Monday, December 18, 2017

When You Find Yourself Alone for the Holidays

We're always talking about being grateful at Thanksgiving which may have something to do with the reminder in its very name, THANKSgiving. Who isn't going to remember to be grateful when the word 'thanks' is part of the holiday?

I am getting better at remembering to be grateful on an almost daily basis. I've tried the thankful journals but I can't seem to get them to continue after a couple months. I forget to write down my gratefuls for the day after that but I do remember to mention them in my mind and that counts, right? I mean, as long as we're aware of our thankfuls, we don't' really have to write them down. I think.

Sometimes it feels as though life is trying to steal our joy and take our focus off our thankfuls which really means we can't see our thankfuls or feel the feels because all we're focused on are the reasons the holidays aren't going to be the way they've been in the past. As I continue to read posts on that Empty Nesters Facebook group I realize some Empty Nesters are having trouble finding their Christmas gratefuls. I suppose I would, too if I found myself home alone for the holidays while my family members were out celebrating with other families or if they lived so far away coming home just wasn't in the cards. But Y'all, we have to find some way to have a grateful heart even though...

I know for most of us the most important people in our lives are our families, especially our children no matter how old they are and being without them certainly can put a damper on our holiday celebrations.

And what if all that is coupled by not wanting to intrude on the celebrations of friends' families? Not having a church or some other social group? Not having a SO? No pet? Just us. Alone. There are folks out there who are finding themselves alone during the holidays. Instead of being overtaken by sadness, surely there are ways to combat being alone for the holidays. I do not have firsthand knowledge of this and I hope I never do but should it happen---

Here's what I hope I would do should I ever find myself alone during the holidays:

  1. Put on that Christmas music, watch those Christmas movies, and get those decorations up anyway. If you've always decorated for Christmas, now is not the time to stop. Simplify if you'd like but not decorating won't help. You've enjoyed your decorations all those years before, enjoy them now. Take on a new appreciation. Get some new ornaments. Just decorate. AND THEN order something for yourself and have it delivered gift wrapped and put it under the tree. 
  2. Make a holiday meal and the traditional goodies anyway. If you don't want to eat them, wrap them up for neighbors and friends. Just because you are alone doesn't mean you can't participate. 
  3. Go on holiday or make it seem so right at home. 
  4. Serve at a homeless shelter, an orphanage, volunteer at My Sister's House, spend time at the ASPCA. Anything anywhere. There are people and animals who need love so I hope I'd share mine with them. We've served at a soup kitchen type place in the past and I promise it's worth it to go. The conversations you will have with those down on their luck are nothing less than fascinating. And Y'all, the nursing homes are full of elderly folks who have been placed there and forgotten. There are so many who are alone every time a holiday rolls around. Make those connections. 
  5. Get outside and look for those sharing goodwill. Just watching others walking around with an attitude of goodwill can make you feel better inside. 
  6. Get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. The colors, the carolers, the happy faces, the houses with lights, SANTA! It's all out there, go. experience. it. 
  7. Get out with a camera and record what other people are doing. We spend our holidays with our lovely families but if faced without them for the season, how fun would it be to get out and record what we see other families doing? Not in a creepy way, of course. 
  8. Walk yourself right into a church for their Christmas service. Some will be welcoming (and yes, I have something to say about churches who are not welcoming but this is not the place) and you may just find some new friends. 
  9. Make yourself a new tradition or two.
  10. Host a holiday gathering at home and invite anyone and everyone. 

The main thing here would be to not dwell on not having your family with you over the holidays but to find meaning for yourself. Stop yourself from letting the thoughts of what isn't happening prevent you from enjoying the holidays anyway. No, it won't be the same but that doesn't mean it can't be pleasant and enjoyable. Heck, you might even have fun! What?!

