Traditions

 

My two youngest sons (17 & 11) dyed these eggs yesterday, as is our tradition.

My two youngest sons (17 & 11) dyed these eggs yesterday, as is our tradition.

 

As I watched my sons dye Easter eggs, I thought about our family traditions.  We always put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night.  We go to my in-laws’ for Christmas Eve and my mother’s on Christmas night.  And we dye eggs for Easter.

These traditions help give our family predictability and identity.   Some traditions simply keep us connected.  We used to go to lunch every Sunday after church, but a series of events (losing a pastor, my accident, my brother moving) have made it more difficult and less frequent.  I miss it.

It makes me happy that my 17-year-old son is still voluntarily dying eggs (he shot this video), that my daughter and her husband now spend the night at my house the night before Thanksgiving so we can cook all the traditional holiday dishes, and that my husband and I take an annual anniversary trip.   I look forward to these rituals, big and small.  They help define who we are as a family.

Joseph Campbell’s book, The Power of Myth, addresses the lack of myth in our culture.  Much of the disconnect among generations, lack of familial and community responsibility, and individual identity issues can be traced back to a lack of ritual and story.  One way to remedy this is through family traditions.

What are some of your traditions?

 

 

No Place Like Home

Although I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with extended family over the weekend, I am happy to be home. After arriving home from my grandfather’s memorial, we celebrated my mother’s birthday with immediate family. Now I am composing this post on the 45-minute drive home.

I look forward to my dog bombarding me as I walk through the front door, much like Dino did Fred. I look forward to seeing my teenage son who could not make it to dinner. I am also looking forward to snuggling up with hubby in own bed. It’s good to be back in my own familiar environment. As Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

Birthdays and Goodbyes

20140412-220023.jpg

Today was my mom’s 67th birthday. It was also the day we memorialized her father. He was a U. S. Air Force veteran, so he was given military honors. The day was sad, touching, and joyful as well.

We shared laughter and tears with my mother’s brothers and sister, their mother, and other relatives. We shared memories and a meal with friends who came to pay their respects. And then we shared my mother’s birthday with cake and presents.

Tomorrow we head home, and we will celebrate my mom’s birthday with my siblings, my children and grandchildren, and my nephew. And life will go on. Hopefully , our next gathering will be another birthday. No matter what, we will be together.

Bonding Experience

20140411-171305.jpg

My youngest son is really into British culture, especially fashion. He has looked for a hat like this one for months. We found a similar one a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t what he really wanted and was a bit small.

Since my grandfather’s passing earlier this week, my grandmother has been cleaning out his personal belongings. Today, as the family was going through my grandfather’s hats, I found this. It is exactly what my son wanted and the bonus is that it belonged to his great-grandfather.

It was sweet looking through my grandfather’s things and sharing stories with family members, many of which I haven’t seen in more than 40 years. I saw old census records, my mother’s History report card from her junior year in high school, and several old photos.

As much as this is a sad occasion, it is also a bonding experience. I already feel closer to a family I barely knew.

Bent Time

I have been reading a book that explores, among other things, the concept of time.  Incidentally, I am also preparing to embark on a journey that I know will distort time.  My mother and I will be traveling to Colorado to attend her father’s memorial service.

Something I have noticed is that death seems to slow time for those who suffer loss.  Maybe it’s because we become more aware in the days following the death of a loved one, and maybe it’s because we simply slow down.  Either way, I have noticed that the time immediately following a loss or tragedy seems to become a precious capsule to be cherished.

I remember the time surrounding a life threatening surgery my Dad underwent several years ago.  The trip to Florida, the night preceding the surgery, and the moments just before he was wheeled into surgery (in particular) are etched into my brain.  The weeks, days, and months just before my father’s death are even more clear in my mind. And I suspect this weekend will become burned into my memory just as clearly.

I was not close to my grandfather, but my relationship with my mother will make this weekend one of those time-bent weekends.  We will be spending hours in airports and on an airplane together.  Then we will spend a weekend focused on the life and death of the primary man in my mother’s life.  Time will slow and, at times, stand still.

I know these moments frozen in time will become a pat of our life stories.  So I am ready.  I am ready to take in the stories, feel the agony of loss and the joy of reminiscence, and enjoy the time with my mother.  And I am grateful that time bends to make these times stand out in our memories.

Radical Change

Sometimes we need a little change. My mom always used to say when she wanted to change her luck she would change her purse.

This was me a few nights ago.

This was me a few nights ago.

 

Sometimes we need radical change. I know when I want the energy in my life to shift I have to do something more.

This is me in my daughter's kitchen this afternoon.  My hair has grown down to my waist.

