Food for Thought

I know, this is a food blog – but every now and again, I don’t feel like sharing a recipe so much as I feel the desire to pour us a cup of coffee and chat about life. This is one of those mornings.

Growing up, Dad inspired his children to think and to learn about the world around us. Many a weekend was spent piled in the family station wagon, traveling the back roads of California, exploring all the little mining towns and soaking in the rich history. The past is very much a part of who I am as a person.

Image result for images old sacramentoBy the time I got to high school, hanging out with a few close friends in what is now “Old Sacramento” was a great thing to do. I don’t mean we would hang out smoking cigarettes and drinking beer (although that was a very real possibility). Back then, the river front that now makes up Old Sacramento was a chunk of real estate two-blocks deep and about fifteen-blocks long. The buildings were closed up, but not locked up. It was easy to slip into an abandoned warehouse or water-front hotel. What we knew as the river front was actually an abandoned part of town built on top of another abandoned part of town. Way back when, the Sacramento and American rivers flooded this area almost every winter. The solution was to build on top of what was already there, raising the streeImage result for images old sacramentots to the second floor and burying the past in a catacomb of an older city. By exploring the “new” old section of the city, one could gain access to the hidden past below. Today Old Sacramento is a thriving tourist attraction of trendy restaurants woven among T-Shirt shops and Tattoo Parlors. Guess that’s what is known as progress, and I can live with that.

There is another part of the past that makes me sad. We like to go to street fairs featuring antiques. So often, tucked in among the crystal and silver, are boxes of old photographs. Who are these people? What became of them? More importantly, what became of their families? Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Shouldn’t someone cherish the wedding photos or turn of the century young men marching off to war? Why are these ghosts of the past piled in crates for strangers to sort through? I have boxes in my attic with tattered photo albums of people who I have never met, but they mean something to me. This is my past – my personal connection to yesterday. It’s sad to see roots abandoned, cast aside and forgotten.

And Now a Moment of Silence

Today’s scheduled post – Crock Pot Spaghetti Family Style – has been postponed. There was something oddly “wrong” about posting a family style recipe and brushing aside the significance of this day. Fifteen years – that’s a long time, and our country has yet to fully heal. The wounds are deep. For some anger is even deeper. Something happens when an entire nation drops to their knees and weeps, forever strip of our sense of innocence.

There are national events that happen and you are forever changed as a person – be it for the better or worse, something inside you is changes. Anyone alive today can tell you exactly where they were and how the news of Pearl Harbor hit them. I can recall the death of JFK; and in clear detail September 11, 2001.

Hubby was getting ready to leave for work. I was getting ready for my day – take Kiddo to school, followed by a routine Doctor’s appointment, the lunch with friends. The phone rang – it was our daughter. Did we have the television on? No. Turn it on. What channel? Any channel. We are under attack. What? I hung up and turned on the TV, sure she was exaggerating. She tends to become dramatic at times. Oh my God! The remote tumbled from my hand, crashing on the tile floor of our bedroom. Hubby heard the commotion and came to see – silently he  picked up the remote, never taking his eyes off the television set. He joined me and we sat together on the edge of the bed, unable to speak.

Two more phone calls – the first to my Dad. Had he spoken to his brother? My cousin’s son worked at the Pentagon. No. My uncle had not been able to get through to reach his daughter in Washington. (It turned out Brian’s office, one of those hit, had been recently painted and he had yet to move back to his office – a move that was scheduled a few days later). The second call was to our good friend, a Las Vegas transplant from Buffalo, New York. His mother flying in for a visit. Whenever his mother came to visit, we would go to Mass together and pretend it was something we did every Sunday. Our friend did not want his mother (a nice Italian lady with dreams of her son becoming a Priest one day) to know that not only did he marry a girl outside the faith, he no longer attended Mass. All our friend could tell us was that his elderly mother was in the air somewhere between Buffalo and Las Vegas. (She was grounded, and eventually put on a bus to reach her final destination). I wanted to make a few more calls, to friends in New York, but I knew such attempts would be futile at this point.

Business out-of-the-way, it was time to let emotions take over. My heart ached so badly, a pain so deep that I collapsed under the weight of it. I felt God was weeping and there was nothing I could do to comfort my Lord. This horrific thing had been carried out in His name – can you imagine how much that hurt? His children so misguided; they were slaughtering one another in record numbers in His name. Even now, fifteen years later, I weep whenever I think about how much we hurt our Creator on September 11, 2001.

