A Christmas Tree Story

Growing up, our family always had an artificial tree. My brother had asthma and we couldn’t have a real tree.

Every year, it would come down from the attic to be set up branch by branch. I loved our tree. I didn’t know what it was like otherwise.

So, for me, that tradition continued year after year.

And as I grew older, and my daughter grew older, we had many special ornaments collected either by gift, made, or handed down. We displayed them on our family’s artificial tree.

I, also, had ornaments from when Sydney was born – baby first’s Christmas. And even, our first year married ornament with her Dad. I kept them all. And we put them all up on the tree every year.

It is rich to remember what each ornament means, or who it came from. Not to mention all those knickknacks collected; a lighted gingerbread house, an advent calendar made of cloth in the shape of a tree, and all my snowmen.

You know what I’m talking about. Those things that mean so much, and make so many memories every year.

In 2007, on a snowy day in April, when I, and some very dear friends helped me move away from a very abusive man I was married to. A man who nearly broke me mentally. Not to mention all the pain he caused my young daughter as she saw her mom’s sanity flee from his verbal beatings and paranoia.

We moved in two hours (while he was away), and should have had more time, but he changed his plans and came home early. He caught us moving my things out and he was not too happy about that. He showed his displeasure by carrying around a baseball bat, screaming at me, glaring at the kind people helping, and then proceeding to rip the garage door off its hinges in effort to keep us out. He stood at that bent garage door with rage in his eyes, telling me… I BROKE THE DOOR. I was paying for that! I’m not sure if it dawned on him at least ten witnesses watched him break the door.

I will never forget how he looked as the car backed out of my driveway for the last time. He looked crazy.

I never got back in that house, nor anything else from it. We realized too late, all my Christmas stuff was left in the attic. ALL of it. Every single piece from my childhood, from Sydney’s childhood, from my mom, and my dad. All gone.

That hurt.

It really did. I risked contacting him to plead for it back. I risked meeting him somewhere public to get those things. Things I could never replace.

He would promise to meet me, but never show up.


April turned to May, May raced to October when my dream house he lived in was foreclosed on. He moved to whoknowswhere, and my Christmas things were gone for good.

Christmas rolled around that year, we didn’t have a tree or any decorations. I couldn’t afford to buy any more. It took all the money I had to move out that previous spring.

A sweet co-worker brought some ornaments from her deceased mother’s house to give to me. My mother started gifting me new things to collect. And someone else at work said they thought they might have an extra tree.

That Christmas was so hard. I was free. My daughter was free, but the losses weighed heavy on us.

One of my childhood friends was very concerned. Every time I talked to her, she said, “Do you have a tree yet?” I’d sadly answer, “Not yet, but we’ll get one. I promise.” I knew she wanted to help, but how can you get over something like that?

I finally had to tell myself…….they were just things. Nothing else. I had Sydney, and Sydney had me, and we were HAPPY. The material things we could live without. The important thing is we had each other, and we were healthy.

The next day, there was a knock at my door. It was my childhood friend and her husband. Her husband was carrying a big box, and bags to the front door.

Staring out through the open door, I was so surprised to see them. “Merry Christmas!” he hollered and set down the box with a brand new seven foot pre-lit tree. The bags contained decorations for the tree, and a wreath for the front door.

I was stunned.

They insisted it was some old tree they dragged out of their attic, but the box was brand new, and unopened.

I am not sure if they know just how deeply their kindness touched our lives that Christmas. It wasn’t just a Christmas tree that walked in the door. Hope walked through, and set up in our living room. Hope opened it’s branches to new traditions, and new ornaments. And a new life for us.

The first thing I bought was an ornament from Hallmark. It read Our first Christmas 2007 , for me and Sydney that is what it was. We started over and started new traditions. One of those was to make new ornaments for the tree.

The first year we made little stained glass ornaments.

The second year we drew on ceramic balls. The third year we painted snowmen.

We worked and worked to create new meanings, and new ornaments. We used a lot of crafts, but we used our love most of all.

I still have that tree, and I put it up every year with all the ornaments we made, and collected.

I no longer think of all I lost on Christmas, but I embrace all that I gained.

Mama’s Losin’ It Linking up to Mama Kat’s writing prompt 2) Best gift ever….

How Far to Heaven?

Image by Google

How long would it take to get there? Can we reach it with our spaceships? Can we see it in our telescopes?

Is it just beyond our nature walk? Half past, the serene beauty flowing under picturesque landscape. A path we cross over from one place to another.


Is it at the end of the peaceful rush of water? Trickling over and under to a destination we have yet to discover. Washing us clean, and renewing our life in the sliding cascade.


Is it not to the sky, but on the surface? Where the wonders of plump baby feet stand. The bliss of bare earth between our toes to grip, to run, to feel.


Is it a touch away? The gentle kiss from one to another, no matter the differences, no matter the reciprocation, just a gesture of kindness, a gesture of love. The purest love there is – acceptance and innocence – just as you are.


