Glittering Stars

I read a great post today about holiday stress by my friend Janet on her blog Aunt Beulah. The post is titled Stresses of the Season. It is worth the read as we slide on into the 24th of December.

Janet’s words touched my heart and made me squirm because I have been known to stress. It’s about how we get so caught up in the stress that we forget the joy of the holiday, the reason for the holiday. We find ourselves missing the meaning. Family, time together, tradition, chocolate, and most of all, each other is where the focus should be, right? In her comment section, Janet wrote that it is people who make Christmas (and, in my opinion, everything else for that matter) special, not gifts.

I was reminded of this very thing on Friday, at Saturday’s office party, and this morning.

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This is mom who, at 88, is all of 4′ 11″. She needed help decorating her door. Since we don’t want her climbing anywhere, I helped “trim” her door. We had a great time laughing, talking, simply doing something together.

While affixing the glittered stars I was reminded of Christmases past when we’d decorate as a family, mom and dad, my sister, and I. Dad would load the record player–the console type that took up half the wall–with Christmas records. He’d play them through and then again and again. When the lyrics “Do You Hear What I Hear?” would play, dad would invariably sing “No” loudly, off key, straight faced, all while looking me in the eye. I’d laugh and laugh. Then he would, too. We would continue to adorn the tree, and as those same lyrics came around, dad was always ready with his singing “answer.”

I’ll never be able to replace those years, but they glitter from within.


Each year my co-workers* hold a most enjoyable party. An old farmhouse turned contemporary Inn held the event, and while that may sound calm, it is anything but. The White Elephant gift exchange can be brutal. If you receive an ugly sweater, you put it on. If you receive adult onesies, likewise. There are many nice gifts as well, but the challenge every year, for each attendee, is to not get Herbie.

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Herbie

I joined the crowd long after Herbie had been making the rounds, but last year, my husband was the (un)lucky one. On Saturday, Herbie (thank God!) found a new home (for a year). Our take home this year was the following:

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A Starbucks card, a pumpkin candle, bath salts, a pomegranate candle, homemade salsa, a pancake mix, alcohol free wine (Dang!), popcorn, limited edition white fudge Oreos, and dental teeth molds (these are dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, office managers…you get the picture).

*While this may seem odd, after retiring, you still go to the party. I am grateful I am welcome because it isn’t a group one can easily let go of. They hold my heart. What they don’t know is why. When something icky happens and you are forced to start over, new people can play a huge role in overcoming the negative. They did that and more. When we have a net of co-workers who are good, honest, loving people, sometimes we forget to be thankful for that. To me, that became everything. As I sat there Saturday evening absorbing the laughter, the joy, the love among us, I gushed inwardly with gratitude. For them.


After my daughter left the house this morning, I took inventory. I’ve been hiding a few things since September when I saw a book I knew she’d love. Other items have also gone into hiding. When I had it strewn over my bed quilt, I recognized another gift I’d thrown in but had completely forgotten about. The bag showed up during one of my recent purges, and it has a message:

img_20161205_074847678.jpgMore specifically, it wasn’t the gift itself; it was the bag.

Happy Swan paper bagI stopped in my tracks when I read the message. I don’t think I noticed it before. The image of a swan spreading happiness to an unknown destination is lovely, especially now. I believe I know who bought the gift. I recognize my cousin’s handwriting on the bag, and when I searched this saying, I found the following:

img_20161205_111722126.jpgMy cousin lived in Tokyo many years ago, and there is Japanese writing on the gift. While the relative for whom my cousin bought this gift (the name is on the bag) and my cousin had a falling out before my cousin passed away, the gift was from the heart. It’s going in the mail, soon. My hope this season is that the knowledge of their once good relationship will be remembered fondly when the gift arrives. I’m happy to be the messenger.


Whether a memory, a group of loving people, or a message, let us all take a breath, release the stress, and remember our commonality. Let us remember what we love about each other, why we want to spend time together, what we can do to make someone’s day special. Christmas can be about Christ, it can be about mamma’s sweet potato recipe. It can be snow falling on a bitter, winter day, and coming in to enjoy a hot toddy by the fire. It can be trimming the door, the tree, and bringing in the smell of fir. It can mean singing silly tunes with your dad, or the arrival of an unexpected gift.

