Tag Archives: Celebrating

Thanksgiving 2017

Suddenly the weather’s turned blustery and cold

Leaves that were just green say ‘Gosh, I feel old’!

They shrivel up, blow and slowly flutter –

They fall here and there, they clog up the gutter.


Thanksgiving is hours away – defrost the turkey,

Pull out the Pilgrims, traditional and quirky.

Gather the far-flung family, yes, even those who can be rather jerky.


Circle them ‘round though this year’s been full of chaos, fear and discord

(At least we know no one should claim to be bored)

This is the best time to put some thought into gratitude –

Genuine thankfulness – enough with the platitudes!


There certainly is a long list of recent strife

And maybe Aunt Sarah shouldn’t talk to Uncle Bob when he has the carving knife

But now is the moment we should take to say thanks for the good in our life.


A Hearty and Heartfelt Wish for a Plentiful and Happy Thanksgiving to All!!


© 2017 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved


What Life Brings

Do you have a month particularly punctuated by significant dates? We are currently passing through my month, September. Many family anniversaries, both current and no longer marked – a couple of my cousins, my brother’s and my sister’s, my parent’s and my own. Birthdays too, though all of these are marked in memory only – my grandparent’s on my dad’s side and my mom. Having so many dates with meaning can’t help but lead to a bit of reflection and nostalgia.

Sept 1984

A date on a calendar comes up and when it marks a certain event, the passage of time becomes clearer than it normally is. This date became significant in 1938, that one in 1959, 1986, 1997, 2001… it can’t be possible that the calendar has turned so many times, and yet it has. And the number of times that we have celebrated the anniversary of each event has grown while we were just busy making a life.


I know people who are deliberate in their decisions and planning and I know people who never seem to be prepared for any of the things that occur in their life. And I know all sorts of people in between these types. But for all of us, life seems to have a haphazard aspect. If there is anyone out there who has done exactly what they expected to do every step of their life, I certainly would like to meet them. I know that we are all supposed to have 5 year, 10 year and life plans so that we can check our progress and recognize our successes when they happen. But, really.


Life brings choices and pivotal moments disguised as everyday activities. We can rail against the haphazard nature, we can take action to direct our own fate as much as possible, we can accept the parts that are out of our control. Or plenty of other variations.


Sometimes those ‘if only’ thoughts come along to taunt – think where you would be if only you had made this choice or done that thing, if you hadn’t been afraid to try something new, if you hadn’t splurged when you should have saved. But I didn’t. And through the course that I have taken, I have managed to learn, to experience and continue growing.


My mom was born on this date 77 years ago and I have marked it now 11 times without her. I can smile as the past scrolls out in my mind – the ways that we celebrated – and I can think about all of the ways that she is still with me.


We can turn the calendar and spend a few moments on a significant date and remember what was and wonder at what is and decide what should be.


© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

“There is the Christmas we believe we should have and there is the Christmas that we have.”

~Christopher Borrelli (Chicago Tribune)


I am close to 2 people who are self-avowed Scrooges.  I don’t believe it because I know both to be warm-hearted and giving people.  One just attended a Christmas chorale event with me in early December and was farther along in putting up festive decorations at her house than I was.  (I rectified that this weekend.)  So what makes each express such Bah Humbug?


How much of our Christmas is expectation, forced frivolity?


Yet another friend lamented the added pressure of her family’s Elf on the Shelf that has to do something every day.  Her husband just backs away saying he isn’t creative that way.  She would be open to the whimsy of the season, I think, if not for the outside pressure.  I think this is true for each of these people.


Sure I am subject to those ‘if only’ thoughts of amazing, movie worthy Christmas experiences (just about any experiences).  But then again, I have learned to find joy in many ways and many places.  I loved starting my Christmas season with that chorale concert.  And attending my work Christmas party this past Friday.  I am slowly taking out my decorations and reminiscing over many of them.


public domain image

public domain image

I’ve sat down to write my Christmas poem that goes into the cards that I send out, addressing a few each day.  I do lament that I no longer have the time to devote to the Christmas baking of years past.  I’ve occasionally tuned in to the local radio station that plays all Christmas music all month, but haven’t pulled out my own CD collection yet.


