Celebrate and Aspire

DSC00647I’m sitting here this morning drinking my tea in the silence before the girls wake up, and I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve.  Twelve hours from now, I’ll be hiding in my bedroom with Jodi Piccoult while twenty teenage girls sit here in this kitchen eating ice cream sundaes and talking about boys.  When did my baby get so old?  How did time go by so quickly?  Rebecca is already a sophomore in college, but it feels like she graduated yesterday and was just born the day before that.  Time marches on so fast, we hardly have a chance to take it all in.

This morning, I watched the year in review on the news, and I was amazed to think that all of those things happened this past year.  From three missing airliners to the rise of ISIS to the loss of the great Lauren Bacall and Mickey Rooney.  Less than a year ago, we were talking about polar vortexes, and this past summer, we witnessed a string of devastating tornadoes and wildfires.  Yet here we are; life zooms by, and we hardly notice.  We lose loved ones, and we go on; we see beheadings and mass kidnappings, yet we procreate and celebrate the joys in life.  People are an amazing creation – resilient and motivated despite all that we face and witness in life.

Tomorrow starts a new year, a year that will see more heartbreak but also more joy.  We will say goodbye to some and welcome others to our families and to our world.  We will discover new hopes, aspire to new heights, and reach for higher stars all with the knowledge that anything is possible in spite of the hard times and tears.  May you all remember those who have fallen, pray for those who protect us, forge new paths, and dream bigger dreams.  May you look back a year from now and wonder “How did I do all of that?” and know that there is still time to do more.  And amidst all of the chaos, may you find time to just be.  May you make 2015 the best year yet, knowing that it is only through pain that we know true joy and remembering that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  Happy New Year!

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Holiday Thoughts

Nativity-29Here are some thoughts I wanted to share with my readers as we approach Christmas and the New Year:

It’s okay if your children don’t get everything on their wish list.  It’s important for them to learn that, in life, we don’t always get everything we want.

Giving really is more important than receiving.  Enjoy the thrill of watching someone open a gift you picked out just for them.

It’s okay to say Happy Holidays, or Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah.  Every situation and circumstance is different, and we don’t live in a one-size-fits-all world.

No matter what you are celebrating this time of year, don’t forget the reason for the season.

Enjoy every minute you spend with your family this holiday season.  You really don’t know where you will be next year.

Say a prayer for those who aren’t able to be with their own family at this time because they are risking their lives by serving us and our country – police officers, firefighters, and our military.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow her at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Making Memories

IMG_3301Our family has many traditions that we observe throughout the year.  When it is somebody’s birthday, we eat in the dining room and the birthday girl (or husband) eats on the “It’s your special day” plate that was given to us by dear family friends when my first daughter was born.  At Easter, the girls fill their baskets with dyed Easter eggs, the same baskets they have been using since each of them celebrated her first Easter.  We always take a family portrait on the 4th of July, each one of us decked out head-to-toe in red, white, and blue.  But there is no other time throughout the year that is more steeped in tradition for our family then during the Christmas and New Year’s season.

For many years, my mother and I were part of the millions of people who spent all day shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.  Two things that have happened in recent years have changed that for us: the first was the transferring of all of the best sales to Thanksgiving Day (we refuse to leave our family dinner table to go shopping), and the second was Rebecca’s Freshman year of college.  Since Rebecca leaves the Sunday after Thanksgiving to head back to school and doesn’t return until just before Christmas, we now spend that weekend decorating our house and putting up our tree instead of running to the mall.  It takes an entire day to strip all of the shelves and tabletops of all of our framed pictures, dozens of books, and many collectibles from our travels and replace them with our extensive nutcracker collection and the Nativity sets that my husband and I have brought back from all over the world.  The nutcracker collection really belongs to the girls.  Rebecca started the collection the Christmas she was three after seeing the Nutcracker on stage for the first time.  Over the years we have all added to the assemblage and have now amassed nearly 100 in the form of everything from the original Nutcracker Prince to my prized Washington Redskin.  Most of these will go with the girls when they get married, which leads me to the next tradition that we hold very dear, one that was actually started by my parents when I was a baby.

Every year when we put up our tree, everybody in the family gets a new ornament representative of something special that happened in their lives that year.  Some of Rebecca’s ornaments include a clarinet, a field hockey player, and, of course, her graduation cap.  Katie has an artist’s palette, a drama mask, and a piano.  Morgan’s ornaments include a swimmer, a bow and arrow, and a lacrosse player.  Just as I did when my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas after we were married, each of our girls will take their ornaments with them when they start their own married lives so that they have ornaments for their first tree.

