A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Jan 20-26, 2011)

Friday, January 20th: January is a month of many “National” celebrations. One of January’s observances that fits in with new beginnings is NATIONAL BE ON PURPOSE MONTH. What do you want out of life? Are you living your life to its fullest? Take charge of your life. Determine what you want out of life, and who you want to be. Don’t live a life of reaction and merely rolling along “going with the flow”. Sit down today and spend a few minutes thinking about what actions you can take that will put in line with the life you want to live. Celebrate life by being on purpose, this month and the rest of the year.

Saturday, January 21st: “Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural. There are no batteries to replace, it’s inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments. It’s non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable.” ~Author Unknown. I wish I could meet ‘Author Unknown’ and give them a hug. It’s NATIONAL HUGGING DAY. First celebrated in 1986, Kevin Zaborney, created the day for family and friends to hug often and freely with one another. The day has grown tremendously since then, now being celebrated internationally. Here’s a day we should celebrate everyday!

Sunday, January 22nd: Today is a day dear to my heart. It’s CELEBRATION OF LIFE DAY! Following my cardiac arrest a year ago last October, I am truly grateful for my “second chance” and celebrate life everyday, not just on special days. Celebrate life and find joy in little ways and big. Use your good dishes for your family dinners. Wear the colors that make you feel good. Stop at the park and swing away to your hearts content. Enjoy a vase of fresh flowers to brighten your life. As Tim McGraw sings, “Live like you were dying.” What brings you joy? What can you do today to celebrate life?

Monday, January 23rd: Gung hay Fat Choy! (Or, ‘Happy New Year’ in Mandarin Chinese, if the translator is right). Today marks the beginning of the CHINESE NEW YEAR. We can celebrate two New Year beginnings. Commemorate by wearing red and gold, the traditional Chinese colors of wealth and good fortune. Decorate your home with flowers and blooming plants, symbolizing rebirth and new growth. Mandarins with their leaves still intact bring happiness for the New Year. Fill bowls of mandarins, in even numbers (uneven numbers bring unhappiness), and place around your home. Of course, my favorite part of the celebration is …. Chinese food for dinner!

Tuesday, January 24th: You gave such a nice presentation; organized and well thought out. That’s a beautiful color for you. Your flower arrangements are beautiful and natural looking. Today is NATIONAL COMPLIMENT DAY. Celebrate the day by complementing at least five people. Lift the spirits of those around you. Make their day. And you’ll feel good too.

Wednesday, January 25th: Time … we all have the same amount – 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour, 60 seconds a minute. So, where does it all go? We blink our eyes and the day is over, the week flies by, the years go faster and faster. This week is NATIONAL TAKE BACK YOUR TIME WEEK. What nonessential tasks and activities can you give up with the intent of reclaiming valuable time? Target specific chores, errands or social obligations to delegate or skip completely. Use this new found time to recharge your batteries and boost your energy and enthusiasm for life. Keep some available time for yourself by saying ‘No’, committing to fewer activities and building some down time into your schedule. Celebrate life, celebrate your own time!

Thursday, January 26th: A Celtic candied treat, an American Colonial concoction, or an 1890 accident by a New England housewife; I saw sources citing each of these as the beginning of peanut brittle. Despite the debate of how this candy came to be, it’s yummy! Today is NATIONAL PEANUT BRITTLE DAY. Months of Edible Celebrations has a peanut brittle recipe ,complete with directions, in rhyming form, on the December 18, 2007 post (www.monthsofedblecelebrations.com.) However, in the interest of ‘Take Back Your Time Week’ that is also this week; I’ll most likely be buying my peanut brittle to celebrate with!

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A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Jan 13-19, 2012)

Friday, January 13th: “Rubber duckie, you’re the oneeeeeee …” memories of the past with visions of Sesame Street’s Ernie clutching his beloved Duckie. Today is RUBBER DUCKIE DAY. (Singing is optional. However, a ring tone is available if you so desire.)

I like rubber duckies. There’s something appealing to many of us that are clearly too old for theSesame Streetcrowd anymore. I have a few myself. The adorable one sitting in the jack o lantern was supposed to go to my grandson. It just never quite made it in his Halloween box.  (Next year Mark!)

These buoyant bouncing baby toys are also popular for hundreds of fundraisers every year. Enthusiasts amass unique collections of these little rubber toys. I’ll celebrate the day and add a new one to my “flock”. I don’t think I’ll come close to the 2007 Guinness World Record of 2,583 though. Happy Rubber Duckie Day!

Saturday, January 14th: Sweaters, bandanas, hats and more. It’s DRESS UP YOUR PET DAY and the cats go fleeing. The dogs usually cooperate better; some seem to actually enjoy it. Others, well, maybe not so much. The outfits available are simply amazing. But you don’t need to go hog wild to party with the pooches. A nice little bandana will do the trick. And maybe a dog treat to sweeten the pot for the participants in today’s celebration.

