Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Great Christmas Card Extravaganza

Christmas Card Extravaganza has begun!

There are few things in life I love more than Christmas cards.  I love receiving them and I love sending them.  I have always loved this part of Christmas.  To me it's kind of what the Christmas spirit is all about.  Sharing special holiday greetings and wishes for the year to come with all the special people in your life.

I go all out with my Christmas cards.  Which is not to say I spend a lot of money on the cards themselves, but the whole thing is somewhat of a process.  There is a letter to be written.  That usually starts sometime in October and there are always several drafts before I get it to the point where I feel it is worthy of being sent.  I take pride in the fact that my letters are not your typical Christmas tell all.  I tell the good with the bad and try to sprinkle in a little humor with it all.  This year marks the 20th edition of my famous (or infamous, if you prefer) letter and it is definitely my favorite part of the process.

Then there is the picture.  I've never done studio pictures.  I just always dressed the kids in something cute and usually took it in front of the fireplace. A few pictures were family vacations.  When the kids were little the picture wasn't really an ordeal but over the years it became the hardest part of the whole process.  If any of you have ever tried to get three teenagers to all smile at the same time in a know what I mean.  And now with my family growing up and moving's not an easy task to get everyone here for a picture.  So far I've managed, but I'm not sure how many more years I'm going to be able to get everyone together to do a picture.

Next is the choosing of the stationary and cards.  I like my cards to have a religious tone because, after all, Jesus IS the reason for the season.  I usually pick stationary that has a more secular feel because I love that part of Christmas also!  I love anything with a vintage look but whimsy is appreciated also.  I hand sign all my cards (about 80) because I don't hand sign the letter and I just think it makes it more personal that way.  I don't do personal salutations, hand address the envelopes or hand write on the back of the pictures either, because if I did that, they'd never get sent.  I think labels are my best friend at this time of year.

Before I start putting everything together I make sure I have enough ink for the printer for all those letters and labels. Update my address list and purchase stamps.  Not just any old regular stamp.  Of course they must be Christmas stamps.  Last year I asked my husband to pick up the stamps for me.  I just assumed he would know I wanted Christmas stamps for sending Christmas cards.  Wrong.  He came home with an entire roll of stamps with state flags on them.  So last years cards went out with state flags on the stamps and I'm sure I'm the only one who cared that they had nothing to do with Christmas.  I did learn a valuable lesson from that...when sending the husband for specific...or get them yourself.

I try to have all this accomplished by Thanksgiving.  Some people shop on Black Friday....I sign Christmas cards.  I try to get the whole process done during the Thanksgiving weekend.  I like to send my cards out on December 1st.  I want to get them out early but sending them before December doesn't seem right so...the 1st it is.  I don't always accomplish my goal but if I shoot for this I always have them out during the first week of December.  Again, I'm sure that's not important to anyone but me.

So this weekend I began the assemblage of said Christmas cards.  I signed all my cards and labeled the envelopes yesterday.  The letters are printing as I'm writing this and once they are done I can start putting the cards together.  I think I'll reach my goal this out by the 1st...with Christmas stamps on them!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season filled with whatever it is you love best.

Quote for the Week:

At Christmas play and make good cheer, For Christmas comes but once a year.
~Thomas Tusser~ 


Friday, November 12, 2010

End of an Era

This weekend my baby girl will play in her last softball game in the league she has been a member of since she was 5.  I think this is the last of the "milestone" lasts that I have to endure.  They've all been hard.  From my oldest daughters last day of college, all the way through to this all the kid stuff is over.  It's a very melancholy feeling.  I'm not sure I'll really miss the games that much, but I will miss watching her, if that makes sense.  I get these little melancholy twinges every so often when something reminds me that my children are children no longer.  Like this morning when I walked into the lunch room at work.  The TV was on and some morning news show was at one of the local high schools doing a remote about the upcoming football playoffs.  As they were signing off, the marching band started playing their fight song.  That's all it took.  Two of my kids were in marching band.  I'm sure I've mentioned here before how much I loved the marching band.  Every time I hear a marching band I get that little melancholy feeling right in the center of my heart.  I guess you could call it a heartache. 

My T-Ball Baby

The funny thing about this is....I really love the life I have now.  I love having my own time and not having somewhere to go every night of the week.  I definitely do not sit around moping about this but I've thought a lot about this the last couple of years.  Wondering about why, if I love my life, do I miss the past so much?  I think I've finally figured out that it's not the past I miss, it's my kids.  I miss my kids being kids.  I miss the innocence, the fun, the lightheartedness.  I miss watching Sesame Street and Hey Dude!  I miss Dr. Seuss.  I miss bath time and storytime.  I miss Saturday morning cartoons.  I really miss all that stuff that having kids gets you.  I miss the simple pleasure of knowing that my kids have no worries. 

Coach Dad and Player/Coach 2008

I love my adult children.  They are fun to talk to and discuss issues with and sometimes I can even borrow money from them!  I love who they are and where they're going.  I love them more than I ever have.  But I still miss my kids...and I suppose I always will.

Dan & Beth - Coaches Extraordinare - Spring 2010

Quote for the Week:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another!

~Gail Sheehy~

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Father's Gift

Wednesday was the 19th anniversary of my father's passing.  It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years.  There are very few days that go by that I don't think: WWAD or What Would Art Do?  My dad had very high expectations for all five of his children and he rarely let us "just get by".  He always used to say, "If you can't give 100%, don't do it at all".  My father was the oldest sibling in his family.  So am I.  I got my Type A, obsessive personality from him.  I've since passed that along to my oldest daughter.  I guess it's what we oldest siblings do.  Some of the things I love the most about my dad:  his crooked smile, his sense of humor, how he loved my mother, and that I always knew he cared about the kind of adult I would turn out to be.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad, Art. 
My father gave me many gifts.  The most important gifts were the lessons he taught me.  My dad taught me how to live a moral, civic minded, patriotic, compassionate and faith filled life.  I'm glad for those lessons.  But I think the lesson he taught me while he was dying is probably the one I cherish the most.

My father had colon cancer.  He lived for 18 months after his diagnosis, 6 months longer than doctors expected.  During that time he had some really good days, and he had some really bad days.  He always took the bad along with the good and never complained.  Near the end he suffered greatly, but never complained.  At the very end he was not conscious of his physical surroundings.  He was, however, conscious of our Blessed Mother, who I am convinced, appeared to him in his last hours.  I believe she came to show him the way to Our Father in heaven where his suffering was at last taken away, as we are all promised it will be.  I believe in the cleansing power of suffering because that is what my father on earth taught me by his actions and what my Father in heaven promises me through His Word. 

It troubles me when I hear people talk of end of life compassion, right-to-die, euthanasia, mercy-killing, whatever you want to call it.  Just because someone is suffering does not make it right to take their life away.  No one has that right except Our Father in heaven.  And we dishonor His suffering and dying for us when we diminish it by eliminating it.  And the suffering is part of living.  We need it just as much as we need the joy in life.  My father also taught me not to be afraid of the suffering but to embrace it as a soul cleansing opportunity that not all people are fortunate to have.  Yes, I said fortunate.  I believe my father felt fortunate in his suffering.  He was able to use it to cleanse himself of the earthly trials that have no place in our eternal life with God.  I'm so very grateful to my father for this gift.  I feel it was the greatest gift he gave me.

I miss you everyday Dad.  I love you.  Thank you for loving me.


There is a great book called Making Sense out of Suffering if you're interested in reading more about this topic.

Quote for the Week:

We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.

~Marcel Proust~
 (1871 - 1922)