Santa is real to those who believe

“For those who believe (in God), no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible” – – Author Unknown

Christmas-TimeWith the first snowfall comes the eager anticipation of Christmas…at least here in Canada. Those of us with a wide range of ages in our children are familiar with the question that seems to pop up as early grade school “Is Santa real?”

When all my little ones were under the age of 6 years old, I never worried about such a thought. The questions back then we “Can Santa Claus bring me… (such and such)?” or “Please don’t tell Santa I did that bad thing…promise?” I think the best one was “Don’t worry mommy and daddy about getting a new car, I asked Santa and I just know he will bring one for you on Christmas!” (!! Love it!)

Then came grade school and with it a multitude of layers of belief and questioning attitudes.

Some 7-year-old at school is all the talk this year because she managed to pull the beard off the Santa at the local shopping mall. Therefore, exposing all of her grade two classmates to her discovery, there is no Santa. This is until the mom over here points out the facts…that all the 7-year-old knows for sure is that Santa’s beard, on that day, was detachable. Bad hair day…so what! Cartoon-Santa

A very nice child in grade six took it upon himself to let my 6-year-old know that Santa was “fake.” All this because he sat up all Christmas eve at his window, did not see a sleigh, or reindeer and the next morning did not get what he had wanted for Christmas. Mom over here was able to mention that any child who stays up ALL CHRISTMAS EVE will not see Santa and possibly will not get anything from him…or so the rules go. Nothing new discovered here either.

Candycane-North-Pole

Then I got teenagers. They think they have EVERYTHING figured out. Occasionally, to change the balance in a family dispute, the 13-year-old, in a moment of defiance might offer to tell his siblings that he KNOWS there is no Santa. Again, I am able to let the small fry realize that the older sibling is only trying to make himself feel better. As due to his poor  behaviour…he won’t be getting what he is hoping for and that does not in itself mean there is no Santa.

I still have very little ones here at home. Thanks to society (and occasionally their disgruntled older siblings), I often find myself being grilled by the toddlers and little kids (cross-examination-style questions) on the reality of Santa Claus. For me, this discussion is easy. Santa Claus is actually St. Nicholas, a Catholic saint with access to heavenly powers and lots of magic. (Any further questions?)

Magic-for-GGThe distribution question on how does one man, eight reindeer visit an entire world’s worth of children in less than 24 with gifts for everyone…is also easily answered. Many saints have been known to bi-locate and employ the help of angels and have access to supernatural powers.

When asked “is Santa Claus for real” …my favourite answer is “Santa is real to those who believe…and not real to those who do not!” Followed up by “Who here BELIEVES in Santa?”… (a big show of little hands) I thought so…

Believe-Christmas-Do-dec-2012-EDIT-JCA-GG-2014

Looking forward to another magical December 25th for kids big and small at my house!

The Garden Goat

One who believes in Santa Claus

Happy New Year 2014…Resolutions? …Only ONE!

I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year

I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year

Every year at this time it is always the same. Everyone is thinking about the past year and making a list of New Year’s resolutions (something I have never been a big fan of). I am not too sure why I have never been hung up on New Year’s resolutions…I just have not. By nature I dread anything that is too structured. I think a part of me thinks that if the item is carved in stone, I will feel terrible if I fail and then the rest of the year will be a write-off. (And, no…this is not new… I do NOT like lists of any kind…although as I approach “older goat” status and find myself frequently forgetful …I may have to relent and become more list friendly.)

So, I sit with pen in hand (okay keyboard…) and think what my New Year’s list should be.

… and think what my New Year’s list should be.

I am not a big fan of the process involved in change although I very much love the notion that change is possible. I do enjoy realizing how sometimes the smallest steps can make the biggest difference. So, I sit with pen in hand (okay keyboard…) and think what my New Year’s list should be.  If I look at most people’s lists they are centered on healthy living …I guess I could start with that. Many of the items other people seem to list touch on stopping some habits and starting others. So this is what my list started to look like:

  • Stop being fluffy (gained 20 lbs over the last two years …2014 I need to say goodbye to the flab!)
  • Stop living in the past (love to remember how things were as a denial of how things really are)
  • Start drinking (yep…WATER…a confirmed, self-confessed Diet Coke addict over here)
  • Start walking (with the little dog that lives here…at least)

BORING!

