Monday, December 19, 2016


The silence in my living room at 6:30 a.m. on the Monday before all of my children and grandchildren land on my doorstep for the holidays is so sweet. "Not a creature is stirring" is music to my ears. I'm not an introvert by any means, and thoroughly enjoy the company of people, lively conversation, and gay celebration.

However during my six year stay in the convent, I awoke daily to silent communication with my God through prayer and meditation. I loved that time more than any other part of the day and still begin every morning in much the same manner. It brings a peaceful calm to my body, mind and soul. Everything ahead of me for the next twenty-four hours comes into focus, and a plan to navigate each step evolves without much conscious effort on my part.. I know there will be deviations from said plan, but I'm fortified with God's grace to handle whatever causes chaos and discord.

There will be 15 people in our home for four or five days and usually some of the kids will be up and at it before I come down the stairs with Shadow. They will be either blasting the television or bickering about something. As soon as one of them spies me, they'll shout my name, and with grins as wide as the ocean, all start chattering at once. Gabe needs breakfast, Liam and Beckham are squabbling about who goes first in Trouble , and my dear Brenna, will rush to present the dog with her first treat of the day.

Although there will be absolutely no time for my cherished routine, having family around and being needed even for the simplest of tasks, is definitely a worthwhile replacement for a short span of time. After quickly getting everybody dressed, we rush out the door before any of the adults can stop us, and load into my daughter's van. I rev up the motor and head for our traditional Dunkin Donuts breakfast. First they all must have a sandwich before any goodies are selected. I order the same thing for everybody as they move tables together to accommodate all eight of us. As each one gobbles down their obligatory egg wrap, they are given my credit card and approach the counter to order a donut and drink of their choice. Surprisingly for this healthy, rambunctious bunch, the process goes off without a hitch. If they finish one and are still hungry, they are permitted a second. Of course you know how that goes so I needn't bother you with the specifics. On the way home, everyone is talking at the same time about what we're going to do and when we're going to do it.

This year our schedule includes: snow tubing, trampolining, ice skating, the movies, laser tag, and a trip to King's for ice cream. There will be little to no time for prayer and meditation for yours truly.

I treasure my silence and will yearn for it's return with all my heart. But I also treasure my time with family, especially my seven grandchildren, They are growing up so fast, and since they all live out of state, I don't see them as much as I'd like. So when they're here, bring on the noise, the chatter, and the chaos! Bring on the hustle, the bustle, and the wild scenario of events. I'm grateful that at my age I can still do almost everything they want to do, and for the most part, can keep up with them. I'm especially grateful that they really and truly want me to be there with them every step of the way.

As they all load up and head for their respective homes on the 29th, my hubby and I, and of course, Shadow, will wave good-bye and breathe a sigh of both sadness and relief!

Farewell to family, and hello to my precious silence that seems to have been absent for a very long time!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Never MEANS Never!

Lately I've been daydreaming about Christmas when I was a child. I see the big house on the avenue that I was literally born and raised in. On Christmas eve, I sit against the staircase rails with my brother beside me admiring the 8ft. tree decorated by Zedo and Mom. As kids we were never allowed to take part in adorning the tree since the icicles had to be hung one by one on each branch and be exactly the same length, and of course, children just didn't have the skill or patience for such accuracy. I smell the wonderful aromas floating from my Baba's kitchen and can't wait until the family arrives so we could sit down to dinner.

Now my Zedo had strict rules about who was invited to share our traditional meal. Only immediate family was permitted, with the exception of Belle and Oscar, very good long time friends, who ironically were Jewish. I see Zedo sitting at the head of the table. All the adults have a glass of Kimmel raised high as Zedo delivers his holiday speech in Slovak. When he finishes speaking, he places the golden liquor to his lips, signaling everybody else to do likewise. Now my brother and I stand up and wish our family the blessings of Christmas and a Happy New Year, in Slovak of course.

Dishes of honey are spread around the table and each guest has a white wafer called 'oplatky' in front of them.. All the children form a line by Zedo's side and receive a cross on their foreheads made from the honeyed thumb of our patriarch. Next everybody at the table dips their oplatky in the honey and partakes of it.

Baba and Mom begin serving the mushroom soup which is the appetizer that begins every Christmas eve supper. Zedo receives his bowl first. When the two women return to their chairs, the mushroom soup is consumed by all and the dishes removed.

