Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy 2017

This last year has been a roller coaster ride. Lots of dips and twists and even a few loop to loops. So many highs and lows were seen individually and as a world. Yet, here we are, still standing despite the world's best efforts to keep us down. We're here for a purpose. What is your purpose? I don't know.

As for me, I believe we are all here to be teachers. Whether it is about lessons or blessings, we are here to teach others about kindness, respect, honor, and love. I've had people who have come into life for several seasons who have taught me lessons, both good and bad. I've also had people who have merely brushed across my life who have blessed me. It doesn't matter how long a person stays in your life. What matters is how their visit impacted you, caused you to grow, gave you insight, or how it changed you. So, this is my challenge to you as we look forward to the upcoming year: Will you be a blessing or a lesson in the lives of those you touch? I am hoping that I'm a blessing always, but I know that isn't the case.

So, I'm going to take a brief moment to say "Thank you" for following me on this journey. Remember to find the magick in every day, dance like no one is watching, sing like you know all the words, love like you'll never get hurt.

Happy New Year from my house to yours!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Christmas Wish...

This is the last and final post I will make for the holiday. I want to thank you for coming along on this journey of memories, hopes, dreams, and wishes. I've regained some of my holiday spirit and that is in a big way due to you, my readers.

If you had stopped reading these posts, I would probably have stopped writing them. I lost followers on Facebook over these posts, but you know what? I don't really care. I usually make one blog post a week...if I remember. This is the first time I have posted on a daily basis and I've really loved it. I've got to stroll down memory lane with you and let you see into my world. I've noticed my posts involved a lot of delicious food, lots of family, loads of laughter, and so much more love than a heart can hold. I've stopped to count my blessings along this journey and I've realized that there wasn't one of these posts that was really about the material things the holidays brings us. It was all about the magick that makes the holiday special.

So, I am going to leave you with this wish: May you and yours be healthy and happy! May you find the courage you need to live out loud. May you always yourself, others, the world, and magick. May you know how to get back up when life knocks you down. And may you find happiness in even the darkest moments! Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Peace on Earth

This last 13 days has been about me sharing with you. Whether it is memories of Christmases long ago or things from more recent times, I've shared as much holiday joy as I could with all of you.

Yesterday, I wrote about my grown-up letters to Santa. I have so many wishes besides something for myself. The biggest wish? Peace. Peace from wars. Peace from politics, Peace from racism, Peace from patriarchy. Peace on Earth.

Yeah, I know, I live in a world of make-believe, but close your eyes for a moment and imagine a world where humans simply were kind to each other. No words of hatred were spewed. We just loved our neighbors, no matter what color their skin or the symbol of their religion they choose to wear. Where we just remembered that we are all part of one race...the human one.

I would love a world where every parent was able to be with their children for the holidays. Every military man and woman would sit down to dinner with their family, be there when their children woke on Christmas morning, and could sleep soundly in their own beds each night.

Peace on Earth...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dear Santa...

How many years did we sit down to write these letters? I remember doing it as a kid, but as an adult, it was almost as if I had given up on the magick.

I started a book a while ago about a woman who wrote a letter to Santa. It ends up in the hands of a man and romance ensues.  So, I thought about it. Why do we stop believing? Isn't Santa about the spirit of the holiday?

Two years ago, I sat down and wrote a letter to Santa. Granted, it didn't get mailed, but I still wrote out my wish. I merely told Santa that as happy as I was, he knew what I wanted and I was sure he was the only one who could make it happen. I told him that he knew my heart's desire and if he could see his way to bringing my hopes and dreams to fruition, I'd be eternally grateful. It didn't happen, but  I held out hope.

The following September, Mr. Charismatic Smile walked into my math class and took my breath away. He was more than I could've hoped for. He gave me something that no one else has or could. He held up a mirror and didn't just tell me I was beautiful. He made me believe it. That's what I had asked Santa for...someone who could see me for me and make me believe their words.

So, I continue to write these letters. I'm hoping Santa still gets that I believe in the magick of him and this holiday.

Here's my song choices for today:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas 1977

Yesterday's post wasn't really a memory, but yet, in some ways, it was. I know what is like to spend a holiday alone. I've spent enough holidays either working or curled up on the couch with my dog to realize it sucks to be alone for the holidays.

Today, however, is a different day. This memory comes from the year 1977. (I'm giving away my age with this one.) I was new big sister and, while I wasn't overly fond of the brat...ahem, baby, he was my little brother.

