My blog kind of took a different turn this morning after seeing a post by a Facebook friend. When someone is going through a tough time we write (hugs) which is our way of sending comfort and love. This got me thinking about how their are different types of hugs.
Going though photo albums there are a few pictures like this which I would consider a half hug. This is so US because it represents the twin bond. How we were sisters, twins and best friends.
When Mom and I went to a bereavement support group at the end of the evening we would go around and give a hug. These are the hugs of comfort. The hugs when you lean on someone crying and their shirt gets wet. Those are the special people that see you at your most vulnerable.
When my Dad was in the hospital Mom and I would give him a hug goodbye. This was something I worked up to because my Dad was not a demonstrative person but it was a way that we could show that we loved him. He would hug me back.
I couple of years ago I wrote a post titled embrace after going out for lunch with a friend from public school. When we arrive at the restaurant the first thing we do is give each other a big hug in greeting. When I go for coffee with my friend she gives me a hug before I get out of the car. I love a good bear hug and the sexton at our church was the best.
If you can give someone a hug today. If you can’t give a physical one send someone an email to tell them you are thinking of them.
I think “just because” is a great way to describe something that is usually spontaneous. Mom would often take us out for breakfast when we were young. Of course we could have breakfast at home but it was something we could do just because we felt like it. We got a card in the mail advertising dinners at Idlewyld Inn so my Dad decided to take me and Mom out for a lobster dinner for my birthday. My Dad was not an extravagant person but once he had an idea in his head there was no stopping him.
A friend of mine used to have what my Mom called “hen parties”. She would invite single friends over for dinner and we would just hang out for the day. It wasn’t someone’s birthday, she just decided that she wanted to hang out with friends.
I often buy myself “just because” flowers. It used to be that I would do it for my birthday or the anniversary of Janet’s death. Then I started buying them if I was having a tough day. When I would go to the market and Harris Flowers was there I would buy some to brighten the table.
A memory came up on Facebook today of a bracelet that I bought for a friend. It was more than I would usually spend for a gift but when I saw it I immediately thought of her. She put it on the day that she got it and she said it brightened her day. Christmas is the time when we give a gift to the neighbour that shovelled our driveway or cookies to the superintendents. We smile at strangers. It’s a time to share love BECAUSE
The other day I took some recycling out and noticed that someone now has a wreath on their door. I thought it was a little early but I can see why people decorate before December 1. It’s so much work for 3 maybe 4 weeks out of the year. Yesterday I was watching Rachael Ray and her guest was talking about how much room you have to allow for your tree and how many lights you need per foot. Apparently it’s 100 lights per foot…who knew? Basically one strand. Yeah it ain’t happening. There are years I don’t even bother putting on the lights. In my apartment I had to transfer the plugs for the tv and cable box to another outlet so I could use the closest one for the lights.
I have included a picture of my tree lit for Christmas. The tree skirt was purchased last year. I don’t like the fancy trees with blue and silver balls, I like a tree to have a story. When a friend goes to check out the tree I want to be able to share with them where each ornament came from. It’s about carrying on the traditions. Feeling like my family is with me whenever I look at the tree.
I usually put up the tree every other year when my friend visits. I will decorate the bookcase and put the fancy pillows out. The nutcracker was a gift last year and fits perfectly on the bookshelf. The gold “trees” were purchased at Walmart to put on the mantle. The lantern was a thank you gift. All the items were purchased at separate occasions but somehow it all works together. A twin friend of mine said it all looks so “homey” and it makes me feel good that it does.
One week tonight is the lighting of the lights at Victoria Park which is what I think of as the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Last year it was quite mild so I walked around the park during the day and took photos of the Santa House, the nativity scene and Santa’s reindeer. Even when I watch the official tree lighting on the news there is something magical about it all.
Have you ever noticed how many sounds we hear during the day? Since it’s Tuesday I woke up to the sound of the trucks picking up recycling. Before I decide to get up to greet the day (as my Mom would say) I lay in bed listening to the gentle whir of the fan. Yes, I’m one of those people who sleeps with a fan on even in the winter (although to be fair it’s much warmer in an apartment than a house!). When I sit at the side of the bed it sounds like snap, crackle and pop. As I wander out to the kitchen I look forward to my morning ritual of coffee percolating and the satisfying drip drip when it finishes. Depending on how big a cup I make there will be the ding of the microwave as I reheat it.
I need to do laundry today so there will be the hum of the washing machine going in the background.
Living in the city it’s rarely quiet. I can hear cars going by, fire trucks, dogs barking. I have 2 trees in front of my balcony so in the fall I get the “benefit” of listening to the very loud leaf blower. I hate them but I get that it has to be done and is much easier for the maintenance crew.If my super is in the hallway I can hear the ringtone on his cellphone. Despite the fact that I live in an apartment it’s not noisy except for the everyday noises of my super vacuuming, the elevator door closing or the click of a door locking as someone goes off to work.
