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The magic of Christmas in the fading Canadian light. I’m finally warming up to the holidays. The Santa Hat has made its first appearance. MKL and I got to take a wonderful narrow gauge train ride through Santa’s Magic Forest with an adorable three-year old. Kelsea is home. We’re going to the Nutcracker on Friday. The girls are decorating the tree on Saturday. While other aspects of the world are spinning out of their orbits, I feel a modicum of peace.

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Vancouver, Canada.

Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Daily gratitudes:
The smiles the Santa Hat generates
Protein
Office parties
Hitchcock movies
Warm blankets

Poinsettias are usually not classified as things that last, but this one, scanty as it may appear, is special. It is ten years old. My boss gave it to me when I got back from ushering my Mother through her death. It was awkward, she said, because it was Christmas, and she wanted to give me flowers, but…it was Christmas, so she gave me a poinsettia. She was my boss then, ten years ago, and after the twisting, turning roads of the corporate world, she is my above boss-boss at my current company.

Poinsettias usually only last a season. And they are toxic to cats. This one has lasted a decade, and Mr. Man has had no problems with it. It is special. It represents my Mother. These were her last days, ten years ago, and I was with her every minute. It is a difficult time for me. As I have said each year, I live through every moment on some subconscious level. This year, with the turmoil of the election and the issues that it has raised for many women, myself included, I have found myself reliving other tragic and traumatic incidents from my past, owning them, writing about them (and wondering if I should make these writings public) and trying to let them find their place in my soul. It is not a peaceful process, but it will have a peaceful outcome. Every memory, sweet or agonizing, is and always will be, a lasting part of me.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories…And those that carry us forward, are dreams.” — H.G. Wells

Daily gratitudes:
Helping others
Fellow nasty women
Seeing MKL for the first time in three days
My giant coat on bitter cold days
That tickle of courage when I look at terrifying events of my past

 

 

Christmas has definitely done a sneak this year. It seems like one day I was complaining that stores had their decorations up before Halloween and the next day it’s, well, today. And I’m not ready for my favorite holiday. And guess what? I’m letting myself be okay with that. I have a few things for the people I love best, and I’ll be making a ham on Christmas Eve night for the Christmas Day, which we will celebrate with his parents, and our kids, and his nieces. Tonight, though, it’s me and my little tree, and a bottle of San Pellegrino, and Mr. Man, and a Netflix binge of Hawaii 5-0 to remind me that there are blue waters and places where palm trees are decorated instead of pine trees. And I’m okay with that too.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Daily gratitudes:
Fair winds and absent companions
Tickets to Cozumel
My Santa Hat
Getting to see Anastasia Fawni perform
MKL, always, MKL

I bought our Christmas tree last night. I love Christmas, and always want to do everything early, like decorate the house, but somehow I don’t ever get around to it until ‘late’. The tree selection was getting quite thin at my preferred farm, but I found a lovely Fraser fir. Its very top branches twist together like a graceful ballerina’s arms. It took us three tries to get it in the stand, with my sawing off nubbins and bottom branches in between efforts. I’m very proud that I didn’t saw into one of my arms or legs though, and consider that my most significant accomplishment of this holiday season. And the tree is indeed up, though I’m giving it until tomorrow night or Saturday to relax and let down its hair (or branches) a bit before we take to ornamenting it.

The tree lot is next to a working farm, and at the edge of the fence, I found Pony and Farm Beast in a stand-off.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season – like all the other seasons – is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them, and that’s the end of this particular story.” — Lemony Snicket

Daily gratitudes:
My Santa Hat
Joy
Knee-deep snow
That depression has taken a seat in the shadows today
Birds on a wire

 

Thank you all for your love and support from my last few postings. You are all so special to me. I read an article about the “Anniversary Train” in which we have a choice about hopping aboard the train that carries the memories and mourning from the days on which we lost loved ones. It was timely, and I wonder what choices I will make about remembering these anniversaries going forward, but as I say, I am not filled with sadness, but with a sense of honor of having been a part of such a rich and rare experience.

Enough of that now.

We had our first big snowfall yesterday – nearly up to my knees – and my back felt like I shoveled the entire state’s-worth last night, but it was pretty. And so I send you a holiday card from Colorado tonight. This was taken on Saturday up where I work on the weekends. I hope that whatever and however you celebrate this season, that your festivities are full of joy.

