Home For The Holidays

Home: noun -The place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives

The above, as defined by Merriam Webster, is what a home is supposed to be. I do not totally disagree, but I do think it falls short of what a home really is. I have lived in a lot of houses, but I have lived in only a few homes. I say this because to me, a home transcends a physical structure. It is more a sense then it is a thing.

Every year, when the holiday season descends upon us, something happens to most of us. We suddenly have this urge to return to a place that either plucks at our roots, or is of such importance in our lives, past or present, that we just have to be there. For those that are away, the migratory instincts kick in and thoughts of home, whatever or wherever it is, occupy a greater presence in our mind.

What drives this gravitational pull? Certainly, it is not a house, although that may be part of it. Many memories dwell within houses that played a starring role in our yesterdays, be it our youth, or our progression into adulthood. But it is so much more, and to me it defies definition because it is something different to each of us. Home never takes the same shape or form, even to other members of our family.

We have lived a lot of places over the years, and most were away from family, so home was something that was solely of our making. We loved a lot of the houses and were not as crazy about others, but looking back, I recall memories, fond or painful, about every one. But they were simply houses. Nothing more, nothing less. They required furnishings, the most important among them being ourselves. We created the atmosphere that made them homes. They were the base from which we ventured forth, always to return to the warmth and welcome. I felt this most when I had to travel. There was no stronger motivation then to return. This is because a house is only where the physical being dwells. A home is where the heart dwells. C.S. Lewis eluded to this when he said “To be on the inside of some door which we have seen from the outside”.

Our traveling days are over now. Friends and family are scattered, seldom gathering to renew relationships. Phone calls and emails now suffice for interaction. But I am OK with that. I still feel warmly about them all, and regardless of where they are, they still occupy a place in our home.

Life is a fabric, stitched slowly over the years. No two are alike and each of us is but a thread. Some are full of color, reflecting the sunlight of each new day, while others, over time, contain more gray and silver threads, that add a warmth and strength, while creating our own tapestry.

So to each of you, my friends and my family, my wish is that you are all able to return to your home for the holidays, be it in person or in your heart.
Merry Christmas.

Originally published Dec 2012

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Posted in Aging, Christmas, Commentary, Family, Friendship, Home, Life, Love, Memories, Perspective, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Winter Back In The Day

Now that Mother Nature is in the midst of preparing her annual gift of frosty snowstorms, I am reminded of the story about some students complaining about how cold it was, standing outside in the morning waiting for the school bus.  Their grandfather, hearing their complaints, was not sympathetic.  “When I was a boy” he said, “we didn’t have school buses.  We had to walk to school in the snow.  It was five miles–uphill–both ways”.

That may have been a little bit of a stretch, or selective memory, but certainly a different time and place then we experience today.  I was reading an article the other day that addressed the early days in Maine.  I had never given much thought to how people got around back at the turn of the century. It turns out that they welcomed it.  In the winter, carts and carriages were turned into sleighs by substituting runners for wheels.  However, the most favorable conditions for sleighs were not clear streets, but instead streets covered with packed snow. So, before the invention of the plow, large rollers, filled with rocks were pulled by horses or oxen, packing the snow instead of removing it.

snow roller

By the mid 1800’s, several “inventors” had come up with their own crude versions of the first snow plows, but they were not developed and used commercially until Milwaukee employed them in 1862.

first snow plow

By the 1920’s, the advent of the automobile changed the game substantially.  Hard packed snow was no longer an ideal condition and spreading salt in an effort to melt the snow fell short of the need for clean streets.   So the nation saw the introduction of the first car mounted snow plows, and of course, as they say, the rest is history.

car snow plow

Oh, and about that walking five miles to school thing, it turns out that not everyone experienced that.  It seems that some towns did in fact have school buses. But you still had to wait in the cold for them.

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Posted in Aging, Children, Family, Generations, History, Kids, Life, Maine, Memories, Perspective, Reflection, Seasons, Snow, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Presents Under The Tree

 

 

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Scooter waiting for Santa Paws

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To My Friends At Christmas

I once received an e-mail from one of my cousins that told a story to which I have given a lot of thought. It tells of a man who stopped going to church, so the pastor decided to pay a visit. He found the man sitting in front of a roaring fire. Taking a seat beside him, not a word was exchanged. Finally the pastor picked up the tongs and selected a single burning coal and placed it on the other side of the hearth. Before long, the ember cooled and died. The pastor then got up and again, picking up the tongs, put the dead ember back in with the hot coals, where shortly, it again burst into flame.

