The Holiday Hangover is not about the wine. An overabundance of joy.

The glow of holiday bliss starts to fade the day after Boxing Day, when the tree tinsel droops and the pine needles sprinkle down. Perhaps, though, it is the happiest time of the year.

Christmas advent is less than peaceful, what with the shopping and parties and preparation. Christmas eve– for many families, like mine for example– is the start of the celebration. And in my family, that celebration lasts for three days. It’s the day after Boxing Day when things begin to settle: the wrapping paper is picked up and the visiting subsides. It’s a couch and TV or book kind of day, with a nap or two in between.

Last night was spent just sitting on the couch. We (my son and his girlfriend and I) filled the entire evening with just three things: Jet’s hockey, Food Channel marathon and tea. After feasting, entertaining and visiting for three days, it was a delight to tuck into sweats and a blanket and settle in for a night of no obligation and no expectations. Just the warmth of people who are dear and who understand that you– as required only, of course–talk back to the television set while reading a book.

“Ma, you are not allowed to comment if you’re not paying attention,” my son might say.

Oh, please. Of course I am.

I was shuffling around in my beautiful new slippers this morning when my son climbed down the stairs from the guest room.

“Pancakes! But Ma, I have to go to work in ten minutes.”

“That’s cutting it a little fine. Poor planning are your part,” I replied.

Pancakes were easily wrapped up to go. Fruit salad fits into a mason jar nicely and just before he walked out the door, I tucked Japanese oranges into the son’s parka pocket.

“Have a good day.” I said as he bent down for a kiss.

Then I watched him walk across the front yard, his track shoes sinking into the snow.

“Why aren’t you wearing your boots?” I called, noticing them sitting in the hallway.

“These are fine.”

“And where are your gloves?”

The son turned just briefly and responded the way children have responded to this perennial mother’s question with the response of children since the creation of the civilized world.

“They’re in my pocket.”

I paddled back into the kitchen and poured a cuppa tea. Then I settled on the sofa to to savour the warmth of being truly loved and my abundance. Continue reading

The Annual Christmas Stocking Challenge. 1985-2014.

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My late Mother created this gorgeous Christmas stocking (now officially vintage) for my son Brett for his first Christmas. This year, Santa will fill it for the 29th time.

It’s a large stocking- over a meter long, made of felt, and lots of love, with added sparkles and a pop up Santa in the chimney.

It would house a litter of puppies, three crates of Japanese oranges, a small Norfolk Pine. For the first few years, it was fun. Mostly, I suppose, it was fun because I didn’t need to fill it all. I could put…I mean Santa could put a few toys in it…chocolate and a few oranges. That worked- for the first few years.

The trick, Santa soon found, was to fill it with large things…useful things… things like a six pack of socks.

Sox in sox? Might feel a little Grinchy, but it works.

November 11, 2014

Across the country we paused today to reflect on 100 years since the beginning of The Great War, the War to End All Wars, and the wars and sacrifice of those who have served- so many times- since then. On a sad and solemn day, let us hope for peace.

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The true heart of football

You don’t don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate this amazing story of two brothers who love the game, and the one who loves his brother even more.

This reaffirms and celebrates the heart in our men: sons, brothers, partners and others, including the tough looking and tough acting men who play football. Under the pads and bravado, inside the sinew and muscle and beyond the athleticism, you’ll find some very wonderful and very caring human beings.

From TSN, and through the NFL…Here’s the story. http://www.tsn.ca/video/tsn-original-my-brother-s-keeper-1.121989

Making your own sunshine on a pre fall back day

imageSomedays, when the temperatures dip and the sun doesn’t come up until 8 a.m. (and disappears before you’ve had supper) it just makes sense to create your own light.  We each do that in our own way; my ways range from uber activity to quiet simple things.  Today, still waiting for the sun to shine, I believe the simplier things last the longest.

