#Manifest20 · Gratitude · Reflections

Hearth Song

This morning my house is filled with music and warmth. Outside it’s gloomy and grey but the kitchen is cozy. The wood stove and candles are lit, the fairy lights are glowing. I’ve been singing my favorite Christmas carols and remembering years past.

In high school I sang in the choir and loved the 4 part harmonies accompanied by the piano. I’m trying to convince my family to sing and play together over the holidays. We have two pianists, a guitarist, a drummer, and three singers (soprano, alto, and tenor). It’s unlikely we’ll actually do this for a number of reasons, but I can keep hoping all the same.

I should probably be panicking because I’m so far behind on my Christmas to-do list. The tree has been decorated since last Sunday. The rest of the decorations are still in boxes waiting to be dusted off and put where they belong. Housework is piling up as I try to order gifts and write Christmas cards in addition to keeping my toddler occupied. Dancing around to Jingle Bell Rock with Blessing might be fun, but it’s not helping me get any closer to ticking chores off my never ending list.

I’m easily swayed by distractions. This blog post has taken all day because my children keep interrupting me for chats, chocolate breaks (it’s Christmastime after all, and a Celebrations gift box has already been opened), and my son Mr. T also had a surprise for me. Did I mention that he’s a budding songwriter and musician? (His dad played guitar professionally). Recently Mr T. bought a record player and he wanted to show it to me.

Seeing it brought back memories of my childhood. My mom loved music too and had a huge record collection. In the 80s she would annually host a 50s style Sock Hop. The women would dress up in poodle skirts which swirled around as they danced the jitterbug. My mom was in her element as the DJ, listening to her favorite tunes. Afterwards she’d donate the funds from the event to AA. A recovered alcoholic, she suffered chronic depression; those moments when she appeared happy and empowered meant a lot to both of us.

I think that’s why I’ve carried her records around with me my entire adult life. For years they sat in my shed in the back yard. I shipped them across the ocean when I moved to Ireland even though I assumed most are scratched and useless. Despite the big effort to declutter after the fire, I still couldn’t let them go. They symbolize so much to me.

Imagine my surprise today when Mr. T produced this gem: Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley, with my mother’s name attached to it. She was Elvis’s biggest fan, but my son didn’t know that about his grandma. There’s so much my children don’t know about her since she acquired a brain injury when I was ten years old. They never had the chance to really meet her, not the way she was before her illness.

Mr. T put on other records including Winter Wonderland, one of my favorites, and Jingle Bell Rock. I don’t know how he located the Christmas songs in the midst of all the other records he must have dug through. I could tell he was happy to see my face light up. Even his sister joined in the fun. I felt my mom’s spirit with us. She never had the chance to see where I live. She spent 32 long, lonely years in a nursing home in Ohio.

Today the past mingled with the present as it often does. I’m no closer to being ready for Christmas, but maybe it doesn’t matter if I put all of the decorations up this year. I’ve already reduced the amount of gifts I’m buying, implementing the 4 gift rule, in an effort to simplify life. No one really cares if the house is spotless as long as it’s warm and there’s good food to eat. What matters most is that we’re together, we have our health, and there’s harmony after many years of discord.

In the coming year I want to continue nurturing the relationships with my family and make memories that one day they’ll look back on and cherish. I know my mom would be proud of the life I’ve created for us. We have so many blessings which she didn’t have.

What’s most important to you in the here and now? Are you prepared for Christmas or are you taking a relaxed approach to the holidays?

***

This post was inspired by the prompt for Day 13 of #Manifest20: Think about the here and now.  What matters to you most? How are you going to nurture what matters in 2020?

7 thoughts on “Hearth Song

  1. It is just my husband and & we definitely take a laid back approach not only to Christmas but all holidays. I have never understood the ‘chaos’ theory some put themselves through. I prefer the deep breath, you’ll get done when your done approach.

    Softer sounding Elvis anything is music to my ears. Such a smooth singer. His Christmas music is heavenly.

    I lost my mum very young, at 8 years young (as well as my father), so every year I year (daily really) I yearn for what might have been. Especially at Christmas when hear Bing or Sinatra sing. I don’t feel sad anymore, just very melancholic but calm.

    Lovely post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment. I have put myself through the chaos approach to holidays and often suffer from perfectionism. It’s too much pressure. I’m trying to find a happy medium these days…

      I’m sorry to hear about your parents. I was raised by a single mom so her friend raised me after she became ill. I’m lucky to have my bonus mom although it’s tough living far away. I can relate to the yearning you described.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve been through so much. It is evident that you are a kind, loving and graceful soul. This was a lovely post, thank you for sharing. With all that talent in your family, I agree you should all use it together as a family and bust out the Christmas songs!
    When I was married and raising my family I went all out for the holidays. The best part was the traditions. Our naughty elf “Nimbleton” who would make a new mess each night, the 3 ring binders full of the kids holiday crafts and stories that I would write every year starting from November through December. We would drink cocoa and eat cookies while reading the stories out loud and much much more
    Since Jase and I are minimalists, we don’t own any Christmas decorations. A family I clean for was donating some so I took them since we will have all 6 of our kids with us this year. Then I will donate the decorations after the festivities 🙂 We live a funny life, but it works well for us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!😊 I will do my best to try and get at least some of us to make music together. Unfortunately Christy’s older kids will be away with their mother for the full 2 weeks they’re off school.

      I love hearing about how others celebrate. I agree traditions can be lots of fun. Your kids are lucky to have those memories. It sounds magical! What happened to the binders? I’ve saved folders of my favorite art the kids made in the attic. I admire minimalists but I’m not sure if I could ever really be one. My mom’s records are proof of that.😂

      That’s fantastic you’ll have all 6 kids for Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful time together and create new traditions that reflect your family now.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Peter and I are great-grandparents. It is tradition that the whole family comes to our place for Christmas Eve celebrations. 🙂
    This is what our family looked like six years ago:
    https://auntyuta.com/2014/01/08/the-hannemann-family-at-christmas-2013/
    Our son, who is a grandfather, lives in Victoria, usually spends Christmas here with us in Dapto, NSW. But his family in Victoria always stays in Victoria. So five more of the immediate family are missing each year! But we have now four great-grandchildren living near us, the youngest is only three months. Lucas,7, and his brother Alexander, 5, are always happy to see their cousin Carter, 3, with baby cousin Evie, at family events. It is great, that they all can come to our place for Christmas Eve! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your family sounds wonderful, Uta! What a blessing to have great grandchildren. I hope one day I’ll have a large family like yours and that we will live nearby one another. Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas!

    Like

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