Sunday, January 15th : Three tomatoes, one stalk of celery, two potatoes, one large onion, eye of newt …. oops, wrong recipe! The cold, brisk days of January makes it the perfect month for NATIONAL SOUP MONTH. Certainly not a new food, documentation shows that as early as 600 BC, the Greeks sold soup on the street, using peas, beans and lentils as main ingredients. This hot meal in a bowl packs a nutritional punch too.  Hmmmm… now just to decide: tomato basil bisque, beef & barley, green chili chicken, mushroom, chicken noodle … there’s so many soups to choose from!

Monday, January 16th: Do nothing today. No celebrations, no commemorations. It’s NATIONAL NOTHING DAY. (Pending your boss’ approval, of course.  Which means, I may be un-celebrating the nothing day.) Newspaper columnist Harold Pullman Coffin created National Nothing Day, first celebrated in 1973, “to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” Harold died in 1981, leaving a legacy of an un-holiday that would outlive him for more than thirty years. Thank you Harold, for ‘nothing’!

Tuesday, January 17th: Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit gather together to help us celebrate this week. Maybe joined by a splash of lime. It’s NATIONAL FRESH SQUEEZED JUICE WEEK. Fresh squeezed juices are healthy and nutritious, packed with vitamin C, which helps combat the dreaded winter cooties. They taste delicious and have the added benefit of no additional sugars and preservatives.

Wednesday, January 18th: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” This sage piece of advice is only one of many credited to a much beloved Winnie the Pooh. Today celebrates POOH DAY, the birth date of A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh. Although most of us know the Pooh that Disney made so popular from 1966 to now, the original Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926. He looks pretty good for a bear so old, doesn’t he? Grab a balloon and a jar of honey, don a red shirt and celebrate Pooh Day.

Thursday, January 19th: Pop, pop …. Pop …. Pop …. Hold onto your seats, it’s NATIONAL POPCORN DAY!  Not to be confused with National Popcorn Month that takes place in October, mind you. Here’s a day where popcorn reigns for the day only. These cold January evenings make for the perfect night to snuggle up with the family and a movie … centered around a huge bowl of fresh popped popcorn. See you after the movie!

The Road that leads to Medlin

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789.  A few people may believe that they’re exceptions on the tax part of that statement.  But the part about death … no one’s proven him wrong about that yet.  Death is the one common denominator that none of us can escape and it’s touched all of our lives, some more than others.

Those that share the resting place of Medlin Cemetery in Trophy Club, Texas can attest to that.  But the roads that led them all to the same resting place are so very, very different, as I discovered on Christmas Day 2008 during a mid-day cemetery hop.

The road to Medlin Cemetery began over 150 years ago.  Charles Medlin and twenty other families came toDenton Countyand formed Medlin Settlement, later called GardenValley, on Denton Creek.  When floods broke up Medlin Settlement, they moved to higher ground and formed a new neighborhood that would grow into the town of Roanoke.  Charles’s daughter, Mittie Ann loved the beauty of the small hill where Medlin Cemetery lies.  She said she would like to be buried here.  Mittie Ann Harris died in childbirth on April 5, 1850, at the age of 21.   Charles buried his daughter on the hill she admired overlooking the rolling hills of North Texas and thus began Medlin Cemetery.

As illness, tragic accidents, and old age visited the settlement, more people joined Mittie Ann at the top of the hill.  We know the stories of some of the people, most of the people we don’t know about.  Some are memorialized for a period of time with markers indicating names, dates of birth, and dates of death.  Families of more means embellished the markers with more details, such as familial relationships, or phrases such as beloved.   Scriptures or poems were often added to markers, much as we practice today. Pictorial images of doves, lambs, hearts, crosses and bibles were also common.  Some graves were marked with less permanent memorials of wood or softer stone.  Time and the elements has taken their toll and erased the names and dates and we no longer know whose body lies there.  Sometimes only a stone was placed and all we know is that someone was buried there.  Were they male or female?  Were they young or old?  Nothing is known to us.  Multitudes of graves across the world have lost even these markers and all evidence of their existence has long ago evaporated.

While walking around Medlin Cemetery, paying my respects and honoring the lives of those here before us, one grave marker in the corner caught my eye and my heart.  Charlie Earle Smith (September 10, 1888- August 23, 1890), a little boy just less than two years old.  He lays here all by himself, at the edge of the graves, no other visible family members around him, no one buried past him.  Why did he die so young?  So many possibilities exist.  It was possibly an illness such as influenza or pneumonia, possibly something genetic that couldn’t be found at that period of time, or possibly an accident such as snakebite or drowning.  Why isn’t more family buried around him?  Did he have any brothers or sisters?  Did his parents (A.M and M.H.) leave the area after his death?  So many questions, and all unknown, except for his name.  Lisa, who was cemetery visiting with me that day, found some flowers that had blown away from where they were originally placed.  They were lying all alone and she was unable to determine where they belonged.  She placed them on Charlie’s grave, a tribute to a life that once lived in Medlin Settlement, albeit a very short life.

I’m drawn to the older portions of a cemetery.  There’s something about the passing of time, the hundred or so years that have passed …. And all that remains are these monuments.  The people that shared the memories of these lives lived have since passed, taking their memories with them.  There may be old photographs of them remaining, but if there are any around, chances are they’re sitting in an antique store, probably not even with a name on it.