Christmas is about savoring and sharing joy.  I hope that whatever that means for you, you are able to get into the Christmas Spirit this season.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Holiday Hoopla

Which is your favorite holiday?  Today is a holiday that has seen a tremendous shift in meaning since it originated, and the coming months will bring other huge holidays that tend to be high on the list of favorites.  Holidays are a great time to lift ourselves from our routine, celebrate family and friends, and connect with the past. And usually participate in the economy.


I haven’t put out a single decoration this year, though I have a sizable collection of Halloween dust catchers which have accumulated over the years of raising my boys.  There are the tall, slim figurines that I bought in a kit and painted myself.  And a hollowed out gourd, made into a ghost, that I bought on an afternoon spent in a quaint town with my mom and sister.  The scarecrow made from a softball by a fellow mom who was trying to impress the other homeroom moms with her creativity.  And plenty of other things, most of which have a memory or two attached.


public domain image

public domain image

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving.  Because it is quieter and except for food hard to exploit with merchandise.  Even though my dad and I would regularly lament that it was difficult to find Thanksgiving decorations.  Now I have his and mine – mostly Pilgrim and turkey themed.  I love that the focus is around family and friends gathering to share a meal and think about gratitude.  (We won’t think about the fact that shopping for Christmas is encroaching upon this more serene holiday.)


I know plenty of people whose favorite holiday is this feast of Trick or Treat.  I know others who refuse to partake in the fun for religious reasons.  (To them I’d like to point out that Halloween is a contraction for All Hollow’s Eve, which is the precursor for All Saint’s Day November 1st – and a day for religious observance.  And was timed to counter a pagan ritual observing harvest and the coming of winter.  The Monsignor at my old church used to hold a great Halloween party for the families.)


We need these holidays to brighten up our days as the natural light grows scarcer this time of year.  Colorful décor, strings of lights, cheerful greetings for those known and not known – may all of our next few months be enjoyable – full of food, baubles and hoopla.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Fitting Tribute?

How can I possibly figure out how to say what I want to about having a mom and being a mom in a single blog post?  I’m not sure, but I am going to try.  Mother’s Day is almost upon us again and it has been a bittersweet day for me for 9 years now.  It is hard for me to honor my own mom properly, since she is no longer with us, and on top of it let my boys know what might be fitting for me.


Growing up we had a set routine.  Dad would put the same items on the grocery list as a lead up to the day – brown and serve sausages, cinnamon rolls, eggs, something to grill for dinner.  Mother’s Day festivities started in earnest with brunch after church.  I was always in charge of the cinnamon rolls.  Dad had us all snapping to in the kitchen while mom read the Sunday paper.  The day progressed and we could have been hard pressed to tell the passing of the years except that we three children got bigger.  And the sweetly sentimental card that Dad picked out for mom would be different every year.  (Dad was a champion at picking out cards for special occasions.)


public domain image - vintage Mother's Day sentiment

public domain image – vintage Mother’s Day sentiment

I look back now and I wonder because I can clearly see that this ritual was more about what dad thought Mother’s Day should be than perhaps what mom did.  I don’t think any of us ever asked her if it suited what she wanted.


My very first Mother’s Day as a mom came shortly after I gave birth to my older son.  Daddy and son got dressed that day and went out to get me flowers and a card.  Then we three had a picnic.  It was perfect.  I couldn’t say for certain now if I participated in the planning or if our day was based on my husband’s idea of a good Mother’s Day.


Other Mother’s Days followed.  I got feted, and reached out long distance to my mom.  I never understood the moms who said their idea of the perfect Mother’s Day was to have time to themselves.  (Yes, that would be nice on any other day during the growing years, I agree.)  I learned from my dad’s ritual that it is important for the family to turn the tables and take care of mom.  I also learned that rituals are powerful.  (Somehow that lesson worked better for me in the personal setting than in the formal setting of church.)


The next Mother’s Day that comes clearly into memory was the one during my transition to single mom.  The boys and I made the trek to COSI – the science museum in Columbus, OH (we lived in southern OH then).  I had wanted to have a very special experience because we were all hurting.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help my mom from that distance – it was her first Mother’s Day without my dad.  (We’d had a very bad start to our year.)


