Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Another Year Over and a New One yet to Come.

Hello, Dear Friends and Family, I hope that your 
Christmas was filled with sweet blessings of hope. 

I know that the holidays are not always happy for so 
many of us, and can magnify grief or loss, 
 difficult circumstances, distance from loved ones, 
and failed expectations.

Life has its challenging moments and the holidays 
can bring many emotions and memories to the surface,
some not so merry.  

I think that we can all relate to these things. 
How many of us have spent holidays in ICU wards, 
or hospice, or had a child who was ill......
How many of us have found ourselves far away
from those we love and possibly alone.......
How many of us have had lean years, or 
sorrowful years when we have lost loved ones, or have 
been battling illness or injury ourselves? 

I'm sure every one of us can raise our hands.

And let's all remember the honorable and self-sacrificing
military personnel and their families, which are in
a special category all their own, and deserve our
utmost gratitude and consideration. 

My Dear Mother was always sad during the holidays. 
It brought back memories for her of a difficult 
childhood, growing up in the depression, 
when sometimes they wouldn't even get one gift. 
There were 8 children, and my Grandfather was a 
commercial fisherman. 

At least he had a job.......
But they were fiercely proud, and when, one year
a charity came to the door with a bag full of presents, 
my Grandmother sent them away. 

Christmas would fill my Mother with these sad memories,
and she was frequently melancholy, which affected 
her own family, too. 
Many times she would have to retreat to her room, 
leaving me, as the eldest, to carry on for 
my 4 younger siblings and my Dad. 

My Mother battled depression her whole life. 
Or I should say, our whole family battled my 
Mother's depression all our life. 

Christmas was frequently a sad and somber affair for us all, 
even as adults, because of this. 

Christmas has always been a sad reminder for 
my sweet Ramblin' Man of how far away 
we are from his own family. 

We left them all behind when we moved out west 
as newlyweds, knowing not a soul, 
and too poor to travel back home. 

One Christmas day, soon after we left, 
we found ourselves in a little cafe' feeling sorry for ourselves. 
We had no telephone (it was years before cell phones), 
and we used up our cache' of quarters at the 
phone booth in the parking lot to call 'home', 
getting only 3 minutes per family to send our love. 

As we ate our humble pie in our window booth, 
we looked out to see a little family - a man, a woman, 
and a little child, obviously homeless, walking by with backpacks
and raggedy clothes. 

At that moment we realized how fortunate we were. 
We were healthy, we had shelter and food, 
and we had hope. 

 Later, as a Father of four, 
traveling 'home' for Christmas was financially 
and logistically out of reach. 

Then, right before Christmas just a couple of years ago,
we lost his Dear Mother, which now makes Christmas especially poignant. 

All four of our parents are gone now, and no matter 
how old you get to be, losing your parents can 
make you feel quite like an orphan. 

Even (or maybe especially) if some of those 
relationships were difficult. 
Sometimes there is no closure. 

And sometimes Christmas wasn't a day of joy. 

Also, with each year that goes by, we are acutely aware 
of friends and co-workers that are no longer with us. 

And hardest of all, many have lost
  beloved partners or children. 

Christmas can seem like a terrible joke. 
All that sparkle, glitter, and 'cheer'
can seem cruel when you are grieving and all alone. 

We must translate our emotions into something meaningful
and heartfelt. We must honor those we have lost, reach out 
to those we miss, and share our feelings with those we love. 

We must find our own reason to shine. 

As another year comes to a close, we can 
look back and take stock of all that we have experienced, 
putting it all into a basket labeled, 'live and learn'. 

We can add meaning to our lives by looking at difficult 
moments and losses as gifts. 
Gifts of compassion. 

Not only do we have compassion for others who experience 
these things, but we must have compassion for ourselves, too. 

Compassion, not with self-pity, but with insight into 
how we can become better people by overcoming 
our pasts, our sorrows, and our grief by honoring our loved ones
who have left us behind. 
Honoring the struggles we have faced with courage. 
Honoring the losses we have suffered by 
emulating all those good qualities that were passed along to us, 
honoring our disappointments with gratitude for all 
that we have.  

The word I have chosen for 2019 is 'kindness'. 