Then I thought about a list of things I wanted to make sure I did.

  • Reconnect with a special friend I very much miss (hope this happens ASAP)
  • Sort out the miles of family photos and do something with them (even if only copy to a CLOUD)
  • Publish a book (Yep…watch for it)!

BETTER!

I then realized that there are other lists I had not thought about.  Recently I learned about “Bucket Lists.” These are apparently lists you make of the top 100 things you want to do before you leave this planet. I have always been too busy to even think about what I might do in the next five minutes far less what I might do over my lifetime. I decided to give it a try. It was scary. The first five things looked like this.

  • Speed race a car on the Indianapolis raceway
  • Take pictures from the Eiffel tower
  • Walk through Central Park, in New York, at midnight…maybe stay the night!
  • Design a tattoo
  • Spend overnight in an igloo and tour the Arctic (read that as sneak away anywhere where my kids won’t go!)
...sneak away where my kids won’t go

…sneak away where my kids won’t go

Then came the realization I have the potential to be a lot wilder than I ever imagined. Figured I had better stop at Number Five as I was worried that developing the other 95 items might lead to my inner child to hyperactivity! Besides, taking care of the brood I preside over does not lend itself to the extra financial freedom required to avail oneself of a casual trip to the Eiffel Tower on any given day. All kidding aside, I thought “what is one thing that I can have as MY RESOLUTION for New Years?”

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list, the remembering, the guilt …it is perfect. It is even green …I won’t have to even use paper to write it down.  I can keep my resolution to myself as who would bother making a list of just ONE item to post on a fridge! (??) (Who am I trying to kid…forget the kitchen fridge…this goat publishes a blog!)

Now the quest to find that one item; it is not easy to compress all those points into one item. This one item will have to transcend ALL items. It must be ONE thing that makes everything else excellent. While lost in thought while checking my email (multi-tasking). There I found a blog post of a friend I come to know through social media training, PJ McClure. There in his blog, on Linked-In “Do What Is Right, Not Just What Is Allowed” (http://pjmcclure.com/blog/do-what-is-right/#!) was exactly what I was searching for.

I found my one item for the New Year 2014…make all decisions in 2014 by the highest standard available…DO WHAT IS RIGHT irrespective of the freedom to make other choices still considered as lawful and acceptable.

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list...

I reasoned that coming up with just one BIG item would get rid of the list…

THE BEST!

The Garden Goat’s RESOLUTIONS for NEW YEARS 2014:

1.            DO WHAT IS RIGHT…always…in everything. Choose the very best option                in every circumstance so I can live my BEST LIFE!

That will cover the fluffy, the water, and the photos. That may change the bucket list as “design a tattoo” may move much further down the list.

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

I wish you all a very happy, blessed and exciting New Year 2014.

With love and best wishes to you and yours for 2014…

The Garden Goat

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

I hope I can live up to that! If I do… I think 2014 will be a totally amazing year!

Christmas at School…Secret Santa NOT!

Secret-Santa_2013-GG2

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, if you are like me, your kids deluge you with handouts, notices and invitations to volunteer at the school all in the name of celebrating the upcoming holiday. This would be fine if this is where it ended…but sadly… no. My kids then go on to tell me verbally  not only the school’s plans but how some kid’s parents go all out with the holiday celebrations and send trays of homemade treats to the school and how they wish I would do that for them. (!!!) Before I sound too cynical, in my youth (years ago), when I had only two or three (kids) in school, I was the young mom, carrying the baby and hauling in full-size, homemade gingerbread houses full of candy to each classroom. Much to the delight of my own children who would then bask in the glow of fellow classmate’s appreciate as the ensuing afternoon turned into a zoo. Those remaining hours of the day were apparently quite entertaining as the children were lost in thought “scheming” to steal a bite from the house while the teacher struggled to keep the class on task. I never once considered the nightmare I had created for the class teacher.

