Oops, My Grammer

I’m always goofing up my spelling and grammar online. I make mistakes especially with blog posts. A friend from my Writers’ Guild shared with me this video this morning and it made me laugh. Weird Al Yankovic is so funny! I truly love his videos.

The Firefly’s Secret: A Story for Children

By J. Speer

The firefly was once merely a little bug who loved the sun with all his heart. Every day he flew through the valley. He greeted his friends in the sunshine. Wally the water buffalo would say, “Hi!” Then, he would continue munching lovely green grass. There was also Greg the Giraffe who tottered high and tall near the trees. The little bug would fly past the lion, the cheetahs, and even the hyenas. He would skim across the waters of the river and visit the hippos, the crocodiles, and fly over the rhinos. The little bug loved his valley. He loved the river, the trees, the rocks. In fact, his home was a big rock on the biggest hill to the side of the valley. It was a perfect place where he could see all, including the sun which he loved most of all.

Every day, the sun rose with beautiful light. The sun burst light everywhere onto every inch of the land. It glowed. It radiated. The sun was brilliant. The little bug admired the sun. When the sun was around, the fly was happy.

But every evening, the sun had to go. The little fly did not understand why. He wanted to play in the light of the sun. The sun would lower toward the horizon and the little bug would look at it sadly. It was time for the sun to go.

The little bug would fly back to the big rock where he could look over the valley. His friends all went to their places to sleep too. The little bug sat on the rock and sighed. He was very sad. Night after night, the little bug would sit on the rock and wait for the sun to return. One night,in the glow of the moonlight above him, the little bug began to cry.

The moon watched the little bug, sad and alone on the rock. The moon lowered in the sky to glow a soft light onto the big rock. The little bug looked up at the moon and sadly smiled.

“Why do you cry, little bug?” Asked the moon.

“I’m sad. I want the sun to come back,” said the little bug.

The moon looked at the little bug with compassion. She lowered closer to the big rock and glowed a beautiful night light.

“I have a secret to tell you. It is the secret of the sun and the secret of the moon and now it will be the secret of you…if you are ready,” said the moon.

“I am ready,” said the little bug.

“One time, a long, long time ago, the sun was all alone in the dark. He sat in the darkness and he was very sad just like you. He longed for a friend. He wanted someone to help him. He was very sad. Then, one day, he grew tired of being sad. He started to focus inside himself. He created light, a tiny spark made of self-love in his heart. He focused on that tiny spark and it grew to be a bigger spark. He kept fanning the flames of the spark within until it became bigger and bigger. Now he shines with the most brilliant of lights. His light of love shines everywhere and makes everyone happy around him. That is his secret. He had to create it within before he could shine it outside.”

She continued, “Shining the light within can be exhausting though even for the sun. So he must leave to rest and recover so he can continue to shine it the next day. The sun doesn’t want to leave you, little bug, he has to leave to rest.”

The moon looked fondly at the little bug. If she could hug her little friend, she would.

“I was once like you. You remind me of myself. I too missed the sun at night. We all did, the stars and I. One day, the sun told us the secret of his ability to shine. The stars and I tried very hard to find the spark within, the light of self-love, and slowly one by one we began to light up the midnight sky. I glow for me. I love my glow. It is soft and dreamy. I have a beautiful light within…and you will too now that you know the secret of how to shine for yourself and thereby, for the world.”

She smiled, “Goodbye, little bug. I wish you the best. Shine on.”

The little bug sat on the rock alone in the dark and thinking of the moon’s words. He sat on that rock for many, many days as he tried to find a spark of love inside his heart too. He finally found it and the spark grew and grew and grew until he glowed all over with a soft, pretty light.

“Wow,” he said. He flew over the valley shining his beautiful little glow everywhere for himself and thereby, for his friends who admired it.

He passed down the secret to his children who passed it down to their descendants.

Today, as the sun starts to sink into the horizon, the fireflies come out over all the valley to glow soft little lights. They light up the valley. They are so beautiful.

Now, also the fireflies are all over the world too. Little children love and admire them. They chase after the gentle, glowing bugs. They laugh when a little firefly lets them catch them. They open their hands in wonder to stare in awe at the glow of the little firefly.

How do they glow? The children ask themselves this question.

What is their secret?

Now you, little one, little child…you know the secret of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the fireflies. The secret is within you. The secret to shining for all is self-love.

Now, how will you shine your little light inside. Focus on it. Find it. Help it to grow and you too will soon learn how to glow. And when you glow, the whole world will be a happier place.

Britney Online

I began following Britney Spears on Instagram about a year ago. I don’t remember why. I think she was suggested. Her Instagram is full of light-hearted quotes, sunshiny videos with her looking pretty and offering words of positive advice, and then there’s videos of her dancing. The dance moves are energetic and talented. She looks amazingly in shape. Her house in the background looks posh. She doesn’t post negative stuff ever.