I kept Kiddo home from school, needing to feel him close to me. After my doctor’s appointment, Kiddo and I went down to the Strip – to the New York-New York Hotel. Don’t ask me why, we just did. I had to get away from the images on the television. I had the need to go where people might gather. We weren’t alone. Already flowers lined the street in front of the hotel. From the fence hung shirts and notes and ribbons. The T-shirts were placed there by firefighters and police officers on vacation in Las Vegas, some of them from New York. These firefighters and officers found themselves unable to get home yet needed to show their support for their brothers and sisters in the line of duty in New York. Strangers hugged one another, silently placing objects along the fence and openly weeping. By late afternoon the crowds that gathered were so great, traffic actually stopped on the strip and had to be detoured around the hotel.

They say churches and places of worship saw attendance in record numbers immediately after. People were seeking answers and longing for comfort. Eventually those that did not normally attend a place of worship returned to their normal routines. That too is sad.

I am sure there will be plenty of footage today of the death and the destruction. The scab will be picked on once again. I want to take a moment of silence and then to pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hollowed by thy name . . .

Fathers and Daughters – A Tribute to My Dad

When I was a little girl, my Dad would sometimes just show up at school. The bell to dismiss class would ring, and there he’d be, standing out on the sidewalk waiting for me. The family wagon was packed with sandwiches; cold drinks and a couple of fishing poles. We’d stop along the river to get some worms (in the sleepy little town of Freeport). At the edge of town stood an iron bridge all painted green. Up, over the railroad tracks and across the river we went, turning due west, toward the coast. To this day, whenever Hubby and I have an occasion to cross that bridge, my heart skips a beat.

When it came time to fish, Dad would always bait my hook – not that I didn’t like worms, I did. I just could not bring myself to stick the slimy little suckers on the end of a hook. There were times when we’d find a spot wide enough along side the levee road to pull off and park. Then down we went, trampling through the brush, to sit on the bank and fish. That was back in the old days – when the rivers and sloughs and all the little outlets were free to fish from. Now if you take a ride along those same river roads, there are signs posted everywhere of “Private Property” and “Keep Out”. So sad. I’ve never been able to figure out how people living on one side of the levee road could own the rights to the river banks on the other side of the road. Maybe they always did, but back then no one cared if you fished the rivers.

catfishsmall fishing boatMore often than not, we’d catch a whole string of catfish. We are talking those “cat” looking catfish – with the rubbery skins instead of fish-scales and long cat-like whiskers.  I liked to touch them, only because they felt strange. Sometimes Dad would rent a boat in Freeport. Nothing fancy – a row-boat with a couple of benches and little outboard motor. The best part about the boat was that it gave us the ability to reach wild berry bushes growing along the banks of the rivers and sloughs that could not be reached from the shore. Dad and I would pick berries – so plump and sweet. Those were magical times.

We’d get home about the time the sun was setting. Mom always gave Dad a good scolding since she had worried about me all afternoon. Then Dad would show her our catch and the big bucket of berries. She would flash him a look that said “you made me worry over nothing.” and send Dad out to the garage sink to skin the fish. Mom would then smile and ask if I had a nice time. It was magical!

Once the fish were skinned and filletted, Mom would dredge them in cornmeal and fried up nice and golden. I don’t remember what we had on the side – but I’d be willing to bet it was rice of some sort. After all, Mom was Filipino – growing up with an Okie Dad and Filipino Mom, we ate a lot of rice and everything was smothered in gravy!

With all these lovely memories floating through my head, imagine my surprise when I invited Dad to a down home fish-fry and he said he didn’t like fish! But Dad – what about our outings when I was a little girl? He just smiled and said that was our special time.

Fathers are special. As daughters our first “love” is Dad – the yardstick by which all other men are measured.

On the Road Again

July is a slow time in the event business. June weddings and graduations are behind us. It’s far too hot for people to think beyond a back yard barbecue and floating down a lazy river. Everything comes to a melting, withering, wilting halt. It’s also the perfect time for Kiddo, Hubby and I to take to the open road – head for parts unknown or revisit familiar trails once forgotten.

As we plan our great escape, pack up the car and head off to secret destinations, I thought this would be a great time to share some recipes from the past. Perhaps to reflect and relax a bit. While I might not manage a posting everyday, I’ll do my best to catch up with you all at the end of our journey.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful summer. Run through the sprinklers. Enjoy a Popsicle. Chase the grandchildren. Take up a new hobby. Whatever gives you great joy!