Kindness not only for others, but kindness for ourselves. 
Kindness is the brother of 'forgiveness'. 
When we can be kind and forgiving to ourselves, 
we can pass this on to others. 

In a world of diminishing compassion, we must fight 
this trend with kindness and understanding. 

It all begins in our own hearts. 

And because of my Irish roots, I would like to 
offer an Irish New Year Blessing or two......

Always remember to forget
The troubles that pass away. 
But never forget to remember
The Blessings that come each day. 


Count your blessings instead of your crosses.
Count your gains instead of your losses. 
Count your joys instead of your woes.
Count your friends instead of your foes. 
Count your smiles instead of your tears. 
Count your courage instead of your fears. 
Count your full times instead of your lean. 
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. 
Count your health instead of your wealth. 
Love your neighbor instead of your self. 


Wishing all of you a New Year filled with hope, courage and faith. 
And plenty of kindness. 


  1. This was beautiful and spoke to my heart.

    Have a wonderful 2019 ~ FlowerLady

  2. What a beautiful and thoughtful post. One that resonates. My dad died at Christmastime. My mom, long gone, loved that season more than anything. I, too, am an orphan. Rick's boys -- sharing time means less time. But we find our joy, don't we? I love your word of the year. I'm still working on mine, but that one is actually on my short list!

  3. What a lovely and thoughtful post. Just right to think on to usher in the New Year.

  4. Love the count poem. Always welling in the losses is not good. they should become memories; memories of those we loved and laughed with, memories of shared moments, experiences and hearts. I lost my father Nov 20th and, yes, there was a little sadness this Christmas, but there were also smiles and warmth in our hearts for all the dear moments we shared with him in our lives. I also remembered his words to me near the end as he told me to go on with life and smile and be happy and make others happy.

  5. Beautiful post my friend. My mother also suffered from depression because of her childhood.

    Best of holidays.

    Hugs diane

  6. Soon after Christmas, Japanese people start preparing for the year-end and New Year’s events.
    Compared to Christmas, many of these events are based on Japanese tradition and are deeply related to religion.
    The end-of-year party is called “bonenkai” in Japanese. “Bonen” means to forget (the worries of) the past year.
    People are busy with events on New Year’s Eve.

  7. Oh Karen I am sorry you have had to deal with your mom's depression and it was put on your shoulders. I have dealt with a bit of depression but luckily it hasn't been my whole life it comes and goes. I like your word for 2019, if our world had more kindness in it, we would be in a much better place. We have lost all our parents too and it can be very sad and feel so weird not to have them around anymore. We were in the military so we were away from family most holidays, I think that may be why it isn't as hard for us to be away from family now. Love the Irish blessings! Wishing you a wonderful new year!

  8. Karen, what a beautiful & sad post. These days can be trying but we need only remember that we are not alone and that we are loved. Your word "kindness" is a lovely one. xo

  9. Wonderful post,wonderful blessings!Thank you for sharing kindness in your adorable posts!Happy2019!

  10. I've read this post for the second time--an honest look at holidays and families--which acknowledges both the joys we celebrate and the difficulties many of us have tried to hide.
    I loved the run-up to Christmas as a child--programs at school and church, trudging the woods with Grampa Mac for a prickly red cedar 'Christmas tree', the classical music of the season. At some point, however, I became aware that Christmas brought extra tensions and stress to my parents' already rather difficult marriage. I remember feeling that I must contribute to the pretense that all was well, when it was not.
    I mentioned to my daughter this December a Christmas when we were so short of funds that Christmas gifting was almost nil and even a holiday dinner was a scratched together affair. She remembers only that Christmas was a time of being with the tribe of cousins, boisterous hours outside in the snow, the meals in the farmhouse kitchen.
    With our children and grandchildren grown, Christmas is now a much quieter time for us, and we're fine with that.

  11. Thank you for this most beautiful post :)

    All the best Jan

  12. Such a lovely post, Karen! Christmas Eve is usually a busy, festive time at our house, but Christmas Day is quite quiet and reflective. Usually I am very nostalgic...missing loved ones...and have at least one good cry. It has always made me appreciate my family so much. You never know what the new year has in store...xoxo


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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