Perhaps starting an Empty Nest social media group for locals and connecting would help connect with other empty nesters who will understand your position. Or a book club for empty nesters or just a weekly or monthly social outing. Like it or not, our kids are going to grow up and fly out on their own. While this is a very good and natural thing, if you're having trouble with it there are plenty of ways to share all that love and care that doesn't stop just because the kids did grow up and move on.

If you do find yourself alone this holiday season, try to change your mindset. Focus on what you can do instead of what isn't happening. If you can't pull yourself out of it, please reach out for help to someone even if it isn't family. If you know someone who will be alone, reach out and invite them over.

Christmas is the perfect time for caring and sharing and you might find it follows you throughout the year instead of one day.

Have Y'all ever found yourselves alone on a holiday?

Please visit my Etsy shop, CoasterDoodles

and feel free to FAVORITE the shop
or buy something! 😁💓 
We're more than coasters these days. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Slow Down with the Hodgepodge

We're so close to Christmas, Y'all and I want to know how that happened. After the no gifts of last year, I've been busy buying presents this week and I'm all but finished! WooHoo! I may have focused on the grandbabies but everyone can understand it or get over it. Their choice. Seriously, we all focused on the babies and they're already spoiled so it's all good. I had a few words to say about grandchildren and Christmas this week. Y'all can read about it if you'd like. I left the link in the random thoughts section. 

Without further ado, here's the Hodgepodge!  

From this Side of the Pond

1. 'Hurry less, worry less'...what's your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? I just refuse to rush and I have the philosophy that if it doesn't get done, it just doesn't get done. How's it going so far? It's going fine. I grew tired decades ago of rushing around getting things done and not being able to enjoy the holidays so I developed some very good preparation skills. I thrive on being prepared and not going off scurrying and worrying about this and that. And if someone comes to me at the last minute, they know my answer is something along the lines of, nope. 

2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? Ha! I wish. There are not large enough differences between our winters and the other seasons so, no. The coldest I've known it to get here in winter is 18 degrees. This year we've hit 31 but that's still flip-flop weather for me but, full disclosure that's more because I don't like anything touching my feet and if I was going to be out for a long time I would cover those toes up. What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks? If we did have to prepare for winter I'm sure we'd do it ourselves. We do everything else ourselves so I doubt this would be any different. Just so Y'all know, I am always hopeful that each year will be the year we get some snow! 

3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What's the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? My first thought was, I already use or do most of this. My second thought was, lentils- ew. Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? If they're not already there, they won't make it. I make a fantastic sandwich on pita with veggies and sprouts. It is delish! It's based on a sandwich called 'Mister Natural' we used to make at a pub type place I worked in during college. Also, can milk really be dairy free? Not in the true sense of the word. Is it still milk? 
Technically (meaning according to the definition of 'milk') no. There is a debate about this between dairy farmers and producers of other forms of 'milk.'

4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site 'Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.' What say you? Oh, dear. Do you like the color purple? I have hated the color purple for decades but I promised I would no longer hate it if the Vikings beat the Falcons a couple weeks ago. Why? Because I do HATE the Falcons (yes, there's a reason. A few years ago after the Falcons defeated us (the Panthers) the camera was on Matt Ryan (Falcons QB) as he said, "Now, get the f&%^ off my field" only he said the word which made me very angry and I've hated them ever since) and really love it when they lose to anyone. Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  I did! And I LOVED them! Is purple a color you wear often? Never and even though I can't hate it anymore, I still won't wear it. Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple. There is nothing in my house that color unless I have blueberries in the fridge. If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018? Maybe something in the turquoise family. It looks so good with my favorite color, red. And yes, I realize the Falcons colors are red and black. Again yes, there almost always is a story behind all my answers I just usually spare Y'all.

5. Favorite book read this year? This one which I read it to Bug all the time along with 25,000 other books which is why I have no time to read anything of my own:

6.  Insert your own random thought here. LOADS on my mind right now but I'm putting it all aside because of what I wrote in THIS post about grandchildren and Christmas which you can read right HERE if you haven't already. 

Have a great rest of the week, Y'all!

