Good Morning friends!
As I decorated our home this week, I couldn’t help but to think back to our family and global situation this time last year. One year ago, we wanted to figure out a way for my mom to spend Christmas day with us but were anxious as to how to do it safely. Our solution was to have everyone tested days before Christmas, but still have mom sit on one side of the living room while the rest of us sat on the other side. We wore masks and had all the windows open.
We couldn’t get comfortable with her staying for dinner, so we prepared it and the kids took it over to her home, where she ate it alone.
One year ago today, I didn’t know that my father would die within the week. Because of the pandemic, we hadn’t been able to visit him in Memory Care. We could see him through the window, but because of Alzheimer’s, not only was he unable to communicate or stand, but I’m not sure he even knew we were there.
When it became obvious to the staff that his days were numbered, several Christmas angels made it possible for us to spend his last several days with him, an invaluable gift that we will never forget. I’m fairly confident that all sorts of ‘rules’ were broken on our behalf, but selfishly I do believe that there are times to break the rules and this was one of those times.
I don’t know if I would’ve felt this way had we not been ‘locked down’ and isolated for the better part of the year, but those 3 days we spent as a family, sitting in dad’s room, listening to Christmas music, reminiscing, and keeping dad company as he moved to his next home are a very special memory and gift that I will forever cherish.
All this to say, while we miss dad, his kindness, his sense of humor, and his love, he is in a far better place this year than he was this time last year. In fact, we all are. Our family will be able to gather and hug and kiss this Christmas; another invaluable gift.
So, not only does my home look especially festive right now, but I’m especially thankful!
And, as if I didn’t already have enough things to be thankful for, I am writing to you from beautiful Asheville, NC! We are here with the first friends we made when we moved to NC, 20 years ago. This evening we will be touring the Biltmore Estate by candlelight, all decked out for the holidays! 🎄 Before that we will tour the grounds and tomorrow we will visit the immersive Van Gogh exhibit that is here. And in between all that, we will EAT! Asheville has so many great restaurants and my girlfriend made reservations at some great ones.
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- It does seem that I’ve been away from home more than I’ve been home lately; thank heavens we have a wonderful pet sitter! And years of travel have made me a rather organized and efficient packer…for my tips and a handy checklist, check out this Organized Travel Tips post. And if you are or need gifts for someone who likes to or has to travel, check out these Great Gifts for Travelers.
TWO NEW ARTICLES ON THE BLOG!
- For my crafting friends, grab these ‘care tags’ to attach to your handmade fiber craft gifts (sewed, knitted, crocheted, etc…) so the recipient knows how to care for their new treasure.
- This Cranberry Pear Jam is a taste of Christmas in a jar!
- Speaking of jams, this Mulled Wine Jelly is really popular right now!
- And if you are looking for a super easy, though always appreciated gift, make up jars of Mulling Spices to give this holiday.
- And no matter what food gifts you have been whipping up in that busy kitchen of yours, consider these festive bags for ‘wrapping’ your gifts.
- Speaking of food gifts, for a savory option, consider these Marinated Castelvetrano Olives. Liz’s review speaks for itself:
Reporting back on your recipe for Marinated Castelveltrano Olives – WOW! Huge hit at our house – my son ate a bowl full of them for his lunch today. Going to make up more as gifts for my brother and my friend Joe for Christmas (and I probably won’t tell them how easy they are to make up, heh, heh, heh…)
Thank you for the great recipe and the great gift idea.Liz
- If your time is short, but your need for Christmas cookies is neverending, meet your new, favorite cookie. You can have two dozen of these Amaretti cookies, from start to finish, in an hour! And don’t even get me started on how good they are! OK, fine, you asked. These chewy almond cookies are the perfect combination of chewy on the inside and a slight crunch on the outside.
- I’m always happy when I swap our cotton blankets for our down comforters. I’m the one who is most comfortable with the heat off, but underneath a big puffy comforter. And I love pulling some of the blankets I’ve knit over the years out from their summer storage to keep my family warm and cozy. This diagonal basketweave blanket sits at the foot of Kate’s bed during the cooler months.
- You have plenty of time to make these stamped Christmas napkins for your use or for gifting.
- A while back, I asked for suggestions to add to my list of Useful Stocking Stuffers for Cooks. Lucie made this suggestion and since then I’ve ordered three of them for stocking stuffers! This jar opener is not only handy for cooks, but for folks with arthritis and other conditions that make opening jars difficult.
Well, my friends. I hope whatever you are doing today, it is a great day. I’ll ‘see’ you next week!
A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”