Mar 29

Christmas Traditions Present Day ~ Day 85 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for Christmas traditions that we had when our children were younger.

I thought I would stick with the Christmas theme as I have some wonderful pictures of all the cousins together when they were all little.  The other day I explained a bit about the traditions when I was little, but today I will tell of me and my siblings traditions with our children.  This picture is one of several of all the kids through the years and this one is the year Zachary was born in 2001.  I have 5 children and my sister has 2 and my brother 3 which makes for a noisy holiday, but fun!

We always went to my Dad’s for Christmas breakfast and then my Mom’s for the afternoon to open gifts and have a buffet lunch.  My mom’s house is also small so it reminded me of going to my Mummu’s house too.  The kids would be so excited to see each other as it was hard to get everyone together as often as they were growing up and also a variety of age ranges.  They would play games and eat all the snacks and would ask us every 2 minutes when the unwrapping would commence.  Sometimes it was fun to make them wait and keep teasing them, but dinner was always first and then it was easier to get them to help cleanup too.

Once the gift giving began the wrapping paper would be flying and it was hard to keep track of who got what, but there was always excited screams of delight and oooh’s and aaaah’s.  My mother is a very thoughtful gift giver and she never ceased to amaze me with the perfect gifts for each grandchild and she still gives gifts to us kids too.  I bet it took her hours to wrap and it was over it what seemed like seconds.  I know the kids appreciated the gifts they got from her and from everyone else too.  After that presents were all opened and all cleaned up then the desserts would be brought out. There usually was a fire going in the wood stove and without the coffee we all would have been sleeping.  The kids ate their favorites and the grownups would finally get to sit and visit too.

Over the years our traditions have had to change and we’ve had breakfast now at my sister’s and then all the family over to my house for dinner and gift exchanging.  This would include my husband’s family too so there were always lots of us having a wonderful time.  Now that almost all of our children are graduated, are married and/or have girlfriends and boyfriends, we’ve had to make adjustments and we just go with what works.  This past year I had breakfast at my house with just a couple of my kids and my parents.  It was fun for me to set out a table with my best plates and plan a menu.  I hope we can do it again next year with whoever can come.

Love is always in the air and we are sure to make the best of the times we have together.  It’s not about the gifts anymore as much as it is about being together and sharing laughter and good times.

Christmas 2001

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Mar 26

Traditions ~ Day 84 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for cute old photos and that I can pick out my own clothes and they don’t match my brother’s.

Seriously, what was my mother thinking?  Was this really the style to dress your kids alike even though we aren’t twins?  Who came up with this stuff?  Yes, we are adorable, but holy putrid yellow and green sweaters and handmade pants batman!  I bet you I am 4 years old here and Mark is 2 years younger than I am as there is no baby in the picture but I will also bet my Mom was pregnant with my sister and due in a couple of weeks.

I will say that the memories surrounding Christmas are way better than the matching outfits and we were lucky to have traditions we stuck to every year.  Maybe that sounds boring to some, but they are fun and family traditions that through the years we came to cherish.  We always had Christmas breakfast with my Aunt and Uncle that lived next door and Christmas Eve was spent with my parent’s best friends and their son and daughter was like have another brother and sister.  Christmas morning we’d open gifts and then we’d get ready wearing our new clothes and head off to my Mummu’s (grandmother in Finnish) and all my Aunts, Uncles and cousins on my Dad’s side would be there jam packed into this little house and we’d have the time of our lives. There were over 25 people in that little doll house and we’d have buffet style dinner and my Uncle Robert would give us kids quarters and he’d play the accordion and my Mummu would play the piano.  We’d exchange presents and there would be piles of wrapping paper strewn everywhere and it was loud and full of laughter.

Most of these traditions continued through my high school years and some of them beyond, but we were all growing up and it was harder to get everyone together as we began the journey of our adult lives.  Those time honored traditions helped shape who I am today and the sentimental side I have.  They taught me lessons on sharing, teamwork. family, appreciation, values and love.  It was about giving and not receiving, being together and making others happy and that family was everything we had.

I complained sometimes about having to leave our presents at home to be on the road and packed like sardines into that house, but I am so glad my parents stuck to the tradition and made us come.  Those are some of my best memories and ones I could count on that made me feel loved and that I draw on today that bring so much joy.  Grateful seems like a small word for the moments that I have in my heart for loved ones that aren’t with us any longer but that always bring  a big smile when thought of.

