Hello my friends and Happy New Year's Eve!
I wanted to pop on and share a post before the new year begins ... in a matter of about 10 hours now! How are you spending the holiday? Do you enjoy going out to celebrate or is staying in more your style?
Back when Bill and I were in our 20s we loved going into First Night in Boston with friends, but we haven't done that in years decades! Nowadays on New Year's Eve, you will find us at home, with our kids, and most likely asleep before midnight! We say our "cheers to the new year" with our younger kids at bedtime, and then do our true celebrating in the morning. 🥳
When we first wake, we try to remember to say "rabbit-rabbit" before anything else. Saying "rabbit-rabbit" (or "white-rabbit" as some folks do) is an old British custom that's supposed to bring you good luck 🍀 - and we've done this with our kids on the first of every month since they were born! 🐇🐇
Typically on January 1st we have our family over for a New Year's Day Lunch, and that was the plan this year ... only Earlybird and I have started yet another darn cold - #tistheseason I guess - so we'll just be keeping things quiet around here, with lots of hydrating fluids and rest!
Now, in today's post I'd like to share a few pictures from our Christmas last weekend (it was lovely, hope yours was too!), some recent journal pages and the links to my planning sheets for the first half of 2024.
I also have some family news to share - something I've been wanting to talk about for a while now, but just have not really felt wholly comfortable doing so. The time has come, however, for me to be open and *real* and I know this is a community that will listen with equally open and loving hearts ...
So what I want to share is that a few years ago, Bookworm came to us and shared that he was pretty sure he was transgender - meaning that he felt he identified more as a woman than a man. He said he'd been unable to pinpoint what exactly felt "off" for many years (and especially since puberty), but with the support of dear friends he'd come to this issue as the answer. He was anguished, yet resolved, and - God Bless him her - she had notes in her shaking hands so she could remember all the things she wanted to say. She also asked to be called "Alice," along with the corresponding pronouns.
My friends, as you can imagine, my heart just broke ...
Now, Alice had already come out to us as bisexual the year before, so I'd like to say this did not come as a huge shock to Bill and me - but it did. We were afraid of what this would mean for her and we worried how hard things would be for her moving forward. And at first we didn't understand exactly what it all meant, but what we did understand above all - is that our precious child was hurting badly and needed help; in fact, she was severely depressed. So we immediately embraced her - physically and spiritually - and let her know we would be there for her however and whenever she needed us.
Right away we helped Alice find a relevant therapist who worked with her over the course of a year or so, up until the pandemic hit. The therapy definitely got her started on her path to healing, but I think once she came out, the stress over not knowing what was wrong, or how to fix it, seemed to lift a weight off of her - and slowly but surely she has emerged from that dark time - safe, strong and well.
Now, this is not really my tale to tell, and I do want to keep her journey private, so I will just say that Alice is doing so much better today. Most importantly, she is no longer depressed - thankfully, she is happy and healthy and fully accepted and embraced by her family and friends. She has a wonderful support system and a fantastic job she excels at. This is not to say she won't face challenges and who knows how things will change over the coming years. As her family, we can only hope and pray she will continue to thrive and find joy.
I know this will be a shock to many of you who have read my blog for many years ... and as I said, I just had such a hard time finding the words to share all of this. It's been such a weight on my heart, and I think, in a way, I was waiting to see if things might change. It seems ridiculous now to have thought that ...
But it was so hard for Bill and I to accept this, and it took us a long time to figure out our family's new reality. We worried and prayed and we stumbled over the pronouns, and we refused to use the new name - at first. We were so anxious over how Little Bear and Earlybird would react, and yet - wouldn't you know it, they adjusted so quickly and easily it honestly put us to shame. (It was Crackerjack in fact, who sat us down two summers ago and gently reminded us we were not fully loving Alice if we weren't respecting who she was.) And goodness do we love her, just as we love all our kids. And each of our kids have had challenges, some greater than others, and we've somehow found the way to be the parents they've each needed ...
It just all seemed so very private and easier to keep to myself, and yet, over time, Bill and I have adjusted (mostly) and accepted (fully), and now it's just part of who we are, as a family. We are so thankful that our whole family has been accepting and loving and I know that has meant everything to Alice. For example, right after she came out to the rest of our family, Bill's dad, God bless him, passed away. But thanks to the sensitive and loving hearts of our family, Alice was included whole-heartedly in the service; even the deacon saying the homily used her preferred name. I was sitting with her at that moment and the look on her face is not something I will ever forget. It might not have been a moment I ever imagined but I was deeply grateful for it just the same.
The bottom line is we could not be prouder of Alice and just as we do with all our kids, we want only the best for her. And we don't get to decide what that "best" is - that's for her to figure out. It's been one of the hardest things we've learned as being parents. Above all we want her to be happy and healthy and live a fulfilling, authentic life.
