Holiday Greetings: Ringing in the Last Month of 2015

Ringing in the Last Month of the Year: Happy Holidays 2015

Greetings of the season, Stumbler readers! I stopped by to change the seasonal colors — naturally, I forgot how that is done, so had some fiddling around to do…not positive this is the one that will stay. I really like this one, but it comes up way too much blue:

© debra valentino

snowy tree branches

I thought while I was here I should at least wish you a happy month of crazy. How are your festivities going, if you are one who celebrates Christmas?

For starters, I decorated our mantel for our grand baby the way I used to when the kids were small.  I thought it would be a good idea because it’s so child-friendly, but then I realized the style is looking sorely out of date…even if the garland does light up. This was just a quick job to get some of the decorations out of their boxes, but still…I think it needs a little sprucing up; perhaps a new banner (which will one day become outdated as well). Still, I would love to find the time to craft one:

mantel decorations


I always loved those blocks that spell out “Merry Christmas.” My goodness, they are a year or two older than my oldest child! The doll on the top reminds me so much of my mother. She loved Christmasy dolls. The nutcrackers always make me think of my son–except that this year when I asked my daughter if she wanted any of my old Christmas decorations, she surprised me by saying, “Maybe just the nutcrackers.” The Bambi in the back was my son’s, and he loved the nose on that little thing. Each of those stuffed toys has memories. Of course, we move the stuffed animals before we light the fire!

I used to put the whole collection of stuffed animals in one big basket, but in all the rush to move to help with my mother before she passed away, I now have no idea whether I even still have that basket. I got a lot of use out of that Moses-style basket, but for the life of me cannot recall where its origin. I think that is one of those facts I lost with my head injury–I used to know every minor thing, it seemed. I do remember, fortunately, that before that basket (the one that’s not even pictured in the photo above) was the stuffed animal house, it was an Advent Book Basket. That is because, long before Pinterest was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, I came up with a Christmas idea for my children: I wrapped new books for them and allowed them to open one each day after school during the season of Advent. They were so young they were enchanted simply by the idea alone that each book was “a gift.” They enjoyed unwrapping the colorful papers. Then, they were anxious to explore the book of the day, and easily became enchanted by the story. It was a great way to get them reading.

To this day, one of my most favorite Christmas memories is the quiet that fell over this very family room, as both kids and the hubby sat reading silently. It was truly beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, I took a photo today while I was walking the dog. I tried editing it with a new app on my phone, and this is what it rendered:

© debra valentino, all rights reserved

photo taken on walk, December 2, 2015

I think it’s a spectacular image. It was a really gray, dreary day today, and the branches on this tree seemed like some sort of crescendo to the wind, which seemed colder than I expected. I walked cautiously, as the news of yet another mass shooting was unfolding, this one in San Bernardino, California. It seemed the school children were dismissed early, and I started paying attention to parents pulling up in a way I never have before, thinking what I would do if someone opened fire the way they were doing in California today.  Then, when returned home and I saw the heart shape in this image centered in the clouds above, it felt like some loving spirit had been present, perhaps weeping over the tragedy of the lives lost. I guess we have to try to make meaning when so many random acts of violence go unexplained. This picture is already so special to me, and I just shot it this afternoon. I hate what happened in San Bernardino, but as art often does, this photograph brings me comfort and joy. I love in it the contours of color and the contrasts of shape and texture.


Well, I guess after 61 days of writing here I got so used to writing that I just had to return. I’m hosting a cookie baking party next weekend, and maybe I’ll return to blog about that. There is so much to do and to document in the month of December, as you likely understand. Last year, our Christmas holiday was a somewhat quiet one. This year, our Thanksgiving holiday was quiet–but super wonderful–just hubby and me. He was recovering from hernia surgery, so we stayed home alone and listened to some great music, and just ate a small turkey meal with all the fixings by candlelight. At first we were depressed about not seeing the kids or any friends or family, but it turned out so lovely that in the end we were sort of rejoicing. We had peace and quiet, not a lot of cleanup, and we got to rest completely commotion free, which was what my husband especially needed. He’s still not 100%, but sleeping soundly as I write. I know he will be so happy in the morning when he receives the notification that I’ve posted to the blog. He is always so supportive of my writing. I love that about him.

