29 December 2011

My sentimental (or just mental) Christmas thoughts...

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year and not because of the presents (my family stopped doing big gifts years ago) but because of the most wonderful gift I carry with me always in my heart.  It's love. I am, most likely, the most sentimental and sappiest person in the world and I pretty much tear up at anything remotely sad, lovely, heart-warming or generous through the entire month of December.  This usually makes listening to Christmas carols, watching television or simply speaking with people difficult.  In fact, I usually start to lose my shit the moment that the Goodfellows are out on the street collection donations and handing out their newspapers.  Each year I promise that the next year I will be one of those cold people standing on the corners hocking this special edition in hopes to give Christmas to those in need of assistance.  Most people put the paper on their dash so that as they continue to drive through the city, the other volunteers will know they have already given and move on to the other cars.  I do the same however I give every time I am stopped - it's usually whatever change i have at the time so it's not like I'm giving millions but those volunteers - they make you feel like you are.  They see your paper and say "oh thank you for giving" and I say "no I want to give again" and beckon them over.  At that point when they are more than thankful is usually when I tear up and drive off.  l

table for 25 please
Having lived away from home for so many years, there is a feeling that comes over me every time I hear "I'll be home for Christmas" or see the Folgers coffee commercial where the brother comes home from South Africa and the teenage sister has waited up all night.... It's that anticipation of knowing you are going home - there is nothing like it.  Packing and getting gifts ready, dealing with holiday travelers, it was all just part of this pure excitement to get home to the people you love. Luckily in all the years of living in Ottawa, Toronto and Finland there was only 1 Christmas that I missed. Just even driving over to my parents house on Christmas, knowing our family was all going to be together.  It feels like it goes by in a second (even though it's a three day long affair!) but that loud and crazy second is the best part of the year.  It's so hard for me to imagine those who aren't over the moon to see their aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, cousins etc.  To think of those who are focused more on the gifts to give and receive then the people in their hearts who are the biggest gifts of all.  I know I'm blessed.  I'm beyond blessed and I am so very grateful.  

Boxing Day Bowlers
So as I mentioned Christmas is really a three-day affair with our family, starting Christmas Eve through Boxing Day.  As children we had a few "athletic" traditions such as Labour Day Baseball (aka The Emily Cup) and Boxing Day Bowling.  Not that we're uber competitive (I mean it's not like we make people judge who makes a better pumpkin pie or broccoli/ cauliflower casserole or anything....yes we do lol) but we do like to have a good time! So this year, after a few years hiatus, we brought back Boxing day Bowling followed by yet another meal of leftovers and pizza at my cousin's house.  We took up four lanes (oddly they put us at the very end of the place away from others!) but I'm pretty sure our decibel level rocked the joint! There were a few chipped nails, some spills onto the lanes (they are slippery!) and my incessant desire to get a turkey (3 strikes in a row for you non-bowlers!).  I kept getting 2 strikes and then a spare which we then decided to coin the term of "cornish hen"... Ridiculous. Hilarious.  Very loud! I'm not going to lie, I did the above demonstrated STRIKE X with my arms and pretty much yelled it at the top of my lungs before then chest bumping my cousin on the lane over every time I got one.  I may or may not start to hang out at the singles night ... ok I'm NOT. I promise.  I am however going to look in to my own shoes and team shirts for next year!

So as the holidays start to wrap up and we look forward to ringing in the new year, it's also a time to be reflective and yet again thankful.  Thankful for the love and the prayers sent into this world by my family which have supported me through a difficult year.  Thankful that there is a giant group of people who are all so happy to be together.  I'm thankful for our laughter, our loudness, our love.  

22 December 2011

Feeling blessed

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the loss of this great man - my grandfather, my Nannu.  Though I was only blessed with him for 14years he taught us all so many things.  He was famous for saying "when you are dead, you're dead a long time" and usually it was in response to my grandmother yelling at him for eating or doing something he wasn't supposed to! And it is very true. Life is short so we really should count our blessings and live in each moment.  This is likely where my check the dessert menu first philosophy came from....

It seems as though all the blessings in your life come out of the woodwork and land smack dab in your lap around this time of the year.  It's a time to take stock in who is around you and reach out to them.  It's a time when you realize that you really do believe in miracles and that good inherently lies within people.  As you spend extended periods of time with your family, you realize just how blessed you are to have them.  As crazy as they all are!! Just kidding. Maybe. *wink* It's the time of year where you do miss those who have left us - there is nothing more I would give then to be sitting in the dining room of my grandparents home, in the midst of a Christmas Eve seafood feast, where the decibel level hits way above what any human ear can take.  I miss them both every day but especially this week.  The two of them shaped each of us and made each of us appreciative of just how wonderful a family we are blessed with.  

Now, for those of you who know me, you know that I'm a big sap.  I go through Kleenex like it's nobody's business at this time of the year.  It's not because I'm sad but there is just something so magical about Christmas.  I cry each year when the Goodfellows are out selling their papers - I read the "Yes Virginia" story each year and it always warms my heart.  I do believe.  Not in Santa himself but in the magic and goodness of the season.  I have literally cried at pretty much any commercial that involves someone returning home for Christmas, soldiers or veterans, or those doing good deeds for others.  Yes I cried at the Kmart layaway story and I cried through the montage on Good Morning America that highlighted so many great things and great accomplishments of this past year.  I'll likely bawl all the way through New Years just being grateful for the wonderful things and the amazing people I have in my life.  I draw my strength from them and their support.  I give my love because I have been blessed with love.  Christmas is pretty much a full 3 day affair with our family and I can't even wait for it to begin! We are so very, very lucky.  

I hope that this time of year reinforces the belief of others that people are inherently good and that we are here on this earth to love each other and to be good to each other.  I hope that the miracles that surface are remembered throughout the year, that the outpouring of love and support won't end when the season does and that the approaching new year will be filled with amazing things and new memories.  I believe.  I choose to believe.  In love.  In Peace. In Family. In hope.  

01 December 2011

being happy, being me

 It's hard to believe but it's been a year now since I made the move back to Canada. So much has changed in that year and yet, my perspective remains the same.  I may have had to give up on the life that I thought I was meant to lead, but I do so willingly in the hope that there is something else I am destined to do.  Someone else I am meant to love.  Another chapter of life I am meant to write. It doesn't make it unscary (if that is even a word!) and it doesn't make it easy but what worth anything in life wasn't scary or came easy? 

We aren't given many choices in life but the perspective in which we face each day is most certainly ours.  It is our opportunity to exhibit grace by remaining positive in the face of adversity.  What life is without adversity? Who could possibly move forward or grow without change, without trials or without moments of fear?  It doesn't mean that there aren't moments where we recognize heartbreak but that is also the moment we realize the passion and greatness of loving. It takes strength to see that the bump in the road is not meant to break us, but rather it is there to remind us of both the ups and the downs.  Without rain, the warmth of a cloudless sunny day would never feel as sweet.  It isn't about not dealing with sadness, but rather by being happy in spite of it. 
We have the opportunity to live gracefully, to love fully and to be positive.  It is our one life to lead.  Why not do so with a smile on your face and love in your heart.  just sayin'