The young woman who took my place is doing an amazing job, so I don't have to walk in there feeling guilty for leaving them a big mess. No, I am sure there were things they had to deal with, but since Tamara had been so wonderful as to agree to train for my job like six months before I left, she pretty much knew most everything she was getting in to. And she looks so professional and together. I don't think I ever looked as professional or together as her. She has made the space that once was my office into her office and it is neat and clean and organized and she just looked so natural in there. I am so very proud of that young woman. And as we took a few minutes today to discuss our personal lives she surprised me again with news about all the challenges and gifts this past year has given her. And the more I thought about the things we had talked about the prouder I was of her. She is a strong woman. She can be hurt like anyone can, but she is resilient and loving and kind and forgiving and willing to take a chance on her heart and I know whatever she decides to do, I have complete faith in her. Yes, this is an amazing young woman. The kind of woman we all would hope to have as a daughter or daughter in law, or fairy god daughter. I am so glad that I was able to meet and get to know this young lady. She is certainly one of my gifts as I count my blessing like Bing Crosby sings in White Christmas, or Holiday Inn, depending on which one you have seen.
Yes, at night my form of prayer, or meditation or thoughts is to review my day and be thankful for all the wonderful things that I noticed in the moment And I rethink about as many of them as I can. Then I count off the names and and conjure up the faces in my mind of my dear beloved ones. That is how I drift off to sleep. I try to think of different people each night. I try and remind myself how very very lucky I am to have so many beloved people in my life. It just awes me that I could be friends with all these amazing people.
As I said the other day, it is the remembering of friends, the taking of time to send a card, receive a card or mail a package. Do something that makes you happy. For me, finding something small, but thoughtful for people makes me happy. Packaging up presents and sending them to people makes me happy. Giving presents when people do not feel obligated to reciprocate makes me happy.
Having lunch with friends, or spending a few minutes at the Opera House to celebrate Jon's birthday with a surprise cake that Jan got for him. Yes, these are what the traditions are about.
Today I worked on my Christmas cards and really made some headway. It takes a little time to stop and think of each person as I send the card. It is not that I write that much, it is just that I take a little mental trip with each name and think about them and their family and what they mean to me, still to this day.
I got dressed and hopped in the toy and let it take the old familiar route south on Hwy 19, right (west) on Hwy 27, turn at Conner Blvd. sweep along the curvy road past the light at Tom Brown Park to the light where right (north) takes you to the Federal Pen or left that takes you......well, into our offices. Phyllis met me at the door ready to go and we headed over to Hopkins Eatery. This is a fabulous surprise for those of you in Tallahassee who don't know they have opened another location at Apalachee and Capital Circle. It is around the corner from the Beef O'Brady's, on the same side where Bad Ass Coffee used to be (shout out to you Jon!) Usually all of the Hopkins are packed with every table full and a line at the counter. We waltzed into this one and were at the order cashier before we had even decided what to get and could choose from most of the tables to sit. It was heavenly. My dear friend Phyllis, the excellent food at Hopkins and a quiet restaurant. I mean, you can't ask better in Tallahassee, or shoot, anywhere.
Phyllis looked wonderful. I hugged her and she felt like Phyllis, compact, but sturdy, strong heart, wicked sense of humor, sweet giving nature. She has so many challenges to look forward to this coming year. Not the least will be keeping her family together. They may not have thought about it before, but I have no doubt in the closeness of her family that Phyllis is the quiet strong one. And that she will be the one to dry the tears, hold the hands and give the hugs. Sometimes when we get cancer we find out how many hands are there to hold us up. And at the same time we also find an amazing strength we did not know we had to hold those around us up. Not a house of cards, but a world of hands all holding each other. Arms strong and sure to help those who find it too much sometimes. And even when we need the most, sometimes, people like our Phyllis, will stay strong and find her voice and strength by holding the others while she deals with this challenge. Maybe they will all find the strength to hold on to each other and keep each other strong.
I saw that in Jan and Pete, and darn it, I need to call her. I think of it about this time each night since she has been one of the people in my whispers of gratitude. She is hurting, and misses Pete, but she is strong. I have to call to find out if she decided to drive to her son's house for Christmas.
After Phyllis and I had a delightful lunch, we drove back to the office and I left little Christmas themed bags of hot cocoa and cookies in the break room. I then walked down the hall with the long row of windows over looking the lake to building 6 and took Bob's present in to him. I had also thrown in a bar of the mint soap for Charlie to ask Bob to give it to him. But fortune smiled down on me, and there Charlie stood talking to Bob. That made me very happy. I got to talk to Bob a little while and then to some of the other people in their office. I went back to Building 8 and took a few minutes to try and say hello to people. I so enjoyed seeing so many people who were such an important and active part of my life these past many years. They are still important to me, but I do not see them as often. I heard good news from most of them. We talked and caught up like I had been off for a three day weekend. I felt comfortable and happy to have been a part of that place. I no longer feel that I belong there, but I can visit because I have such dear precious friends there. Nice to be able to look back on things and to see that the door is still open. As long as you respect where you are now, doors do not need to close.
After taking way too long to see not as many people as I would have loved to, I headed north on Capital Circle to Beall's and picked up a couple of shirts for Dad. One red, one a lovely cantaloupe color. He really likes these bright shirts I noticed when he was here the last two times.