This is me in my daughter’s kitchen this afternoon. My hair has grown down to my waist.

Yesterday I got a “wild hair,” so to speak, and decided to do something radical.  So I made an appointment with my daughter for a haircut.

This is the braid I frequently wear.

This is the braid I frequently wear.

It was not my original intent, but I will now research how to donate my braid.

This is the braid I frequently wore... now detached.

This is the braid I frequently wore… now detached.

Here  is the finished product.   My daughter is a talented cosmetologist.    And I do feel my energy has shifted.  Mission accomplished!

Me tonight after a radical change.  Feels great!

Me tonight after a radical change. Feels great!

Finding Dimes

finiding dimes

I have to preface this post by saying that I had drafted a post prior that was about writing “fluff” for the sake of keeping my writing agreement.  I wasn’t judging myself, but I was committing to writing the posts that had been lurking in my head but I had not taken the time to write.  Ironically, I lost the draft in cyberspace.  I have never had that happen.  It literally disappeared.  So instead of trying to recreate that post, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and get one of the defining moments of my life out of my head and out into the blogosphere.

People that know me know I tend to be a bit “airy fairy.”  (If you are intuitive, a healer, or have some other spiritual gift, please don’t think I am being flippant.  I believe the reason Angels can fly is because they take things lightly… including themselves.)  I am always looking for signs and symbols.  I consult my dream book on a regular basis.  And I have had lots of uncanny experiences.  I have no problem with the the notion that I have these because I am looking for them.  I do believe that perception is reality.

A few months after my dad passed away, I began finding dimes.  It struck me as odd because I began to realize it was always dimes, not quarters or pennies, not other objects, but dimes specifically.  I found them everywhere and often.  The first few times, I thought little of it.  After a few weeks, I began to think about this oddity more and more.  I had never heard of anyone else having this experience, but it had become so pronounced that I began to talk about it to other people.  Finally, my teenage son decide he would “Google it.”

Knowing my son, I don’t think he really expected to find anything.  I think he was doing it more for comic relief because he was sick of me telling him where I found my latest dime.  I was blown away when I read all the accounts of people who had begun finding dimes after losing a loved one.  Much of what I read held that finding dimes in random places were signs from a loved one that had passed.  Some think the message is specific, other think it can be very individualized.  Now before I lose you, hear me out on this.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe this or if you think it is utter nonsense.  When I read the internet articles on the subject I gained something very valuable.

I chose, after reading extensively on the subject, to view these dimes as a message from my father.  This message was one of love and comfort.  My dad had a way of letting me know things were going to be all right, especially when it seemed as though things were hopeless.  Notice I said, “chose.”

Whether the fact that the dime is the thinnest coin, with the smallest diameter, thus easily lost, or whether it is an instrument of communication used by those from the great beyond is irrelevant.  For me, the end result is the same.  When I find a dime in the washing machine, on our lawn, under the seat of my car, or at the bottom of a swimming pool, I heed the message.  It doesn’t matter whether this message is from the great beyond or from my own memory banks.  “Dad loves me, and it’s going to be all right” comes across loud and clear.

I didn’t do it initially, but now when I find a dime, I keep it.  I had a pile of them on the nightstand beside my bed.  Now they are on the top of my dresser beside some flowers from my father’s memorial service.  They serve as a daily reminder that I am loved and that everything will be all right.

Do you have any signs or reminders for yourself?

Baby Steps

Today, one week after my granddaughter’s first birthday, she took her first steps on her own.  She has been standing on her own and cruising around furniture, but anytime someone tried to coax her to let go and walk, she would simply refuse.  Today, her mother “caught” her walking across the dining room.  I joked that maybe she had been a “closet walker.”

It reminded me of when my own children were little and I was teaching them to swim.  I remember other parents at the pool begging, scolding, or trying to reason with their own children to let go of the side, go under water, or jump into the pool.  My style was to simply stay within arm’s reach and let them explore whatever felt comfortable.  None of them were afraid of water.  All of them learned to swim at a young age.  And I didn’t push.  I simply let them do what came naturally.

They all love water.  I think it is partly because I loved water and I just let them be around it in whatever capacity they felt comfortable.  Now I believe getting out of our comfort zone is good for us, but sometimes it just takes baby steps.      

Snow Day

Being a teacher, I always looked forward to snow days because it was an unexpected day to catch up, get some things done around the house, or just wake up when my body was rested instead of when the alarm clock gave the command.  (I especially loved those snow days when the meteorologists’ predictions were wrong, or when the weather was cleared up by lunch time.)  As a mother, the best thing about a snow day is having an unexpected day with my kids.