Monthly Archives: December 2010

Only Child looks at Christmas “after shocks.”

Only Child's mystery gift

You know the saying, “The best made plans of mice and (hu)men… ” Christmas (so far) has been going like that and it’s made me do a combination of re-evaluating my attitudes and also confirming some of them.

My friend was feeling a bit under the weather Dec. 24 but she did come here Christmas Day; so I went to that Christmas Eve candlelight service on my own and while there lost or had stolen a leather bracelet I was wearing. And I have a mystery Christmas gift – one of two packages where the giver didn’t leave his or her name.

I’m glad my friend did make it here to celebrate Christmas Day and part of Boxing Day with me. She felt somewhat better and was quite chirpy – she made her mean stove-top dressing and we caught up on each others’ news. So, no regrets, upsets here. The other two – the bracelet and the present are something else.

First, the present -I know it arrived with someone who came to my annual Christmas Open House party earlier this month because it sat under my little tree since then. I’ve been playing detective but the “prime suspect” says it isn’t from her. So I will go back over my party guest list and do some more detecting. It’s important that I thank the giver.

The bracelet – in a church? When I told my visiting friend about this and added that I’ve had more luck when I leave things at the library – I always get them back – she made some comment about going there instead of a church. She might be right. Christmas Day in daylight, I retraced my steps to and from the church. I also phoned the church’s pastor yesterday; he took my phone number  and he said he’d check the pews and perhaps someone found it and it would turn up in a few days.

I have my doubts – partly because I’ve had items go missing before and the “return rate” is about 25 per cent maximum – the items sometimes show up months later and for that I am grateful. Maybe I’m going on about trivia, but I’m looking at the bigger picture and trying to see what it can mean. Sure, I’m getting older and anything remotely connected to memory can deteriorate. When I’m under a lot of stress and overwhelmed by too much to do, I don’t pay attention to every little thing. However, this wasn’t the case Christmas Eve. The church service was inspiring and relaxing.

No, the bigger picture seems to be a combination of  “life happens” and you gotta accept it. That’s the part I’m re-evaluating and trying to use. However, it also reinforces one of my beliefs based on my personal experience – about 75 per cent of the time – seeing is believing. In this case if and when the bracelet shows up, then I’ll believe it. Some of you reading this will think: shouldn’t the belief be the opposite? I’ve tried that, even envisioned the event happening. Sometimes it does but more often it doesn’t or it arrives late or skewed. That’s the attitude I’m reaffirming. Call me a jaded skeptic – being a journalist for many years plus bad life experiences will do that. I believe that many people can have good law-of-attraction experiences but I don’t seem to be one of those. I can envision something happening until the cows come home on roller skates (as my cousins on the farm used to say) but the latter is more likely to occur first.

And a few minutes ago I talked to one of my closest friends. She’s had a terrible December. She banged her head twice, fell inside her house once earlier this month. Yesterday, she had to go to hospital emergency with a broken retina (she had cataract surgery earlier this year) and her brother-in-law just died. I’m complaining about a lost bracelet? I feel somewhat ashamed and realize now I gotta get a grip on what’s important and what isn’t.

However, I still maintain my beliefs as mentioned above. My friend’s experiences are more proof of them than anything I’ve experienced so far this month.

So, what do others think? Ever have good law-of-attraction experiences? I’d like to know.

Cheers and Happy New Year


Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Gratitude, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Siblings and friends, Trust

Only Child won’t spend Christmas alone

Oh Christmas tree - all two and a half feet of you

You don’t have to spend Christmas alone. If you can’t fly home or your relatives can’t fly to you because of the snow in Great Britain and Europe, that is no reason to skulk inside alone. Do you really want to do your version of the Grinch at Christmas? Bah humbug to that.

On a personal note, just because my son Martin and his girlfriend Alison are spending Christmas with some of her family in Costa Rica is no excuse for me to whine (wine?) away Christmas alone. I did spend Christmas on my own last year but that was my choice. One of my friends, Diane, also has the Christmas alone situation so I invited her to come here for Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. We did it a few years ago when my son was wandering through New Zealand during December. And Martin and Alison plan to phone me Christmas Day as they did last year. The three of us have the second Sunday in January booked for our belated Christmas dinner.

So I do roast chicken twice. Big deal. Diane and I share supplying the food and preparing the meal Christmas day – she makes a mean stovetop stuffing. Christmas Eve we plan to attend the candlelight service at one of the churches within walking distance (Special note here – neither church is Catholic which suits us just fine – we are both lapsed or ex-Catholics). Afterwards, if it isn’t too slippery outside, we can walk around the neighbourhood and look at the Christmas lights. Besides the dinner, Christmas Day, there are the presents under the tree (all two and a half feet of it) and Christmas movies on TV. And another friend might pop in on Boxing Day.

If Christmas alone seems to be your prospect – get off your gringy grumpy duff and do something about it. Invite a friend over for dinner or go out to dinner together. Help at a Christmas dinner for seniors. Get together with some of your neighbours, especially if they are alone this Christmas. Even attend a Christmas church service.  Don’t hide under the bedcovers – the only company you might find there are bedbugs. Yeck!

Christmas is what you make of it. Don’t stress or grump it out. Enjoy it.

Merry Christmas, happy holiday, happy New Year, etc.

