Tag Archiv: holidays

Holidays and THANK YOU!

Happy times, retro ski clothes and all.

Happy times.

I am taking time off from the blog to do things like watch musicals, play games, visit family, and skate on the pond. Three items of business follow. If you only read one, read #3!!!!

1. Blogs will be intermittent (and written only if something really compelling occurs) until after the New Year.

2. If you want a quick e-mail to let you know about the occasional post between now and when regular life resumes, now is a great time to sign up for County Road 21 updates by clicking here . The system is very old school for the techno world. If you sign up, here is what to expect . . .

I send out an e-mail with a link to the blog anytime there is a new post. Normally, this means one e-mail a day, five days a week. The e-mail is from countyroad21@gmail.com and is sent manually using blind copies in a group e-mail. I do it this way because I could figure out how to do it and because I don’t personally like to sign up for things where I get notification every time someone comments, or even puts a smiley face.

3.  IMPORTANT.  VERY IMPORTANT.  PLEASE READ.

I want to say thank you, to you, my readers. You have been such a gift to me. It is a privilege to have a place to write, and the fact that you show up and share the space with me both humbles and blesses me a great deal. Blog readership is growing, and that can only be thanks to you as well. Thank you sincerely to each of you for your support. For those who like to just read and not comment (a lot of my male readers fall into this category :) ) THANK YOU. For those who respond with comments, either privately by e-mail/facebook or on the blog, THANK YOU. For those of you who have read something you liked and passed it on to a friend or two, THANK YOU!

I pray for all of you often to have joy and love and all manner of good things caught up in your feet every time you try to take a step.  A very Merry Christmas to you and those you love.

With many thanks,

Michelle

 

 

 

I’m taking the bait, Dear Abby

I think you need to have a real life musical evening…where everyone sings what they have to say. Sing through dinner….etc. If you yell at the kids, you have to sing it. heehee . . . .

(This was from Abby’s comment to my “Singing in the Snow,” post.)

Dear Abby,

Have you ever tried this yourself? This is a seriously great idea. You have now officially planned the first musicals kick-off night of the upcoming family musicals tour. . . date still to be determined.  I’ll post back the results, but really you are killing me. I wasn’t going to start the tour until school was out . . . Dec. 19th? 20th?  But if you think I can wait that long to sing my grievances at my children, you are wrong.  I have already begun working on possible lyrics. So far, I have a short number on the state of their rooms set to the tune of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”  I am still playing with the words to my impending mental breakdown serenade, but am using the tune of Amazing Grace to contrast nicely with my thoughts on uncivil sibling bickering and how it is affecting my peace of mind.

Many thanks for the brilliant suggestion. As soon as I can pull it off, we’re going for it.

Sincerely,

Singing to sanity, or not, but having fun, on County Road 21

Thanksgiving, thanks and more thanks

Growing up we never lived close to my grandparents, but I felt their love all the same. Especially from my grandmother. As a small child, I sometimes wondered if my grandfather even knew my name, but somewhere in there, he started talking. He’s never really stopped since. I know entire extended families rather well through the stories of my grandmother. My grandfather and I share a love of silly rhymes.

I wasn’t sure how things would work after my mother died.  Usually it had been my mother that kept us together.

My grandma called me on the phone.  “I call my kids in order. All their numbers are on the wall. I’m too old to change from four to three. I’m putting you in at your mother’s spot,” she said.

She travelled up to meet my first baby. I travelled down with the other three when they arrived.  She bought me diapers and tucked twenty dollar bills in my coat for gas. I sent pictures and letters I had never taken the time to write before. We weren’t  forgetting my mother. We were loving somebody else who loved her. Along the way, we found a lot of love and joy between us. My mother would like that.

My grandfather doesn’t remember things now. He has cancer that he isn’t treating. Many conversations, he can’t follow. He joins in by telling jokes he thinks of.

This year we had an early Thanksgiving dinner together. My grandparents, my girls, and me. I brought one of our chickens. The girls drew turkey pictures and made place cards. We ate brownies for dessert and saved the pumpkin pie for the next day so we could properly enjoy it.

I went to bed afterwards thinking about books. How every chapter should be the best you can make it. Every sentence matters. But as good as it all is, if it’s done right, the last chapter is the best. Everything comes together. The beautiful intensifies to a level you had no idea was even possible back when you were reading in the middle and enjoying every page.

I am struck with my grandfather’s gentleness amidst confusion. His quiet trust in my grandmother is not a tenderness I could have imagined in him twenty years ago.  He needs a lot of help navigating daily life. My grandmother learns what she needs to do, and does it.  She does not spend her days grieving who my grandfather is not. She looks at the man who is present, figures out how to give him what he needs, and loves him as he is.