Of course, the most cherished traditions of the Christmas season are the times we spend with family and friends.  This weekend, we will open our home to our closest mother-daughter friends for our 10th Annual Mother-Daughter Cookie Swap.  This year, the participants will make 14 dozen of their favorite kind of Christmas treat ( which may be cookies, or fudge, or bread), and everyone will take home 14 dozen different kinds of treats for the holidays.  I will prepare a gourmet meal to serve them and make homemade gifts for each of them to thank them for their friendship and support over the past year.  Later in the week, our family will enjoy Christmas Eve dinner with my extended family and Christmas Day dinner with Ken’s extended family.  It’s a lot of work, yes, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything  in the world.

New Year’s Eve will find us once again opening our home to friends as the girls will host their 14th New Year’s Eve sleepover!  Why do we do all of this, I’m sure many will ask.  Why not, I say!  What is life if we’re not truly living it, making the most of it, and creating memories and traditions that will go on for generation after generation?  I know that when my children are grown and have busy lives of their own, these will be the things they will cherish – not the materials things, the nutcrackers or the ornaments – but the memories that go with them.  And when you think about it, that’s all we can really take with us when we go, so let’s all make memories that count.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow her at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Look Around

DSC02585These days, I am driving my daughters crazy!  You may ask, isn’t that normal for a parent?  Yes, but right now, it’s worse than normal.  You see, I love this time of year, from October through Mid-December.  No, not the holiday season, though I do love that as well.  It’s autumn that I love.  Okay, let me clarify that.  Do I love the drop in temperatures, the countless leaves in the yard, the frost on my windshield and the morning fog?  Well, no, I honestly don’t.  However, I do love the autumn, and I’ll tell you why.

If you live in a state where the seasons change, I mean actually change from fall to winter to spring to summer and back to fall, have you looked outside recently?  Have you really, truly looked outside?  Look past the closed up pool with its lonely lounges covered for the winter.  See beyond the blanket of leaves that seems to widen exponentially.  Gaze through the thick veil of fog.  What do you see now?  Do you see the reds and oranges and yellows blazing against the turquoise or grey-blue sky?  Do you see the geese as they fly in their V-formation gliding over the treetops and then swooping down to land amid the stubble left from the corn in the fields?  Can you make out the bold contrast of the sun in the darker sky as it hovers over and casts its reflection on the smooth, glassy waterways?  Have you given a second’s worth of thought to how undeniably beautiful it is right now across the bare plains, colorful forests, and majestic mountains of our Nation?  Open your window and breathe in the crisp, fresh air on your way home tonight.  Watch the shadows as they dance through the trees and over the lakes and creeks as the end of the day sun’s rays bounce off of the horizon, darker, deeper, more brilliant than at any other time of the year.

That’s what I will be doing this evening and for a few more evenings this year as the girls and I drive home.  We will be stopping here and there along our route so that I can snap pictures of the sunset or the glow of the moon over the water.  We will continue to leave just a few minutes early each morning to see the sun rise over the creek across the way in order to bask in its glory as it rises over the fiery treetops.  Yes, they will continue to tell me that I’m driving them crazy, that I couldn’t possibly need another picture of the deer standing in the empty field at twilight.  But it’s all worth it when one of them yells, “Stop the car!  Did you see that scene?  Back up!”  When that happened last week, I knew that they have finally started to appreciate what I am seeing and have learned to not just move through life on cruise control.  It’s so much better if you take the time to look around.

 

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon. https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html

You may follow her at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Puppy Love

IMG_3270Do you remember your first concert?  Depending upon how old you are, it may have been many years ago (Elvis?  The Beatles?), or perhaps just this past summer (One Direction? Taylor Swift?).  I remember mine like it was yesterday, and literally YESTERDAY, I got the chance to re-live it!

When I was six years old, my mother took me to my very first concert.  Though it wasn’t my mother’s kind of music, she knew just how much it would mean to me to see the man of my dreams live on stage.  So I donned my purple socks and favorite fan girl t-shirt and went to see a show I have never forgotten.  I don’t remember where it was or whether or not there was an opening act, but I do remember that when Donny sang Puppy Love, I knew, even at that tender age, that he was singing it just for me.

Last night, my girlfriend Laura (who has known me since I was six) went with me to the National Theater in DC to see the Donny and Marie Christmas Show; and yes, I wore my purple socks.  After the brother and sister duo opened with a few Christmas songs, guess what song Donny sang.  Oh, how I was taken back to that first night (especially when they showed the footage from his concert tour those many years ago).  I wanted to stand and scream “I was there!”  Of course, I maintained my dignity and enjoyed the show with the decorum that befits my age.  After all, that was 1976, and I have matured just a little in the years between then and now!  But as I watched Donny sing and dance like he hadn’t aged at all, I found myself thinking those words that all of us little girls screamed together those many years ago, “Help me, help me, help me please!”