Is it as far as our adventures take us? The freedom of discovery. The direction of the unknown; awaiting with wondering eyes, and fervid exhalations.

Maybe, it’s just around the corner. Can you see it?
Maybe, it’s just up the trail. Can you follow it?
Maybe, if we run we can catch a glimpse. Can you seek it?
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s not as far as we think.

“How far to heaven? Just open your eyes and look. You are in heaven” -Shankar

**Photos by Angelia Sims

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Healthy Reflection on Monday

Because Sunday I just couldn’t, and I really need it today – something healthy to reflect upon that is – how about you?

When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.

– Vietnamese saying

Expressing everyday gratitude

How often do you remember the people that have made little things possible for you? It’s easy to take our privileges for granted. Today, be more aware of your surroundings–everything from your shirt, house, food, and car–and who has made them possible for you. Who has made it possible for you to experience such wonderful things? One way to let someone know that you truly appreciate their efforts is to send them a quick note or return the kindness in your own way.

Brought to you by SPARKPEOPLE.

Happy “short” week of the holiday! Can I thank the pilgrims? Thank you for making this holiday possible. Can I also thank all the turkeys out there? No, not your ex-boyfriends. The bird! No, not “Let’s all do the bird”, dance with Morris Day and the Time, or THE BIRDS by Alfred Hitchcock. I, totally, just dated myself.

I mean Turkey, and dressing served on platter. Yes, Yum! Happy Thanksgiving! I am so happy, and thankful – I swear it’s not just the extra days off (I think?).

This post is really about everyday grace, and not just the time of the year. My first thought that comes to mind is my mom. Hey, she wasn’t perfect by any means, but she PLAYED with us. She instilled manners, respect, morals, and fun. She is still fun, and she STILL plays. I love her! My delightful child-like mother, who encouraged independence, love of children, and animals, forever in my sentiment. Thanks mom for being you.

I am thankful for my health, and my limbs. Yes, that is what happens when you are raised by a handicap father. Suddenly, having healthy working legs is a BIG deal. How easy it is to take our mobility for granted. How quickly it can be taken from us.

Having and keeping a job in this economy. Can I just say, “WOW!” I never worried about my job during the Gulf War. I never worried when airlines stopped paying commissions to travel agencies, and the owners flipped their lids, and we had to start charging fees.

I was not even concerned when the internet arrived with Orbitz, and Travelocity, and the airlines following close behind, this book your own moxie. Why use a travel agent? But I knew not everyone would, especially larger corporate companies, which was my specialty. We were still needed.

Then, the devastating blow of 9/11 sucked the soul out of us, but not the heart. In spite of all that, NOTHING has compared to this last year in the travel industry. Nothing. So thank you, dear job, I am so grateful for you.

My sister, no we don’t live close. We are not close in age. I barely remember her living with us growing up. She was more of a little mommy than a sister. But oh, she is my livelihood. How I adore her, and look up to her, even now that I’m grown and can see, she actually has flaws. She will always be my big sister, and my best friend. God made us sisters, our hearts made us friends. That saying is so true with us.

My dear Jason, far and above, the most paramount man, I have ever met or known, besides my step dad. The thought this man puts into every single thing, a quiet responsible purpose of pursuit, with patience and utter endurance, just to offer the best of himself to those he loves.

Yet, he is always willing to listen to my flash bulbs of babbling brilliance. They pale in comparison to his “bigger” picture brain and burn out just as quickly in light of his deep embers. I can’t imagine a more fitting complement than what we are to each other.

Out of 9 MILLION people on Facebook, I found you, the one, and only you. How small I am compared to the grander illustration painted for both of us.

My daughter Sydney, you amaze and entertain me. Your quick wit, and non-typical teenage antics. By far you are more stylish than I ever could, would, or should be in this lifetime. Thank GOD, you know which shoes go with what. I will forever embarrass you with the wrong outfit just so you can say, “Mooooooommmmmmm, no.”

There are so many others, the scope of which encompasses to an eternity, and I hope you know who you are, because I don’t have enough words to attribute.

I hope I show my kindness to each of you in return. I hope you know how much you mean to me. I hope I express it, not just in words, or deeds, but in every hug, and in every email, text, or comment. I know where my appreciation comes from. It comes from YOU. It comes from your heart. It comes from where YOU came from. What a blessing you are. I am overjoyed to be in your life.

Graciously, I go into this wonderful week with you. Please share your gratitude with me. I’d love to hear it. And I know it will make you feel good (besides, I bet you have already typed it out, HA).

I’m blaming hormones

I swear, I don’t have a single coherent thought. I feel my very nerve endings screaming in stress, but I’m not. I’m not worried about anything, but I should be, and I can’t think about them. What good would worrying do? I have choices, there is no worry. And see? That thought process is not very coherent, or incoherent?

