Mail Surprise

Well, I apparently wrote my thank you notes a day early, that is if I wanted to do them all in one batch this week. Just after mailing my notes today I went to my mail box to get the mail. This is the only time of the year that it is really fun to go to the mailbox. I love getting all the photo cards from my friends who generously still send me a card. I appreciate when people put their children’s ages as I have such a hard time keeping up with how old kids are. Once they go to college it is not needed, but between four and seventeen it’s nice to know.

As a I was sorting the mail in piles of catalogs I will not look at, credit card offers I will not open, postcards for deals from stores I will not visit I finally get to the Christmas cards. I opened the ones first from return addresses I know and studied the beautiful photos.

Then I came upon an envelope with a little white church on the front with my name and address carefully written in a cursive that millennials could not decipher. The little Christmas return address sticker announced the name of a woman I did not know, but a local address.

I opened the envelope and inside found a card with the same little white church on it and before I could open it a check and a little paper Christmas ornament fell out. You know there is nothing more exciting than getting a real hand written check in the mail. At first I wondered if it was a direct mail piece that was going to say if I cashed this check I was agreeing to some scam. I looked more closely to the check and saw that it was written to my church for a substantial amount.

I read the card from a woman who had been a charter member of my church, but who I do not know because she belongs somewhere else. She told me that she gets our newsletter and enjoys reading it. She congratulated me on my work on the fellowship hall building committee as well as my award at the Food Bank. She was moved by something I wrote in the newsletter about money we needed for the fellowship hall and that is why she was enclosing the check.

It was a lovely long letter from this generous woman who lives at a local retirement community. What a wonderful surprise to get this in the mail today. She could have mailed it to the church, but it was so nice of her to write me such a kind note and give me the joy of taking it over to church.

I so appreciate her gift as well as knowing that my words moved her to such a degree. I will be writing another thank you note tonight and hope to have a chance to go meet this dear angel someday soon.

A Note of Thanks

I had some thank you notes to write this week. Christmas gifts from friends deserve a special note of thanks, not just for the present, but more for their friendship throughout the year. Hand written thank you notes are about the only thing I mail these days that is not a package.

It seems that I mail lots of packages. Some things are to Carter or I am returning things I have ordered or I have been sent in error. Every time I go to the post office to mail a package they ask me if I would like to buy stamps while I am there. I chuckle a little as I decline. Why would I need stamps? I have not mailed a bill payment in ten years as I pay all my bills through mobile banking. I rarely send real birthday cards, as I am not really good at birthdays outside of Facebook. I don’t send Christmas cards since I write a daily blog and everyone is sick of me. I don’t even mail invitations to parties as I let Paperless post do all the work. The only thing I still mail are thank you notes.

Today after writing four notes I went to put stamps on the envelopes. I have two little holders of the stamps that come on a roll. One is a beautiful enamel box and the other and old brass one. I have no idea where they both came from or why I have two, but I have had them for at least 20 and 30 years respectively.

I went to get a stamp from the brass one and as I pulled the stamp from the little slot I noticed it was not a “forever stamp.” You know what those are – Stamps that work on mailing a letter regardless of the current postage rate. The stamps in my brass holder are .34¢ stamps. I have no idea how long ago letters went for .34¢ especially since I am not quite sure what the going rate is right now. I could look it up, but if you only use forever stamps it doesn’t matter.

I turned from my sitting desk to my walking desk where I found the enamel stamp dispenser and there were forever stamps in it. Thank goodness. I always liked the enamel box better.

At the rate I write thank you notes I will probably have enough forever stamps to last me until the the going rate of first class postage is .68¢. Then I can use two of my .34¢ stamps together and I won’t be wasting any pennies. That is assuming I will still have friends who break my gift giving rule.

Happy 21st Birthday CARTER!

It is hard for me to believe that I am now the mother of a fully grown adult. OK, you have been fully grown and acting like an adult for a long time, but now, now you can drink without fear in this country, buy a business and gamble. Only one of those things might happen today, but welcome to the world of adulthood Carter.

Carter, before you rush off I want to celebrate some of the things that I love about you. First, the way you came into my life. Your birth was anything but average. You were two weeks late, had to be induced, had your heart rate go down three times before you would be born by an emergency c-section and then when you entered the world, perfect. All that drama was just a way of getting our attention to say, “Hey, I’m here.”

Your early years were easy. It was obvious that you paid attention to what you were being taught. The best example was when I picked you up from your 2 1/2 year old class at Westminster and your teacher Mrs. Smith said, “Carter is so your daughter. Today she told another child on the playground, ‘Why would I reward you for bad behavior?’” You were not just my daughter, but fully you.

You discovered at three you loved big horses, never afraid to take command of a big animal. Sometimes smaller things caused you unnecessary worry. You have done a great job to learn balance.

You are intuitive, curious, hard working. It is no wonder you asked to go halfway across the world to Taiwan at 13 and live with people whose name I could not read, say or write.

Your ability to visualize a long term goal and work to make it happen is something you must have gotten from your father, and it admire it so in you. Like the time you figured out that you wanted to go to Camp Cherrio at age 9, a place I had never even heard, you made it happen. Then when we picked you up after your first week and you already had a plan to win honor camper, so you could parley that I to a spot as a CIT and then a junior counselor and then a senior counselor. That was a lot of planning for a nine year old.

Your years at DA in basketball where your best skill was team psychologist were just the set up for your college years. Your independence, worldliness and stick-to-it-ness has brought you to this point, launching into adulthood, while still having a little time to ease in to it.

Being your mom has been the greatest, hardest and most joyful thing I have ever done. You may be an adult now, but you will always be my daughter who may make a lot of noise about getting here and then be like, “Hi, everything is cool.”