 

Christmas Late 60's

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Mar 25

Small Community Living, Templeton MA ~ Day 83 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for the privilege of serving a town I grew up in and a community I care about and am committed to making a difference in.

In my high school days I couldn’t wait to graduate and move on with my life and move out of town. The town of Templeton that is. I grew up here in this small town, volunteered in my small church, hung out with friends in my small neighborhood, graduated from my small high school Narragansett and felt like the town was too small to contain all the things I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t want to go far, but I didn’t to stay here. So, at 17 I packed up, moved out and began my life outside of my small community. I lived in Ashburnham, Athol, Maynard, Ayer, Marlboro and finally Leominster where I resided for many years. It took 20 years to really know that small town living was not as bad as I had thought it to be at 17. I wanted the last of my brood to be raised where we could keep our doors open, we didn’t have to keep our shades closed because our neighbor was 3 feet from our windows, you didn’t graduate as a number, you had a name and we would belong to a community. I had finally figured out that’s what I was missing and I didn’t want my kids to miss out on that important part of life any longer.

Things had changed here and it was hard to get used to at first.  I remember knowing everyone on my street and for several miles up the road and now neighbors kept more to themselves.  Many of my family and friends are still here, but aside from that I missed the openness of days gone by and that was just a sign of the times.  Thanks to my Dad encouraging me, I slowly got involved right away by going to various meetings and then to town meeting and having a say it what happened here.  When I got my Real Estate license I started writing about our town, it’s history and the local business and culture and that’s when Tuesday Girl was born.  I helped with the 250th Anniversary celebrations, I was fully involved in the school and with other parents and administration, volunteering to help anywhere I could in town and I talked to so many people and made so many friends both professionally and personally it was amazing.  The more time that went by the more I realized I wanted to make even more of a difference and have my voice not be just in the community any longer, but to help effect change FOR the community. After much thought, I ran for Selectman to fill a vacant seat and won in January of last year and ran again for the normal election in May of the same year.

I have learned a lot in a year and I truly have a great love of my community and a deep sense pride for what we stand for here.  I have learned that it’s a lot different sitting in that seat knowing I am responsible for all of our residents and their needs.  I have learned that it takes all of us having thoughtful discussion to make decisions that may not always be popular, but are for the best for our town.  I have learned that listening is so much better than talking and that everyone should be heard and it’s wonderful that residents feel comfortable talking to me.  I have learned that we are tough and resilient and have worked together despite some major financial constraints.

I’ve seen the love of others for our small town in their volunteer efforts to build our town hall from what was the East Templeton School, build a playground dedicated to Gladys Salame, town employees that put our residents first no matter what the circumstances, people come together to raise funds for our Senior Center and other much needed resources, employees that were laid off but still volunteered their time for projects that needed to be done and so much more.

Here, there is a very strong sense of belonging and I am more than honored to serve our small community that has such a big heart.

Templeton MA Town Hall

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Mar 23

Puppy Love ~ Day 82 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for my pups that love me unconditionally and make me laugh. They don’t care if I left the room for 5 minutes or 5 hours they rush to say hello like they haven’t seen me in years. Their tails are going (or in Brutus’ case his whole butt) and their making barking or hello noises and I can’t help but smile.

It’s National Puppy Day so here are some photos of when they were younger. I love like my kids and I don’t know what I’d do without them. They may not help me with my work, but they make my day go by with fun and love and laughter.  Below are some photos of both Baxter and Brutus of their homecoming day ~ we totally tired them out and then of a month or so later as they were more comfortable with us.  They loved the couch, hence the name FUR-niture and they are both mischief makers when I wasn’t watching.

Some days I like my dogs more than people, but that’s why we have pets. I am so thankful to have dogs that are wonderful with anyone that comes to the house and that have personalities that rival comedians. They really are best friends.

Baxter Homecoming 8 weeks

Baxter Puppy 3 Months

Brutus Homecoming 8 weeks

Brutus 2 months

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Mar 22

Dirt roads and Daydreaming ~ Day 81 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful I am from small town America where there are still dirt roads and they lead to somewhere or no where depending on your frame of mind.

