Well, I’ve Gorged Myself on Pancakes, So Now What?

A final feast before the fast.

Shrove Tuesday.  Pancake Tuesday.  Mardi Gras.  I love me some good pancakes.  A good string of beads is fun too. So I’m not complaining.  But I’m not going topless through the streets, whether in New Orleans or not.  The waistband of my jeans was complaining last night after a feast of blueberry pancakes and sausages.  But oh boy, they were good.

So now what?  Now we have what we Catholics (and lots of other Christians) like to call Ash Wednesday.  What is Ash Wednesday?  Well, the history of it all and a pretty good explanation can be found here.  Basically it signifies the start of Lent.  What is Lent?  Well, that explanation can be found here.

But what does it mean to me?  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about that lately.  So here goes.

I was born and raised Catholic.  Baptized as a baby, attended Catholic school for elementary and secondary.  Even the year of university that I managed to squeeze out was at a Catholic affiliate college.  I attended church every Sunday growing up, with my Mom and Memere.  Hardly ever missed.  Usually I quite enjoyed it.  Especially when there was a priest at our parish that worked really well with the people.  There are a couple of priests that I can think of from as I grew up that were wonderful men, who helped me be excited about my faith, who helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am so thankful to them for all that they had to offer to my childhood and adolescence.

Somewhere in my late teens, I got away from the church a bit.  One priest that I was particularly close to was transferred after many years with us and I had a really hard time getting used to his successor.  Not that he wasn’t a really nice man, he just didn’t mesh super well.  I strayed away slightly.  Then, as I got closer to where Joe and I were planning to get married, I found my way back, attending mass in London where we lived.  We attended together as a couple, and it felt good to be back into the swing of things again, to belong to a parish again.

Eventually though, we strayed again.  I would go through spells, attending mass with my Mom, especially when we moved back into the rural community I was raised in.  But there was no regularity to my attendance.  When I had my son, I had him baptized in our church, as it was important to me that he be raised in the faith, and attend separate school as I did.  But here I was, not attending mass myself on a regular basis, or making sure that my son was exposed to it the way I thought he should be.

I felt slightly detached I guess.  My beliefs were still there, but I wasn’t really following through on them.  I would kneel beside my sons bed every night and say his prayers with him, but then when I went and crawled between my own sheets I wasn’t saying any myself.  Going to church was a thing that was always there in the back of my mind, slightly nagging.  Every Sunday morning when I got up, I knew my Mom was at home, getting ready to go, and that she would be super excited to swing by and pick us up on her way.  But I chose to spend the morning cuddling with my kid instead.

I think that part of the reason that stopped me from starting back was that whole – the longer you’re away, the harder it is to go back – thing.  I knew I shouldn’t feel that way, that I was welcome and would be accepted back with open arms whenever I was ready to go.  But that didn’t really make it any easier.

A couple of weeks ago, I called up my Mom and the boy and I went to church with her.  Again last week.  It’s a start.  He is starting school in the fall, and I want him to at least understand why we enrolled him in a Catholic school.  I want him to have the same foundation that I have.  What choices he makes in his life when he is older will be his own, but I want to lay the groundwork so that, combined with the values and morals that his father and I hope to teach him, he will have a running start in the world.

And maybe there’s still hope for his mother too.

Family Day

Back in the "good old days."

Third Monday in every February.  Here in Ontario, we call it Family Day.  Or, we call it an excuse for a long weekend in February.  Either way, I’m good with it.

The picture on the left was taken in the summer of 1987.  I was 9 years old, turning ten in about a month.  I’m in this photo, though I’m not about to say where, as it is slightly embarrassing.  My Uncle Fern had died a few days previous and so many of my family from Sudbury were down for the funeral.  So what did we do?  The only thing we could do when my Pepere and Memere were around and there was family visiting: have a party.  Get lots of food, lots of drink, and lots of good music and celebrate.  In this case some lightening of spirits was definitely required, as everyone was obviously gathered to mourn the loss of a brother, uncle, cousin that was taken far too early.

Growing up, I remember quite a few gatherings like this.  To my Pepere and Memere, family was everything.  Family were friends.  Family was who you hung around with when you wanted to have a good time.  There were always relatives coming from up north and elsewhere to visit, sometimes for weeks at a time.  I also remember summers when Memere and Pepere would get in the car and disappear for 2 weeks or more.  Moving around from family member to family member, visiting.  Of course it was rare that they went anywhere that Pepere didn’t build something before he left, a porch, a table, a deck, etc.  He always left a piece of himself everywhere he went.

