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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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

 

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

 

 

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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.

 

Uncategorized, vacation

On a lighter note

It seems my posts got a little serious lately so I thought I’d try and find something a little lighter for a change. How about a little peek of our awesome trip to Silverwood theme park this week complete with photos!

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My daughter turned SIXTEEN last year and after much thought, she chose a family trip as her birthday present. Love that she considers family trips that highly as she was offered a horse, pet pig, and other such wonderful pets. In case you don’t know my daughter she adores animals of all shapes and sizes.

 

Pictured above: pet George the huge snail eating a banana that she befriended during our visit to Kenya. Hugs with her cat that randomly moved in and adopted us one winter. My daughter with her friends and brother proudly showing off their huge collection of slugs during a trip to the Westcoast. Just a few examples of her love of living creatures.

As you can see I was surprised she turned down another pet. I was actually extremely relieved! Two pets are enough for me as both kids are now getting ready to learn to be on their own. I have a feeling when they go the pets are staying! If you follow my Instagram you have probably surmised the dog has me wrapped around his little paw!

It turns out I didn’t take photo’s at Silverwood this trip. Maybe because I took so many when we went 7 years ago. Or maybe because the kids wanted to do their own thing and seem to keep a frowny face whenever the camera swings there way. I do have one priceless photo…

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So obviously that isn’t us. I thought it would be helpful to see it’s a rather steep descent that makes everyone scream…

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Just to explain the reason behind the next photo…

 

 

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Yes, that is me… hair straight back, eyes tightly closed, shreaking for my life and it hurtles past me with a rocking clacking racket at top speed. I kept that expression for the ride called Aftershock – the floor folds away from you before the ride starts!! No I didn’t have to ride it however my son couldn’t be telling his friends he went to Silverwood and didn’t ride it. The plan to go in it scared us so bad we couldn’t eat our dinner.

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My son – the back right already knew what to expect as the poor bugger road that alone when he was 9 years old. He was white as a sheet after that ride. He thought he was going to fall out of it as his butt never even touched the seat once the ride started. A thin bar he says, no seat belt he says, I thought I was going to fall right out of it he says…. so this time he felt much safer… His friend didn’t seem to feel very safe… He didn’t leave the wave pool for two days after that ride! My daughter like me likes to close her eyes and pretend it will be fine. The  ‘this isn’t really happening to me’ mindset. Her friend obviously goes eyes wide open terrified of what will come next. She was probably wondering what kind of family does this to kids calling it fun!

The following evening I thought it best to take the terrified young man for some kiddie rides so he doesn’t leave Silverwood with the taste of terror in his mouth. It took some bribery for him to even consider leaving the water park as he was quite certain we never needed to go to the amusement park side again! We went the swing, the frog hop (my children are pictured below – the middle two from our first trip ). The teen girls were also there in line to ride this cute little frog.

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And of course lastly kids the Ferris wheel. Complete with animal seats and umbrellas built for all sizes but meant for the kids and faint of heart riders. After the animal Ferris wheel ride, he was a happy young man, he came running towards me with an excited smile saying how awesome it was…. Until he remembered my teen son was also with him at which point he pretended it wasn’t quite that big a deal!

 

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My adorable daughter on our first trip. I asked her if she wanted to change before we go into the park. My daughter: hands on hips looks down saying, ‘ what’s wrong with this outfit? I’m wearing all my favourite clothes!’ I let her wear it. I mean really who am I to judge what looks good on the outside when she feels confident and happy inside and out?!

 

childhood, Uncategorized

Memories of christmas

Tis the season to reflect and give. Spend time with family and friends. Show a little extra love and caring to others. Give to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters; attend the toy drive or fill the bus fundraiser.  Enjoy indulgent foods, sip on mulled wine, eggnog, or make that special thing you have been wanting to try. Time for me to spend a little time reflecting on childhood Christmas past.

We celebrated Christmas but not in an extravagant way. I’m not sure if this was because of religious views taken or the very real lack of money. Either way, It wasn’t a time of baking of treats and decorating the house and yard. It was a time to give and to reflect on the birth of Christ more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong there was laughter and joy, caroling and excitement. Delicious food to eat if you didn’t know better (humorous probably only if you’ve eaten that food). Carmel popcorn balls, carob coconut balls, gluten steaks ( yes Gluten ), and roasted vegetables from the garden. We had presents wrapped up under the piano bench. The fern plant proudly acting as our tree. Undecorated to be sure. Wool socks and Pear soap for gifts were a ritual. As the years went by washing machine and rototiller were the big splurge gifts. I did love to rototill the garden. One of my favorite gifts I recall as a little girl was the flour sifter. Shaped like a measuring cup but with a handle inside the other to be squeezed. When I would squeeze it the inside liner would spin and flour would fall from the outer screen. Quite fun for a little girl when compared to the socks and soap.

One year was super exciting as we got a box in the mail addressed to us all for Christmas from moms sister. The wrapping paper was taped to the box and also glued to the box from the inside. We were laughing at how serious auntie took testing our ability to open the gift. Turns out she had gotten mom real Canadian maple syrup and the jar had broken in transit. The entire contents of the box was a dried syrupy mess. The lovely white and yellow sweater she had knitted me was now a brownish stained mess. I was heartbroken. The excitement of opening the gift had turned to disappointment that everything was ruined. Mom promised she would do her best to wash the sweater out for me so that it would be good as new.

I was probably ten the first time we got a tree. D – swore it fell off the back of a truck he was driving behind. I was so excited to finally have a Christmas tree. We strung popcorn onto the thread for decorations. Popping as many kernels into my mouth as I put onto the string. Ribbon from the sewing box was brought out to add some color. After that year I  think we had a tree a few more times. The plant for a tree had finally been replaced thanks to the jolly friend who insisted the tree fell from a vehicle on the highway and would go to waste if we didn’t take it.

Ironic to me was dad’s reason for not wanting to cut down a tree. He said we didn’t need to cut one down as it would kill it. Fun fact about dad, he loved nature. Hiking, camping, canoeing, survival skills, you name it he did it or had it on his bucket list. We went survival camping a few times a year. In fact the first few years of my childhood we lived in a teepee in the forest for a week or two at Christmas time. The building of a teepee included cutting down a minimum of six trees per shelter never mind the boughs cut to make our beds and insulate the walls. Yet we didn’t cut a singular tree for Christmas. Priorities I guess. ( this is where I want to say lol and put a wonky smiley face but apparently, that isn’t proper writing )

Anyway, it sure made for a memorable day when D came with a tree for us. I can still picture him with his thick dark hair all wild in need of a haircut. Wearing his lumberjack clothing covered in sawdust standing in the kitchen saying if we didn’t take the tree it would just go to waste. Doing the good old guilt trip in front of the three kids – one old enough to speak up – that would be me! That Christmas was probably the first and third only time I celebrated with a tree, parents, and food.

I searched thru all the old photos but the slides. The slides I haven’t completed capturing with the projector. Nowhere have I found photo’s of holidays accept below. The first Christmas not living at home. First Christmas since dad passed. For whatever ever else there is to say about mom she was a tough cookie that year taking a van full of Japanese teenagers, her 3 toddlers, and angry teenager out camping into the bush with guns!