And my tree has a topping – not an angel but a striped candy cane my nearly seven-year-old neighbour next door made for me using origami.



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Christmas, Only child, Siblings and friends

Only Child clears the clutter from home and office

Only Child by bookcase in her home-based office

My late mother used to let the dust bunnies collect under the fridge, tables and other pieces of furniture.  When company was coming, she’d whisk out the upright vacuum cleaner,  the mop, Pledge, and dust cloth and get to work. Not exactly Good Housekeeping spotless house material. However, she had another setup for clutter. I call it her Organized Clutter System. For example, she filed bills and other business-personal stuff in a draw in her bedroom bureau and her sewing paraphernalia, including the machine, were somewhat organized on the dining room table for easy access for her constant sewing projects. Of course, all that table-top “clutter” had to be moved away when we had company.

I’ve inherited some of her modus operandi here for both my home-based writing and editing business and for the rest of the house,  although I’ve long ago sold my sewing machine at a garage sale. My sewing is limited to mending and hem-shortening by hand – the latter always necessary when you are only 5’1″ even when buying petite. But my basement closets (many built by the previous owners in the laundry room of all places) are cluttered with old photograph albums, some of my son’s stuff and the biggest shelf hogs – outdated computers and printers.) I  do have a weekly housecleaning ritual- very basic to keep the dust bunnies away (well 80 per cent of them) and have clean laundry. But I’m right on Mom’s tracks with my organized clutter. Trouble is, when the drawers get stuck or overflow, something must be done.

I did something about this over the weekend. In the laundry room I sorted/cleared and pitched out some stuff from my large gardening workbench and some of those closet shelves. Most of the electronic stuff is too heavy for me to move (my “invisible, mythical brother” would come in handy here). The City of Toronto now lets you move this stuff to the end of your driveway on garbage day so any I can move I will do – when it isn’t snowing or raining outside. I also phoned a friend and she said she would help me get some of these curmudgeons to the city drop-off depot in the new year. We’ll see how that plays out.

Then I moved upstairs but only managed to find time to clear out one kitchen drawer and file some current papers in my office.  Next weekend it will be my office desk drawers. I’m tired of having them get stuck when I try to open them. (And the “blue air” from my swearing isn’t healthy.) I had already started tackling the files (the hard copy ones) in my office previously – like in the last couple of years, so that progresses – slowly.

All this sorting and purging takes time. I find once I get into it I get interested and can keep going. The key seems to be to do a little at a time. One of my cousins, Anita,  has an interesting practice which she uses to renovate her farmhouse – she calls it picking away at it a bit at a time. Nobody likes to face a huge mass of books, paper, computer equipment, etc. and have to dive in and do it all at once. Following Anita’s modus operandi may be just the way to go.

Then, you have the satisfaction of actually doing something to clear your business and personal clutter. And you know, when you walk into the de-cluttered room, even when it is partially finished, you can feel the energy moving around. The stale block of clutter has disappeared.

And that opens up more energy in you to go about your business – whether it is the self-employed home-based kind or personal sewing projects.


Only Child Writes

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Filed under Clutter, Only child, Organizing home office, Time management

Only child looks at responsibility and integrity

Only Child's late mom who taught her honesty and integrity.

Lately I’ve been whacked by people’s irresponsibility. Friends, colleagues promise something and then back out without telling me or let me know way after the fact. For example, I just held my annual Open House Christmas Party – most of those I invited let me know if they were coming or not (those who kept silent either way are another story); a few had to cancel at the last minute due to illness and one because her flight got her back home too late – but they all called me. That is the courteous thing to do. But some  of those who promised to attend were no-shows. Okay, so you’re thinking, it’s only a party. True, but it makes me wonder if this is their usual modus operandi for everything. What does that say about them? Wouldn’t it be better to be honest here? What ever happened to honesty and integrity and common courtesy?

My late mother had an honesty and integrity code. I call it her Ten Rules of Honesty. Some of them were a bit weird but she sure taught me the importance of  having ethical and moral codes. The one that fits the closest for my current situation would be show your truth by your actions, or perhaps you show your truth by your actions or inactions.

Civility has taken a drastic nosedive the past 15, maybe 20 or even 25 years. I’m not referring to kids and teens here. The “culprits” (for want of a better word) in my situation are over 30, in some cases well over 30.  So, I can’t blame it on a generation-raising factor or a society gone lax in its attitude or outlook. In fact, one of the most polite children I know is my nearly-seven-year old neighbour next door. He is thoughtful (even brought flowers for me when he came to my party with his mom) and came up to me at the end to thank me for inviting him to my party. Even another friend noticed his politeness and acknowledged him for it.

So, maybe we (and I’ve been guilty a few times, too) “big people” need to step back from our over-busy world, take a deep breath, pull up our socks (or stockings or leotards) and try to be more considerate of others. Not RSVPing to a party may be minor in itself. But what if the situation were more serious – perhaps a business commitment or in the personal vein, promising to take your elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment and then not only not showing up but not bothering to call and tell him or her.

Are we turning into a bunch of uncivil uncaring louts? Maybe we need to not just get a life but get back the integrity  in our life.

For what it’s worth.



Only child writes

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Filed under Betrayal, Christmas, Civility, Consideration, Integrity, Life learning, Only child, Parenting, Responsibility