A Tribute to my Beautiful Mom on Mother’s Day

My mom wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. At least not for me. The last conversation we had, I brushed her off. She wanted to go to lunch and spend the day together. After all, it was my birthday. It was also a work day. “Playing hookie” as she put it was not something I was willing to do. I wasn’t sick, and I wasn’t about to call in sick just to spend the day with her. “Some other time, mom. I have to work today.” I could hear the disappointment in her voice. She had called bubbling over with excitement and hung up hurt. Two weeks later, Mom died in her sleep. For us, “some other time” never came.

The last Mother’s Day card from me to her was a doctor holding a baby up-side-down in the delivery room, and the woman had a strange look on her face. The outside of the card read “Look lady, I just delivery them.” Inside the card read “I don’t explain them.” That card pretty well summed up our relationship.

For a rebellious, system-fighting woman who refused to be shoved into some sort of a box that did not fit her free-spirited nature, you would have thought the bond between her and her equally rebellious flower-child of a daughter would have been strong. It wasn’t. Don’t misunderstand me, we had a deep love for one another. We just seemed to bump heads at every turn. As a teenager; I did not understand why she so often tried to shove me into that same “box” she had rejected for herself. Looking back now; I think I understand better. Mom was ahead of her time. The forties and fifties were not a time for women to challenge their roles in society. Mom’s refusal to accept the dutiful role imposed upon her by others brought about a great deal of struggle and heartache. She wanted to spare me; to protect me from the same pain. My march to a different drum was during a time when women were throwing their aprons out the window, a time when attending college wasn’t a means to “snag a good husband”.

What can I tell you about my mother? Second to the youngest of 16 children; she was educated in a private Catholic School.

1935 del Gallego Family

Mom is seated on her father’s lap.

Mom was a rebel. She challenged the Nuns, the Priests and just about anyone of authority. At Sunday Mass, the men gathered outside the church, smoking cigarettes and talking politics, while the women and children sat inside the church, listening to the sermon of the day. Mom argued with her mother and older sisters, not understanding why she could not be outside with her brothers. It seemed wrong that she could not be a part of the more interesting conversations simply because she was a girl. At school, Mom was equally disruptive. Always running late, Mom was known to roller skate from class to class until the Nuns took away her “wheels”.

Her older brothers held positions of high authority within the government of the Philippines. This afforded Mom with the opportunity to raise a little hell of her own. When she was twelve; she took her brother’s official car (with high ranking government plates) out for a joy-ride. She could barely see over the steering wheel of the car as she barreled through the street of Manila. The police, seeing the plates, did nothing to stop her. I can just imagine my mom; with a carload of Catholic-School escapees, out for a day of fun with no one standing in their way.

images (17)I wanted June Cleaver as a mom. What images (16)I got was Lucy with a Filipino accent. One thing was certain; life with Mom was never dull.

She was wacky, wild with all sorts of “screwball” ideas. Mom didn’t color outside the lines, she scribbled – big, wide deliberate colors as far outside the box as she could reach. I shall miss her always.

Wishing Mothers everywhere a wonderful Mother’s Day. 

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The Realization that Life is Good No Matter What

Can we chat a moment? Since the rest of this week’s menu consists of left-overs (Spice Rub Baby Back Ribs with Golden Eagle Barbecue Sauce) and meals I’ve shared before, rather than cook for you I’d like to share another hobby – my view of the world through the lens of my camera. And reflect for a moment on the world of blogging.
The nice thing about blogging is the whole blogging community out there. I have my followers – and those that I follow. It’s an interesting circle of people in a world that is strange and new to me. A wonderful, magical place in cyber space. While I share my amateur photographs, let me tell you about some of the wonderful people I have “met” on my journey into the blogging world.
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There is a man who is fighting back against cancer. He shares his thoughts every day – and most of the time they are very positive – he believes he has been given his cancer to encourage and inspire others traveling down a similar road to put one foot in front of the other and just keep living every moment – even the painful ones. I lost my dear, dear brother a year ago to cancer. This beautiful man has helped me to heal in ways I cannot express. Although we will never meet “in the real world” he has touched my soul deeply.
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One of my favorites is a gal who doesn’t give the history of her recipe or any background information. Instead she posts pictures of her recipe in various stages of preparation while having a conversation about life – how she feels about golf or things that make her a little nuts. It’s like visiting with a friend – sitting in her kitchen while she prepares dinner and talks about her day.
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There is the couple who are retired now and travel around the country in an RV – her Husband is the pilot, she the co-pilot. Her “hobby” is that she is wizard with a camera – unbelievable photos of wild life and sunrises that will steal your breath away. Bright, beautiful photos of birds in flight and blue skies that never seem to end. Her narratives paint pictures as beautiful as her photos. And her all-time favorite “subject” are cranes. While my photos don’t come close to hers, I share her love for birds in the wild.
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The grandmother in Southern California who is very much like me – our childhood and adulthood lives are similar, and it is as though we have grown up together. While we have never met, through our mutual blogs, we have become friends. We have so much in common – more than I could have imagined.
 
