No BLTs until Christmas

Thirteen days ago I started my Christmas baking.

Thirteen days ago I made the revered Biscuits aux Cerises de ma Tante, an annual Christmas tradition in my house. They are sweet, delectable and irresistible. With all my boys and their significant others coming home for Christmas, how could I not make their favorite treat?

One batch makes a complete cookie sheet full. When they came out of the oven the aroma was intoxicating: buttery shortbread base and cherries with cornflakes and a carmelicious topping.

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Oh my!

I usually cut them up into squares to be put away for when the family arrives on Christmas Day, and that’s what I started to do thirteen days ago.

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Right.

Before I knew what had happened, a whole row of cherry squares had disappeared! Just gone into thin air.

I thought of an old rhyme from my youth:

“Over the lips, through the gums,

look out tummy, here it comes!”

Yes, I ate a whole row. A whole row in a cookie sheet makes about ten squares. Yep that was what I ate. The first couple went down pretty good, but after that I was eating cherry squares by rote, automated, in a daze.

A little while later I felt so toxic and uncomfortable you can’t imagine. My tummy hurt, my head hurt; heck, even my feelings hurt.

I did it to myself.

The other eight rows of squares went into the freezer and I wondered how I would cope with the rest of the Christmas baking. Doing the calculation, I figured that after I made the shortbreads, soda cracker candy, Swiss cookies and chocolate chip cookies, I was in line for the most major sugar rush and weight gain imaginable if I continued to eat out of control like that.

I had to do something.

Thirteen days ago I decided to have no more sugar until Christmas.

And I haven’t had any.

Since the ‘cherry square day’ I have been to three pot lucks, an open house, two other gatherings of friends and two family dinners. Not only that, all my baking is done.

I did not have so much as one BLT (Bite, Lick or Taste) of sugar in all that time and I am so proud of myself.

Not only that, my digestion has been perfect.

Not only that, I feel focused and determined.

In addition, I have a little more energy.

And I’m finding my mood is more stable. That’s a lot of benefits from abstaining from sugar for 13 days, don’t you think?

But that’s not all. I have actually lost a couple of pounds at a time of year when most folk, myself included, usually gain seven pounds. I had to white knuckle it the first couple of days but after that it got easier. It became like a game to me.

In one more day it will be Christmas and you can rest assured I will have some dessert and a couple of sweets, but after that I think I will continue my sugar fast until Valentine’s Day.

Would you like to join me?

 

Getting Back On Track

 

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 60 of 84

 

The past week has been a joyful family time of laughter, card games in the evening and eating those special meals that are only made at Christmas time. It was my first Christmas in four years to have had the house full at this time of year and I relished every moment.

It seems that when family members come for only a couple of days you try to cram in all the activities and food imaginable into that time, and all too soon they are gone and you realize that you didn’t show them a certain thing or that you didn’t get to talk about a pressing issue. However, when they come for a longer time it is a little different. After the initial flurry of excitement comes the time for show and tell and deeper conversations.

It was absolutely wonderful!

This morning we will be taking my son and his wife to the airport for their trip back to Toronto. The bags are packed and all that is left to do is to make lunches for on the plane and cram that last Cherry Banana Bread into their suitcase.

And when we come back home, the house will be a little emptier and it will be time to get back to our regular little life, with normal meals and activities. It’s not always easy to get back on track after ten days of feasting. It reminds me of a line from Mrs. Miniver:

 

“Not that she didn’t enjoy the holidays: but she always felt—and it was, perhaps, the measure of her peculiar happiness—a little relieved when they were over. Her normal life pleased her so well that she was half afraid to step out of its frame in case one day she should find herself unable to get back.”

Jan Struther

I’m sure I’ve packed on a couple of pounds over the season, but I won’t be getting on the scale for a few days. Not before I’ve had a couple of days to scale down the sweets and rich foods and pump up the activity.

This is where the mindfulness and finding joy comes in. In order to stay positive you have to get back into a regular and healthy routine.

hands

Today I am grateful:

 1. That the weather is amenable for flying today

2. To have had a great family time this Christmas

3. That the skillful Sara hemmed up two of my coats

4. For health

5. For a beautiful Christmas pageant at church yesterday

 

 

A Beautiful Christmas Wish

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 56 of 84

I am happy to report that my son and daughter-in-law did make it home for Christmas! With much prayer, patience and waiting they got put on another flight and now my little crew is celebrating and we’re all having a good family time.

Yeah Porter!