This was the Christmas that I got a bean bag chair. It was black, shiny, and squishy. My mom had bubbleloaf (monkey bread to the rest of you) baking in the oven. I was up at the buttcrack of dawn to inspect the gifts Santa had brought. I remember sitting on the floor while Dad sat on the couch with a cup of coffee. Mom had gone in to change the beast...I mean, baby. Mom put him on the floor to crawl out to the family room/kitchen/dining room and he promptly crawled into my new bean bag chair, made himself comfortable, and promptly fell back to sleep.

I will admit that I loved that little booger...for the most part. He was chubby and cute...usually But there is actually a picture of that baby sound asleep on my Christmas is probably my favorite of him to this day.

I do remember singing this song that holiday:

And this song was one I had to sing for the Christmas program at church:

Love Actually...

Love. It is a four letter word and some people liken it to the other four letter words that cause much disdain. Love actually is what the holidays are all about.

I'm a big fan of the movie "Love Actually" and this is one of my favorite quotes:

For me, this is what the holidays are all about...LOVE. It is about loving your friends, your neighbors, your parents, your siblings, your children, your partner/significant other, yourself. It is about celebrating that love wherever you might find yourself.

Love is visible everywhere you look. You may have to look harder in some places, but look around your world and you will find love is actually quite prevalent. It is the young man shoveling his elderly neighbor's sidewalk. It is the mother holding her child's hand while shopping. It is the couple strolling down the street looking at the window displays. In this world when so many are discouraged and upset with the way things are going...LOVE actually exists.

So many people celebrate the holidays alone or with a mish mash of friends. Not everyone has a family to bicker with, to share a meal with, to argue about who's team is the better team with, to LOVE. We have elderly people who sit in their homes with no family visits. We have families who are spread across the country with no way of getting to each other. We have men and women in the military who are forced to be away from their families for the holidays. Yet, if you look closely, you'll find that LOVE is still alive within this world.

For my first choice today, I give you:

And here is my second choice: 

Monday, December 19, 2016

My Itchy and Scratchy Christmas

As I've said before, the holidays are rough for me. But let me tell you about one Christmas where I was absolutely miserable!

It was my freshman year of high school and I was so tired. I went to help Grandma get ready for our Christmas Eve gathering. I wasn't feeling Christmasy or anything close to happy. I was simply exhausted. We got everything ready and I went in on Grandmas bed to lie down. Everyone brought their coats in to lay on Grandma's bed, but I didn't care. I just wanted a dark room with a comfy bed. Grandma had to do her pre-present opening picture of us grandkids in front of the tree. I remember being upset and surly. Dad got on to me about my attitude and told me I needed to straighten up. I remember tears coming to my eyes...that's how miserable I was.

We did the whole Christmas thing and visited for a bit before we went home. I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. My mom called in to me asking if I had any red spots. I did. I had them on my back, my chest, my stomach...I had come down with chicken pox! Merry Christmas to me, right?

I remember Dad had to run back to Grandma's house to get calamine lotion. We lived 20 minutes from town and it's not as if anything were open. Mom painted my spots with polka dots of pink and sent me to bed. I didn't want to celebrate Christmas. I wanted to sleep. The virus wore me out completely. But instead I got up and celebrated...reluctantly. I spent my entire holiday break with those damn red spots. My brother came down with them the week after and ended up missing school! LOL

Here's my holiday music picks for today:

This has to be one of my favorite songs simply because I grew up loving the Chipmunks. Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were the best!

I always loved Snoopy and the gang! They represented every holiday to me. I never missed an episode of their specials.

I definitely don't miss the chicken pox, but there are certainly pieces of my childhood that make me long for those days.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was always a HUGE deal in my family. We would all go to Grandma's for a dinner of cold cuts, baked beans, potato salad, and snacks. My mom would bring trays of goodies. We would all gather to hang out and celebrate.

But it was the lead up to Christmas Eve that I remember most. Us grandkids would show up to help Grandma decorate her house. Sometimes it was just Grandma and me. However, it was always fun. Then, I'd help Grandma make up the treats she always provided: Chex mix, goodie bars, date bars, and such. We would hang out and talk. It was one of the best times! Grandma loved having her grandkids around and she loved us all so much. The bond she and I had was unique because I was her only granddaughter.

Grandma had a fake tree every year, but there was always one ornament that she'd put on herself. It was a pinkish purple and white ball. It was the first ornament she and Grandpa bought their first Christmas as a married couple. All the rest of her ornaments had stories as well, but that one was always my favorite.

While we baked and prepared for Christmas Eve, Nat King Cole would serenade us.