And then there are my fellow foodies from all around the world, with family traditions and cultural and holidays vastly different from those I’ve known and yet at the core they are the same – families gather, laugh together, cry together and weave a tapestry of memories in a universal unspoken language of love. Chefs and want to be chefs – mothers, grandmothers, couples cooking together, newly weds making adjustments – all sharing glimpses into their lives – everyday lives in beautiful stages. People of different backgrounds, beliefs, attitudes, and orientations all on a journey, making their way through life. From these wonderful people I learn something new and inspiring every day.
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There are common threads gently woven into each post – the undertone of fear – it’s not easy to put yourself out there – and courage – for putting yourself out there. Every person on the planet has the same human need to connect to one another. To share, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is comfort in knowing that on some level, we are all on the same journey, although be it different paths, we are all part of the human experience. I stand in awe of the beauty of life – of everyday, come as you are life. Pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee (or tea) and chat a while without the fear of judgement or rejection. Accepting and being accepted for who we are is an awesome thing. Yes, life is good. Painful, sad, quiet, loud, happy, peaceful and often times messy – it is all good. Every moment of every day – no matter the struggles or disappointments – life is a blessing – a messy, beautiful blessing.
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Easter Wishes

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Easter Sunday. May your day be filled with love and laughter. Tis the season for renewal and rejuvenation. Let the peace and joy of this season overflow. – Rosemarie

Good Friday – A Day of Reflection

Let me begin by saying today is Good Friday – for me this is a day of fasting and prayer. While I would love to share a scrumptious new recipe with you, I’d rather not think about food on an empty stomach. I had considered skipping my daily post today. That would have been the sensible thing to do. I chose instead to go another route. If a discussion involving faith is uncomfortable or holds no interest for you, please feel free to move on and we will catch up with one another later. No offense taken.

This was a difficult posting to write. I struggled with it – do I open up and share a very personal side of myself – my faith? I’ve never hidden the fact that I am a believer in Christ, or that ours in a Catholic Household. One of the things that bothers me about organized faith and beliefs (even my own Catholic Church) is when someone is in your face with their beliefs without respecting yours. I am a Catholic. I feel very strongly about my faith. It is deeply personal to me. That said, I feel just as strongly that God speaks directly to our souls – and not always in the same language. I know that puts me at odds with a great many Christians and non-Christians alike that believe a relationship with God must be their way – in the spiritual language that they speak and any deviation from that is a sure fired highway to damnation. Faith is too personal a relationship with our creator for humans to sit in judgement of others; for only God knows what He has whispered in our ear. Or where your journey may take you. There is only one truth by which all faith should be measured – to do no harm. No harm to yourself, no harm to others. Not in action, not in words, not in judgement and condemnation. Sometimes judgement and condemnation can be as subtle as an innocent, well-intended remark . . .

When Kiddo was a kid, I had hired an after-school tutor. Once a week we sat in her living room, generally having arrived early and had to wait until the student ahead of us was finished. I brought different things to read – a lot dealing with the Catholic Church and Catholic teachings simply because Kiddo was preparing to make his First Communion. I wanted to brush up on my Catechism – and be prepared to answer any question he may have. One day the mother of the other student leaned in and said if I wanted to read the Bible, she suggested I try reading the real Bible – you know, she went on to say – The Holy One, not the Catholic one. Really? I once had a co-worker suggest I read the King James Bible – written by King James, the brother of Jesus. People should think before they speak. Each time, I thanked them for their concerns and did not debate the subject further.