It seems though, as I’ve gotten older, and he has passed on, that things really aren’t like they used to be.  Relatives that I remember from growing up, I haven’t seen since his funeral 15 years ago.  Not that this is anyone’s fault, it just seems as though as one generation leaves us, and our generation has become the adults, things have changed.  We still are family, but it seems like we’ve separated from each other.  When my Mom was younger, they spent the summer travelling around visiting family.  Now that I am grown and have a family of my own, we don’t do that anymore.  We’re obviously busier, women aren’t housewives and stay at home Moms the way they used to be.  We’re working, and when we get a week off here and there, we’re tired!  What time we do spend travelling is usually spent on a vacation for our own little immediate family – a weekend in Niagara Falls, a week at Disney World – something to make up for the times that we don’t get to spend with our kids, and to create memories for them like we had growing up.  Except sometimes I think I forget that some of my greatest memories growing up were not the time in Niagara, or the trip to Disney, though they were amazing.  The times that stand out to me are the weekends where family came to visit.  The trips up north to my Uncle Claude’s cottage on Manitoulin Island.  The yearly horseshoe tournaments.  The trips to Florida – not because of Disney as much, though that was awesome – but to visit my Uncle Bill and his family.

Life has changed so much since those days.  Sometimes it seems hard to just keep it together, to keep in touch with those that we consider close friends.  Life gets in the way.  It gets so busy.  We grow up, get married, have kids.  There are work schedules, school schedules, practices, meetings, appointments.  When the weekend comes, we often just try to catch our breath, not just hop in the car to drive a few hours to visit friends or family.  The same thing is happening with those friends and family, so they hardly have time to visit us.  It almost feels like I wish we could hit the pause button, just for a little while.  So the phone stops ringing, and time stops tugging at my pant leg, saying “hey, lets move!”

The point of this post isn’t to say that we should get those days of old back.  Because deep down I know that isn’t going to happen.  Life isn’t going to slow down any.  If anything, it’s just speeding up, which I’m really noticing as I get older and watch my child grow.  I guess what I’d like to do is just acknowledge those days, and strive to bring at least a little of that back.  Stop and take a few minutes to smell the roses, so to speak.  Call a friend, or a family member.  Or just remember, and try to pass a little of that legacy, and those values, onto our own children.

Happy Family Day!

WAY back - a bunch of family that were the best of friends.

So Christmas is Done…

Done, packed up, and put away.  I’ve been on vacation for 5 days, and I’m not quite sure what I’ve accomplished.  I guess I accomplished Christmas.  Christmas with a three year old.  It was really cool, cause he is really starting to understand that when he goes to sleep on Christmas Eve, Santa is going to come, and bring him a ton of toys.  Which is actually a pretty cool concept.
Having a child has really put Christmas and its meaning into perspective for me.  A few years back we all agreed in our family, mostly for financial reasons, that we would quit buying each other Christmas presents.  That we would focus on Christmas for what it is supposed to be – a time for being with family and friends.  This has been wonderful actually.  I haven’t really missed the gift exchange at all.
The last couple of years we have kind of slipped back into the gift giving practice.  It’s hard for Christmas to come and go without getting at least a little something for the people you love the most.  Now that I have a child, well of course I’m going to buy for him.  I can’t rely on Santa for everything now, can I?  Watching him though on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning really makes me appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.  Seeing him so excited when we switch the countdown in our house “3 more days till Jesus’ Birthday, and Santa comes and brings gifts for everybody!”  It fills me up to the brim with love and excitement for the little guy.  Watching the magic take him over takes me over, and everyone around us.  It’s contagious.  
So I’m on vacation, and there were at least three or four books that I figured I would be finishing this week, but um….nope, hasn’t happened.  I’m trying to find the time to finish the one I have on the go, let alone finish all of them.
2012 is around the corner.  Does anyone have any resolutions planned?  I joined a gym in September and my membership has lapsed in the last few weeks, to say the least.  Gotta get back at that.  I find that I start off every year with a bunch of resolutions and none of them ever end up panning out.  Maybe I’ll just make a resolution to try and better my life all around.  Try to be healthy, try to be happy, try to read as many books as possible.  Sounds good to me.  
See you on the flipside.  All the best for the year ahead. 

Do You Sing in the Shower?

I used to.  I was showering this morning though, and I realized that I don’t anymore.  I don’t know why I thought of it, I just did.  I used to sing in the shower all the time.  I mean come on, with those acoustics, we all sound fabulous in the shower!

So as I shampooed my hair, I started really thinking about it.  Why don’t I sing in the shower anymore?  Is it because I’m afraid of getting told to shut up?  Hardly.  After some thought, I decided that it is similar to “stopping to smell the roses.”  I’m certainly not too busy to sing in the shower, cause hey, I’m in there anyway.  I think I just don’t because I’m spending my time thinking about other things.  That stuff I have to order when I get to work.  What I’m going to make for supper tonight.  I have to get the house cleaned this week, before our company comes on the weekend.  Ugh, especially this shower!

Life takes over.  There are too many other things to do and too many other things to think about so we forget to stop and enjoy the small pleasures.

I for one, am going to try to change that about myself and stop to smell the roses sometimes.  Or just do my thinking as I dry off and stop and enjoy the hot water and belt out a show tune or two.  I apologize in advance to anyone within hearing distance.