Yesterday I was reading the condolences on the funeral home’s website for my Aunt. Both talked about the time that they spent with her…going to the cottage or hanging out at the house. Those are my most vivid memories were going out to eat for birthday, pizza at her house. It was the act of spending time together.
My Mom was the one in the family who kept track of all the births, marriages and deaths. She would take the time to send a card for a couples wedding anniversary. She would phone up a friend from church on the anniversary of her husband’s death. When Mom died it was those people who reciprocated. When someone we love dies it isn’t the presents or things that we remember but the time spent with them. I have friends on facebook that didn’t know Mom but they knew of the type of person she must of been because of the person I am.
The sad thing is that I know of many people who will never get this concept. We somehow think there will always be time and then one day we wake up and it’s gone.
At the same time I think we have to be extravagant in the love that we give ourselves. This is the week where many people are running to and fro to dinners and parties. I hope we take the time to sit with a cup of cocoa in our pjs with a good book. Go for a manicure, maybe a bubble bath. Sit and watch the lights twinkle on the tree.
Time doesn’t cost anything but it’s value is priceless.
I know it’s probably not PC to say it out loud but I’m glad Christmas is over. Every year it seems the season gets longer. The sappy Christmas movies, the struggle of what to buy for gift exchange and reminders all around of the people that are missing. For a lot of people Christmas is a lonely time. For our family we now have another reminder that Christmas Eve is the day we lost 2 special people.
This morning I went out for coffee with a friend that I get together with once a month. I phoned her yesterday to chat. She is probably the person that I am most real with. I was telling her how growing up I thought the values that my parents instilled were so old fashioned and yet they seem to be falling by the wayside. My Aunt phoned yesterday so that she could get the names of my Dad’s eldest sister’s grandchildren. My Mom had an address book in which she put the dates of marriages, births and deaths. She was the go-to person for info. Nowadays people move so often that I don’t even have many addresses.
I was talking to a relative on Mom’s side Monday night and she said she doesn’t send out Christmas cards anymore so I said it was something that was important to Mom so I like to keep the tradition alive. When I went to open my gift from my friend she said there isn’t a card. That’s the way I was raised you read the card first. Since we were out my friend asked if I needed to go anywhere else so I went into Shoppers Drug Mart to buy a couple sympathy cards because for my Mom the proper thing to do would be to send one to each child. I do have to confess that growing up we were taught to “do the right thing” but in later years that changed to doing what was best for ourselves. I should go to the funeral out of respect for my Aunt but I also know it would stir up a lot of stuff for me. It’s too soon after my Mom died.
My Dad didn’t get the concept of email and the fact that we didn’t have internet access until after he died is probably why I prefer face to face contact or a phone call. While my friend could listen on the phone yesterday there is nothing better than a hug. My parents were the people that taught me that if someone goes out of their way for you a Tim’s card or a box of chocolates would be a nice gesture.
Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching me that values are never old fashioned.
This morning I learned that my Dad’s eldest sister passed away Christmas Eve…5 years to the day that his youngest brother died. Somehow it seems fitting although I don’t think Christmas will ever be the same for our family. It’s a blessing, she was 94 and lived a good long life. She is reunited with her husband, her child and all her siblings that have gone before her. There were originally 7 kids but the second oldest sister died many years ago. This picture was taken at her son’s wedding in 1984. I think it was Dad’s favourite picture…it was certainly Mom’s.
My Aunt loved art and would give that as a wedding present. Mom and Dad had it hung in the living room over the couch. Her husband let her have free reign in what she brought into the house but he didn’t always like it. Her husband was a meat and potatoes man and she told us the story of when she would try out something new on him he would say “that was good but don’t do it again”. My fondest memories are going over to swim (they had an indoor pool) and we would have Mother’s pizza for lunch. At ten years old this was my idea of heaven! The adults would sit in the “den”. I’m not sure you could call it living room as it was a space off the kitchen. I remember her telling us that the reason she ordered in was that she spent years in the kitchen missing out on the conversation and isn’t that the point of having company. That really stayed with me. When I got older I once asked Mom how come her husband was never home when we went. He was always out golfing.
