memories, Uncategorized

What do you put in your stocking?

It’s that time of year again. Shopping, baking, planning, rushing, visiting, creating. Something different to each of us. I am finally becoming at peace with this time of year. Depression doesn’t rear it’s ugly head as badly. In fact, I might even be looking forward to it a little. Since becoming a mother I was the first one up. Waking the kids in my excitement to see them open their gifts. To spend the day making a delicious meal. To visit with my siblings.

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When I was little we had different ways to celebrate over the years. We camped in a teepee in the forest. We used a long spider plant for a tree. We had a real tree decorated with strings of popcorn and yarn. We again camped in a teepee in the forest. ( see photos from the last Christmas campout )We even spent it in a hotel while we shopped for our years’ supply of clothing from a Thrift store. Knives, Pear soap, and wool socks were sure gifts we knew were coming. Nothing extravagant. No cookies for Santa as he was make-believe since I was born.

One year we had stockings. Dad had a stocking bigger than I was. Since he joked about everyone getting coal it was decided he deserved coal for being greedy with a stocking big enough for a  person. A dozen boxes were wrapped and placed inside one another until the last little box which contained a nice lump of coal. That was a fun Christmas morning.

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After fourteen I don’t really recall Christmas. Not that I recall previous ones. I think I went home to mother for a couple, another with a family who took me in, a few I was alone. The ever-present underlying depression and discomfort of the season as I didn’t really belong to anyone. I hope I have managed to hide that from my children giving them a warm sense of family, of love. Time spent together. Time to think of, to help others if we can.

I don’t recall stockings. I think an orange, a giant stick of a candy cane, was stuffed in a sock. I can’t really be sure. Even that is a glimmer of a thought, not a memory. I have no one to ask if it’s true. If we even had stockings.

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So now I prepare for the season. The house all colorful and bright. A welcoming holiday feeling inside and out. The tree, tall and erect minus the usual side lilt is topped with an angel. Santa hits the roof so he has been demoted to a table ornament. To tell the truth when I bought the Santa’s and Angel all I had no idea they were to be on top of a tree. I didn’t know that hollow dunce cap shaped ornaments meant tree toppers.  I have a few to choose from thanks to that information being unknown. Just like how I didn’t know the plastic is to come off the lampshade once you bring it home! There are decorations on each available space. The jolly singing and dancing stuffies that made my children laugh. Now my grandson laughs and pushes their buttons. The cupboards and freezer stuffed with food.

 

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My little elf setting up the tree

 

I think I may finally have figured the stocking stuffing out. It has haunted me for many a season. Specialty soap, deodorant, girlie face stuff or hair things, magazine or book, chocolate and or candy. Then I heard a brilliant way to stuff them. With nuts that need cracking, oranges, chocolates, and a penny novel. You are set to nibble and snack with a book while waiting for dinner or bedtime. Maybe next year the stockings will be full of nuts!

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What do you put in your stockings? Does your family have a favorite tradition?

 

 

Uncategorized

Still a controversial​ subject

When I was little I was given my immunizations. Well, at least the infant ones. My siblings eight-ten years later, however, did not get theirs. I remember when my brother and sister came to live with me that was one of the things I had done. There was a lot of changes for them. We were orphans. They chose to live with me, their big sister who was big as a houseboat with her first pregnancy. Yes me I was giant. Actually, I just felt like I was giant even at eight months I looked maybe six or seven months along when I was actually nine months.

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I  knew that my parents had joined into the belief that we didn’t need all our immunizations. Maybe it was due to the scare tactics some use blaming unfortunate gene pool or DNA problems that cause defects physical or mental. Or maybe they just didn’t believe in the need for being immunized. Maybe because we rarely went into the general population. Maybe because the belief is that you trust in God and what happens is his will.  Whatever the reason they didn’t get them and I had an unbiased fear of having my children be immunized. Really it made no sense. Our family had witnessed first hand what some of these illnesses can do. My uncle had mumps as a child and due to that terrible fever, he was sterile never able to have children.