I have never been one of those people who had to have the tv on in the background for company. I’m ok with the silence. Lately I have been missing Janet a lot since Christmas is fast approaching. The day to day stuff is easy enough to do on my own it’s wishing I had my best friend here to go shopping with or go to bazaars. I miss the sound of her laughter.
For me the word stir brings to mind cooking with my grandma or my Mom. This morning a friend of mine wrote about the differences between The British Baking Challenge and the Canadian one. I came across one of them last night and they had to make apple butter from scratch but none of them knew what it was or how to make it. I remember purchasing it at Metro one time and the cashier didn’t know what it was. My Mom would go out to a apple stand and I would buy a jar or apple butter for my Dad for Christmas. Growing up on a farm they would take their imperfect apples to a plant and they would turn it into apple butter. The contestants were peeling the apples but I’m pretty sure you leave the skin on. My Dad enjoyed it on a piece of toast but it’s really great on a slice of fresh bread.
My Dad grew black currants so we would take them over to my grandparents to make them into jam. Oh my goodness it’s such a process and only 2 in the family even liked it. It’s not like strawberries cooking it’s very strong. Janet and I would go over to visit every Saturday and my grandmother would give us oatmeal cookies for a treat. We took home ec in high school and had to make a sauce using a double boiler. There was one young woman who didn’t even know what it was. You can make a cheese sauce without a double boiler but it just tasted better. There were times when the process seemed so long because you have to stand over the pot and constantly stir. You think it will never thicken and then all of a sudden like magic it does. My grandmother made the best mac and cheese it was so creamy.
We didn’t have a fancy machine to mix cookies so we would just take a spoon and mix until it got fluffy. The great thing about 2 people working on it when one person got tired the other person could take over. All my memories are of sitting on the stool at the kitchen counter helping my Mom or my sister mix something. If we made lasagna I was in charge of making the sauce, Janet mixed the cottage cheese and egg mixture and Mom grated the cheese.
I think it’s why I don’t bake that often because for me it was a shared experience. The food tasted better because it was made with love.
What is your favourite sweet treat?
Being diabetic I don’t have sweet treats very often so if I do it has to be really good. I’ve started buying products from The Whole Grain Hearth and anything they make is delicious. They use seasonal ingredients so one week it will be strawberry/rhubarb, then peaches when they are in season.
If you want to relax what it is your go to?
This one is easy. You are looking at it
I will sit on the balcony with my morning coffee or enjoy a lunch with items I picked up at the Farmers Market. It’s my spot to read my Oprah magazine or chick lit. It always makes me a little sad when I have to bring the cushions in for the season. We had a cold wet spring so I didn’t feel like I had enough opportunities to sit outside this year but I made the most of the days we did have!!
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Hmm I’m not sure I have one. If I had to think about it it would probably be food. Other than rent it’s my biggest expense for the month. If you read my blog posts in the summer the majority of my posts are about the food at the market. I don’t know that it’s a guilty pleasure since it’s eating healthy food and I’m supporting local farmers. The guilty part of it is probably admitting to how much money I spend a week on food purchased there…but it’s soo good!
Clothes might be another one. Confession time…I bought a new shirt for Christmas because I’ve worn another shirt a few times to dinner. If I find an item I like I might spend a little bit more. Since I am fair skinned I don’t wear black since it washes me out but 99% of holiday wear IS BLACK!
Last night I was watching New Amsterdam. I ended up watching it on my Ipad since the new episode wasn’t loaded into On Demand yet. New Amsterdam is one of those shows that tugs at the heartstrings. Watching Max go through cancer treatment was like watching my Dad and there are similarities between some of the ways Max is dealing with his grief in losing his wife. At the start of the show Dr. Sharpe was mad at Max for refusing her offer of a cleaning service. This was me because when a person is grieving there is a fine line between helping and imposing. But at the same time the person who is grieving doesn’t even know HOW to ask for help. At the end of the episode the team knocks on Max’s door with cleaning supplies. As soon as Georgia told Max “it’s ok to let people in” I started crying. There is a vulnerability to letting people see you at your worst. You want to believe that you are capable of doing it on your own.
In my last post I talked about having random conversations about my twin Janet. My Dad’s family wasn’t comfortable talking about someone after they died so Mom and I had to find other places to do so. She lives on in me so why wouldn’t I talk about her? There is a holiday event downtown the end of November. It’s one of those things that I would have gone with Janet. Yesterday I bought a new shirt for a Christmas dinner. If Janet was still here she would have bought the red one and I would have bought the gold one. At the same time I can hear my Mom in my head “you spent HOW MUCH?” Love means that I can hear their voice or their laughter. I can feel their presence.