I have been reading the book of their lives for a long time now. So many different chapters. So much for me to learn. But this last chapter. It takes my words away and sits me down quiet with wonder. About love. And it never, ever being too late to become like the Velveteen rabbit. More real. More beautiful.

Singing in the Snow

We put a pretty big value on family time over the Christmas break. This year, we have a plan that we’ve gone so far as to tell the kids, so there’s no going back now.  We’re going musical, as in musicals. All that’s really left is to pick the ones we’ll watch and get them.

`              Here’s why we’ll be watching so much singing and dancing this December . . .

1. Boy one announced that the music from Fiddler on the Roof was some of his favorite music in the world. (We didn’t even know he had downloaded it.) He started singing Fiddler songs around the house, but had no clue about the story.

This got me thinking. Then two more discoveries pushed the idea into a full blown mission.

2. Boy one confessed that, “Matchmaker,” was his favorite song at first because he assumed it was about someone playing with fire . . . and how cool is that, you know, mom?”  He said he sang it for a while before he figured it out.

3. We discovered that only one of our children had ever seen, “The Sound of Music.”

How it was we got this far, we two who both love musicals, without sharing this with our children, I have no idea. We did a test run last week with the 1971 movie version of, “Fiddler on the Roof,” to help us gauge our range for choosing.  They obviously understood it at different levels but regardless of comprehension, it was a big hit. Do you know how nice it is to hear your kids singing those songs around the house?

I feel a town crier is in order, although chances are that both the crier and my excitement about sharing musicals with children would be met with confusion.  Watching the kids enjoy, Fiddler on the Roof, was just so satisfying. I feel a kind of civic duty bursting out of me. Like I should be stopping people at the grocery store to tell them about it. Like I should be knocking on doors of people I don’t know and handing them copies of, The Sound of Music.

This is why I have a husband.  He reminds me that I will probably not want to knock on all those doors in the morning, so perhaps best not to print out all those fliers tonight.  “But that the original idea,” he will say carefully, “the one where we show 4 or 5 of the best ones to our kids . . . well, it’s just so manageable . . .”  And normal, he kindly does not add.

So, no posters, no grocery store announcements. Just a blog.  :)  Did I mention that we haven’t finished narrowing our list yet? Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady, for sure. After that, I welcome suggestions!

Trying to Remember

When my daughter told me to write about Ivan, my son added without looking up, “Write about Remembrance Day.”

Remembrance Day brings out my split personality. It’s the day I came to Canada. It’s boy two’s birthday. Maybe if I lived in the States and called it Veterans Day I would always remember that it isn’t about me. Coming to Canada was a big deal for my then twenty year old self. I remember it like an Israelite remembers leaving Egypt. Scary at first like you wouldn’t believe in the desert. Wanting to go back. Then wandering in circles for a few years while the promised land waited patiently for lights to dawn on marble head.

Mid gratitude reflecting on what the day has meant for me, I inevitably pass a veteran and am filled with shame. NOTE TO SELF: This day is about THEM! My brain believes in gratitude and remembrance but knowing what to do about that seems hard, so I let it get lost in the details.  Besides, it’s boy two’s birthday. There’s celebrating to be done.

Boy two does not mind sharing his birthday. He thinks it’s special to be born on Remembrance Day, the same way he thinks it’s special to be short and bow legged. (He claims this puts his legs at a better angle for tree climbing.) He was not impressed that I did not take him out of school to go to a Remembrance Day service.

Writing a letter two days after the day doesn’t fix it. Mine is an imperfect attempt to do what I tell my kids: you can’t undo the wrong thing, but you try to make it right.

Dear Veterans,

I am not wearing a poppy because they always fall off and poke me. Seeing you overwhelms me with the size of what you did. I have read many more books on events during WWII than I am years old. For some reason I just listened to six hours of an American History Channel WWII series while driving. I don’t see an old man, or whatever age you are, when I walk by you, I see some mother’s son risking his life for other people. I imagine shaking your hand, looking you in the eye, saying thank you. Instead, I fumble in my purse for change and send the kids to buy a poppy sticker for themselves. I nod at you. Say something inane to the kids about staying with me in the parking lot and move on.

I don’t like the way I do it either. I have no idea how to properly say thank you for the United States that I grew up in or for the Canada where I found home. I promise to let the kids skip school next year to stand in front of the flag with you even if it is cold and raining. Everything I get to remember on November 11, says thanks to you.

