Do you know your LOVE LANGUAGE?

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of BEING LOVED. It is God’s finger on mans shoulder.” ~ Charles Morgan   5ltouch5

Scrumptious, ambrosial cuisine, a spell-bounding novel, our beloved pets, festooning our homes to be cozy, beautiful and treasured havens of respite,ccl8 fabulous movies, a fine wine,bouvier_des_flandres a restorative escape to your favorite spot or playing creative games with loved ones, all bring forth beauty and winsome joy to our lives.   But, how about LOVE? Love brings blithe, buoyancy, cheer, gladness, vivaciousness, fulfillment and mirth to our lives in a way nothing else can.

There are of course different types of love. Passionate love, physical, emotional, spiritual, companionship, friendships as well as the love we possess  for our family and pets. There is also a love for the things we have acquired in life, our homes, jobs, developed, God given talents as well as a love and adoration for the things we so enjoy doing, camping, matinee movies, shopping, museums,horse10 cruising on the white sandy dunes, hiking, cooking, decorating or reading your favorite author’s engaging novella’s.

I think there are more movies, sonnets, poems, songs and books written on this  all- encompassing word ‘love,’ than any other subject in the world.    It most definitely is the most powerful word, and it is said, (from a  tried and true,very trusted resource, 🙂 )  that it alone, covers a multitude of sins.  It truly is a gift from above…There is nothing else that can be likened to love.anne 1 We are born into this world with a ‘need’ for it and we still get that warm fuzzy feeling, deep inside when someone tells us; “I love you,” up until the day we leave this world. I suppose a writer could write book after book on this magnificent subject of love, and still not begin to put a dent in covering its magnitude. 🙂

Why is the word ‘Love’ so intimidating and threatening? Do you remember your Jr. High school days when you’d get a crush on that special someone? It was bliss when you  “heard it through the grapevine,” that they too, ‘liked’ you…Everybody ‘liked’ each other… and we went steady with our treasured saint Christopher’s proudly worn around our  necks, but  when asked, if we were “together,”   we would always say “Yes, we really LIKE each other.” 🙂 As we get older, and we are ‘pretty sure’ we have found that right someone…it feels like your pulling teeth to FINALLY get up the courage to come out and say; “I have fallen in LOVE with you.” It’s okay to safely think it within our hearts, but to come out and say it, is frightening.myhunkI laugh when I think of Kits and my beginning…we met at a fine dining restaurant on the water in Dana Point  Harbor, CA. In working  there together, we began dating, but only as friends…  For six months this very handsome and special man brought me roses, took me to wondrous eateries, wrote me Hallmark cards with sentiments that melted my heart,love (I still have those cards to this day,) 🙂  took me for dreamy, moonlit strolls around the harbor and he even kidnapped me one day from work and took me to Palms springs for Valentines day!  (So Romantic!) He fixed me the most exquisite cuisine,  (he was and still is an excellent cook,) took my mom, sister and I out for brunch every Sunday after church and yet we were ‘just friends.’ (Best-friends at that…) I knew he loved me, but I felt safer saying “like.” 🙂 ( I think that was the fearful ‘little girl’ in me.) 🙂  girls But there came a day I will never forget…all the other available young ladies at work,  (watching kit and I on the side,) came to me one day and said; “Susan, whats the skinny on you and Kit? Are you an item? Is it Serious? He is  such a great guy and a real catch.” I replied with a little bit, (OK, a lot) of  anxious butterflies fluttering within my stomach, as I could see where their questions were going...”No, we’re just good friends.” My fears were confirmed when they all replied; “Well that’s great news because it means that he is fair game for all of us.” Don’t you know I went home and did some serious thinking... 🙂 Soon after, we acknowledged, (OK, I acknowledged,) 🙂 our love and I couldn’t wait to tell all the girls that we were getting married. 🙂 Why are we so leery about saying that word to someone when all  of our thoughts and actions are shouting  out “I love you” so loudly, that it echos in every part of our life. 🙂

I had never heard that we all possess a certain, (and some of us more than one,) love language, until later in my life.  You can no more change the color of your eyes,(well,cosmetically you can,) than you can change the love language that is within your heart. When you discover YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE, you will learn so much about yourself … how you  personally ‘give’ love and ‘receive’ love. After you get your self all summed up, find out your mates, siblings, friends and yes, even your pets love language, so you can understand how they are showing you love, (even if you can’t feel it,) and how they receive love...perhaps the way we are showing our love is not their love language, thus, they are not FEELING fulfilled by our actions like we believe they are. Really, this is not confusing at all…gary Its a wonderful and life changing book I have from the notable author, Gary Chapman. Its called The Five languages of love and the wonderful gems of truth and life-changing knowledge this author shares, are what this vignette is all about… (Don’t worry, it won’t be as long as the book…just a short synopsis.) 🙂

Before we look at the Five languages of love and what they entail, I have a few beautiful, keepsake quotes on this ever popular, powerful and all-encompassing word, LOVE, I’d like to share.

 

 

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNER:Adorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

 “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problems of human existence.” ~ Eric Fromm

“Love has no desire but to fulfill itself ~ To melt and be like a running brook that sings it’s melody to the night.lily1 To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” ~ Kahil Gibran

“For you see, each day I love you more today than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” ~ Rosemonde Gerard

“Love one another and you will be happy. Its as simple and difficult as that.” ~ Michael Leuing

“A baby is born with a need for lovelily4 and never outgrows it.” ~ Frank A. Clark

“Love is, above all, the gift of ones self.” ~ Jean Anouilh

 

“Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.” ~ Karl Menninger

“Love is patient, Love is kind. lily3It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” ~ ! Corinthians 13

“Love is like the dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.” ~ Swedish Prover

 

 

 

You will find as I introduce each love language, that you may give your love with one language and receive with another. You may embody two or three of these love languages and not just have one language. (You can be bi-lingual in your languages of love.) 🙂

“TOUCH HAS A MEMORY.” ~ JOHN KEATS…

The first love language I want to introduce is “Physical touch.” If this is your love language, you personally feel very LOVED and nurtured when a person you love touches you in some way. A big bear hug from a dear friend, a consoling hug from your mate when feeling down, a good morning kiss, a neck massage when tense, holding hands,  body massages and being held. ( You most likely love to hold little babies and can’t get enough hugs and kisses from your dog or cat.)   ( Don’t laugh, but my mom loved to have her feet tickled, and guess who she always asked to do it? 🙂  I think that the majority of us enjoy physical touch and it is always endearing from a loved one, when respectfully shown, but it doesn’t necessarily make us all feel LOVED.

Perhaps you do not receive love through physical touch but you show your love that way…You would be a person who is always hugging, touching someones arm as you are talking, pursuing holding hands with your mate, picking up the little ones to bring them comfort, adore spooning with your mate in bed as you fall asleep at night, wrap your arm around your friend as you are shopping at the mall, or greet all your loved ones with a big kiss on the cheek!    This is one of my husbands love languages and for him, it is both the way he receives love and gives it. Knowing this, I understand him so much better and can see when he is showing me love (his way.) It also educates me and has caused me to show him my love for him through ‘physical touch.’ It was a happy day to discover this about him after reading this book and talking with him to discover his love language… (Though I would have guessed it immediately from all of our years of marriage.) 🙂  It means everything to a person to receive love the way their heart desires to be shown love.

 

Do you remember your wedding ceremony and the honeymoon days that followed? There was hardly a time we weren’t touching, holding hands, hugging and kissing…our lives were so full of pure delight and glorious felicity. 🙂

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There is nothing like the touch of our fathers hand in ours, especially after a treasured day together.

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Your “love of your life,” best friends touch… It is always so comforting, just to know “they are there!”  🙂 200264715-001

Physical touch as an expression of love is not just for humans…its also for the birds! (no pun intended.) 🙂 All human life seems to derive so much from touch!

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As babies, we can’t be touched enough…it’s our comfort, assurance and way we receive nurturing and love. For us big guys… (adults,) a babies touch is like nothing else… they give us love without even trying! 🙂

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“THERE IS NO EXERCISE BETTER FOR THE HEART THAN REACHING DOWN AND LIFTING PEOPLE UP.” ~ JOHN HOLMES

Love Language number two… Words of Affirmation.

This love language seems to be one of the most popular... If you feel loved when someone SPEAKS words of edification such as; ” you are pretty, handsome, smart, creative, admired, doing a great job, are kind and loving, a best friend, have lost weight or gained, (which ever needed,) 🙂 you’re appreciated, your  a person of integrity and great faith, a fabulous cook, “I love you,” or that you have accomplished much in your life, then this is your love language and definitely how you RECEIVE  Love. Again, everyone enjoys hearing a compliment or kind word, but it does not make them feel LOVED like it does someone with this love language.

You may not receive love through this language, but it  could be your way of showing others you love them. Do you find yourself continually  giving compliments, uplifting your spouse, children and friends with your words of encouragement and love? Do you enjoy telling the check out  lady at the grocery store how  pretty she looks that day or e-mailing a friend who is a bit down and spend time trying to cheer them up? Are you one to be the listener in a group and find yourself asking a lot of questions to get people to ‘talk about themselves?’ If so, this could be the language you use to show others your LOVE.

In our marriage this language has been a wonderful blessing as both Kit and I receive and show love with this language . (We are forever building up one another with words of edification , encouragement and love  and it is undoubtedly a huge blessing and fulfills our “love tanks.” 🙂

 

Writing our heart felt sentiments within ‘an old fashioned, handwritten, snail mail- letter’ 🙂 is truly a gift of love to those who own this love language .language3   What a great idea!   5lwordsofenc3

Just three simple words can change a day! 5lwordsofenc

There is nothing like a kind word fitly spoken, no matter our age! 🙂ad21

Did you know that the Briard breed of dogs, when trained, learn only by praise and affirmation? (Kit and I know it firsthand.) 🙂 (We only have one!) 🙂 Bless the family that owns all of these… 🙂 briardenc

WORDS are a a powerful, amazing life giving force. briardenc1

My husband just gave me this for my birthday… I am going to put it right next to my desk. 🙂 Talk about words of affirmation… I will keep it forever!  🙂 IMG_0246

 

 

BECAUSE BUSINESS LIFE IS SO BUSY, MY HOME IS REALLY MY SANCTUARY. THAT IS WHERE I REFLECT AND SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH MY GIRLS.” ~ RACHEL RAY

Love Language number three…Quality Time.