The season is different for us all. Let’s release the stress and remember what matters most. Thank you, Janet, for the reminder, for boosting my awareness of the glittering stars.

Celebrate!

27 thoughts on “Glittering Stars

  • I loved every word here and I’d like to stay longer but I’m still packing up the kid. Guys just don’t know how to do it. Got a match anywhere?? I’ll drop back by when it gets quiet and calm. Family IS what it’s all about. Connections.

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    • Thank you so much, and…you continue to crack me up! A match would be most helpful. πŸ˜‰ I’m considering writing about this house and showing what we’ve been doing. How does anyone accumulate so much crud? It’s beyond belief. We have three floors and two attic levels and they were full until this past couple weeks. The husband started at the top and I started at the bottom and we’ve been purging, cleaning, sorting….and I can FINALLY see the floor in the upper attic. And, yes, it’s all about connections–just not their stuff, lol. πŸ˜‰

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      • Well, I for one would love to hear the story of the house. My son has sold so much stuff that it’s entirely possible it will all fit in his uhaul. Now it’s mostly books and tools. Photography equipment and musical things take up lots of space too. For me it’s all the crafting and sewing stuff as well as books. Just no cookbooks. πŸ™‚ I does feel good to get stuff out and gone. I still have quite a way to go but I’ll get there. S l o w l y…:)

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        • Yes, I had to purge and purge in order to fit everything I want to keep in this room. I threw away lots of fabric (maybe I should have kept it because the race is still on?). I must admit I hoard cookbooks. I started collecting those years ago. I can’t really say why, but I guess it’s reading old recipes and learning how people used to cook and what they thought about food long ago. But, the upper attic is ready! He’s en route home as I type this, and we’ll see him later tonight. We worked out tails off getting it ready, and it’s bare bones now but it’s clean and roomy and has lots of potential. I’ll see if I can write up a post soon. Still marveling over all the stuff we accumulate….

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  • Karen this was such a beautiful post that actually stirred a lot of memories for me too. Memories of Christmas growing up. Thanks for sharing yours here, both past and present. And I also loved the swan slogan in the bag. Hope this last week or so before Christmas is a happy, stress free and peaceful one for you and your family. BTW I love the way you included chocolate … a woman after my own heart! ❀️🍷

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    • Thank you, Miriam. ❀ Janet's post really hit me, right in the feels as they say. I'd just experienced those moments and had to share. I really miss dad, but especially during the holidays. I hear those lyrics and wham, I'm thinking of him and our times decorating the tree. I think Christmas was one of his favorite times. He was an only child and grew up during the depression. It was tough but there was lots of love and humor. I wish you a stress-free holiday as well. ❀

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  • Oh, thank you, KarenLee, for taking my premise and expanding it into a truly wonderful piece of writing that enriches and expands my message. I loved seeing your mom and her door. (How wonderful that you’ve had her so long.) and the priceless story about your dad. My father, too, could send me into spasms of giggles by repeating something the two of us found funny. This post and its photographs made me happy because you seem to be able to do what all of us should: find pleasure in the small, meaningful moments and memories of Christmas.

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    • Oh, you are most welcome. Your post hit me at the perfect time: I had been feeling the early stresses and was SO not looking forward to the season. After reading your post, I resolved to just chill. There is no reason for all that stress. No one has the perfect house in spite of what we see on the internet, right?!!? πŸ˜‰ So, it will all be fine providing I retain that perspective. So, Merry Holidays to you, and thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚

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  • Thanks for sharing this post! It’s a wonderful reminder of the good things that Christmas brings. We do focus far too much on the list of “have to dos” and it’s so stressful…why not make spending time with the people we care about our main focus?

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    • My dad could be quite the character. It’s funny, Amy; you’ll recall the letters I’ve shared written by Orah (dad’s grandma). It wasn’t until I read them, about 10 years after dad passed, that I fully realized what Christmas meant to dad. He was an only child and their Christmas table and household consisted of any and all extended family. They sang around the piano, they played games, did activities which required thinking in the moment. As a result, they had become a very witty bunch. They loved teasing. That is the one aspect of the holidays that I miss about my dad. While at work through the years, when Christmas music would play and I’d hear that song, sometimes I could not stop the tears. My patients would wonder so I’d explain. It was a great way to share dad. ❀ Thanks for stopping by. ❀

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