I Want to be Remembered For This – (a repeat with edits)

Christmas Cookies:

Five years ago, when I was baking special Christmas cookies called Basler Brunsli, made from almonds, chocolate, sugar, egg whites and spices (hmm, I guess this makes them gluten free, as well as delicious) my grandchildren Sophie and Rowan were close at hand, faces aglow, as I removed them from the oven. They were four and eight, at the time.

Sophie, leaned over and  quietly said this to her younger brother, as he eyed the tray of small, chocolate bears. “Rowan, you need to know that Nana turns a blind eye to the cookies at Christmas.”

At that moment, I felt pure delight, if not enlightened. Like I had done something so supremely good in the world that I hadn’t even been aware of. As I looked into the faces of these dear children, I was grateful to be the one who “turned a blind eye to the cookies at Christmas.” They were unaware that I had overheard the conversation. I thought then, as I still think now, that this is enough for me. This is what I want to be remembered for.

And it isn’t completely about the cookies.

It is about the confidence they have in me that at Christmas time they can enjoy these special little cookies with ease and joy and on their own terms. When I open the freezer and see crumbs scattered and the container not fully closed, I smile to myself.

Am I worried that they will eat too many and get sick? Nope. I’m not. It hasn’t happened yet. My confidence in the ritual of certain traditions and the knowledge that chocolate is also a vitamin (vitamin CH) allows me to celebrate their joy. And that is one of several reasons why I love Christmas.

Christmas also deservedly gets a bad rap due to consumerism.  However, I mostly avoid those aspects by staying out of malls, not being caught up in the excesses of it all and concentrating on small things that mean something to me and my family. I claim my own traditions and ignore the rest.

The Christmas tree is another tradition.

In the darkness of November and December, in our northern climate, we need to warm our bodies and souls. Lights, candles, fireplaces, good food and a beautiful green tree in the house does just that for me, along with the good company of loved ones. The fragrance of the noble fir transports me to a wondrous place the moment I come in from the cold and my senses are greeted by that old, familiar smell.

As we decorate our tree, we dedicate the first few favourite ornaments to others, and say why. It turns the process into a reflective and fun event as we sometimes have tears and laughter in our remembering. After a couple of rounds we go back to finding just the right spot for whatever decoration we hold in our hands and then at random times one of us pauses (me, in this case) and says, “I want to dedicate this beautiful star to my friend, Helga,” as an example. The children always remember their family who live in different areas of the country so Grandma and Grandpa, Opa and uncle Rob, Jonathan and Michael and Great Grandma and so on…they eventually all get named.

Jolabokaflod – a new Tradition

Don’t get me wrong. I too can be overwhelmed at Christmas, yet, I still love it. This year, we are starting a new tradition, adapted from the Icelandic custom of bookgiving, called Jolabokaflod. This Sunday night the five of us will deposit our phones at the front door, exchange books, and curl up in comfy chairs in front of the tree and the fire, and read for the evening. Oops, I almost forgot that there will also be our favourite chocolates.  In Iceland this takes place on Christmas Eve, but in our family this new tradition will happen the Sunday before. I love the idea of intentionally setting aside an evening to exchange books and read together. I can’t think of a nicer tradition to start, than this particular family gathering, with time to sit and read together in front of the tree.

And so, the holidays have arrived, and all of us arrive with our own traditions of bringing light to the darkness.

However we choose to spend this time may it be with love and joy and yes, sadness, too for all of our losses. May we say yes to what is important and meaningful and no to the things that no longer matter to us.

I do urge you, nonetheless, to celebrate all that is good in your lives and not succumb to the cynicism and despair that can so easily gather in a crowd of sorrows and/or consumerism. Find your people, those whom light you up, and be that light to others.

Warmest wishes, Trudy


We Give Thanks for our Friends

I loved this little prayer, from the first time I encountered it. It speaks to me about the human condition. I reflect on the message and it somehow gives me hope, joy and peace that although we can disappoint others and ourselves, make mistakes and have regrets, we also celebrate and delight in the joy of each other. As long as we have life, we have the opportunity to mend our fences and express our love and appreciation. Thank you, to my all weather friends. With love, Trudy


We give thanks for our friends.

Our dear friends.

We anger each other.

We fail each other.

We share this sad earth, this tender life, this precious time.

Such richness. Such wildness.

Together we are blown about.

Together we are dragged along.

All this delight.

All this suffering.

All this forgiving life.

We hold it together.

From The Prayer Tree by Michael Leunig



The Wednesday Outing or A Six-Hour holiday

This is a busy time of year for most people.

It has been a little wild for me too, for several reasons, so it can be challenging to carve out time for a break. Yet that is exactly what I have done for the past two Wednesdays.  It has been amazing and I heartily recommend that you give it a try. Here’s the secret to taking a six hour mini holiday in the middle of the week.

Do it for someone else. Someone you think the world of, who you believe could use a change of pace. And then make a standing date.

All of a sudden you get to have that break which previously seemed impossible. It is such a simple formula. It’s in your calendar and you aren’t about to let your friend down, come hell or high water, as my Grandmother used to say.

So this Wednesday we went to the nearby town of Almonte and began with a visit to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. Turns out that the textile industry played a significant role in that valley and Almonte was Canada’s capital of the woolen industry. There was also a lot of pain and suffering attached to that honour, and we can look back with amazement and dismay on our past. Coincidentally, there was a special exhibit called Spirit Seeds, which is a celebration of historic Indigenous beadwork, as well as how contemporary artists continue to contribute to that legacy. So many things I didn’t know about in my own backyard, discovered in a tiny and welcoming museum.

It was a delight to then wander around this quaint and charming town, situated on the banks of a  river, waterfalls and all. Charm galore, with trendy restaurants,  shops and gorgeous architecture. It was a little wonderland only 40 minutes from home. And here’s the thing. We both enjoyed every part of the outing and came back refreshed.  We didn’t even have to drive to Quebec city. Here was refreshment 40 minutes a way. Ottawa, like many cities is surrounded by several small towns within an hour’s drive. I now want to visit them all.

Dr. Itami, of Meaningful Life therapy fame,

used outings and travel as part of his comprehensive treatment plan for his cancer patients, along with chemo. Like Dr. Shoma Morita, before him, he considered travel to be part of cultivating curiosity, awareness and attention to the world around us , which could provide a healthy way to gain temporary mental relief from our cares and also have fun. I can vouch for it, after two Wednesdays.

Even with a packed slate, it is important to take that break and do something that you don’t ordinarily do. Explore a different part of town. Try a new restaurant. Attend a concert where the music is unfamiliar. Do these things with a good friend. Say Yes, when the opportunity arises. Make a date. Do not let all other obligations stand in your way of exploring, and enjoying your neighbouring towns,  close to home.

A 40 minute drive to a small town in eastern Ontario, with a friend, became a six-hour holiday with no line-ups, security or packing. We explored, laughed, ate a great lunch and shared a dessert. And then we meandered around and drove home.

And this is how it works. Thanks to my friend, who is letting me do something for her, I get to benefit the most. So, now we are doing something for each other. Taking the time to see new things, or even seeing old things with new eyes.


Note 1:) “Oh for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,” D.H.  Lawrence

Note 2:) Thanks to my daughter who helped me keep my date today.

Note 3:) I highly recommend that you do some variation on this theme, especially when you think it is impossible. Close to home and a budget holiday that offers extraordinary value for our spirits. Thank you all for hanging in with me, here on the page. And thanks for your kind notes. I hope you have a good week. warmly, Trudy