Saturday, December 31, 2011


I came home from work this afternoon, to find my family furiously cleaning. My dad looked up long enough to say, "Hey, Danny & Danielle called, they may come over later today." Danny is my cousin who lives in Virginia, and Danielle is his daughter. They are in SC only because Danny's mother is in the hospital in very serious condition.

About 5 minutes later (or so it seemed), there was a knock on the door. Danielle's sweet face was the first I saw, followed by..... my other cousin, Danny's brother Ray. Danny was right behind them. I hadn't seen Ray in probably 8 or 9 years. It was fantastic to see him, and he was amazed to see the changes in me. He hadn't been told until they were on the way to our house, when Danny said, "Oh yeah, by the way, don't be surprised when you see Annette, she's dropped a ton of weight."

They stayed for a while -- which heck, they could have stayed longer but they had just a short window between visiting hours for ICU. And they have to hit the road again tomorrow, as the new semester for Danielle kicks off Monday.

As they were here, and for the rest of the night, I've been thinking about family.

I am one of two grandchildren on my mother's side, the other being my brother. On Dad's side, I'm one of fifteen grands. But in my early life, I tended to associate "family" with my mother's side.... after all, I grew up in her hometown, with her large extended family. I had cousins galore on that side, but only saw my first cousins on special occasions -- holidays at Granny's, the occasional Sunday afternoon trip to her place, etc. I wasn't as close to them, because of the distance -- most of them lived within a 15-20 minute drive of my grandmother, and I was about an hour away.

But as an adult, I have grown to love the relationships I've forged with my first cousins. They are so very precious to me, not just because of the genetic link to them, but the bonds that the heart forms. I see the little posts on Facebook sometimes about "Cousins are our very first 'best friends'..." and I get a little wistful. My earliest best friends were never related to me... they were kids from church and school, and then the various cousins' children, but not to the same degree. And I'm glad for social media -- it has allowed our family to keep in touch even more closely, for the big things and little things. From a distance, I get to see my cousin's new baby. And I keep up with the happenings of those who live a little more closely. I get to find out more about my family, and get to know them better.

So thanks, Ray & Danny (and Danielle) for stopping in today and giving me a wonderful gift: your presence, even for a short time, and a good reminder of the beautiful things in our families.

Can't Say It Any Better.....

Sayonara, 2011 .... you were better than 2010 (thank God), but you're not as good as 2012 is gonna be! Truly, I appreciate everything you brought me this year -- good work, good friends, a chance to do something I had cast to the side for way too long, new challenges, new information, and a million opportunities. I only wish I'd been able to take advantage of all the wonderful ones, but I also can say thank you for the curves thrown in my path too.

And here's some awesome, awesome advice for 2012:

Just read it. Really read it. Take it slowly -- read one a week or every 10 days and make it your focus. Or if something doesn't apply, be grateful for that, and move to the ones which do matter to you.

Happy New Year, my friends. Make 2012 the best year ever!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday, 12/1/11

1. The holiday season is a mixed bag for me. I like what the season is all about but I really am not a big fan of the HYPE machine that "the holidays" have become. I don't know how a message of love, joy, peace, and hope got twisted into "you are a weenie if you don't spend money you don't have on crap you don't need." (stepping off soapbox) .

2. Snow makes me excited because we so rarely get it. Last year was my first white Christmas EVER. EVER. In 42 years, EVER .

3. The best comfort food to eat when it's cold out is chili and cornbread. Any soup and homemade bread. Or veggie soup with grilled cheese sandwiches .

4. Winter is the best time for getting caught up on things like reading, writing, scrapping .

5. I can hardly wait for our Festival of Lessons & Carols (Dec 11) and our prelude (I have a solo!) .

6. When it comes to holiday gifts I prefer to give gifts cards. I know, so many people think that they're so impersonal, and maybe they are, but hey, at least this way YOU (the recipient) can get something YOU want/need instead of "Oh! How lovely! Just what I wanted!" (clenched teeth smile) .

7. If I were to rate my excitement about the holiday season on a scale from 1-10, I would say I am at about a 3. But that's every year. I just don't get all whooped up for it. Sorry .