Yeah God!

 I once received a Christmas greeting from a friend with a message that touched my heart so profoundly that I saved the card for many years. I tucked it away in a drawer and from time to time I would take it out and read it. Its message is one of love and caring, stated in such a way as to make the receiver feel very special. I know I did. Over the years I have sent the message to my mother and also to various friends along the way.

And today I give it to you.

 I am thinking of you today because it is Christmas,
and I wish you happiness.
And tomorrow, because it will be the day after Christmas,
I shall still wish you happiness; and so on throughout the year.
I may not be able to tell you about it every day because I may be far away,
or because both of us may be very busy, or perhaps I cannot even afford to pay the postage on so many letters;
or find the time to write them.
But that makes no difference.  The thought and the wish will be here just the same
In my work and in the business of life I mean to try not to be unfair to you in any way.
In my pleasure if we can be together, I would like to share the fun with you.
Whatever joy or success that comes to you will make me glad.
Without pretense, and in plain words Good Will is what I mean.
May the spirit of Christmas be yours throughout the year.

– Henry Van Dyke

Today I am grateful:

1. To Porter Airlines for getting my children here safely

2. For a surprise gift of live lobster left on our deck by a friend

3. For sharing a beautiful Christmas Eve service with my family

4. To get to know my daughter-in-law better

5. That Christmas Day is here and we are safe

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A Day Of Quiet Reflection

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 55 of 84

Three storms in seven days should make a record somewhere. That’s what we had in the past week: two snowstorms that shut down the schools last Monday and Wednesday, and 12 hours of freezing rain yesterday that closed church doors and small businesses. The list of cancellations started around 6h and just got longer as the morning progressed. It was kind of sad really, to see all the Christmas pageants, concerts and presentations for which children and grownups had diligently prepared, cancelled without further notice.

It was also mine and Dave’s fourth wedding anniversary!

I was thinking of our young marriage at midlife and how grateful I am to have had this second chance. I would be lying if I said that it’s been four years of ‘happily wedded bliss’. We each came into this union with our own suitcase full of good things, bad things, memories, children, traditions and expectations. So the past four years have been a process of sorting out our separate lives and making them into a new life together. It hasn’t always been easy, but as we go along, we understand each other better and our love for each other has deepened.

Getting the negativity out has helped a lot.

You could say that our plans as well as most other folks’ plans fell down mid-flight yesterday. So instead of going to church, buying lobster for Christmas and going out for an anniversary meal, we stayed inside and had a quiet day at home, and a supper of fajitas.

It was a day of quiet reflection and thankfulness.

Today I am grateful:

1. For a crackling fire on a stormy day

2. For four years of marriage and a deepening understanding of each other

3. For no power outage yesterday

4. For a good night’s sleep

5. I was going to write, For my son and daughter-in-law’s arrival this afternoon, but we just got notice that their flight from Toronto was cancelled. We are praying that they will make it here before Christmas…

freezing

Staying Sane At The Grocery Store

  Positivity No Negativity Challenge

Day 52 of 84

Since starting this no negativity challenge, I have been getting up at 5h, and over a strong cup of coffee I read mail, check out what’s new on Pinterest and then figure out what today’s topic will be. By 5h30 I begin to write.

Just the simple act of writing about positivity every day has made me a more positive person. Figuring out ways to get the negativity out has provided valuable tools for having a better day and by consequence, a better life. Some of those tools are knitting, hanging out with positive people, listening to uplifting music, and showing gratefulness.

However, I’m not sure that gratefulness, knitting and uplifting music can be useful when shopping in a crowded and busy store, where the desperation of last minute Christmas shoppers, myself included, is rampant.

Going into a shop at this time of year is something I avoid like the plague. However, we do have to shop for food. After all, there will be a houseful of us next week, and we need to brave the crowded aisles of the grocery store to get the necessities of a memorable Christmas meal for my family.

Crowded shops, especially grocery stores, make me tired, impatient and negative. So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve sweetly asked Dave if he would mind doing the groceries, and he has obliged every time. But this morning we are going together to ‘git ‘er done’.

I’ve had the brilliant idea of going to my Superstore at 7h this morning, when there shouldn’t be anyone around. That should take care of my sanity and crowded aisles and long lineups at the checkout. At least, I hope so. And if not, well there should be fewer shoppers at 7h than there will be a couple of hours later. By that time we will be having breakfast at a little restaurant not far from home.