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I got my siblings immunized and enrolled in school. I immunized my children but missed a couple because I bought into the fear. I had read the article how during the 70’s many Europeans decided against immunization and as a result, a terrible Polio outbreak occurred. I still let my fear stand in the way without ever actually researching anything. Social media would on occasion have field days spouting fear and scare tactic information without ever having legitimate documentation.

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Recently there was an outbreak in our community and neighboring towns of Meningitis. I was unsure if I should have my children vaccinated.  A couple of youth died as a result and more were hospitalized. Clinics were held to immunize those that needed it. I didn’t want my children to get sick and die. They had been in contact with those that had been exposed, most likely to the one that passed away. So I finally did research. I went onto the gov’t website for information. I googled and read other articles. Noticed the difference between the ones that talked without real links or information to back up their claims opposed to the ones that did.

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I chose to immunize my children. I was grateful that I had that choice. I know some countries are opposed. Their religion opposes it. The funding isn’t there. The education isn’t there. I am grateful to live where I have the choice. Where I can learn and make the decision. I can only imagine how Immigrants feel when they come to Canada and have the choice. So they don’t have to see their children suffer from Polio, potential die from Meningitis, become sterile or deformed from other diseases easily avoided by a couple immunizations. I am grateful like many Canadians to have the choice and the information to help make that choice.

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my family, Uncategorized

When they were little

Thankfully when my children were barely ending their toddler stage and starting elementary I got a divorce. It was the best thing to happen to me, to us and I am grateful every day that he threw us away.  An odd sentence I know.

 

As I struggled to build a life for the kids and I life became busy. Work, daycare, school, soccer, gymnastics, work some more,  night school. The list was never-ending. I thrived from the hectic schedule. I persevered and pushed through it fighting to build a life where I was independent and able to provide for our basic needs on my own. During that time I faced many choices. One choice I had to make was working multiple jobs and jobs that might pay more but would keep me away from the kids most hours of the evening and weekends.  Or I could work for much less but be able to get the kids from school, take them to soccer and cheer them on, tuck them in at night. I had spent a couple years clawing and scratching my way to get to that choice. Working up to 5 jobs day and night while attending night school. I had cleared us from the mess that the ending of my marriage left. Now I could almost breathe.

So what to do? One day I asked the kids as we drove to school. What do you want? Mommy home with you but we have less stuff, fewer toys and shopping, can’t go on big trips but I’ll be able to be home more. My son’s answer still melts my heart. It wasn’t a short answer. His answer lasted almost until we pulled into the school parking lot. He wanted me home. Who would give him kisses when he needed them. Who would make cookies with them, help them read their books, answer their questions, show them how to do their homework, play in the park with them, kiss they’re boo-boos, teach him to tie his shoes, the list went on and on the entire drive. His adorable chubby body I loved to squish and hug settled in the back seat. His blue eyes so clear and trusting. He just wanted me there. My daughter ever the serious and silent one just nodded and agreed with all that he said.

So it was decided.  I took the low paying going nowhere job that let me drive them to school and pick them up. We camped, hiked, flew kites, played games, rolled in the leaves, played in the rain, tried fishing, went canoeing, went sledding in the dark, built fires, set off fireworks, saved unwanted dogs and found them homes, went exploring thrift shopping, made crafts, cooked together, slept in the back of the car when I forgot the tent poles camping, we did it all together. Priceless memories that hopefully gave them the courage to be themselves. The confidence to stand on their own. The unquestionable knowledge that they are amazing and can do anything they choose to. That was and is my main goal as their mother.

 

I will probably always look back and wish I had done more. I think that about the teens I raised when I was too young to know what they needed. I now wish I had done more with them. They are happy and have good lives not wishing I had done more. So I must learn to be as well. Hopefully, when my children are grown they feel the same way. I think it is the way of growing older. Looking back with the earned knowledge only time gives. Seeing what more could have been done. I am ever so grateful to have had the ability to make the memories I have. I sure miss those little snuggly children I had. I adore them no matter the age, size, or stage: but I sure miss the snuggles from when they needed me so.

childhood, Uncategorized

Traditional holidays – what traditions?