Enjoy your day. It is my favorite day of the year. The day you came into the world.

Vintage Hose

‘Tis the Christmas party season. Russ and I had to go to a black tie event tonight. Any event on a Friday is tough on Russ, especially if he is just flying home in time to change and go. I had a much easier day. My friend Hannah and her mother Jean came over for lunch and a good look at the Christmas all over my house. I was able to take a little nap after lunch, not that it was planned, just that Shay and I were snuggled together on the sofa.

I awoke just in time to look around my closets to find something to wear based around the shoes I wanted to wear. I have hurt the top of my foot and so they shoes were the only thing I cared about. Thankfully a few years ago I sprung for a pair of black heals that were made in Israel. They never hurt, but look fancy. I think they were made for female assassins.

As I was getting dressed I decided I should wear hose. I couldn’t remember the last time I wore hose. The only thing I ever wear are tights because they are warm, but this outfit was not a tights kind of thing. Since I had not planned ahead I had not purchased any hose. I looked in a drawer in my closet and miraculously pulled out a new package of nude panty hose. The price tag said $4.95. My god, when I had I purchased these. I turned the package over and the date said 1994.

When I put them on the 1994 date came fully to life. The stretch in the spandex had definitely gone the way of the new millennium. What could I expect from 25 year old hose. They were vintage after all and vintage is not what you want in hose.

Thankfully they stayed up through the whole party, at least the part we stayed for. We had a great time visiting with friends and enjoying our dinner. Then the “It’s Friday” hit us and it meant it was time for us to go. It’s just the start of the holiday party scene. We have to pace ourselves.

The Ceramic Chicken

The big threat in our little family is, “Tell me what you want as a gift, otherwise you are getting a ceramic chicken.” I am not exactly sure when this threat took hold, but I am almost certain it was in relation to making a list for my father-in-law who is a world class early gift buyer. There is nothing more he hates than waiting until the last minute to mail you a gift.

Given the “chicken” threat it came as quite a surprise when I was devastated when I broke a chicken ornament while standing on the ladder decorating last weekend. Russ and Carter acted appropriately sad for me, but I thought that was just for show. Not that losing one ornament could possibly be noticed on my jammed packed tree.

Today, was one of my most fun Holiday celebrations where my friends Christy and Mary Lloyd and I have our friends Christmas. We went to the Carolina Inn where I ogled the sugar plum fairy Tree and garland chock full of pink, light green and baby blue ornaments. It is not a color scheme I am going to begin to collect, but that didn’t make me not covet it nonetheless.

With that tree on my mind I came home to a number of packages. Two from my father-in-law, which I know are Christmas presents and one addressed to Russ from an unknown sender. I texted him and asked if it was something I should open and he said go ahead.

Sneaky guy knew full well that it was a replacement chicken for the one that jumped to his death last weekend. How he found a chicken, completely different, but just a beautiful I will never know. Next time I get threatened with the ceramic chicken I am just going to say, “Go ahead, as long as I can hang it on the Christmas tree.”

The Season of Kindness

Kindness should have no season. We should strive for it all year round, but somehow the time around the holidays seems to remind people to be kind and generous. The beauty of kindness is that it is free.

Yesterday I ran into a friend who has had a tough year. She related some things to me that people have said to her that added to her difficulty rather than alleviating it. I am certain these people were purposely trying to be mean, but at the same time they weren’t trying to be kind. Most of it was small talk where they were just filling an empty space of not knowing what to say with words that turned out to be extremely hurtful. Sometimes kindness means not saying anything at all.

Today 45 cut 750,000 people off the roles for a Food Stamps. The new rule says that if you are able bodied and don’t have a child under six you have to work to be able to get food stamps. There are many people who will have their food stamps cut who will be hurt, like the person who who takes care of an elderly of invalid relative and therefore can’t work outside the house. Or the people who live in rural areas where there really aren’t jobs, or the homeless. Cutting these food stamp benefits right at Christmas is the opposite of kind.

Food stamps don’t just help the people who use them for food. They put money into the local economy because they are redeemed at local stores which make a profit and employee local people who earn a wage. Food stamps are such a minor cost to the federal government but makes a huge difference to the individuals who need them. The stress of losing these benefits just piles on to vulnerable people who already are under stress.

I am going to work extra hard to be kind right now, knowing that I have no idea what people I encounter in the world are dealing with. It seems like kindness is my only weapon to combat the horrible things that are going on that I have no control over. Maybe we can work to spread kindness and it can go viral. I’m tired of the meanness.

Christmas Tree Tour Needed

Today a few of my needlepoint friends made a stop at the most prolific stitcher, Christy’s house to look at her Needlepoint Christmas tree. There is nothing more fun to me than looking at other people’s Christmas ornaments and hearing the stories those ornaments tell.

I saw a Facebook posting from my mother that she put her tree up today with ornaments from all her old friends through the years. Sadly some of those friends are no longer with us, but my mother gets to remember them fondly as she looks at her tree.

I would love to take a Christmas tour of my friend’s trees. It is so fun to see the ornaments their children made twenty years ago that they still display proudly. Or the ones that used to be their grand mother’s, or the ones they were given by Santa when they were children.

I could give an around the world exploration on my tree and tell you a story about every one of my ornaments. I may not remember what I had for dinner last night, but I know exactly where each ornament came from. I am certain I am not the only person who can do that.

So if you want someone to come look at your tree and quiz you about your ornaments let me know. Or send me a picture of your tree, and close up of your favorite ornament. I love to learn about my friends through their Christmas trees. If you are someone who does not have a tree just tell me a story.