Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Don’t Wait a Year

Some people think Christmas starts too soon. I think it ends too soon.

December 26 hits and all we have left are turkey bones, torn wrapping paper and, or so they say, at least five extra pounds of body fat. In a day, radio stations have stopped playing carols and, other than Hallmark, holiday movies have disappeared from TV. All we are left with is the New Year … and get-it-together resolutions … and the dark days of winter.

No wonder my sister starts looking for our annual OBX summer vacation house in January.

On the Christmas episode of the new series The Librarians, they had a different take on Santa Claus. Instead of giving presents, he spent the year gathering goodwill, which he released to the world on December 25th.

A Moose-Reindeer Christmas 2

I plan to keep my little tree — and its moose companions — on display for at least another month. The twinkle lights make me happy and add warmth to the gloomy side of winter.

According to the show, peace, joy and kindness are something we have limited supplies of and, by the end of the year, it’s been mostly used up. Which is why so many are depressed and suicidal once the holidays roll around, and we desperately need a supernatural dosage each Christmas to keep us going for the next 11 months.

Well, as much as I enjoy The Librarians—especially, let’s be honest, Christian Kane—I’m glad they’re wrong about this. The peace, joy and goodwill we have through Christ comes to us in unlimited supply. We’re not going to run out. We just might act like it, forgetting all our blessings during the seasons and events we don’t like while we wait for those we do.

So, I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you to not put aside your Christmas spirit for a year. Hang on to it. I promise you won’t run out.

With love,                                                                                                                                                                ~Sharyn

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Merry Christmas!

Image Courtesy: franky242/freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy: franky242/freedigitalphotos.net

 

Wishing You a Blessed Christmas!

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Two of My Favorite Christmas Recipes

I decided to share two recipes today since they’re both short and easy.

The first is for broccoli-wild rice dressing—a recipe I came upon in a magazine over 20 years ago that my family still enjoys. And it’s so simple.

All you do is make the three main ingredients separately but, preferably, at the same time, according to directions: a bag of seasoned cubed dressing, a box of long grain and wild rice, like Uncle Ben’s, and about two cups of broccoli, fresh or frozen.

Whenever possible, I use chicken broth instead of water since it adds flavor. Once all three items have been prepared, mix them together. You can put it in a baking dish and stick it in the oven, if you like. However, that might dry it out.

Punchy

My second recipe is for Christmas punch. For most of my life, I’ve had a take it or leave it attitude toward eggnog … until a co-worker introduced this punch to me at a staff party many years ago.

All you do is combine a liter of eggnog, an equal amount of ginger ale (give or take) and several scoops of peppermint ice cream in a punch bowl. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to get the combination you want. And you can add a bit of rum, too, if you feel so inclined.

It’s a frothy, Christmas-y concoction that’s the perfect addition to your next holiday party.

Christmas Meme - art by Feelart 2

Image courtesy of Feelart/freedigitalimages.net

In the meantime, here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful week as we celebrate the birth of the One who makes it all worthwhile!

And if you have a special holiday recipe to share, I’d love to see it. . . .

God bless you,

~Sharyn

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Deck the Halls?

Photo on 12-18-14 at 1.45 AMThis is the last weekend before Christmas 2014. The time has gotten away from me and I had to finally make the decision this week as to whether to decorate for the holidays or not.

It’s a decision that has to be made for a lot of singles. If you live alone and no one is coming over, the fuss of picking out a tree, decorations for the tree, decorations for the rest of the house and outside the house, can seem like more hassle than it’s worth. It is especially an issue if the bulk of the holiday week will be spent traveling to see family.

Ultimately, I decided to decorate. Since I am going to be at home for the holidays, and only spending a few days away, I wanted my house to feel like Christmas. Because even though I don’t have a family, I love Christmas!

How about you? How much or how little did you decorate this year?

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Christmas Ornaments Tell the Story

Santa first christmas

 

I always thought the ornaments were old fashioned and wondered why we kept them on our tree year after year. If it were my tree, I would buy more fashionable ornaments. I was young and didn’t see the value in those old ornaments. Today there are only two ornaments remaining from the set. They now appear priceless in my opinion. Every year I look for those ornaments on the tree. They tell a story of family and love and many wonderful Christmas memories.

Christmas 1960, my parents were young and newlywed. Having just embarked on their journey, they had none of the traditional Christmas items. With snow lightly falling, they walked five blocks to the store to purchase ornaments for their first tree. I can imagine my parents holding hands and enjoying the snow. In my imagination they are planning Christmases to come. They have no idea what the future holds, but they face it together.

Every year for the last fifty-four years these ornaments have graced our tree. They have traveled to six states and two foreign countries. They have seen hard years and years of plenty. There they hung as four children were born and raised. They have seen a daughter-in-law, two sons-in-law and six grandchildren join the family.

