Forget the Hunger Games – on December 3rd, I entered the fiercely competitive Evil Squirrel Games, and just under the wire too. Bill Brown, author and cartoonist at the Evil Squirrel’s Nest hosted a 2014 Christmas Card contest to win one of his cute hand-drawn critters from The Nest.
I entered the contest, but as the days blended together and I started to fight off the plague, I forgot…
This week, I received a card in the mail. I didn’t immediately recognize the return address, so I kept repeating the sender’s name over and over again, hoping to encourage the neurons in my brain to start snapping (the cold medication I’ve been taking hasn’t been kind). The stamp was from the U.S.A. Little Guy just stared at me quizzically, then jumped when I started to yell…
To make a long story longer – here’s the sweet creature I received, on my Christmas tree, because isn’t that where angels belong?
by Bill Brown
Special thanks to the Evil Squirrel for helping perk up this old lady! Now he can say that one of his creations travelled all the way to the Great White North. Head on over to the Nest to see all of his creations (click here) and take some time to browse his cartoons, his Retro ads, his Saturday Squirrels (one of his squirrels was Canadian!), or his Flashback Friday posts. GO Nuts!
And “May the Likelihood of Something Good Happening Be Ever In Your Favour”. Happy Weekend!
Someone has kindly shared their cold with me and consequently, I don’t feel like doing anything and the cold medication is making my head fuzzy. So while I stare into space for the next few hours, take a look at the next installment of photos (and maybe click on them to read the quotes).
Moonlit: “Moonlight is sculpture.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Warmth: “Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.” – Anonymous
On the Table: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” – G.K. Chesterton, Brave New Family: G.K. Chesterton on Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage and the Family
Peace: “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan
GIving: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
I made the dreaded trip to the Mall Saturday afternoon. Every store was filled with long lines and harried retail workers. I crashed into more than one person conversing on their cell phone. It was after 2 hours of traipsing from one end of the Mall to the other, that I espied a kindred spirit. She looked like she needed a hot cup of tea as much as I did.
Her face was pasty white except for her flaming cheeks, and her hair was static-filled and stuck to her lipgloss. Her bulky, black coat was tied loosely around her waist. In one hand, she carried an assortment of coloured plastic bags, the handles stretched from the weight of their contents. She dragged a large tube of turquoise, snowman-printed wrapping paper along the floor behind her. Shoppers of all ages, turned to stare at this weary woman as she stumbled along, the joy of the holiday obviously drained from her spirit.
I stopped to stare at her as well. Here we were – surrounded by glittering and velvety decorations of rich colour, and children squealing with delight while the sucked on sticky candy canes (they had obviously just been to see Santa). The sounds of the Salvation Army bell ringer delicately clanged in the background in contrast to the holiday tunes blaring from every store front. This woman had come to buy gifts to bring joy to her family and friends, but she was without it.
I stopped to stare at her as well, before something urged me to move forward and invite her to join me. We needed to savour a cup of tea, and once invigorated, to once again take in the sights and sounds of a magical season. It was only as I moved toward her that I realized…I was looking at my own reflection.
Apparently my three kings came bearing gifts and travelled far but didn’t make it past King Herod…They’ve all lost their heads…and pretty soon I may lose mine too. It’s been quite a day!
It was snowing lightly, the ground barely covered in patches of white. I had paused by the back door for a few minutes, watching the snow falling, when I saw the telltale flash of red. My cardinals, male and female, silent and unseen for weeks, sat in the lilac tree that had sheltered their nest. They brought with them 3 more males and one female. I grabbed my camera and stepped into the snow (with my bare arms and my sock feet), expecting them to scatter. Instead, they took turns fluttering to nearby trees and turning to look at me. Then one by one, they flew away. I think they were saying good-bye.
To see more “Gone But Not Forgotten” photos, click here.
December 4th is one of my dates. We all have significant dates that we mark on our calendars, like birthdays and anniversaries. For some of us, the dates include when we lost someone we loved. I was once told that I was “morbid” because I remember those dates, but I don’t agree. And the few people to whom I have reached out around one of their dates, also disagree. It let them know I cared about them.
We remember those dates because they mark a moment when lives changed forever. It is a way to stay connected to someone we’ve lost. We can give ourselves permission to be sad in the midst of busy days. It is a day for remembering good times. While their absence is felt, their presence still had meaning. It is a way to pay tribute, to say thank-you, to reflect.
December 4th is one of my dates. It was supposed to be a birthday. That first December, after I lost Hope, I gave myself permission to be sad. I planned to stay in my pjs all day. I told Hubby to bring me pink roses and I promised that I would only ask him that first year. I’ve kept my promise. But I didn’t end up staying in my pjs. Big Guy’s driving test was scheduled for that morning (he couldn’t drive himself)! I went out for lunch with a friend. In the afternoon, the boys & I decorated our Christmas tree, and Little Guy at 3, was delighted with everything.
Some years are harder than others. This year my baby would be turning 6 – such a fun age! I imagine a little girl with her Daddy’s gray eyes and red hair like her brothers. She would have pink fingernails to match her rosy cheeks, just like mine. I imagine Barbie paraphernalia scattered around the living room, amongst the Lego creations. And I image purple balloons and chocolate cake with pink icing (she would have liked chocolate, just like me)! Just because I never held my baby in my arms doesn’t mean I haven’t held her in my heart.
I can’t not remember the day I found out I was pregnant, or the day I found out I was losing her (or him – we never knew). Those dates impacted my life forever. And so I remember the day that was supposed to be a birthday. It’s my small way to stay connected to a little life that had meaning.
“Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.” – Rachel Field
Something tells the geese to converge on the driving range next to the church…every Spring and every Fall. Ever day I see large flocks of geese gathered in fields or flying in formation. I had to stand in the blowing snow and wait (not so patiently) to capture these three coming in for a landing.
To see more photos from the challenge, click here.