This love language, especially in the the 21st century, is a very difficult love language to own and express, as “our time” is so full, busy and we are beyond exhausted at the end of each day… Because it is so rare to have free time, what better gift to give, than “your undivided and wholehearted time” to the ones you love?  If this love language is the way you show your love to others, you are undoubtedly a planner…always planing dates with special friends, organizing dinners for the family gatherings, taking refreshments to your children’s soccer games, meeting your  spouse for a cup of coffee at Starbucks where there are no phones ringing, TV’s playing, and the two of you can sit, with ‘uninterrupted time,’ to just say “Hi honey, HOW ARE YOU DOING?” 🙂 When you are with your mate, a friend or family member, ‘you are REALLY there,’101%… they are your priority for the time you are giving.

If Quality time is not the way you show your love, but receive love from others, you probably feel ‘love staved’ at times, 🙂 (because of how busy life is these days.)  Your love tank is filled when a friend calls and you have over an hour to catch up with “real talk,” you love it when your mate , with no other distractions , looks at you and wants to hear about your day. Your on cloud nine when you go on vacation and see the family and get a full day with each of your siblings…talking, laughing, sharing and being intimate. Quality time is intimacy to you and there is nothing like it to make you feel loved and cherished. You are probably not one for surface talk and half-hearted relationships as they just do not feel REAL…  Quality time is my love language, both in the way I show love and receive it. It is not an easy love language … and I am learning to receive love from the way others show there love, if it is not quality time, or words of affirmation, (my other love language.) I keep reminding myself, it truly is not personal. I am thankful for these love languages  and I would not change this part of me for anything! 🙂

 

Whether  at Starbucks, or in your home when all the kids are gone, share that intimate, steal-away moment of  time over a delicious cup of coffee…really listening! 5lqualitytime5 There is nothing quite like an afternoon in the park together…pack a picnic lunch, your favorite foods, a cozy blanket and just “TALK,” (sharing in the beauty of nature, the birds singing, fresh air and a gorgeous sunny day!Young happy couple outdoors

“Q” time with the girls is certainly a way to feel loved and cherished and show love…no matter how old we are! 🙂

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Going to an exhilarating celebrity concert together, or a symphony under the stars in New York City’s renowned Central Park, getting out with your mate or friends is a wonderful way to spend quality time together. (Can you guess which concert Kit would choose and which is my pick?)bruce

Lets see….Bruce Hornsby or Usher…hmm! My choice would have to be the performer ‘s G-rated songs , so that should give you a hint! 🙂 Both exceptional artists, (and would be a great outing for quality time together with your mate or friends.)

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Do you remember as little kids, hanging out at the beach with your older brother? Now that was quality time! Finding enchanting starfish, poking the sea anemones with long twigs as we were so afraid if we used our fingers, they’d eat them up, 🙂 getting sun burnt, running as far away as we could from the jellyfish a drifted on shore, joyfully wading in the oceans waves, listening for the sound of the mysterious sea in the conk shells…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and walking hand and hand…There was always time for each other! 🙂

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I know that our Grantham’s love language is Quality time…He shows his love as well as receives love this way…) amongst all the four other love languages.) 🙂  Quality time with your pet is what they desire the most, except maybe that steak bone or some fresh grilled salmon! 🙂   A day at the Grand canyon together…now that was hours of blissful “Q” time…what a great memory for Kit and I. west4west1

 

 

“HAPPINESS DOESN’T RESULT FROM WHAT WE GET, BUT FROM WHAT WE GIVE.” ~ BEN CARSON

Love language number 4 ~ GIFT GIVING!

I personally have a few friends that I have known since childhood, who own this love language and shared with me that, “If you take my ability to give gifts away, I would not feel like I was  expressing my love for others.”  WOW! I think everyone enjoys giving gifts and receiving them, but if this is your love language, it carries with it much more meaning within your heart.  If you love shopping for others, picking out ‘just the right’ gift for their home or a hobby they enjoy, or perhaps if you are gifted with creativity, you enjoying making personalized and cherished homemade gifts for others, planning birthday luncheons for your girlfriends, taking your buddy’s out for a beer,  baking  an ambrosial cake for your neighbors or your favorite doctor and his office staff,  taking friends out to brunch or you enjoy bestowing tokens of love at every celebration, this is undeniably your way of showing love and “gift giving” is your love language.

If you FEEL loved when you receive a gift from someone, then this also is your love language, as it is how you personally  receive love. You probably can hardly wait for your birthday when friends and family celebrate your special day with handpicked gifts that they know you will adore. You enjoy and feel loved, being taken out to dinner, receiving surprises from your mate, ( a bouquet of fresh roses, a box of chocolates or a gift certificate to the spa, your favorite classic movie, a new fishing rod, or that elegant watch you’ve had your eye on.) Christmas time is most likely a season of blissfulness as your “love tank” is not only full, but overflowing. 🙂

 

For those whose love language is “Gift-giving”, adding a unique piece to a collection they have going is a wonderful idea to express your love. It shows thoughtfulness and creativity.language11

A homemade gift, right from the heart, showing time and creativity is a delightful way to demonstrate your love. How about renting a cottage in the country, stocking it up with your friends favorite wine, coffee, foods and music and giving it to them as a surprise ‘weekend away?’ Not only would they feel LOVED, but it would be a resplendent, wondrous respite! language10language9

What lady does not love “girly stuff?” My sister sent me the most adorable birthday box filled with different themes of pure enjoyment… nighttime luxuries; ( a new night gown, night cream accompanied by a beautiful hand towel to match,) along with a “feeling pretty” bag, filled with a variety of makeups, lotions, earrings,  anti-wrinkle cream…(YEAH!), and serene melodic CD’s. Creativeness is a gift within itself!language8

Again, if you know your friends or family members china pattern, adding a cup and saucer, soup bowl or dinner plate is an endearing way to show your love. language7

For the special men in your life who own this language, there is nothing like making their favorite cake to bless their palates, buying a manly scented candle for their study or anything that is thoughtful and shows you know what their interests are as well as  care about them.

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Some more ideas for the guys…support their passions, whether its a card that says “I hereby grant you a free weekend by yourself, to go camping, fishing, biking or mountain climbing.”  Always  encourage them to chase their dreams.    How about giving them the gift of a new fishing rod or the latest  bike on the market, with all the ‘bells and whistles.’ Not only will they feel loved but will be eminently touched by your thoughtfulness.

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THOSE WHO ARE HAPPIEST ARE THOSE WHO DO THE MOST FOR OTHERS.” ~ BOOKER T. WASHINGTON

The last, but certainly not least Love language; ACTS OF SERVICE

Acts of service is a lot like gift giving as a love language, except that it is usually the task we are doing for our loved one that makes them feel loved, not so much the gift of our benevolence. If you possess this love language as your way of showing your love, you most likely are a person that is always offering to do the jobs that no one else wants to do, (or won’t admit it, but they are unable to do.) 🙂 Fixing the kitchen sink for your wife, mowing the lawn for your husband, running errands for your friends, helping your friends move on your day off, spending the day cleaning the house and preparing a five star meal  for your husbands boss and his wife, taking the dog out for a walk in the snow, writing letters for the elderly who no longer can write and you love reading stories to children in the pediatric ward. This is your way of demonstrating the love within your heart for others.

If you feel loved when someone does something nice for you, supports your causes and helps makes posters, sends out mail or hands out flyers,  does your Christmas baking for you as you are not one who enjoys getting messy, 🙂 cleans your home for free, fixes your roof, free of charge, washes and waxes your car, and always goes the ‘extra mile” for you in making sure your needs are taken care of…Acts of service is absolutely your love language in the way you receive love.

What spouse would not feel loved when upon arriving home, beholds a beautifully set tableaux and a gourmet meal fit for a king awaiting … (especially if their boss and his wife are coming over for dinner? ) 🙂 Your hard work will be remembered for a long time! 🙂 (And your spouse will feel loved. )language15

During the holidays, we usually see all the moms slaving away in the kitchen, baking sugar cookies for her children’s class of 30, rum balls for the neighbors, Toll house bars for  friends, and fresh pies for her family. What a perfect gift, an awesome “act of service” for the kids to help her with the Christmas baking… (Hey dads, you could be their cheerleader.) 🙂language4

Dress up your kitchen table with an abundance of  kaleidoscopic, joyous colors, brew a pot of coffee or tea, bring out some freshly baked scones or banana bread and ask a friend or neighbor over for the morning. It will make their day!language5

This idea is probably the number one thought that runs through our minds when we think of acts of service…..very simple, easy and yet so deeply appreciated. (Especially in the cold wintry months.) 🙂 I can never say ‘thank you’ enough to Kit when he takes our trash out…no matter the season! 🙂 5lacts2

Another popular act of service, mowing the lawn for your mate. Our lawn takes 2 hours on a riding mower so whether Kit does it for me one weekend, (to give me two extra free hours,) or I do it for him…it truly is a big blessing!5lacts

Walking the dog, at twilight or the crack of dawn,  during the cold and brisk winter months, is one of the most wonderful gifts of service you could possibly give…not only to your mate, but your dog too! 🙂  (I was not kidding when I said Graham embodies all five love languages in both his giving and receiving love..he is a love machine! 🙂snowday

There are not enough words to say “thank you” to a man who knows how to fix “just about anything,” around the house… The plumbing, hang Christmas lights, fix a broken dryer, unclog the kitchen sink, service your car, fix your computer when it is acting crazy, and what would we do without our guys on moving day? 🙂 If this is the love language he demonstrates his love with, be sure to acknowledge just how very much he loves you!  timtool

 

Now that you know the five languages of love, take the time to figure out your language, or languages. Some of you will have just one, others, possibly all five.You may show love with one language and receive love with another…

Once this is done, ask your friends which love language they possess , or in knowing them as well as you do,  look to your intuition as to which Love language they embody.

