The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas mug

On the first day of Christmas, we were so sick with a cold and cough that all we could manage was opening our gifts and sitting by the fire. Got this nifty mug – someone knows me well!

Turkey dinner

On the second day of Christmas we recovered enough to cook our turkey. Yummy.

3rd day of Christmas - special breakfast

Third day of Christmas was greeted by a holiday breakfast – sausages and French toast with icing sugar and whipped cream. We’re getting into the swing of holiday food.

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On the fourth day of Christmas, I used my brand new gloves to load the stove. Gotta keep those home fires burning and as you can see from the first glove photo, I was due for a new pair. 

Garden Gargoyle

Making the coffee on the morning of the fifth day of Christmas, I stare out the kitchen window and wonder what this garden gargoyle is planning.

Five Generations (2)

Got busy on the sixth day of Christmas clearing out and shredding a bunch of paperwork from the settling of my dad’s estate. He died seven years ago, so it was time. Came across this photo. Five generations – me at barely twenty-one with my son Doug, my dad, his mom and her mom. Wow! The time really does fly.

Cinnamon Sugar Diffuser

The seventh day of Christmas saw me setting up my new Cinnamon-Sugar diffusor. My desk now smells like cookies all the time. Talk about inspiration.

Cabin on Christmas morning 2017 (sharpened version) - bruce witzel photo

The eighth day of Christmas and the first day of 2018. Happy New Year from our home to yours.


Nativity set  (2)

On the ninth day of Christmas our little Wise Men approach closer to the stable. My mom made this dough-art nativity set for me way back when my kids were little. My mother was a very crafty type of person and she was constantly creating things and giving them away. Some I received with politeness and others with great joy. The nativity set was and continues to be the latter. Over the years, baby Jesus’ hands have been broken off and the donkey lost an ear but none of that seems to matter. I am inspired by my mother’s giving, creative, go-for-it spirit. Who else would have created a nativity set from dough-art?

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The tenth day of Christmas sees us enjoying green tomato mincemeat tarts. I made and froze this mincemeat in September with thoughts of New Year treats.

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On the eleventh day of Christmas I am taking some time to reacquaint myself with an ongoing project of knitting up all my scraps of yarn. What I’ll do with all the squares when I’ve emptied the craft bin, I have yet to decide.

Santa Ornament, Dec. 23-2017 - bruce witel photo

Well, the twelfth day of Christmas is upon us. We’re saying goodbye to the season. Sorry to see the end of decorations, lights, cards, gifts and yummy food. But it’s time to move on with 2018. Here’s hoping that all of you have had a joy-filled holiday. Best of everything for the new year.

Bring on the Light

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“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for a home.” Edith Sitwell

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                Holiday shortbread

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IMG_1361 (2)    Nativity set  (2)From our home to yours, we wish you a blessed holiday. Welcome the light in anyway you celebrate, enjoy quiet time on your own and the hustle and bustle of family and friends.

Glass Christmas Ornament with backlit, Dec. 23-2017 - bruce witzel photo

Home Sweet Home and Kicking off 2015

Family baking - Bruce Witzel photo

Is there any feeling as wonderful as returning home after a great time away? Good memories of Christmas with grown children, their spouses and grandkids fuelled the joy of my first two nights back in my own bed.

As I usher in 2015, I’m feeling ahead of the holiday season curve. My suitcase is unpacked – that usually takes me at least a few days to attend to. I’m not down for the count with a cold, flu or cough. Most of my Christmas gifts have found a spot to take up residence. Life is good.

January the first puts me in a reflective state. Thoughts of the past year and plans for the upcoming one fill my mind. WordPress tells me, in my annual blog report, that my blog was viewed 19,000 times in 2014. Whew – that apparently represents seven sold out shows at the Sidney Opera House. Go figure! My most popular post of 2014 was a piece for my Location, Location, Location series on Dianne Gray’s book, Wolf Pear. The most commented post was Shaken Author Syndrome – haha – one of my favourites and with a title like that who couldn’t resist commenting. Three out of my top five posts were from 2013, thus proving my writing has longevity. I was viewed in 128 different countries and my day of choice to post is Sunday. Do check out your own WordPress Annual Blog Review. The fireworks at the beginning make it worth the effort.

Sparklers - Bruce Witzel photo

Looking back, 2014 was a productive year for my writing. The Light Never Lies (2nd book in the Crater Lake Series) came out in February and my book of short stories, Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope was self-published in May. I got two-thirds of the way through a first draft on the 3rd book in the Crater Lake Series, Chasing Down the Night and all the way through the first two drafts of another novel, Maelstrom – both of which are scheduled for publishing in 2015.

Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country

I managed to squeeze in a few trips out of my lake-side sanctuary to visit with kids, grandkids and friends. Bruce and I treated ourselves to a ten day holiday travelling in the mountains of BC and Alberta. We had more summer visitors this year than we’ve had for a while and our 2014 garden was an over the top producer of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and green beans.

Summer garden - Guenette photo

My small list of accomplishments plays itself out against the backdrop of community both far and wide. On a sad note, more than a couple of tragic deaths rocked nearby communities and these touched me and wove their way into my year. The world revolves around me in ways that both frighten and confuse me at times.

Fall leaves - Bruce Witzel photo

But still, I move on with thoughts of the coming year. Resolutions often seemed doomed to fail but I don’t think we should chuck out the whole concept. Consider the root word – resolve. Something we all need. My main resolution for 2015 is not to be making the same resolutions in 2016.

I wish family, friends, fellow bloggers and all my followers a healthy and happy New Year. May we all sow and reap a good harvest whatever and wherever we choose to plant.

Brit & Emma - Xmas 2014 - Bruce Witzel photo

A Special Christmas

Kristen's subdivision @ Christmas 2013

This is a re-worked story that appeared on my blog last year. Because that’s what writers do – re-work things. It was inspired by an email I had received that reminded me that Christmas is not an easy time for some people. I sat down to write and this story found its way into being. It isn’t filled with holiday cheer – it doesn’t sparkle and make you smile like a freshly decorated gingerbread house might. But if you’re lucky it could make you grateful for what you have. So – here goes.

A Special Christmas

She never let herself believe in anything as foolish as the magic of Christmas, but this year she couldn’t shake the feeling that something special was happening. It was as if time were standing still – her whole world poised on the precipice – watching and waiting.

She definitely had not anticipated magic. She had watched as early December slipped by like sodden leaves falling battered to the dark earth. Each day she dutifully ripped off a page of the tablet on the desktop calendar, feeling as though a part of her soul was being crumpled right along with the ball of paper that landed with a thud in the trash bin. Death was everywhere, now. It dogged her footsteps each day when she took the dog for a walk through the garden. Plants dragged down to the earth by the weight of the rain and the early frost. Everything was dark and decaying. Just the way they would all end up one day.

The doctor said they could bring Tabby home for Christmas. In the New Year there would be time enough for arranging hospice care. So she had followed his advice and somehow, against all odds, the magic of Christmas had sunk into her the way brandy would soak the cloth-wrapped fruitcake her mother used to make. There was a quality to the coloured lights and decorations, on the streets and in the stores, which brought tears to her eyes. They had taken three days to decorate the tree. The story of each ornament was told with breathless anticipation, all of them lingering over the details. Then someone would hang the ornament with the greatest care so that Tabby would be able to see each one from the hospital bed that now dominated the living room.

She had never before shopped for gifts when the only priority was the present moment. She bought a CD she knew Tabby would love to hear, a bottle of a light and fresh perfume to mask the ever-present smell of life slipping away, the prettiest flannel nightie to wrap around a body now diminished to skin and bones, a stuffed pink bunny – just like the one Tabby had as a toddler – this one brand new and so soft all she wanted to do was stroke it over and over. She couldn’t believe the absolute joy she felt as she wrapped each gift and laid it under the tree.

She piled up precious drops of time spent together – baking and icing sugar cookies, pouring over Christmas cards, playing Christmas music, laughing together as they placed a Santa hat on the dog’s furry head. She knew she was already storing these memories like a miser with every penny that came her way.

The living room was dark now as she sat curled up in the recliner. The rest of the family had gone to bed to deal in their dreams with their own versions of magic and pain. Tabby was asleep at last, the high sides of the hospital bed pulled up, the glint of the morphine drip catching the light from the Christmas tree. Her eyes traced the line of the IV tubing to the point where it snaked under the blanket. Her gaze shifted to the window and she saw the snow falling in huge, fat flakes to the ground. The trees, branches thickly covered, were already bowed under the weight like so many white garbed priests in supplicating prayer. The quiet was deep and total.

Her world was reduced to last moments. Tears washed down her cheeks unaware. The special moments of magic she felt wouldn’t change the fact that Tabby was going to die. Very soon now she was going to lose her seventeen year-old daughter – bury her before her grown-up life had even begun.

She rose silently and grabbed her coat and boots from the hall closet. She tugged on her gloves and wrapped a scarf around her neck. Out on the snow-covered lawn, among the tall trees, she turned slowly, her head thrown back. The snowflakes fell on her face. She watched the stars sparkle far away above her. All that was, all that had ever been, was now, this moment. It was all she had, all she could hang onto, all she could bear.