As for you, dear readers, I hope you will be able to go with the flow as much as possible this holiday season. *It’s not about how much you do!* It’s about how it feels. I guess that is why I came back to write. Writing makes me happy. It’s only been a few days, and I already missed it and everyone here. We should never underestimate the good fortune of being able to read, or (as I know too well) of being able to write.

Happy December 2015!

**HOWEVER**: It’s not about how much you do…HOWEVER…if you would like a wee bit of help organizing your holiday tasks, here is a link to some free planning pages: FREE HOLIDAY PLANNING LINK



© debra valentino,, all rights reserved


6 thoughts on “Holiday Greetings: Ringing in the Last Month of 2015

  1. I wanted to send you a private email but was not sure where to do that. Please send me your email if you don’t mind. The blue in your first picture is beautifully blue, if there’s such a phase? As far as the Christmas deco, I have been the same way about mine. I pull out the box and say, geez how old is this? So I have begun (a couple of years ago) buying what pleases me, that is new decorations. I don’t throw old out, just incorporate new or I reminisce about where and when this ornament came into my life, and put old away. Thanksgiving was a big change for me too. It was extremely quiet, but I embraced my time with my blanket and a book. Seriously, I ignored all of the shopping trends and stayed at home (except the club to work out) and just read my book. I think they call this being present Deb. Anyway, keep up the writing as I do enjoy reading what you write early in my mornings. Happy Holiday to you and your family.


    • Sandy, I love the phrase “beautifully blue”! That is so musical–and I took that photo, believe it or not, right here in our hometown (near the Lutheran Church on School St.)–but that is the sky of a mountain town, amazingly free of any trace of air pollution! I love your entire comment, and am so glad you went ahead and posted it. You can always reach me on Facebook messaging, or email me at I am so glad that you have turned out to be a reader. I would love to start a local book or poetry group, but you are still rather far from me. I’m grateful we can connect here. Yes, you are indeed “being present” and I feel like the lucky beneficiary–but of course, it is you and your family who most benefits. Enjoy your day, though the news is sad, we can at least hold hope for better days.

  2. Deb, what a warmly wonderful blog post! I felt like you and I were having coffee talking about the decorations and events of the day. I really love the photo you took today. The more I look at it, the more things I feel it has to say. Have a wonderful holiday season!

    • Oh, Cheryl, what a compliment! And what a nice thought, having coffee together, discussing the simple pleasures and deep concerns of the world. I am privileged by your readership and your friendship. Thank you so much for your touching comment.

  3. oh Deb, it is early on Thursday morning, and I have been hidden away since I left facebook Tuesday night, I have not even checked email or turned on any news online (do not have tv so do not watch news) this is the first I have heard of the shooting in CA. I’m so upset right now, I long to reach back out to the safety of my friends on facebook and yet know that right now I need to take this time away. I’m scouring the internet now to see all the damage and see what I can learn, yet this is part of why I left facebook, to get away from the negativity. oh how I want peace for this world and for our country and ………. oh how I just want peace.
    I pray for you and for your family a happy December and a happy holiday season, your mantel looks so happy and nostalgic. Thank you.

    • The news this morning continues to be riveting, Heidi. Know that by studying for your finals you are doing what good students do. I never saw any tv the entire time I was in college. To this day, I don’t know anything about much of the pop culture of that time. I was immersed in books, learning, and preparing for exams, as you are today. We didn’t have terrorists back when I was a student, so it was easier to concentrate, at least in that respect. I am so sorry you had to learn this news on Stumbler. I’m also flattered by your readership–it almost makes me feel special, knowing what a busy time you are experiencing. I’m wishing you good health and clear thinking along with the pride of accomplishment that comes from completing one’s final exams. I already know you will do well. As for the math, just breathe, and know that it is very good for your brain!

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