I grew up in pre-Vatican II world. This meant a code of conduct not present in the Church today. We fasted before mass (pre-Vatican II meant midnight, post Vatican II only requires a “mini” fast – one-hour before Mass). Only a Priest administered the Host. We lined up single-file to approach the altar, and waited until a spot opened up at the kneeler. One always knelt during Communion, as expected in the presence of the Lord. Today we bow our heads as the person in front of us receives Communion. The single-file line is also a thing of the past. In addition to the Priest, there are also Eucharistic Ministers throughout the church. Everyone wore their Sunday Best to Mass, men removed their hats (back in the day when men wore hats) while women veiled their heads. Every Friday was a day of abstinence and not discipline reserved for Fridays during Lent.  While these customs do have roots in scripture, they were considered a matter of discipline and not doctrine or more to the point – dogma. What is the difference? Disciplines are acts of preparation and mind-set. For a man to remove his hat and a woman to place a veil over her head were considered a way of demonstrating that you knew you were entering a House of the Lord. Confession has also changed. Yes, Catholics still confess their sins. When I was growing up, we went to confession every week – on Saturdays in preparation to receive Communion on Sunday. (Catholic teaching once told us we could not receive the Body and Blood of Christ if we have any sin on our souls that has not been confessed and forgiven – guess they expected us to be “Saints” between Saturday’s confession and Sunday’s Communion). Let me tell you, for a kid to confess sins week in and week out was hard. Mine general went something like this “Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I argued with my sisters and got mad at my brother.” Penance was generally two Hail Marys and an Our Father. When I think about it, everyone seemed to be assigned the same penance. How did I know? Because kids talk. We compared “penance” and if you got more, wow you must have done something really big! We never asked “what did you confess” understanding the sanctity of the confessional, but rather “what did you get” as a measuring stick of sorts. Today, if you have no serious sin, there is no obligation to go to confession before Communion. It’s a matter of letting your conscience be your guide. We try to attend once a month, but even then aren’t always successful.

I remember one Saturday, coming out of the confessional and sliding into the pew to recite my prayers. Kiddo leaned over, whispering that age-old question “What did you get?” It was all I could do not to laugh out loud, recalling that same question as a child. As adults, it’s not a simple matter of a few Hail Marys and an Our Fathers or two – often scripture readings are a part of the act of reconciliation. The scripture is intended to bring about reflection and to strengthen our walk with God.

  • It’s interesting to note that studies have shown there is a great deal of psychological benefit in the Catholic act of confessing our sins to a Priest. There is healing that takes place when we hear the words “you are forgiven” spoken aloud by another human being.

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Growing up in a pre-Vatican II world, there were a good many things I did not understand about being Catholic – the why behind our actions. But why? That was my most asked question presented to the nuns and priests providing instructions – why? Why cover our heads? Why can’t I have a hot dog on Fridays? Why, why, why? The standard answer I received was “Because the Church has said so.” For me, that is not an answer. There had to be a reason. By the time Kiddo was learning his faith, I had a library of reference books – some actually with titles “Why do Catholics do what They Do”. Questioning is a part of growth and growth is a deepening of faith. If you don’t understand the why behind the act, then the act is nothing more than going through the motions.

I love my faith, with all of its rich traditions. Whatever your beliefs, hold them near and dear to your heart. Celebrate who you are for there is no one else like you in the entire world – you are special because the Creator made you uniquely you.

May peace, love and abounding joy for you overflow.

Getting in a Celtic Mood

Every now and again, it’s nice to take a break from the usual kitchen conversations and share a bit of my private life. Hubby, Kiddo and I are a very close – as families should be. Oh, we have our moments but make no mistake about it – there’s a lot of love even in the most heated of moments. As a family, we like to try new adventures – and if the adventure turns out to be a real hoot, it becomes part of our family tradition. Kiddo once said if you don’t have something to look forward to, then you will end up with nothing to look back on later in life.

A few years back, Hubby was surfing the net; looking for something for us to do as a family – an outing or fair or something. That’s when he stumbled across the largest Celtic Fair west of the Mississippi. Just how large the fairs are east of the Mississippi, I could not say.

We said “What the heck, let’s go”. So we packed up the car (snacks for the road – it’s a 90 mile drive) and headed off to Sonora’s Fair Grounds, not knowing what to expect. Parking was a nightmare – the line to get in was long. Oh, but it was so worthwhile. Jousting competitions, a fire-breathing dragon, Celtic vendors galore. All sorts of yummy things to eat (got my lamb fix on – since I’m the only one in the family who will eat lamb, it was a real treat). Jugglers, wandering minstrels, belly dancers – a little something for everyone. Pirates and Roman Soldiers. We even learned about the history of the Emerald Isle that we hadn’t known before. (Love learning new things).

Best of all were the bands. There are several indoor stages with Irish Rock Bands. Yeah, you heard me right – rock bands.  Think AC/DC ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ and you’ll get the idea. We had a ball. People were dancing  anywhere they could find to kick off their shoes, let their hair down and just go wild.