I’ll let you know how we make out…

Today I am grateful:

1. For early grocery store hours

2. A therapeutic session at Frenchys, my favorite second hand store

3. Fresh haddock, cooked to perfection

4. The café that has offered to display my book

5. Christmas greetings that have been arriving daily in the mail

superstore

Today I choose Hope

Positivity No Negativity Challenge

Day 38 of 84

As the month of December marches on, I start to feel the tension building. It is getting more and more difficult to push out the negativity and to be positive. I have made my lists of things to do, gifts to buy and menus to plan. After all, my children are coming home for Christmas and I should be happy. I want to make a memorable family time for them, especially my daughter-in-law who has never experienced a traditional Canadian Christmas. I’ve bought her a Christmas stocking in anticipation of filling it with some little love gifts. There is prepared food at the ready in the freezer. The house is decorated. So what’s wrong with me? The holy music is playing.

Why am I not happy, merry and bright? Isn’t Jesus the reason for the season anyway?

Well yes.

But amidst all the cheery greetings, planning and parties, real life has crept in, and frankly, I am not feeling that merry, happy and peaceful at all.

When the cashier at Superstore wishes me Merry Christmas, I’m thinking of my son who will be coming home in the next few days with his concussion, and I worry about his health, his deferred exams and the success of his university year. I hope he will recover soon and be able to get back to his studies.

And when people send wishes with Happy Holidays written on them, I think of my old car, still sitting on a car lot waiting to be sold, and the bills waiting to be paid with the money from the non-existent sale. I hope the person who is supposed to look at it this afternoon will buy it.

Someone wished me Peace at Christmas and all I could think about is my precious mother, in a hospital bed in Newfoundland, waiting for test results that could devastate the family. I think of my father who is getting tired and discouraged with her condition and I hope for a positive result. I hope that Mom will soon be feeling better.

I think that what I am missing right now is that Hope. But what exactly is it? Wikipedia tells me that it is the state, which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large. Hmm…I do have a desire for a positive outcome in all these situations.

The Bible says that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

I can’t really see the outcomes right now, but I can believe that God will work things out according to His plan.

And Jerome Groopman, in The Anatomy of Hope, tells me that Hope gives us the courage to confront our circumstances and the capacity to surmount them.

So if I have faith, and hope that all these situations will resolve themselves one way or another, it will give me the courage to march right through them.

This is powerful stuff here. By having Hope, my negative gloom and doom attitude can change to a more joyful and positive one.

Today I choose Hope.

hopeToday I am grateful for:

1. My sister who left her family for a couple of weeks to be with Mom

2. A visit with my cousin yesterday

3. The doctors and a certain nurse at the hospital

4. Finding the book I was looking for

5. Hope

jack

Christmas Cards For A Motley Group

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 36 of 84

Do you still send Christmas cards?

I remember, as a child growing up in Newfoundland, seeing piles of mail in the box the closer we got to Christmas. There were greeting cards of every size and color, coming from all over North America and some from Overseas.

It was a great opportunity for adding stamps to my growing collection!

The cards usually included Christmas greetings as well as hand written notes from Auntie Doris, Uncle Joe, or another family member, friend or neighbour who had moved away. Sometimes there would even be a photo included. Once opened they were either displayed somewhere on a mantle, taped to the wall, or put in a basket and left out for perusing.

Christmas card giving was an integral tradition of the season.

As the years have passed, so has the quantity of Christmas cards. I know, there are practical reasons why we don’t send them any more: we’re saving the planet, we’re saving money, and the most prevalent one, we’re so busy we don’t have time to send cards and write notes any more. Many people send either e-cards or no cards at all.

Dave and I still send cards, although not as many as our parents did. The early December ritual is alive and well at our house.

So this morning as I was looking over the list of people I’ll be sending Christmas cards to this year, I started thinking of each one of them. One has had a recent death in the family, another is fighting a devastating illness, and yet another has recently become a grandmother. There are others who were old friends from a long time ago and we still keep in touch through Facebook or by phone. Some live alone now either because of divorce, death or an empty nest. Some suffer from depression.

A motley group, and I am sure my name fits in on someone else’s motley group, in some other category.

I’ll be writing my Christmas cards this week and including a little note; the time it takes will be time they will be in my prayers and I will think of each of them with love.

And I will wish them happiness and hope.

cards

 Today I am grateful for:

1. The Christmas cards received so far

2. All my friends and family that I am thinking of today

3. The rain pounding down right now that is not snow

4. People from my church that I will be dining with today

5. My parents