From the archives...

Christmas!

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…” (Clement Clark Moore)

The ghost of Christmas past came to visit me yesterday.  I suppose that old Dickens story has endured partly because the ghost of Christmas past is a little bit with all of us.  The priest celebrating the Mass we attended on Christmas even began his homily with stories of Christmases past and the human connections that make them real again on every Christmas after…

My Christmas ghost came with the stockings.

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I made these stockings (first three, and then later a fourth) when Miss G. was only six months old.  I cut up old sweaters and sewed them all together in a tribute to the stockings my own mother had made for us when I was little.  Here we are hanging one – the white one which was Bami’s – under the watchful eye of our fireplace reindeer…  (Look how young you are Mimi!  I am almost twice as old now as you were then…)  Can you see the stocking resemblance?

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It was so important to me as I started my own family to have some of the same special things that made Christmas feel like Christmas.  Those stockings meant the world to me.  They were made by my mother, and we hung them with great ceremony every year.  I was the recorder of which stocking belonged to which owner (mine was red, cowboy’s was green…)  – a job which has been taken up in our house by Miss G. with serious dedication and emphasis.  This struck me as ironic/hysterically funny late last night (Christmas Eve) when I stood in front our “new” family stockings and could not for any reason remember which one belonged to which family member.  When I was small it was so very important to me, as it is so very important to my little people now…  It is easy as a parent to see only with adult eyes and to forget the way things are for children.  We rush, we work, we worry, but they look and listen in every moment.  The colour of the stockings is important.  The way the stockings hang is important.  I didn’t need the ghost of Christmas past to tell me so, but it helped.

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(Stockings by Mimi…)

Just like Father Thompson reminded me in his homily, those moments of Christmas past give life to our present.  That little girl with the great sense of wonder and life is guiding me still in my quest to live and give each day with meaning.  I put this picture on my fridge to remind me:

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…but I could have chosen any of these other classic moments…

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Other memorable moments from Christmases past:

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…the xylophone I was completely enchanted with, tied for best gift ever with  the Mickey Mouse record player…

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until the year of the big wheel

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Each one of those distant Christmas memories lives a little bit still in the mother I have become and in the making of meaningful Christmas time traditions for my own small family.

(One of them seems to be a tradition of noisy merriment – this year’s Christmas gift theme turned out to be musical instruments… yikes!)

And so I work to remember what is important.  I work to see with the eyes of my own children and to look and listen in every moment.   When we hang our Christmas stockings I will know that they don’t need to be filled with gifts to be a wonderful present to us all.  What is important is that they are filled with the love and history of a family that sees the light in each other.  Starting with Bami, passed down to Mimi, passed on to me and in turn to Miss G. – we are carrying the Christmases past in us, we are hanging them up on display, and we are honouring the traditions that keep the connection from generation to generation…

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(Stocking by Bami…)

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

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From the archives...

This Week I Went To The Ocean…

A lot of who I am today is because of my amazing husband. Most of who I am. Definitely where I am is because of him…

The year before we met had been a roller coaster of life lessons leading to a plane ticket and a planned exit from local life. However. Our chance meeting and instant connection changed the course of my life dramatically…

Just one month after we met I changed the course of my life to make room for another future – postponing the possibility of adventure for a different one completely. I went back to school. I succumbed to the persistent vocation of teacher. I followed the path that I had resisted for so long because it was “predictable” and discovered the great unpredictable adventure that waited there for me…

During this transformative time I met a teacher who encouraged us (her students) to write a story of our journey to the classroom. This is my story… (April 2000)

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(The end of that story, but only the beginning of our story. It is the love story that I never imagined for myself, but always wished to find… The adventure of a lifetime and so much more… As giant and as powerful as the ocean… When I read this story to my children it makes me cry! I am thinking of all the love that has flooded my life since it was written and truly learning the meaning of forever…)

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From the archives...

Mother and Child…

I am not a great celebrant of Mother’s Day. This is leftover from the early days of my marriage when we wished so desperately for a family, and grieved so painfully for each lost hope, that I am still empathically aware of those who might be tired of seeing the mushy sentiments and flowers associated with the occasion. Now that I am a mother, though, I am passionately aware of the life’s work that motherhood entails. It is, as I said to an expectant father last week, not for amateurs. (He found my comment wildly amusing, as he felt that parenthood was in fact intended only for amateurs. He is about to be enlightened.)

As I was reflecting yesterday, I am grateful to (and often in awe of) both my mother and grandmother. They did so much with very little, and with the odds against them both. Each of them were pioneers in their own time. Today, in honour of those pioneers of motherhood, a trip through the archives…

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(My great grandmother with her first born children…)

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(My grandmother and her first born…)

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(My grandmother with my mom…)

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(My aunt with her firstborn…)

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(My mom and me!…)

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(M grandmother and me…)

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(Mimi and me…)

Time passes. Daily life consumes our free time and our focus. And yet at the heart of it all is this incredibly complex gift – mother and child – that sustains the cycle of life and the world as we know it… It is the most challenging task I have undertaken, and the most rewarding. For the gift of motherhood, and with great appreciation to the mothers who made me, I am so very grateful!

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From the archives...

Journaling Journey…

In a recent rash of “spring” cleaning (also known as moving the piles of stuff from one part of the house to another) I unearthed some old scrapbook/journals I had saved for so long they seem like ancient history. My daughter was fascinated with the magazine clippings, illustrations, quotes and mementos cut and pasted together to represent the things that inspired me as a teen, and then later in university too. Seeing them through her young eyes, I felt I was looking at scraps of my young self again, covered over in layers and layers of newer and newer me.

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Johnson Street, Victoria

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Those early journals are like a distant ancestor to the online blogs I eventually discovered while I was home after my children were born. I was searching for inspiration and identity in my “new” life as a parent and found so many creative, open, innovative people making their own scrapbook of life to share with the world of the internet…

The genuine family stories of travelling mama, the colourful creativity of a beautiful mess and the gorgeous but simple European styling of sharon santoni were like lighthouses when I needed a beacon. They are all amazing women living strong, creative passionate lives and taking the old world scrapbook/journal to new heights. I am just stepping out onto this path, inspired by those who have gone ahead, and looking forward to the adventure! Are you coming?

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From the archives...

Looking back…

Yesterday my children inspired me to write about change. For them change is a natural, great adventure – they are new and flexible in this world.

Next to their energy and enthusiasm I feel old and brittle and tired sometimes, and I wonder how I got here, or where all the time has gone since my days of new and flexible energy.

Then, looking back, I have this wondering thought – worded so eloquently by C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.”

Isn’t it?

So I found myself looking back to see how much has changed, and discovered instead some things that have stayed just a little bit the same- moments of joy and laughter (and exuberant fashion choices!) that weave together to make my now. This is where I come from, and although many many things have changed, I am grateful for the style and love and inspiration that made it possible for me to have the wonderful privilege of now.

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We all come from somewhere, and we’re all going somewhere, but we aren’t doing any of it alone. Looking back can give some insight into the path that brought us this far, and maybe cast a light ahead to where we need to go…

But for all the changes that have come and gone it’s comforting to know that family is built on acceptance, forgiveness and love – and I hope those things never change.

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