SIMPLE CELEBRATIONS

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SIMPLE CELEBRATIONS

It’s party time. If a party can be defined by a group of people celebrating an event or occasion, then yes, it is indeed time once again to party.

And by party, I recommend staying within the recommended guidelines that we are all aware of.

I had a little party at my home this weekend. A dear friend since childhood was celebrating her birthday, and I had the privilege of helping her do just that. Shari was traveling through on her way to see her parents in our hometown, so she spent Friday afternoon and evening with us. We even continued the celebration yesterday morning. I will expand on that later.

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Birthdays are obvious times to celebrate. Marking another successful trip around the sun should always be a festive occasion. It was for her, and the rest of us as well. Our neighbor was celebrating his birthday as well, so our group of eight serenaded him in his yard with a birthday carol at his front door.

Gail and her 20-year old daughter Lydia were here, too. Lydia had her every-four-month checkup with her endocrinologist in Salina, and she got continued good news regarding the battle she continues to wage–and win–against Type One diabetes. That’s cause for celebration.

Suzanne came out to spend the evening with us as well. If you recall, Suzanne’s encouragement to Lydia when she began her diabetes treatment was this: “Only the coolest girls get to see an endocrinologist.” Another occasion to celebrate is that Suzanne’s recent visit to her endocrinologist in Wichita brought good news as well: almost eight years after her thyroid cancer diagnosis, she remains healthy.

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Living in our strange new COVID world, finding reasons to celebrate any cause large or small is a way to keep looking at the sunny side. Despite all the bad news we are continually hammered with, there is still good news out there. Here’s an example: an elderly, extended family member of ours was dismissed from the hospital back to his home after his battle with COVID. That’s good news, even though the diagnosis was bad news we all naively thought would never strike our family. And, as more bonus good news, other family members who helped take care of him before they knew the diagnosis have tested negative.

And here’s further reason to celebrate with good news about my health: the tick that hitched a ride on my ankle yesterday morning was easily and completely removed. My husband, armed with the tweezers, plucked him out while Gail talked me down from the ledge the tick put me on.

It’s our choice. All day, every day. We can choose to celebrate the positive or magnify the negative. It’s always our choice.

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Mother Nature continues to offer us unlimited reasons to celebrate the beauty in every day. She has carpeted the earth in a lush green with the recent rains, and vibrant green leaves adorn the trees and bushes. Flowers are blooming, and summer is almost here.

Given this generous gift from her, my friend Shari and I decided to accept Mother Nature’s gift, and hike the trails at nearby Wilson Lake. Hiking is something we both enjoy, something we plan to do more of.

Suzanne went home Friday night, and Gail and Lydia stayed overnight with us. As a bonus, a friend of Gail’s since childhood came out for coffee Saturday morning. We all visited for a bit, then Shari and I took off for our hike.

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It was a beautiful day, and the state park area around the lake was re-opened, with many other people enjoying the outdoor space as well.

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The trails were lush in places,

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Rocky and barren in others,

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But always beautiful.

We were hungry hikers at the end of the trail, so we savored the made-from-scratch German lunch at a local restaurant aptly named Made From Scratch. I hadn’t sat down for a meal in a restaurant since March 15th, so this was a celebration of sorts for me as well.

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Celebrate. Whatever occasion, reason, victory or birthday, and within sanctioned limits in these COVID times, find a way to find the good, and share it in a small group now, and hopefully a larger one later.  We all need each other, and we all need to celebrate.  I think most of us have realized that in these last few isolated months.

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THE PARTY’S (NEVER) OVER

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THE PARTY’S (NEVER) OVER

It’s easy to be excited for an upcoming event like we all were for Gail’s party. The anticipation built up for weeks ahead of time, but we couldn’t share the details with Gail. She had been talking about her Big Birthday for some time, and even though she didn’t know what the plans entailed, she knew it would be good. And she was excited. She was ready to plan her own party, but she didn’t have to.

She was not disappointed.

I have written before that anticipation is sometimes the greater joy; sometimes its actually more fun to look forward to something than it is to experience it. In this case, I must say that, at least for me, the joy of the party exceeded the joys of my anticipation.

Now, one week later, I am reflecting back on how much fun it was. Sometimes, like the anticipation, those reflections can be more exciting than the actual event. Again, I have to say the party was the greatest joy.

The post-party blues are trying to creep in all around me, but I’m not letting them in. Coming down after an event of that magnitude can happen with a crash, but not to me.

It helps that I am anticipating another trip in just four days. Something else to look forward to keeps me pumped up, keeps those blues at bay.

Gail and I are departing for Colorado Thursday morning. Sadly again, Suzanne will not be joining us. She gave it her all last fall when we went, but the altitude sickness left a bad aftertaste. We have her blessing to go on without her, but it won’t be the same. (We won’t be in our nun habits, either.)

We continue to celebrate our parents’ lives however we can, no matter how many of their children are gathered together. We will continue to March Forth, as we have done since March Fourth twelve years ago. Which is precisely what Gail and I will we will be doing next weekend.

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I cranked up some old 80’s CDs today, and just now The Cars told me to Let The Good Times Roll. I’ve heard that song hundreds of times, but I never before realized that the key word is let.  I think that for most of us—excluding Gail, of course, our default setting is not one that naturally lets those good times roll. I think for most of us—and these are strictly my observations and impressions—we tend to keep those good times subdued, feeling that perhaps it’s more important to stay busy, get our work done, and worry about inconsequential things. Again, Gail defies this. She manages to keep busy with important things, get her work done, NOT worry, and still, she regularly and routinely lets the good times roll.

I look up to Gail for so many reasons, but the older I get, the more I realize the importance of having fun however, whenever and with whomever we can. It does come easier for some of us than for others (think Gail), but I think we all owe it to ourselves to strive to find those good times, even if we have to use every tool in the shed to find them.

I highly doubt that anyone on their deathbed would reflect back on their life, and think I wish I hadn’t had so much fun. Unless, of course, their particular breed of fun is what brought them to their deathbed. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about enjoying any of the intended pleasures that the buffet of life has to offer, the joys that do no harm, and are meant to be enjoyed.

Fun and boredom don’t coexist very well. And when boredom calls, it can easily bring along its cousins, the blues. They seem to invite themselves in, put their stinky feet up on your best furniture without asking, and refuse to leave when you politely ask them to do so.

Like a good exterminator, I have found the best treatment for the blues: get up, get moving, and find something you enjoy doing. They hate it when you do that, and typically leave because there’s nothing left there for them.

Having fun on a tired Monday morning at work is much harder than having fun at a birthday party. Life can’t be a 24/7 fun-fest, but fun, of course, is best enjoyed when its counterpart is given its due, because without those tougher times, we don’t appreciate the lighter ones.

The day-to-day drudgery of work at our jobs and work at home can take a toll, but there are always ways to inject a little fun, if you just try.

I was thinking of small joys I take away from routine tasks, and I had one so seemingly strange, that was, until I told Gail about it. She does the same thing: when doing laundry—a task I really quite enjoy, we find a small thrill from matching the colored hanger to the shirt we’re hanging on it. Suzanne agrees that this is weird. We know, but whatever thrill one can find in the mundane is always a good thing.

I do enjoy vacuuming as well, and perhaps Gail enjoys this one a bit more than me: she likes to let the dust bunnies accumulate before she sucks them up with the vacuum for a greater thrill. I’ll have to let mine sit for awhile longer and report back to you—and Gail—on that one.

As farm girls , we learned the fine arts of playing in the rain and the mud after the rain.  These small joys are largely a part of our pasts, but we all continue to enjoy the thrill of cracking the thin ice on a small frozen puddle, crunching dried mud that has flaked and curled up, just waiting to be stepped on.  Walking barefoot through fine, silty dirt is a joy that has been with us since the farm, and will likely never leave.

Mom left us so many important life lessons, but this one comes to mind, and I have written about it before: Always have something to look forward to. For me, when I don’t have anything bigger in the queue, I look for the simple things: waking up to a delectable cup of coffee, which almost makes me want to go to bed earlier so that I can enjoy it sooner. Or perhaps, having a good book to open when I do go to bed.

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In three days, I will depart from my home to arrive at Gail’s home on March Forth, where we will celebrate the lives of our incredible parents together. Suzanne and our brothers will be with us in thought and spirit.  Thursday morning, Gail and I will go west yet again. We will enjoy a leisurely drive that day, because we know that at least half of the fun of a trip is in the journey. We will make our usual stops, but we’re always open to new experiences. We will arrive Thursday afternoon/evening, and we will create our own kind of fun. We know how; we’ve had plenty of previous experience.

As a reminder of our previous fun, here is a photo montage.  

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For us, the party is really never over. We make it a priority, spending whatever time, money and energy we can to make it happen.

May you find your joys, both great and small.  May you find the fun in life.  May the party go on for you, too.

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Depending upon just how much fun we have next weekend, the blog about our trip may or may not be posted next Sunday night.  If not, stay tuned, and thank you for following.  

 

SISTER’S DAY EVERY DAY

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I wasn’t even going to write a blog post tonight.  I was having too much fun this weekend celebrating my hometown at our annual church picnic.  A chunk of my readers are from my hometown, and many of them were also in attendance, so I knew they would understand if I took the week off, since I was having so much fun celebrating.

Then, I noticed online this afternoon that today is National Sister’s Day; an unofficial day to celebrate sisterly bonds.  Since I am all about celebrating whatever there is to celebrate, I wanted to spread the word that today is the day for sisters to connect in yet another way.

I didn’t know that today was such a special day.  I was disappointed in myself at first for being out of the loop, but I let it quickly pass, because I like to make every day Sister’s Day.  Suzanne wasn’t able to join us this weekend, but along with other family, Gail and I celebrated our hometown and our sisterhood at the picnic.

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We took the train ride around town, the same train we rode on as kids.

 

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We ate the delicious meal prepared in homemade fashion by the dedicated residents of our hometown.

 

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Illuminated by the brilliant lights of the ball diamond, we took a little walk and  celebrated with our parents by taking them a burger and a beer.  We believe in celebrating however we can, so we do.

We celebrated our hometown in so many other ways, but that may be another blog post for another day.

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If you need to reach out to your sister, National Sister’s Day would be the perfect time to do it–or any day, for that matter.   Just so you do it.

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Happy Sister’s Day.  I am offering a montage of some of our finer moments as sisters.

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Happy Sister’s Day Suzanne and Gail!  You are the best!