WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN THERE’S NOTHING TO DO?


Stepping Off On a Wing and a Prayer

‘STEPPING OFF ON A WING AND A PRAYER’ Stoneware Sculpture by Kayti Sweetland Rasmussen

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REGRET: Definition: An uncomfortable condition often caused by our own actions.

Sometimes we need to stop and think before we take a leap of faith.

Life isn’t always as it seems, and it isn’t the fall that may hurt you—it’s the landing and the irreversible outcome of our own actions which cause regret.

APPRECIATION: Definition: Thankfulness for the help of others. (Sometimes slow in coming.)

Should we tell this little pilot that she is missing a wing??

What matters is not what you see, but what you think you see.

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CHRISTMAS PAST


Don't Worry Be Happy
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” clay sculpture by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

As Christmases go, the 2013 version was exceptionally nice. Stretched over a three day period, it was delightfully non-stressful, with plenty of time to enjoy family, food and friends. The clan gathered on the 22nd, (that is, the half which did not enjoy the Thanksgiving turkey). I have friends who sent out the parental command for each holiday or special occasion, and it worked wonders for them. My own mother-in-law who lived around the corner, assumed that we would all be present each Sunday as the dinner bell rang, and most of the time we complied.

The only sour note on the big day was the sudden realization that the date was Charlie’s 7th birthday and no one gave him a gift or sang happy birthday. I have a friend who has a charming little black poodle named Penelope, for whom she throws an actual party on each natal day. To be perfectly honest, Penelope is quiet and polite, lying on her human “mother’s” lap, nibbling on a tidbit here and there, while Charlie, by virtue of his Jack Russell heritage and an obscene amount of bonhomie, simply wants to chase a ball through the house.

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It’s true that holiday celebrations change as you grow older. As a child in Long Beach, we often spent Thanksgiving with my great-aunt and uncle, but we stayed home on Christmas. I remember thinking that Auntie’s Christmas tree was not a friendly happy tree all dressed in blue and silver, while ours had lots of colored lights, and old ornaments from years past. I was a strong believer in the Santa myth, and was suitably surprised to find that he had delivered the tree all decorated on Christmas Eve after we were all asleep. How he got our old ornaments I never figured out. I was a believer until the age of eight, when I was awakened by a walnut being dropped on my head by my father as he was filling my stocking on the headboard of my bed.

I was a Navy child, and we spent a few of those early Christmas days alone in another port. Some were better than others, and one was definitely not a festive celebration. Our orders had come through and we were packed and ready to leave on the day after Christmas, so there was no tree, no big dinner, and the few gifts we exchanged were simply handed to one another with no particular ceremony. Strangely enough, I remember my gift, which is not always the case. It was a gold locket engraved with my initials, KLS, and opened to hold pictures. I have it still in an old jewelry box, and it contains small photos of my parents, who were approximately 30 years old that Christmas.

Christmas 1941 was somber, since the United States had just gone to War, but it would have been much more painful had we been aware that my father was in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during the attack. In fact, his ship, the U.S.S. Bagley, was moored across the channel from the Arizona, which took such a dreadful pounding from the Japanese.

As the years passed, and children arrived, we used new tricks every year to convince them of Santas’s existence. One year, Dr. Advice tracked ashes on the carpet in front of the fireplace. If there was snow, we tracked flour on the hearth. I wonder if it really ever fooled the kids, or if they simply humored us.

The thing about Christmas Past, is that it prepares us for the New Year and all that Resolution thing. I refuse to make any guarantees about life style changes, since people usually make the same promises every year, and have broken each one by the end of January.

However you choose to approach the New Year, I wish you the very best of health, with enough wealth to get you through the month with a little left over for a rainy day!

GRANDMA’S STORY-TELLING BED


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To say my grandmother often changed her place of residence would be an understatement, but wherever she moved, there were a few belongings which went with her. Among them were the treasured connections to her New England birthplace. A large old dresser made by her great-grandfather in mid-nineteenth century, the large old Kendall family bible, her mother’s childhood autograph book and diary, and not the least, her large old bed. Fortunately for her descendants, Grandma was a saver. She took great pride in assuring us of our proper place in civilized society. Of course like many others in the Great Depression, we had no money, but you can bet your boots
grandma made sure we had class!

The old bed and dresser, like many of the other pieces of memorabilia, now live my house, having dutifully passed through a generation. Grandchildren and now great-grandchildren have been lulled to sleep while snuggled deep in old quilts made by loving hands of long-dead grandmothers. It has been a favorite beacon for story-telling time, stories ranging from fairy princesses to Ranger Dan and the Cowboys, and it was a great place from which to listen for the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells. The edges of the day called out to small children that if they were very quiet, a story might be waiting in Grandma’s bed.

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I am the Grandma now, and have been for many years. Now Great Grandchildren climb upon the old bed, but times have changed. TV is nearly old-hat, and iPad is close behind. What will be the next digital story-teller to amuse these modern children? On Thanksgiving Day a seven year old Great Granddaughter was seen on the old bed watching the movie “Jaws”. I have never thought of that killer shark being a symbol of the harvest festival, and yet?

As this Christmas approaches, I hope someone will still be held in rapt admiration of the great Santa myth, told with such practiced panache by this Grandma, or will there be something new to entertain?

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Times have indeed changed. I even find that I have somehow shrunk during this past year. Children and grandchildren have always been taller than I, but this year while reaching for the wine glasses for Thanksgiving dinner, I found I could not reach the glasses on the second shelf. It truly is not fair, and I hope an absence of height will not be the legacy I leave. Grandma left her bed, so she will be remembered for that. My mother wanted people to remember her as being fun. But I guess we aren’t in charge of others memories.

The radio has been churning out Christmas music since the day before Thanksgiving, and we will remember Bing Crosby singing about a White Christmas he probably never saw, but the saddest legacy in the music department has to be for poor Gene Autry, who rode herd on countless villains on his trusty white steed, but ultimately will be remembered for writing and singing “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.