Over the River and Through the Woods

It is that time of year again. Christmas decorations sparkle in the windows of businesses and homes and stores are ready for those Black Friday deals, but first…first…we need to celebrate Thanksgiving.

We give thanks for all the blessings we have in our lives. I wish I could go over the river and through the woods to my grandmother’s house again. In fact, I wish my mom and dad could share Thanksgiving with me. Their spirits will still be with us as we give thanks on Thanksgiving day.

Usually my family gathers at my home for Thanksgiving, but this year plans have changed, and we will celebrate on the Friday after Thanksgiving. No shopping for me on Black Friday. It will be all about family. To me it doesn’t matter what day we get together but that we get together. Not everyone has someone to share Thanksgiving or the days afterward.

I am thankful for this past year, the good and the bad. Without explaining, I know our lives are going to change this next year and our celebrations in the years to come will be different. It is the passage of life and passage of time.

Families change. Divorces, illnesses, death and time and distance change the family dynamics and our celebrations. We need to cherish what we have in the moments we have them.

I do not know where my husband and I will be Thanksgiving Day. I may fix a duck for the two of us as the turkey will be served the next day. We may find a restaurant in the neighboring town since my community will not have their usual Thanksgiving meal for the community. Or we may pop in and visit a neighboring community dinner. Whatever we do we will be thankful for all God has blessed us with in family, friends, a place to live and food on our table. I may opt for hot dogs instead of duck.

Churches, communities and shelters at their Thanksgiving meals are a great place to meet new family. Even those venues have changed as more and more takeout meals are ordered, not for the housebound but for those who don’t want to mingle or cook. If you have a community meal this year in your town and you are alone or aren’t cooking, don’t order takeout unless you physically can’t attend. Take a chance, get out there and mingle. Have a conversation, share some laughter and enjoy excellent food.

Volunteers give their day to cook the meal but they also enjoy meeting and talking to those who attend. You can also be one of those volunteers. I must say I used to volunteer and then life got in the way. I have never attended these meals in our community because I always had family. This was going to be our year to either volunteer or attend, but I waited too long. The community meal in my community is not happening. I took it for granted as we do for many events that are always just there, we count on them but don’t pay attention to what we can do because they always do get done. Many hands make a happy heart and we can be a part of that and we only realize what we are missing until it isn’t there.

Tradition has dictated in the past that holidays are for families and they are. What that family looks like is up to us. Yes, many of us have our immediate families of mom, dad, kids, and grandparents, but family can also mean good friends, neighbors, or a church family. We live in a time when media tells us that holidays are meant for celebration, family, shopping etc., etc. and it makes many feel lonely. I know in spite of having family, when we have been alone on the holidays, I have felt it. I had those feelings because of past memories of the time when my parents were alive; we had uncles, aunts and cousins and I missed them. I felt that way when my kids couldn’t come home, and yes, occasionally I cried, but no more. I realize the holiday will be what we make it, not what the media makes us feel.

Whatever your plans are for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you will feel the blessings of your life in both the good times and bad. I hope if you are alone you reach out or enjoy the peace of the day. The day is about being thankful, but remember we should be doing that 365 days of the year. Happy Thankfulness Day.

Mother’s Day Musings

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts are peppering my social media feeds and filling up the inboxes of my email. I have a feeling of loss as I read the ads, as I am sure so many others do because our mothers are no longer with us.

It is another holiday celebrated, but which brings mixed feelings for many mothers and children out there. This year I will admit, holidays have been hard for me. Life is very different than I expected it would be. I do not know why we have this fairy tale idea of life, because in reality, life is messy. Relationships are messy, especially with families. It isn’t always a Hallmark moment. That is what makes Mother’s Day and families so special because they persevere together through the muck of life, held together by love, even though it isn’t always front and center but hidden, ready to come out at unexpected moments

In the 52 years, I had my mother,  I never missed a Mother’s Day with my mother. I might not always have been able to spend the entire day but I always made sure I visited her at some point in the day. I always made sure I gave her a gift whether it, large or small. It wasn’t a chore, it was something from the heart I wanted to do. We didn’t always have a great relationship and didn’t communicate things to each other in a positive way but the love never died.  I miss spending Mother’s Day with my mother.