As you begin showing your love to those in your life that are important to you with their love language, (the way they RECEIVE love,)  you will see what a wonderful difference it makes in the relationship. For instance, If your language is showing  your love through giving a gift, but the recipients love language is “quality time,” mix the two together…take them their gift, but don’t leave in a hurry.  Spend some time with them…

If your love language is words of affirmation and you have a friend who has never complimented you even once, try to understand that it is not personal…learn their love language and receive their love, the way they show it. You may want to share this book with them and tell them what your love language is...(hint, hint.) 🙂  Its not easy at first… but I found this book to not only be life changing, (for the better)  but exceedingly insightful and lots of fun. My relationships have only improved and are richer and fuller, thus bringing more joy, beauty and felicity for living the life I have been given.

I hope you enjoy learning what your LOVE LANGUAGE IS as well as the language your loved ones embody.

*** I do highly recommend this book as I know the author shares this glorious subject more in depth. Its a great read as well as relationship – enhancer. 🙂 (The Five languages of Love, by Gary Chapman. )

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

Yours always, HOPE!

 

HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS, THAT PERCHES IN THE SOUL, AND SINGS THE TUNE WITHOUT THE WORDS, AND NEVER STOPS AT ALL.” ~ Emily Dickinson

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When the ‘first flicker’ of creating my blog site, “Living winsomely” entered my heart, I envisioned it to be a site where every writing would be colorful, felicitous, resourceful and filled with beauty, as my whole concept of writing these blogs has been to inspire you,living winsomely my readers, to bring more beauty, joy and winsomeness  into your lives. I stared thinking the other day, about how much strength, beauty and life, HOPE brings to our lives. HOPE changes everything… The hard part of it is, that we usually have to be in a difficult place, or “season” of our life, to really appreciate the powerful gift that lays within this resplendent bestowal. I decided to write this blog on loss and hope, because loss is a part of all of our lives in one way or another...especially peaking its head out during the holidays, as we have such a treasure of golden memories during this festive time, of those we no longer have with us. In this blog, I want to share with you a writing about the loss of a love that only comes once in a lifetime. It is a true story that I wrote, when something magical happened, in facing the loss of my my best friend for 33 years, my mom.beautiful mom I want to  share it with you, because it is a writing of HOPE and when I  was given this gift in my ‘letting go stage of accepting her death,’ it truly changed me inside, bringing a peace I never wanted to leave my soul, and it changed me prodigiously… I will always love this word HOPE. ( But it is so much more than a word,) 🙂 …I look for it everyday in the small things that come about that are in need of its help, but always know I can count on it 100%, when the monumental storms of life hit. Hope never fails!

We all suffer losses everyday, in many forms… relationships, our health, jobs, a miscarriage, financial stability, our beloved pets, a friendship, a dream deep within our hearts, a home or the loss of  ourselves, from being abused.

When we experience loss, there are such a wide range of emotions that flood our soul…we try to “avoid those emotions,” for as long as we possibly can, but they always seem to surface and come out in some other way. (Don’t they?)   (I always have loved the “numb stage”.) 🙂  Someone very wise once told me that when we suffer a deep cut physically upon our bodies, the body goes into a place of numbness and we do not feel the injury’s “real effect and pain”  until later. The human body is built that way…it protects us. In the same way, our minds protect us from our emotions that seem unbearable to allow ourselves to feel. When we do “Feel” and embrace them, the  miraculous gift, that begins to unravel, is the gift of becoming whole again and  healing. I myself would not dare to “feel” loss, alone…that is where my faith comes in. We all have different ways of coping, different beliefs, faiths and tools for accepting and grieving our losses. For me, it has always been my faith in God. (Not to say that at times, it took longer to get to the place to be able to receive the precious gift of hope that comes in our losses, than others.)jim and I When I lost my brother Jim unexpectedly, ( who was also one of my best friends in life,) it took me a lot longer to connect with God and for some reason, I took the elongated way around!  But the HOPE came, then the healing and now instead of sadness and what seemed an endless well of despair,  when I think of Jim, I feel a warmth, love and a joy... I miss him now more than words can say, but  with such a gratitude that I was able to  love someone so deeply, that in loosing them,  I could feel such a magnitude of grief and loss. I thank God for allowing me to have him in my life on this earth  for 52 years, as he was one in a million.  I smile now, (inside and out,)  at all of our treasured memories, (which are many,) and my tears are happy tears, celebrating that I had such a phenomenal person as my big brother, in whom I KNOW I will see again one day. HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING…

To give you some background for this writing, let me tell you a little bit about my mom and I… We were like two peas in a pod…knew exactly what the other was feeling, thinking, loved to spend time together, were each others confidants, and she taught me so much in life about Love, forgiveness, family, etiquette, cooking,snowmen27 decorating,beautiful kat  joy, fun, makeup, apparel, humor, laughter, truth, unconditional love and acceptance. She was actually the one who introduced me to the Lord , as she had been praying for me , (and all my 6 siblings,) for many, many years. I was blessed beyond words to have  her for my mom and best friend. My mom got married young and started her family early with a beautiful baby girl, then after four  baby boys in a row, (she whispered to the Lord;cathy “I’d like another little baby girl again…these boys are wearing me out.”) 🙂 (Sorry guys…) and low and behold, she had twin baby girls, my sister Kathy and I. (One of us was a BIG surprise as she had no idea when giving birth, she would be delivering two babies into this world, instead of one.) 🙂 It was a happy time for her as we were her special gift from God, fulfilling a place in her heart that she had prayed and longed for. Suddenly and unexpectedly,  my twin died when she was 8 months old and my mom , (as well as our entire family) suffered a tragic loss and went through a very dark time… I was told that It was in loosing my twin, that my mom and I began to form the close bond that we were blessed with in life…bebe 18192She protected me like a mother hen looks after her baby chicks, never wanting to loose her other precious ‘care-package,’ God had just given her. ( Three  years later, she did have one more baby boy,) declaring to the world; “Okay, 8 is enough!” 🙂  ( My baby brother was not only magical, but a true bundle of joy to my mom, family and everyone who knew him, and he still is, )  but that will have to be a whole other story! 🙂

As we enter  into this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and you are personally going through the loss of a loved one, or a loss of any kind, I hope that “my story” will bestow upon you a ray of hope, and that in some way, you will feel a strength and peace in the midst of your journey and season of loss.

 Yours always, HOPEbeautiful kat2

I will never forget the arduous day that changed my life forever. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, late in the month of June. I drove from Irvine California to Laguna Niguel to visit my folks just like I did a few times each week. I loved going to parents lovely home. Every time I’d open their front door, I would always get that same warm, gregarious feeling.allabaster2 I don’t know if it was because of all the heavenly and familiar aromas cooking and simmering in my mom’s kitchen, (her legendary shriharbormp creole with a ‘southern touch,’ savory brisket stewing together with red potatoes,carrots and onions or  her scrumptious, (secret sauce,)  spaghetti and mouthwatering, “seconds please,”  beef stroganoff.)  Perhaps it was the buoyant and content sounds of laughter, a favorite television show playing,  melodic music wafting from my fathers study upstairs or the voices of one of my 6 siblings, harbor10conversing over a cup of freshly brewed chicory coffee with my mom and dad. All I know is I always got so excited knowing I was going  to my ‘second home.’ I headed upstairs to see my mom as I knew she would be resting. merriment14 Her cozy, southern style, beautiful bedroom had become “the gathering place” for our family since she had been recovering from her illness. Being a southerner and a connoisseur of coastal, daunting yet thrilling, summer lightning storms, (  Southern California did not offer that amenity very often,) 🙂  she always  asked me to put her “Thunderstorm tape” in her boom box beside her bed …she played it over and over again, as it soothed her body and soul. 🙂 ( Twenty-two years later, I find myself listening to that same tape, feeling its magical comfort  each time.) 🙂   Everyday, she looked like a radiant angel, in her pretty nightgown and matching robe, always smiling as she greeted us and asked us about our day… You see, my mom’s whole life was about her family and she was ALWAYS interested in every detail of our lives…each one of us could talk to her about ‘anything,’ and WE DID! 🙂 Even our friends felt the same way!

My dad met me on the stair landing, where he stopped me and spoke the very words my heart had dreaded and feared the most.

“Susan, after your mom’s appointment today, her doctor told me that her cancer has returned and has spread throughout her body. He doesn’t expect her to live beyond six to eight weeks time, though they are going to run more tests.”

All of the hope, faith and confidence I had clung to that her cancer was  healed and gone, deserted  me. I felt as if the wind was knocked out from under my feet, and I truly  believe it was at that moment, that God Himself, filled me with His strength and grace. His arms were holding me on that stairway as I didn’t collapse or run out of the house, screaming in despair.  Without preparation, notice and totally unexpected, I was just told that the best friend I had ever had in my life was going to die. I was flooded with so many fearful and angst emotions. A deep sadness overcame me and I felt that a part of me inside was beginning to die as well. The HOPE was gone. I don’t remember what I said to her that day, (as she had not been told yet.)  I don’t even remember driving home…

merriment13My husband Kit held me close as I shared the news with him that evening. He tried so vehemently to comfort me in every way he knew how, but his loving arms and kind, compassionate, words could not penetrate the pain in my soul. Oh, the awful painI never knew a heart could hold something so massive.

