End of an Era

Cincinnati Gardens

This past week, the evening news and social media have been filled with pictures of a wrecking ball and giant claws ripping apart a landmark building that symbolized happy times in my life. Cincinnati Gardens, a 25,000-square foot indoor arena in Bond Hill on the corner of Seymour Avenue and Langdon Farm Roads, sat just beyond the boundary line of my hometown of Norwood, Ohio.

The red brick building with the carved athletic figures outside its doors was better known as The Gardens. Built in 1949 as one of the largest indoor arena facilities in the United States, it was convenient, affordable, had good parking, and always held a promise of a good time within its walls. If offered a place for people like me to see big-name entertainers, celebrities, and athletes practically in my backyard.

A picture of that building with a big gaping hole as they started demolition had my husband and me tossing out memories like they were confetti. Our recollections covered a lot of years; encompassing our long-ago dating days, shared good times with family and friends; taking our children there. So many special memories deeply rooted in our lives.

Tom had his own personal experiences of being a ball boy for the Cincinnati Royals, and working in the parking lot, or inside at concerts to earn extra dollars.

During its 69-year history, The Gardens offered a rich variety of sporting events that proved to be very popular with folks from all over the tri-state area; hockey, college and professional basketball, boxing and wrestling matches with big-name stars, rodeos, monster truck events, motorcycle racing, Roller Derby, indoor football, indoor soccer and probably a bunch I don’t remember.

I saw my first circus there when I was a young girl. Mesmerized by the trapeze artists flying fearlessly through the air, and wondering how all those clowns fit inside that tiny little car, I was fascinated and didn’t know where to look first.

Tom told me the performers arrived in trailers they parked behind the building. Those trailers functioned as their home away from home during circus season.

In my teens, the circus invited regional high school majorettes to twirl during intermissions. After completing the paperwork, I went to our band director for his signature and he refused to sign saying he didn’t approve of the venue so I couldn’t participate. I was crushed.

Tom took me to see a few hockey games to root for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the 90s, but we never really got into the game. Tom remembered the Cincinnati Mohawks as the first hometown team when he was a kid. Did I forget to mention he is much older than me?

Going to see the Harlem Globe Trotters every year between Christmas and New Year’s became a family tradition. Although the show was basically the same every time, it never became boring. It always started with the permanent opposing team, the Washington Generals, being introduced to polite applause. Then the lights would dim and the familiar music of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ blasted through the speakers. Everyone jumped to their feet as Meadowlark Lemon and the Globetrotters ran on to the court. It was great family entertainment watching the comedy, trickeries, and silliness of the Globetrotters.

College basketball is legendary in Cincinnati. Locals loved watching UC and Xavier basketball games in that arena over the years. The Gardens served as home court for both UC and X at different times (while fieldhouses were torn down and new facilities were being built), but it always seemed a neutral court for countless years of Crosstown Shootout games.

Most people are familiar with Cincinnati being home to the Reds and Bengals for so many years, but some may not remember it was also home to a pro-basketball team called the Cincinnati Royals from 1957 through 1972. Watching famous pro-basketball stars play at The Gardens was a thrill.

During his sophomore year at Norwood, Tom was a ball boy for the Royals, working with the visiting teams. “To a fifteen-year-old boy getting to be around the big stars of pro-basketball was the job of a lifetime.” As he rattled off a list of his favorite basketball greats, he could have been talking about a job he held last week, not over fifty years ago. “All of the players were nice guys without attitude and giant egos. It was a different era, a different kind of athlete.”

Once when the circus was performing at The Gardens and filling every inch of the arena, the Royals needed a temporary practice court. For one week they used the old fieldhouse at Norwood High School with the Royals showing up after the Norwood varsity team finished for the day.

As fans in the stands, we saw some of the true greats like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West. Of course, we rooted for The Royals and our hometown favorites like Jack Twyman, Wayne Embry, Ohio State star Jerry Lucas, and University of Cincinnati favorite Oscar Robertson. Oscar was a joy to watch. For ten years Cincinnatians got to see the most consistent, versatile, generous player up close every game. And seeing the duo of Oscar (Big O) and Jerry Lucas play together was pure magic.

