Black Friday or Blue?

I finished the bulk of my holiday shopping on election night in a small quiet store near my home.

I desperately needed a diversion.

Then on Black Friday I rose early and mailed those gifts to friends and family from an empty post office.

The peace was almost deafening.

On Small Business Saturday, my chi pup Rex and I walked the sunny beach at the lake and climbed the short ladder to the life guard station.

Luckily no one needed our help as we had a little business of our own to take care of.

I’d brought a small stack of holiday cards up there to pen as we kept an eye on a couple of fishing boats off in the distance.

After a while, we climbed back down and followed our noses over to a blazing bonfire by the trolley tracks.

Santa was already there, greeting all in line for their rides on an old wreath adorned golden trolley.

Rex and I opted instead for one hot chocolate, laced with small marshmallows and a s’more cooked to order by a smiling Boy Scout nearby. Both were being sold as part of his troops’s fundraiser.

Rex appeared to love his first sweet graham cracker.

And I loved my avoidance of stores this weekend even more I thought while licking every bite of chocolate off my fingers.

It seems a break in tradition can be quite delicious.

Month of Gratitude: Day 28


On this Black Friday, I stayed clear of big box stores and shopping malls.

Instead I chose to celebrate those gifts that keep on giving.

And I’m not talking fruitcake.

My friend Diane is a blogger and also an occupational therapist. A client of hers recently passed along some caps she’d knitted and asked Diane to give them to soldiers.

Diane blogged about it right before Veteran’s Day and suggested we all recognize soldiers past and present.

I loved the idea and immediately penned my own uncle a thank you for his years in Korea.

In her blog post, Diane also asked readers to leave a comment if they were interested in obtaining one of the caps. I left her a note of thanks and ended up being the first name drawn.

The cap is now on its way to a wonderful soldier I’ve met currently on duty in Iraq, along with a holiday thank you note.

The same day I received the package from Diane, I found another envelope in my mailbox. This time from another blogger I know named Deb.

Deb mailed me a bright and colorful pair of mittens, made from recycled sweaters, to keep my fingers “warm and nimble”.

She also included in her note much encouragement as I work to compile my writings on caregiving into a book that I hope will help others soon.

Like Diane, Deb warmed my soul with her kindness, along with my cold fingers.

I have to admit though I did put on my new mittens and ventured into one Black Friday event today.

It was being held at a shop benefiting those struggling in the community by selling donated new and ‘gently’ used merchandise.

I walked back out looking like Mrs. Claus with 6 lap size afghans a busy volunteer crocheted for the shop.

They’ll be gifts to warm my grandkids while reading their books in the chilly winter months as they sip their hot cider.

And the proceeds from my purchase will provide ample cider as well for the food shelf next to the store.

I’m am so grateful for these incredible gifts that keep on giving.

They’re gentle reminders of what this beautiful season really is all about.

Diane’s blog:

Deb’s blog:



Month of Gratitude: Day 6

It appears that gratitude for the extra hour of shut eye last Sunday, has been replaced by late afternoon sleepiness.

The normally talkative on my bus are now snoring all the way home.

Gray skies have definitely been a contributor.

I know we’ll adjust eventually, but the reality of winter’s coming has finally settled in.

And I’ll admit I was actually thankful today to see the brightly colored Christmas tree standing proudly in the rain by the Target store.

Sure that tree’s up too early, but it was pretty cheery.

And as to the rain?

I’m just grateful it wasn’t the white stuff.

Gifts and groceries

In my quest to finish holiday shopping, I dragged myself to a fancy grocery store on my way home from work to buy a few final gifts and some groceries.

I was ready to check out when I saw I’d missed one item on my shopping list. I walked down the long aisle to the cooler for milk. When I returned to my cart, I discovered half of my items had been removed and several others were added.

I also found I’d just tossed my shopping list.

There were tomatoes in my cart for a dinner salad, but no lettuce. I had pasta sauce, but no pasta.

And now my gifts for co-workers had vanished, which had been the main reason I’d stopped at the store.

I knew for sure I was lacking the energy to figure out everything that was missing and fill the cart up again.

So I just grabbed some chocolate truffles for my boss and caramels for my co-workers. I then paid the cashier and drove on home.

Cutting up my tomatoes tonight on a cheap frozen pizza I’d already had in my freezer, I smiled thinking of all the money I’d saved.

And I did the same admiring my handiwork as I put the pie in the oven. It was looking mighty good.

Turns out it tasted even better.

Need a little Christmas?

Winter’s come early mighty early this year.

We experienced several sub-zero mornings this week, with winds cutting sharply through the heaviest of parkas.

It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel a little blue and old beyond your years. My skin is itchy and dry, and my hair looks like a pompadour with all the static electricity.

Stopping after work to buy a pair of of warm Christmas slippers for my husband, I thought I would pick up a little something for me, too.

And I did.

One pair of bright red Santa socks!

Some days you need a little Christmas.

It may be working. I just started writing my holiday cards.


Snow Princess

One of my part time jobs in high school was as a clerk in a busy florist shop. It was a joy working there at holiday time. Every square foot would be laden with sparkling jewels of red, green, and gold.

Rows of velvet leafed red poinsettias, fresh green wreaths, and shiny gold ornaments greeted me each time I started my shift.

I loved the magical silence before the store opened, and the crowds arrived. I’d find myself transported to my own winter wonderland, with me as Snow Princess.

I’d often take a few minutes and admire the miniature toy village set up in the window on a snow blanket of soft, sparking white fabric. I’d then wind the music boxes behind the counter for a concert.

Lara’s Theme, from the movie Dr. Zhivago, was my favorite.

I’d treat myself to peppermint bon bons in the bowl for the customers by the register. Delicious enough for a Snow Princess too, I figured.

I’d smell the regal perfume of red roses and green pine as I opened the refrigerator case, wishing I could wear the lovely scent.

Then suddenly the gates would be cranked open. The perfume, now replaced by scented pine cones and lit plum pudding candles at the front of the shop to entice the crowds inside.

Smiles would be genuine on the faces of those who quickly entered.

And also for the Snow Princess who worked there.

Short and simple lists

I’ve accepted that the season of gift giving is in full swing. But I’m happy I’m almost done with all my shopping. The exceptions are the seniors and one young family whose names I’ve been given to buy for this year as part of a gift sponsorship drive in my community.

Once again the lists are short and simple. I’ve been asked to pick up “girly toys” for the little three year old, Annie. I’ll select a sweet faced baby doll for her to hold, or a furry stuffed animal Annie can hug tight. And I’ll be sure to add some pretty princess picture books to my purchase, too.

I’ll be asking my little granddaughter to assist me with my shopping. She’ll be great at selecting special stocking stuffers for all.

My senior ladies have each requested “just a little” candy this Christmas, “chocolate preferred.” Harriet would like colored hair clips, too. And Mary needs a box of Kleenex and some lotion.

For the other gals, a photo album, “gold colored” jewelry, and a “just a small purse, any kind” will complete their lists. Maybe I’ll add some warm, festive Santa socks to each of their gift bags for fun.

I’m avoiding the malls and will shop on Small Business Saturday to support the local independent
retailers. It should be a special day.

I hope they’ll have carolers singing on the sidewalk as my granddaughter and I munch on gingerbread men and sip hot cider by the reindeer display.

And maybe just a few light snow flakes falling from the sky to get us in the spirit of the season.