In Winnipeg, the city I call home, fall brings an abundance of arts/culture riches.  There are book launches, art gallery openings, lectures, theatre, film and fundraisers galore this time of year.  Some weeks, it seems, I try to do it all.  It’s fun for a while.

Last night, a simple evening where my sun – Freudian slip– my sOn — came over- forewarned that he was welcome as always but not to expect a lot of cooking from the ma.  We cooked together, he in charge of the grilling, and then just hung out.  I picked up a book: My Year in Provence to relive my trip to France (albeit not Provence- that’s on my list for next year).  He settled into Fantasy Football draft night on the other side of the living room, and we watched NFL.  He replayed the plays- especially defensive wins and losses (former UM linebacker- you can take the lad out of university, but you can’t take the football out of the lad.) and brought my attention to the missed tackles, the lack of wrapping up and the atheletic excellence,  We talked about the events of the week, I picked up my phone to check out my Twitter feed and realized the last thing in the world I needed yesterday was more information about the disappointments and heartache gong on in the world.  I decided to look for cute videos.  And found none.

Here ma, do you have Instagram ?  And that’s how I found my own sunshine last night.  Sharing cute cat/kitten/goat/pet photos and video with my son.

And this weekend we “gain” an hour?  What a great world this is.  Salut!  Here’s to your own kind of sunshine.  Cue:  You are my sunshine…my only sunshine…

A salute to life, love, friendship.

I have been privileged to have this amazing woman in my life for over 30 years. We were young- 20 somthing execs at the Bay together, then mothers, what used to be called “career women”, and “women of a certain age”. A few years ago we enjoy an Eat. Love. Pray. adventure of our own on a wine tour of the Okanagan. I saw her this summer and we toured some of the spots from our great adventure. The last email I sent her asked if she were well enough for a visit. I didn’t hear back, but was told by family members that she was no longer well enough to respond. Last night, the email and texts came. This, the official announcement this morning.

I want to share this with you, my friends, as a salute to Cindy, a remarkable spirit and a beautiful woman I am so privileged to call friend. Raise a glass, say a prayer, remember that life is a gift and treasure the ones you love.

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Dear Family and Friends,
it is with great sorrow that we tell you that Cindy passed away last evening. She passed peacefully in her home in Kelowna as she desired, with family by her side.
She will be dearly missed by all for her spirit, her enthusiasm, and her incredible thirst for living life the way that we all would aspire to …with passion, wonder and a boundless love for friends and family.

Information regarding the celebration of Cindy’s life will be forthcoming.
But for now…we are sure that she would appreciate a smile or a laugh, a hearfelt toast, and a prayer in remembrance of how she touched each of us deeply and warmly before making this journey.

We would be most grateful if you could pass this message on to Cindy’s friends and colleagues that we have missed.
Cindy’s Family

Shorter days…what happened to daylight savings?

imageYou won’t find light until after seven in the morning, and you know it will be gone by eight. Temperatures have fallen, like crisp leaves on a cold autumn day. If you’re one of the clever ones who have already raked and pruned, cleared and bagged up the fall debris in your yard- I salute you. If you’ve put away the summer things, and located your favourite winter boots and fall sweaters, I am in awe.

Yesterday, I sat in the sunshine, after a healthy dose of yard chores, and savoured a cuppa tea in my outdoor office. In this almost summer weather, I wore mittens and a down vest — and my favourite fall boots: comfortable low-heeled ones- but in blue suede- ha, take that sensible shoe stereotypes!

Like you, I’ve checked the seven and fourteen day forecasts, hoping for a few more days of good weather. “Everyone”- that ubiquitous vague pronoun we salute so frequently- everyone says it’s going to snow before Halloween.

My pal Ruth went for a row a few days ago…yes, on one of those cold and windy Winnipeg days. I told her she inspired me, and she does…Let’s all get outside and enjoy a few of our favourite things before the snow falls.

Check out Ruth’s website: http://www.rowingtheworld.com