Please visit my Etsy shop, CoasterDoodles

and feel free to FAVORITE the shop
or buy something! 😁💓

I've got hand-drawn travertine stone coasters 
and so much more for Christmas!

If you live in the lower 48 you can enjoy 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Word About Christmas And Grandchildren

I remember the excitement of the holidays when I was growing up that all started with climbing into the attic to retrieve the boxes filled with Christmas treasures- the big plastic Santa face, the floral displays made of plastic poinsettias, glass ornaments, and glitter all contained on the hidden piece of florist Styrofoam, and the ornaments all different colors and shapes to adorn the  tree which was slowly transformed into a colorful Christmas delight complete with a star on top.

I remember enjoying the excitement of my four daughters when they were growing up. I never knew there would be anything more delightful than those memories. Nothing more wonderful. Until I had grandchildren.

Grandchildren are the best gift I've ever received. Their tiny little smiles can turn a bad day into the best day you've ever had in a matter of seconds so it's no surprise they make the holiday season more wonderful than they've ever been.

Grandchildren make Christmas easier. Simpler. More enjoyable. You find you aren't as concerned about how the ornaments on the tree are placed or whether or not you got everything out and placed. You don't worry about not having the Christmas spirit because they have so much it spills over and you catch it. Joy is automatic with grandchildren. Automatic and permanent. It's a beautiful thing.

The way my Bug looks at the Christmas tree and points and tells me these elaborate tales which only a grandmother and granddaughter can understand brings a tear of joy to my eye every single time she does it. It's the most priceless experience I've ever had. And when she says, "Hi, Santa. Ho Ho Ho" well, nothing has ever sounded so sweet and I have to admit I love that she learned it right here at Grandma's house because Christmas is the best of all the holidays for this family.

Grandchildren force us to sit and observe with all our senses just by the wonder in their eyes which delights our very soul.

Grandchildren make us pray even harder for that world peace and change our Christmas wishes from material goods into hope, peace, love, and all other good things for all children and to get serious about making it happen.

Grandchildren make us feel more, they make us better people, they remind us of the importance of little things and enable us to appreciate the moment.

Grandchildren make us aware and awaken within us a stronger, deeper compassion for our fellow man than we ever thought possible whether or not we already possessed compassion.

Grandchildren remind us to see others not as strangers but as potential new friends because they see only the good in others. They encourage us to reconnect with our inner child.

Grandchildren remind us to be kind to all living things. All. Living. Things.

Grandchildren confirm for us we do indeed have a purpose and how easy it is to share.

Grandchildren make us wonder how it was even possible for the world to become the way it is.

Grandchildren show you-you are loved unconditionally.

Grandchildren remind you the unimportance of all that baggage we carry.

Grandchildren do all of this merely by being grandchildren.

This Christmas I wish all of you see the holiday through the eyes of your inner child, your children, your grandchildren... I wish all of you realize you are important to someone, that you have a purpose, that you are loved.

Please visit my Etsy shop, CoasterDoodles

and feel free to FAVORITE the shop
or buy something! 😁💓

I've got hand-drawn travertine stone coasters 
and so much more for Christmas!

If you'd like free shipping and live in the lower 48, I'll send you the FREE SHIPPING code just let me know in the comments you'd like to have it!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hodgepodge-ing Under Cloven Skies

How in the world is it this close to Christmas, Y'all? Seriously. How? I do look forward to Christmas every year but it's the anticipation and preparing for the big day that holds my heart and my memories so the closer it gets the more I want to slow down time and cherish my prepping and anticipating. It's nice to be able to join the Hodgepodge for a little holiday sharing, though! Let's get to it! 

From this Side of the Pond

1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life? My Life Sentence. Ha! How about Grandparenting, the Most Wonderful Time of My Life.

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? I try not to microwave anything. Those things are not the safest appliances. Could you get along without a microwave? Absolutely. 