Thanksgiving means something different to us all. One thing that remains the same is the circle of love. The knowledge it’s a time to be grateful for all that we have. Whether from family or more often than not friendship. You can pick your friends but not your family. The friends are the family you get to choose.

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As the years past my parents fell further and further from the celebration of mainstream holidays. Generations of passed down recipes and traditions disappeared. I have no idea if my grandmother had an amazing recipe for stuffing that was passed down through the generations. I have no idea if traditions were even a thing in our family. One day is no different than the rest. Christmas is not really Christmas for Jesus was born in the spring with the sheep. Not in the dead of winter. Easter is a pagan ritual accepted by the church when joining the satanic world with the Christian. Thanksgiving is for giving thanks or for taking the world from the Aboriginals. Really everything depends on how you look at it.

I was taught that the mainstream holidays are not celebrated on the original dates. That when Christianity overtook the mainstream, the leaders from the pagan realm and the Cristian met and compromised on the dates to celebrate different holidays.  That is what I was taught. Don’t get me wrong we did celebrate holidays and birthdays to some degree. Our haphazard way of celebrating will be in the book.

 

I recall being about sixteen renting my own little hole in the wall place. The first place of my own that I paid for with money I earned. Before that… well, let’s say I got around! Made amazing friends and memories and traveled from one end to almost the other of our country. So by sixteen, I was “ready and able” to earn money and pay bills so to speak.

I had previously spent a stint living with an uncle and aunties in the town I come back to.  The town I was now living in and renting my own place. The auntie has such a hard-on for me it was unreal. Stemmed from her dislike of her husband’s inlaws – my parents. My standing up to their son and moving out solidified her dislike to the point of locking her husband out of the house when he met me for a walk.

My point… My first Thanksgiving living on my own I spent walking to the local pool to go for a swim to try and take my mind off how alone I really was. I knew very few people in the town and the ones that I knew were with their families. My mother wasn’t keen on being around me. Work was closed for the holidays, as was the pool I found out when I got there.

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I had spent the pleasure of being a part of a Jewish family celebration that spring with a wonderful lifelong friend. I had never seen or been a part of anything like it and loved it. Her family was kind and welcoming. They didn’t pepper me with questions or sympathy of my upbringing. I had never met people like them before and was eyes wide open to take it all in. I never saw a celebration quite as warm and traditional after that for years. I now knew what it could be like, and  I yearned for it. That knowledge accentuated my loneliness knowing what holidays can be.

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Many many years later after becoming a mother, a divorcee, I still struggle with holidays. It is too easy to not decorate. To not make a big deal.  I have no traditions to pass down to my children. We are finding our own way of celebrating. We spent holidays at a rustic off-grid cabin in the bush, we shot off fireworks for Christmas eve, we tossed chocolate from one end to another as a scavenger hunt, we always tried to have our small close family together when work allowed.  We were invited to friends for a few Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays were the beginning of not minding holidays. Of not having the empty feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach pushing my smile wider to hide the emptiness.  We celebrated in Kenya with my dear lifelong friend. That same dear friend that I spend my very first traditional holiday with. To me now, a holiday is what you choose to make of it.

 

childhood, Uncategorized

I loved my sheep

When I was little I wanted pets. I was fortunate because we were living in the country so it was an option. Especially if you could find a use for them.

I remember being with the ladies as they had a quilting party in someone’s basement. The sheep’s wool was washed in the old washer in the corner. We all had the carting paddles and were carting the wool. It was kind of fun brushing the wool back and forth with the brushes. That is what the ‘wool carting’ paddles looked like to me. The best quilt I ever had.