Jack Twyman was a Hall-of-Fame basketball player, but his selfless act of stepping up to serve as legal guardian for teammate Maurice Stokes after a brain injury rendered him a quadriplegic proved Jack Twyman was a man of valor, a true hero. As a dedicated, devoted guardian, Jack organized benefits, golf tournaments, and countless fundraisers to help the Stokes family deal with their son’s overwhelming medical and personal expenses for almost thirteen years.

After the Royals were purchased and moved to Kansas City in 1972, pro-basketball was never quite the same ever again to me.

I spent so many hours at The Gardens during my teens and early twenties, it was the only place to attend rock & roll concerts. Having been designed basically as a big cavernous sports arena, the sound wasn’t always top-notch for music groups, but it didn’t really matter. We saw so many shows, so many groups. The 60s shows often combined a number of artists on one bill, including one-hit wonders on their way up and a few acts headed in the other direction.

Some of the biggest names to play The Gardens were Elvis, the 5th Dimension, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, the Four Seasons, Righteous Brothers, Rolling Stones, and of course, The Beatles.

In 1964, Tom and I were newlyweds when we got tickets to see The Beatles. Concerts before the Beatles were pretty tame compared to today’s standards. The Beatles changed everything. The screaming was so loud we couldn’t hear much of anything and if we wanted to see, we had to stand. Will You Still Need Me When I’m Sixty-Four

Still proud to say we were there, but nothing had prepared my generation for the huge change about to happen in music because of the British Invasion.

One big disappointment was a Beach Boys concert which was canceled at the last-minute. No one had been admitted inside the arena, so everyone was just standing around waiting for the doors to open. Word had it that the Beach Boys were disappointed that the show wasn’t a sellout and decided at the last minute to cancel. Although refunds were issued, people were very upset and many held a grudge again the Beach Boys for years.

Another concert had scheduled headliner Roy Orbison dropping out at the last-minute because of illness. The promoters substituted Kenny Price, a well-known local performer who starred on a popular Cincinnati TV show called the Midwestern Hayride. In his bright red sports coat, he got an A for effort, but his small repertoire of hits was not enough material to fill Roy Orbison’s spot.

Fortunately, a foursome called The Four Seasons stepped up and stole the show. They had a  unique sound and the crowd loved them. Soon thereafter, they hit pay dirt when they released their biggest hit, a little song called Sherry.

Diana Ross & the Supremes were scheduled to perform at The Gardens in 1968. Although a favorite group of mine, I had to take a pass on their concert because the booking was too close to the due date of our first child. As I remember their concert was held the night before our daughter was born.

As I mentioned, Tom worked part-time at The Gardens for a number of years, doing security, maintenance, set up/tear down, collecting money in the parking lot ($3.00 per car), and working at a lot of country music concerts.

Doris Geselbracht and I loved country music and wanted to see George Jones, so Tom arranged for tickets to his concert. Our seats were very close to the stage, off to the side where we had a close-up view of George, aka The Possum.

A few minutes into the concert, our excitement turned into fear that the building might be on fire. Not sure where to report our suspicions, we told Tom. In whispered tones, he assured us the building was not on fire telling us the odor was coming from the row in front of us. Evidently, a few of George’s fans were smoking marijuana, but Doris and I had never smelled it before. We never did live that story down.

While in high school, I envied the Norwood students who worked as members of the Gardens Ice Patrol to oversee the general skating sessions. Friends Karen Barrett Eads and Bev Taylor Downs Sherman spent their time making sure people followed the ice rink rules and skated in the right direction. They said it was a fun job.

Roller skating was more my speed and I never mastered ice skating. However, I do have fond memories of filling my station wagon full of giggly little Girl Scouts and Bluebird troops to go to the annex skating rink for Saturday skate parties. The girls weren’t Olympic material, but at least they were able to remain upright. I usually spent a lot of time trying to get up from falling on my rear.

Although we didn’t attend, I remember Richard Nixon coming to speak there during his 1960 run for president. The news stations warned people to avoid Cincinnati Gardens because the arena was filled to capacity and thousands of people were standing outside the building creating huge traffic jams.