 

The warm summer days passed. All I remember is  that I was merely functioning. Although brideI was a new bride and should have been feeling blissful joy, and pure felicity with Kit, the man that I had always dreamed of being married to, I felt lifeless. Going to visit my mom , with the knowledge that this time she was not going to recover, I felt empty, helpless, dismayed, fearful and my heart was overwhelmed with anguish, especially because she had not yet been told the full truth. ( Amongst my melange of multifarious emotions,  I TREASURED every moment spent with her, holding on so tightly to everything she said, her smile, touch, the scent of her favorite perfume that she wore everyday, (Carolina Herrera,) not wanting to miss out on even  one moment of the precious time we had left with her.)  I remember the afternoon I sat in my grandmother’s old rocker, caddy-cornered to my mom’s bed. She was sitting up that day, her animated, beautiful brown eyes filled with excitement as she spoke to me in her sweet southern accent about us returning to her home town in South Carolina the upcoming fall.

“Susan, won’t it be wonderful to visit Marion and see all of our cousins this autumn?harbor2 The fall leaves will be so beautiful with bursts of reds, amber and yellows, and the air will be harbor1so crisp and cold. Maybe we’ll get a few thunderstorms while we’re there?  We can drive down to Pawley’s Island and Murrell’s Inlet, see the Spanish moss on the huge old oak trees and eat as much fresh crab and shrimp from the inlet waters as we want.”

My heart was breaking inside as she spoke these words for I knew that this trip would never be. How I hid my pain from her that day, I will never know. (She knew me so well.)

I begged the Lord not to take my mom. I prayed like I had never prayed before for a miracle… (I believed with the faith of a child that God could do anything and I ached for Him to intervene in this paralyzing news my heart kept trying to reject.merriment1 The heaviness in my soul would not lift for somehow,  I knew in my heart, that this time, her cancer was not going to be healed, the way it was the year before or in the way we expected .  I had a knowing, deep down, that the Lord was going to take her home to be with Him and that would be her healing. At other times, when my mom was ill and I felt the fear that the Lord was going to take her home, (her cancer when it first  arrived, and the 90% blockage in the major artery to her heart), He would always assure my heart that it was not her time. This time, He was silent.

My visits to see my mom were much more frequent and more difficult, (yet in a  strange way, a bit  freeing,) now that my dad and the doctors had shared with her how progressively her cancer had returned, spreading throughout her body and that unless God gave us all a miracle, she was not going to live much longer. One of the hardest days of my life, yet now one of my most cherished, was the day my mom and I sat together on her bed talking.IMG_0272  With her captivating and warm smile, ( almost as if she was reliving time, 24 years earlier,)  she told me that she wanted me to have her grandmother’s Haviland rose china, because when I was a little girl, I admired and reveled in its beautiful roses, each time she took it out for special occasions. She cried as she shared how hard it was for her to know that she would never meet my children.merriment18 She and I had always talked about the day that Kit and I would have a little baby girl …’Kathryn Anne’, (named after her of course.) 🙂  She told me that she was so happy for me that God had brought Kit into my life, that he was a great man and that she  truly adored him, and knew I would always be taken care of. Lastly, we both acknowledged that God had given us a bond like no other and what a wondrous and special  blessing it was in both of our lives. Our tears at that moment were endless as we embraced and held each other, allowing our selves to feel the pain and fear of her death, our loss and having to say goodbye,  together.

One evening in the midst of all of the disquieting and daunting  pain and sorrow, Kit asked me to take a drive and get out for a little bit with him. (He is always so thoughtful.) We decided to drive down to Dana Point Harbor. (The place we met, courted, fell in love, and got married, so YOU KNOW it brought great comfort every time we visited it’s maritime charm .)  Upon arriving to this quaint port side community, we drove up to the marina . harbor5There before us were an abundance of admiral boats, tied up at the docks, bobbing up and down from the strong wind and choppy waters. The harbor was astir and alive with all of the summer visitors, bright lights and the sound of musical bands that often entertained during the summer season. I needed and longed for a quiet place where Kit and I could be alone. Kit drove further down the road, and we arrived to the jetty.  This long strand of jagged rocks with the ocean waves  calmly caressing their intricate banks, was perfect.  Kit and I were the only people sitting upon the serene and quiet quai that evening. It truly was the place my soul needed.harbor9 Kit held me so tight as we sat there in silence. It was a bit chilly with the  cool wind blowing off of the ocean,  but we did not care. Together with Kit, yet so terribly alone in my despondency, I looked out into the vast ocean, the grey, damp fog and the darkness. It was then, I cried out to God.

 

“I need you Lord so much! Please will you speak to my breaking heart.”

Loosing my mother, my dearest friend in life for 33 years was the hardest thing the Lord had ever asked my family or I  to walk through. harbor15 I was so frightened and terrified,  of what life would be like without her. Outside of Him and His power and grace, there was no way that I could go through letting her go. I absolutely, no matter how hard I tried to muster up the faith and BELIEVE we would all be OK without her,  could not surrender her to God.

As we continued to sit on the jetty looking out into the ocean, I saw two brilliant lights together out at sea, looking as if they were floating in mid air. They were the lights upon the main masts of two boats traveling side by side.two lights The darkness and fog hid their forms so that all I could see, were two shining lights nestled together. Suddenly, one of the lights disappeared. I found myself surprisingly impelled to look for the lost light. I searched everywhere to find it, but it was no where to be found. I only beheld the one light.  I felt a stabbing pain in my heart, as the lost light reminded me that soon, my mom would be gone and the ‘fearless duo’ and best friends we had always been throughout my entire life, would no longer exist. In this uncertain and capricious world, she would no longer be beside me to share my heart, laugh, cry and pray with. I would be without her presence for evermore. I became overwhelmed with a sense of devastation and fear, in an even greater amount than I had been feeling since my dad told me the news. I began to speak to the Lord again;

“Why God are you allowing me to feel this horrible pain as I am crying out to you? Where are you Lord? I felt chilled to the bone and so alone… It seemed like God was silent.

The fog began rolling in, becoming more dense.  As I looked out to sea, I could barely see any light at all as the heavy mist continued to thicken. I stopped searching for either light for awhile, very aware of my despairing emotions, until in a sudden moment, I looked up to my left and there to my surprise, adjoined to the shore line, were the two lights together again, beaming ever so brightly. merriment4It was at that moment that a peace, (I had not felt in weeks,) permeated my soul…  I Knew it was Gods presence and I felt the Lord begin to show me and minister to me in a way that changed everything…

This is what I believe He was speaking to my spirit;

” Susan, look. Now the two lights are together again, safely arriving to the shoreline. It was but for a SEASON that you did not see your light that you thought was lost out at sea. Like the fog, hiding from your sight the glowing light out in the ocean, the light was still there….you just could not see it… so it is with your mom’s parting.merriment5 Your mom is only switching places, she will still continue to live, only she will be with me in a new place. It will only be a season of time before you see her again. And Susan, oh what a glorious time of reunion the two of you will have together in heaven.”

With this new revelation, and the peace that had laid rest upon my soul,  my heart felt so much lighter. My spirit embraced a hope it had not known. I felt a new strength to face my days ahead, as hard as they may be. I thanked God over and over for ministering to me as He did, and enjoyed the  HOPE and peace that continued to fill my soul, praying it would never go away.

I  do not believe that it was a coincidence that Kit and I drove to the harbor that particular evening or that God used the ‘lights’ to set my heart free from it’s hopelessness.snomen 19 He knew that I could not bare to loose my closet friend, my mom. Gently, He showed me a new perspective, His perspective and through His mercy, power, grace and kindness, I was able to begin to let her go, with the knowledge that one day, she and I would be together again, and at that time, we would never have to say goodbye again.

 

It was but a few weeks later when we were all called to my parents home in Laguna Niguel. The day was August 14th, a Wednesday morning that will always be engraved upon my heart. The hospice nurse said that for all purposes, my mom should have died in the midnight hours, but she would not give up, and continued to fight for her life. It was not until the last of her seven children arrived to her bed side, and she had the opportunity to partake in her goodbyes, that she was free to “let us go.”  I remember when all  of us arrived that morning to the house, my father told us, that it was very important that  we each  let my mom know that it was OKAY for her to go. (She needed to hear those words.)   Because of the revelation and HOPE the Lord had given me that night at the harbor, I was ready and able to do just that, truly LET HER GO.

As she and I looked at each other, we both knew with confidence (and I spoke it as she could not) that our goodbye was but only for a season of time and not forever. I told her how much I loved her and would miss her beyond what my words could express, but for her, it would feel like only seconds when we’d all be together again…her yes smiled.  She took her last breath after the last of her seven children said their goodbyes. My father was holding her, and we, her devoted and adoring children, surrounded her as she was laying in her beautiful bed . What a wonderful gift that God gave us all to be with her, as well as with one another, as He took our beloved mother to be with Him.merriment6 She was no longer in pain or sick with cancer, but free and full of joy, already having a marvelous reunion with the Lord, her mother, her little girl,( my twin, Kathy,) her grand parents and all of her loved ones that had gone before her.

 

I will never forget how God rescued me that chilly summer night… His peace, loving words and the HOPE He bestowed upon my soul and spirit was undeniable.harbor6 His  Hope changed everything. The days were not easy, as grief never is, but there did come a day, I was free of the devastating pain, and instead of that heaviness and mourning, my  heart began to fill up once again with joy and happiness and a grateful heart that I was given such a beautiful gift and stupendous mother and friend  for 33 years of my life. I knew  in my spirit that she was not “gone”, she was alive, just in a different place.I think of her every day, always with a humongous smile or tears of joy, I miss her augustly, but I am assured and looking forward to that reunion day that God so graciously showed me. His wondrous gift of Hope…

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Hope never fails…Hope changes everything…Hope is not a word, Hope is God and a very real gift to us, His kids.