Now years later, I am much wiser (although much older and tired). I have now streamlined my celebratory spirit to (sometimes) include a general Christmas card delivered to the school secretary on the last day before Christmas holidays.

Goat-and-santa-hat-and-gingerbread-house

The pressure to celebrate is alive and well in our school system. Enter “Secret Santa.”This is supposedly a program designed to have each child bring in a token gift to exchange anonymously with a fellow classmate. Sounds like something from a greeting card. The note home, at first glance conveys the thoughtful, peaceful spread of some holiday classroom fun…at least on the surface. “Secret Santa” started out last year in my daughter’s grade 6 class as a very benign activity spreading holiday cheer with each child drawing a classmate’s name out of a hat and shopping for an item less than  $5.00 in cost. It sounded reasonable.

secret-santa-logo

“Sure” was my answer to the 11-year old wanting to be the “Secret Santa” and shop for a surprise for her peer. This was doable as I had an entire week in which to make this happen.

Next morning, making the lunches the 11-year old says “I can’t go to school because we don’t have Rice Krispy Squares”-??? Did I miss something? Yep-apparently in the week leading up to the “Secret Santa” gift, each day there are to be special things happen to the peer (the one whose name was picked out of the hat).  These “special things” are designed to give “clues” to the unsuspecting recipient. Well, to this “week-before-clue” thing, I said “sorry sweetheart, you will have to give some of your snack (carrots) as your special clue.” The answer …this boy (secret Santa kid) doesn’t like carrots …HE HATES THEM! I guess each child was to fill out a sheet indicating their favourite things and this little darling made sure everyone knew what he hated. CARROTS! (This vegetable is not normally a culinary custom at this time of year…not sure why the kids had to be so specific!) Oh well, packed up a conciliatory treat of some cheese and crackers as “the clue” for the CARROT HATER.

No-Carrots

Next day, just before bedtime (when the stores are closed and I am ready to call it a night),  the Secret Santa Helper announces that I need to pick up “Gatorade” as the clue for tomorrow! (Really?) Race out to the corner store, purchase the requested liquid and then turn into bed for the evening. Tomorrow will be a breeze…or so I thought.  Next morning…more tears… the “helper” forgot to mention that it HAD to be BLUE Gatorade!!! I guess the CARROT HATER does not like orange anything! While out shopping later in the day, I found a few chocolate bars (on sale) and thought that would help with “clues” for the CARROT HATER. Next morning, more tears…”I can’t take in chocolate… my teacher said the next clue HAS to be a small toy!” UGH! (I am thinking I should take time off work and bake a candy laden gingerbread house, deliver it early in the morning to this teacher’s class and let the zoo begin…just out of badness!) Day three…I now have several little toys from the dollar store that can serve as clues. My daughter will be proud of me today as will the CARROT HATER and the teacher. As I proudly present “the clues” to my daughter (in the hopes of regaining some morsel of appreciation) I am told that this day the teacher said that the clue needs to be “handmade.” I am done. I tell my kid to get the teacher to call me. (NOOOO…gingerbread is TOO GOOD for this teacher) No phone call. (Teacher is likely sick from eating all the carrots other parents must have sent in for the CARROT HATER).

Later that night the daughter wants me to take her shopping…again… I ask why. Apparently we still need to get the Secret Santa gift (?). It is not enough that I have already spent more time, money and THOUGHT on a child I do not know (and I am beginning to loathe)… I now have to shop for a gift? The rules are:

  • under $5
  • nothing smelly
  • no liquid
  • must be thoughtful
  • no cash

After an entire hour shopping for the CARROT HATER we are still no closer to find a gift my daughter thinks the teacher will endorse. Frustrated… I ask what about just enclosing a $5.00 bill in a really, really nice hand-drawn card?? This was answered in the negative (of course) all because the teacher said NO MONEY…period. At this point I am seeing the teacher as a diabolical force intent on ruining Christmas ahead of time with this demented secret-Santa scheme.

