Life, Menopause

Guest Post: Deep December


A guest post from Judy Brown, a December birthday girl:

December is deeply filled with activity, parties, decorating, shopping, church, family and friends.  It holds a deep spot in my heart for the traditions, the church gatherings, many family memories, both old and new.

This year I challenge myself to a fresh focus….. to fill my deep December heart.

When I place an old family ornament on the tree, I want to whisper a new wish for someone dear.

When I contemplate the advent messages, I want the meaning to latch on to my heart.

When I light a candle , I want to brighten my winter days, and yours, with hope.

When I listen to a favorite holiday melody, I want to create a centered rhythm to my day.

When I smell cookies baking, I want to fill my spirit with the scent of serenity and then pass it on.

When a snowflake falls on you and me, I want it to melt away our stubborn thoughts.

When I give a gift to someone special, I want to tie my compassion and friendship in the bow.

When I say a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or other holiday greeting, I want to elicit a happy smile.

When I greet my children, I want my welcome home hug to fill their core with gladness.

Most of all, when I pause for a deep breath during this December’s flurry, I want to exhale gratitude and then promise to never take love for granted.

My best wishes to you for a deeply meaningful holiday!

Photo Above:  Judy loves to feed our feathered friends in December and all winter long.  The birdhouse graces her yard.

 Photo Below: Judy and her daughter Jamie in the snow

Jamie and Judy in Snow


Guest Post: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things – Getting Fewer All The Time

Lace Snowflake

A holiday guest post from writer Patti Winker:

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes.  I open the closet door and look at the boxes piled to the ceiling…

and I close the closet door.

These are the boxes filled with the stuff of Christmas.

As far back as I can remember (and where memory fails, family photos fill in the blanks), Christmas has been a season of decorating.  There was the huge tree, often cut down and dragged home from some far off woods.  Evergreen branches were cut and brought inside to be artfully arranged across the windowsills and on the fireplace mantel.

The walls, windows, and mirrors were covered with cotton ball snowmen and construction paper Christmas trees.  Paper chain garlands and popcorn strings were draped on the tree.  There on the top of the tree perched the angel, crafted out of an empty toilet paper roll and lots of gold and silver sparkle.  She was especially angelic when her inner-light shown brightly with the aid of a strategically placed Christmas tree light bulb.

Along with all the boughs, countless handmade ornaments decked our halls.  Years and years and years of school projects created our Christmas decor.  With 11 kids in the family you might expect that.

There were probably a few store-bought ornaments, but I can’t seem to remember them… oh, except for the lead tinsel.  Boy, that stuff hung prettily.  I’m just glad my Dad was the only one who took charge of hanging it.  He said it was because he was the only one who knew how to do it right.  Thanks Dad.

Fast forward to when my daughter was growing up.

Once again we have the handmade ornaments from the classroom or Girl Scouts or hobby.  Added to that are the new ‘collectible’ ornaments, the keepsakes.  Also, perhaps because buying ornaments was such a new experience for me, I loved shopping for them. I have to say, I found a lot of unique ornaments and decorations that I still love to this day.  Then, the crafting bug took hold and I created even more ‘treasures.’  We often had multiple trees just to hold all the goodies.

Yes, I can think of many, many ornaments and decorations that I have loved for years.

And they are tucked neatly inside those boxes.

Fast forward to today.

We now have our grandchildren’s construction paper Christmas trees and other delights decorating our walls, windows, and mirrors.

Much of what I cherished from the past is either in my daughter’s house or in those boxes.  Very few decorations see the light of day anymore.

When we moved from Wisconsin to Florida, we downsized.  I knew this would happen, but what I didn’t realize was just how much our focus on decorating for Christmas would change.  Partly from necessity (lack of room) and partly because, well, it’s just too hard to drag everything out, again… and put it away, again.

Now we pick and choose a few items that mean something special to us.  Some years we choose the paper cutout snowflakes my daughter and I made.  Some years we choose the little felt skates my daughter made in Girl Scouts.  Some years we choose all the angels.  Some years we choose the handmade ornaments my sister and I made.

As we get older, we decorate with fewer and fewer things.  Yet, the boxes remain.  Piled high, behind closet doors.  I can’t see letting any of those treasures go.  They’re safe there.  Just like the memories attached, I think they can stay put.

