Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 in Review

Best day of the year (for me)  May 23:  Milestone Birthday (I'm not saying what milestone.)

Worst day of the year (for me)  May 26:  Waking up and stepping into ankle deep water.  My house flooded in the Memorial Day Flood, a day that will be remembered ever after in Houston's Meyerland community. Nearly every home in our neighborhood was flooded.

Favorite birthday gift:  A scrapbook from my children.  I invited friends, lifelong and new, to send memories to go in the scrapbook along with some of my favorite pictures.  (Note:  We're still working on it, but it's coming along).

Nicest surprises:  Calls from old friends, wanting to re-connect.

Favorite book:  Non-Fiction:  Another Great Day at Sea
                          Fiction:  Our Souls at Night
                          Essays:  Gratitude

Favorite movies:  Room, Spotlight

Favorite TV:  The Voice (My sister got me hooked.)

Favorite sports stories:  Patriots win the Super Bowl in the last seconds
                                       American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown
                                       Astros come from nowhere almost to the World Series

Best writing experience:  Essay called "End and Beginning" included in Shifts anthology, finalist for best book of personal essays in 2015.

Vacation memory:  Cruise with my sister. Alas, she is now one game ahead of me in our ongoing vacation Scrabble tournament

Weird holidays:  Turkeyless Thanksgiving
                             Candleless Chanukah (My menorah is in storage.)

Moves of the year:  From house sold in August to one bedroom apartment to guest apartment at Brazos Tower because rain kept them from pouring the driveway, so they couldn't get a permit from the city for occupancy.  Hopefully, I'll be in my permanent apartment in a week, or a month, or sometime in 2016.

Sad moment:  Seeing an empty lot where my house once stood.

Wishing you a new year filled with rainbows, Thelma

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Father's Loving Gift Gives Us an American Christmas Classic

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty

apartment window into the chilly December night. His 4-year-old

daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bobs wife, Evelyn,

was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy

could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked,

"Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw

tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of

grief but also of anger.

 It was the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being

small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too

little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather

not remember.

From childhood Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did

complete college and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job

as a copywriterat Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he

was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with

cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter

were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn

died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child for whom he couldn't even afford to

buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to

make one--a storybook.

Bob had created the animal character in his own mind and told the animal's

story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob

told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the

character? What was the story about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The

character he created was an outcast like he was. The name of the character?

A little reindeer named Rudolph with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas


But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward

caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to

purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print the book and

distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards

had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph the Red

Nosed Reindeer. That same year a major publisher wanted to purchase the

rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an

unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all

rights back to Bob May.

The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and

Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from

the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn't end there. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a

song adaptation of Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such

popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene

Autrey. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and

became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other

Christmas song with the exception of "White Christmas." The gift of

love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to

bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his

dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different

can be a blessing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quote for the Week

Sometimes the holidays can be the loneliest time, so here's a quote to think about:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Widows/Widowers: Managing the Holidays

We're knee deep (actually waist deep) in the holiday season.  Sunday was the last night of Chanukah; Christmas is less than two weeks away and New Year's a week after.

So, Happy Holidays!  

But for many of us, suffering the pain of loss of a loved one, the holidays are anything but happy. Longing for the one who's gone and never coming back overwhelms us.  The sound of a holiday song, the sight of families laughing together (even arguing( drives us to tears.

What can we do?

We can cry...and we probably will.

We can volunteer during the holidays, helping bring happiness and gratitude to others.

We can invite another lonely widow/widower to spend a holiday evening.

If we're at a family gathering, perhaps we can ask for a few minutes for everyone to share a memory of the one who isn't there.

 We might plan a visit to the graveside to "talk" to our spouse.

After my husband died, I kept his voice on our answering machine, and at midnight on New Year's, I played his message and somehow felt we were spending the holiday together.  You, too, can think of a new tradition and make it part of your life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Quote for the Week



Author Unknown

What about you?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Books of November

Read this after seeing glowing reviews on Amazon.  Mistake.  Reviews must have come from friends and family.  This book was awful!  Improbable plot, many grammatic errors, including my pet peeve, misplaced modifiers.  Don't read this!

I like Naomi Ragen's books.  This wasn't one of her best, but I finished it in a day.  Beware--it's not for the weak of stomach-lots of torture.

This was a book club selection so I read it again and loved it just as much as I did the first time.  Beautiful writing, engaging characters.  This gets an A+.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Quotes for the Week: 5 quotes about strength



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