5.00 bill

Christmas I thought was supposed to be fun. Instead it has become a make-work project engineered to exhaust the parents, create turmoil and conflict and somehow in all of this, the kid receiving these clues/gifts is to be happy. I will show you HAPPY! Finally found some puzzle, gender and colour neutral, toy/game that just squeaked under the limit at $4.99! Slam –dunk done! This was the official day for Secret Santa. No more clues, lists, late-night trips out, tears …WE ARE ALL DONE (carrots not withstanding). Hurray!

Real Santa Claus

Real Santa Claus

That is until my kid comes home from school with her secret Santa gift…you got it…a FIVE DOLLAR BILL! Naturally I need to know about what “clues” were given…apparently none. Why money when the teacher said NO? Because this giver’s mom said it was stupid to run around and shop for someone you do not know and that everyone accepts money. Then I find out the parent who sent the $5 bill is the CARROT HATER’S mom…who knew?

I think all matters regarding Santa should be left to the one and only REAL Santa. As for the teacher…there are no words to describe what I wanted to say… I think the teacher should get a carrot-shaped lump of coal in their stocking.

The Garden Goat Goat-in-Santa-hat

Does having baggage mean I am on vacation?

If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime!

If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime!

Well… nearly everyone I know is either just returning from or planning for a holiday. You know one of those times you get to spend (with or without loved ones) on yourself. Hopefully away from where you live and definitely away from work. My whole life I have wondered what that might be like.

Catering to the tribe that I am responsible for has not afforded me to date any time to myself in which to have to weigh the intricacies of planning one’s life away from home. Though it does sound delightful to have to ponder where on the planet to go, what to see, how long to be there. Ruminating about how others are caught up with these specifics are about as close as I will likely get to such an escape until at least the smallest members are toilet-trained.

Many folks tell me that life is about choices. On the one hand, very true and yet in another way although we may choose (or think we chose) wisely, fate will sometimes twist the entire situation regardless of the stellar choice selected at the beginning. In some ways choices is a bit like a game show with doors one, two and three…all being of equal value but different. A five-thousand dollar ring money-wise is dollar for dollar comparable to your entire street being paved in waffles (10 feet high) but I for one would prefer the ring (unless it is dinnertime around here…of course).

Life is not made to order regardless of all the appropriate check boxes being selected. Some of the greatest plans get sidetracked and some of the most random, spur of the moment stuff actually pans out. I think vacations are like that. The weather might not cooperate, the attractions were not quite like the brochure, the perfect day for the beach is the day you are sick.  Not to mention other things like losing your luggage (not baggage that would be too easy) or finding out the hotel was slightly better than a group home.

Goat in bathtub

“I know several moms of little ones that would think they had died and gone to heaven to be able to spend 40 minutes ALONE in the bathroom..”

Relative to what you are used to (and what you need to) recharge your batteries… a vacation could be anything. I know several moms of little ones that would think they had died and gone to HEAVEN to be able to spend 40 minutes ALONE in the bathroom and emerge with hair, nails and relaxing bath all completed. I personally would settle for just ten minutes without the customary pounding on the door, crayon scribbled ransom notes slipped underneath, screwdrivers shoved in the door handle or shouts of “fire” as I try to forget (for as long as it takes to brush one’s teeth) that I am needed NOW….(again) by the natives.

Not really complaining…just noticing that I am content with less…and that is good thing.

A trip out to have my haircut without my loyal following is amazing. The thing that speaks the most to me is the space in my head (no… not because I was having my hair cut) but the ability to complete whole thoughts without hearing “mom….” I can only imagine that a true vacation would be hours, days and weeks without hearing “mom…” Sounds out of this world…perhaps I should plan one soon. I cannot imagine all the ideas I will have when I can be alone in my thoughts.

Then I come home from having my hair cut and the three-year old races to the front door throwing her little arms tightly around my neck “Oh mommy where have you been? I missed you!” Hugs and kisses from the littlest…I am done! I totally forget my resolve.On Second thought… while I like little snippets of time to myself…I think I will gladly postpone a longer vacation until this little one is older. (Although I think I would like to increase the time in the loo by a few more moments).