Back to pets. Guess what I got to have? Sheep! I named them David and Ester after my favorite Bible characters. I loved those sheep. I loved them like Elmyra loved her pets.

I loved those sheep despite the warnings from my parents that they didn’t like it. Then they grew full size and were larger than I. Now I was on the receiving end of their affection! Which consisted of strong headbutts and me being the one running in the opposite direction! IMG_0915

On a personal side note. I will be changing my posting schedule to once or twice a month.  I am focusing more time on the manuscript and less time on posts.  My personal life seems to have hit high gear lately – more things to do and less time to do them in it seems.

Free thinking, Uncategorized

Terrified to have faith and terrified not to

When I was little I used to love to tell exaggerated stories. I hated to be put on the spot with a question and would be inventible I’d fib. It was a second nature. I would start with something simple like a boy kissed a girl and then next you know Jack and Jill did it greek on top of the hill and I didn’t even know what that was.

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Maybe this habit formed out of boredom. I didn’t attend school or daycare. Had no cousins or family outings. There was no television or radio. Once I could read my escape was found. I could go anywhere a nonfiction book could take me. I adored books and still do. I used to fill my suitcase with more books than clothes.

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When it’s up to the book or storytelling for entertainment you learn to elaborate. Especially once you learn how to get a reaction! We weren’t supposed to be joking and silly. Being solemn is deemed the Christian way. As a child though that’s what comes naturally. Being silly. Having fun. Laughing goofing around, being silly. We just had to do it in secret so as not to get into trouble. Don’t get me wrong, we had swings, toys, paints, and colors. No board games, sports, or other competitive or frivolous things but we did have fun. However reading was my favorite as I didn’t need a friend to escape and have a great adventure.

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The trouble with the nonfiction Christian books I recall having access to is that they were filled with torture, end of times before Christ second coming. Horrible pain and suffering before a life of bliss in heaven could happen. Needless to say, I was terrified into religious belief. I also learned that your closest friends and family are the ones to watch for. They will turn you in to be tortured to death to save themselves. Burning at the stake, stretched on the rack, drowned to death. So many ways the wrong religious believers were tortured and killed. Books like The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Book, Pilgrims Progress, Paula the Waldensian , novelized history of the churches persecution to bring all to the accepted faith. Terrifying stuff let me tell you. Those were some of the books I  read as a child growing up. One book I never forgot was They’re All Dead Aren’t They by Joy Swift. I read that after the loss of my father and it wrenched my pain beyond what it was to excruciating levels. I could feel what she felt on top of what I felt. The pain twisted inside sucking out all air.

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Thankfully I also had Laura Ingalls Wilder in my life and fell in love with her series. I was ten when I got my first Little House on the Praire – to give you an idea how old I was reading some of the other books.

Probably not the best way to spend your formative years. Leaves a lot of distrust in general. Needless to say, it was terryifying to have faith and terryifying not to have faith. You were damned either way.

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teen years, Uncategorized

What I have always missed

You might surmise I missed my mother. Or my father. Maybe even my little brothers and sisters. Or my friends. No those things I became used to not having.  What I have always missed is the sense of community, the sense of belonging. Of not being alone. The deep-rooted piece that leaves me sad and lonely is the lack of belonging of community.

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Growing up with the entire community living as one has left me with an overwhelming sense of aloneness in this world. I could blame technology but this feeling came not long after ‘coming to the world’ as I call it. That was before technology as we know it. The realization that ultimately I was alone hit hard. Knowing the families in the neighborhood, being friends with the kids my age, eating and playing together ended. The sense of belonging was gone. Even walking into a church didn’t help. And I tried. Either members knew ‘my story’. The story that was being spread throughout the SDA grape-vine. Or no one knew me or tried to reach out to the slip of a girl hiding in the back.

I realize now that I needed to reach out. I needed to talk to people to interact. I didn’t know how. I didn’t want the avid interest. The offers of help that comes with a price or an expiry date. I was so hurt inside I only could manage to push people away. If I was abandoned by my own mother – well really there was no sense in offering anyone else that opportunity now was there.