What's been important for us too, as parents, is connecting with other parents who also have transgender kids. Some were friends we already had (whose kids came out recently or years ago) and some are new friends we've met over the past couple of years. All are so dear to us and their support and fellowship have been life changing for us as a family.
Well my friends, I feel like I'd better wrap this up now because I have a suspicion I'm rambling at this point. But please know I am very grateful for all of you - your steadfast kindness through the years has meant so much to me. So I thank you very much for "listening" and if you'd say a prayer for Alice, for her health and happiness, I'd be so very grateful.
Ok, now - let's move on to Christmas!🎄
Well, Christmas was a whirlwind, but wonderful as always. Our family tradition is to host two separate Christmas gatherings - Bill's side of the family on Christmas Eve day and my side of the family on Christmas afternoon. Here are a few snapshots of our home ...
The tree just after Santa's visit!
The dessert table filling up ... that's my grandmother's tablecloth. :-)
And in the middle of the table ...
A lovely pair of reindeer candlesticks, a gift from my brother, filled with real babyberry tapers from my mum and dad! They smell soooo good.
Speaking of Mum, above is shown her two signature Christmas recipes: triple layer brownies (on the bottom)and penuche fudge (above). Have you heard of penuche fudge? It's a New England thing, I believe, and my FAVORITE holiday goodie of all! It's made with brown sugar, vanilla, powdered sugar and cream ... I mean, who needs chocolate when you can have penuche??
Above are my cousin's sugar cookies - a family tradition and must-have every year! She always makes a few plain for Earlybird since he can't have artificial food coloring.
A tray of homemade treats, including Aunt Anne's candy cane cookies, our neighbor's gingerbread men and spritz cookies, plus Bookworm's peppermint pretzel sticks ... and my brother's (Trader Joe's) peppermint sandwich cookies. YUM. So very much YUM.
And here we have the coffee, tea and cocoa bar! As you can imagine, I have so much fun setting this up. :-)
And of course, it wouldn't be party at our house if there wasn't a punch! (This one was a blend of orange, cranberry and pineapple juice with ginger ale and fresh fruit. Refreshing!)
Ok, so how about a peek at a couple of my journal pages?
Above is a page I set up for jotting down thoughts about this Christmas and what I want to remember for next year's holiday. The trick will be remembering to look at this next autumn!
And above here is a page I really enjoyed creating, "Goodbye 2023." I did this last year and it was so much fun! I went through my journal(s) and just jotted down little snippets of memories - events, movies, family happenings. It was surprisingly easy to fill up the page!
The journal shown here is my Wonderland 222 notebook, the accompaniment to my W222 planner. I keep them both in a canvas cover. This is the notebook I write in every single day. It's not always super neat, but I capture it ALL in these pages! I also keep daily to-do lists in this notebook. The "planner" is separate from the notebook, and I use it for monthly and weekly planning.
Here are the January pages - overview and monthly calendar:
And speaking of planning ...
I wanted to (re)share my 2024 planning sheets for those who might find them helpful. I had hoped to have July through December ready to print by today but unfortunately, that just was not in the cards this month!
I'd like to finish up my post by sharing a picture of my new mugs from Bookworm because there is a bit of a neat story to go with them. You see, years ago I bought a set of three mugs at Stop 'n Shop (of all places) and they quickly became my favorite mugs of all. I loved the shape and size - just perfect for tea or coffee - and if one of them was clean in the cupboard, I always reached for it first.
Well, the yellow one broke several years ago (I forget how) and I was down to only the orange and the green star-patterned mug. You can see the latter here in this pic ...
... and I used it all the time, but especially at Advent!
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, however, that pretty mug recently was broken (by my puppy) and I was so bummed. Bill said it was beyond gluing back together, so I gave a half-hearted try at googling the brand wondering if somewhere they might still be sold ... but alas, I had no luck!
So, on Christmas morning when Bookworm handed me her present, little did I know that inside the box, wrapped in layers of shredded paper, were two ORIGINAL mugs from that line! One yellow and one green! She had somehow found them on eBay.
I was so moved and excited! I use them every chance I get.
And here in the above picture I am enjoying a hazelnut latte (green mug), while Bill is having an iced Americano (yellow mug). We recently were gifted an espresso maker (my folks won it in a raffle!) and Bill has been making me the most delicious lattes this Christmas season. I confess though, Im a little bit addicted! (I just ordered decaf beans so I can enjoy them without the excess caffeine.)
(The very top pic shows my vanilla decaf tea from Friday along with a plate of delicious cookie leftovers!)
Well my friends, I'm going to (finally) let you go, because I know I've kept you here even longer than usual. Thanks so much for reading - especially if you've made it to this last bit! I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's, however and wherever you celebrate. ❤️
Goodbye for now then - and if you are over on Instagram, please join me for my January photo challenge! I have a theme for each week of the month, and hope to post as often as I can!
See you next year, my friends!