Holiday Hold-overs

Clump #153: Change holiday wreaths; shovel out pile number 12 of the twenty-eight pile challenge for February.

Today, while bracing for another big nor’easter, I took our Christmas wreath down …

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And put up the trusty Valentine-ish one I bought for $14.99 at Target ages ago.  I have a distinct memory of my younger, now college aged, daughter welcoming a friend from kindergarten for a play date, and her little friend telling me, “It’s time to take down your Valentine’s Day wreath.”  The rest of the play date didn’t go much better, but I’m happy to report that the friend turned into a very nice young woman.  I, however, remain slow to transition holiday wreaths.

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Today’s pile from the study was an accumulation of junk I had not dealt with after Christmas.

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Most of it consisted of bags and boxes.  Out to the curb you go with the paper documented yesterday.  Health starts here … yes!

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The only items left were Christmas gifts I had bought that needed to be exchanged or returned.  Wow, out of sight, out of mind.  I had completely forgotten about them.

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I have been doing a fair amount of whining over our incessant winter storms this season.  In the spirit of “Love what you’re doing,” I present the photo below.  The car is one I often pass when traveling to Lancaster County. I adore this car.  The snow on it right now just adds to its allure.  Tomorrow it might be buried in the predicted snow-ice storm. By springtime it might be all rust, or much more disintegrated …

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So I’m loving this moment, this day, this winter.

Three Bags Full

Clump #152:  Pile number eleven of the twenty-eight paper piles in February challenge.

Today’s paper pile was petite.  It was a bunch of papers addressed to our older daughter, who no longer lives with us.  One ancient newsletter, bank rate notice, and tax forms: easily filed or shredded.

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And speaking of shredding, as much as I’ve been marveling at how easy this project is turning out to be (in direct opposition to the dread with which I approached it), the proof is in these bags waiting to be kicked to the curb and picked up by the recycling truck.  Mama Mia!  That’s a lotta shredding!

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In other news, we are so ready to show winter the door.  Another big storm is predicted for tomorrow and Thursday.  Enough!

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I was shopping in a store yesterday and a salesman there said to me, “I fired Mother Nature last week.  She didn’t get the memo!”

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We’re getting a little winter-weather-wacky.  Help!  (Another Strasburg, PA snow creation:)

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Hope you are faring better!

White Out

Clump # 144:  Clear out little pile number 3 of 28; shovel big clumps of snow.

Okay, I admit: the clump today was laughably small for my Flippin February Paper Pile Purge.  Not quite qualifying as a “pile,” it was several papers our younger daughter had sorted together as a favor to me in January; they all pertained to my husband’s credit card. He took a look at them and declared that they should all be shredded. Done.

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The big clumps we cleared today were a different type of white stuff clogging our world:

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Boulder-size clumps of snow.

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This was our eleventh snowfall of the season … with more arriving imminently.

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We haven’t gotten so sick of it yet that we take for granted the marvelous beauty it bestows on the landscape.

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Even from indoors.

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Right now (before we go snow-crazy), the snow is teaching me a lesson in my quest to eradicate our problem paper: small things done consistently can really add up to a big thing.

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Like the clearing away of one little pile after another.

Trivial But Weighty

I’ve been ruminating some more about why, with all my early planning of holiday tasks, I still felt like I was hit by a truck in the final stretch of Christmas. With most of my family and friends, I know my budget, find an item, and call it a gift.  But when it comes to shopping for my kids, there seems never to be an end to the list of potential gifts.  I know I’m responsible for drawing the line, but I feel like I’m never done.  Here’s a story to illustrate:

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As mentioned earlier, one of the traditional stocking stuffers my kids can expect is a small box of Ticonderoga pencils.  Something about having plenty of pencils makes me, as a mother, happy and my kids, if not happy, then well-equipped.   There were only three boxes in the store when I was there to print the holiday newsletter — fine, because only three stockings would be hung by the fire with care this year (our two daughters and our youngest niece).   I was being very careful about not bulking up the bunch of presents to send overseas with my son’s friends, so I thought, “Okay, this year he won’t have the pencils.”  But I just couldn’t let it go.  “They’re not very large, or heavy,” I reasoned. “Does he even have a pencil sharpener there?”  “They’re only pencils, I’m sure they have them in Norway.”  “And the kids are probably humoring me by enjoying the gift.”  “But it’s our tradition, and he’s away from home for the first Christmas in his life.” “I’m such a basket case for obsessing about such a trivial thing!”  “Stop it!”  I finally made another trip to an office supply store to get the darn things, and a small, plastic sharpener, to boot.  (Not so “easy” after all.)

