Let’s Get Real

It’s that time of year. I try to focus on one holiday at a time, but the retail stores make it difficult when the “seasonal” aisle is mixed with the orange and black of Halloween, the browns, yellows and reds of “fall” – with a rare turkey or pilgrim for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday, by the way!) – and the festive “everything Christmas!” decorations.

Let’s get real….do people really start buying decorations for Christmas in October?

We have an unspoken rule in our house:  no Christmas anything until the day after Thanksgiving! When you have a whole week in November because the fourth Thursday falls that way, I’m tempted to tune into the “Christmas Stream” on my favorite radio station (because I really LOVE Christmas music!), but . . . it’s still November.  I actually made up the rule for my own sanity, by the way, but I just don’t want to start too early.

Let’s get real….shouldn’t October be for Halloween, November for Thanksgiving, and December for Christmas?

I like change…yes, I said that. I know change can be tough on some, but change can be good, too.  I look at “change” as “opportunity”…you can redecorate!  See how I kept that not too deep and on focus here?  I do tend to change focus when I’m writing (or thinking, or talking), I know.  My point is: each season brings a reason for change.  The weather changes. Our clothes change. And our decorations should, too.

Let’s get real…do you really want to see ghosts and goblins or Frosty the Snowman in April?

It’s December. On one hand, I can’t believe it! Time goes by so quickly. On the other hand, it’s Christmas decorating time!  Let me remind you, who have not followed until recently:  We have spent the last 13 years away from our Pittsburgh roots.  Most years, we came back to PA for Christmas. I didn’t spend much time putting up decorations for the holiday when we weren’t going to be there to enjoy them.  I did put a wreath on the door, but stockings were not hung by the (electric) chimney with care, and we did not put up a tree (unless you count the few lights and ornaments I haphazardly hung on the artificial palm tree in the corner of the living room?)  So, here we are home again, and I want to decorate! We downsized (again) and the question was:  Where do we put a tree?  We just finally got settled after moving, unpacking, and arranging furniture several times.  Now I needed to rearrange to accommodate a Christmas tree?

Let’s get real….Yes!  I said, “I want a real tree!” And, not a pre-cut tree or an artificial tree (even though some look really real now – it’s amazing!)

In our Christmases past, we would go to the local tree farm to cut down our own tree. They have saws, twine, and people to help you, if you need them.  We would dress for the weather (mostly snowy and cold) and head out on this holiday adventure of finding the “perfect” tree.  I learned over those years that my vision of “perfect” was quite different from my husband’s.  I wanted soft needles, lots of branches for ornaments to hang (not lay), and just tall enough that putting the angel on top required some acrobatic effort or a lift of a child at a safe height.  I was willing to hike into the depths of the farm to find it.  My husband saw the first tree that looked about the right height and thought if you turned the bare side to the wall, no one will see it anyway.  Go big, cut short, turn, and adjust decorations – perfect!  I came to understand that it wasn’t the tree that he envisioned, it was the warmth of the inside; and the sooner, the better.

Let’s get real…who moves from a warm beach town back to snowy Pittsburgh?

We do. We did. And it’s Christmastime in the city – Pittsburgh!  Ring-a-ling!  Soon it will be Christmas day!  My husband understands the importance of being home (it’s where my heart is), and he understands the importance of traditions (tree cutting, even when it’s cold), and he understands the adventure of this life we do together (he cuts, and I decorate), and he does it all because…

Let’s get real…he LOVES me! We are “blended and happy” through all the seasons.

Merry Christmas!
And may all your wishes be REAL!

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Happy Adventures with Friends & Softball

I played softball as a kid, loooong ago. Do you remember your first Little League game? Summer pick-up games? Jr. and Sr. High tryouts? Who still has these mementos stashed away?

SHS letters

Softball is a team sport. You can’t play by yourself. You need fielders, a pitcher, a catcher, and umpires (for those competitive games, you know, when it really counts . . . and not the pick-ups who always unfairly call strikes on you!)

Even when you’re at bat, you are not alone. Someone pitches to you. There’s a roster, a player before and after you. There’s a team responsibility to get a hit, advance the runner(s), produce RBI’s, and score more runs than the other team.

My Top 5 Reasons to Play Softball:
5. Fun – We like playing! Every game and every opponent is different.
4. Exercise – Obvious! You run, bend, throw, twist, squat, and run some more.
3. Teamwork – It’s not an individual sport. Outs depend on someone in every position catching the ball. A 6-4-3 is a “double play” and all three players do their part to make it happen. (I really like putting that in the book!) Even bench time is for cheering on the others as they play.
2. Humility – Yes, there are times when you drop a ball, hit into a ground out or even that 6-4-3 double play, leave your teammates on bases without scoring that winning run because you couldn’t get that much-needed hit. It’s disappointing. And who’s your worse critic? You! Right? You feel bad that you let your team down. Humility is powerful, too, when you catch that long, over-your-head fly ball, or turn that double play like a pro, or get that hit that scores the winning run. That’s the real test – being a good winner is just as important as being a good loser.
1. Friends – We have the opportunity to play softball and have fun with some very talented, hard working, humble people who enjoy this game. As we played in our younger years and continue in our 40s, 50s – and, yes, even our 60s and 70s – each team, each year, brings us together. We welcome newcomers and tell stories of games past. We remember those no longer with us. We celebrate the friends returning.

As Senior Softball players, it takes longer to warm up the muscles. It definitely takes longer for the muscles to recover. Win or lose, our softball friends (family) are grateful for these opportunities to play and enjoy this sport that brings us together each season. The games may end not always in our favor, but friendships will always be a victory and the adventures will be cherished far beyond “the diamond” and dugouts.