I, quite often, don’t make sense. Just ask Jason. Wouldn’t that be fun? Wait, I can give you his answer, “Huh? What?”. I noticed last night, it’s his standard response, and now I’m doing it too. See, Jason and I constantly miscommunicate, it’s a source of humor now. *It has to be, otherwise we’d run screaming from the room*

I don’t hear well. He doesn’t hear well. This is going to work in our favor as we age, I just know it. As I became aware of this last night, when I said, “Huh?” before I actually listened to what he was saying (oh, that’s bad!). I realized, I heard what he said, as he was repeating it. Um. Oops. In my defense, I suspect he does the same thing to me, which is why we both do it. Got all that?  Huh?

I started a different post this morning, but I didn’t want to finish it (right now). I stayed up late watching a movie with Jason, which explains my muddled thought process. I have the dreaded Aunt Flo visit any moment, any second.  It’s not going to be pretty, at least the first day or two, until I put her in her place, stuff her trap with chocolate and pasta, and send her cranky butt packing.

Also, a few weeks ago, I found out from my yearly visit –  yes you ladies know – THAT one.  I have an elevated Thyroid. Uh, Yay? I’ve been expecting that for a while. My mom has Grave’s disease. She has osteoporosis as well. I am just a chip off the old block. Mom, loveyoumeanit..

At least now, I know why 40 degrees is comfortable, and anything else is blasted HOT. Turn on the A/C – where’s my face fan?  Why are you wearing a coat? Yeah, that explains all that. And can I just apologize to my roommates and Sydney? I’m sorry, but the heater is not allowed on unless it’s below freezing outside. I repeat, I’m sorry.

I go see the Endocrinologist the first week of December to see what is going on, and if it matches what Dr. Peters believes (Graves). Sad thing is, an elevated Thyroid should make you lose weight. Not this chickie, but I do think I’d be TWICE as big if I didn’t have an elevated one. So, there’s a plus (and a pun, heh).

Thanksgiving is next week, a lot of people are making their –  what I’m thankful for lists. My mom is talking about visiting, which would be amazing. Last time she mentioned that, she couldn’t come, honestly, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but that’d be the top of my thankful list! Oh yeah.

And, last night, totally unexpected, my favorite post was featured, on The Bold Life. Click on the link, or you can find it under the Joys of Writing tab, or you can go to Tess Marshall’s site, via My Favorite Blogs, over there somewhere —————> or even ^ up there, in What I’m reading tab, which is her book, Flying by the Seat of my Soul, one of the many books I’m reading. It is AWESOME. It means so much to me that she would share my link on her site.

The post link is the story of my step dad who died, August 2008. A Father’s Love. The mention of this story, this time of the month especially, just brings on the waterworks. He was my safety net. Without him,  I always feel – I’m walking the tightrope – on my own. There is no net, no crash pad, no rescue, just vacant free-falling to the floor. In other words, I MISS him, sooo much.

But, I am not alone. Jason is the strongest, most vigilant, and loyal sponsor (thanks, Wilma)  I have ever had (besides God). He is completely reliable, 100%. If I was a needy person, he’d be there for me. I’m not, at least, I try not to be (maybe to a fault). I don’t need saving or rescuing (the old me did, but didn’t know it). I guess it was just the comfort of my step dad being there, a back up, an extra pair of batteries, a just in case.

Obviously, I am very capable. I have lived on my own since age 17.  Paid my own bills, supported a family, and I didn’t even rely on child support. There were some years, I didn’t even GET child support, so I couldn’t rely on it. Don’t mistake that for not appreciating it. I do appreciate it. It helps greatly, but it’s not necessary for my survival. I don’t think I could be that dependent, nor would I want to be (prideful much?).

As you can see, this is not a normal post for me. I have a lot of things on my mind. As joyful as the holidays are, they can be hard for me. I had an ectopic pregnancy one Thanksgiving, surgery that December. The last time I saw my grandmother alive was last Thanksgiving.  This is my second Thanksgiving without my step dad. As thankful as I am, I can’t help but remember.

In the works, I have some great life stories I’m working on…Life with a broken right hand amidst, a downward spiral of the economy (why yes, I am right handed, not to mention that I type for a living). All reservations are booked by computer, air, car, hotel – all – have to be typed in. It’s too good not to blog about it. The Survival.

Another story, at Christmas 2007, about a very good friend of mine and what her family did for me and Sydney. I will never forget it.  You will be astounded by the Christmas spirit that visited us.

So can we all take a big deep breath? (iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn oooooooooooouuuut)  Ahhhh, that’s better (yes, Peggy, I need to get to Yoga class). Thank YOU, if you are reading this, if you comment. I appreciate you more than you know. I don’t have any immediate family members that read my blog (except my daughter sometimes, hi sweetie, I love you! and Jason because I make him- Did you read my blog yet? Did you? How about now?).

So you, YES YOU, dear, kind, precious reader. Give yourself a hug and smile, from me (if you’re there-I can’t see through this box).  Words can not convey what you mean, I know there are so many talented, and creative blogs out there. That you chose to read mine is humbling beyond measure. (wow, that kinda sounded like an airline)