And while this may seem disrespectful to some, if you knew my Grandma, you'd understand how respectful it truly is. She and my cousin had this running joke when this song first hit the airwaves and this became one of her favorite Christmas songs. So, in memory of my dear Grandma with the  twisted sense of humor (should I mention that my Grandma was a fan of Queen and Smashing Pumpkins?), here is my second choice for today:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Angels Among Us

Let me share a memory that not a lot of people are aware of.

Newly divorced and living in a new town with no friends, I celebrated my first holiday with just my darling boy and me. I wasn't working. I was a broke-ass college student. I was depressed and not looking forward to Christmas. There was no tree. I had put up a few decorations, but there was absolutely no gifts. I felt like a shitty canine mom.

I'm never one to ask for anything because I'm a big believer in only taking what I earn. However, I was a member of a Facebook group and I asked for prayers, positive energy, and good vibes. What ended up happening showed me more love than I can express. This group of people from around the world came together to make Diesel's Christmas a special one. He got presents from around the world. He got a new dog bed, toys galore, a new leather collar, treats, and so much love.

What's funny is that we haven't been the only recipients of the generosity. So many people have been blessed. Even this year, I got a message from a friend who asked if there was anything we needed. I told her that I didn't, but she still sent us gifts. The love continues to grow and I am blessed to be in the presence of angels. My sincerest wish is that someday I will be able to pay all of these blessings forward.

Today's first choice is sort of an obvious choice:

This song always brings a tear to my eye. The message is so deep and profound. Not all angels have wings that are visible. Oftentimes, we are entertaining angels unaware.

And my second choice is this one:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

There are few times that you could find me scheduling my evening around a tv. Christmas was one of those times. Charlie Brown and the gang, Rudolph, the Heat Meiser, Santa Claus, Jack name a holiday special and you would find my butt planted in front of the television screen.

To this day, Rudolph is one of my favorites. Santa Claus is Coming to Town is another and we can't forget A Year Without a Santa Claus.

Rudolph was a misfit, just like me. With his red nose, he stuck out and made me feel like I wasn't so alone in this world. And when he went to the Island of Misfit Toys...OH! MY! GOD! I wanted to take a blanket and build a fort there with misfit toys. When you throw in Yukon Cornelius and Herbie, well, those are my people!

So, today's first choice is an obvious choice:

I always loved how Clarice accepted Rudolph and wondered if I would ever find the one who would accept me being a misfit. Yes, even back in the day, I was a romantic at heart.

Here's my second choice because I can't stop singing this one:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Spirit of Christmas

Can I tell you how much fun I'm having with this? I'm wondering who is enjoying it more, my mom or me. Every new post triggers a new memory for both of us. And every new memory leads to a new post. So here we go for today:

If you've been reading along, then you know that I am over the commercialism of the holidays. I'm very glad to not have television so I miss out on the holiday bombardment of advertisements. But once upon a time, I knew a man who embodied the very spirit of the Christmas season. He was a truck driver my parents had befriended. He was the sweetest of people. We had spent weekends with his family and went to his daughter's wedding. A very generous family. How this whole thing started I can't remember, but I do remember the way this man would don a Santa suit and provide a holiday for children who wouldn't have had one otherwise. There was a meal and presents, a visit with Santa, and box of food to take home so these families could have their own holiday meals.

The very first year, we delivered boxes of food to families via an RV. The next year, it grew and grew. My mom was baking cookies for this man and his brother to sell on their route. They took the money and funded part of the celebration. They added donations from the boss and others as well as putting in their personal financial contributions. It was amazing!

As a kid who didn't come from a wealthy family, the generosity shown was how the spirit of Christmas was represented. Sure, this man wasn't the "real" Santa, but in my book, it was as close as you can get. And the heart of this man was touched each and every year...enough so that he would excuse himself, take off his Santa beard, and have a bit of a cry. He knew he was making a difference, I just don't think he realized how much of one until he was in that moment and he made a child's  (or a parent's) holiday.

This man kept the spirit of Christmas alive for a young woman who wasn't sure about believing in the miracle of Christmas after a certain age.

