Every time I say goodbye to anyone I adore, I close with “love you”. Every time I end a phone conversation with a family member, they hear “love you” before I hang up. Every time one of my grandchildren walks out my front door, the last words they hear from me are “love you”.
I want all my dear ones to carry those words with them whenever they leave my presence. I want them wrapped in my love and good feelings until we meet again.
For some people, that’s hard to do. For some people, those words don’t just roll off the tongue or come up easy in conversation. For some people, saying “I love you” to their own children is a difficulty.
I think children cannot hear those words often enough. I think they need to hear those words from as many people as possible. I think those words need to be sincere.
Knowing you are loved provides stability and reliability in your life. It develops self-esteem, confidence and pride. Hearing the words of love reminds you of your place in the world, in the community, in the family.
Being told you are loved makes it easier to share your own love with others. You are more likely to love and express that love. It becomes a full circle of loving begets being loved begets loving, etc.
My family knows I am going to begin and end every conversation with love words. It’s a known fact. It’s expected. If it didn’t happen, they would worry about me. Something would be wrong.
It has now become a tradition, a habit. Something comfortable and familiar that passes between two people. If it didn’t happen – if the words were not spoken – they would be missed. There would be a hole. The relationship would be changed.
But we don’t forget. We speak the precious words to each other every chance we get. Every time. All the time. Love you. Love you too. And the relationships stay strong.
I have just returned from two quilt retreats in as many weeks. Some folks told me that much intense quilting would probably kill me. But it didn’t.
In fact, it was exhilarating! It was inspiring! It was certainly a whole lot of fun! OK, it was a bit tiring. But I would do it again in a heart beat.
At a quilt retreat you join like-minded friends i.e. other quilters for a few days of sewing, laughing, sharing, learning and maybe a practical joke here and there.
At the first retreat, I and about 25 other women spent four days in a special center built for just such occasions. We had our rooms and food provided – what a luxury! All we had to do was plug in our machines and begin sewing.
And sew we did. Quilts began showing up on the design walls immediately and didn’t stop until we were forced to leave four days later.
The five newbies were a bit overwhelmed by the sounds and the sights of the big room. But the sounds of the workroom were so familiar to those of us who had been before. The hum of machines, the chatter of conversations here and there, the ring of laughter floating over all, the chime of an “AHA!” as someone finally figured out a difficult problem.
And what looked like mass confusion was really busy organization at work. Quilts were being planned, resized, sewn, ripped, resewn, quilted and bound. Advice was being given and received, knowledge shared, tips and tricks passed from one generation to the next.
All this was happening while relationships were being formed and strengthened. Actually, isn’t that what it’s really all about?
So, after four days, I came home, unpacked, washed my clothes, repacked and headed off to my second retreat. This time it was at a hotel and resort center.
I roomed with a dear friend whom I have known since sixth grade. We joined 85 men and women for another four days of quilting heaven.
Yes, I said men! We have men in this group that quilt and they are wonderful. That is one of the great things about the art of quilting, it is very inclusive.
So how do 85 people quilt together? Well, first they take over the entire Ballroom with tables, sewing machines, irons, ironing boards and design boards. It was a tight fit, but we made it.
We nearly drowned in fabric, scraps and thread. But thanks to the hotel staff that vacuumed every night, we kept our heads above water.
I have never seen such a flurry of activity anywhere in my life. It looked like mayhem, but was controlled work, in actuality. Again the quilts began to appear almost immediately.
The creativity and beauty I saw was amazing. It just kept coming, from every corner of the room. From young and old (Our oldest quilter is 89!). From skilled to newbie alike, the results were wonderful, spectacular.
Now I’m home again with my two finished quilt tops, one quilt bound and one quilt started. I got a lot accomplished, renewed friendships, met some new friends, ate very well, laughed until it hurt, learned some new tips and shared some others.
In other words, I had a perfect two weeks. The hardest part now is getting used to cooking again. Ugh!!!
My granddaughter Marie age 9, just got glasses. Come to find out her eyesight is really bad and probably has been since birth. She has compensated all these years by sitting up close, memorizing and just getting by. How frustrating must that have been? I can’t even imagine.
So now she has glasses and is worried about other kids making fun of her. She thinks she will look “goofy” or strange.
I reminded her that Gramps and I both wear glasses and she doesn’t think we look “goofy”, does she? Of course not!
I also said, “I bet you look cute as a button with those glasses on.”
She said, “Well, they are pretty cute.”
Kids get their self-esteem cues from others, so plant those good seeds right away. Tell them how wonderful they are and be specific. Tell them all their wonderful traits and tell them often.
Grandson Mac age 11 now has braces and has stopped smiling for photos. At least smiling that shows his teeth. Many other kids his age have braces but he feels very awkward about his.
I tell him about my time in braces and funny things that happened. He is not too impressed at present but we did get him to smile very nicely for the family Christmas picture.
He seems able to talk about his braces more openly now and hiding them less. All good signs of adjusting to wearing them.
We all have certain things about ourselves we think are not pretty or presentable. Many of these things cannot be changed. Some will last forever and some are only a temporary inconvenience. Whatever, we must learn to accept them.
Helping children to accept the way they look is a true gift. You are the mirror that reflects their self-image. Make sure they see only beauty and goodness in your eyes and in your words.
What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? Say a dress made of white Batiste with cranberry trim and maybe some smocking? Maybe it would have a beautiful little green ribbon running through the threads of the smocking and maybe the tie would be cranberry too?
Would that dress be the prettiest thing you ever saw? Would a granddaughter of eight years old think it was the best dress ever made for her?
Would Christmas be just that much better wearing a new dress made just for you? Would you feel like a princess in a crisp white dress ironed just so and stitched with all the love possible?
Would the pictures taken of a dark haired girl in the new white dress be all the more precious because her grandmother made the dress just for her? Would the dark haired girl feel the same because she knew the dress was meant for no one else but her?
What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? How about two new dresses for Christmas? How about a dark haired granddaughter and a fair haired great-granddaughter in matching dresses? How about Christmas memories that will last a lifetime for two?
Is that not that the best picture for Christmas? Two precious girls, in two precious dresses, at the same time? Am I the luckiest Granny ever?