Sometimes events at The Gardens truly had a Norwood connection. A few I recall are:

  • Watching our younger brothers’ receive their high school diplomas there in 1967. In fact, Norwood held their graduation ceremonies there for a number of years.
  • Going with a group of friends to support Pat Rupert as he auditioned for the American Gladiator television show.
  • Going to a wrestling match with Pat Rankin and Doris Geselbracht to watch Norwood’s own Flyin’ Brian. Brian Pilman had played football at Norwood, Miami University, and spent one year with the Bengals before becoming a professional wrestler. His signature move was climbing on top of the ropes, standing for a moment before taking a flying diving leap down onto his opponent. It never failed to bring a cheering crowd to their feet.
  • Hundreds of kids from Norwood learned to drive in the big parking lot across from The Gardens. Tom spent hours teaching me to drive his little Nash Rambler there. Me practicing pushing in the clutch, learning to change gears without the grinding noise, and mastering parallel parking.
  • Working at The Gardens in the concession stands, parking cars, and doing a bit of everything turned into a family affair. Moms, dads, sisters, brothers were employed there.

As I aged, so did the building. I’m not so naïve as to think a 69-year-old building could last forever. After all, it had already been replaced by a newer model downtown some years before, a big shiny building with lots of bells and whistles where we could watch sporting events, concerts, even the circus. The new place had everything, except the charm from a more simple time.

Demolition begins 2018

Sure, we knew it was coming. But I wasn’t prepared to see the first picture of the building coming down. It was difficult to watch. It just hurt.

The era has ended, but the wrecking ball cannot destroy my memories. It will be sad to drive by and not see the familiar never-changing exterior of that red brick building with the big giant letters spelling out Cincinnati Gardens.

But Cincinnati is a city of traditions. People like to reminiscence about old times. Somehow I know people will remember the good times that happened inside those Garden walls. We will remember.  

Posted in Gratitude, home, values, friendship, memories, Life Changes | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Significant Lessons

“Not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever. Sometimes they are only there long enough to teach you the lessons you needed to learn.”

After spending some time in January cleaning out closets, I’m finally getting around to purging the file cabinets in my office. Two legal-sized, four-drawer cabinets filled with bits and pieces of my life. Some organized. Some items crammed into random folders when life was too crazy to sort through.

It is slow going, but I am making progress.

Most of the things landing in the trash should have been tossed years ago. My decisions to keep or toss are coming fairly easy.

I run into trouble when I find the photos, the handwritten notes, or other reminders that take me back in time. Those are the things that bog me down.

Yesterday I unfolded a flyer advertising an appearance by Jane Goodall sponsored by Miami Metrozoo from almost twenty-four years ago. My memories start to fall all over themselves.

In an instant, I see her sitting in the back seat of a Metrozoo golf cart. She sits so quietly with her gray hair pulled back into a casual ponytail. Looking peaceful, just like in her photographs.

I stop, introduce myself, and express my admiration for her, and her work. Ask if I can get her anything.

In a soft voice, she says, “Thank you, a glass of water would be nice.”

Learning I am a member of the staff, she asks what my role is at the zoo. “I’m the director of volunteer services.” I tell her the volunteers are special, giving so generously of their time and energy; doing their part to help with the rebuilding of Metrozoo after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew. “They just want their beautiful zoo back.”

As a colleague steps up to talk to her, I excuse myself to go get her water.

Bringing back a plastic cup filled with ice and cold water, I hand it to her. She calmly says she prefers plain tap water. I quickly go for a replacement, totally embarrassed that I didn’t think about where she lived, spent most of her time. Her years of research observing chimpanzees had been done in the forests of Africa.  No ice cubes there.

I apologized for my ignorance and insensitivity. She smiled saying, “Please don’t concern yourself, it happens all the time.”

After telling her what an honor it had been to meet her, I excused myself and went back to my office to work. I was looking forward to her talk that evening at Florida International University.

Jane Goodall’s presentation was captivating. She talked about her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. Explaining the threats facing chimps and other environmental crises, she spoke with such conviction and urgency of protecting this one planet we all must share. The audience loved her and gave her a much-deserved standing ovation.

Staff members had been assigned to transition the members of the audience as they exited the auditorium. Our job was to direct people to various spots in the lobby; help them obtain more information, learn ways to donate to the Jane Goodall Institute, purchase her latest book, and wait in line to have her personally sign it.

I was to assist with the book signing process. Sitting at the table with Jane (as she had instructed me to call her), I briefed her on the process and we went to work.

Her job was to greet her fans and sign their books.