And this is how I came to this addition for today:

This is one song we used to sing every year at the Christmas sing. We would wind up the evening with this one:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cabbage Patch Christmas

It was the Christmas where Cabbage Patch dolls were the "must have" toys. Like any little girl, I wanted one. As I'm sure you've figured out, my family wasn't financially well off. I knew the likelihood of me getting one wasn't good, but a little girl could hope. My mom was one who loved attending craft fairs (still does) and often made things to add to the table her ladies group had. This particular year, she found a doll for her little girl. She resembled the popular brand, but had a cloth face with her facial features painted on. She had blond yarn hair with pink ribbons. She had brown eyes and an outie belly button. Her dress was white with pink rosebuds and she wore white bloomers. She was perfect and I loved her. My best friend got a Cabbage Patch doll. I remember thinking that I had gotten the best gift because there was no other doll exactly like mine. I did that a lot...feeling sorry for my friends who didn't get homemade gifts. (Did I mention that I was an odd duck?)

Here is my first choice for today's musical collection:

I've always had a special affinity for winter. I love how the snow covers the world in this perfectly clean blanket and makes everything look so pristine. The light bounces off each individual snowflake, making beautiful rainbows in the snow. 

My second choice is this one:

For me, there is nothing like getting snowed in with the person you love. There's playing in the snow, homemade hot cocoa, snuggling up in warm jammies under the blankets, reading books, flickering candlelight, long see my point. I love the romance of the winter season!

Small Town Christmas

I'm from a small town called Marshall. It used to be a quiet little town with the pharmacy which still had their soda counter (no longer in use), the bakery with the most scrumptious goodies, the banks where the tellers knew you, the Five and Dime store, and you would stop to talk to everyone as you walked from shop to shop.

This is what my hometown looks like during the holidays:

I could lie and tell you that this is the Norman Rockwell version, but I won't. I have to admit that this is probably one of my favorite places to be when it comes to the holidays. This is home and nothing can compare. 

I've hung out on this street on Friday and Saturday nights. I've shopped these stores. I've walked this street in parades and for my high school graduation. However, nothing beats Marshall during the holidays!

In light of this feeling of nostalgia, I'm going to share two Christmas songs that make me think of home.

This video is a win/win for me. Not only do I love this song, but it has Bob Hope in it. He was one of my grandma's favorite people. Many a night was spent on her lap, watching this man and the television specials he used to have.

My second choice is this one: 

For me, there was nothing like walking down Main Street and watching all the windows come to life with snow, winter scenes, Christmas trees, ribbons, and bows. It seemed like the season arrived once the windows began to show their holiday spirit.

I hope you enjoyed my choices for today!

Monday, December 12, 2016


I made one post about Christmas memories and my mom reminded me of another. One holiday season, we couldn't afford to buy Christmas cards. My mom decided to harness her children's talents (my brother could draw very well). He drew the pictures for the front of our construction paper cards while I wrote the verses for inside. I didn't realize how poor we were. I just thought it was another thing Mom wanted to try. The thing I remember about that holiday was the comments everybody made about what an incredible card they received from our family.

This is my first song choice for today:

I remember singing this in church during my first Christmas program. I was in kindergarten. We certainly didn't sound like the video, but we stood in front of the church and sang. Made our parents proud. I think :)

This is my second choice: 

Once again, we didn't sound nearly as good as this, but I remember singing this in the choir. Mrs. Riccinto was my choir director and she had to explain to us how to sing the "Excelsis" part since none of us knew Latin. We had a huge piece to sing in the Christmas program and the Excelsis part was throwing us all off. She told us to sing it as 'eggshells". To this day, I chuckle whenever I hear this song.

I hope you enjoy my choices today!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Musical Memories

If you've been following me for any length of period, you know that music has always been a big part of my life. And you're also aware that the holidays aren't necessarily my favorite times of the year. However, I promised to let you a little further into my world by showing you the holiday music that means a lot to me.

This song used to play on the local radio station when I was a kid. I remember thinking how silly it was to want Santa to deliver a hippo. Eventually, the radio station stopped playing it. I hadn't heard it in years until I was sitting at a gas station in Pennsylvania, waiting on my then-husband. This song came on and I was all smiles when my childhood made a brief reappearance.

Yes, I'm a little silly. I'm also very wicked and dark. This next song is the perfect example of that. This is a song that was on a CD my then-husband had. I remember him getting the CD and playing me some of the songs. This one stuck out because it made me laugh. Yes, the hysterical belly laugh which shows the twisted sense of humor that resides inside of my cold black heart.

This is the beginning of a fun couple of weeks as I bring you some of the favorite music of the holiday least, in my world. You'll see the silly, the dark and twisted, the serious, the tear-jerkers, and the love that filled my life.

I hope you enjoy the journey I am going to take you on! Hang on and enjoy the ride!

Growing Up Grinch...