It dawned on me that year that I needed to figure out how to impart that lesson on my boys – the importance of turning the tables and showing care for mom.  I had no idea how to accomplish this task.


And I’m not sure now if I did a good job in the intervening years.  I do know that there are only 2 days out of the year that my older son remembers that the phone works both ways; Mother’s Day and my birthday.  (Except the year that he blew out his knee on Mother’s Day.)  My younger son has a stronger sentimental streak in him, like my dad, and has been known to make a small or even a grand gesture now and then between recognized holidays.  I expect he will make a special dinner on Sunday.


For good or ill, a mom is a figure who looms large for a child.  It is a most important thing and nearly impossible to get completely right, to be a mom.  The effort does deserve a fitting tribute.  Whatever that might be.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Offering a Gift

I am still absorbed in my book about Louisa May Alcott.  (It takes me a terribly long time to read a book through these days since books are mostly reserved to a few minutes before I go to sleep at night.)  Louisa seems to have been rather fixated on presents.  She is quite generous with her immediate family as her fortunes improve thanks to her writing but on the flip side she receives very few presents on those gift giving occasions.  She deeply appreciates the gifts that she gets but there is clear envy of others who receive more.


It is May, therefore I am almost tardy in finding a gift for my brother’s birthday.  He would be fine with a card, I am certain.  But I like the ritual of gift giving.  The lead up to gift giving occasions means an opportunity to think about that person.  To set aside the constant scroll of things to do and places to be for a bit to think about that person.  Times we have shared and our current relationship.  What the person might like or need.


My brother and I are at that stage in life when we don’t need more things to clutter our homes, but we have lots of interests so a well thought out addition to our collections is appreciated.  A couple of years ago, for his birthday, I bought a flash drive and loaded it with the family pictures that I have scanned so far.  He was thrilled.


Nine years ago, only months after Mom died, I was doing my ‘oops May has started, gotta birthday shop NOW’ thing and ended up finding my current house.  We were living in a townhouse at the time, the boys and I.  A townhouse is cozy, but two teenaged boys make it claustrophobic and so we had been unsuccessfully seeking a small single family home.  On the way to the mall with my younger son we saw an Open House sign and decided to check it out.  It was a ranch just like we had wanted.  We went in and it met all our criteria.  We were getting excited (and nervous, there were other people touring the house too).  Of course I had forgotten my cell phone so we drove home and called our realtor to set up a second tour which would include my older son.  I feel like my family helped us to find this house and I got a great gift for my brother’s birthday that year.  (I think I got him something from Brookstone…)


Despite the fact that I really enjoy gift shopping for the opportunity to reflect that it provides, regular obligations still take up too much of my thoughts and I find myself scrambling at the last minute quite often.  I guess I should work on my planning ahead skills a bit.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

I Hear Birds

Meteorological spring and the Vernal Equinox (astronomical spring) have both passed – not that you can tell based on how often my furnace still cycles on a day.  Or by the layers that we are still wearing.  Or by the dusting of snow that greeted the folks in my region earlier this week.  These dates are just markers on a calendar.


I smile every morning for the last several because I can hear the birds chittering, twittering, and singing to each other just outside my window each morning.  They must be quite chilled, but they believe that spring weather is close so I will too.


Eastern Yellow Robin (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eastern Yellow Robin (photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t actually seen the little feathered fellows, but my ears believe.  I have seen the geese – particularly as they stake out their nesting area around the building where I work.  A few people – 2 co-workers and later a customer – were chased by the hissing goose parents to be.  Winter might still be loath to give up it’s hold but all of these birds are determined that spring weather is near.


One good thing about the continued chill is that I have finally managed to cut back an out of control clematis.  On the one warm day that we’ve experienced recently.  And after 3 years of good intentions.  Now that I’ve had a chance to weave the branches through the trellis better, I have my fingers crossed that it will continue to grow as heartily as it has these past years.  And once again be a refuge for the birds that have sung good morning to me.


I hope that the birds are singing about spring wherever you are as well.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

That Moment before the Moment

Christmas is hours away, ready or not.  This is the moment for the deep breath, the step back, the last survey of status.  Time for a last minute tweak here, an addition there, perhaps small changes in one or two things.  And then enjoy what rolls out.  Whatever it might be.