My role was to politely control the process so the signing wouldn’t last all night. I was to keep the line moving by informing people NICELY we wanted to respect Jane’s time so there would be no pictures and no hugs. Hoping kind words and a smile would keep the people happy and the line moving.

As she interacted with the people in line, I knew she was tired because it had been a long day, and Miami was only one stop on her lengthy U.S. tour.

There seemed to be no end to the line, but she signed the last book just as she had signed the first one. Her warm smile and her graciousness never wavered.

When the last book was signed, I got her a fresh glass of water, room temperature with no ice cubes this time. As she sipped her water, we had an opportunity to talk for a few minutes.

Said she had talked all day about her life, she was curious about me. She was full of questions. Where had I grown up? Did I have children? Was I a Florida native? What was I passionate about?

Tried to keep my answers brief, explaining my early childhood years had been spent on a farm running barefoot and playing outdoors. Recently relocated from the Cincinnati Zoo to my current position, I was homesick for my buddies at the zoo, my friends, and the neighborhood where I had lived for forty years. I was missing my family so much. Moving away from life as I knew it had been very difficult.

What was I passionate about? Words tumbled out of my mouth, “Always wanted to be a mom, be a teacher, and volunteer to make a difference. I’m just not sure I’ve figured out how I am to make a difference.  Still trying to discover my purpose.”

Even though I knew her story, I didn’t really understand her world so what was I to say to her other than I admired her for making such an impact on the world? However, curiosity made me ask when she knew studying chimpanzees was to become her life’s work. Her answer was simple, “One day I just had a feeling that this was what I was meant to do.”

After signing my book and one for my animal-loving, book-loving daughter, I helped her pack up. Knew meeting her had been a once in a lifetime encounter. One that would not be repeated, but we had shared a brief connection. One I would never forget.

We wished each other well, said our goodbyes and she was gone.

Even though it was late when I got home, I called Tom who was still trying to get our house sold before he joined me in Florida. I told him of my experience and the dynamite Christmas gift for Sherry. Two nights before, he and Sherry had gone to see her speak in Cincinnati and had been blown away by her talk.

Meeting this amazing woman is still one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. I was inspired by her example. Learned so much from one brief conversation, looking into her eyes and knowing she was truly listening.

She taught significant lessons about the importance of being present, calm, peaceful, and living a commitment to creating good in the world.

Ending on a Positive Note: We learn from everyone we meet. Some of the lessons we learn to stay with us for a lifetime because of their significance.

Posted in home, values, friendship, memories, Inspirational, Life Changes, Life Lessons, Significance | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments


Last year at this time, I chose to resume writing my simple blog about my everyday life. I committed to taking what came my way and promised myself to accept what I couldn’t control. 2017 was filled with lots of new challenges but overall proved to be a pretty good year.

Although I’m not sure it would have been a good year without the ten years that preceded it. Living through ten of the hardest years of my life; when I suffered the pain of losing my precious daughter, two brothers, and several life-long friends, plus battling several strokes, bouts of cancer, and other illnesses and physical issues had taught me to look at life in a different light.

In the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity – Albert Einstein

Life hands everybody struggles with illness and painful times, the loss of people they love, and has them dealing with all sorts of challenging situations. Every year has its ups and downs; bad days, good days. Life isn’t always fair, but it constantly offers us opportunities to make choices.

Those choices are what keep us going, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day. My choices are slowly teaching me to simplify, live more intentionally, prioritize my life, not my stuff, and to keep my faith more childlike and simple, like my life. To appreciate those who have touched and changed my life for the better.

I keep standing, keep hoping, and keep believing that God is at work in my life. I remember the past but choose to concentrate on the journey before me. I choose to take one day at a time, focus on the important things, stay positive, try to give more than I receive, love those in my life who matter the most, and never forget who is truly in charge helping me make it through the difficult and changing times, and giving me more blessings than I am sure I deserve.

Ending on a Positive Note: 2018 offers a clean slate for all of us. Our lives today are what our choices have made it. We are always just one choice away from changing our life. Life is truly what we make it. Happy New Year!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Posted in Choices, Faith/God, Life Changes, Life Lessons | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Simple Moments in Life

Yesterday, a friend was venting about their cable being out last week, and I was reminded of the last time my husband and I had a similar experience.  Losing power or access to any of life’s conveniences can be so frustrating.