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Estes Park, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Daily gratitudes:
Unmet friends
Chance areas of complementary grace
Christmas lights
That Kelsea is home
As always, my MKL

It’s been tolerably temperate here in Colorado as Christmas preparations proceed everywhere but my house. I have high hopes, though, of getting my tree this week, and putting out what decorations I have.  Maybe I’ll share those with you as a Christmas countdown. As you might expect, they’re all a little odd, and mostly animal-related. Kelsea comes home on Saturday. Saturday is also the ninth anniversary of my Mother’s death, which makes this week very hard for me on a level deeper than I care to admit. The pain and depression of losing her still lies very close to the surface, and causes me to lose my temper at little things, which is not how I behave anymore. So I re-cracked my healing broken toe kicking the closet door this morning (frightening Mr. Man – I’m sorry, Mr. Man), and cried over my computer password not working. I know I will be better when this week has passed.  MKL and I have a performance of Amal and the Night Visitors (a forgotten childhood favorite) to look forward to on Friday, and a night at the Stanley Hotel to look forward to on Sunday, so pictures will follow. I do hope your holiday preparations are moving right along, and that the spirit of the season eases your burdens and cares, instead of intensifying them. That’s what Christmas is all about, after all.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.” — Glenn Beck

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Mr. Man’s forgiving nature
Duct tape
Winter weddings
Blankets

 

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Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Quote of the day: “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”  — Joseph Addison

Daily gratitudes:
Looking at the holiday lights with K and J
That Downton Abbey starts so soon!
Three bouquets of baby’s breath on my kitchen table
Soft flannel nightgowns for night’s when MKL is not here to snuggle
Sore muscles from exercising

Daily words:
It is about to get very cold, but it has been a lovely holiday. The Christmas spirit only caught up with me on Christmas Eve, and was found in the delight of MKL in his gifts, and then furthered by laughter with my ex and his family and my daughter on Christmas morning, and then laughter with MKL and his family in the afternoon. And a snowy drive home, a Christmas snow. I have been doing things here and there since, and head back to work tomorrow. Oh, and I got the first bill from the hospital for my little visit to the ER. The initial bill was over $10,000. (I know it’s tacky to discuss money, but seriously???) I’m glad I have insurance, but between car insurance for myself and my 18-year old, flood insurance for my house, and doctor bills, it will be a tight January. If you see a woman bundled in rags selling matches on the corner of the dormant fountain at Union Station, stop and say hi.

It’s so nice to have a Jackalope for the holidays!

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Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” — Franz Kafka

Daily gratitudes:
Having a partner
Dot’s Diner
That Kelsea is here (and that she got a 97 on her Calculus final)
The reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk on Amazon.com
My string of holstein lights

The earache is better, but doctors so often just seem useless, don’t they? I have been feeling homesick for my childhood Christmases. I have always loved Christmas, but it feels so different now, without parents or grandparents, with my brother and his family so far away, with living alone, with so much work, with MKL busy at his house, and Kelsea so close to gone and so caught up in her own life. I have been away from ex-Pat for five years now, but Christmas at my ex-house was also such a cosy thing.

I can’t capture the same feeling of wonder and delight I used to have, and that makes me sad. It makes me wonder if perhaps I should lower my expectations for how I will feel. I expect to feel as I used to, and I don’t. It’s a quieter feeling, very poignant. Sigh. Perhaps this weekend, when I go to experiment with taking pictures of the lights in Denver, of the tree in the Hotel Boulderado, and finish shopping and wrapping and decorating, I will be a bit more aligned with the times. Or perhaps I need to focus more on the true meaning of the season. And start some new traditions with MKL. I shall think on these things.

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Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love….If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you.” — Rosemarie Urquico

Daily gratitudes:
That Mr. Man puts his paw on my arm when he wants to be petted
That I dreamed about my house for the first time last night
That Kelsea is done with her finals
My Mother’s nativity set from Italy that she splurged on when she was first married
Tidying up

I miss cabooses on trains, especially little red cabooses.  When I was a child and we were fortunate enough to be at the front of a railroad crossing when a freight train came through, we would always wave at the man on the caboose and the man would always wave back.  This cheerful little Christmas caboose stirred up some nice memories, even as MKL and I made new ones.

Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”  —  Jack Kerouac

Daily gratitudes:
MKL
Jerk chicken soup
A bath in my clawfoot tub
Slight fog
Rudolpho

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