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why? It Came Upon a Midnight Clear because I want to see the angels come out of those "cloven skies" from the second verse:

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing.
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken. I am a taker of the backroads every time I go anywhere if there's a backroads path available. I do not care about time, I care about traffic and the aesthetic value so I'm going to say anytime I've been on a drive on the backroads in autumn or winter and those few times I've been when there's a full moon so bright I could turn off my car lights. I love the silence of the backroads and the twists and turns as I wind my way up and down hills that are nonexistent in the low-country. I love the rich, vibrant colors of autumn because face it nobody paints like God and the way you can, every once in a while, see a little whirling of leaves falling and in winter I adore the starkness and the cold and the way the branches of hundreds of years old trees all knarled and knotted appearing the darkest black in contrast with a gray sky. There are such drama and peace in a winter's day. 

5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one) I don't have a Christmas list this year. I have learned not to bother. However, I do have Christmas wishes for a few days of fun and laughter of family together, for the delight of grandchildren and a renewed hope in my little world and in the great big world. Among others.

6. Insert your own random thought here. Did Y'all think I was going to put something grandchild related here? You were right. Ha! But first this- Dad had hip replacement surgery Monday and was home yesterday afternoon, isn't modern medicine amazing sometimes? Anyway, he said he wasn't worried at all because the lady who was in charge of setting up the surgery was Grace, the surgery took place at Mercy Hospital, and his check-in nurse's name was Angel. Dad said he know he was covered. :)

And now, grandchildren:

Y'all might recall Baby R's daddy somehow misses out on the pictures around here so I caught this one Monday. Seriously, how stinkin' cute is this? 

Here's that little darling boy by himself. Mister (thinking of this for Baby R's blog name) is 3 months old and already turning over both ways and will pull up to standing while holding onto your fingers. He talks and smiles all the time and has laughed out loud several times though it sort of startles him to do it. Can Y'all imagine the joy knowing my grandbabies are happy brings me and why didn't anyone tell me how many times I would tear up over the silliest things once I had grandchildren? 

Here's my girl having a discussion about the tree.

If you follow me via Instagram or Facebook, you already saw the video. If you haven't seen it, listen carefully and you'll hear Bug say, "Hi, Santa" and "Hi, Rudolph" towards the end. It's only 10 seconds long and I turned it off before I caught the "HoHoHo" because I had no idea she was going to say it. Hey, you take what you can get when a toddler is involved. 

And that friends, is why there is a tree up at Grandma's house this holiday season. Full heart doesn't even begin to cover it. 

Have Y'all checked your lists? Twice? Have a wonderful Wednesday, Y'all! 

Please visit my Etsy shop, CoasterDoodles

and feel free to FAVORITE the shop
or buy something! 😁💓

I've got new, hand-drawn travertine stone coasters for Christmas!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas

If there is one thing I am it's a traditionalist when it comes to our family and the holidays. It's the one thing that never changes. I'm comfortable with tradition. I like tradition. I LOVE tradition. I know tradition. Tradition has all the feels and fuels a time of reflection of loved ones gone on before us. Tradition allows time for sharing sweet memories of our childhoods and those who shaped us and provides an understanding of why family traditions are important.

This is not to say I have never changed a single thing about the way we celebrate any holiday because I have. For example, I haven't had the Christmas Day sit down dinner in years and before I stopped it altogether and started having Christmas brunch instead, I switched from turkey to prime rib. The world did not end so I do realize it's fine to stray from tradition. I just prefer to keep it intact for the most part.

I was thinking about putting up the Christmas tree this year and wondered if I wanted to try something different like not bothering with a tree, I don't but I did entertain the thought.

Why did I even entertain the thought of no tree? I can't help thinking we maybe shouldn't be cutting down living trees to bring them in the house so we can watch them die. So get a live tree- we have done that many times but I now use an artificial tree (which is a break from tradition for our family). Then there's the thought there may very well come a day I have zero help putting the tree up and an alternative would be better than no tree at all. Of course, there are those with limited space or limited income or some other issue who can't put up a tree. As empty nesters some folks might have a difficult time with the traditional ways of decorating and alternative ideas might help them through the first years without having kids in the house and then the older folks who just can't physically do it anymore. Anyway,  alternative ideas are helpful if we can let go of that particular tradition.