We used to joke that my Aunt was the one who tried to give us culture. She would give us books for Christmas and we would often see her at plays at the Grand. We went to see a play about Frida K and happened to bump into her in the lobby. She asked us how we liked it and Janet being the outspoken person that she is said she didn’t.
My Uncle had his own business which did very well. My Aunt was not one to flaunt her wealth but she did have a membership at an exclusive club in the city. It was where we would go for our yearly sibling dinner. When we were young she would have what they referred to as “adult only” dinners. You know when you are young and think you are missing out…well I learned we weren’t! It was like every family there was a little bit of sibling rivalry at times but they would do anything for each other.
Whenever we had her over for dinner we usually had ham and scalloped potatoes because it’s easy. She loved it because you can’t make scalloped potatoes for one. We often had turnip puff too and there was no hiding that was what we were having as she could smell it as soon as she came in the door. We often had the siblings over for Dad’s birthday January 5 and she would bring a box of Laura Secord chocolates.
Her husband died of cancer so it was hard for her to see her brother deal with the same disease. We had a private internment for my Dad and she was so touched that each sibling got one rose to put on the grave. After Dad died she told us when we went to her house for lunch that we were courageous. Dad’s siblings were not one to give out compliments lightly so this was HUGE. Dad’s family were taught to keep a stiff upper lip when they went through tough times and my Aunt never talked about her husband or her son. When their youngest brother died I could see the pain in her eyes but she wouldn’t let anyone see. What a reunion they must all be having in heaven. As much as it makes me sad that I lost a kind, generous Aunt I can smile at the rich life she led.
I think this is an appropriate word for me today because if I took the two previous words communal and torn it would be an accurate representation of how I feel this year. I think of cooking with my Mom or standing over the stove making the stuffing or gravy for Christmas Day. Christmas is the one holiday where it is about family coming together and it’s hard being alone.
Last night I was chatting with a friend on Facebook and we got talking about going out shopping for Boxing Day. It reminded me of going out to White Oaks mall with my Dad…well attempting to as the parking lot was full. As I have written here my Dad was practical when it came to money but for Christmas he would tell us we were allowed to blow the whole lot ($100) on whatever we wanted. She laughed and said that’s so great. And I smiled because it was such a great memory and what I needed.
I was also reminded of my Mom driving my brother back to university so she would go into Kingsmills and buy a new bra. She liked the long lined ones and they were the only place she could get them. Sometimes she would go to shoppers Drug Mart and get her cards for next year.
Christmas wasn’t a big affair for us but it was full of little things that made it special. Oh how I miss them.
These 2 photos are among my favourites for the year because of what they represent. I remember how I couldn’t wait to be able to go out shopping for patio furniture. My friend and I went on a Friday afternoon to JYSK and we had fun trying out all the different ones even though some were far too big for a balcony. My friend picked out the cushions as I was going to buy ones that were a little more muted and she said “no, these are you” We had a huge deck at the house but it was rare that I had the time to sit outside to enjoy it. I have pictures of my morning coffee and scone on my side table. I have eaten a tomato tart that I have picked up at the market and ribs for dinner.
The second picture is from tea at Eldon House. An event I haven’t done for many years as well. When I look back at the year it involves buying flowers for myself, a piece of artwork for my dining room…little things that make me happy.
Ahh what an appropriate word for today as this is the season when I think “oh I should phone…” I’ve always wondered why it’s just at Christmas? Shouldn’t we think of these people all year round? I know for some people there was almost a sense of duty to it. My parents always said the phone works both ways…that one person shouldn’t be doing the phoning all the time.
With my friends we tend to email more often than phone. 3 years ago I went out for lunch with my coffee buddy and last year I went out for dinner with my friend and her partner. Both special days as we did gift exchange and took pictures. I have known my coffee buddy for years and this was the first time we had a picture together.
Somehow time gets away from all of us. Phoning a friend just to chat doesn’t happen as often as maybe we would like. Thankfully true friends don’t keep track and we can just pick up where we left off.