Now I know that I needed to become active in life. To join groups ( aside from church! ). I see now that a sense of community is built around being doing things together, memberships, clubs, hobbies. But it isn’t the same. I think many of us want to feel as though we belong. Whether is’s to our family we are born into or to the one we choose. This is part of why cults, churches, organizations, teams, are all so popular. They accept us and welcome us in. The unloved, the misunderstood, the different. We all want to belong.

It’s almost like Mr. Rogers had something with his line ‘won’t you be my neighbor’.

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Free thinking, Uncategorized

It could be worse

Man do I hate that sentence. It takes away from what you are feeling. As though you don’t have a right to how you feel. Just because someone else may have it worse. Sort of like how we ought to be grateful to have a plate of Brussel sprouts because the kids are starving in Ethiopia and they would love to have our Brussel sprouts! Cough bullshit cough 

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As the years have gone by I find myself looking for the silver lining for the good out of any situation. It makes it easier to be happy when I look for the good, the positive. I still catch myself thinking along the lines that it could be worse. It irks me because I have a right to feel whatever I may be feeling without having to give up those emotions for someone who is worse off.

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We all have to right to our feeling regardless of other less fortunate. Yes, we shouldn’t wallow. Yes, we should hold a hand out to help others. But we have the right to a cry day. To a big workout venting our anger or whatever else may be going on inside us.

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We have the right to our feelings and emotions regardless of what others are going through. Telling children, anyone that it could be worse shows you don’t recognize and value their right to their feelings. Don’t get me wrong there is a huge difference between feeling your emotions and living in an unhealthy rut crying the same song and dance routine over and over without learning from the experience. Those make me want to slap the cryer in the face with a chair. So don’t diminish your feelings just because someone else has it worse. Acknowledge yourself and take from it what you can at the moment.

Uncategorized

#102 Tuesday’s Gratitude 13: Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace and Women’s Rights

What an great post. I hope we never lose the rights the women before us fought so hard for. We are very fortunate in North America for the rights we have.

Post Modern Apocalyptic Failure

This past weekend I sat down to watch Alias Grace on Netflix; if you are not familiar with it, it is a miniseries based on the book by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. I’ve not had opportunity to read all of her work, but of what I have read so far, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber-Bride, and Oryx and Crake, I like her work a lot. I’ve not yet seen Hulu’s version of The Handmaid’s Tale; I will at some point I hope.

I don’t know what I am more grateful for exactly. that women in Western countries are no longer forced to live in such a way; wholly dependent on the resources and dispositions of the men around them to the extent they were up to about 100 years ago (arguably longer than that) or that Atwood is so capable of capturing the essence of…

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childhood, Uncategorized

Granola my nemesis

Growing up I hated granola. Mueseli wasn’t much better but if you ate it fast enough it was bearable. I haven’t liked breakfast foods for years now.

I couldn’t make granola to save my life as a child. It wasn’t that I couldn’t follow the recipe. I just always burnt it. Every time. Even when it was done and cooled in the oven I still burnt it. It’s a talent I tell you!

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Now I finally have started eating granola again. With the help of chocolate and cashews. Chocolate makes everything better! It even has enabled me to stomach yogurt. Another food that used to make me want to barf. The smell just makes my throat seal shut.

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We didn’t eat yogurt growing up… the whole vegan thing… My sister got to have it as a very young child because she needed the probiotics to help her fight off staff infection. I didn’t have to eat the yogurt. I did, however, have to lie with my bum bare to the suns rays to heal the infection. It was mortifying and I hoped no one was going to come to the door while I was like that. The yogurt smelled like new pampers to me. Both the yogurt and pampers were new to our household and both held a very foreign smell. Neither of which I liked.

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Yet now here I am with frozen fruit mixed into my yogurt and granola. Funny how we change over the years in so many ways.