Part of making good choices is to recognize one’s limitations and plan for success accordingly. Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom. I will leave the ransom note ahead of time mentioning that I have been abducted and that I gave all my magical powers to Dad, (whom they never bother in the bathroom…go figure) oh and maybe leave some delectable snack (not chocolate or anything too messy) on the counter (in arm’s reach) in the kitchen while I pursue my mini vacation.

Goat in the bath

“Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom.”

It will be revitalizing to say the least. Clean body, hair, face and clothes all on the same day! If the definition of taking a vacation starts with packing one’s baggage then I have enough of that on board to take a vacation anywhere anytime! (At the rate someone here tries to scream “fire” when the bathroom is occupied by mom, perhaps a better plan would be for me to yell “fire” call emergency services and while my progeny run all over the neighborhood in disbelief head into the shower for five minutes to myself.)

I now think I will plan such a vacation…wonder if I will have a chance to run the bath long enough to make some bubbles before the local authorities catch up to my moment of indulgence. If I get busted, I guess I will have to resort back to daily showering in the dark (before anyone wakes in the morning) for a whole three minutes and then slither out in the cold darkness, hair now frozen and damp (no need for hairspray) to my car and go to work. Where as I drive in to my place of employment I remember who is not at work but “on vacation.”

A Garden Goat with a plan.

"Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom."

“Next move will be to plan a vacation in my own bathroom.”

A Gift of Prayers

I had a great post all figured out mentioning the twelve days of Christmas decorated with some of the more stressful (and funny) attributes of family life as a light piece of entertainment. Then December 14th 2012 happened. Nothing seemed funny anymore. More importantly I no longer felt like being my sarcastic (and reportedly entertaining) self.

love and prayers to Sandy Hook school victims

..little tiny innocent children’s lives, taken by a brutal outburst of gunfire in the hands of a very sick individual.

I was online on Friday and suddenly everywhere there was news of what could not be real…little tiny innocent children’s lives, taken by a brutal outburst of gunfire in the hands of a very sick individual. Were these children somewhere dangerous when this happened? No, they were where they were supposed to be. These little ones were in their classrooms, the gym, hallways (and some were practicing their Christmas celebrations) of their primary school in the small, quiet town of Newtown, Connecticut.

Prior to the news announcement, the days leading up to this event (as we all know) were all about rushing and bustling looking everywhere for that perfect gift for each person on our Christmas list. Suddenly Christmas no longer matters. Presents, bought and wrapped for tiny kids still sit under trees in Connecticut and they will never be opened. There are so many questions and almost no answers.

I was asked on Saturday by my hairdresser if I had put any thought into the rampant idea circulating the globe that the world as we now know it could possibly end December 21st, 2012. My answer was that if the presence of extreme evil was to herald the coming of the end of the world …then this had already happened on Friday morning.

guardian_angel

My heart goes out to all the parents of those little angels that have gone on to Heaven.

I am sure that I am not alone as parents everywhere acknowledge their perfect gift is already present in their lives, those of us lucky enough to have our children still here on earth. My heart goes out to all the parents of those little angels that have gone on to Heaven as well as the other victims of this heinous crime. I cannot imagine how those parents must feel. Their lives and families changed irrevocably forever.

Our gift this Christmas is prayers for all the victim’s families as they try to carry on in their lives unable to make sense out of this horrific event. Some of the victims were adults and from all accounts much proof that angels do walk among us …some as Grade One teachers.

On Facebook I came across this cartoon …it seemed to say it all.

Santa sad about Sandy Hook School shooting

On Facebook I came across this cartoon …it seemed to say it all.

If there is one thing that is so important, it is to love whom you have in your life RIGHT NOW. Tomorrow is not promised. Hug and kiss your children. Ensure that they know how much they are truly loved.  Those of us who have our children here on earth already know that we have the greatest Christmas gift of all.

All love & prayers,

The Garden Goat xoxox

Christmas List

At this time of year all of us are searching for the perfect gift and usually working from lists from family relatives and friends (okay not lists per say from friends…but you know “hints”).