If these ornaments could talk, they would tell many stories. The most amazing story would be the love of two people tying their family together for generations to come. Truly, the value of these ornaments has increased over the years. Someday they will break, but the bond of the family will last forever.

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Faking It

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

I know it’s small but this photo shows you a scene from our production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And it also gives you a glimpse of the beautiful Holland Theatre here in Bellefontaine. BTW: I’m the blonde facing the audience on the left.

 

This past October I auditioned for a community production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Expecting to get a smaller part, boy, was I pleasantly surprised to be cast as the adult lead—a wife and mother who ends up having to direct the church Christmas pageant when the regular director breaks her leg.

After two months of rehearsals, we open tonight. If I remember correctly, this is the biggest role I’ve ever had on stage and I admit I’m nervous. I’m also excited and ready and can’t wait to see what will happen. I know my lines, have my props and even mapped out my costume changes, which is saying something for someone as unorganized as I tend to be.

But when it came down to my smallest prop/costume piece, I hesitated. I play a wife so I should wear a wedding ring, right? Or should I not bother? Would anyone notice? Will it go to my head or, even worse, will people think, “Wow, that spinster couldn’t wait to put a fake ring on her finger, could she?”

Of course, when it comes to other props or costume items, I wouldn’t even hesitate. And, I’ve been told, I play the part of a wife and mother quite convincingly.

But that ring. It means something. For a short time, many years ago, I wore a True Love Waits ring on my left hand, third finger. Until it started to feel weird, and I learned some men saw it and assumed I was married, and I began to wonder if it was just kind of sad—me, trying to attach hope that I might have something to wait for to a piece of jewelry.

So, yes, it’s been hard for me to put on that fake wedding ring when I’ve never worn a real one. It means too much. For a similar reason, I do not want to be called my cat’s “mom.” That word is far too important to attach it to a feline. He’s a great cat and I love having him in my home, but he’s just a pet.

Anyway, this weekend, I will put on the fake wedding band I borrowed from my sister and pretend to be a wife three times. Hopefully, everyone will believe it.

Everyone, I suppose, but me.

What about you? Have you ever had a reason to pretend to be a wife or a mother? Did it bother you … or were you able to fake it without any problem?

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Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve at our house was always a fun time growing up. We always went to church at midnight, Santa always came while we were gone and we’d stay up into the wee hours of the morning opening presents. Mom and Dad got pretty creative to make that happen. As my brother and I got older, we became part of the scheming to get Santa to the house without the younger sisters catching on. I know at least one of my siblings carried on that tradition with her kids.

As a young adult, I spent one Christmas Eve with friends playing games and didn’t get home until late. That year everyone had to wait until Christmas day to open presents. Even though we were all older, my sister was highly upset with me for messing with Christmas. Needless to say, that was the only time I did that!

The holidays are a time of traditions. Most everyone has a favorite memory of things that were the same year after year. We just don’t get tired of them.

But I’ve heard an increasing number of single adults who don’t have their own traditions. When they’re home for Christmas, they sometimes partake of the old childhood fun, but many don’t even do that. Several people have even told me they can’t have traditions because they are single.

Admittedly, after my sister and her kids moved out of state several years ago, Dad and I slowly moved away from waiting until after church on Christmas Eve to open presents. In its place, we’ve begun a new tradition that includes a light dinner later in the evening and then opening presents before church.

 

Christmas Tree

Christmas lights are one of my favorite things about the season. Their sparkle and brightness remind me of the light that came into the world when Jesus was born. One of the things I try to do is put my tree up early in November. It’s just a visual reminder to me of what’s important. That is one tradition I have on my own. I get a lot of flak for it, but that’s okay. It’s not for everyone, but draws me into the season.

We single people need to feel free to start our own traditions. Since many of us travel to be with family and friends for the holidays, we may not have something that happens on the actual day, but maybe something around it. Traditions add richness and meaning to our celebrations. And, as a single person, that’s just as important as it is for a couple or a family.

So, what about you? What were your favorite traditions from childhood? What new traditions have you started as an adult?

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Counting Down to Christmas

We gathered around the Christmas tree, six instead of seven, trying to grab onto something familiar. A family whole, minus one. Mom had only been gone eight days. If felt like more. It felt like less. Her spirit swirled around us, laughing, tickling us to join her.

Mom

Two of my favorite pictures of Mom. I’ve been told I have her smile.

A lost and joyous ghost of Christmas past.

Dressed in green.

Draped in black.

I had just turned seventeen when Mom died, but the long journey to that Christmas began when I was fifteen. Before then, I didn’t even know what breast cancer was, let alone the devastation it would cause my family. The doctor didn’t catch it in time and, after a mastectomy and months of radiation, they let us know it was too late. We would lose her, it was just a matter of when.

Still, I chose not to believe it. I was, after all, a high school student. This was my time to rebel against her, not mourn her. I needed to spend time with her, but there wasn’t any. I wouldn’t know until later just how much I needed that. By then, she was gone.