As I tend to do when entertaining a thought, I perused the internet and found a few interesting ideas some of which I found appealing others, nope.

1. Just take a pallet and saw off the boards for a tree. This really isn't that bad. I would consider this for decoration and wouldn't be opposed to it if the day comes I'm not able to have a traditional tree. I would probably decorate it differently but it's not horrible.

2. Y'all have seen these before, right? This would only work for me if using old magazines because I can't even dogear a book much less turn it into a Christmas tree. There are many other good ideas using books as Christmas trees.

3. Ok, I know. This uses pages from books. Old books. I love the look and I actually have a couple books whose pages have come loose I could use for this idea. You could also print pages from the internet and make this one happen. I do like it.

4. Books, again? Yes. We are a family of readers and we LOVE books. Plus, Dad's mother was the librarian in her town so we also have an appreciation for treating books with respect. This seems a very good way to have a tree and use books without marring or destroying them.

5. This is a twofer. The candy cane tree is nice but I thought it appeared pink and I do not do pink. But other color candy canes could be used. I love the bookcase idea! I might do this in the nursery. Except it won't stay that was because there's a 17-month-old granddaughter and soon-to-be-crawling grandson around here.

6. I love this stick tree. It's so simple but would probably be heavy to move. Maybe it could be left out and decorated for every season? Again, there is a 17-month-old granddaughter and soon-to-be-crawling grandson around and all I can see is an accident waiting to happen. Still, pretty.

7. The old cardboard cutout. I do not usually love these but this is not bad and I saw several others that were pretty creative so, I'd consider one of these.  I'm sure Bug would have a blast with her crayons on this one. Ha!
 8. Y'all, I have no earthly idea what the heck this is. And I'm just going to say no to it but someone must like it because it was on the internet. LOL

9. Ok, I actually LOVE this idea and started the project a couple years ago but Bug arrived and this is something she would love to climb but it's not happening at my house. I have a lovely Christmas village and really would like to display it like this. When the grands are older, I'm going to do it!

10. I've not seen a lights-on-the-wall-shaped-like-a-tree I like and I'm not one for gaudy but something about this one is somewhat appealing. I think I like they put ornaments on it instead of leaving it with just the lights.

11. Ok, if anyone puts up a tree-shaped with food or money, it's not going to stick around very long in this house. So, no to this for anything other than something that is supposed to be eaten instead of staying up for decoration.

12. I do love Mason jars and this isn't a terrible idea but Mason jars are made of glass and our family is filled with clumsy adults, a 17-month-old who loves to climb up to reach things so...

13. If I ever get so lazy all I want to do is throw some pillows in a corner in the shape of a Christmas tree I hope they go ahead and put me in a home or shoot me. Seriously, if I have enough money to buy those pillow I'll just hire someone to do my decorating. However, I will give this person a high-five for creativity.

14. I'm all for considering new ideas but I cannot get my head around this one. I don't find it aesthetically appealing and I can see it falling over onto Bug and Baby R so this is not going to happen here. Plus, it looks unnatural and I don't like that.

15. When I think of decorating and then undecorating, this quickly becomes my favorite. You get the tree and the lights and that's it! The 500,000 ornaments you've collected over the years will not have to be taken out and put back. Simple! Except I can't stand leaving the ornaments in their wrappings so this won't do. But I do like the minimalist train of thought. It's pretty, too.

What about Y'all? Traditionist? Open to new ideas? Seen any clever ones out there?

Happy Monday, Y'all!

Please visit my Etsy shop, CoasterDoodles

and feel free to FAVORITE the shop
or buy something! 😁💓

I've got new, hand-drawn travertine stone coasters for Christmas!

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