Thursday, December 18, 2014

Re-Post of Paying it Forward - Lessons from My Father

I was originally inspired to write this post back in 2011 following a discussion about the "paying it forward" movement with a cynical colleague at the time. 

I was intrigued by her sense of frustration with the lack of appreciation she received from participating in this basic act of human kindness. She felt the need to be recognized for what she did. It threw me into a state of personal reflection and appreciation for ...
lessons from my father.

So, please allow me to re-post this for you.

I am presently with family taking care of a dear elder right now.
It is hard to post but I am trying to visit you all when I can.

So, in my absence, 
I hope this story will seem appropriate for you at this time of year...

Did you ever see the movie, Pay it Forward - the Power of Three.....
kinda emotional perhaps, 
interesting concept though, 
the power of numbers and exponential growth.  
It set me on a reflective course, back to my own childhood experiences.

As a child, I grew up with some pretty strong images of my own father paying "it" forward.  
I have a sharp picture branded into my memory of a road trip to Florida and a stop at the end of the day at a small road-side diner.  

In front of the diner, sitting on the blvd. was a homeless man.  
He impressed me, only because as a child from a small town where homelessness seemed non-existent.... I was unsure of him, afraid of the unknown. 
Homeless in campo formiom

My father, on the other hand, saw a person down on his luck, in need of a "wash-up" and a good meal.  
Before I knew it, my father was over at his side,

instructing him to get washed up in the restaurant 
and that a meal would be on its way to him outside.  

And then within minutes of that he was speaking to the manager 
and advising him (as only my father could do... at 6 feet 3)
to allow this man into the washroom to clean up.
And then to send him out a meal which my father would pay for. 

It all happened so fast.
I was worried that the man would be embarrassed by this quick action on the part of my father. 

And as a child I wondered,
Why wouldn't my father insist on him eating inside?

But, he knew, that this was about the man eating a meal, 
keeping his dignity and not being judged.  
I don't think he knew he was paying "it" forward though.

I had many more experiences like that, with my dad.
Sometime they were clearly thought out and were personally satisfying, 
like his work with Habitat for Humanity.
US Navy 080828-N-3271W-039 Navy Recruiting District Command Master Chief Donald Magnes cuts wood beams
By U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward
Sometimes it might have been all about his business. 
My father owned a hardware store, so giving John, a local First Nations man, a free bag of nails meant John would not need to steal them.

And there was the time he had me deliver and assemble a barbeque that was bought by an older woman that lived out in Craigleith on the shores of Georgian Bay.

Hohenossig (Krostitz), the country home "Antique"
By Dguendel
 Or the time that I took back the repaired lawn mower to Mrs. Kinsey down the street with instructions to cut her lawn so she would be convinced that it worked.

You see, 
I think that a lot of us have been unknowingly subjected to this design, 
the concept introduced in that sappy film,  The Power of Three.  

I believe that random acts of kindness are what we teach our children when we lead them to an understanding of the necessity 
to care about those around them 
and to be involved.  
The notion that simple goodness 
can multiply... 

Yep, I am pretty sure that he knew what he was doing.
In each of those instances, and the many more that are slowly creeping back into my memory.

I believe he knew that this was simply part of life....something you do.  
I know he did not expect to have it ever come around again, to benefit him in any way but it was simply that.....

A Random Act of Kindness...  

but all kinda easy when you think about it.
And of course there is no time like the present.

 Viborg Christmas street illumination 2010-11-30

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Two weeks from today...
is Christmas.

It never seems to come gently,
this holiday.

And it always seems to bring with it,
a jungle of emotions.

You know,
that commerical frenzy,
piped-in music and this incessant need to be "on"?

It can sometimes weigh you down,

beyond all that,
there is something about this time of year that I feel belongs to me,
my thoughts and my memories and
another set of emotions altogether.

For me, it is quite simple,
you see when I am all alone and I open up those boxes
that were stored away in the basement 12 months ago...
it is like I have opened up a time capsule of sorts.

I feast my eyes on every item, turning it over and wondering to myself why it means so much.
It may be chipped or worn,
but I know that it still has a part to play in this years celebration.

I haul out the Santa skirt that is folded and tucked away in the linen closet,
taking up more space than I can afford to lose in that tiny cupboard.
But it does.


I laugh at my frugal ways of saving the wired ribbon from previous years
to tie together fresh boughs of greenery wondering 
if this will be the year that I throw it out.

You see,
each collection has a year to it,
the year that we decided to add a little something to the stockpile.

2013 my daughter and I picked up a moss covered reindeer that she quickly named Randolph...
you know,
Rudolph's brother of sorts.

She will remember that,
I might not without her there to remind me.
But that's okay because she will.

And then you find that smaller box that is within the bigger box
that holds those treasures that were created by a family member, an artist.
The year was 1998, and it was carefully painted on the side that night
when these were given to us and our children.
They were gifts on her Christmas table,
each child chose their favourite to have forever.
And they will.

Because when you sort through the box and separate the chipped from the not,
you remember why you did not get rid of that particular decoration the year before.