I love my hometown and all the towns surrounding it are connected in the way they were settled more than 250 years ago. Today is not about history though, it’s about knowing where you come from, appreciating how much we have and knowing where your going or daydreaming on the way to get there.  We live in New England and of course it’s full of frost heaves and pot holes, but I love taking this road to get to Hubbardston.  There’s never much traffic (if any at all) and it seems no matter when I travel through here I always see some wildlife and the beauty is just breathtaking.  I love the trees every season of the year and how the light plays off them and makes shadows. It’s a peaceful ride and reminds to slow down and let my mind daydream and wander where ever it choose to go.  I’ve come up with some great ideas, worked out conversations in my head, made tough decisions and sometimes just have enjoyed the lack of noise outside and in my head traveling this road less traveled.  I am always in awe of the place I live and the quaint towns I am surrounded by and finding these little gems on my way from here to there.

This country road always leads to home and for that, I am more than grateful.

Dirt Roads and Daydreaming

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Mar 22

Color my World ~ Day 80 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for color. Lots of color. Colors are linked to our emotions, just like smells can be.  Color can make you feel happy, sad, loved, mad, peaceful or calm.  Color is used to describe objects or even emotions.  Like, I’m green with envy or red with rage.  Colors are a part of who we are and how we view the world around us.

I cannot imagine not seeing my world in color like watching the sunrise beginning with just a touch of white light, to a small hue of pink and then that fiery red and then it seems like all of a sudden it’s once again white light, but brighter.  The colors are different depending on the time of year and the season we are in.  How about a sunset catching you off guard when it sweeps across the whole sky and it’s all various splashes of red, pink, blue, crimson and then the clouds catching the light and you wish you could fully capture it in a picture or describe it to someone else with the right words.  Color, it sparks that emotion.

I love how all the colors of this photo in this room blend together and make me feel warm and invited.  I am so grateful every day for the color I see around me and in others.

Colors

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Mar 20

Happy Spring! ~ Day 79 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful it’s the first day of Spring and I know even though it’s snowing we are almost out of Winter. Mother Nature can’t keep it at bay for much longer. The trees and bulbs and grass are just bursting to shake that white, cold blanket off and bring us all the color and sensory overload of smells possible.

This picture is of buds just beginning to bloom and I know it’s not far around the corner that the blossoms will be in full.  It’s been a harsh Winter and we need some sun and color soon.   People are tired of feeling like they are stuck at home and are in total need of more sun.  It’s coming and I guess we just have to patient for a bit longer.  I know we will appreciate the longer days and these next couple of seasons more than we ever have.

I am excited for this Spring as it’s like beginning anew and it’s refreshing and it’s a renewed sense of self.  I enjoy Spring and I am going to make the best of it because this Winter felt like being wrapped in a cocoon and it’s time for the butterfly to emerge.

Happy Spring 2015

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Mar 19

Sentimental Me ~ Day 78 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for being the sentimental person that I am. I get that from my both by father and my mother, so when I got married 10 years ago I asked my mom for my grandmother’s wedding dress. It was gorgeous and it was the dress my Mom wore when she married my Dad and it had been tucked away for many years. The dress had stains and the veil was moth eaten and … well, they needed some work and they were delicate.  I sent the dress to the dry cleaners and the veil to my high school friend Carol Farrell to bring it back to life.

The dress was handmade back when my Grandmother was a young girl and so was the veil.  The dress and the veil are over 75 years old and it was important to me to have them for photos.  I wish I could say I could have worn them, but the dress is like a size 1 and that I am not.  The edging of the veil and the headpiece were original and it was as long as the train on the dress.  Carol did such a remarkable job that when I saw it I cried.  It was so special to have a piece of my mom and grandmother for my wedding photos.  The dry cleaners also did an amazing job with the dress and I couldn’t have been happier. I borrowed a couple of mannequins from a good friend and the photographer captured both my dress and my Grandmother’s together.  I enjoyed seeing my family’s expressions when they saw the dresses together and marveled over my Grandmother’s wedding dress.

I have a hope chest that my Grandfather made for my Grandmother also and it to brings me great joy to have.  I never met my Grandmother as she passed away when my mother was only 18 years old.  She had breast cancer and back in those days there were not the treatments they have today.  I am sure she was loving and caring and I would have loved to be with her and I am also certain she watches over us.  In my mind she was there with us to see her dress be a part of our day and that she was thought of in a very special way.

