Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Christmas List

Dear Santa,

I am writing you early in hopes that you will receive my letter in plenty of time before your trip.
You may not remember me, the little German girl in a knitted shawl and cap, blonde hair and a couple of missing teeth. I wrote in crooked letters back then, learning my alphabet. That was about 50 years ago.
I wanted a doll, some chocolate candy, and some new mittens to keep my hands warm during the cold winters in Germany. I remember the oranges that I received, wrapped in delicate tissue paper. Oranges were rare in winter and we only had them at Christmastime.

Before I make out my list I want to thank you for the presents I received last year. The robe keeps me warm and cozy and fits perfectly. I love my fuzzy slippers! I loved my gift card to the book store. The kitchen gadgets come in handy. I truly appreciated all the pretty and thoughtful gifts I received.

I'm keeping my Christmas list simple this year. Christmas is about the kids, so don't run yourself ragged over a middle-aged woman who has everything she needs. Please, no new kitchen appliances to clutter up my already crowded cabinets. Come to think of it, I don't really need a new waffle iron. And, please, no more lotions, bath oils, or spray colognes. I am highly sensitive and besides, I already have enough lotions to satisfy the moisturizing needs of an entire nursing home!

Christmas is about the children. Please fill their stockings with a home full of love. Bring them lots of smiles and presents of overflowing joy. Give them hugs and kisses and stories to read. Bring them lots of goodies, too. And of course, honor their little lists of toys and games and dolls, but also teach them that it is good to give, as well as receive.

What I really want for Christmas is for children and adults to believe. Believe in good things, believe in the impossible, believe in hope and love. There are gifts we can give to one another that don't have to be wrapped and tied with pretty ribbons. The gift of love. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of understanding. The gift of hope. The gift of encouragement. The gift of friendship. Practical gifts wear out and break down, but the gifts of the heart are eternal. And most of all, the gift of the baby Jesus should not be forgotten amidst the tinsel and strings of lights.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gatlinburg Wedding

It is been a busy Fall. The end of October my daughter and I drove to Gatlinburg to see my nephew get married. We were there for only a short while, but managed to take a few pictures before we came home. Gatlinburg is only a four drive from where I live. Of course, hearing about the fires in the recent days is heartbreaking, as my family has so many memories from the Smokies.

The view from our hotel room.

The wedding chapel in the woods.

The tunnel going to Gatlinburg.

At Pidgeon Forge

On the way home

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On the Lake

My granddaughter had ankle surgery last week. "Mommy, take my chair on the pier, so it feels like I'm on the lake," she asked my daughter, while her sisters were jet-skiing with their Dad.
So Mommy did. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Things that Children Say

I am constantly entertained by the things my grandchildren say. And sometimes they teach me things I didn't know that I needed to learn. I think that every grandparent feels this way.

Recently, my seven year old grandson asked me,

 "Mamaw, do you ever get lonely?" 

"Why do you ask that?" I said.

"Because you call my Mom all the time."

Oh boy, did I learn a lesson there!

And when my daughter picked me up for lunch one day she chose a Chinese restaurant that I had never been to before. The boys, all three of them, were well-behaved and opened their fortune cookie at the end of the meal. I read Sam's fortune cookie, which said, "You will get lucky." Lucas told Sam, "You need to give that to my Mom, because she hasn't had any good luck lately." I almost died laughing!

My younger daughter has three girls. Allie is the middle child and has to share a room. The girls wanted a fish tank for their rooms, something small. The older sister teased Allie, telling her that she would have to share a fish tank with her baby sister. Allie wasn't having any of it and put her hands on her hip, " I have to share a room. I have to share everything with her! I am not sharing a fish!"

They each got their own fish.