I used to be one of those people who melted into tears when the slightest thing started to go awry from how I had pictured.  (Now granted perfection is something that you reform from endlessly – there is no such thing as a reformed perfectionist.)  Oddly, it was my wedding that taught me the alternate beauty in planning and then letting the event unfold as it would.  The stories are in the unplanned moments.  Even the mishaps.


Right now I am working my way through my least favorite part of the holiday – wrapping gifts.  You’re with me on this, yes?  Even with favorite Christmas carols as back drop, exasperation is ready to pounce.  Once I struggle through to the end, I also know that I will have that feeling of dismay at the small array of gifts after weeks and hours of careful effort.  Every year it seems as if the resulting pile doesn’t quite match the time and thought I put in.


This moment before the big moment happens all the time – before an interview, a big dinner, a presentation, a date, a party…  We shouldn’t miss this chance to review, but neither should we use it for recriminations, or to build fear.  We have done what we could – this time – and can make note of improvements for next time.  Then breathe.  And enjoy.


I hope that you have many moments to enjoy over this holiday season.


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Twas the Week Before Christmas (Redux)

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the work-place,

Creatures were hurrying, scurrying and running the rat race.

“I have to get done, have vacation to take –

Off to Grandma’s, the in-laws or maybe the lake!”

Now I was just watching quietly from my cube

Hoping to get out at lunch at take my car for a lube

Christmas carol melodies floating through my head

While on my computer, emails I read, read, read

When out on the floor there arose such a clatter,

I looked over the wall to see what was the matter –

A vision of senior management all dressed like St Nick

Ho Ho’ing and marching down the aisle right quick!


A parade of employees trailing in their wake,

Everyone heading to the boardroom, a feast to partake

Deciding my car would have to take care of itself,

I jumped up and followed the nearest old elf!

(With thanks and apologies to Clement Moore)

 (First posted 12/19/12 on my original blog, Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations – does it make it a ritual with one repeat?)

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

List Making, Priorities & Holiday Shopping

Simple.  Easy.  There are things waiting to be done so you get out your favorite list making method and write them down.  Then you prioritize them, bang through them and the day is done with much accomplished.  Sure.  Why are there whole books written about getting stuff done then?  And articles in nearly every December issue of magazines about making the holidays light, bright and cheery without getting buried in your to-dos?

making lists

I’ve been thinking about planning on the personal side of that work-life balance since I wrote my last post.  And because it is the holiday season and Black Friday highlights are showing the usual frenzies of shoppers clicking through their lists and getting in each other’s way.  I’ve participated all of once in the Black Friday melee and found it to be a thoroughly frustrating not to be repeated experience.  Whatever prompts these people to see the excess of shopping hassles as a priority is beyond me.


I understand the thrill of the chase, and I definitely get the joy of a deal.  Maybe it defies my sensibilities because we don’t tend to buy each other electronics in my family.  When I do buy them, it is after research on the best product and based more on reliability and features than price.  And most of these door busters seem to be electronics.  Too, I don’t like to get up early on a day off, nor am I fond of being cold.  Shopping is meant to be leisurely when I’m buying gifts.  A return to my teen days of browsing and considering, unlike errand running which is map it, get it, and move on.  I want to think about the person that I’m shopping for, not look over my shoulder for a potential kamikaze attack.


Back when I had more time, I would get out my baking implements in mid-November and pull out my cookie recipes.  I would add to a growing pile of cookies and quick breads in my freezer each week until mid-December when they would all come out and I would box them up as presents for extended family. (My boys fearful that I wouldn’t save enough for them to munch.)  Hundreds of cookies, about a dozen different kinds.  My back and knees are happy that is not my routine anymore, but the rest of me misses it – and so do many family members.  I hope to be able to return to days when cookie baking can get back on my priority list for the holidays.  I’ll get one of those cushioned mats for my back, knees and feet.


If I had to explain how I make my holiday priorities, it would be to pick out the things that mean holiday to me – ways to be closer to friends and family, to feel joy.  I love Christmas cards, festive packages, all of the carols.  Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward all.


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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