Christmas Tree

Thank you so much, Barbara, for allowing me to share my Christmas memories with you here.  I believe our stories are important because they reveal the common threads that run through our lives and connect us all.  In my blog, RemarkableWrinklies.comand in the stories I share in Tangerine Tango, I try to pull the past experiences into the present so we can sort out some of the mysteries of who we are.  Since we tend to remember special events so much more than everyday life, I guess it’s only natural to wax nostalgic at Christmas time. (Here’s where I apologize to my grandkids because the stories are starting to pile on and repeat… insert eye roll.) Thank you again, Barbara, and may you have many memorable moments this Christmas to create plenty of eye rolling from your grandkids someday!

Top Photo:  We do choose to bring out a couple decorations year after year.  One is my Gramma’s hand-tatted lace ‘snowflake.’  I don’t believe it was ever intended to be a snowflake per se; probably more of an example of tatting lace.  But, I like to think of it as a snowflake.  I hang it on my pine cone wreath (made with my sister from pine cones collected in part from my Gramma’s yard) to remind me that I should have taken my Gramma up on her offer to teach me how to tat.  {{sigh… when will we ever learn}}  Also, this little lace snowflake is a reminder that some things, just like some memories, and some people, should simply be treasured forever.

Black and White Photos:  Our tree (above), and yours truly in the ballet costume (below) that Mom made for me and my sister for our Christmas program, circa 1958.

Patti Christmas Ballerina


Singing Holiday Praises

This angel, whose name is Clara (after Clara Schumann), keeps me company in the kitchen at Christmastime.

What’s extra cool about Clara is that she sings my praises, which really helps  my holiday spirits.

“Those cheese straws look delicious!  A bit of burn around the edges only makes them more colorful.”

“Lumps add intrigue to the gravy, kind of like Rocky Road Ice Cream.”

“Your kitchen is spotless.  Let’s skip the Christmas plates and serve dinner right on the floor!”  (Clara may need spectacles.)

“I wouldn’t trade your bourbon balls for a whole cabinet filled with the finest Kentucky bourbon.”  (That one seems rather odd coming from a tea-totaling angel.)

I told Clara that this year, I’ve started Friend for the Ride.   She’s singing your praises now too.

“Those women are good sports to read what you write.”

“You even have a few male readers?  Three cheers for them.”

“Guest posters!  How generous of them to share their words.”

And I sing your praises too.  Thanks for reading!  I wish you the happiest of holidays.  Let the moments delight you, no matter the lumps in the gravy, and enjoy.

My Clara:  My mom’s church, Divinity Lutheran in Towson, Maryland, sold Clara and other angelic cats at their Christmas bazaar about twenty years ago.

Clara Schumann:  Read more about the unsung musical talents of the  wife of Robert Schumann here.   Photo is from the Wiki article on Robert.

Celebrations, Hot Flashes, Menopause

An On-line Chat with Mrs. Claus!


I couldn’t believe my luck when I received word that Mrs. Claus was willing to do an on-line chat with Friend for the Ride.  (I had emailed the North Pole and inquired.)  So here is my brief but insightful conversation with Santa’s wife:

Me:  Thanks so much for agreeing to chat, Mrs. Claus.  I’m new to blogging . This is quite an honor for me.

Mrs. Claus:  You’re welcome, honey.  Santa and I are all about helping those who need extra help.

Me:  I hope you won’t mind me asking:   How was your menopause?

Mrs. Claus:  Whenever I got a hot flash, Santa just took me for a chilly ride on the sleigh.  I flew through menopause!

Me:  Did you have trouble with weight gain?

Mrs. Claus: Yes, but mostly because Santa brings back the Christmas Eve cookies that you good folks leave him.  We freeze them, and I end up nibbling all year long.

Me:  Now that you’re in your senior years, do you have any regrets?

Mrs. Claus:  I wish I’d had my own career.  I’m usually portrayed as the woman behind the great man, smiling in a rocker.  I wish I’d rocked the world in other ways, maybe as a Rockette  or an astronaut blasting about in rocket ships.

Me:  When Santa returns from delivering presents on Christmas Eve, are you waiting  up for him?

Mrs. Claus:  Anyone married to a man as spunky as Santa would wait up for him.  That’s all I’m going to say about that!

Me:  I know you’re mega busy right now, Mrs. Claus.  Again, thanks so much for chatting with me.