I think my parents taught me Mother’s Day was a day to take the time to spend with the person who loved me and raised me. My dad, my mom and I always visited my dad’s mom on Mother’s Day. She only lived until I was six but that is one thing I remember. My mom’s mom lived with us, but my mom always made it a special day for her and my dad made sure we did that for my mom too. It was a celebration. It was a day for families to take time to be together.

It is 2019 and families are spread out far and wide. Many moms will spend the day alone because of various reasons. I will be one of those. Life is busy for families and getting together isn’t always an option. Some will be spending Mother’s Day alone because children and parents have been separated because of strife and disagreements. And so this holiday might be one of those that some want to pass over and not acknowledge it is happening.

I would give anything to spend another Mother’s Day with my mom and my mom-in-law, Dorothy. I am sure there are moms who have lost a child that would give anything to see them again on Mother’s Day.

It isn’t the presents, mothers want on this day, but the presence of their children in their lives, whether it be a phone call every week or a visit. The love of a mother never goes away.

I will visit my mother this Sunday at her grave. And then I might take myself to a movie and laugh a little. I will celebrate being a mother because I have three successful, healthy children. So if you are alone on this day, treat yourself. Take time to remember those who are no longer with us and then take the time to celebrate you because you deserve it.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

 

 

Many Thanks To The Red Cross

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 13, 2017

It is comforting to know when there is a disaster such as a fire or a stormsprinkle-life1 in your community, fire departments, police departments and ambulance crews, as well as ordinary citizens, step up to help and save lives.

The Wellington Estates Apartments in Wells caught fire the morning of Aug. 5. I live a block from the fire station and heard the sirens, but as the hour passed I heard sirens that weren’t familiar to me. Checking out the situation I found crews from seven neighboring communities that came to help. Luckily no one was hurt, but many families were displaced from their homes.

The Red Cross was on the scene immediately helping out with vouchers for places to stay and other things needed to help the residents.

I was surprised on Wednesday afternoon when my doorbell rang. I didn’t recognize the people at the door. I was skeptical and careful as I answered, not sure what to expect. It was a woman from the Red Cross inquiring about smoke detectors in my home.

With so many scammers knocking on doors these days I was hesitant to answer any questions, but seeing the credentials hanging around the worker’s neck and looking at the paper she handed me, I knew she was a Red Cross worker.

She told me she and two other workers were checking on homes and installing smoke detectors if they were needed. I asked the cost and she said there was no cost. I almost turned the Red Cross workers away because I knew I could afford to put in my own smoke detectors. There was one problem with that — I had two smoke detectors that broke months ago and we hadn’t replaced them. We talked about it and vowed we would do it soon but put it on our list of to-dos that never gets done. I couldn’t remember the last time we checked the batteries, and I knew the working smoke detectors were years old.

I asked if I let them put the smoke detectors in if I could make a donation. They told me I could, but they weren’t the ones to take the donation. They left the information if I did want to contribute to the Red Cross.

My husband was surprised when he came home to new smoke detectors. The fire at Wellington Estates reminded all of us who live in our community that fires break out at unexpected times and we all should have a plan. The Red Cross volunteers when visiting my home also went over tips and a workable plan.

I didn’t know about the Red Cross program called Sound The Alarm, Save A Life. According to redcross.org, volunteers will install 100,000 free smoke alarms nationwide. They work with fire departments and local groups visiting homes, replacing batteries in existing alarms and installing new ones, and providing fire prevention and safety education during their visit.

I am thankful they chose to stop by my home because we had put off replacing our alarms. They also pointed out we did not have a carbon monoxide detector.

If you are interested in this program, or if you want to donate or volunteer to the Sound The Alarm, Save a Life Campaign visit redcross.org for links and information. And if you are interested in helping the Wellington Estates residents with donations, there is a fund set up at Wells Federal Bank in Wells called the Wellington Relief Fund or call Pastor Mary Iverson at 507-553-3513 or Open Doors Church office at 507-553-5453.