Wishing You Cupcakes!

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Statistically speaking, I live in an affluent community—but statistics don’t mean a thing if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Whether in the continuous rut of poverty or a sudden downturn in luck, many families here need assistance. At our local food pantry where I volunteer once a week, these families can rely on the generosity of others for some basic necessities. Many churches, schools and scout troops in our area donate regularly to the food pantry.

One very charitable grocery store chain contributes their day-old bakery items. So, there – among the canned vegetables, boxes of cereal, rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap – are loaves of bread, packages of buns, muffins, donuts and cake! Families are limited according to size as to the number of staples they can receive, but they may take as many of the baked goods as they want since what’s left at the end of the limited expiration date will be disposed of.

It’s the cupcakes that are the most special! Thickly frosted and beautifully decorated, these colorful treats are like the sun in an otherwise cloudy sky for the children who come to the pantry. Two little girls, somewhere between my grandchildren’s ages of 4 and 8, were with their grandmother one day when she came in for supplies. As I gathered the essentials they needed, I let them know they were welcome to pick out a few bakery items. The grandmother selected a loaf of bread and hamburger buns. She told the girls they could get a package of donuts or cupcakes to share. They wanted cupcakes but couldn’t decide between a 6-pack of white or chocolate. I quietly told their grandmother they could each have what they wanted if that was OK with her, as we had plenty of cupcakes that day.

Oh my! You’d have thought it was Christmas morning! With giggles of delight, the youngest girl picked out white cupcakes with pink frosting and rainbow-colored sprinkles; the other one got chocolate with mounds of red, white and blue frosting.

I watched them walk away—the grandmother with her bags of grocery items, and the girls with their package of cupcakes held close like a favorite toy. They offered me shy smiles and waves as they got into the car. My heart was happy!

My wish for you is that you do what makes your heart happy! Approach the holiday season with excitement and joy… as if you’ve just been given an assortment of beautifully decorated cupcakes!

Image courtesy of Redbook

Packing up Christmas/Foto Friday #23

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After weeks filled with hectic preparation

sadly, another Christmas has come and gone.

Anticipation of festive joy was riding high

as a propensity for Christmas magic

was all it took to keep my hope and dreams alive.

Now the holiday is over and the magic is gone –

packed away in plastic containers

amid shiny baubles and strings of lights.

Hope has become just hope again

and dreams have become just dreams

… until next year

when the magic is unpacked.

Foto Friday #21

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There is a park just blocks from where I live that always does an amazing job of decorating for Christmas. The festive glow of the lights provides an air of wonder and magic – and never fails to make me feel like a kid again!

Out with the Old, In with the… Old?

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It’s not quite the new year and already the Christmas decorations are gone! I used to wait until New Year’s Day while everyone else was watching football to tackle the chore of putting things away. This year, however, I just couldn’t wait to get things back to normal. It took me two days to pack up the festive adornment that won’t come back out again until after next Thanksgiving.  As every Christmas item was taken down, the same old stuff went back in place. The house began to feel normal again. I like our standard arrangement of furniture now that the tree is gone, and I like the fireplace free of stockings and the mantle with its old candlesticks instead of the nativity scene. Everything co-ordinates again – the colors, the textures, the balance. It just all fits!

My philosophy on home décor used to be the same as that popular phrase about a new year: “out with the old, in with the new”. Decorating was my thing! I would peruse “Better Homes and Gardens” and “House Beautiful” magazines, and frequent interior design stores to keep current on the latest colors and styles. Every couple of years the house would get a fresh new look in paint color and accessories. Occasionally, I’d find a new piece of furniture for here or there. Trendy! I wanted to be trendy!

But somewhere along the way, I decided I liked what I had, so why change it? My house began to fit me like a well-worn pair of sweatpants instead of designer jeans. It was comfortable – it IS comfortable!  I suppose though, that after 15 years of dusting over, under and around the prominent candlesticks on the mantle, it might be time to replace them—almost!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Almost

In Light of Christmas

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They’re just children. The same children they are on any other day of the year.  But on Christmas, her sweetness seems sweeter and his delight, more delightful. I catch myself watching them more intently, memorizing their faces. Their smiles are bigger, and their eyes magically reflect the light of the twinkling tree. Their laughter is more melodic than the carols drifting softly through the air. When I force my eyes from my grandchildren, they immediately rest on my daughter. I remember her at their age. The sweetness and delight she possessed back then is still there, but now it’s more mature. Motherhood came naturally to her; it seems to have been her calling. I realize I see her with pride for the woman and mother she has become; who sits there, in the light of Christmas, watching her children and memorizing their faces.

PS – Happy Holidays to ALL my blogging friends!

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Calling

Constructing Joy for the Holidays

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Construct

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My goal is the same every year: to construct an atmosphere in my home that family and friends find festive and cheerful for the holidays. Something different, something special. As I drag out the boxes of decorations and put up the tree, Christmas music drifts through the house. I spend hours putting each ornament in just the right spot on the tree. I make sure there is equal distance between the candles on the fireplace. I iron the stockings so they dangle perfectly from the mantle. There is color everywhere! Towards the end of the day, I find myself longing for normalcy. If my objective was cohesive style, I fear I have failed. I’m not sure I like what I see!

By the time I finish tweaking the decor, it is night. I fix my gaze on the sparkle of the tree; its lights are the only thing in the room with me besides darkness. Because no other sounds distract me, I can almost hear the frazzled thoughts as they leave my mind, like tiny bees taking nectar from a rose. Who cares if things aren’t perfect? I begin to think of the holidays as a book. During the day, I can open the book to all the merry, jolly, jumbled pages for the sake of the season. At night, I can close the book all together for the sake of my own peace of mind.

I find myself enchanted by the lights on the tree and I sense an atmosphere of festive joy. Hadn’t that been my goal all along?