Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Very Merry

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Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2018 at 7:00 am

List Poetry

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• Make a list. It’s the season for lists.

• Use bullets. Bullet points have more “oomph.”

• Be concise. Get to the point.

• Notice the sacred preciousness of every single moment.

• Remember the simple joys of childhood innocence.

• Take care about ever being too certain. Do not be deceived.

• If it seems too good to be true, you know…

• There is still much to do, and not many days left until Christmas.

• Don’t forget to breathe.

• Reserve critical hours for sleep. Be disciplined.

• Be creative.

• Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, even the crowds.

• Let the music ring.

• Send love to all. Remember those battling depression.

• Make a positive contribution.

• Trust your intuition.

• Know that perfect does not always require perfection.

• Allow for bundles of fun.

• Let your heart overflow with the joy of giving.

• Don’t overthink the details.

• Focus on the positive.

• Check your list twice.

• Remember to feed the pets.

• Always share a smile. It’s a universal gift you can always offer.

• Go forth and enjoy!

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Productive Weekend

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It is a good time of year to get a lot done over a weekend when it happens to be the second to last weekend before Christmas. I had a number of goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish in the blink of days between commuting to the day-job.

It helped to have the weather warm up at just the right time. Our thermometer reached the 40s(F) both Saturday and Sunday. I was able to move one of my projects outside into the glorious sunshine.

I went from the concrete of the shop to the asphalt outside. Just look at everything I accomplished!

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I’m afraid that all projects underway during the first three weeks of December are under a media blackout. Progress will be represented only by material removed, as shown above.

Cyndie was even more productive than I was, but I can’t show any pictures of her projects, either. Not until after Christmas.

It’s the best time of the year!

“Oh by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Going Tropical

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From the series of previous posts reviewing my history with Cyndie and her family, I hoped to provide a more complete background for what led to this year’s adventure to the Dominican Republic over Christmas.

After years of growing families, the Friswold Christmas spectacle of the classic gift exchange had expanded almost to the point we couldn’t fit all the gifts in one room. This was despite an effort long ago to rein things in by drawing individual names for the adults giving gifts.

I witnessed Cyndie and her brothers making an effort to encourage moderation, but it’s hard to restrain the love of giving. It was difficult to detect much evidence of change.

They were also putting energy and imagination toward devising ways to reduce the (mostly self-imposed) burden on Marie of hosting to the nines for hours on end, three or four days in a row. That effort was also producing mixed results.

Then, along came the year 2017, which just happened to include several significant milestones for Fred and Marie. They both celebrated 80th birthdays, certainly a benchmark for which they deserve the reasonable courtesy of reduced stress and aggravation in their days.

Equally noteworthy is this year’s marking of their 60th wedding anniversary. With these special events dealt to their hands, the two cunning card players set about making the big play.

Obviously, they had been counting cards all along, because they knew what was going to be dealt in advance. We found out a full year ago that Fred and Marie wanted to bring the whole clan to the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year.

No names will be drawn, no food needs to be planned or prepared, no setting up of tables and chairs, no world-class flower arrangements will need to be flown from Boston by Carlos, no dishes will need to be done for hours on end.

We will have the gift of a full week of each other’s company in the warmth of sun, sand, palm trees, and ocean breezes.

The whole clan, together again like a decade ago on Hilton Head Island.

I have no concept of what they could possibly dream up that could top this ten years from now, in celebration of their 70th anniversary.

What a family.

To Fred and Marie:

You have done the world a great service, raising these four amazing individuals with so much love.

You’ve given me an amazing opportunity to be included as family. You have blessed all your grandchildren with bountiful and limitless love.

Here’s hoping your dreams for this tropical Christmas were fulfilled, and that you enjoy many more days as stress-free as this week hopefully was for you both.

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What About

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What about the Hays family Christmases? How could we fly off to the tropics for a week over this holiday!? Well, it’s not for lack of love to my birth clan, that’s for sure. Here’s a shout out my siblings and their families.

I see the difference between Cyndie’s and my family as an asset. Basically, it starts with the difference in age of our parents. Ralph and Betty were nearing the end of their high school years when Fred and Marie were born. I was the fifth of six kids, while Cyndie was the first of five. Our combined perspectives are broader than they would be, each on our own.

Now my parents have moved on to the world of spirits and my siblings are all grandparents. They are the matriarchs and patriarchs of their own respective families. My siblings and I haven’t maintained a specific Hays tradition of celebrating Christmas together.

However, the memories of our glorious past endure and I’m sure have directly shaped the new traditions of our kids and grandkids.

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Just three years ago, Cyndie and I had the pleasure of hosting a gathering of Hays families at Christmastime and I wrote about it here on Relative Something. Here is an excerpt from December 2014’s “Sibling Revelry.”