 

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Treasured Thanksgiving recipes

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“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.  This is not coincidence.”  ~Erma Bombeck

I hope this humorous Erma Bombeck quote is not true of your Thanksgiving dinner this year. 🙂 I hope that you all have a wonderful day, surrounded with the people you love the most,  delighting yourselves with scrumptious cuisine, festive drinks and an abundance of convivial spirit,( and definitely for more than halftime.)  🙂   From my vignette “A Traditional Thanksgiving Gala,” here are a few recipes from our household to yours. Enjoy and have a blessed and HAPPY THANKSGIVING and may your hearts be filled with gratitude for all your many blessings!

 

 These are recipes for : My homemade sage sausage stuffing and sweet potato souffle, as well as simple ways to make your gravy, turkey and pumpkin pie.  (All very popular in our household! ) Enjoy!

Sweet Potato souffle.

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YOU WILL NEED:

4 large sweet potatoes, 1/2 stick of butter,1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3 TBSP maple syrup, 2 eggs beaten, 1/2 cup half and half, 1 TBSP vanilla, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 package chopped pecans, 1 bag miniature marshmallows, 1/4 tsp allspice, (a dash of cinnamon if you like.) 🙂

Preheat your oven to 350

Either microwave or boil your sweet potatoes until cooked, let cool a little, then mash with 1/2 stick of soft butter. Add your beaten eggs, spices, both sugars, maple syrup, pecans and vanilla. Spoon into an 8 inch greased pan, bake for 30 minutes. Take casserole out of oven, top with marshmallows and place back in oven for 5 minutes, allowing the marshmallow to melt and get just a bit toasty,(lightly browned.) This recipe is always a hit at any occasion!

 

 Sage sausage stuffing.

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YOU WILL NEED:

1 pound Jimmy Dean sage breakfast sausage, 1 onion  finely chopped, 2 stalks celery finely chopped, 1 package Pepperidge farm season bread crumbs, (cornbread preferred but the original is fine as well,) 2 & 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 stick of butter, ground black pepper, (I add a touch of Tabasco sauce for spiciness.) 🙂

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crumble and cook your sausage over medium low heat ’til cooked. Drain and set aside.

In 3 quart sauce pan, add your butter, chicken broth, pepper, chopped onion and celery and cook on medium heat, stirring often and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and allow to cook for five minutes. (You want your vegetables to be tender.) When cooked, remove from heat and add your bread crumbs, and sausage, mix well, place in casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. (Can be made the day before if you like.)

For our dinner, I only bake half of my stuffing for a delicious side dish. I set the other half aside to stuff my turkey…it not only flavors the turkey with savory spices and an abundance of  superb flavor but it is very moist, and gives your guest two choices of stuffing to have with their turkey. ( The stuffing from inside the turkey is my husbands very favorite side dish.) 🙂

Susan’s turkey gravy.

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For my gravy, I do not use the turkey giblets :) I bake our turkey in an oven cooking bag, saving all the juices from the turkey at the bottom of the bag…In a large sauce pan, I mix  1/2 stick of softened  butter with 2-3 Tablespoons of flour and make a rue…over low heat as the butter melts with the flour, I slowly  add the juices of the turkey  as I continue to whisk my gravy. (From then on out , its eying the texture of your gravy…if you want it thicker, add more flour, constantly whisking, if a thinner consistency  is desired, add more of your turkey juice or chicken broth. It’s “simply marvelous”, as Billy Crystal would say,  over your mashed potatoes and rice.

Our Turkey!

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For my turkey, I always bake it in a oven bag, (found at the grocers…) it comes out so tender and juicy! Directions for the baking time of your particular turkey is inside  the box . All I do is defrost my turkey, clean it out and fill it with the unbaked portion of stuffing, rub it with softened butter and use fresh ground pepper to season, place it in the bag, tie it and bake.) I wish I could tell you what to do with the giblets… 🙂 (Some of you may love them.)

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And lastly, you can’t beat the recipe for pumpkin pie on Libbey’s pumpkin pie filling in the can. I buy  Pillsbury pre-made pie crust in the refrigerator section at the grocer and line my pie pan, and create the pumpkin pie filling, according to the cans directions. Fill the pie shell and bake as directed. (Actually, Kit does all this as he is the pie maker in our family. 🙂 (Served with freshly, sweetened whipped cream, this dessert is mouthwatering and always envelops our hearts with cozy, nostalgic memories of holidays past.)  Pumpkin pie just does that! 🙂

All this delicious food is making me wish that Thanksgiving was today! 🙂

 

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A Traditional Thanksgiving gala!

Ah! on Thanksgiving day.
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie? ~ ~John Greenleaf Whittier
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Can you even imagine what the 102 Puritans were feeling inside , when they ventured from Plymouth, (a port off the coast of England,) to Holland and lastly to their new home across the Atlantic ocean? Talk about an extreme farewell?   These courageous pilgrims, having had to say goodbye to a medley of cherished loved ones, traveled 65 days together in a Merchant ship called The Mayflower, in the brisk autumn season, over choppy, icy cold waters, HOPING to find freedom from the persecution they left behind.thanksgiving501 They finally arrived to dry land in the early 1600’s, (which today is the state of Massachusetts,) where they began their new lives, from scratch. What a  remarkable day in history, and little did they know what their bravery and strenuous labor would bring forth to America many years later.  Upon arriving to this new land, they  quickly discovered that they were not alone. Their new neighbors were natives to this promising land, a tribe of Indians called the Abnaki’s. To the Pilgrims gladsome relief, these Indians were friendly and welcomed them with open arms and hearts. The Abnaki’s taught hem how to  plant crops, build homes , hunt, fish in the rivers and basically became their new best friends… In celebrating their  greatly appreciated freedom and newly acquired friendships, they decided to get together for a grandiose fete,  sharing the bounty from their crops and enjoying a huge feast, commemorating the longest thanksgiving100 Thanksgiving Gala in the world! 🙂 For three wondrous days, they enjoyed delicious cuisine from the land and sea, gave thanks and praise to God for their full harvests, new home and friendships they hoped would be long lasting.     It was not until George Washington, America’s  first president, proclaimed Thanksgiving as a nation wide “Day of Thanks” in 1789, that it became one of Americas favored and celebrated holidays, thus we set the fourth Thursday aside every November and celebrate our abundance of  blessings, family and friendships, giving thanks to God.

That is a short synopsis of the history of Thanksgiving in America. As I was researching and thinking about this beloved American holiday, I realized that so many of you, my readers from Romania, Sweden, Germany,  Turkey, Great Britain, China, Japan, Brazil and France, (as well as many other wonderful countries,)  do not have a ‘Thanksgiving Holiday,’ per say, but perhaps a day like it, where you share ambrosial, exquisite home cooNeuschwanstein Castle near Füssen, Germanyking and celebrate with loved ones with grateful hearts.  I can only imagine what delicious recipes are created world wide, and the wondrous traditions that come with your holidays. I think it would be a wonderful endeavor as well as “a lot of fun,” to spend time learning about all of your  countries, (as well as others,) to know and understand  what  holidays you hold dear and how you celebrate. (The only country I have ever been to outside of the United States is Mexico, where my husband and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, a beautiful resort on the Pacific ocean’s Bahia de Banderas.) On my “bucket list,” (dream list,) 🙂 I have listed many other countries I’d like to visit… (Kit too.) 🙂

In celebrating  this season of gratefulness and thanksgiving, I am impressed by what Melody Beattie quotes;    “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. 

It’s not important what ‘day’ we all choose in our medleys of faiths, brandnewtraditions and countries, whats important is that we do indeed, have grateful hearts… (And celebrating with ambrosial, savory cuisine is an added plus!) (And yes, in America, Pumpkin pie , warm  from our ovens is priceless… 🙂

This writing today is about our traditional  American Thanksgiving holiday. I know everyone in our country, has their own traditions and way of celebrating this glorious and beloved Holiday. I wanted to share “ours,” with ample  ideas for bedecking your home with warmth and festive decor for this divine gala, resplendent  table settings, and of course superb recipes! I hope you enjoy this vignette!

 

THE DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNERAdorable Baby Boy in Suit on Cellphone

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.  ~E.P. Powell

“So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart, To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.”
~Arthur Guiterman,

“Remember God’s bounty in the year.  String the pearls of His favor.  Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light!  Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! ” ~Henry Ward Beecher

“Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off’rings, and a thankful strain.” ~Alexander Pope’s (original quote and writing.)

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,friendships for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.”  This is not coincidence.  ~Erma Bombeck

“Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life… a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons,october1-4 the beauty of seed time and harvest, the ripe product of the year – and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God. ” ~Ray Stannard Baker (David Grayson)

“Heap high the board with plenteous cheer and gather to the feast, And toast the sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.” ~Alice W. Brotherton

“On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment – halftime.: football ~Author Unknown

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”  ~Robert Caspar Lintner

“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”  ~Native American Saying

 

Welcome to a traditional family Thanksgiving Gala! Growing up in my family, from the moment we opened our eyes to that magical time where we entered into slumber land, it was a glorious day of delicious cuisine, festive drinks, laughter, love, fun, sharing and loosening out belts about 5:00 PM, trying to make room for a piece of Pumpkin pie! 🙂 Upon awakening, my siblings and I were already, busily planning what we would be doing with our “free time” before  the extravaganza would begin, with all of our company arriving around 2:00 PM. My mom’s biggest task at hand was making magic…She was going to change turkey #1 into turkey # 2. 🙂

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Because of the days resplendent menu, our first meal of the day was served early.thanksgiving101  My mom graciously treated us to a hearty, ambrosial breakfast of  blueberry pancakes, eggs over easy, freshly cooked bacon and in season fruit, hoping to fill us up, so we would “stay out of her kitchen,”  while she was busily conjuring up our Thanksgiving feast.thanksgiving102 We took our coffee into the living room and enjoyed staying in our P.J.”s ‘as long as we could,’ after all, it was our day off, and a beloved holiday at that!