1. 8 hrs of sleep
2. to go along with #1 a good nap
3. The first cup of coffee in the morning
4. A cup of cocoa and a good book to read after Christmas
5. A clean apartment and no laundry to do (the second one is a rarity so when it happens it’s nice)
6. A perfect summer day (which for me would be about 24 degrees with a little bit of cloud)
7. The first strawberry of the season
8. Red lobster biscuits
9. A cup of iced tea on a hot day
10. Spending time with good friends
Just back from going to the mailroom to check for mail. To my surprise I got 3 cards today!! One was fairly thick so I wondered what was in it. When I got up to my apartment I found a crocheted red and green ornament inside from my cousin. I didn’t put up a tree this year but it will go on next! It reminds me of my grandma even though she didn’t teach my cousin to crochet. I know my Uncle feels the same way. Her mother was a knitter so I think my grandma just assumed she would pick up that.
I sent a little something to a twin friend of mine in the US. She called it a “mouse of friendship”. I didn’t know what to get her but when I found it online I thought she would like it.
Sending cards in the mail is expensive nowadays and sending a package even more so. But I only do it once a year. To me it’s such a little thing to make someone’s day a little brighter.
A friend posted a photo of an ornament that was passed down in her family. Designers have colour coordinated trees but for me it’s all about the stories attached to the ornament. My Mom still put on the snowflake that my brother made when he was little. In later years he was embarrassed but she liked it. We had clothespin reindeers. When I think of our best traditions they don’t involve money…it’s sitting listening to Christmas music while Mom writes a card, looking at the lights on the tree, going for a walk.
Spending time with the people I love.
Yesterday I received a copy of a Christmas letter sent by email. I can see the convenience of it because you just type out the letter save it to your computer and attach the file to all the people on your mailing list. But to me it seems so impersonal. It just takes an extra step to go and buy cards and put them in a mail box. I have only received 2 cards so far and think someday they will be the stuff of “legends”
I also found out by accident that a daughter of a friend of mine got married in the summer. We lost contact because I would phone or email but she wasn’t good at responding.
That’s the thing about all of these forms of communication it can take away from that personal connection if we let it. I talk a lot to my friend that lives in Australia and without email I never would have reconnected with her. When I joined the Twinless Twins group there was a chat room on the website and many nights Mom would go to bed listening to me laughing and this was a time when there wasn’t a lot to laugh at.
This is the time of year where we are all busy but it’s also the time of year where we reach out to people. I will phone someone to wish them a Merry Christmas or put a card in a neighbours mailbox.
My coffee buddy and I always give each other a hug goodbye. I’m a hugger so that’s one way I love to connect with people.
Last night I was chatting with a friend on fb and something she said got me thinking about how we make a house a home.
Growing up my Mom often talked about people my age who were just starting out and they didn’t want to start at the bottom. What she meant by that was starting in a small apartment or a one bedroom house…they wanted to immediately go to the 4 bedroom house with all the amenities. Whenever we had to park on the side street to go to church Mom would tell me the story of their first apartment. It was in a duplex and it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I can’t imagine my Dad living in an apartment because he loved to garden and he was a person that needed lots of space.
My grandparents lived in a 3 bedroom apartment across the street from us. Alright when I was little but not so much when I was a teenager. They did not have a dining room so had the table at one end of the living room. They didn’t use the living room except for company. It had a tiny kitchen (well normal size for most apartments) so she rolled her dough out on the dining room table. Their apartment was LIVED IN. She had Knick knacks everywhere and pictures in every room. She had our grade 8 grad photos in a frame…one on one side one on the other. A visitor looked at it and asked why she changed and grandma had to explain its 2 girls.
I grew up in a 4 bedroom house. Nowadays people want a master bath…we had one for 5 people. A powder room on the main floor was a must for my Dad. I didn’t grow up with a dishwasher and we didn’t have central air until I was in my late 20s. When we had Dad’s siblings over for cake for his birthday it was a little tight but it worked.
I’ve included 2 photos of my apartment…sort of a before and after. What a different furniture and a little art does to a room. I realize that I am “lucky” (is that the right word) to live in a place with a lot of room and all the things on my wish list.
We all take what we have and make it a home. I am thankful for friends whose homes expand to include one more.