The sentimental me causes me to sometimes save too many things, but it’s so nice to look back on my kids papers, cards they received from loved ones that are no longer with us, jewelry they or I may have worn, the clothes they wore for there baptisms or the blankets they came home in.  I have plans for those things as projects when I have some down time. I hope they will be happy I choose to pass these things on to them as it’s a piece of who I am, who they are, is a part of our heritage or just something that reminds them of me and times we had together.

Love is sentimental and I am always grateful my parents have passed that to me.

Something Old Something New

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Mar 18

Templeton’s Early Days ~ Day 77 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for days gone by and earlier times when Narragansett No. 6 was just getting started.  Narragansett No. 6 was incorporated under the name Templetown and then later called Templeton.  We were born over 250 years ago.

The founders of our town and the people through the years really loved Templeton and I wanted to share a sonnet, from 1886 written by Charles Wellington Lord:

Old Templeton
Mightily heave thy hills; the breast of the sacred Earth mother:
Silent and dark thy vales; where the thrush will resound in the twilight.
Dear are the upland farms; the hallowed abodes of the fathers:
Homely the pasture brown; with only the hardhack for heather.
Sweet was the woodland turn; fair crown of thy daughter departed:
Merry thy sparkling brooks; and placid the course of the trout stream.
Peerless were erst thy pines; but now they are sailing the ocean:
Swiftly their sisters rise; for the pine on her hills is eternal.
Wild is the western light that streams from the crest of the church hill:
Weird is the waning moon, as she sleeps on the mist of the valley:
Dark and defiant the storms that sweep from Vermont o’er the midland.
Noble and strong on Thee looks Monadnock, the prince of the mountains:
Many thy suitors bold, from him to the shapely Watatic.
Lovely and grand art thou, fair Templeton, queen of the highland.

How beautiful is that?  I realize we do not speak in such flowery and elegant language any longer, but I feel this speaks volumes of how Charles Lord loved our town and it’s surroundings.  I am certain he was not the only one to feel this way as Elizabeth Wellington Lord also spoke very fondly of Templeton and it’s fine people as she called them.  How do we feel today about our beautiful town and all that we have accomplished through the years and the fine people we have set out to be?  How about the local businesses that help our town thrive and move us forward to better things to come?

Can you imagine being the first settler here in our town of Templeton?  Can you imagine what it may have been like here without all the of the luxuries we have today?  Well, I for one must say that I cannot.  Though I will say that because of the great people that chose to come to Narragansett No. 6 and lay the foundation for our future, we now have the privilege to call Templeton and it’s villages our home.

Because I love my hometown and time marches on way to quickly, I wanted an updated sonnet for my children so I wrote this:

Our Templeton
 
A time to be reflective for the places we’ve seen
A time to be present and behold the places that are here
A time to keep moving and forge the places we’ll go
A time to be together to celebrate all three
The gifts we’ve been given by our ancestors to thee
Our great town of Templeton had its history laid clear
Now it is ours to move forward to make the best yet appear
So take time to tell stories we have heard through the years
For it’s the past that is present which becomes our children’s time to be
The Common
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Mar 17

Outside the comfort zone ~ Day 76 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt ~ Do one thing each day that scares you.”

This “thing” could be BIG or it could be small, but that’s all relative right?  What’s BIG to you might be small to me.  I don’t think of it always as what scares me, but what challenges me to take an extra step out of my comfort zone.  If I never stepped out of my house when I was 17 and having panic, where would I be today?   When I think of all the things I do and have done that challenge me to dig deep for that extra strength to overcome any obstacle it’s made me stronger in the long run.  For a few moments of discomfort to have a goal realized, it’s a blessing.  Doing one thing every day that challenges me has led me to becoming a Realtor, being Tuesday Girl, being a Selectwoman and being connected to my community on so many rewarding levels.  All of these roles deal require me to be a leader, a volunteer and a servant to the public and if I didn’t overcome the fear of speaking out or driving places or being with other people I wouldn’t have such an amazing career, enjoy getting to know my neighbors or be a part of the change I see happening in our community.

Take a step today.  Challenge yourself and let your dreams take flight.  I will always be grateful I did.

 

DoOneThingEachDay

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