May 2017, on a Friday night about 7:30 p.m. our TV shut down. Like so many others our TV is bundled with our internet and phone service. When we finally got through to technical support, we were informed there was a serious outage in the Greater Cincinnati area. It was indefinite as to when service would be restored.

Our biggest problem was not having an internet connection. Our youngest granddaughter was performing at a national dance competition in Tennessee. We had been able to see her solo and duet performances earlier in the day via the streaming connection.

It soon became evident we weren’t going to catch her group dances on Saturday or Sunday. I stayed close to my cell phone for text messages as to scoring results. The girls were doing well and had even been selected to perform in the Big Show on Monday. But, by 10 p.m. on Sunday night it didn’t look too promising we would see that performance either.

The convenience of watching the competition via the internet streaming option had worked perfectly for four or five years. As grandparents, we had come to rely on the accessibility. Want to upset me, come between me and watching my granddaughters do anything.

Tom and I told ourselves we could get through this. I finally admitted defeat and decided to finish the book I was reading. I felt bad for Tom. He was lost without his TV, so in an effort to cheer him up, I reminded him we could still watch our DVDs without cable.

Our habits regarding DVDs had changed over the years. We used to rent them from the video stores. Remember when going to Blockbuster was a weekend necessity? Then renting them from the cable provider became the latest craze.

For the last few years, a little gadget called Fire TV had kept us entertained. It is incredible how many ways there are to view a movie these days. Thinking about it, I realized we hadn’t watched any of our DVDs since we moved two years ago.

Tom headed off to peruse our limited collection. Returning with a handful of selections from the shelves in my office, he remarked, “Had trouble finding anything decent. Too much animation, science fiction. Too many musicals, and movies I’ve never heard of.”

Laughing, I reminded him of purging our collection before we moved, merging our DVDs with an assortment of our daughter’s eclectic DVDs. Sherry loved movies of all kinds, but she especially loved documentaries. Her thirst for learning never ceased to amaze me and she had won me over throughout the years, but Tom had been a hard sell. So naturally, he skipped right past her documentaries. In his mind, they were just movies he had never heard of. But I did find one capable of holding his interest and added it to his chosen stack of DVDs.

For two days, we watched a bunch of movies; some were okay, some we had seen countless times before, and a few were eliminated from our little collection. The two we liked best included an old favorite and a documentary we had never heard of. (Thank you, Sherry).

Our old favorite had been around for a while. The Last of the Dogmen, starring Tom Berenger and Barbara Hershey was set in the mountains of Montana. The movie paired a modern-day bounty hunter with a female Native Indian history professor. Together they stumble on a Native American Indian settlement thought to have been wiped out by white settlers a century earlier. Together, they fight to prevent the outside world from discovering the existence of the tribe and their way of life. We enjoyed seeing it again.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown was a documentary about the uncredited studio musicians that created the sound behind the Motown music. In 1959, Berry Gordy hand-picked the Funk Brothers as the house band to record and perform on Motown’s’ recordings from 1959 to 1972. We were quickly drawn into the captivating story told via interviews with surviving band members, old music footage and still photos. We were astonished to learn the group’s music had produced more hits than The Beatles, Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones combined, their distinctive sound providing the brilliance behind the Motown sound. The documentary was fascinating. I absolutely loved it.

Tom’s comment, “The documentary was definitely better suited for you and Sherry, but I have to admit it was really good.” Sherry would probably have laughed and yelled, “Score!”

Although we were bummed about missing our granddaughter’s dance performances, we survived. Life has a way of reminding us, no matter how hard we try; we can’t always control every situation.

Sometimes we just have to go with the flow. Without the electronics we are so dependent on, we spent a weekend just relaxing and watching an unexpected movie marathon; talking, laughing, just enjoying each other’s company and even some popcorn. It was fun.

Growing old with each other isn’t always exciting, but it never ever gets boring. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of how lucky we really are.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is what we make it. After fifty years, we have learned the simple, ordinary moments are the best, the most significant. Those moments are where we find the love and the joy!