After reading the 8-year-old’s list I am not even sure I should share it. (!!) It was entitled “crismis list” and read:

“I want a Nerf shotgun, I want a Nerf Sniper, and a Nerf tome gun and a BB gun with lots of ammo and I want a Nerf hand gun and a Nerf bulletproof vest and a Nerf Bazooka and a Nerf grappling hook and a Nerf gun that has 199 bullets and a Nerf towing package.” (Anyone who has a family this size totally understands the bullet-proof vest.)  A little worried about the towing package as this kid has wanted to be in the police force forever. He used to stuff his little brother into a pillow case and haul him around the house saying “I caught the bad guy!” Before any of you out there think a call to child protection is in order, the two little boys spend hours together (have for years) one as the bad guy and one as the policemen.

Little boys Christmas list

After reading the 8-year-old’s list I am not even sure I should share it. (!!) It was entitled “crismis list” and read:

Then there is another list that asks for “a guitar, a new karaoke machine, “the Step Master” and a small pink fridge”-Fun! (This child is only ten…what does you suppose she needs the fridge for? (Hoping it is for snacks the other kids can’t access… and that it is NOT for other family member’s body parts!)

Another kids list reads “a cage” …hmm given the two dogs are never locked up makes me wonder who he is wanting to house or worse yet what he is hoping to catch!

Christmas List Elf

One’s Christmas list reveals a lot about the writer.

The baby’s list was funny. Literally everything in the Toys R US flyer was circled…including the nerf guns.

One’s Christmas list reveals a lot about the writer. First of all do you make a Christmas list? If you do, are you honest about what you put on it or do you gear your requests to your audience? Like when your ten-year old wants to know what you want for Christmas. You say Breakfast in bed knowing that it is something he can do, won’t cost him money and he will feel special. You can forgive the crumbs in the sheets and spilt coffee up the stairs for another day per year beyond Mother’s Day!)

When my children were little, it was all about what the children had on their lists (even if the list was in their head or only whispered in the ear of the local mall’s Santa Claus). As the children grew older it became more about them wanting to do something for mom and dad. A great, cheap option would have been to just nicely, (for the rest of the year) agree to whatever we asked them to do…but no, THAT would have been TOO easy.

I have never made a Christmas list in my life. I have had plenty of friends that swore by them stating that they were spared hundreds of terrible gifts over the course of their marriages. I always thought if my husband really knows me I will end up with such and such. Nah…years later I understand the wisdom of the Christmas list as it matters not how cool it looks, how many other people you know want the item…what matters most is that the one receiving the gift is thrilled. This is something that often blows the mind of average North American husband. A paperclip can be the perfect gift (if that’s what I truly wanted or delighted in) as opposed to receiving the latest trend (always more expensive and usually not ever what I want).

Christmas-List-Goat

I have never made a Christmas list in my life.

On that note should my kids read this. All I want for Christmas is:

  • Good kids

When I ask for something to be done I do not have to suit up into armour and conduct battle to elicit a favourable response. My wish is that my request is simply met with the beautiful words…”yes …Mom”

Oh and maybe some chocolate. (You know for the kids that have part-time jobs.) Much prefer the chocolate to the socks and assortment of stuff the clerk “thought” their mom might “like”! (Trust me you can have TOO many socks with cows on them that go with nothing you own!)

My list for the Almighty:

  • Help my husband to get healed and back to work!
  • Help my kids to be good always (even when they are all grown up)!
  • To reconnect with a special friend that currently is missing from my life!

My list for the husband

  • One item (not expensive in the least) that I deep down would love to have….but I will not tell him as it has become a game with me to see how well he knows me and if he is watching all year-long.

Not interested in gift via the 24 hours before Dec 25th aided by the sales associate who specializes in helping lost husbands find their way through Christmas shopping ….last minute. Nope. I want something that I know reflects he has paid attention all year-long. Course in order to not totally unnerve him I must continue to give the standard fare one expects when one reached forty something on this planet and has kids. You know slippers, pajamas and weird ties. If I was to pay “attention” (to at least what he says), what he really wants is a motorcycle (!!) Nope that will not be under this year’s tree (something to do with nine dependents). I will stick with the new deodorant and socks…maybe some chocolate.