Despite a sloppy wintry mix of precipitation doing its best to dampen our spirits (sorry ’bout the pun), the gathering of Hays relatives was a joy and a half. As always happens to me at family gatherings of limited duration, the riches of access to siblings I grew up with is enticing, but the reality of our usual chaos leaves me wishing there was more time. It is hard to finish a story, and sometimes a single sentence, without interruption. My attention is too often wrenched away from the person I was listening to, and time flies by so fast, the hour of departure comes up way too soon.

Regardless, every moment was precious. Reconnecting after long periods of separation, with siblings who share so many tendencies and characteristics, is refreshing and invigorating. I tend to feel a kind of validation of who I am, discovering the brothers and sisters that I grew up with remain so similar in behavior and perspectives. I am among my people again.

DSC03401eCHI’m lucky that, as a family, we all get along. These are the people who inhabited Intervale Ranch with me from the day I was born until 9 years later, when our family moved out and the property was razed for development into an industrial park.

With technical assistance from my son, Julian, I was able to display a digitized version of a slide show I put together close to 30 years ago, which featured that old farm property. It provided an opportunity to exercise our memories, as we analyzed some of the images and compared recollections.

Meanwhile, there was non-stop food to be consumed, youngsters to get reacquainted with and entertained by, and horses to visit…

Love you, Hays relations! Hope you all had fabulous Christmas celebrations at home while we were away!

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2017 at 7:00 am

Happy Christmas

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But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

Not Fun

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You know that part about me driving multiple times to Cyndie’s parent’s house for Christmas events? Didn’t happen. Chalk this one up as “Worst. Christmas. Ever.” for me. At least I didn’t have any problems with trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel.

A dastardly nasty spell of weather foiled my best intentions. We experienced sleet, rain, freezing fog, lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and as a cherry on top, high winds with scarily intense gusts. My Christmas was spent home alone. I might as well have been a character in the movie.

Knowing the impending freezing rainstorm would wreak havoc on roads, we headed out on Christmas eve prepared for Cyndie to stay the night at her folks’ house. I drowsily made my way home through the beginnings of the freezing mist on Saturday night so I could take care of Delilah and the horses.

Sunday morning dawned with a perfect glazing over everything, quickly convincing me I wouldn’t be trying to drive to the cities for the grand gift exchange extravaganza that Cyndie’s family executes with incredible flair. Actually, it was Delilah who convinced me, as she did an immediate slipping-on-a-banana-peel spill off the front steps before she realized the hazardous conditions.

I could have tried to warn her better, but we all know she wouldn’t have listened.

The horses were way out in the hay-field, happily grazing through the snow, so I left them out in the mist for much of the day. The temperature actually climbed a bit, melting some of the glaze by afternoon, but you couldn’t see the difference between frozen and not, which made it doubly dangerous.

I navigated my way around our property by changing my gait to something that looked like I had aged several decades over night. Even with that adjustment, there were still frequent moments of heart pounding panic as I’d catch myself from going ass over teakettle.

By the time it had turned to real rain and become obvious that I needed to get the horses inside for the night, I was fighting both them and the elements to accomplish the task. They stayed out in the field while I prepared their evening feed in the stalls. They made me trudge out in the soaking wet to guide them back to the barn.

The wind howled something awful all night long, making my longed-for uninterrupted night’s sleep an impossibility. At some point around zero dark thirty I figured out the spooky clunk that kept occurring was from a bird feeder hitting the house outside the bedroom. I wasn’t about to get out of bed to do anything about it at that hour, and in that wind, so I just had to get used to the sound enough to ignore it and get back to something close to restful sleep.dscn5630e

Yesterday morning presented with a diabolical combination of standing water (much of it hidden beneath cover of snow), freezing temperatures, and continued strong winds. The slopes around the barn were coated with very slippery ice. I tried spreading sand over them before offering Legacy a chance to bring his herd out for the day. He stopped and surveyed the surroundings, put his nose down to the icy surface, and then turned around to lead me right back into his stall.

They would spend the day indoors.

Cyndie ended up spending another night at her parent’s house. Delilah did well with the crazy weather, too confused by the inclusion of thunder in December to even bark at it. She happily agreed with me to cut our walks to the shortest distance necessary. She and Pequenita became my silent companions, waiting out what nature was serving up, clueless to the joyous family gatherings I was missing.

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She braved the gales with me to inspect the drainage ditch that is backed up a bit with a mixture of snow and water.

It’s going to take some time to get back to decent snow conditions around here, but probably not as long as it will take for me to quit moping about my sad fate this holiday. Only 363 days until I get a chance to replace this year’s Christmas memories with new ones.

Here’s hoping we end up with better weather next year.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am