Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas is over, Jack!

It's that time of year....between Christmas and New Year's.  Life is a frenzy for us until the 25th, and then there's that big letdown when it's all over.  We're not "party people" so we're looking forward to a quiet New Year's Eve in front of the television watching the ball drop.  On New Year's Day, we'll watch the parades on television while we pack up our decorations and put them away until next year.

I am still struggling with my quest to declutter.   So this year, I will also consider letting go of some of our decorations.  Although, I doubt that will happen.

A few years ago, we bought a smaller tree.  We gave away our big artificial tree and replaced it with a more reasonable size.  The one thing I failed to consider when we bought the small tree was that all of my beloved ornaments would not fit on that little tree.  I underestimated how much I loved decorating that large tree.  So that change didn't last.  We have returned to a large tree again,  and I think it was most beautiful tree we have ever had this year.

As I decorate my tree each year, I relive memories of the past represented by each ornament.  Some were given to me by friends or students I taught.  Sometime in years past, I started writing names on ornaments that were gifts.  As I hang each of them on the tree, I visualize the gift givers.  Many of them are still close friends

"An apple for my teacher" ornaments, a sand dollar inscribed "for a special teacher," and "Merry Christmas, teacher"..... I remember the faces of my students as they handed me their gifts.  There is nothing more precious than those little ones who bring their love to their teacher.  Many of these students are now my friends on Facebook all these years later.

Some ornaments were gifts from friends.  Some were handmade like the smocked ornaments made by my sister-in-law.  Some are store bought.  Some are from faraway places.  My friend, Laurie, who knew my love for Key West gave me an ornament from  paradise.  My daughter, Betsey, gave me an ornament years ago from my church, First Baptist Church in Charleston, S. C.

I have ornaments my children made, a baked and painted pink angel Chris made when he was only 3 years old.  I can't believe that one has survived so long....and the felt star Betsey made in kindergarten with a photo glued on... Betsey in the snow.  Then there's the Medieval sword Chris made when he was in Boy Scouts.

But then there are the really special ornaments.  The ones that embody our family history,  the dwarfs that are falling apart now because they are from our very first Christmas together in 1967,

the Christmas mice with Chris' and Betsey's names cross-stitched across the front (Betsey never misses an opportunity to tell me that her name was misspelled).  Roger's mother bought these for them when Chris was 6 and Betsey was 3.

Then there's the ornament my thoughtful neighbor gave me when Jack and Emma were born.... two peas in a pod.... so cute....

the ornament from my childhood, a tin Santa with the paint chipped away,

and the one from Roger's childhood, one of the three wise men....also painted tin.

And sadly, this is the year we lost our sweet Kitty Boy.  We will always keep the ornament that poked fun at his generous girth.....

So, it's over until next year.  Time to pack up and put things away.  Very little decluttering will take place this year where decorations are concerned.  

Jack is only 3, but he feels that let down feeling and said to Betsey, "Mommy, Why did you take the balls off the tree?"  Emma, his twin, is quite practical in her response.  "Because, Jack, Christmas is over."

R. I. P. Kitty Boy, 2000-2014.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Clipping the bushes

My beautiful gardenias have been a source of pride for me for several years.  My mother rooted them for me from her bushes.  She taught me how to break them off in just the right place and root them for my friends.  But after a particularly cold winter, my bushes were brown.  Brown and sad.  My husband clipped off the brown twigs and leaves.  They are finally beginning to show some new green growth.  He planted some new plants in our fairy fort and filled the bird feeders.

Inside, I am cleaning closets.  Old clothes that we have not been wearing have been packed along with some household goods that have not been used for quite a while.  I sat down with two crates of notebooks from my master's program from eight years ago.  After re-living that two years of my learning journey through notes about leadership, memories flooded back to me....  lively conversations in my cohort classes, late night reading and writing, and meetings with my colleagues preparing presentations.  I emptied the binders and threw away the notes, except for a few papers I wrote.  I worked too hard to throw them away.  They will be added to my portfolio.

The clothing, the household goods, and the empty binders have been picked up by the Vietnam Vets pickup service.  We are seeing more cardinals and sparrows in the fairy fort and in the bird house.  Yesterday we saw a rabbit hopping around the yard along with several squirrels.

As hard as it is to let go of the old things, I have to remember that they are just THINGS.  I am learning that this process is necessary to make room for the new and exciting things to come.  We are continuing to clean and declutter, looking forward to next year and whatever life brings.

I hope it brings us some new gardenias.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Fairy Fort-- Revisited

It's been quite a while since posting here.  There have been many changes in my life and many more to come in the near future.

The Fairy Fort has changed as well.  Last summer we had to dig up our backyard because of our septic system.

All is good now, and we are starting over.   We have some new flowers in the Fairy Fort, and a few of the old ones.  Sadly, the beautiful crape myrtles are gone from the center of our yard.   Our little Fairy Fort is treeless.   However, we still have the beautiful crape myrtles that line the fence in the yard (safely away from the septic lines).

I said before that the Fairy Fort is a metaphor for my life.  I have had to adjust my thinking about the Fairy Fort.  Perhaps my life IS a fairy fort.  Some things change.  You lose a few trees and gain a beautiful birdhouse.  People come and go out of our lives; the way we use our time changes; and somehow possessions are not so important anymore.  Starting over is more important.

From this perch,  there is a new perspective on the Fairy Fort (and life).  I am still de-cluttering.  I am still a perfectionist and a procrastinator.  I have not given up.  I am still trying.  And I am still improving my thinking and my life.