Then home and to talk to friends on the phone. To invite Sioux for New Year's weekend. OK, it was her idea, but I was completely delighted. We will plan for the revival of the Girls, Women, Ladies, Mothers and Daughters camping trip. For 11 years a core group of 6 woman came together with our daughters and mothers and friends and would camp out in the woods at state parks and craft, staring the Friday night we got there. We would take field trips and go for walks, swim in ice cold springs and then on Sunday have high tea. While some worked on the tea others arranged all the crafts out on tables and blankets. Each family that came brought a craft for everyone to work on. Sometimes families would get together with crafts, so we could have anywhere from 3 - 6 different projects to work on during the weekend. Then during tea we would walk around and look at what everyone had created. It was amazing. We had so many activities and crafts that we didn't get to really see each other's projects and it was fun seeing them completed and marvelling at the talent and creativity. Then a queen of the crafts would be named, and a princess. They would be given the tiaras and maybe a cape and then the next year, they were the ones to judge the crafts. Now, if a year the queen and princess also had made the best crafts, as a group we could over ride their selection and name them again the queen and princess of the crafting world. Oh, Martha Stewart what you were missing!!!! Everyone was given a certificate with an award of what they had most accomplished that weekend. When Susan was getting her PhD and would spend most of her time on the bar stool studying, she actually won, "best use of a bar stool" because we were so proud of her going for her PhD, and still making the time to spend with us.
Sioux, was one of the three originating members, Sarah was the third. Sarah died several years back, too young of stomach cancer. But now, Sioux and I will revive the tradition. I think her daughters, Hannah and Jackie are responsible for this revival. They were the older of the daughters, but still young themselves when we first started these annual trips, and now they have daughters almost their age, and they want them to experience this weekend of women in the woods building fires, cooking our food on Coleman stoves and sleeping in tents, then crafting, laughing and finally, drinking tea from fine china on the final day before we returned to our homes and civilization. It was a lot of fun, and I am excited to think we might do it again. My place here is perfect to host a winter camping trip. So plans will be made, oh yes, they will.
So now I have talked on the phone and chatted on the computer and hugged friends at the Opera House and the office and I feel so good. OK, my stomach has been talking the past 2 days to decide if we were going to have a full blown stomach issue. Something that I used to deal with daily, then weekly, and now a couple of times a month. It is starting now. So much for the three pounds I had gained this week. But I am grateful that it is today, and not when I need to be in the car driving on Christmas Eve.
Another blessing to count tonight, hopefully this stomach thing will be done before the weekend. And tomorrow to finish and mail all of my cards. Then to plan Friday's baking. I want to make my mother's quick, always perfect fudge, some of her frozen Christmas cookie batter that can be given to friends to place in their freezer for up to 3 months. And any time they want a cookie, they can slice some of the dough, bake 11 - 14 minutes in a 350 degree oven and wa la! The house smells of buttery rich cookies and you only have to make as many as you want at that moment. OK, not as cool as it was when I was a kid, in that you can buy raw cookie dough just about anywhere. But not like these cookies. And I will make 4 loaves of my Mother's nut bread. Three to take, one to keep. I will bake muffins and put them in individual boxes with a peace sign on top and take them to friends and neighbors. I love to bake, shame I don't enjoy more eating what I bake.
And I will finish up the script for the Christmas pgaent, and then hug my children good bye and head south on Saturday morning. But I will be thinking of so many dear beloved ones as I drive. I will put in my annual Christmas CD that Mary receives in the mail each holiday and gives to me. I will sing along with the songs. Then I will hunt across the dial on the radio for John and Yoko's Christmas song. You know the one, about 'war is over, if you want it' yep, just an old hippie, still hoping for world peace.
Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight, but to get this stomach ordeal out of the way, I will gladly give up sleep to have this done before the weekend. I think I am just about ready for Christmas. I don't mean in doing things. I know I am late, but back on schedule, if that makes any sense. No, I mean, I think I am mentally prepared for the holiday. The noise and confusion, the joy and laughter, the exhaustion, the tears, the memories, the traditions, the food, the presents, the tree, the decorations, the memories. Maybe I do so many things at the holidays, traditions, to get myself ready for the day and all the things wrapped up in those 24 - 48 hours. hmmmm, I never thought of that before.
And to all of you who comment on my post, thank you. I may not seem as if I read them and think about what you say, but I truly do. And I appreciate the kind thoughts, and holiday wishes. I am glad that Ms Moon and I were able to not only respect, but also support each other in our choices for this holiday. I do love that woman. And she is right, she and Mr Moon are the perfect pair. I know several perfect pairs, but it is always special to know and be part of their family. And whether a holiday or a birthday, or just getting together, it sure is nice to spend time with people who love and respect each other, and to be another small tiny piece of their love and respect. And to Syd, Merry Christmas, sounds like a nice holiday to me.
And to all of the dear people who come here to my porch, whether once or once a week or once a month or so, thank you for your kindness. Because it always makes me smile when I see you in the real world and you remind me that you are reading my blog, but just aren't a commenter. I relate. I rarely comment on others blogs, but the kind thoughts and words are always special and appreciated.
Yes, for a woman who enjoys spending the quiet time with rocks, plants and animals. I do find at this time of year, joining in on the celebrations, whether the celebration of the solstice or the end of the calendar year, Kwanzaa or of Christmas, or any of the hundreds or thousands of festivals and celebrations that fall over this 4 - 6 week time frame, I find this year, that it is the thinking of friends that has meant the most to me. That has made me the happiest. I think I will go lay in bed now and hope that sleep and dreams come. But first, let me count a few of my many blessings, just from today. And let me fall asleep to the faces and names of dearly beloveds.