One husband I know wants added credit for the time and effort he has supposedly put in researching and locating the perfect gift. This guy has been up to this for years. He takes a whole day off work the week before Christmas, spending the entire day by himself going out for lunch basically having a  wonderful time and then arrives home to regale his wife with how tired he is from searching high and low for the perfect gift. His legs hurt from all the walking and battling the Christmas shopping crowds. The wife buys this story every year (hence the happy 30 year marriage)! Often when this day of shopping is planned the gift has already been purchased months before. This husband says the value of his gift is raised to celestial levels as he makes a big deal of spending a whole day shopping just for his wife. Reality is this guy is known to not like shopping and uses the time to further research his wish list in such male orientated places as home depot, Canadian Tire not to mention having lunch with some of his male buddies and test driving sports cars and motorcycles. Not so bad I guess. The guy gets a glorious day to himself and brownie points from his wife because she thinks that the “shopping” day was spent all on her! (Regardless of the outcome!)

It is always about the packaging the story that goes with the gift!

Garden Goat Gone Christmas Shopping

(Here is hoping not to be incarcerated for inquiring at Toys R US –“Where do you keep the AMMO?”)

goat shopping Toys R Us

Garden Goat Gone Christmas Shopping

 

A time for everything and everyone

I had another topic all picked out to rant on about and then “last week” occurred (just over ten days ago now). Those readers in Canada will realize that the week I speak of ended with a long weekend, Canadian Thanksgiving.  The week in question started off a little oddly as three people I knew quite well all passed away. Not that strange as that has happened before. However, two of these three people knew of each other and in some stroke of weird alignment, ALL…three funerals happened on the same day! I kid (no goat pun intended) NOT! Two were scheduled within an hour of each so that in the end I could only attend two of the three services.

This meant I had the opportunity within a 3 hour window to compare two eulogies detailing the high points of lives (lived in excess of 70 plus years) served on this planet. It is a very sobering experience to keep company with one’s self knowing that one has personally already lived more than half of the years in the lifetimes being celebrated and my dismissal from this earth is approaching. All sorts of thoughts swirled around in my head. What have I contributed to the earth (ya okay, beyond the nine offspring)? What if someone I knew should suddenly not be there tomorrow? Do my children KNOW how much I love them?  Are there people I want to make amends with before I go? Are there friends who mean a lot to me that perhaps are not aware of how highly they are regarded? Are there family members I want a closer bond with? Is there something extra I really want ( or need) to accomplish in this life? As I watched the immediate families and relatives at these services I gained a clearer perspective on what an impact the deceased has made (or not) on all the lives around them.

Gratitude changes what we have into enough

When things look like they are taking a turn for the worse or I get bad news I try to remember what I am truly grateful for.

One of the funeral cards reads with a message from the deceased. “I ask forgiveness of everyone I may have offended by my words, actions, negligence and ignorance. May it not be said that anyone be punished because of offences towards me, as it is my desire to completely forgive them now and forever.” I have been to many wakes and seen numerous funeral cards but never had I seen this. I was taken by both the courage this took to write (and admit offences) but also by the regret that must have been present in life by the writer.

Sometimes things in life do not go the way we hope, wanted or thought they would turn out. People sometimes take offence easily and I can often be “one of those.”  Life is too short for all of this. I wondered when I read the funeral card what might it have been like if some of these trespasses referred to had been forgiven in this person’s life and relationships restored while there was still time to enjoy the renewed relationship. Time stands still for no one.

On my way home from this funeral, I was in an accident (no…I am not making this up). I was turning left with the advance signal into blinding sunlight when my car and a cyclist collided. I cannot hope to ever explain how I felt. It was terrible. The cyclist was bruised and shaken but thankfully no lasting injury or broken bone. He was wearing a bike helmet (hope my kids do). He had seen my vehicle but thought he had time to continue and that when I saw him I would surely stop. He did not realize that I was totally blinded by the sun and could not have had a chance to see him. Later at the hospital I marveled at how he was basically fine after what could have been a total fatality. I told him he had an awesome guardian angel. He told me his grandmother had lived to over 100 years and the day of the accident was her birthday. I felt overwhelmed.

