Faith · Family · Health · Perspective

Giving Thanks – Memory Style

Thanksgiving. Food. Family. Giving of Thanks.

We are on the cusp of one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving.
My mom alternates between watching the Macy’s Day Parade and preparing dishes. After 30+ years of watching/helping this process, this is also what I do on Thanksgiving morning. It’s tradition.

Typically, we decorate for Christmas during this week as well, also a habit adopted from my mother. The whole crew gathers for a meal during this week. The last few years, we also pick a day this week to work cattle in the hills. Sadly, gathering plans are different this year.

Instead of dwelling in the muck that is a local covid outbreak, my mind shifts the focus to a couple general favorite holiday memories. All my favorite holiday stories revolve around family. My life overflows with gratitude for the loving foundation I was raised in. Surrounded with love on all sides.

My grandma Ramona laughing so hard she couldn’t finish- or sometimes start- a story. Tears would stream down her face. Gosh, I love that memory! Cramming the tables, sitting on the floors with plates, singing the doxology and eating-napping-playing outside- eating again… On repeat every year for that side of the family until we said goodbye to our patriarch and matriarch.

Similarly, mom’s side gathered and filled the house for holidays. The kitchen aromas -always Grandma Evelyn’s French bread, laughter, competitive games such as pitch, Rummikub, and spoons, and the younger boys getting into a scrape… Always placemats on the table. The enjoyment of spending time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins is treasured.

It was a crowd and volume adjustment for my husband the first years of holidays with my family. We get loud and then louder. Holidays are not just one meal. They encompass entire days.

If you are like me, 2020 has made you extremely weary of the cancellations and limitations. We’ve all been asked to undertake the uncomfortable by altering our cherished traditions. On hard years, such as this one, it is imperative we shift our focus to the beautiful holiday memories!

What are your Thanksgiving memories?

Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Puppies and Other Good Things

If you think back over the last 25 years, you’ll come across multiple instances where society’s anxiety is built up into a frenzy and the majority believe act like the world is over as of tomorrow. One of those instances was Wednesday. I’ll not reveal which candidates I voted for, nor will I spout ideological convictions. I did my civic duty. Period. I presume you’ve come to your wordpress feed to escape all that chaos. Also, the world didn’t stop turning.

In that vein, here are a couple things we’ve been up to around here.

Puppies. My father-in-law’s Labrador Retriever apparently got out of her pen and got super friendly with the neighbor’s Australian Shepherd. This afternoon tryst resulted in eight adorable, chunky, snuggly puppies- four with spots and four mostly black. My kids and niece have been loving on these little babes since they were 24hours old. Three are already spoken for. Two chose their new (in 4 more weeks) owners by literally running up to the child and crawling in her/his lap. That’s a definitive way to be chosen!

Halloween. When you only have 50 people in your local, rural community, you do Halloween. Yes, even during the pandemic (which we have no cases in S-town) and all things 2020. We’ve never bit into the thought that this is an evil holiday. Our family mantra has always been focused on the fun of dressing up and visiting neighbors. It brings so much joy to our older neighbors to see the kids dressed up. This year, I had a cowboy and a dancer. I also donned a luchador mask and cape. My parents returned from a trip with the mask and my mom sewed the cape. Oddly enough (sarcasm), my kids were mortified that I walked up to people’s homes wearing the mask and cape.

We also carved pumpkins. I wielded the knife, but the kids did all the dirty work and free-handed what they wanted for a design. Currently, the ballerina is melting down on my porch. The owl was crushed earlier in the week when M fell off her grandpa’s piggy back ride and the pumpkin broke her fall.

Obviously, we’ve had many more happenings dotted here, there, and everywhere in the last week. Normal life rolls on. For that, I’m thankful! I continue to strive to focus on glass half-full, positive experiences. Sure, there’s plenty of muddy puddle style anxiety and negativity that I can sit in. I could choose to turn on the news, scroll the headlines, or make comments on social media (that have no effect y’all). But… in the words I used with my sister earlier this week, “I just don’t want to.” Instead, I’m choosing to love on the kids at youth group who shyly smile and say they are saving their snack so they have one to eat at home. I choose to not gossip about the stunning local news while at the salon getting my hair trimmed. I choose the good.

I hope you are able to choose the good this coming week. Lift up your eyes and say hello to your neighbor. Be kind.

— Jen