Tuesday, December 21, 2010


With the holiday season nearing Christmas Day, my levels of stress and frustration are rising by the minute.

I have Christmas cards that still need to be mailed (yes, they're gonna be late). There are those last-minute gifts yet to purchase. Not to mention wrapping said gifts (haven't even started) before midnight on Christmas Eve. Oh, and the grocery shopping for Christmas Day brunch.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every moment of my holiday tasks. Sometimes, though, the joy falls a little short as the task part feels more like work than play.

Last Saturday, a book signing at Hastings fell right smack in the middle of my time to complete the afore-mentioned "to-do" list. I looked forward to meeting new people, discussing my love of books with other readers, and of course selling every last copy of Moonlight Bleu...I just felt a little pressed for time.

But being in one place, for hours, forced me to sit quietly and relax. My thoughts cleared, and I got the chance to indulge one of my favorite pastimes: people watching.

As I observed others around me hunt for the perfect gift, I noticed the varying holiday emotional reactions. Some individuals seemed a little tired and stressed like myself. Others were bright-eyed and full of energy (I'm sure due to the double shot of caffeine their coffee cup held!), looking for items marked on the list they carried.

And then I saw a man and his teen-aged son, walking the aisles of the store together. Nothing about them shouted "look at me", but I noticed them anyway. The man followed along patiently as his son considered first one gift, and then another, and another. Never once did the father lose his smile, become frustrated, or choose his son's gift himself. He let his son work through his own decision-making process, standing by in case help was needed.

That's when I realized what had caught my attention.


In the middle of all the crazy Christmas expectations we place upon ourselves, it's easy to speak a little sharper than intended or lose patience and show a bite of temper. These things are a normal part of a busy life.

But this father's example of kindness reminded me of a couple of  basic tenets: "Treat others as you want to be treated." "Be an example of what you teach."

I love Christmas. It's a joyous holiday that touches people all over the world. But that moment of clarity, that gift of kindness, is something I want to remember and experience all year round.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I'm not sure about anyone else, but I've been struggling to accomplish anything let alone everything on my "to do" list. The house is only partially decorated for Christmas, I haven't quite finished the Christmas shopping, I'm behind on my appeals at work, and don't even mention the edit revisions for my current Work In Progress sitting on my desk at home.

Of course my husband's noticed. He hugged me hard yesterday morning and whispered, "I'll do whatever I can to help...as soon as I figure out what the right thing to do is." That's my hubby: delivering sincerity with a good dose of humor. Exactly what I needed. A smile accompanying the realization only I could figure out what was causing my funk.

And I did late yesterday afternoon.

My grandson spent the day with us. Now, he's two and a half. He's never still. Unless, of course, he's sleeping or sitting in front of the t.v. by himself...and even that doesn't happen often. But when he brought me the movie Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer to watch, I didn't think much of it. After I put it on and sat down on the couch to watch it with him, imagine my surprise when he climbed in my lap and got comfortable.

I had tons of things on my list to get done, but none of that mattered. The sweet smell of my grandson's washed hair, the pleasant weight of his little body resting against mine, the quiet time he and I shared, those things are what mattered. We sat together, snuggled under a blanket, and watched the entire movie.

When the movie ended, I felt rejuvenated.

I'd been looking at the big picture and become overwhelmed by the number of "things" that completed the whole image. Having a list of "things" to do was definitely a helpful way to keep organized. Handling each task one item at a time made perfect sense.

It was the way I'd been viewing each of those tasks. Like work. If they weren't completed to perfection, I wasn't doing my job. If I wasn't doing job, how could I ...or anyone else... enjoy Christmas. How silly of me to forget the most important aspect of the holidays: giving and sharing out of love.

No one in my family will care if I don't have out every Christmas decoration we own. My youngest daughters are now teenagers and old enough to help wrap gifts without spilling who got what before the presents are even opened. Work can be managed, and my writing, well, today's blog helped. Putting my behind in the chair and typing the keys allows everything in my head to crystallize into coherent thoughts.

Christmas only comes once a year, but when life's in balance it should resemble everything we do all year round...just be brighter!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Shopping

First of the month. You know the routine: money comes in, pay the bills, money goes out.

Yep, it's pretty much like clockwork.

December is different. Hubby and I are fortunate enough to work for employers that allow us each to cash out a week's vacation pay. We hold two weeks in reserve with the plan of using that money for Christmas. Some years it covered extra bills. Other years extra bills and Christmas.

This year, it's all Christmas.

After I paid all the bills and balanced the account, hubby and I looked at each other in shock. We've never had THAT much money to just spend if we wanted to. A list was made of the gifts left to purchase, and still we had a large amount leftover.

What an amazing and wonderful predicament to be in. "I have an idea," we both said at the same time. "Let's adopt a family for Christmas." We spoke simultaneously again. I love that we think so much alike. Years of hard work, much patience, and unconditional love create the real deal, folks.

We are blessed to have so much, both in health and wealth. How could we not share what we have with another family in desperate need? First thing tomorrow morning, we're doing some extra shopping. I can't wait to get everything on this family's list...and when it's delivered anonymously, the note will say, "From my family to yours. Santa."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holy Snow!!!

Wow, I've been neglecting my blog...will try harder to blog more often.

In my defense, things have been crazy around my place. Between my day job, working on edits for the sequel to Moonlight Bleu, and the insane weather the Pacific Northwest is having, spare time is at a minimum. And that includes the two hours of sleep I'm losing just to dig my car out and get to work on time.

Speaking of weather...holy freakin' snow, Batman.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the snow. Eating the first batch of cold, fresh powder in homemade snow cones is a yummy tradition. Playing in tons of the stuff is awesome. Even driving in the snow is no big deal. Did I mention I've got a gas guzzling behemoth of a 4-wheel drive?

It's the ice that comes after the snow that, no pun intended, blows.

Oh, as another aside, let me take this moment to apologize to everyone in the Pacific Northwest. You'll understand why in a moment.

Monday Moonlight Bleu received two fantastic reviews (Paranormal Romance Guild and What Book Is That?). I felt pretty darned good. So good, I told the rest of the week to "Bring it on!" The rest of the week answered "Brought it!" in the form of more rain/sleet/snow mix yesterday. Never challenge the universe. Bad things happen.

So, back to the weather. I stop at the store to pick up some salt to throw on my front steps which, after freezing rain, are slick enough for ice skating. Apparently everybody else in town had the same idea, just sooner than I did.

I finally found two bags at Home Depot. Whoo Hoo. Triumphant. Or so I thought. When I dumped the salt onto my steps, white cheese-puff sized pellets skittered everywhere. Huh. I'd just pretty much guaranteed broken bones for someone...most probably myself.

Then I noticed the shovel leaning against the house. Inspiration struck. You guessed it. I spent the next half hour beating those salt pellets into smashed pulp on my front steps. Several neighbors ran outside at the first few whacks. To be fair, they did sound like gunshots as they echoed down the block. I got the normal she's-at-it-again nods.

That's okay. My front steps were clear this morning. I got to watch my neighbor fall on his behind instead!