Fate had me at the hospital checking on this stranger’s condition at the same time understanding how really fortunate we both were. Neither of us sustained serious injuries. It was just not our time to be called from this earth.  I let the police take me home as I was too upset to want to move my car immediately. I was not charged by the police as the situation was ruled truly an unavoidable accident.

The eulogy in the second funeral quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “there is a time for everything” and I have always struggled with this passage as I never liked to have any of the good things come to an end. For example I like “there is a time for love” but when it is followed by “there is a time for hate”…not so much. Throughout the second eulogy I realized that things we think are important rarely are and things we think are not important most certainly are. In the end we are all going to exit this world. At that point many things we worry about and struggle with every day will no longer matter. What will matter is what eternity looks like and how did I use the gifts I have been given while here on earth.

Ephesians 3:1-8

I took from that a call to courage. Engage the person that will not speak to you, try to establish communication even if there has been a freeze out forever.  Basically really try to restore any fractured relationships while there is time to enjoy the mended connection. I know that it is hard but so well worth doing. Some people fade away and say they are “busy” others get left behind because I am sometimes “busy.” Others still feel offended or offend and then retreat. I found that funeral card very thought-provoking. I hope that I am able to restore any injured relationships and maintain same during my life as I move forward.

As of the writing of this we are already past Canadian Thanksgiving and almost a month before American Thanksgiving. I am reminded about how grateful I should be for the many blessings I have. I thought about how everyday life races past and each single day melts together forming weeks and then morphs again into years of memories. The time we are here is now. What counts is that the people in our lives know how much we do care while we are alive. I resolved to make time for those people who in the busyness of everyday life I have left behind as life races past.

When things look like they are taking a turn for the worse or I get bad news I try to remember what I am truly grateful for. Sometimes the things that are the smallest become the biggest. I have also realized the more often I stop to acknowledge gratitude in my life the more rewarding and meaningful my life becomes.

My list of what I am thankful for looks something like this:

  • That there was a guardian angel looking after both the cyclist and myself that fateful day and no serious injuries were sustained.
  • Nine beautiful and healthy kids (yes all little goats) regardless of the chores they have left unattended.
  • My husband (although if you were to ask him…there might be times where I seem somewhat unappreciative of the male gender in general).
  • My two-year-old telling me how much she missed me (and I only went to put the garbage out).
  • The smile from my granddaughter just because I came into her view.
  • Enough cream left in the fridge by the teenagers to actually have a cup of creamy caffeine without having to go out to buy more.
  • One clean towel left as I enter the shower (there are days where this level of gratitude is not possible as the last towel was taken by something I gave birth to that NEEDED to use several towels)
  • The neighborhood red-headed woodpecker allowing me to stalk him with my camera while he busily destroys the tree.
  • The knowledge at the start of each day that I have yet another chance to make a difference on this planet.
  • The awesome people I know as well as the ones I have known and have yet to meet.
  • Knowledge that God has a great plan for me and that I need not worry.
  • My sense of humour…without which I do not think I could ever manage!
Gratitude

I sincerely believe there is no such thing as “a time to NOT “be “grateful.”

When I finish looking at all that I do have… I feel very blessed and content. I am not saying that I do not have any worries (9 kids…that is a no-brainer) or things that I wish would change it just means that I try to focus on the positive more than the negative. I find that when I review what I am grateful for I end up much happier inside regardless of what else is going on around me or how people treat me.

Beside, things can change in an instant and sometimes not always for the better. So the in keeping with a time for everything it is always time to be grateful. Because by being grateful we change how we think and how well we spent what is left of our time on this planet. I sincerely believe there is no such thing as “a time to NOT “be “grateful.”

“Gratitude changes what we have into enough.” ~Melody Beattie~

I try to remember what I am truly grateful for!

A Grateful Goat