Author's Life · Senior Life

The Day After Christmas

Christmas should be all about Jesus, yet I realize how much I have come to rely on traditions. When we leave our parents’ homes and start our families, we make new traditions. Some of them will be based on traditions followed in the families of the new bride and groom.

Christmas when I was a child wasn’t filled with traditions. My dad worked nights and wasn’t always at home on Christmas Eve. We didn’t go to church. Sometimes my aunt and uncle and cousins would visit and we children were allowed to open one gift. I don’t remember a lot about Christmas back then, other than it was just my mom and me.

I wanted my children to have Christmases to remember. I wanted to teach them that we celebrate Christmas because we are remembering the birth of Jesus. We went to Christmas Eve candlelight services and would have a cake afterward while we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

As the years passed and the children married, we began having a family celebration on Christmas Eve or close to it. I made a meal for everyone and we enjoyed being together, playing games, laughing, and exchanging presents. Christmas morning was quiet. My hubby and I exchanged our gifts while sipping hot chocolate. We tried to make it festive, but I always felt something was missing. Our family unit had changed.

The Christmas my mother spent with us after she moved in was another change. We didn’t have the family celebration because my husband was ill. We didn’t exchange any gifts, but the children and grandchildren did stop by to visit. This turned out to be my mother’s last Christmas as she died on December 30, my husband and my wedding anniversary. He was too ill to come to the hospital to say goodbye.

Thus, Christmas became a time that left me feeling empty. Three years later my husband died. Though my youngest daughter tried to brighten my Christmas by inviting me to be part of their Christmas morning, it was still bittersweet for me.

The best part of Christmas was being with family and attending Christmas Eve worship service. This year, 2022, this was not possible. Due to the winter storm, the roads were too bad to get out. Thus I spent Christmas Eve alone watching the worship service online. Christmas Day started being a day to rest and be present with God, but it soon turned into a pity party for me. I felt alone, abandoned, unnecessary, and worthless. I know this was Satan taking advantage of my grief. When I went on social media in the late afternoon, I didn’t stay long. All the pictures of happy families together was a trigger for me. Family was what I missed so much. Throughout the day I tried to remain strong, but I was glad when I fell asleep for a two hour nap and then again when I could go to bed without feeling I was using it as an excuse.

I woke this morning, and asked God to forgive me for being selfish and for not being strong enough to combat Satan’s attacks. Before feeding Finnegan or myself, I put away all the Christmas decorations and the tree. It’s a new season now, a week before the new year begins. In this time, I am focusing on making each day one of looking outward instead of inward. And being thankful for all God has provided.

Author's Life

Christmas Eve 2022

And so it is Christmas Eve 2022. A major storm raged across Ohio yesterday leaving behind ice, snow, below zero temperatures, and wind gusts making the wind chills below minus 30 degrees F. A blanket of snow covers my view this morning and the wind is still blowing through the trees. It is a time of stillness and a deep quiet without the songs of birds, or a sign of footprints. Yet there are snow swirls that look like smoke rising across the landscape as the wind plays with the soft snow.

The county I live in is under a level 2 snow emergency, which means we are not to drive unless it is absolutely necessary. For the past two days, I have seen no traffic on the road outside my condo unit. I’ve been hibernating since Tuesday, resting, and thinking about the year soon to come. What goals will I set? What do I want to accomplish? How can I be a better person in 2023?

All these things are visions I have tickling my brain, but I haven’t opened my new Christian Planner to capture any thoughts yet. Usually I do this in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Today, I’m thinking about how much I’d looked forward to Christmas Eve services at church, and how that plan might be lost. With the predicted temperatures still at a windchill below zero this afternoon, and the roads still dangerous, I doubt I will venture out. I know there was a time in my past when I wouldn’t have let this stop me, but as I move through this year nearing 80, I don’t want to take any chances.

I just saw a blue jay fly across the landscape and land in a tree near the pond. The bright blue against the white and brown colors surrounding him made me smile. I’m trying my best to warm myself this morning, but the birds have no warm homes to enter. Nor do all the homeless people. I’m praying for safety for all those in less fortunate situations than I.

I just finished reading the last chapter of Luke in the New Testament. Each December I read this book, one chapter a day, as I remember Jesus, His life, and how this event in history has changed my life. I may not be able to sit inside a church today to praise Him today, but I will spend the day with Him in my condo. He is always with me.

And so this morning, I lift my cup of tea with a heart filled with gratitude and a hope for a Merry Christmas for all of you.

Author's Life

No Food, No Table for Many

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. A day people look forward to throughout the year. A day to eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and all kinds of side dishes. A day to eat way too much and then watch a football game. I remember cooking for my rather large family for years. Truly I enjoyed all the cooking and preparation, and the wonderful smells from the kitchen, and mostly, the family at the table.

