Saturday, December 7, 2013

Today I Celebrate Tradition

Today I'm joining Ruth Ayres in celebration.  Stop by Ruth Ayres Writes for links to other celebrations.  Thanks, Ruth.

Yesterday the snow fell outside as I sat on the couch near our french doors and watched it gently float to the ground.  It wasn't long before the green beyond our doors had turned to a beautiful bright white.  There was something about the snow nestled in the branches of the evergreens.  There was something about its gentle descent from the sky.  There was something about this change that finally motivated me head to my basement to grab the plastic tubs filled with holiday decorations.

Each year I begin in the same way, pulling out the ceramic nativity scene painted by my great grandmother.  Each piece, carefully wrapped in tissue and newspaper, is unwrapped to be placed upon our mantle.  As I pull the pieces out one by one I always hold my breath a bit hoping they have not been broken while in storage.  Pulling out the pieces of the nativity scene I'm always reminded of the story that is the reason we celebrate each year, but I'm also reminded of the story of two women I loved so much.

Each year as I open the box I think of my grandma.   As I open the box I'm always reminded of seeing the nativity scene at her house when my brothers and I would go to help her decorate her tree.  It was always already arranged atop her entertainment center.  As soon as I'd walk into my grandma's house, I'd notice it.  Sitting on the large wooden shelf would be the painted pieces that tell the story of the birth of Jesus.  It always took my breath away.  Even as a child I would stand there for some time taking note of the details in each piece.

Years passed and I arrived at my grandma's house one evening before Christmas.  Grandma brought up the box with nativity scene upstairs and handed it to me.  I was speechless, I couldn't believe she wanted me to have this family treasure.  She said she really didn't want to keep getting it out each year and she was sure it would look beautiful displayed at my house.  Perhaps she knew I'd open it each year and think of her.

Each year as I put the pieces so carefully painted on my mantle I'm also reminded of my great grandma.    As kids we would hang out at her house near the lake a few times during the year.  She had her own kiln and many different paints.  She'd painted small books with the wedding dates of our family, a small collection of dolls for me, and a variety of vases to share.  Sometimes she'd sit us down in her back room to paint ceramics with her.  When we'd go to her house we'd paint hot plates with a special paint containing small beads that would explode with color as they were being fired.  As I place each piece on the mantle I always smile to myself at the thoughtfulness in the detail of each piece.

This year as I arrange the nativity upon my shelf, like my grandmother and great grandmother before me, I am thankful for the stories.  Within the routines of our traditions rest the stories we hope will be treasured for years to come.  Tradition not only takes us back, but it carries us forward.  Today I celebrate tradition.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Poetry Friday: A Wish is a Start

Today I'm joining the Poetry Friday fun hosted by Robin Hood Black.  Stop by for more poetry links.

Last week I joined the #Nerdlution.  My goal is to read 50 minutes of fiction each day for 50 days.  I know, tough goal, right?  This week I finished The Center of Everything.  This story, about a girl named Ruby who is trying to make sense of the loss of her grandma, was touching.  In the book Ruby makes a wish.  As a read, like Ruby, I became fascinated with the power of a wish.  I couldn't help but think a wish might make a good topic for a poem.   However, as I wrote my poem I heard of the death of Nelson Mandela.  Reflecting on the life of Nelson Mandela caused me to pause to remind myself that a wish might not be enough.  Sometimes we have to do more than wish --- we have to take action.  

via C M Handler WikiMedia Common
A Wish is a Start
A coin tossed
into a shimmering fountain.
A birthday candle snuffed
in just one breath.
A shooting star
racing through the dark night.
Go ahead,

A wish
for the perfect moment,
held tightly
within the deepest corners
of our heart.
Go ahead,

A dream
for something better;
a change
that would somehow
make our world
a better place.
Go ahead,

may not be enough
to grant a wish.
We can wait on a wish,
or we can make changes,
speak up.
Go ahead,
Take action.

Take action,
find the strength to
work for a lifetime
to make a difference.
Go ahead,

a wish is a start.
Go ahead,
Find a coin.

© Cathy L. Mere

More about wishes:
Huffington Post:  Wishing Traditions Around the World
The Wishing Project:  Wishing Traditions Around the World
The Mystery and History of Wishing (see for movies about wishing)
Fact Monster:  Wishing (who knew there were so many ways to wish)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Queso Anyone?

Today's post is part of the Slice of Life roundup at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to many great slices or, better yet, join the fun by linking your own piece.  Thanks to all for hosting.

Tonight I am slipping in under the wire for Slice of Life.  At least I'm slipping in with something.

Me, Deb Frazier, Karen Terlecky & Nicole Kessler

What's one of the best ways to spend an evening?  Hanging out with these three over a bowl (or two) of queso.  A few years ago, the four of us started chatting often on Twitter and then crossing paths at conferences and gatherings.  It wasn't long until we decided to start getting together to share what we had learned.  We've supported each other through blogging, Twitter, Evernote, Pinterest (yes, even Pinterest), learning about new apps, and weaving all of this into literacy in our classrooms.

Our gatherings have moved from our devices, to queso in the winter, porches and patios in the summer.  Whatever the weather, I enjoy the time chatting with these three amazing women who have become great friends.  Our conversations weave across teaching, literacy, technology, professional reading, and into our lives (even yearbooks and yellow  Whatever the conversation, I always come away feeling refreshed and energized.

So thankful!

One Little Word 2020

As Christmas approached this year, I looked at the calendar and took a deep breath.  We were out of school on Friday and everyone was arri...