Mrs. Claus:  Life’s a beach, honey, even in the North Pole.  You tell all your readers to whoop it up this holiday.

Me:  Thanks, Mrs. Claus. I will!

Photo:  The famous couple on a 1919 postcard reprinted on Mrs Claus-Wikepedia.”

Celebrations, Life

A Cautionary Christmas Tree Tale

A holiday poem written by yours truly, titled “The Year the Christmas Tree Fell Over.”

We spent hours that year

Setting the tree in the stand,

Stringing lights,

Looping beads,

And hanging ornaments

One by one.

When the children came running

“The tree fell over!”

I thought they were teasing

Until I saw tears.

Continue reading “A Cautionary Christmas Tree Tale”

Celebrations, Stress

The Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand and a Picture Book Giveaway

Holiday advice articles and blogs beg us to say no, to take on less, and to use shortcuts at holiday time.  Why then, do you feel so guilty when you do?

Maybe it’s because you don’t have your own Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand.

One wave of the wand over your holiday head, and you, my sisters, will be ready to give the old heave-ho to obligations, traditions, and requests that are bogging down your holiday spirit and time.

Thanks to  this incredible wand, you’ll be amazed at how happy and relaxed your holidays will be.  And as everyone knows, if the Queen of the Holiday Household ain’t happy, the elves aren’t happy either.

What’s cool about the Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand is that it’s fun, easy, and inexpensive to make all by your holiday self.

Start with a paper towel tube or an old toothbrush.  Tape or tie a bit of ribbon to the end.  Add a splash of glitter if you’re feeling extra sparkly.

When it’s finished, hold the wand  in front of you.  Say, in a festive voice, “You are my beautiful Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand.  Help me to make guilt-free decisions this holiday season.”


It’s that simple.

I’m not sending out a family photo shot for the first time in twenty-eight years.  As soon as I made the decision, I just waved my wand, and the guilt was gone.

Well almost.  Sometimes, you have to wave it twice.

Every now and then you have to wave it three times.

But never more than three times, I promise.

Thank you Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand!

Let me know, dear Holiday Readers, how yours works…

Photo Above:  I found this picture of a magic wand in the School Art Exhibit at the North Carolina State Fair.  I don’t know if it’s a Magic Guilt-free Holiday Wand or not, but I do know it was painted by a clever, creative, sparkly young lady named Sarah.

Giveaway:  Unwrapping the Christmas Creche by Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger is told in the voice of a child as he or she unwraps the nativity scene from Mary to the shepherds to the wise men to the cow to a visiting dog.   I’m giving away two copies.  Send in a a comment saying you would like to win one of them.   Comments should be posted by Friday, December 16 at noon E.S.T.

Celebrations, Hot Flashes, Menopause, Periods, Stress

Meet Snow Lady: A Happy, Freezing Cold Giveaway!

Hi.  My name is SNOW LADY.

I’ve been living with Barbara for a short while, but I’m ready for adventure.  I want to come and live with one of you.

I promise to be a calm, cool, refreshing force in your life.  You see, I don’t have a single hormone in my body.  I’m made of snowflakes, happy, friendly, dancing snowflakes. I’m always in a wonderful mood.  I’ll do my best to brighten your mood too.

I’ll keep you company in the kitchen.  I’ll swing from your rear-view mirror.  I’ll sit on top of your dresser.  Some might say I was made for a Christmas tree.  Sure, I’m willing to pretend to be a holiday decoration, but please, don’t pack me away when the season is through.  I want to help you keep your cool all year long.

I’ve never had a hot flash.  Heavens.  Now that would worry me!

I’ve  never had a period.  That would worry me too with my skimpy white skirt.

I don’t have food cravings.  We snow girls live on delicious air.

And weight gain?  Not me.  If I start feeling a little plump, I just rub a few flakes off my tummy, and I’m slim again.

Well enough about me.  I just can’t wait to get to know one of you!

Send in a comment by Wednesday, Dec 7 at noon E.S.T. saying that you would like my company.  I’ll sail through the mail to the winner.  What a happy roller coaster ride that will be!

See one of you soon.

Brrrr!  We’ll have the best time!

Glitter and tinsel forever!

Your new friend,


(or just SNOW for short)

PS.  My favorite colors are RED and GREEN.  It would be great if you could redo your house in these vibrant, bold colors just for me  (although certainly not necessary–as I said, I’m easy).