Because some of those pieces that might be chipped,
like the toll art wooden tree painted by my dearest friend more than 25 years ago,
tell stories of first apartments, days before children, stenciling the walls, and creating first nests.

And the vintage ornaments,
similar if not the same as those that hung on my tree growing up...
reflect Christmas past and that year when I was young,
and our tree became plastic,
and in a box,
just because it could.

So, you unpack your boxes,
you display your collections
and you determine new possibilities for the coming holiday.

Whether it be ice lanterns to welcome your family and friends.

or warm candlelight and amaryllis,
along with 
simple wreaths in bedrooms.

You head into the woods to collect greenery and branches for fresh decorations
because that too is a tradition.

And then you bake all the goodies
that are associated with this time of year.

Find all the items required to set the table time and time again
over the holidays.

And in the doing of all this I am reminded,
reminded of what it is all about,
reminded what these next two weeks will bring.

I know that the shopping mall craze,
some supposed need to spend lots of money,
and that the commercial representation of this holiday,
is not about me and my family and this Christmas season.

I am excited that new memories will be shaped today
as the tree gets chosen in our local tree lot,
and decorated tonight by family and friends.

I know that there will be many lovely evenings with good food and company.

And that at the end of it all,
I will pack away all those little pieces that adorned our home this year,
and all those years in the past...

so that next year
we can do this all again.

Some may call that boring,
but for me...
I call that,

I am over at Jennifer Rizzo's holiday house walk party right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Decorating in the Dining Room

Well, eventually I will put this all together into one post
titled Christmas House Tour
for now I have broken it down
until we actually get the tree up later in the week.

I have mentioned before that we always trim the tree as a family
so we need to wait until our daughter arrives home.

In the meantime,
the dining room is complete with....
simple adornments, such as,
Amaryllis waiting to bloom ...

Along with beautifully carved Christmas Santas
made by my sister
and given as gifts years ago.

and a simple twig wreath with fresh boughs
and a red polka dot bow

and an additional Santa collection.

and now we are waiting to trim the tree,
while eating a lovely fondue
and Christmas goodies.

Getting there slowly is half the fun for me...
and the other is all the memories that will be created in our home over the next month.

How about you.... are you fully decorated or slow like me?

Sharing with:

A Stroll Thru Life: Inspire Me Tuesday
Elizabeth & Co: Be Inspired 
Savvy Southern Style: Wow us Wednesday

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ice Lanterns

Living in a colder climate really means "making the most of it".
You need to work with the elements
and this is one of those projects that really does add a touch of beauty to a cold night.

Ice lanterns are simple to make
and they last as long as your weather allows.
The process varies according to the results that you want.
The one below was a 24 hour version which resulted in a thinner casing.
This variety provides a more shimmering effect with the candle playing off of the ice crystals.

All you need to do is fill up your balloons with water.
I used helium quality balloons that I picked up at the dollar store.
Set them outside overnight and let them freeze.
Within 24 hours in our climate they are not completely frozen as you can see below.
Basically the balloon peels off and when you turn the ice lantern over there is a hole which drains out the excess water and....voila.... the lantern that you see in the third image.

 I did a few lanterns with the thinner more delicate frame and then others that I left out for 48 hours
resulting in a thicker lantern as you see below.

I had to run these under warm water to make the hole a little larger for my large-sized tea lights.

This is a display that we put up on our front deck for our Christmas party...
they were a big hit.

They certainly add an extra little something on the night of a party.
I will be making more of these this winter and will hold on to these ones for the Christmas holidays.

Sharing this at Between Naps on the Porch
Coastal Charm

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Decorating Take 3

So, little touches here and there for a rather random Friday post....

My daughter's bedroom got a little touch of Christmas.
I never like to go overboard in the bedrooms....don't really know why other than the fact that
I find bedrooms are so personal to the person they belong to?

This is my daughter's room and she will be returning home soon
from university for the holidays,
Everything in her space will be familiar to her other than...the addition of new pillows and a new headboard cover.

Her favourite duvet from her teenage years has finally ripped in a couple of places so
I decided to re-purpose the material.
It is such a lovely Indian cotton with a beautiful print that I could not simply throw it out.

I think it is a perfect fit for her and her personality....
has a bit of a bo-ho feel to it.
And yes, she LOVES blue.

And, I finally got my office slash guest bedroom dealt with.
Still things to do but I am more or less happy with the outcome.
Quite a contrast to the room across the hall. :)

I made a duvet cover with a matching pillow.
Very simple area as it is located at the other end of the room from my office space.

I pulled together pieces that we already had in the house...
re-sized an old queen-sized headboard to fit this double bed,
pulled out an antique mirror that I was given by my grandmother many years ago
and set up some of my milk glass collection.

And, finally, my last little bit of randomness....
and something that I will be sharing with you in more detail...
ice candles.
We have our annual Christmas party this weekend so I plan on lighting the stairs with these very easy but very pretty ice candles.

I will share the "how-to" for these lovelies on Sunday.
Have a great weekend everyone.
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