Monday, December 29, 2008

Vicarious travel

AH... I have had the most wonderful time reading about and enjoying our travelers' experiences in Europe this past week.

The word vi·car·i·ous means (3): experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another... and that describes me to a T.

I have toured Paris, taken a boat ride on the Seine, traveled the Autobahn, ridden a fantastic train across several countries, tasted the delights of French bread and chocolat chaud, visited the Louvre where I gawked at the Mona Liza, and other amazing museums - Marie Antoinette's bed looks awfully hard; and generally had the experiences of a lifetime -- all without leaving home or computer! Thanks to our amazing technology and our traveling family and friends - this has been an exciting couple of weeks, and "our" trips are not over yet!

I wonder what amazing things we'll find to help celebrate the New Year? Vicariously, of course.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

The week went by entirely too fast ! Our traveling friends and family left on schedule and arrived without too much trouble - on the other side of the world from here (well, almost). They're across the pond, anyway.

It has been a lot of fun to hear from them - family AND friends - thanks to the marvelous technology we enjoy today. Just think, it hasn't been too many years when a flight across the Atlantic Ocean was not even imagined, much less accomplished.

The rest of the family will gather here tomorrow for the traditional dinner, fun and fellowship.
Now that the sun has come out --after a week of rainy, dreary, COLD and otherwise less-than-pleasant days -- I'm more in the spirit of Looking Forward to Christmas.

In Europe now it's past bedtime, so their Christmas Day will arrive much sooner than ours... some 7 hours sooner, in fact. Since I missed telling you all "good night", I'll just say "Merry Christmas, and God bless us, Everyone!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One week and counting

One more week til Christmas Eve ! This whole year has zoomed by in a whirlwind of activities and accomplishments ! A friend told me yesterday that her "Christmas Letter" was receiving accolades this year because it was not about all the things her family members did and places they went during the year. Rather, she told about researching their family genealogy and history, giving substance to the family stories and lore that was passed down through the generations. What an interesting idea! I'll have to remember that when Christmas 2009 looms near.

It's always nice to hear from my cousins who live too far away to visit often, and I'm always interested in their various comings and goings, so I hope they won't change their annual letter formats at all.

This week has been less than fun, since a sinus infection has dominated most of each waking moment. I don't like to cancel engagements or commitments, but sometimes it's necessary for everyone's well-being. Nobody wants to be around another who is coughing and sniffing constantly.

Excitement is building for friends and family who are leaving in a few days for the Trip of a Lifetime. Both groups will head for Europe - Germany, Austria and France. I wish I could hide away in one of their suitcases! Since that will not happen, I'll keep watch for emails about their adventures - thanks to the technology that makes it possible!

When I was first married, we were living on an Army base far from home, and even a long distance phone call was a rarity instead of a routine occurence. Who would have dreamed 60 years ago that friends and family could log on to their computers and, using SKYPE, see and talk to each other with just the click of a few letters on the keyboards!

Speaking of SKYPE, a cousin sent a news release from that company announcing the promotions of several head people. I was pleased to see that a 2nd cousin who has lived in California for about 20 years, was named to a top position in that interesting company. Way to go, Christopher!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts -

"A life without purpose is a languid, drifting thing; Every day we ought to review our purpose, saying to ourselves: This day let me make a sound beginning, for what we have hitherto done is naught!" -- Thomas A. Kempis

This quote from another website made me stop and think- what am I supposed to be doing today that I 'm not doing? I could make a list....

Days like this are hard to deal with. There are many things I should be doing, most of which I don't want to do, so I'm not. Too soon the option of procrastination will run out and force me to action... like it or not.

The volunteer hours at the book store yesterday were fun, with lots of interesting shoppers, browsers and good friends to talk with. Then last night hubby and I made a 180-degree change to our routine by attending the Christmas Band and Choral Concert at a grandson's school. This is his last year there, since Graduation in May will open a whole new chapter for him --and his parents. Their last chick leaving the nest and all that.

The concert was delightful. There was enough mix of new and traditional Christmas music to satisfy even the meanest critic, and I found my toes tapping repeatedly to keep up with the brass and percussion sections. Like the old fire horse, I'm always rarin' to go when a Band performs!

We didn't have a chance to speak to our grandson following the performance, but I hope he knew we were in the audience. He's just the most handsome of all the young men in the band - of course. Of course, I say that about all of our grandchildren - they're the most beautiful, handsome, talented, intelligent and likeable kids ever born !

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Weeks and counting---

December 10th already! That's hard to believe, but there it is....Two weeks from today will be Christmas Eve.

Ah-- the memories those words bring forth - the childhood days when the whole family gathered at our grandmother's house to hang stockings and the cousins pretended to go to sleep while the grownups did their 'getting ready for Santa' things. The house was too small to hide many secrets, with the grandmother, three daughters and their husbands, and 8 total children - oh my what fun!

Back to the future - Now we have an even larger family to gather for Christmas at our house. A few years ago we had a Christmas Eve supper as well as a Christmas Day supper, to accomodate the groups who had other families to visit. Now it's evolved to just one big Christmas Day dinner with everyone together!

Preparations are still in progress here, but I still need to gather the items that will go with the travelers to France! They'll have quite a different adventure this year, and are getting more excited as departure date approaches. We'll miss them greatly -back here on the 'home front', but are happy that they will be all together over there across the pond.

Yesterday was one of those days when the rain just would not go away. I kept checking the rain gauge in our back yard, and it kept getting fuller and fuller. The 'official' total for our area was almost FOUR inches in a 24-hour period. That's quite enough, thank you very much. Even so, I'm thankful it was "just" rain, and not the equivalent amount of snow! Yep, a quick check of the rain gauge shows 'almost 4 inches' !

Now to get busy with the day's things-to-do !

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A 'big' family

An interesting article in today's newspaper about 'large' families brought back a lot of memories. According to the writer, only 2% of today's families have 5 or more children. I wonder what that percentage was in the '50s and '60s when our five children were arriving. Several of our friends also had five children in the same time frame. Maybe sometime I can dig out the facts, but now I'm remembering ---

Five children in nine years meant a lot of fun, a lot of stress (but I was too busy to know that I was stressed), a lot of bottles and diapers, and a lot of groceries and cooking. I remember thinking, when our 5th child was born: "What if all five of our kids have five kids of their own? We'd be overrun with grandchildren !"

Somehow all five of our kids managed to grow up healthy and did very well in school, all going on to college or post-secondary education, and each one received academic scholarships, too ! And they have provided us with eleven wonderful and beautiful grandchildren.!

Our children were fortunate to have a large and loving extended family, two sets of grandparents, three great-grandmothers and a great-grandfather, oodles of cousins, aunts and uncles. Living in a fairly small town was the greatest blessing; where everybody knew everybody else, and cared about each other.

I served as Room mother for several grades, chaired many committees and served at PTA president. When the kids got older, I was in the Band Booster Club for years, since four of the kids played instruments in the high school band. Serving as Booster Club president meant many trips on the bus with the band when they participated in contests and parades in other towns, manning the concession booth at the football games, and all the things that parents are expected to do in support of their children's activities.

So what's the big deal about having five children? I will be interested to see if there are any responses to the article in today's newspaper.