Being called a "Grinch" isn't bad in my world, but maybe I'm more of a Cindy Lou Who. I don't see the Christmas spirit a lot these days. I look around at the shopping carts overflowing with gifts being pushed by people who are frazzled and overwhelmed by the entire experience. The introvert in me loves observing the people and how their stress levels always seem higher as the contents of their shopping carts grow. The empath in me feels for them because they are trying to fill the holes in their lives with stuff.

See, I grew up in a family where the spirit of the holiday was more important than the physical gifts. It was about remembering your neighbors who maybe didn't have family to visit or spend the holiday with. My mom would bake and bake her heart out simply to give it all away. I remember her getting up extra early on Christmas morning to bake off loaves of bread, wrap them in dish towels, and put the loaves into the already prepared boxes of Christmas cookies and candies so Dad could run them to our neighbors before we opened gifts.

What's funny is I would sit and look through the catalogs for hours to prepare my Christmas lists every year. I don't remember a lot of the gifts I got (there are a couple that stand out in my mind), but I remember how I felt. I remember watching my parents. And though neither of them realized it at the time, I'm sure, they were teaching me about the true spirit of the season. What else is funny is this: I don't remember going shopping with my mom for gifts. But I do remember being in the kitchen, baking, cooking, stirring, dipping, washing, laughing, and loving.

My mother swears that I'm very un-Grinch-like. (She's my mom. She believes only good things about her baby! Lol) She doesn't know that when I'm driving to work, if a Christmas song comes on, I switch the radio station. Today, however, there was a song that came on and I couldn't change the station. Why? Because I heard the music start and I was transported back to that kitchen on a snowy December night. Cookies were baking. Fudge was bubbling away. My mom was in a pair of polyester pants and a sweatshirt. My dad was in his stocking feet, jeans, and a flannel shirt with a thermal shirt beneath it, sleeves rolled up. And he was singing this song: 


There were tears in my eyes as I drove along. As much as the holiday music drives me crazy, this is one song I just can't turn the station for. This is another: 

So, from now until Christmas, I'm going to make posts about my favorite holiday songs. Something to give you a bit of insight in the world of Gemma and what makes the holidays happy for me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Box Full of Darkness

As most of you know, I've been on this journey. Lately, I've been looking at the things that have gone wrong in my life, either due to my bad judgement or because I allowed the wrong people to take the helm (so bad judgement on my part). I've been counting my blessings and learning to bless others as I walk along the yellow brick road.

Here's a thought: What if the darkest parts of the road where actually the times I was most blessed? Those times when I felt the lowest, I walked the path with hesitancy and trepidation, but I still kept putting one foot in front of the other. It was in those times that I found my strength. It was during those times when I found my determination. It was in the moments when I stumbled and fell, but rolled over for a moment or two to look up at the sky to watch the stars, that I saw the light.

I've always loved the dark. Someone once asked me why I loved the darkness as much as I do. I told them "Because in the daylight, we all put on masks and hide our true selves from others. But in the night, the masks come off and we get to be ourselves. The darkest part of the nightfall is where the freaks play." (Freaks is very much an endearment as I am one of those people.)

I don't know why I think the light of day will guide me and show me what I need to see. Bad things hide in the shadows of the daylight, but in the darkness, well, the true light shines. I look at some of the events of my life and think "Wow, what the hell were you thinking? If only you had taken that right turn at Albuquerque. If only you would have stuck to your guns and not listened to friends. If only you would have followed your heart." Do you know what? If I had taken that right at Albuquerque, not listened to others and followed my own heart, I wouldn't be here, in this place, in this moment, in this time. My path may have been easier, but we don't learn anything when things are easy. The struggle is where we learn who we are and what we are made of. I could have avoided a lot of pain and sorrow, but I wouldn't have learned the lessons I needed to learn. I've learned that I do value myself more than I believed, that I'm stronger than I thought I was, that I'm more intelligent than I originally believed, that I am beautiful (maybe not to everyone, but to more than I could have imagined), that I have the right to have crazy colored hair no matter what my age, that tattoos are works of art, but most of all, that I can allow myself to be loved in the same way that I love. 

It is in the darkest times when we truly find ourselves. I don't need people to tell me what I should be studying or where. I don't need to hear that I'm beautiful, intelligent, or incredible. In the darkest times of my life, if I would have listened to my heart, the answers were right there. The stars were the true light, guiding me to my destiny and showing me the path that has been right in front of me all along. 

With this realization in mind, I am putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where this road leads. This time, I'm allowing the stars to light my way and I'm following my heart.