In recent years, my daughters and their families have done the cooking and our gatherings have grown smaller. We are doing our celebration today, the day after the official holiday.

I’m reminded there are many who have no families to celebrate holidays with, and many who are homeless. Thanksgiving Day may not mean the same to everyone that it does to me or to you. Typically, we sit around a table and share the things we are most thankful for before eating. But rarely do we remember there are people who do not have a table. Many who do not have food.

This puts a different perspective on thankfulness. Everything, and I mean everything, we have has been provided by God. We should not take credit for it. God is our provider. A homeless person might be thankful to have a meal at a local mission. A family who cannot afford food for this day might be thankful for a church providing the ingredients. Others, like us, think nothing of having all we can eat.

Today as my family gathers around a table of Thanksgiving offerings, I will be thinking of the most important things in my life. I’ll be thankful for having a roof over my head, family at my side, and most of all for God loving us so much. Thankful I am rich in all that matters.

Senior Life

It’s Okay to Cry

Before I start, this blog is not about Finnegan. My little buddy is happy, healthy, and lying on a chair next to me purring as I write. I’m feeling led to talk to you today about the grief we feel when we lose our beloved furry family members.

You know what? It’s okay to grieve the loss of your pets. And just like losing a family member, you don’t just “get over it. It’s okay to cry. We honor them when we remember the love and companionship they brought into our lives. I still remember each of my “babies” who crossed rainbow bridge. I even shed a tear when I think of them. They were a big part of my life, my family.

There is no time limit on grief. Sometimes grief is silent. After Templeton passed, the last of the three siblings my husband and I adopted many years ago, I cried a lot. I remembered the loss of his sister a year and a half earlier and his brother just six months prior. The two of us were as I said, “growing older with each other.” He just needed to leave this earth before God called me home. Eventually I stopped the tears, mostly, but I was physically stressed over having a home without a pet.

Through God’s leading, my brother visited and insisted I needed a cat and he wasn’t leaving until I had one. I’d already decided I wouldn’t have another pet. I didn’t want to go through the grieving again, plus at my age (I turned 79 today), I worried about God calling me to my eternal home and having to leave my furry baby behind. Yet, the idea of a new pet felt right.

My friends and even my doctor said I needed to get a cat. My blood sugar was high, and I wasn’t feeling the greatest. I was in a mild state of depression without knowing it.

I have Finnegan in my life now and I’m very happy and actually healthier now. But some people don’t have the option of getting another pet. Or they truly feel it is not the best idea. Their grief should never be looked on as weakness. No one should tell them “time will heal” or “just get over it.” That won’t help and it won’t happen. We are normal when we grieve. It is part of our healing process, and each person’s journey of grieving will be different.

If you are reading this, and you are grieving, I want to tell you it is okay. You are not being unreasonable. You are okay. If you can, I suggest getting a new pet several months after saying goodbye. But if you can’t, for whatever reason, that’s okay, too. Don’t let anyone put you down. Don’t let them make you feel as if you’re abnormal for your grief. You are loved. You are worthy. God knows your heart. He knows your thoughts. You can talk to Him. And I pray you have a good friend or a family member you can talk to about the joy you had with your pet. Memories are wonderful things. God gave us the ability to grieve in order to heal.

Author's Life

Routines, Writing, and Spooky!

For some time, I’ve been trying to find a daily routine that works for me. I always begin my day, before leaving the bedroom, with thanking God for the gift of a new day and then opening my Bible to read. I’ve been following a three-year reading plan, which I’m enjoying immensely. There are many times I want to keep reading, but I’m sticking to the plan, and I have time to really absorb what I’ve read and think about how this can be applied to my life. For the change in my routine, I’ve been doing all my chores and writing first thing in the morning before I take a shower and dress for the day. My energy level is highest in the morning hours, so this has been working for me quite well.

Once the chores are finished, writing begins, still in my nightgown. Writing is always fun once I open the project and begin. With the memoir, I am having new memories pop up as I write. I can easily write 800 to 1,000 words in a short time. Then it’s fun to look through pictures and pull in the ones that fit that memory. I’m actually enjoying my writing time again.

I’m excited to begin writing about my time spent walking the creek banks deep into the wooded areas where my imagination bloomed. Those times are so easily pictured, and I wander back there often in my quiet moments of senior living. I’ll be writing about my “stick” horse, Spooky, who was very real to me. I might incorporate a short story I wrote about him twenty years ago.

I’ve digressed from the main subject matter and almost slipped back into dumping information better suited to the memoir! The point I wished to make is for seniors like me who can sometimes feel as if their life is slipping away with no purpose, finding a routine might be what inspires a new spark. It’s worked for me! God gets the glory!