Now for the main course. Babalki, navy beans, lungos, and cabbage! These meager staples are meant to remind us of the fact that Jesus was born in a stable without food or comforts.

After the meal, all the women go to the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes, while the men sit in the living room puffing cigars. Zedo amazes the kids by blowing white rings of smoke that rise towards the ceiling, We all try to poke them before they dissolve in the air. Some of us stay with the men to hear their stories of the old country, while some head to the kitchen to listen to the women's talk of favorite recipes and church stuff.

 After the company leaves, my brother and I climb the stairs and get ready for bed. We hurry so we can watch Mom from our seats against the staircase rails making countless trips to the enclosed front porch to bring in all the presents. When all have been carefully placed under the tree, Zedo shakes some bells and poinds on the wall to let us know that Santa has come and gone.

As we fly downstairs, the first place I head for is the mantle where the stocking are hung. Every year the same things are hidden in them; an orange the size of a melon, a coloring book, a fresh box of crayons, and a chocolate bar. Out of all the gifts, the items in my stocking were always the best as far as I was concerned.

My brother and I enjoy giving packages to Zedo, Baba, Mom, and Uncle Tom. We've spent the few dollars we'd saved throughout the year to put smiles on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes. I don't mention our Dad because he died when we were very young, but from what we've been told, he loved everything about Christmas.

After opening our presents, we scurry up to bed, recount our blessings in prayer,  and are lulled to sleep by the muffled voices echoing from downstairs. Peace settles over the big house on the avenue where tradition has once again been celebrated and all are safe and sound.

I know I can never return home again. All my family is gone,and the big house on the avenue was demolished decades ago.  Never MEANS Never as far as the Christmases of my childhood.

But they will always be FOREVER in my memories and in my heart!

Merry Christmas to ya'll!


Monday, December 5, 2016

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Our house is too big and we are too old. Should we stay or should we go?

On the one hand, for over forty years we've lovingly taken care of our two-story house, ardently maintaining both the inside and outside because it's our home. We've updated every decade or so in order to keep current with the trends of the day, new roof, new windows, new kitchen, etc. Every Thursday like clockwork, we've cleaned the inside until every room sparkles. Twice a year we've washed the walls and scrubbed the carpets. My hubby and I have meticulously groomed the outdoors from March through November as well. He's mowed and trimmed the lawn, pruned the shrubs, washed the siding, sealed the cement, etc. I've planted the flowers, weeded the shrub beds, tended the garden, cleaned the patio furniture, etc.

On the other hand, neither of us want to work that hard anymore. A small ranch or a patio home
is really all we need at this point in our lives. One floor with two bedrooms, two baths, a modern kitchen, breakfast nook, a comfy family room and a laundry niche would suit our needs perfectly. A front porch overlooking a postage stamp front lawn would be sufficient to satisfy our urges to become one with the earth, As far as a backyard, not necessary but again very small if we were to have one.

So what's the prob you say? Well first of all we need to decide where to relocate. Since all three of our grown children and their families live in different states, choosing to live near any of them would mean leaving the area where we both were born and raised. Whatever family we still have are here in PA, and it's nice to see them occasionally for dinner, movie outings, holiday gatherings and such. We know and love our neighbors. Anytime a need arises we can always count on one of them to lend a helping hand, and of course, they know we have their backs, too. Just being able to step outside and kibitz for a few minutes about the weather, politics, or why the grass is dying in some spots is such a joy for us. Also we're familiar with our surroundings, stores, doctors, entertainment, etc. We know where to go and how to get there.

I think we've solved that prob, we're staying in this area. Now for the biggie, should we look for a resell or do we buy a new house? My husband thinks a small ranch in an older community is the answer, however my choice is a new patio home in a housing development with one or two streets max. I've started surfing the net, but what I've found is disappointing. First of all the costs are out of sight even for what we're looking for. People are setting outrageous prices on homes that haven't been updated since built, and contractors are asking for tons of money for bare-bones basics. Everything extra costs the buyer more and more.

Finally, we would need to have our home appraised, put on the market and sold.

The house isn't getting any smaller and we're certainly not getting any younger. Should we stay or should we go? God only knows at this point in time!