The message was not lost on the man and as the pastor started to leave, the man said “I’ll see you in church next Sunday”. I guess it can be said that sometimes the sermons that have the most impact are those that are seen instead of spoken.


So here we are, preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, each in our own way. But, I would guess, surrounded by those that mean the most to us. And therein lies the key. We can spend our years gathering material things, but when it comes to what’s important, we turn to the support and love of others. Inherently, we know that our strength is not internal, but instead is manifested through the fellowship of man.


What is most valuable is not what we have in our lives, but who we have in our lives. None of us walks alone. Thank you for your gift of friendship.

 

Posted in Christmas, Family, Friendship, Gifts, Life, Love, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Winter Rain

Feb 2 2008 002

The winter winds sing
To the teardrops of rain
That cling to barren limbs

Frozen boughs
In cloaks of ice
Whisper their displeasure

Darkness descends
Through solemn hours
Life suspended, waiting

A new sun smiles
Crystals dance like gypsies
The beauty of God’s hand

 

Posted in Beauty, Free Verse, Ice, Photo, Poetry, Reflection, Seasons, Trees, Winter | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Made In America

As I sit here in my Levis made in Bangladesh and my sneakers made in Mexico (I don’t know where my shirt was made, but the washing instructions are in Spanish) typing on my Japanese computer with a Chinese mouse and making copies on my printer made in Thailand, the thought occurred to me that there isn’t a lot of stuff made in America anymore. At least, not that I own. My mower and string trimmer are both Japanese and my car is Korean. Kind of makes me wonder what happened.

I don’t have to drive too far to pass old and shuttered mills that dot the towns of Maine. They were home to the fabrics and shoes and lumber and barrels and forged steel products that helped build a nation.  Made in America meant something back then.

Somewhere in the past decades, we gave all that away. Industry moved offshore and our country closed up shop, content to buy our products from someone else. Quality gave way to cost. We could not compete with the foreign workers that earn next to nothing and labor in conditions not unlike those we endured in the early nineteen hundreds.

But here in Maine, you have but to scratch the surface to find that the work ethic is still alive and well. We may not have huge factories or even large cities. What we do have however, is the ingenuity and skills that never died. Maine workers and products are sought out because of their attention to quality. The craftsman still lives here. The shipbuilders trade is still plied along our coastline. Hand built furniture is designed and made in the woodworkers shops. Brewers craft small batch beers for our enjoyment. Log homes are manufactured here. One does not have to look far to find jewelry and small crafts created by artisans, or pottery and glass items thrown by local artists. Take a drive up the coastal route or meander through the towns and villages of central and northern Maine, and you will be rewarded with quaint treasures wrought by hand, often made in the same spot that they are sold.

In a way, what we find here is a stubbornness that refuses to let the past die completely.  Through the decades as Maine has progressed, it has managed to keep the best of what once was. The pride of workmanship is palpable. The skill of the hands is still valued. The quality of the products are aggressively sought.

I don’t kid myself that we are alone.  I know there are places throughout the country where the fires of creativity still smolder.  Where the pride of workmanship still dwells.  Small businesses and home grown industry where Made In America still means something.  Perhaps one day there will be renaissance, and the value of the American worker will once again rise out the ashes.  Wouldn’t that be great.  I would love to send this to you on a computer that says “Proudly Made In Chicago Illinois”.  Just sayin.

From the archives

 

 

 

Posted in Art, Crafts, Generations, Gifts, History, Life, Maine, Memories, Perspective, Random Thoughts, Reflection, Tribute | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cold Snowy Night

Took the dogs out about midnight last night.  It had been snowing again. This time, it was the heavy wet stuff that sticks to the branches. Also the kind that knocks out your power.

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The dogs loved it though.  Both are troopers about going out.  In fact, I have more trouble getting them back in.20181126_233949This is Sophie, a terrier mix.  Sweetest, gentlest dog.  Not a mean bone in her body. She would let her brother eat her food if we didn’t watch him.20181126_233640_Burst01

This is Scooter, a Cocker Spaniel.  Mr. personality.  Wants all the attention.  Both are rescue dogs brought up from high kill kennels in Arkansas. They are about 10 now.

Woke up this morning to about 10 inches of the cold wet stuff and still snowing a little.  Fortunately, it has been about 35 all morning and when the snow stopped the rain started. That should take some of the snow off the limbs. I had just finished snow blowing the driveway when my wife yelled out that the power just went off, so took out the generator and cranked it up.  The power company says 24500 without power.  That’s not good.  Could be a while before we get it back. But, that’s life here in paradise.

 

 

 

Posted in Beauty, Dogs, Home, Life, Pets, Reflection, Seasons, Snow, Weather, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments