Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Extreme Christmas House

Once a year we visit Edmundo Rombeiro’s Christmas house. The Griswald house doesn’t hold an electric light to this one. When we drove up to it this year, my son remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot of Christmas lights. Maybe too much!” Out of the mouths of four-year-olds…

Not only is Rombeiro’s house decorated on the outside, but all rooms, save one bedroom, are totally decked out inside as well! My neighbor is Rombeiro’s cousin and she and her husband are there almost every night in December. They need helpers to make sure people don’t touch, or in one case, attack, the decorations.

Early in December she said they had 660 visitors in one night, and that’s not even the rush time. Tour busses, often with seniors, stop by regularly. The family keeps track of the amount of people by how many candy canes they give out each night.

My favorite room is the angel room. Although there are way too many angels to focus on just one, it has a calm and peaceful feeling. My neighbor has seen people enter that room and just begin to weep.

My son’s favorite room, of course, is the train room which we visited twice.

By the end of the visit we are always on sensory overload, but officially in the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Winter!

(Photo courtesy of my four-year-old.)

I hope everyone is warm and snug this winter day. Last night my family and I lit candles and a fire for the winter solstice. After the kids went to bed, my husband Mats was a trooper and went along with my little ritual of writing down everything we each want to let go of on pieces of paper, and then burning them in the fire. I learned this from my friend Joyce at her solstice celebrations.

After the "write and burn," we lit new candles and spoke aloud our wishes, desires, and asked for blessings on all our family members. One thing I asked for was "writing miracles." Today, the next day, I got an e-mail from an editor wanting to publish an essay I sent her six months ago!

In other solstice-related news, Mama Donna, one of the people I interviewed for my Whole Life times piece on the solstice, was written about today by the New York Times for her winter solstice celebration in Brooklyn: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/nyregion/22solstice.html?_r=1

Happy winter to all, and to all, a bright life!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"P" Words

I’m happy to share that an article I wrote, "Good Day Sunshine" is in this month’s Common Ground magazine. It's about celebrating the Winter Solstice and was a fun topic to research and write about.

When I was working on it though, the fates seemed to be playing with me.

I summarize with the following “P” words:

Procrastination- I was determined to not do this, I wanted to get it done early. My plan, another “P” word, was to submit it to the editor an impressive week ahead of the due date since I already had some of the interviews completed. Thankfully I started early because,

Pinkeye- took hold of our family two weeks before the article was due. That meant laundry, laundry, and more laundry to try to avoid its spread, though spread it did anyway. It also meant both boys were home from school, but on different days as my eldest got it first, then my youngest. So the precious time I had planned to write was suddenly lost. And then of course, I caught it as well!

Potty Training- my youngest decided he was suddenly ready to enter the world of big boy underwear. No more diapers, only colorful briefs with fire trucks or comic heroes would do. We praised him of course, and it worked out since he was home sick and we could run to the potty at any time. But did I mention laundry? I think we’re up to twelve loads (no joke) by this time. Of course other "P" words apply under this topic as well.

Panic- Since a solid stretch of writing wasn't happening during the day, I sat down at the computer at 10:30 p.m., my official muse time. No sooner had my fingers hit the keyboard to put the finishing touches on the article, when my youngest cried out in pain, “Mama, my ear hurts!” Of course he wanted me to be with him, and I wanted to be there. So there I lay, and ultimately slept, asking the gods to help me get my article done the next day.

ublication- in the end I did get it done. Not a week early as I’d planned, but on the contracted date nonetheless. Having a plan to finish early was probably the best thing I could have done.

It was certainly a humbling experience to not have time I could count on, and I'm grateful for my husband who helped during the evenings and weekends so I could escape. But having a challenging time to create this piece ultimately made the final product that much more dear. (Analogy to parenting and childbirth anyone?)

So, back to the topic, do you have plans to celebrate the Winter Solstice?