A Sister’s Birthday

This is my sister Diane Colby Zaun D’Leon. Today is her birthday and she would be 58 years old. However, in 1985 she passed from colon cancer at the age of 26. While I miss her physical presence on a regular basis and think of her often, I continue to celebrate her birthday because it is a day that always makes me remember the joys of having her as a sister.

The three girls in my family were all born in July and we used to have group birthday parties with the family. We had two cousins who also had July birthdays so they often joined the group party. For many years my mother and aunt would take us all to the Highland Lodge in Greensboro for a special birthday lunch and we always looked forward to that.

Who would think that after 32 years one would still miss someone so, but I do miss Diane. She had the kind of loving and gentle spirit that is easy to get attached to and so easily missed. I am gifted with many opportunities to think about her and cherish every one.

Each year at the high school we graduated from, I make a presentation to a graduating senior in her honor and I think about the similarities I see between Diane and the recipients of that award. They are always other gentle and caring souls who I know will make a difference in the lives of others, just as Diane did. This year’s award was especially meaningful to me because it would have been Diane’s 40th reunion. During alumni festivities I knew that her classmates would be remembering her fondly. Looking over the photos from that weekend I see many faces of her friends from those years and can recall them together on the track at school, or trotting horses around the yard.

Daily I drive past our childhood home and see her hanging clothes on the line out back, or somersaulting across the front yard. And when I occasionally drive by the home where our grandmother used to live I am reminded of the many hours of fun we had there. Each fall we raked up leaves and jumped in them for ; we had family reunions there in the summertime, spending hours in the playhouse; we learned to sew and bake from Gramma Colby; and we shared years worth of traditions.

When I play board games with my granddaughter I am reminded of hours spent on the living room floor at home or at card tables at Grammie’s playing Checkers, or Chinese Checkers, or King’s Corner. Colby Diane and I laugh and tease one another just as Diane Colby and I used to do.

Occasionally I run into classmates and friends of Diane’s and I will forever see them as they were in their teenage years, worry free and enjoying life.

Today I am thankful for the 26 years I knew my sister. She was a strong enough spirit that over the past 32 years I feel her with me daily and I am thankful for that as well. She was a gift to many she encountered in her short life and I know that many of those people remember her with great fondness from time to time. And isn’t that a strong testament to a person’s spirit? To be remembered with great fondness is indicative of a life well lived. It’s not so much about the years in your life, but about the life in the years you have. Diane’s 26 years were full and well lived.

Happy Birthday Sister!

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015 was unusual in many ways. While we still held many of the traditions dear, I couldn’t help but notice that much was different this year.

Preparations for Christmas Eve festivities took the usual path ~ twinkle lights, stockings, centerpieces. . .

Black Locust and twinkle lights

Black Locust and twinkle lights


Centerpiece 1

Centerpiece 1


Stockings were hung by the chimney with care. . .

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care. . .


. . .and more stockings were hung on the wall, over there.

. . .and more stockings were hung on the wall, over there.

Yet, as the light began to wane the sky seemed an unusual hue.

Christmas Eve 2015

Christmas Eve 2015

With golden field and bare mountain it didn’t exactly feel like Christmas in Vermont.

Regardless, it remained an evening focused on family and gift giving.

Dave enjoying time with his girls

Dave enjoying time with his girls


The sweetest gift of all!

The sweetest gift of all!


Two of my favorite ladies - two generations apart.

Two of my favorite ladies – two generations apart.

Christmas day the paradox remained. No shoveling was necessary and I could wear my flip flops the short distance to my parent’s house.

For real!

For real!

The day was abuzz with activity:

Inside ~

Grand daughters-in-law

Grand daughters-in-law

and Out ~

The winter hive

The winter hive

It was still about family and fun~

Wylie and Carl

Wylie and Carl


Jack wonders. . .

Jack wonders. . .


Even the bikers were out!

Even the bikers were out!

And we planted some fall bulbs.

Though it was Christmas much was not as expected, while much was just the same.

Midge on the wrong side of the door.

Midge on the wrong side of the door.

2015 ~ a paradoxical Christmas. It makes me wonder what the new year has in store!

Oh, nearly forgot. Christmas 2015 also brought a full moon!

Christmas Moon

Christmas Moon

Gratitude #41

Today I am most thankful for my son and daughter-in-law, who hosted a lovely evening recently, which was very much in the spirit of Christmas.

Kattie loves the winter celebrations almost as much as I do, and was given a wonderful compliment from her husband who said, “You remind me of my mother at Christmas.”

Ahhh.

Thank you Kattie and Asa for sharing your new home, loving the season, preparing delicious venison meatballs and a fantastic salad, and playing cards with us.

We love you!

holiday heart

Tis the Season

animated-christmas-fireplace-image-0005

For me, there is nothing warmer than the holiday season. The thing I love most about this time of year. . . .

. . .besides sitting by the fire sipping Bailey’s. . .
. . .listening to carols all day long. . .
. . .baking cookies with my granddaughters. . .
. . .thinking about my grandmother and all the wonderful holiday memories. . .
. . .getting together with family and friends. . .
. . .creating piney wreaths and centerpieces. . .
. . .decorating the house. . .
. . .making portinos, party mix, and pumpkin cheesecake. . .
. . .twinkle lights. . .
. . .planning the Christmas Eve menu. . .

okay, all of that. That’s what I love the most.

Out with friends

Out with friends

The 2015 tree

The 2015 tree

Doing the Advent

Doing the Advent

The Smedley's 1st Christmas

The Smedley’s 1st Christmas

The Hearth

The Hearth

Cozy Corner

Cozy Corner

Wishing you all the comfort and warmth of the season!

The Advent Project

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about advent calendars. Just doing the research around the Advent got me inspired for this year’s gift giving.

With that inspiration I began to put together BIG advent calendars for my two granddaughters.

Here is one:

Natalie 2015

Natalie 2015

and the other:

Colby 2015

Colby 2015

As you can see, I made them large enough to put somewhat substantial goodies in/on them for each day of the advent. I won’t tell you about the goodies themselves because that would spoil the surprise ~ let’s just say that I tried to find fun things that the girls would enjoy each day. I also tried to include some handmade little crafting projects on some of the days because I value creativity and having hobbies.

The entire projects were a lot of fun to put together. I did all the sewing ~ most of it by hand on the felt one for Nat, but my husband gets all the credit for putting together the wooden tree.

They were so much fun in fact, that I thought of someone else who would absolutely LOVE one of these ~ my daughter-in-law. Kattie loves presents more than anyone I know (except me 🙂 ) so I knew that she would love one of these too. So I sent Dave back to the workshop and had him build another advent tree ~ this one made from reclaimed wood at the Wildflower Inn’s horse barn.

Asa and Kattie 2015

Asa and Kattie 2015

Because this one is for Asa AND Kattie I included 2 somethings for each day of the advent – one for Asa and one for Kattie.

I hope they enjoy receiving these gifts as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Happy Advent Everyone!