My father kept an eminently baronial fire kindling all day long in our brick hearths…not only did the dancing, golden flames fill our hearts and souls with nostalgic memories of Thanksgivings past, but it kept our bodies warmthanksgiving117 and was fabulously conducive to getting lost in long chats with family members…Second, third, even fourth pots of aromatic chicory or French roast  coffee were freshly brewed as my six siblings, dad and I had so much to catch up on, (our ears  tickling with some of the great stories going on amongst our Brobdingnagian family.) It was heaven!allabaster10 Being that we lived in sunny Southern California, sometimes a few of my siblings and I would drive up to  Balboa island and walk around the quaint islet , making sure to  get our vigorous  exercise in before the big turkey feast.

My sister and I always offered to help my mom in the kitchen, and she would, (after a little coaxing,) say “yes,” with the agreed upon rule that  “the Turkey was HERS!” 🙂 We’d sit at her little Kitchen nook table, filling crisp, stalks of celery with all types of savory creme cheese spreads, arranging creative  designs of black and green olives  amongst a tray of cranberry sauce, sweet and tart pickles,  and plump, sugary, spiced peaches. We got so excited when it was time to set the table as my mom would bring out “her finest” of everything…thanksgiving533 vintage white linen tablecloths, her grandmothers antiquated Haviland rose china, Waterford and Fostoria sparkling crystal, along with her elegant and pristine, freshly  polished silver. Her table-scape was fit for royalty… Accented with an enchanting and inspiring, autumn centerpiece, along with a potpourri of taper candles, that when lit, were mesmerizing to our souls.

Our biggest decision of the day, after our excursion of exercise, was what to wear? Formal attire to feel festive for the big event or casual , relaxed and kick back apparel, knowing we would eat ‘way to much food’ and want plenty of “waistline” room. 🙂

 

“Formal is delightfully festive.”                 “Relaxed is so much easier.” 🙂

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As our own family of nine, grew in size, (girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, all the little ones, along with my Aunt and Uncle and two  cousins from New Orleans, ) my mom would set two tables for our Thanksgiving meal along with casual dining in our cozy and ‘always inviting,’  living room. Those are the Thanksgivings I remember the most as to me, there is nothing in the world that compares to a “full house”, brimming over with the sights  and sounds of everyone you hold most dear in life. 🙂   We always  had a choice of three different activities within the house, (while waiting to sit down and dine.)  Watching The Wizard of Ozthanksgiving120 as we’d cuddle up with all of our nieces and nephews upon  my parents King size bed, feeling like a little kid again ourselves, (covering our eyes with the daunting flying monkeys and frighteningly wicked witch on her broomstick.) Secondly,  A buoyant  football game on thanksgiving522TV with all the guys, talking  about politics and the latest new car on the market,  or joining in a “girly” conversation with all of the “women” in our family, huddled together in the toasty  kitchen with my mom as she was adding her signature  finishing touches to our regale… It was magical, warm and sensationally festive.

After the last guest arrived, and had a chance to get a drink, and mingle with everyone, dinner was served…. Each of us had already decided where we would steal a seat… Some of us preferred sitting at the little kids table, some the formal dining table and others in the living room, in front of the roaring fire, though the foot ball game was turned off, (well, at least  on pause, ) 🙂white-christmas replaced by the last day of my fathers symphony music, melodically flowing down the stairs from his study, (filling our home with a cheerful and gladsome ambiance,)  as the next day marked the beginning of a diverse and lively array of  Christmas tunes for the next six weeks!  🙂 My father always prayed a beautiful, heart felt prayer at grace, and as we grew older, there was an open invitation for anyone else to add to his prayer of gratitude. It was so quiet, you could hear a ‘pun drop’, (as Arthur Baer would say,)  except if someone added a bit of humor to their thanksgiving prayer, (most likely,  one of my brothers,) 🙂  which caused the rooms to echo with laughter.

Our Menu for our fete? (not counting  the appetizers put out in each room, which I won’t elaborate on, as the dinner itself is going to make my mouth water as I begin to write about it. 🙂 )

Roasted turkey, (a butterball I might add, always cooked to perfection,)  filled to overflowing with homemade cornbread stuffing,  giblet gravy, steamed seasoned rice, cranberry sauce, buttery, fresh mashed potatoes, the ever popular green bean casserole, hot steamy rolls, a relish tray of diverse olives, stuffed celery and spiced peaches, tomato aspic, my Aunt Lou’s treasured sweet potato souffle, (yes the one with yummy melted marshmallows on top,) plenty of hot chicory coffee, ( so delicious with freshly whipped cream,)  fine chardonnays for those who drank and sparkling cider for those who did not. I know there are plenty of quotes and stories told about how it takes hours and hours to prepare for the Thanksgiving feast and yet, the meal only lasts 20 minutes! 🙂 Not so in our family, as we would sit and talk , even after the plates had been cleared, sipping our wine or coffee, waiting for our stomachs to make room for some pie… Pies? I forgot about the pies…We definitely had our choices…Pumpkin pie, mincemeat with hard sauce, (my dads favorite,) pecan pie a la mode and at times a chocolate fudge layered  yellow cake… If you can believe it, some of my brothers actually had a little of each… 🙂

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Before we knew it, the gloaming hour had graced us with it’s enchanting presence, thanksgiving512 with the fire light still aglow, our stomachs completely satisfied,  and the football game over, slowly our home emptied out. After my sister and I  cleaned up the kitchen, (giving my mom some time off her feet,)  a few of us, still charged up with energy, would pick a movie to go and see…I will always remember one year, we chose Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta…thanksgiving511By the time we arrived to the theater, (and yes, can you believe it, we  still got buttered popcorn,) the only seats left were in the front row… (I would not recommend sitting that close to the screen to even my least favorite person 🙂 ) John Travolta had the longest legs I had ever seen, from my distorted view… 🙂 The music was absolutely fabulous though! 🙂 (I was ‘discoing-out’  in my seat…) 🙂

As I laid my head down on my pillow, totally exhausted, eminently happy and thankful for such a wondrous family, great food and a warm and cozy home to live in, I would fall asleep saying my prayers to the Lord…thanksgiving536 (NO, I was not envisioning a turkey and cheese omelet for breakfast the  next morning…) I was dreaming of  the Christmas season beginning the next day and how the 4 weeks ahead, would be the happiest of the year… 🙂

That is my version of how I grew up and experienced a traditional Thanksgiving day, though I know that there are many more wonderful traditions and scrumptious recipes that American households share together on this renowned holiday.

Now, being married, having my own family,  and living on the east coast, (with all our family on the west coast or mid west,) our Thanksgivings have changed a little bit…I still set a festive table with enchanting candlelight andIMG_0254 prepare the same traditional menu as my mom, (with a few changes of course.)  🙂 No rice, (that’s way to many carbs with the two potato dishes and rolls,) 🙂  I make my own gravy as I do not like the giblets…( though Graham drools over them), I invite Kit into the kitchen and he is a big help, (I can’t get Graham to leave the kitchen,) its cozy though! There is no tomato aspic in this house…(sorry dad…never acquired the taste,) and we stick to one pie, ( Kit’s specialty,)  pumpkin pie, as we know how left overs are to tempting and we do try to watch our waistlines. 🙂 New to my families tradition, we have the best homemade recipe for Eggnogthanksgiving523 from Kits dad…that topped with whipped cream is absolutely superb.  When we have friends over, I try to send them home with some kind of  homemade token of our day together and Kit  and I don’t have the energy to go out to a movie after our big feast, (we are usually asleep by 8:30 PM,) but sometimes we light a bonfire in our back yard and allow the dancing flames to entertain us while we mull over the wondrous day we’ve had. We still watch a little football, a favorite movie or two, play some Josh Grobin or Andrea Bocelli, (maybe a couple of Christmas carols,) 🙂  light a potpourri of candles as we do not have a dreamthanksgiving516y fireplace, (some day!) and we make a few phone calls to family to wish then a blessed day! Whether just Graham, Kit and I or a friend or two over, our house is entrancingly quiet and our day of festivity  is serene and blissfully happy, as we  celebrate with convivial spirit and choice cuisine, giving thanks to the Lord for all of His grace, love, bounty and blessings to our lives.  It really is one of our favorite holidays… Especially thanking the Lord for each other, our cozy family of three…

If you decide to host this beloved holiday in your home, creating a picturesque and engaging ambiance for this special gathering is not only fun, but will make your guests feel  pampered, cozy, welcomed and so “at home,” they will want to stay forever! Here are are a few festive ideas to festoon your home with for your holiday.