Drive Through Zoo

Yesterday, when I had the day off, I took four of my grandchildren to a local Safari. First, we went to swimming lessons for my grandson. At 8:00 in the morning it was already hot. When I picked them up bright and early the little ones were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes (it is summer vacation, after all), so after the lesson ended I took them to McDonald's for breakfast. Since Mommy wasn't picking up the girls until lunch time I decided to take them to the Safari animal park. We bought food at the gate and had to be careful feeding the animals. When I took my grandson the first time he got scared at the Emu that tried to poke its long neck into the car window. The children were fascinated by the animals and were able to pet the pony, the deer and even the Zebra. I wouldn't roll down the window when the bull or the buffalo came near, however! At the end we parked the car and went to see the reptiles, the snakes (even an albino Python), and fed the tortoises. It was lots of fun and the kids are ready to go back, but not until I vacuum the car out!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day.

My father was a career soldier. He joined the Army after he graduated from high school and knew nothing but hard work from an early age. My mother was a stay-at-home Mom. They were young parents and raised five children. Although they divorced when I was grown they kept us together for 20 years and always put the family first. When money was tight, my Dad would take extra jobs to put food on the table. My parents took cleaning jobs on nights and weekends and eventually started an antique clock and restoration business. At one time we had over 30 clocks hanging on the walls, many of them chiming on the hour and half-hour.

I remember my father sitting at the dining room table many nights as he polished his brass and spit-polished his boots.

I remember my father getting up before daybreak and dress in his uniform to make PT by 6 a.m.

I remember especially the time he returned from Vietnam, surprising us as a cab dropped him off in front of our house. He got to meet my baby sister for the first time. She was 9 months old.

I remember the many moves we made across the country and overseas, tackling the moves and keeping up with five kids, ages 2-12. When we went overseas we had to wait more than a month to get our household goods and all of our belongings, not to mention, the family car. My parents were champions to get us enrolled in new schools, find us temporary housing, and never lose any of us at the airport!

My parents always managed to get us what we wanted for Christmas. I had to have a guitar when I was 13 years old. Standing next to the Christmas tree that year was a real guitar, just for me. I needed money to go to London on a high school trip when we lived in Germany. He managed to come up with the funds. The older I get the more I appreciate what my parents did for us, too often with limited resources.

My Dad helped my buy my first car at the age of 19. I had saved $700.00 and he loaned me the other $700.00 to buy a red Volkswagen beetle. I paid the loan back.

When I was a teen-ager, like every young person, I thought my parents were too strict. My siblings and I didn't have the freedoms that young people now have. There was no dating or "hanging out" before a certain age. We had household chores to do. It was ingrained from an early age that we were a military family and our actions could influence my father's career.

My father wasn't a soapbox type of Dad. He didn't lecture us a lot. We knew what was expected of us.
He showed us what it meant to have a work ethic. He didn't have to tell us what it is.
He showed us what is meant to be patriotic by serving his country.
He showed us what it meant to be responsible by taking care of his family.

I'm sure there are a lot of Dads just like him. Let us honor them today.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day. It was a perfect day. My daughters surprised me by taking me to lunch at a seafood restaurant about an hour's drive from here in a quaint little riverfront town. The kind of southern restaurant that sits on the river and serves sweet tea and hot cornbread in little iron skillets and tin plates for the appetizers. The food was good and the service was great. They were prepared for a busy Mother's Day, seeing all the servers in their matching polo shirts.

Afterwards, my granddaughters wanted to buy some potting soil and seeds, so we made a trip to Home Depot. They miss the garden, so my daughter told them that they could grow a few things in clay pots. They wanted strawberries and heirloom tomatoes and marigolds and even bought some watermelon seeds (the small variety), so we will see how it goes. I was excited that the girls, ages 5, 9 and 11, would show an interest in growing things. They are outdoorsy kids and would rather walk around the block instead of staying inside. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Say Hello to Spring

Is it April already? I am glad to say say good bye to March. 
I went to the park on Saturday to enjoy the weather.
It was still a bit chilly, but the sun was shining 
and the cherry blossoms are starting to bloom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Morning Rituals

          I listen to your footsteps in the early morning
turning on the kitchen faucet
and starting the coffee
I listen as you unlock the door
and walk to the end of the driveway
to pick up the morning newspaper