Posted in home, values, friendship, memories, Life Lessons, Relationships, Significance | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Happy New Year

Anyone on Facebook is used to seeing those posts that tell us how concerned Facebook is about us. Telling us Facebook thinks we would appreciate seeing a memory from some forgotten past date. The memories are usually happy ones; showing a photo of someone we love smiling or laughing. We’re always suckers for any photo of our children or grandkids when they were much younger. I don’t share memory posts very often because people sometimes don’t realize they are memories and get confused, or maybe it’s just me. My excuse is the same one I always use, old age.

Today’s memory caught me off guard with the reminder of how quickly life can change. Everyone I made reference to in the following post is gone. I don’t need a Facebook message to remind me they are no longer here. I still miss them every day, so bad it hurts. I still cry.  Just have to accept that life goes on even when we don’t want it too.

12-31-10 All the Christmas decorations are packed in bins (and back in the garage). Condo is returned to normal and my cleaning is done for this week, or should I say for the year. My daughter is coming for lunch and we going to make appetizers. Then on to a small get together with good friends. Great way to end 2010! Wishing everyone a healthy and Happy New Year!

This little post also is a prompt that life seldom allows us to truly forget the unhappy memories, but we do have the option of focusing on what is worth remembering. The people we loved so dearly. The wonderful times we shared together.

Since we no longer have a garage, our Christmas decorations are now stored in a closet. Most of the bins have been eliminated because we simplified where and how we live. I hope the folks utilizing my discarded furniture, my junk, my stuff, and my Christmas decorations enjoy it as much as I did. Our decisions to eliminate and simplify were good ones. We were ready to let it all go. Seldom even think about it anymore.

Our bins are accessible and only hold what I chose to keep. The only decision facing me now is whether to remove the ornaments from our little 2-foot tree or Saran Wrap it. If I can get Tom to hold the tree while I wrap it, the Saran Wrap may win out.

Every year is generally filled with ups and downs for all of us. We all face challenges, but hopefully, there will always be more happy times than sad ones.

2017 had some bad days, but it also was a year of learning, growth, and a new understanding. We celebrated happy times with family and old friends while making room to connect with a few new ones. Our lives have been blessed by the number of people who have touched our lives. Those are the moments worth remembering.

My wish for 2018 is still the same as the one from 2010 with a few additions. Don’t let life get too busy. Slow down long enough to show people how much you appreciate them, how much you love them. Take time to check on them (even if it’s only a brief call or visit). Life is really pretty short and most of it flies by so quickly until sometimes those we love are gone.

May the New Year bring you good times and good health. Don’t be so hard on yourself or others. I hope 2018 is a year when we all smile more, laugh more, forgive more, hug more, love more, be kinder, fill our hearts with gratitude, and create moments that are worth remembering.

Happy New Year!

Ending on a Positive Note: I don’t know what 2018 will bring, but I am resolving to take the New Year one day at a time. To continue to simplify, live more intentionally, give more than I receive, and focus on the people who matter most.

Posted in Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Life Changes | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Christmas Poem


What is Christmas? What can it be?
Can I feel it or is it something I can see?
Is it in the air? Is it something I can hear?
Is it magic? Is it really everywhere?

Is Christmas tall, green, scented trees of pine?
Is it tinsel and stars that twinkle and shine?
Is it snowy streets all blanketed in white?
Is it church bells ringing in the still of the night?

Is Christmas the songs that the carolers sing?
Is it the silver bells on city streets that ring?
Is it candles all aglow with flickering light?
Is it warm hearths glowing with fires crackling bright?

Is Christmas each heart that is filled with cheer?
By greeting cards and phone calls sent far and near?
Is it visiting old friends, or somehow finding a way
To be home with your family if only for a day.

Or is Christmas quite simply the happiness and joy,
Found on the faces of each small girl or boy?
Faces filled with both eagerness and glee
While opening gifts beneath their Christmas tree.

Is Christmas just a holiday celebrated once a year?
Do we only seek its spirit as the season draws near?
Is it really only a star on a tree, a wreath on a door?
Maybe! But, something tells me it is so much more!

Christmas is shepherds and wise men traveling far.
Guided on their journey by a bright Bethlehem star.
Christmas is a tiny baby lying on a humble bed of hay.
His birth the true reason we celebrate Christmas Day!

