handy when paired with their stubborn streaks.

Brett’s only real downfall is that he is a Georgia Tech fan, but we are working on that and know that soon he will see the error of his ways and come into the light, we’re a DAWGS family and have a hard time comprehending blue and gold over Red and Black!

As the days grow close to their wedding, I am sentimental about the little girl who has overcome challenges, excelled as a mom and flourished through life.  I am proud of the woman Chelsea has grown into and look forward to seeing her in this next chapter.

The wedding will be beautiful, sitting on the banks of a river with all of Chelsea’s touches making the day special.

As they walk down the aisle to marriage, I hope they both think about those who have lifted them up through life.  The ones who celebrate their marriage in heaven and those who will be with them on their day.

I pray Chelsea and Brett have a lifetime of happiness and their girls, Jaydynn and Hadley know that they were chosen in love and good fortune.

I wish nothing more than a world of happiness for Chelsea and Brett.  There will be great times and difficult times for them to maneuver through the next 50 years of their lives together, but when their commitment is built on God, family, love and mutual respect there is nothing they can’t overcome together.

Except maybe that Georgia Tech thing….. he REALLY needs to fix that quickly!

Cheers to Brett and Chelsea, may your lives be filled with adventure and I pray the happiness you find as you approach your wedding will carry you through all the days of your lives.

Life’s Playlist…. Luck Be A Lady performed by Seal

The day I won the lottery my life changed.  Twelve million dollars tends to do that.

As I read the numbers off my sheet and saw each one match, I couldn’t believe my luck and had no idea what to do first.

I called my parents and shared the good news, then my brother.  Being the sensible ones in the family they advised me to put the card away for safe keeping and not to tell anyone else about my good fortune.

As it was a Sunday, I wouldn’t be able to cash in the winnings until the next day.  I taped the sheet to the back of my dresser for safe keeping and locked myself in my apartment out of fear that someone out there knew that I had won.

I spoke to my family a couple of times during the day and arranged for them to drive down the next morning and we would go to the Lottery office together to claim our winnings.

I barely slept that night.  I was convinced that every noise was an armed robber coming into my house and stealing my ticket.

At 29 years old, I knew that my life would never be the same.  No financial worries would allow me to do what I wanted with my life, start businesses, help other people or do nothing.

What I knew was the my family would be taken care of, there may not be enough to help others, but for us, we would now live on easy-street.

By the time my family arrived on Monday morning, I had my plan in place.  Half the money would be mine, my parents would receive 25% and the final 25% would be split between my brother and a foundation we would start to help other people.

As my mom, dad and brother came bounding into my tiny apartment, we all embraced and laughed at out good luck.   It was one of the most exciting moments of my life to see them so excited!

They asked to see the ticket and we all went into my bedroom where I dug the ticket off the back of my dresser.  We compared the numbers and again celebrated when I called out the sixth number on the roll.  We were winners!

Too nervous to drive, we piled into my brother’s car and started to make our way towards the Georgia Lottery Office in downtown Atlanta.  It was only about a fifteen minute drive from my house, but as I held that jackpot in my hands it felt like a lifetime.

Once we reached the offices, the numbers were verified over and over again.  It was now official, I was the latest winner of the Georgia Lottery.  When the Executive Director came in to meet me, she said “congratulations, you are Georgia’s newest millionaire!”

Within the next hour, the funds were deposited into my checking account, it was done by draft so that I didn’t have to worry about carrying the check to the bank.  When the deposit was made, there was $38 in the account, needless to say that changed dramatically!

Shortly after the funds were deposited I was presented with a ceremonial big check and my family and I took questions from local media.  It was all overwhelming.

Once the formalities of the cash out was over, my family and I went to lunch.  I had barely eaten all day on Sunday and hadn’t eaten anything on Monday, so I was famished.

We went to TGIFridays for our first millionaire meal, obviously we were not accustomed to the high life yet.  When the bill came, for the first time in my life, I bought for my family, it was an awesome feeling.

After lunch we went back to my apartment and soon my family left to make the two-hour long trek home.

Once they were gone, I took a huge sigh and sat on my couch, Georgia’s newest millionaire, alone in a one bedroom apartment.

Day 12 of the Jeff Goins – 500 Word Writing Challenge…… TELL A LIE!

Life’s Playlist….. Word Crimes by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Day 10 – Jeff Goins – 500 Word Challenge….. Write About Writing.

When I saw today’s assignment terror flushed through my body.  What do I know about writing?  I write, but do I really write?

I know that I get a rush of excitement when I sit down and look at a blank screen and start writing, for me it is a rush.  I love to see the words show up on my screen as they flow from my fingers.  But the constant fear I have had since I actually started writing is…..”is this any good?”

I started writing this blog in 2009, it was originally posted on a “Blogger” profile http://notesfromasouthernkitchen.blogspot.com/.  You would think that after nine years I would have it figured out by now…. I don’t.

I started writing “Notes from a Southern Kitchen” as an experiment.  I hadn’t done a lot of “real” writing up until that time.  I wrote a lot of Press Releases for my job, but nothing just for enjoyment.

As my mom’s health began to fail, I thought the blog would be a nice way to help her remember family stories from my perspective.  The experiment worked, she loved the blog and read every post. After she passed away, it was difficult to write.

I wrote sporadically, but the joy was gone.  Over the course of a year, I started posting a bit from time to time and near the end of 2011 I moved the blog to this WordPress format.

After moving over, I started to write a bit more, not usually family stories but my views on pop culture, food, politics and the like.  I found I didn’t enjoy those posts nearly as much as I did the stories and moments of life that impacted my days.

Once I moved back to God’s Country, I started having a renewed story to tell, a return to my hometown after being away for over 30 years.

I started to find my joy in writing again and with that joy started writing a monthly column for an area magazine and sharing more here on the blog.

I started writing a novel and then switched over to a life-story and then a second idea for a novel.

I’m now concentrating more on the novel, although the life-story book is almost ready to go, I have a mini-meltdown every time I think about sending it off to a publisher.

You see, quite frankly, I am petrified to finish up any of my work and send it in.  I fear the rejection, I fear that the book in my brain simply isn’t as good on paper as it is in my head.

When I write, I still see those red-marked grade “C” essays from college.  I am afraid I still haven’t learned where to put a comma and where to leave one out.  Are my sentences mature or do I write like a fourth-grader, do I ramble, do I repeat and on and on and on, I know it is fear that holds me back.

Then I start worrying, what if it is good, what if it is published, what if people like it, oh my, fear really is my worst enemy!

‘All these thoughts hold me back, fear, doubt….. ugh!

I’ll just put it out there, I would love to write books and columns and human interest stories.  I think I excel in that homespun writing that leaves people with a lump in their throat or a swelled heart filled with pride.

Now if I could just get past my fears and have enough faith in my ability to find out if I “have it” or not, maybe this would all be easier.

Writing is my joy, my excitement, my best friend.  Writing is also my insecurity, my fear and my dread.

Oh Calgon….. take me away!