Fall is a Beautiful Time of Year

Fall, what a beautiful time of year. Beautiful weather, nature looking picturesque and holidays for everyone to enjoy. For me, this fall has been different. My baby went off to college and I became an empty nester. Well, I do have one more at home, but he’s 20 and lives his own life. I don’t see him much.

I look at Facebook and get to see all the great things people are enjoying in life. Kids are growing up and moving on. Going to prom, graduating, and heading off to college or out on their own in the working world. At that point we as parents are also starting our new life. Couples are getting to know each other all over again. Single parents start to enjoy the next chapter of life and all the freedoms of being single without being tied down.

Empty nester has a whole new meaning for me. It’s the beginning of the next stage of my life. My husband died 19 years ago and over the last 6 years I’ve lost a large part of my family. I’ve taken time to grieve but with my youngest going off to college it really started to sink in that I’m starting a whole new life.

When Halloween came along, I sat here for the first time in years by myself. I just didn’t realize it would hit me how much my life is changing. The next day was my grandmother’s birthday. She’s been gone for 2 years now and I miss her every day.

I started reminiscing about my family and how much I miss them. I was raking leaves and remembered the time that my grandmother was here and sat in a chair putting leaves in a back. Mind you, she was blind but she really wanted to help. I smile whenever I think about it. She was sick for a few years before she died. When it was time for her to go into hospice I knew I had to try to go see her one last time. I got online and found a round trip ticket for around $100. It was to go Friday and come back Saturday or the flight went up to $400. I was supposed to go see her and I’m so I got to go and say good bye. It was hard to see her like that, but I’m so glad I did. She looked peaceful laying there with her beautiful smile.

Or my stepfather who used to come and try to find things to do around my house. So many stories there. Towards the end of his life, when he couldn’t do much, I used to junk up my junk drawer so he’d have something he could do to help me. We both loved it in our own way. He used to tape all my pens together so if I needed one I’d have to pull the tape off. It always made me laugh. The last time I saw him my kids and I were visiting him and my mother in Florida. The boys and my mother went out somewhere and I stayed home with him. He said “I’ll be in bed by 8:00, That’s my bed time.” “Of course” I said, “That’s always been the case. You go to bed and watch TV.” That night he sat with me until everyone came home. We cleaned out the bag of coffee, sugar and sweet and low together. “I think I need a cup of coffee” he said. His plan was to stay up with me until mom and the kids got home so he could prove that he could stay awake.

I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d see him, but he and I were meant to spend that time together.

The holidays are a time for family and close friends. I’m lucky to have my two boys even though they have lives of their own we got to spend quality time together.

Those of you that have large families or your spouse that you’ve spent so many wonderful years together, be thankful. Enjoy each day and each moment. It’s precious time and enjoy every minute of it.

Dealing With Grief During the Holidays

It’s hard when you are dealing with grief during the holidays. Grief is hard enough. Then you add the cheer that’s all around you.

When my husband died on Thanksgiving, I remember going Christmas Shopping in early December. People were so happy and cheerful. I felt so alone. Nobody could even come close to understanding the loneliness and sadness I was feeling.

As hard as it was I had to just go on and remember that the people around me don’t know what happened to me. And they should be enjoying the holidays.

As much as I wanted to I couldn’t. It was everything I could do to go out in public without crying. But I managed. The one thing I learned is that people didn’t understand and I unfortunately had to just deal with it. Sure I could have played the violin but I knew that there was no way for people to know or understand unless they were in my shoes.

I learned early on that you can’t fault people for not understanding and that even though I was the one grieving I had to give people the benefit of the doubt.

My saving grace was that I went to a bereavement group. That helped keep me from feeling so alone even though I was. Don’t get me wrong, there were people around. My parents even came in and stayed with me for a while. But I the alone is the feeling inside. You can be in a crowded room and feel alone. That’s when I learned the true meaning of feeling alone.

So what do you do over the holidays? Well it’s not easy, but you have to give yourself permission to change your mind. You may feel great today but not tomorrow. The best thing to do is to make plans with the preface that you may not feel up to it that day. Knowing that you have plans and that it’s ok to change your mind makes all the difference in the world.

You will be surprised at how much people will understand. I always tell people that they can use me. You can too. If you have plans and you decide last minute you aren’t up for it, tell them Jackie gave you permission to change your mind for at least one year after your loss.

Remember, dealing with grief over the holidays is hard, but not impossible. Keep your chin up and do the best you can.

Feeling That Holiday Spirit

As I sit and wrap gifts I am really feeling that holiday spirit. In my house, nobody really wants much nor do we need much. So we are decorating and I am looking forward to making cookies, spending time with family and friends.

We’ve already started driving around looking at the lights around the neighborhoods. It’s great the was some people go all out. Other’s decorate more conservative yet beautifully. There are those tacky homes too. But love them all!

Each one is enjoyable in its own right. My older Son got this light that changes colors. He doesn’t want to put lights out front because it would take away from that one. I think he has a point. He’s the one that loves to decorate and make things look good for any holiday.

Knowing that we don’t want or need much is a nice feeling. That means we are in a good place in life. So many have hard times during the holidays. I don’t want to jinx it, but I just want everyone to feel content.

While I’m sitting here, I’m thinking about the fact that I’m pretty much done with my shopping and close to done wrapping. It’s a feeling of being content. On top of that I am sitting here in shorts and a tank top. Love it. The weather is beautiful. It was about 70 today. It’s been that way for about a week.

My mom is coming to visit next week. I hope the weather holds out for her. She would love that. Even if it went down to the 50s I know she’d be happy. I’m looking forward to the holidays this year and I hope you are too. Enjoy what you have and send love into the world and especially for those that need it.

I hope you are feeling that holiday spirit. Think about what you can do to enjoy the holidays! That’s what the holidays should be about.

Ho Ho Holidays are here!

Thanksgiving has passed and the shopping season is in full swing. The Ho Ho Holidays are here! Ready or not, they are here. At my house we are getting ready for our family traditions.

Our traditions have changed over the years. My favorite thing to do is to put the ornaments on my tree. As I pull each ornament out it brings back a memory. It’s like reading your history book each year. At times the kids wanted to help and other times they didn’t. But now I make them help me even if it’s just a little bit.

Picking a favorite ornament isn’t easy either. There’s one that a second mom to my husband made for us using our wedding napkins. The ornament from Disney World is always fun, I loved taking my kids to Disney. Then there’s the Wooden ornament that’s a lobster that has claws that move when you pull the string. Of course the ornaments that are homemade by my kids or my sister, even myself. Of course I could go on, but you get the idea.

Putting on holiday music while sitting in front of a fire with some Hot Chocolate is always a treat. A great way to relax at the end of a long day of shopping.

Wrapping is a fun thing to do too. Although not my favorite, seeing everything wrapped and under the tree is a great feeling of accomplishment.

Watching everyone open on Christmas morning is fun too. And I must say I like seeing what I got too.
It always amazes me how busy the season is and how much people put into it. Driving around and seeing all the house is another tradition. There are so many homes that are beautiful. It’s a great way to enjoy the evening with family. Sometimes I get the kids to go with me too.

And I can’t leave out holiday fun with friends. I love getting together with friends over the holidays. Sometimes it’s the only time we see each other throughout the year. In fact, one friend and I are going to make a resolution to see each other sometime outside of November December.