 

The first impression of your home is your front yard, porch and front door. It alone sparks the excitement of the gathering when ‘dressed for the occasion.’ I love this simple, yet very elegant, inviting homemade wreath!thanksgiving534

Create a warm and ambrosial, eye-catching display of beauty in your foyer… bringing forth a hint of what your home will be like  for this celebratory day.thanksgiving524

If you have a fireplace, absolutely keep a roaring, enrapturing fire going all day! TO bring added warmth and festivity, add some autumn gourds,  colorful fruits, garlands and red candles… This beautiful and kaleidoscopic  ‘ touch of nature”  display is heartening and pleasing to both the eyes and soul alike. 🙂thanksgiving525

If you have a Village collection, create an enchanting, alluring  tableaux with miniature white lights within the cottage windows and light a candle or two to give it added texture and charm.thanksgiving529

Create a cozy flavor and atmosphere in your living room for this festive affair…use rich fall colored pillows and throws, light an autumn scented candle or two, display a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers and put out some Hors d’oeuvres with ample mugs of hot mulled cider. They are all small details that add up, to make your guests feel at home and pampered.thanksgiving521

Some more cozy touches… an abundance of motley throw pillows, fresh flowers, a warm, rich autumn hued accent rug with a homemade quilt accenting the couch, creating a congenial invitation to sit, relax, kick your shoes off and enjoy!family1

If your crowd is a big one this year, extend the eating space by opening up your kitchen nook… this is where my mom created “the children’s table” where believe me, many adults made sure they had a ” seat saved.”  🙂 thanksgiving535

If the weather is conducive, your faithful and cozy porch is also a place to set up  for more ambrosial dining! (A perfect and dulcet nook to sneak off to, as you and your close sibling catch up on all the latest news.) thanksgiving300

If your gala is formal, and again, the weather permits, create an elegant patina on your porch with white linens tablecloths, sparkling crystal and your antiquated. timeless  silver…Remember to have space heaters if it is a bit chilly and bedeck your tables with a medley of elfin candles. This verandah  would make for a perfect , thanksgiving dinner.thanksgiving519

Since you already KNOW that your guests will be in and out of the kitchen, whether to chat with the cook, gather to help prepare, or sneak a bite of that delicious sage sausage stuffing, hot out of the oven, festoon your kitchen with beckoning and captivating , autumn decor!thanksgiving513

For me, the dining room table, can never be to festive, for any occasion… This hostess has gone all out with her gorgeous, vintage candelabras, elaborate  taper candles, fall foliage centerpiece and prestigious, fine china and crystal. This table is prepared for royalty and each guest will feel an abundance of convivial warmth and spirit.thanksgiving515

If you choose to not have the standard array of thanksgiving pies, you can always bake a few delectable confections and place them on your dining room side board table atop a three tiered cake stand, accompanied by an array of  fetching candles. Not only is this display tempting, enticing and beautiful, but your guests will be reminded to  save room for the particular sweet treat they have their eye on. 🙂family3

You can never be “to creative” with your Tableaux centerpiece. Whatever you choose to design and bring forth, will be a mood-setter for your guests dining experience.  This artful and garish centerpiece is charming, festive and would undoubtedly be the talk of the table!thanksgiving530

This arresting centerpiece is eminently creative and so easy to make! I love the added touch of the brilliant, lively yellow roses.thanksgiving531

A beautifully decorated  sideboard  table within  your dining room is another way to bring the season alive  to each one  of your guests.family2

After your palates are completely satisfied,  if you have an outside fire pit or are able to build one yourself, it is quite a treat to bundle up around the roaring fire, tell a few stories and end the blithesome holiday with a bonfire.thanksgiving532

Lastly, when my guests leave, I have always enjoyed giving them some kind of homemade trinket to take home as a memory of our holiday spent together… These gifts are not only beautiful to display but you know they are going to taste delicious. 🙂thanksgiving526

 

Whatever country you live in, or whatever your day of thankfulness is, I wish for  it to be a day, blessed with peace, delicious food, wondrous camaraderie and a day of heart felt gratitude…

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

I want to share a few of my traditional recipes with you in closing….My homemade sage sausage stuffing and sweet potato souffle, as well as simple ways to make your gravy, turkey and pumpkin pie.  (All very popular in our household! ) Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato souffle.

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YOU WILL NEED:

4 large sweet potatoes, 1/2 stick of butter,1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3 TBSP maple syrup, 2 eggs beaten, 1/2 cup half and half, 1 TBSP vanilla, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 package chopped pecans, 1 bag miniature marshmallows, 1/4 tsp allspice, (a dash of cinnamon if you like.) 🙂

Preheat your oven to 350

Either microwave or boil your sweet potatoes until cooked, let cool a little, then mash with 1/2 stick of soft butter. Add your beaten eggs, spices, both sugars, maple syrup, pecans and vanilla. Spoon into an 8 inch greased pan, bake for 30 minutes. Take casserole out of oven, top with marshmallows and place back in oven for 5 minutes, allowing the marshmallow to melt and get just a bit toasty,(lightly browned.) This recipe is always a hit at any occasion!

 

 Sage sausage stuffing.

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YOU WILL NEED:

1 pound Jimmy Dean sage breakfast sausage, 1 onion  finely chopped, 2 stalks celery finely chopped, 1 package Pepperidge farm season bread crumbs, (cornbread preferred but the original is fine as well,) 2 & 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 stick of butter, ground black pepper, (I add a touch of Tabasco sauce for spiciness.) 🙂

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crumble and cook your sausage over medium low heat ’til cooked. Drain and set aside.

In 3 quart sauce pan, add your butter, chicken broth, pepper, chopped onion and celery and cook on medium heat, stirring often and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover and allow to cook for five minutes. (You want your vegetables to be tender.) When cooked, remove from heat and add your bread crumbs, and sausage, mix well, place in casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. (Can be made the day before if you like.)

For our dinner, I only bake half of my stuffing for a delicious side dish. I set the other half aside to stuff my turkey…it not only flavors the turkey with savory spices and an abundance of  superb flavor but it is very moist, and gives your guest two choices of stuffing to have with their turkey. ( The stuffing from inside the turkey is my husbands very favorite side dish.) 🙂

Susan’s turkey gravy.

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For my gravy, I do not use the turkey giblets :) I bake our turkey in an oven cooking bag, saving all the juices from the turkey at the bottom of the bag…In a large sauce pan, I mix  1/2 stick of softened  butter with 2-3 Tablespoons of flour and make a rue…over low heat as the butter melts with the flour, I slowly  add the juices of the turkey  as I continue to whisk my gravy. (From then on out , its eying the texture of your gravy…if you want it thicker, add more flour, constantly whisking, if a thinner consistency  is desired, add more of your turkey juice or chicken broth. It’s “simply marvelous”, as Billy Crystal would say,  over your mashed potatoes and rice.

Our Turkey!

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For my turkey, I always bake it in a oven bag, (found at the grocers…) it comes out so tender and juicy! Directions for the baking time of your particular turkey is inside  the box . All I do is defrost my turkey, clean it out and fill it with the unbaked portion of stuffing, rub it with softened butter and use fresh ground pepper to season, place it in the bag, tie it and bake.) I wish I could tell you what to do with the giblets… 🙂 (Some of you may love them.)

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And lastly, you can’t beat the recipe for pumpkin pie on Libbey’s pumpkin pie filling in the can. I buy  Pillsbury pre-made pie crust in the refrigerator section at the grocer and line my pie pan, and create the pumpkin pie filling, according to the cans directions. Fill the pie shell and bake as directed. (Actually, Kit does all this as he is the pie maker in our family. 🙂 (Served with freshly, sweetened whipped cream, this dessert is mouthwatering and always envelops our hearts with cozy, nostalgic memories of holidays past.)  Pumpkin pie just does that! 🙂

All this delicious food is making me wish that Thanksgiving was today! 🙂

 

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November’s fete of gratefulness.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Marcus Tulliusthanksgiving1

When I was a little girl,  the month of October was all about,  exclusively focusing on finding just the right costume, deciding which “Cool”  friends or siblings to go trick or treating with,turkey1 (sometimes I’d go twice on that long – awaited, magical and beguiling night.) The first round was with my girlfriends, then of course, I just had to go with my older  brothers, hiding behind their large capes and ingenious costumes, in hopes the neighbors would not recognize the white sheeted ghost, with the uneven-cut-out eyes, that had frequented their door, just two hours before.) 🙂  And of course, we were all signed up for the silent, unspoken but engrossingly fun, marathon of winning the title of ” the biggest pillow case full of candy,” (not counting apples, oranges or healthy granola  bars.)  November was always exciting as we got an entire week off from school  (five days, plus two weekends was  undeniably, nine days of bliss.) turkey2 Cold and windy bliss, but joyous and  felicitous none the less. 🙂  Our mini-vacations were filled with a buoyant and nostalgic excitement from our holidays past, as we KNEW exactly what my mom was going to divinely create  in her kitchen Thanksgiving day.  Her menu always included her renowned, ( impeccably roasted until ‘just right,’) scrumptious, 28 pound Butterball turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread stuffing, pungent olives, cranberry sauce,  stuffed celery, spiced peaches, mashed potatoes and dreamy sweet potato souffle. (Topped off with sweet, melted marshmallows. 🙂  I can still smell the savory aromas filling our home on that festive day. turkey3  Another anticipated tradition we always looked forward to was the gathering of our ‘rather large’ family for an abundance of convivial spirit and hours of storytelling on our day of gourmet cuisine and thankful hearts. With our family of nine, our cousins from Louisiana and a fiend or two, our house was packed… overflowing with welcomed  laughter, loud conversations, a foot ball game or two on the TV, The wizard of OZ playing upstairs for the little ones and  plenty of warm hugs and southern charm .turkey4 An endless and mesmerizing  fire would be kindling all day long in our hearth and ‘for us youngsters,’ there would be sneaky sips of the ice cold beers and fine wines the “adults ” were enjoying. 🙂 I don’t know why we called-it ‘sneaking’ when all the time, THEY KNEW! 🙂  ( Whether pumpkin pie, pecan, dutch apples, mincemeat, or chocolate fudge cake, our  side board table within our dining room was always  bedecked with a medley of mouthwatering desserts,turkey6 in which my siblings and I always had seconds , piled high with freshly whipped cream. Those truly were the days!

 

Now as an adult… everything has changed… October for me, is a time of enjoying each fresh, new fall day  with its magnificent array of ardent colors exploding as the season envelops,  festooning our home with animated and lively decor,  accompanied  by the delightful beginning to our ‘season of cooking our favorite,  savory and familiar comfort food recipes,’ to accent the chilly, gusty days and evenings that have arrived with this cherished season.turkey5 I still get excited planning our upcoming Turkey day…I know it will be a serene yet festive day, filled with gladness and joy, our meal will be delicious yet lower in sodium and we may see a friend or two, but our hearts –  snuggery – contentment will be full, with just Graham, Kit and myself. (No fireplace, but lots of enthralling candles, their soft glow and warmth, bringing an ambiance of comfort and peace to our home and hearts.)     The TV may be on for a bit, with a Football game or an old classic movie or two, and yes, I just have to get my husband a bit roused by playing a few Christmas tunes…(I love to hear him laugh and say “Oh no,turkey8 here it comes and it won’t stop until mid January.” ) I know too, that our Thanksgiving day seems to grow each year with our lists of what we are most thankful for.(So, I put my turkey in the minute we begin thanking God and by the time we’re done thanking God, the turkey is done.” 🙂 I am just teasing… but truly, our thankfulness and gratitude to God for His many blessings plays a big part in our day, our month, and to  be honest, our entire year.