Agnes Spurlock – December 1985

A friend called Thursday asking for another copy of this little poem I wrote over thirty years ago.  She wanted to use in a Christmas program. “Aggie, I’m so embarrassed. I’ve lost the poem again; can’t find it anywhere. Please post it on your blog so I’ll always know where to find it.” I sent her a new copy for her Christmas program, but am posting it here, as well. She wishes to remain anonymous.

To my wonderful friend and to all my readers. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2018!

Posted in Christmas, Faith/God, Friendship | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Right Moves

Tom and I attended a Holiday Dance Recital on Saturday afternoon. We thought we were going to watch our youngest granddaughter dance, but Jess explained the recital had a different focus than usual.

It was going to be a fun afternoon with the spotlight shining on some of the smallest dancers, tiny little kids brand new to dancing. They were a joy to watch. No two were in sync with each other. In the spotlight, some froze, shyly looking out at the audience. Some swayed from side to side, trying to move their feet in time with the music. One little girl spent the entire recital in danger of losing the tutu around her waist. She was adorable.

Another little girl with hair askew dancing with every fiber of her being showed no concern she wasn’t in time with the music. Simply didn’t care she was on the wrong foot most of the time. As her group finished their dance, she ran back on stage. Obviously, she was having a blast and wanted more. An older dancer came and led her off stage, but she didn’t leave without a giant smile and one more enthusiastic wave to the audience. Her exuberance brought smiles, laughs, and a big round of applause.

The audience enjoyed the lively, toe-tapping Christmas music. They snapped lots of pictures to preserve their kids’ performances on film, clapped along with the music, and applauded enthusiastically for the sweet, precious, little kids performing for the first time on center stage.

The music was loud and featured fun selections like I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas; Do You Want to Build a Snowman, All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, Jingle Bell Rock, and Let it Go.

Sandwiched in between the younger kids’ dance numbers, the older girls performed a few lyrical and ballet numbers, but mostly their role was to assist the younger dancers. The day belonged to the little ones.

We are used to attending competitions; where there is a more serious attitude in the air. As the snow fell outside on Saturday, the air inside the auditorium was filled with a bright holiday spirit. This dance recital was more about fun than being flawless. It was a delightful way to spend a cold, snowy December afternoon finding that the spirit of Christmas was alive and thriving.

We’ve been watching our granddaughter dance since she was three. She’s pretty good, works hard at her craft. She simply loves to dance and it shows in her every move.

I love it when she and her friends dance together, exhibiting such graceful, elegant movements that create beautiful, stunning performances. A close-knit group of hard-working young ladies that love to dance together, like to act silly, goof around before and after performances, take a million selfies. But hitting the stage as a duet, trio, or in various groups they become serious, their bodies performing in perfect harmony.  Arms, legs, feet all move in sync with one another.

They didn’t start out in sync. It took years to perfect their craft. Each of them has put hours of work into their dance moves, splits, cartwheels, backflips and unbelievable jumps. Practicing and rehearsing until the moves and the jumps became like second nature.

Funny, it’s the same in life; we spend years trying to land on the right foot. To dance in time with the music and learn all the right moves. We learn to take the good with the bad. We fall down and learn the importance of getting back up.

There are so many lessons to learn along the way. We face each test without answers being provided at the end of the book. We just begin to figure it all out, when our hair turns white and our bones start to creak when we walk.

We’ve perfected our routines, grown accustomed to doing the right moves. Just in time to realize we are once again out of step. A new generation is hard at work, practicing and rehearsing their moves until they become like second nature.

As they take center stage, I wish them good luck on their journey. I leave the stage with gratitude in my heart, a smile on my face, and one last enthusiastic wave to the audience. It was a great show. I had a good time.

My high kicks and jumps are safely stored in my memories. I have found a new stage where I don’t have to perform much anymore.

Life doesn’t slow down for any of us. Getting old is a commonplace experience, it happens to all of us. We learn to play the hand we have been dealt.

I find this stage to be a place of contentment that only requires an appreciation for life, an acceptance of the ailments this age brings and learning to be comfortable just being me.

Ending on a Positive Note: Life is a cycle. There is always someone entering and exiting the stage. Our job is to work hard and accept our proper place in the cycle. Try to be happy and live the best we can.

Posted in Awareness/Action, Choices, Christmas, Gratitude, Holidays, Letting Go, Life Changes, Life Lessons | 8 Comments