Tuesday, December 24, 2013

new traditions

Yesterday I booked movie tickets online for Christmas day. Nope, never did think I’d do that. This is the year of new traditions; the first year we will not gather with the Lamarre family at the brick house. Greg and the girls and I have been batting around ideas for months now, since my siblings and I agreed to have our gathering the weekend before Christmas. At first we planned to travel. The extra long school break made it a good year for a trip. But, then I scheduled my surgery for the week before Christmas and didn’t want to lock us into anything in case I wasn’t up to it. (Good call, turns out.)

So, Saturday we gathered with my brothers and sisters and their families for a wonderful holiday. Tonight we’ll head over to Greg’s parents’ house to spend time with his family. And in the morning, after opening presents and feasting on a big Christmas breakfast we have the day to ourselves. We’ve decided on a family walk on one of the great little trails in town, followed by that movie in the afternoon, The Hobbit.

Next year, we’ll likely take a trip. Or host some friends. Or go visiting.

This year we’re easing in to a new tradition of being with our own little family, taking our time, and enjoying the day.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Asking for help

It frustrated me when my mother would worry about “being a burden”. If we correctly anticipated ways she might need us, she would allow us to help, usually while assuring us we “didn’t have to” or worrying that we were neglecting our own families in favor of her. If we were not perceptive enough to predict when she would need us, she almost never asked. We tried to convince her that it was a joy and honor to help the woman who nurtured us through childhood, because truthfully, it was.  I feel truly blessed to have been able to give my meager support in the last years of her life.

I’m thinking of this because I need help and I don’t like it. I can’t drive because the splint goes over my elbow. I can do many things one handed, but more slowly and awkwardly. I can’t carry the laundry basket downstairs, nor get myself to the salon for a haircut, nor cut and clean the squash for soup, nor scrub the shower. I feel like a burden. I hate asking for help and don’t do it often.

My limitations are temporary. In a week I’ll get a new cast that will probably give me more freedom; and a month after that I should be free of a cast altogether. In the meantime, I need to practice asking for help, remembering how good it felt to help Mom.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mom's teacakes - Thankful Day 12

My mother didn’t love to cook, but there were a few things she made that we all looked forward to. Her hamburg pie, of course. And apple pie (although I don’t love apple pie from anyone’s kitchen). Fried haddock and fries. When I was young she also made bread. Teacakes – little circles of bread a bit smaller than your typical hamburger roll, brushed with butter on the top before going into the oven. One time, she showed me how to make them, let me help form the rolls. There seemed a special technique I just couldn’t get, but really it was just a matter of stretching the dough and patting it back together into a little cake. Mom wrapped her hand around each one as it was placed on the pan and smushed it together a bit more. A final hug. Even before they went into the oven, the smell was intoxicating. “The best way to eat a tea cake,” she told me, “is right out of the oven, with a bit of butter and a cup of tea. I’ll call you when they’re done.” She didn’t need to call me. I stayed close by, breathing in the toasted yeasty smell. We sat at the table together, and had “tea” even though it was too early for an official British teatime. She sipped her tea and me my milk and we oohed and aahed over the delicious bread. And we were both so ridiculously happy to be sitting there you would have thought it a great holiday. I don’t know what day it was. I don’t know why I was home alone with her. But my taste buds can remember the buttery teacakes still.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nana - Thankful Day 11

I was in Junior High when Nana died, the first major loss I had to face. Someone whose hand I had held, whose check I kissed had ceased to exist. I remember being at a loss as to how to react. Was I supposed to cry? I felt like I should but I almost had to force it because really I was in shock, numb. I knew that my Grampas had died before that but I had never known them, never held their hands or kissed their checks. I never expected Nana to die.

Nana died 32 years ago today.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

for peanut butter crackers - Thankful day 10

In my memory, I’m in Nana’s kitchen. There’s a feeling of clutter around me; not mess, just stuff everywhere ready to be picked up and used as needed, a project or two left in the middle to attend to other things. Just then she was attending to my hunger and fixing a snack; a dollop of peanut butter in the middle of a Hi Ho cracker (Ritz crackers being a bit too pricey). As she handed me the cracker, she explained the proper way to eat it. “Nibble around the edges where there is no peanut butter, then pop that last bit into your mouth. Delicious.” And it was.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

so much to do - Thankful Day 6

I am thankful for the full schedule that has kept me from posting for the last few days. While I might sometimes complain (OK, I complain a lot!) about the amount there is to do, when I ended my work day today I felt good about all I have accomplished. I work with some pretty amazing colleagues who push me to be better every day. I am challenged in two classes I’m taking this semester and the work I’m doing there has already improved my work at school. I have two active daughters involved in theater, soccer, Destination Imagination, and National History Day so my week is always broken up by their schedules. While I don’t exactly thrive under pressure, I do work better with a list of things to do. When I don’t have a lot on my list, I actually slack off more.

The best part of all?  No matter how much time I spend planning lessons, reviewing the latest research, cooking supper, doing laundry, and driving all over town, I end each night beside the man of my dreams.

Yeah. Thank you.