 

For the dulcet and eminently welcomed month of November, I decided to start a new tradition that I want to share with you, my readers.aut2 As we all grow older, our outlook on life changes… We begin noticing and thinking about things that we never thought about in our 20’s and 30’s. We start thinking about our health, the health and well being of others,  spending quality time with those we love, having balance in our lives, looking closely at our goals and future, achieving health and exercising our talents and creativity, no matter what it is we “do.”  We no longer take friends, (real friends,)  and family for granted, for they are a rare gift…horse8 Good  books seem to be a newly acquired best friend, as we arduously  search for knowledge, serenity and guidance,  as well as taking stock of all the many blessings we are graciously bestowed with, in our everyday lives. Yes, choosing to have a grateful heart and being happy with all that  God has given you,  changes the mind and souls perception in an immense way.

I remember a dear friend of mine sharing a story  that has stayed with me for over 20 years. While he was becoming sober and started AA with a quiet, laid back-easygoing   sponsor, he basically was in a mindset that ‘his life could not get any worse.’ In his eyes, his life was truly ‘the pits.”   After a few visits with his newly found mentor, when asked how he was doing,  my dauntless and candid  friend told him just that. 🙂 His sponsor  replied. “Okay…I understand that, but can you think of just one good thing in your life that you are thankful for?arctic6So my friend struggled and finally came up with one  positive thing…then the mentor asked him to do it again…soon, his “thankful list” was noticeably  longer and his life began looking up. He actually had a  new hope deep within, and everything began to start looking a bit brighter. Thankfulness and gratitude changes everything.

In this writing, I want to challenge you this Thanksgiving month with my new November tradition. (Perhaps it is not new at all for you and you already do this…) 🙂  Being that this  month has 30 days, I have spent some time pondering all the blessings in my life and I decided to write 30 blessings down on paper.(It was easy to pick 30 and hard not to go over…) (That alone made me thankful. 🙂turkey9  Each day I will meditate on one particular blessing in my life that I am incredibly thankful for, so that by the time Thanksgiving  Day arrives, my heart will be overflowing with Thankfulness and my heart will be a heart of pure gratitude. If you have time, take the challenge with me and see if it makes a difference. I was telling my husband, in doing this list, it was so easy because all I had to do was ‘think about all the gifts in my life and what my life would be like, if for some reason, the gift was taken from me.( Believe me, It enhanced my gratefulness even more. 🙂

 

 

Before I share my list, I wanted to bless you with some very ingenious and creative quotes on this special subject of gratitude.  🙂

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“We must find time to stop and thank the people who  make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns, I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~ Winnie the Pooh ~ A.A. Milne

“Saying ‘thank you’ is more than good manners, its good spirituality.” ~ Alfred Painterturkey10

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” ~ Kak-Sri

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continually. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in  your gratitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not spoil what you do have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have, was once among the things you only hoped for. ” ~ Epicurus

 

 

 

My challenge to myself and to you…At least 30 blessings in my life I am grateful for .

1. My relationship with God, His awesome grace, unconditional love and the faith He has given and developed within me is beyond amazing. 2. My husbandhe is  my very best friend and has been there for me through every season of our lives together. 3.Grantham, our 100 pound briard-dog. Those of you who read the site know my deep love for him goes without saying. With not having children, he is our ‘baby”, toddler, youngster, and high school-er, all rolled into one. 🙂  4. My family. Those still alive (five siblings) and those in heaven. They all have enriched my life with such joy, laughter, camaraderie and love. (We’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly together and still love each other.) 🙂 5. The beautiful best friend I had in my mom for 33 years. There will never be another  relationship like the one she and I shared. 6. My friendships. Whether  my childhood best friend, ( who 43 years later holds the same place within my heart,) or the abundance of  friends over all the years since then, to  the last friend I met here in Delaware, the friendships I have been blessed with over the years of my life have been amazing and such a joy to my heart.  7. My good health. Because there was a time I did not have it, I especially am grateful for healing and restoration and a healthy body.  8. Our home.Our home is our castle, our place of safety, beauty and refuge as well as a gathering place of joy and laughter. 9. Our car. It stars everyday, and gets us where we need to go… do I need to say more? 🙂 10. The gift of music.I can’t imagine a life without worship music, dancing, entertainment and song lyrics, (when put to melody, touch our soul in a way, that at times, words alone can’t.)  11. My five senses. What would life be like, to not see a sunset, feel your spouses touch, smell a dutch  apple pie baking in the oven, hear a symphony or taste a delicious , creamy, mouthwatering bite of Chocolate chip cookie dough Ice cream?  🙂  12.  Natures  beauty with its myriad of wildlife . Bucolic country fields of wild flowers, the awesome and mysterious ocean, our rose bushes  first blooms, brilliant thunderstorms, and a herd of deer outside our bedroom window in the early morning hours. WOW! 13. Our Bed. When my close brother died suddenly, I chose to have something tangible in my life to remind me of him with the inheritance money he left me. So,  Kit and I bought a top of the line, deluxe, supreme mattress and  box spring  for our southern, four post, Rice bed. It’s dreamy! He would have done the same….Thank you Jim. 🙂 It sure beats the 20 year old mattress we had before…our backs thank us daily! 14. The four seasons. There is no beauty to compare to each joyous season and all the comforts and gifts they bestow upon our lives… what a blessing! 15. The talents God has given me. I believe He placed my ability’s deep inside, and has developed them within me to bring a fulfillment that floods my soul, as I am able to bring others joy and beauty. 🙂 I am so grateful. 16. Healing through loss and crisis times. Usually, when we are young, we don’t think about the hardships life can bring, deep losses, illness, divorce, division…I am constantly amazed at the healing that arrives , at times so unexpectedly and  how our souls can truly be renewed from such deep pain. What a  gracious gift from God. 17. The gift of prayer . Prayer changes everything.18. Great movies and TV shows to entertain us.  (I am thankful I did not grow up in the days of Radio. 🙂 Kit and I are big  movie buffs and fans of a few TV sitcoms, and yes, reality shows! (What would we do without “The Voice”  with  all the fun banter of Adam Levine and Blake Sheldon? ) 🙂   19. The ability to honor God with praise. I am so appreciative to be able to praise and thank God, giving back just a portion of all the wondrous things He has done in our lives.  20. Delicious and healthy, (sometimes not so healthy) food! What would life be like without comfort foods, hot corn on the cob with freshly melted butter, pecan pie a la mode, a medley of fresh greens in a summer salad or a robust and superb, first cup of morning hot coffee? (With pumpkin spice creamer?) Delish!  21. The ability to create and cook HEALTHY meals. Especially being older, where nutrition becomes a main focus instead of the latest fashion or a petite waistline, 🙂  being able to buy and bring forth fresh, healthy ingredients into our meal planning is something I never take for granted. (Were getting close to the end of this blogs challenge 🙂 …) 22. My extended family. I have been very blessed with the best cousins, nephews and nieces in the world, loving in laws and wondrous families we’ve been ‘adopted by’ through our many journeys in life.  23. Truly, the invention of Decaf coffee. Without it,  I could not enjoy the comforting aroma and taste of this ever popular, divine beverage.  24. Okay, I am going to squeeze two in together for this one…:) The invention of eyeglasses and dark chocolate. Both of which enhance my days and evenings and  my ability to read and write, (I can’t see a word without my glasses and the chocolate inspires me. 🙂 25. (This is so easy.) Thunderstorms and fireflies. What would life be like without their enchantment and magic…? 26. My education. Sadly, I didn’t appreciate the gift of being  educated in my younger days, like I should have, but  I can’t stop being thankful everyday for it NOW, as it has broadened my life in a myriad of wonderful ways. (Thanks mom and dad.) 27.Living near the ocean shores. kit and I are “water people.” We love the nautical life that graciously  comes with living by the  haunting inlets, miry  creeks, white sandy  beaches , vast rivers and breathtaking lakes. We are blessed. (Graham too, even though he hates water…he does love the sea life it  so proudly is home to) 🙂 28. My love of our home. There is nothing as passionate to my heart as writing, creating and decorating , (as far as things to do.) (I especially adore Christmas with all its festive ways to share the joy of the beloved season.) 29. The Living Winsomely site. I can never express how much I enjoy writing , researching and sharing ideas for a more winsome and blissful life with you all, my readers. 🙂 OKAY, do you think I will stop at 30? 🙂 The Gift of encouragement.  I can’t imagine life without the love and encouragement of God, my husband, dog, friends and family … It is a wonderful feeling to be  encouraged and to encourage others. (You know I am going to sneak in just one more.. 31. The ability to love and to be loved back. Truly, love, like prayer, changes EVERYTHING! 

That was so easy, painless, fun and definitely a start, to creating a heart that is brimming over with gratitude and thankfulness .  I hope you feel uplifted and perhaps motivated to make your own Thanksgiving list.

Happy reflecting, reminiscing,  pondering and concluding your “thankful heart” inventory! 🙂  I have put  together all the photos in order with the vignette. The visual memories of what I have to be thankful for, add even more appreciation within. 🙂

faith in Godmom and me and dadcathybrothersjim and Irob Gin and IAlex

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” Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~William Arthur Ward

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving! If you start this challenge a little late in the month, try ‘doubling up’ your  blessings or make it a three week challenge! 🙂

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