Sincere admiration and thanks,

From a woman who ought to have said something sooner

 

Here’s to the Music – Play it Again, Sam

Doing dishes the other night, the sounds of my son’s trombone warmed me at least as much as the wood stove. In one small run of eighth notes, I went from dreading the obligations of Christmas to realizing that, “almost December,” meant the Christmas Concert at his school. A sentimentalist I am not. Many a concert or school function I have attended as a grudging token of decency to the children I helped bring into this world. But this is not that. His school music program is exceptional and the concerts are a true pleasure. The Go-to-bed-on-time-Nazi  (me) lets the younger kids go and be grumpy for two days afterwards because the way their eyes brighten and their toes tap is worth it.

For anyone within driving distance of St. Michael’s in Kemptville, I cannot recommend the Christmas concert highly enough. The students will be well rehearsed. Their repertoire will be a wonderful mix of pieces worth doing. The evening will appeal to kids and adults of all ages because the performers and their impassioned and talented director will bring enough joy to fill the place.  The concert features Jr. and Sr. bands, a jazz band, and my personal favourite, a chamber choir.

On Thursday, December 12, at 7:00pm, something simple, true, and beautiful is happening. At that time, in that place, young men and women beaming with the promise of tomorrow will be making music. Together. For free. For you. If you can believe in their possibilities by attending the concert, you will be richly rewarded with the experience of something as new and alive as a miracle.

If you cannot come see these particular young people at this particular school, consider finding a school near you which is doing music well and then support them with your presence. Schools that value music need to know that we’re behind them because our children need to be able to sing. Children who sing know how to listen to the voices of others. They have seen and heard and felt for themselves the mystery of individuals working together to create a whole that is bigger than any one of them. Children who sing not only discover their own beautiful voices they learn how to make them stronger. They learn how to hold their own when others are singing something different.

This applies to those in choirs, as well as those in bands. A girl with a clarinet is discovering her voice as much as a tenor singing his first solo. Instruments are voices to which we have added imagination. What would happen if we were to hold our mouths just so and blow through this tube, or across the hole on the side of it? A hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand people have wondered, have practiced this . . . and then along comes the girl.  She picks up the instrument, and to all the imagination that has gone before her, she adds her own. She finds her voice and sings an old song, now born into something completely new.

I am posting this now, in early November, because right now there is still plenty of time to save the night for this concert on your calendar. I’ll send a reminder in December, but consider blocking the time now. I don’t know about you, but I look outside and see a world that needs joyful voices. I see kids walking down the street, wondering about tomorrow, and I hope someone is teaching them to sing.

This Christmas season, if you can, find a school concert with outstanding music and go to it. Say with your presence that you don’t want a world without twelve year olds on trumpets and seventeen year olds singing Handel. Say their voices matter. Say you want the music.

Costume update

So Mr. 13 is bowing out of the celebrations this year. I got involved in the brainstorming last night with the girls. Ms. 5 was adamant that they wanted to be something scary. Ms. 8 listed off all the scary things they could think of, which would, incidentally, have given them nightmares about each other for a week. Luckily, they went to bed cheerfully diverted. Not sure what the forecasted rain will do to their plan to be professional violinists . . . but really I am only posting on this because of Mr. 10.

The formerly mad scientist announced yesterday that he was going either as a ninja or a spy. Both seemed to involve track pants and a hoodie pulled down over his head. From there the general malaise deepened. I offered suggestions. My husband heard the ten or so rejections and came down to try and help as well. I thought he and I were rather persuasive on the merits of being, a) one of the men in black, b) a s’more or c) Indiana Jones.  A and C involved inquisition from Mr. 10, followed by excitement and enthusiasm about how he could pull it off. A lot of time later, still no decision. Exasperated, I give Mr. 10 one minute to make a decision – because how hard is it to choose between a man in black, Indiana Jones, a ninja, or spy?

“Got it!” he said thirty seconds later. Sly grin. Arms folded across chest. “I’m going to be an Egyptian Writer.”

Come again?

Mr. 10 has a bacteria infested very large and perfect feather that he found in the field this summer. For some reason, I had not thought of a costume based on this.  The Egyptian Writer plans to have his feather and a scroll covered in hieroglyphics . He will be sporting the flesh coloured pants from the hand-me-down bag that we have marvelled over but never worn. He also plans to fashion an Egyptianish toga type covering for his top half out of the blue sheet that ripped en route to the wash last week.

The boy brings new meaning to that whole verse about being in the world but not of it.