Here is a picture taken earlier this season, when the snow was fresh and fluffy.  I felt like the gremlin with way too much on my mind:

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Christmas finally came and went, and the friends brought my son’s gifts to Norway.  The TSA  did force them to unwrap them (all my work!).  I received a very nice thank you email from our son, with the final sentence, “I was also maybe a little too excited about the pencil sharpener, since I’ve been going between increasingly dull pencils I collected.”

Ah, instinct won over reason, and all was well.  I will never be a Martha Stewart, with an iron-clad organizational plan.  But that’s A Good Thing for me.

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Warmest wishes to you for ringing in the New Year with love and good cheer!

Winter Wonders

Clump #129:  Assemble and wrap birthday presents.

Around here, present-giving doesn’t end after December 25th.  My younger daughter’s birthday follows quickly on the heels of Christmas … our little Christmas angel.  When I was pregnant and due around this time, many people told me all sorts of negative anecdotes about having a birthday on or near Christmas, but she has never seemed to suffer.  Maybe because we have always celebrated her half-birthday in June with my husband’s side of the family.

This is a milestone year for us.  We will no longer have teenagers in our immediate family.  Our younger daughter made teenager-hood too enjoyable a stage, so I’m feeling unexpected sadness …

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but our holiday house guests are helping to distract me from it.  Here is a snippet of conversation from this morning as I cleared newspapers off of the table to set up for breakfast:

Putting the papers on the chair, below, I said, “Another clump is born.” My older daughter responded, “Welcome to the world little clump.” “Like an acorn growing into a mighty oak,” I replied.  My older sister added, “Soon you will be blog-worthy!”

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It was a good day to get the clumps out of my head by taking a walk with my husband and niece.

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I have the annoying habit of needing to stop frequently to take photos, so it was good to have a nice niece along to keep my husband company while I caught up.

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I was impressed by the green popping up through a dusting of snow.

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Just when I think I won’t find any beauty in the dull-colored world of winter …

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it’s as if Mother Nature dares me not to be swept away by lovely sights.

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Beauty in the dead of winter, like sweetness in the fury of adolescence.

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Be Here Now

Clump #115:  Wind down Christmas present list.

I couldn’t do anything right today.  I was reminded of a mom from our neighborhood where I grew up.  She had just come from a tennis game, and my dad asked her how she had played.  She shot back (with a slight southern twang), “I couldn’t hit a pea into the Grand Canyon!”

The photos I took on the way to see my mom today were notable in how many I managed to blur with my finger over the lens in the upper left corner.  What was my problem?!  Here’s the goose with the incredible wardrobe, looking jolly (note the white beard!), and my finger:

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A lovely shadow drama played out on the side of a house, marred by sloppy camera handling:

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Believe it or not, this pair was part of a cute grouping of snow people making up a happy scene.  The other photos of the group suffered from poor lighting; this one somehow managed to appear sinister:

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And the stain on this sidewalk looked like the ghost of a Christmas tree:

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Oh dear.  The lack of closure on my Christmas shopping is getting to me.  There were other horses in the field below who looked interested in coming over, but then they turned and walked farther away.  Maybe the horses and I are all suffering from sunlight deprivation.

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Here was the same scene last Spring:

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Ahh … Spring!  Sometimes savoring the present moment is not easy at all.

I was turning over in my head today the wonderful comment I received about yesterday’s post featuring the Thich Nhat Hanh quote (from his 2014 calendar): “Our practice is always to go back to the present moment, to the here and the now. Only in the here and the now can we touch life deeply.”  The commenter referred to it as a “reminder.”  I usually think of sage wisdom as something to take in.  But I began to realize the best wisdom is truly a Re-Minder.  Something we already know, that we need to bring back to our mind from deep inside.

When you “touch life deeply,” “in the here and now,” amazing things happen.

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Like seeing a polar bear leap from a mound of snow.