That was three years ago. We soaked in as much as possible. The Celtic Fair is now a March Must Family Tradition – and for good reason . . . this year we’re going strictly for the music, having seen everything else a few times already. Oh, and the food – gotta have my lamb. And maybe the jousting. Okay, mainly the music, and the food. . .

The sights to see, the music to hear, the shouts and the cheers. Root for the Heroes and Boos to the Villains with their hearts as black as night. Royal courts mingle in the streets as peasants bow. Story tellers perched on bales of hay weave their colorful yarns. Peddler set up shops in large tents to sell their wares – mugs for the Ale, bags and boggles for the ladies and hand-carved toys to delight the little ones. Food on sticks roasted over a fiery pit and pints of beer galore.

The horses in the jousting competition are all rescued animals. And a finer gathering of steeds you’re not likely see. These animals carry themselves well, heads held high with a sense of pride and purpose. They are more than trained “show horses” – they are ambassadors. When the hat is passed to collect donations to rescue other animals, the crowds always respond well.

Christmas Magic Lives in the Hearts of Children

Here’s to hoping that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. This year, Hubby gave me two very special gifts that said how much he loves me and supports all my endeavors. While they were not fancy or expensive gifts, they were perfect in every way. One is a collection of hand-crafted salts from around the world. Unusual salts – Dead Sea Salt, Black Lava Salt and Cyprus Flakes known for their large pyramid shaped crystals and mild taste characteristic of Mediterranean salts. In all the collection contains ten distinct salts. The other is a collection of California flavor-infused Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars including a Habanero Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar. Simple perfection.

Sometimes, with all the ads screaming at us from every direction we lose sight of the true gift of Christmas through all the presents under the tree. We find ourselves bombarded with so much noise – you MUST have this – you MUST have that – get with the program and shop, shop, shop till you drop, drop, drop. Black Friday has somehow transformed into Forget the Family Thursday. Thanksgiving? Family time? Are you kidding? We camp out all night to be the first in line to snatch up whatever the hottest ticket of the season happens to be. When we put too much stock into possessions, we fail to realize that we are the ones possessed. Possessed by ad executives and marketing campaigns that convince us if we only have this or that, then our lives will be complete, our hearts filled with joy and everything will somehow be right with the world. It doesn’t take long once the gifts have been opened and the piles of this and that lay scattered about the room, that a sense of disappointment and emptiness begins to creep in. We shake the boxes, look under the scattered paper and bows and begin to wonder – where is it – the joy, the satisfaction, the magic we were promised? Well, at least I’ve got my smart-ass phone that can do everything EXCEPT connect me with another living, breathing human being. And we begin to reminisce of Christmas past – when we were children, and magic was so real.

Way back a long time ago, before Hubby came into my life, I was a young, divorced mother of two with barely two nickles to rub together. Part-time student, part-time worker, full-time Mom. Yet in the bleakest of financial times the magic of one particular Christmas Eve reminds me time and time again that believing with the heart of a child makes all things possible. Image result for image santa at a fireplaceMy little ones were very concerned that year and the worry lay heavy in their little hearts. They were just old enough to understand that Santa comes down the chimney to delivery gifts on Christmas Eve and to realize that our tiny apartment had no chimney – no fireplace – no magical way for Santa to visit as they lay asleep. As much as I tried to convince them that Santa would find a way, I could not put their minds at ease. A few days before Christmas Eve; on a cold night; I was thinking about my little ones and wondering how to create a magical fireplace. As I drove down the street, caught up in thought, a large cardboard box blew across my path. I could not believe my eyes. Thank you, Lord. With a little paint and a lot of imagination, that box would transform from someone’s discarded trash to our magical fireplace. I brought the box home and placed it in our hallway. At first my children were not impressed. All they saw was a big box sitting in the hallway. Watch, I promised, and you will see that this isn’t an ordinary big empty box. With scissors, a little poster paint and some masking tape, that box became our fireplace. I cut out the opening in the front, then we painted the entire inside black and the outside red. With masking tape, we formed the brick pattern on the face of the box. It was beautiful. On Christmas Eve, we hung our stocking over the mantel. Santa came while my little ones slept to fill their stocking with candies and little toys. Best of all, that magical fireplace filled their hearts with the joy of believing that all things are possible. The real magic of Christmas is love, for love knows no bounds.

May the New Year fill you with hope, happiness and most of all love.