Tuesday, December 31, 2013

See you on the flip side

As we approach the end of 2013, many of us look back on the most memorable events of the year.  Naturally, leading the list of notables would be the sadness of the  Boston Marathon bombings, followed later on by the improbable World Series victory by the Boston Red Sox, and the deaths of such dignitaries as Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, to name a few.

However, I am certain there were many, many more significant occurrences that went largely unnoticed, except by those personally affected.  To that I say, we will miss you all, and you will be forever remembered in the silence of our hearts.

Happy New Year and may it be safe, full of good health, and happiness.  Peace and make every day count!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Taking off the layers may just tell you a story

When it comes to the weather, layering seems to be the operative word, especially when the mercury drops most of us begin to layer on the clothing to deal with the plummeting temperatures.  The forecast for the upcoming week certainly looks as though we will be glad to have on the extra clothing.  Interestingly, however, when it comes to wall paper, layering means one of 2 things, do you take off the old before putting on the new, or do you just cover it up?  Sometimes, the added trouble of removing those old layers may just reveal a hidden story worth all the effort, and let me explain.

My parents had the good fortune of living long and fruitful lives, and like so many people of their generation, they lived most their lives at the same address.  They moved into their home some 50+ years ago, and over the years, they papered and painted the walls along with the woodwork many times.  Usually, these activities were associated with some special event prompting my mom to "freshen" up the look, such as a graduation party or wedding.

However, as the years rolled by, the paint chipped and the wall paper looked dated, but they were able to live in their own home, nonetheless.  They made their home a home, with all the love, life and vigor they possessed, until their tired, aged bodies just ran out of gas.

Recently, I began to peel back some of the loose wall paper and underneath I found the memories of an age gone by.  The harvest gold and striped paper that was on my parent's bedroom wall hailed of a previous time, and in several places, there was evidence of yet an earlier time.  It's remarkable how such a simple discovery can trigger so many memories.  I am reminded of the phrase, "if only these walls could talk, what a story they would tell".  As in this case, you just have to peel away the layers, and it'll have you "glued" to the story!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Wish

What is so complicated?  Peace on Earth and good will toward all men.  Reflect on that and then let's just do it.  Now wouldn't that be a nice Christmas gift?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's Tradition

Traditions are special, but what are traditions anyway?  If you read the dictionary definition, you'll find:
a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time or : the stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group of people for a long time

Likely, most of us are already quite familiar with the concept, especially as we approach the holiday season of Christmas.  However, as one reflects on this idea, a tradition is something that necessarily has to have an origin.  It many respects, a tradition is much like our very own genetic code, except that we have a greater degree of input into which activities or stories we want to continue perpetuating.

One Beautiful Couple
When my parents met years ago, they brought their own traditions into their relationship and instilled them into their children.  Over the years we have continued many of those traditions as a family and have passed them along to our own families.  The most beautiful element of traditions, however, may not be the tradition itself, but the memories they invoke.

Life certainly has its challenges, so we need to take the time to enjoy it once in awhile.  Sharing in a few traditions with family and friends usually gives us the chance to recharge our batteries.  In this holiday season, many of us will engage in something traditional, and that's what helps create and foster those memories.  Let's keep them going, after all, it's tradition!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's simple, just believe

Life is full of questions, and as we age, we begin to question things more and more.  Certainly, there are facts that can't be disputed, but some issues have no right or wrong answer, just different view points.  However, there are a host of beliefs that are not exactly factual, but there is evidence enough to convince us and the beliefs strong enough that they provide the foundation for our values.

My daughter and I recently attended the Boston Pops Christmas concert, and as part of the performance, they read the Polar Express.  Why not after all, for 'tis the season.  It was a wonderful rendition with the music in the background bringing the book to life.  When it came to the reason to believe in Christmas, what struck me the most was the simple line, "just believe".  How simple, yet how telling, as many of us have allowed the magic of Christmas to fade with time.

It's never too late to recapture that innocence, however, and it's never too late to believe in things that can not be explained.  When my parents passed away this year, I witnessed a beauty in death that I never thought possible, and one I know was directly related to their faith.  Their faith was passed along to them; one they nurtured and deepened by their own convictions.  That was the great gift  they planted in me and cultivated, until it became part of my being.

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, one steeped in tradition, but one that magnifies the innocence of a child.  Indeed, it is simple, have faith and just believe.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Moments are very small segments of time which pass without notice, except to those who have been moved by a thought or emotion.  As we go about our daily business, moments pass because of the distraction of life's happenings.  Who knows when these fleeting thoughts will jump into our stream of thought, but when they do, they take us by surprise.  Many times, we are not prepared to experience the  emotion of the moment either.

As the holidays approach, many of us will experience moments that will remind us of any number of things or persons.  Some moments may trigger a smile while others bring a tear to a dry eye.  Life is full of moments, and with it, come both the good memories and the bad.  There is nothing we can do but to experience them and reflect!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gone, but not forgotten

 "A date that will live in infamy", December 7th, were words delivered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor on that fateful Sunday morning in 1941.  Those actions plunged the US headlong in to WWII, something that forever helped influence the course of modern history.

There have been a number of survivor stories detailing those horrific events, but there was one story my father shared which gave us the personal element that oftentimes gets lost after the passage of time.  It was about Father Aloysius Schmitt.

After serving as a parish priest, Father Aloysius Schmitt joined the US Navy and was assigned to serve as chaplain aboard the USS Oklahoma.  On the morning of December 7th, rather than saving lives with his words of wisdom, he was saving lives with his actions.  Evidently, the Oklahoma had sustained heavy damage and was listing in the harbor, but before she sank, Father Schmitt assisted a number of sailors to safety.  He was quoted as saying, “Please let go of me, and may God bless you all.”

On a day when we should remember those lost on December 7th, I will remember, too, the other men and women who fought so bravely for their country in the wake of those attacks.  Honoring their fallen comrades and serving their country was the supreme sacrifice.  My father's cousin would have been honored knowing that others survived and that his life hadn't been lost in vain.  Peace!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Have you checked...?

For years, airline pilots have gone down their checklists readying the aircraft for take off.  There are several famous scenes in "Apollo 13" when mission control or the members of the flight refer to the checklist to insure that all the appropriate steps have been taken to complete a given procedure.  As most of us do before heading to bed, we go down a comparable checklist to be sure that everything is safe and in order before shutting off the lights.  

Well, my father was the master of checking things out before turning in for the night.     First, he'd turn down the heat and make sure the doors were locked.  He would then make a sweep through the kitchen to check that the stove was off and grab a tall glass of water for the night.  After completing his security check of the first floor, it was off to bed knowing that "the house" had been tucked in too.

It's funny, but even though my father isn't here to do this himself, I find that the ritual he created is a necessary part of my nightly routine.  As I check to make sure the doors are secure and turn down the thermostat, I am reminded of his attention to those bedtime rituals.  Lastly, I stroll by the stove to check it and then fill my glass with water before turning out the lights.  Thanks dad for such a simple but fond memory that will forever end my day!