I listen to the clock radio
as another Top 40 record plays
and as the DJ tells another silly joke
I pull the blanket over me
through the weather report
and the latest news headlines

You open the bedroom door, softly
to see if I am awake
I rub the sleep from my eyes
and reach for my robe
which had fallen to the floor
and wrap it close around me

You pour my morning coffee
as I hunt for my reading glasses
You chatter; I am quiet
the early bird and the night owl
 We are familiar with each other's habits
especially in the early morning hours

(c) 2005 Anita M. Ashworth

(I wrote this several years ago)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Blessings

I celebrated another birthday this month. I am now 39 with 20 years experience, as I like to tell people. Although next year, when I change decades, I will have to confess to my true age.

Still, as many people say, every day above ground is a good day.

I have much to be thankful for. My two daughters. My six grandchildren. My son-in-laws who are good and decent men.

 Have a blessed day!

                                 Five of my six grandchildren. This was taken on my birthday.

Footnotes in History

I recently discovered new facts on my husband's side of the family. I was able to back to the 1700's and found out that one of his ancestors was baptized in the Old St. Paul's Church in Baltimore. The gravestone belongs to Jane Stansbury, the daughter of Thomas Stansbury. She married John Lemmon, who is a direct ancestor of my late husband. Genealogy is much like being a history detective and connecting the dots.

Another interesting story that I discovered in my brother-in-law's family tree is that one of his ancestors immigrated from North Carolina to Tennessee in the 1780's to one of the Cumberland settlements near Nashville. John Donelson brought a large party down the Cumberland and built Fort Nashborough (now Nashville). As a child we took a field trip to this fort and what was intriguing to me was that John Donelson's daughter, Rachel, became the wife of Andrew Jackson. "Andy" Jackson was a well-known frontiersman at the time and became famous for the infamous "Trail of Tears" legislation that sent the five Eastern civilized tribes to Indian territory (now Oklahoma).  Sadly, Rachel died and never lived in the White House. Their marriage was actually quite a scandal back then because Rachel was previously married and her divorce was questioned by Jackson's enemies. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On Being Ordinary

A friend shared a link to an article on her Facebook page regarding the younger generation and how they have been brought up to think that they are "special." It was an interesting perspective and although I don't (generally) like generalizations, there was a lot of truth in the article.

Let's face it, most of us are ordinary. Special is nice, but when I was growing up, there were very few special kids. You either had to be sent to the Principal's office on a regular basis or  be the Teacher's Pet year after year to claim that title. There were the random kids whose brief claim to fame may have been doing something that the rest of us were in awe of (vacation, unusual pet, BIG Christmas present, etc.) They were special for that reason. But the rest of us, oh well, we rode the school bus, we fought with our siblings, we ate cereal and watched Saturday morning other words, our childhoods were pretty similar and ordinary.

We grew up to have ordinary lives; get jobs or go to college, pay bills, fix the car, have children. Along the way we faced our disappointments and frustrations. Perhaps life wasn't always that easy. Some of my friends went through divorces; some of us lost our spouses and buried parents and other family members. The things that we all go through. It doesn't make us special; it makes us ordinary, like the mortal human beings that we are.

I think the problem with thinking that we are special is that it breeds discontentment. To maintain our "special" title we may compare ourselves to others and see success through rose-colored glasses. We will never be skinny enough, or rich enough, or our house will never be big enough, our careers never fulfilling enough because we think that ordinary is so, well, ordinary and we don't want to be ordinary.

I know that I am "special" to a few people, my grandchildren, but I realize that as they grow older, my "specialness" may wear off like a fake tattoo, as they grow up and pursue their own lives. But, hopefully, I will maintain my "specialness" to them as much as they are special to me.

I believe that we are all special in God's eyes, but he has many, many children, so waving my hands or jumping up or down is not going to make a big difference. He knows I'm there. He knows you are there. And that's enough.

So make the best out of your ordinary life. I am.