How do you celebrate Christmas one week after your mom has passed away? We sang The Twelve Days of Christmas and I think we opened presents. It’s so hard to remember. Most of my memories of that day revolve around a single, grainy Polaroid photo my brother took. Our faces are downcast, pensive and sad, with a few unwrapped gifts scattered about. We didn’t even have a week to get used to the idea.

Everything reminded me of Mom; nothing reminded me of Christmas.

For five, ten, fifteen years, my siblings and I wandered. I tried to fit my life into eight states and thirty-six towns and struggled to make a career out of an untold number of jobs. From Iowa to Michigan to New York to Vermont to Indiana to Missouri to Colorado I fled, running from loss, searching for peace or joy or some kind of contentment.

Looking for family.

Then, a miracle — my youngest sister married her college sweetheart and, one or two years later, they introduced a chubby little spitfire we call KatyKat into the world. Four years later, sweet-hearted LuLu joined the family. And, just like that, everything changed.

I found what I was missing when I visited them in Ohio. So I left my home in Colorado to be closer. A few years later, Ollie-pop entered the world. My first nephew.

In April of 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to move within four miles of these three kids. I can drive to their farm in six minutes for dinner or a campfire or snuggle-time on the couch while we watch Disney movies. I can babysit when my sister needs me or pick up my nieces from school.

It’s good to live close to your heart.

One day, when Oliver was two, I hoisted him into my arms to take him up to his room for a nap. He melted into me and fell asleep almost immediately. When I laid him down on the bed, I brushed his thick, wavy hair from his forehead, and it hit me just how much my mom would have adored him. And his sisters. For the first time, I realized how much she had missed. The knowledge wrung grief from my heart for a second, then a voice whispered,

“Enjoy this. Enjoy this for me.”

A new responsibility covers me now at Christmas. A longing to embrace the enchantment of each moment with my family, not only for me but for her.

I’ve always loved this time of year, despite that early heartache. How everything smells like evergreen trees and peppermints taste so much sweeter. I count the months, then the weeks, then the days. And I believe something magical can happen.

Now I see it has. The One who loves me most has multiplied my joy. More than I ever dreamed possible.

Merry Christmas, Mom. You can count on me.

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The Long Loneliness

Image courtesy of free digitalimages.net

Image courtesy of Dan at freedigitalphotos.net

Last week I spoke to a friend who is a long time bachelorette. She lives alone, far away from most of her family who live in Toronto. Last week began, for her, what is becoming, more and more, a long season of sorrow over being single.

I listened.

Eventually I told my own story of sorrow, of letting go of the hope that my prince was coming soon. I told her that I lament this loss, but even in lament I rejoice because I know for certain that God is faithful and because God has been so astoundingly good to me.

She replied, “That’s not for me today.”

So I loved her by letting her talk and feel.

I loved her by listening and sharing her sorrow.

He was despised and rejected. A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.                                                                                                                             ~Isaiah 53:3

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A Boyfriend for Christmas

Photo courtesy: feelart/freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy: feelart/freedigitalphotos.net

 

There’s a Hallmark movie called A Boyfriend for Christmas. It’s the story of a young girl who tells Santa she wants a boyfriend for Christmas. Years later, when she’s given up on love, the doorbell rings and there is a handsome man with a Christmas tree who claims he’s her boyfriend and is a gift from Santa.

What a great idea — ask and it shall be given. Maybe not right away, but one day. Honestly, the thought did occur to my younger self more than once. There’s a certain appeal to the vision of cuddling with a cute boyfriend in front of a brightly lit tree, sharing the joy of Christmas.

The holiday season can certainly heighten the awareness of our single status. It is a time meant to be shared and enjoyed. At its very roots is love, so it’s understandable that we long more for the connection at this time of year.

As the season has started rolling in, something I’ve been hearing over and over is Emmanuel — God with Us. This name of Jesus forms the foundation of our Christmas celebration. It’s not a new term to me, but right now, it’s hitting a tender spot in my soul.

This past year has found me pondering the idea that maybe there isn’t a husband in my future. Maybe, just maybe, it’s God’s plan for me to be single. While a part of me screams, “Nooooooooo” at the very thought, another part of me is realizing that may be what God has in mind for me. And if that’s the case, I had better get used to the idea.

Finding my way through the emotions that come along with letting go of a dream has been hard, but the one thing I keep coming back to is that I am not alone in this. God is with me. Always with me. He’s been drawing me into a deeper place where I can take refuge in Him instead of a dream that may or may not be His plan for me.

I’ve known the name Emmanuel for years, but this year it has really come alive. It’s wrapped around my heart like a warm blanket. When I turn on the lights on my tree this year, instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I am reminded of what I do have … Emmanuel — God with Me. Really, it’s what I’ve been wishing for all those years –the comfort of being surrounded by a love so profound it gave everything it had to be with me.

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