Though my heart is drawn to the older sections of a cemetery, I still walk through the newer parts.  At one corner of Medlin I was drawn to two graves, close to one another.  One was marked with a magnificent stately rock; a huge stone with the plaque attached to the center of it.  The gentleman had passed, leaving a poem immortalizing his love for his wife.  Being a poet and having his given name and pen name on the plaque, we thought we could find something about him on the internet.  Amazingly, Lisa discovered him and he had quite a history as a writer and poet, including work on 80 episodes of Ghostbusters in 1975 and 1986, as writer, creator and associate producer.  Being ghosthunters ourselves, of a more novice standing, it was quite fitting to discover him there.

About 20 feet away from the poet/writers grave was a marker with a beautiful rainbow on both sides that had caught my eye as I approached the corner.  The marker piqued my interest and I took several photographs of it.  The girl laying here was a young girl of 25 years.  After losing a brother at age 35 and a step son at age 24, I feel sadness when I see others that have passed so young also, before they really had a chance to live their lives fully.  Since this young girl had passed in 1989, I was curious to see if there was something on the internet about her.  I thought there may be some obscure article about a high school sports team or something relatively insignificant.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she was killed by a serial killer inKansas.  A book had been written about her death and the death of two other girls, whose bodies were never found.  I was puzzled about how she ended up in a small Texas cemetery if she lived inKansas at the time of her death.  I thought maybe her parents lived here in Texas. Reading about it in the book revealed that her parents lived about twenty minutes from her in Kansas.  Further reading indicated that the man accused of the murders was apprehended at DFW Airport.  Why did he come here to fly away?  There are plenty of accessible airports between here and Kansas, why here?  And how and why did she end up here in the same locality, although she was originally buried in Kansas, where she lived and died?  It was very puzzling to say the least.  A little more research showed that her father died here in Keller 24 years later and he is buried at the same cemetery.  I believe he’s buried next to her, although there isn’t a current marker there with his name.  I am puzzled by all of this, and intrigued by her life, although 20 years have passed since her last breath.  Sometimes the memories we leave on earth remains in ways most unexpected, like a trail of cryptic crumbs for those in the future to find and ponder about.

A Reason to … Celebrate, Remember, Have Fun! (Jan 6-12, 2012)

Friday, January 6th: I’ll buy a vowel. Today celebrates …. The Wheeeeeeel of Fortune. Debuting January 6th, 1975, WHEEL OF FORTUNE is the longest-running syndicated game show in theUS, with over 5,000 episodes aired. From its humble beginnings as a television show, the ‘Wheel’ quickly branched out to board games, then spread to computers and the Internet. Tonight, I’ll celebrate with the ‘Wheel’. I’ll pop some popcorn and watch Pat and Vanna host another episode. Hmmmm, too bad you can’t win a car or cash from the living room sofa!

Saturday, January 7th: That’s it! I’ve had it. Today is I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE DAY. I haven’t discovered the origin of this day, but it’s a perfect day to start the New Year out with.  A new year, filled with aspirations of new beginnings and change, is also a time of letting go of things that no longer serve you, be it habits, people, jobs or other bothersome issues. What is in your life that you’re not going to take anymore? Celebrate life by letting go of something today.

Sunday, January 8th: Forget the computer today. Pull out a pen and an old-fashioned piece of paper. Today marks the beginning of UNIVERSAL LETTER WRITING WEEK. Write a personal note to someone and drop it in the mail. You’ll make their day. Feeling ambitious? Try a letter a day for the entire week!

Monday, January 9th : Mmmmm …. Chamomile, green, pumpkin spice, Earl Gray, Chai, oolong, vanilla …: so many teas, so little time. January is HOT TEA MONTH. As we head into the coldest part of winter, these are the perfect evenings to sit and relax with a cup of hot tea. Have a ‘cuppa’ and celebrate the day.

Tuesday, January 10th: Who would have thought a little 48-page pamphlet would have such an impact on our country (USA) as we know it? On January 10, 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously published COMMON SENSE, a call for independence from British rule. Immediately popular, Paine’s pamphlet sold 150,000 copies in the first few months. The moving words inspired colonists and propelled us into the fight for freedom and into the birth of a new nation. And here we are, 236 years later.

Wednesday, January 11th: “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun,” says Mary Lou Cook. January is INTERNATIONAL CREATIVITY MONTH. This month take fifteen minutes a day to create. Write, draw, paint, or play with paint, glass or sculpture. Look at an obstacle or business challenge through a different view. The creative possibilities are limitless. Celebrate life, celebrate creativity.

Thursday, January 12th: “Roll out the barrel … we’ll have a barrel of fun …” (remnants of oom-pa-pa echoing in the background) It’s POLKA MUSIC MONTH. FromPrague, in 1835, this European dance craze swept throughVienna, toParis and beyond, eventually finding its way to theUS. Displaced as a popular dance by ragtime in the Twenties, the polka has become relegated to the occasional Oktoberfests. Let’s put on some polka music tonight and celebrate our musical roots. Now, if I just had an accordion!

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