Archive for the 'holidays' Category

Daily Gratitude: Christmas

Sadie & Tree

I’m thankful for family, friends, pets & many blessings this Christmas.

This is Sadie, mom’s dog-child and my four-legged black sister, in front of our traveling Christmas tree.

Yes, the tree is an idiosyncratic choice: Mom and Dad bought an aluminum tree when I was a baby for Christmases away from home, at cabins and at the beach. We lost track of it sometimes in my young adulthood, but mom replaced it with one from an antique store for nostalgia’s sake.

I wish you all a fabulous holiday season as well, filled with as many blessings and as much love as possible.

Posted on Saturday, December 25th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: gratitude, holidays | Comments Off

Christmas Train

A wise twitter friend of mine suggested that this Christmas, we remember and honor the past, and in future Christmases we work on establishing new traditions.

Reflecting on holiday traditions made me think – what are some of my oldest holiday traditions? And I remembered the Christmas tree train. Dad and mom gave me one when I was 5, I think. Mom thinks that it was a Lionel, and from the very poor quality scanned slide image below, it appears to be O gauge (1:48).

1968 Lionel Train

We set that train up under the tree every Christmas we were at home. I have pictures home from college on Christmas break where I can see a hint of train tracks under the tree. I remember being fascinated by the mechanism but hating the assembly; the sharp metal tracks hurt our fingers.

We no longer have it. I’m not sure what happened to it. It probably got yard-saled for $30. The sentimental value would be the greatest part of still having it, but the dollar value of similar sets on eBay seem to be in the $500 range today!

Both boys, especially Zach, assured me they found it interesting for the hobby’s sake and would value such a piece passed down to them. I was unsure whether to try to find a vintage set, or find a new one. Since I’m not particularly mechanically inclined, I went with new. My enterprising brother-in-law Andy took me out looking at new model train sets locally. We went to North End Train Center and Seattle’s Train Center.

So, for my Christmas present to myself this year, I ended up getting a really fun S-gauge (1:64) Gilbert American Flyer set from Seattle’s Train Center – and added on an Alaska tanker car, in honor of our family’s history. The boys set it up under the tree last night and we’ve had fun playing with it; surprisingly, the kitten finds it only marginally fascinating. (This is good!)

Gilbert American Flyer
American Flyer Trainset Under Christmas Tree
American Flyer Engine 21157
American Flyer Alaska Railroad Car 45412

I’m looking forward to using it – more often than Christmas! – for many years to come.

Note: the really excellently composed pictures – the last two – are courtesy of Zach.

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: holidays | 2 Comments »

Kitty Toy!

Our kitten is very happy with the new, giant-sized Christmas kitty toy we’ve set up in the living room for him.

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

Kitten Tree

He’s cutting a fine swath of psycho-kitty destruction. I’m sure life will be even more interesting once we set up our *train*. ;)

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: cats, holidays | 8 Comments »

Giving Thanks

Bryan and JeriThis Thanksgiving, I reflect on how very, very blessed we are.

Yes, it’s been a hard year, a year of terrible loss, grief and pain. But it’s also been a year of rebuilding, of adventure, and of the most wonderful inpouring of love I’ve ever experienced from my family and friends. I could not have gotten through this year without those I cherish, and this Thanksgiving, I think of them.

My awesome sons and I are healthy, thriving, and successful in our chosen endeavors. We have become closer and more supportive of each other, and they have helped me out with running our household and matured beautifully. I’m very, very proud of them.

We have a beautiful, comfortable house, reliable cars, and everything we need in our pantry and our closets, and can share that with friends when we see need. We also have both preventive and acute medical and dental care when necessary.

We have high speed Internet and more technology toys than we should; we’re all geeks. At the touch of a finger I can research pygmy marmosets, order flowers for a hurting friend, or watch the news from Afghanistan.

Those, though, are only material things. What we no longer have in our home is a father and a husband. While I miss Bryan intensely at times like this, I’m coming to terms with his loss. He’s in a better place, whatever that is, and he’s with us in spirit on Thanksgiving and every day. While I’d planned to grow old with him, I’m still so very, very grateful I had twelve beautiful years by his side; he loved us very much.

I also remember my father each Thanksgiving with love and honor. He left us ten years ago, 1999, on Thanksgiving day, and the world is a smaller, drearier place without his ideas, intelligence and integrity.

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

      ~Garth Brooks, “The Dance”

I’m thankful for the dance: the precious years with Bryan, but also for the unmarked future, on my own but surrounded, supported by so many I love.

I wish you all a peaceful and meaningful Thanksgiving, filled with love and laughter.

Posted on Thursday, November 26th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: family, grief, holidays | 8 Comments »

Independence Day, Alone

US FlagThis weekend, Independence Day appropriately enough, I will be flying solo for a few days. Not only is it the first time since losing Bryan – but really, the first time in a very long time, with the exception of business trips.

The boys are taking their first road trip south to Portland. Zach is driving. :o Of course I’m a nervous mom, but I’m also very proud of them – independence and flying the nest is the goal, isn’t it?

The boys have been wonderfully supportive to me since losing Bryan, patient, helpful and just plain good company. They give me hugs whenever I ask, wait up for me after business trips, adventure outdoors with me, and are willing to chat into the late hours of the night.

With them out of town, I have several options on how to handle the long holiday weekend. I can go visit family or hang out with friends. I can go to the coast, or to the mountains, for a solo lodge adventure. I can go camping.

After some reflection, I’ve decided just to hang out at home. Partially it’s because I’m cheap; I don’t want to pay for a room somewhere plus dog sitting. But more importantly, it’s because embracing being alone, making friends with my solo self, is something I need to do.

It won’t be easy. I’m sure I’ll have sad moments and anxious moments. But learning to live happily by myself is essential, now.

I’m going to try to make a mini-retreat out of it. I’ve been to retreat centers where I’ve had time to relax, re-focus, find my center, and I think I can do that here at home as well, as long as I don’t get distracted with non-essential stuff. For example, I’m going to attempt to stay offline – I may not be 100% successful, it’s a wicked habit, but it’s worth a try.

I’m going to focus on getting plenty of rest, meaningful reading (and fun reading too!), yoga, meditation, hiking and creative projects. I have a LOT of creative projects queued up – some metalsmithing, a quilting/fabric art project, writing, some redecorating, even painting. In spite of all that, I’m also going to try to stay relatively unscheduled, rather than over-commit myself.

I may blog; I may not. That would be the exception to my intention of staying disconnected. Otherwise, I will be off net.

Happy Independence Day!

Posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Jeri
Under: family, grief, holidays | 6 Comments »