At first, I hearted a lot of her stuff. When I would see a post, I’d generally like it. But as a year went by, I started to skip over some videos. I didn’t do this in a mean spirit. I didn’t grow to dislike her at all. I think I just figured she had enough adoring fans. She didn’t need my like. And I started to dismiss her.

Dismissed. What does this action mean? I wish I had a better brain to fully analyze the psychology of dismission.

What I do know is being dismissed hurts.

Have you ever been in a job where you were dismissed? Have you ever been in a family and dismissed? What about a friend circle? Imagine it for a moment on a larger scale like celebrity.

Is dismission mean-hearted? Yes and no. I think the intention for dismission is not inherently evil. I think it is merely indifference. But it is mean. The absence of love is not hate but often indifference.

What does it mean to dismiss? Are you outright clearly disrespectful or choosing to obviously ignore? Yes and no again. Yes, you are disrespectful and ignoring another but no, your intention again is not mean-hearted and villainous.

I think dismission is even more insidious than outright dissing someone or hate. There is no clear and visible distinction so it is very difficult for the victim of dismissal to actually articulate their feelings of loneliness and isolation. They are denied their right to fight back.

I, too, know what it feels like to be dismissed. I think we all have experienced it at some point and it is not fun. I think people dismiss Britney and they have dismissed her feelings for more than a decade. How else can you explain what happened to her and what was condoned to happen with the conservatorship? The woman could run a billion dollar music empire but aparently needed others to manage her checkbook or schedule appointments for her.

I call bull.

What happened to Britney was wrong. I find it really interesting too that the majority of her Free Britney fan base has been young gay men who probably recognized in her this dismissal, someone pushed into a closet in the dark and not permitted to shine. And shine she does. Despite all that has happened to her, her posts are positive. She is a marvel to me.

I know what it feels like to feel dismissed, on the fence between outright hated or liked. It’s not fun. I have 550 posts on my Instagram with only a small group of friends and 1 or 2 likes per post. There is no return on investment of energy. And I think that is the problem with Britney. She pours out a massive amount of positivity and energy only to be met by poor return of investment. It’s hard to keep going on any endeavor when you get poor returns in the long term. Imagine if you had ten dollars and you invested it and got three dollars back again and again. Eventually there is no point in continuing. And yet Britney has and that is commendable. Think of all she went through.

So let her dance if it makes her happy. Mind your own business if you got something negative to say out of jealousy or envy. And like her posts every now and then. The woman deserves it. She’s a survivor of an unclear, passive aggressive form of abuse. I know I will be dismissed for speaking that truth but I don’t care.

https://www.regain.us/advice/psychology/what-is-psychological-invalidation-how-it-happens-and-its-effects/

Coincidence

In his book, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey talks about love. He compares it to archery. He says, “The arrow doesn’t seek the target. The target draws the arrow.” He was probably talking about romantic love.

Many of us spend much of our lives chasing romantic love like Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner. It evades us when we force it. But if we go with the flow enjoying life and the present moment, if we stop to “smell the roses” so to speak….that love will come sit down right beside us and we don’t even have to try…much like the Roadrunner going “beep beep” to get Wiley’s attention.

Bottomline, as I get older I don’t chase love as much. For one, my knees are bad. Chasing is exhausting and makes you want to drop an anvil on someone’s head with frustration when you fail. For another reason, there’s no point in it. Policing a man or woman gets you nowhere. Love will come to us when love is ready.

Beep, beep….

But tonight, I talk of a different kind of love…the love from pets. There have been only a few times in my life that I have been drawn to something or someone like a strong magnet. One of those times is the day I first encountered my second dog.

When I saw him, I knew in my heart I wanted that dog. I didn’t go to Petsmart to get a dog. That was the last thing on my mind. I was there to get fish food. I had brought my son and one of his friend’s along to the downtown shopping district. We were just enjoying the day.

Do you believe in random occurrences or are our steps ordered in some way as if predestined? Why do I say such gibberish? I will tell you why in a moment.

This is my second dog. I took him home from the pet store that day as a spur of the moment decision. I said I’d take him the moment the volunteer said his name.

Slushy.

Such an odd name for a reddish brown border collie like this:

Slushy was his name.

Why would that name make me instantly buy him?

This picture right here:

A 1982 Slushy doll on sale.

In 1982, my grandma bought me an Avon toy called Slushy the dog. I carried Slushy everywhere. I slept beside Slushy. I ate beside Slushy. Slushy never left my side….for years. He was my favorite toy comparable to a favorite blanket. I loved Slushy with all my little girl heart.

Slushy.

How is it possible that years later I would encounter the real life look-alike to my favorite childhood toy friend? Coincidence? Random fate? Or something more…

Today, I type this by the fireplace as Slushy sits beside me napping. The fire is warm and toasty. He is resting. His eyes are closed but I know if I shift just a little, he will open them to peer at me curiously….my toy brought to life in later years, just when I would need him most. I would need his friendship once again.

I sleep beside Slushy curled up near me sometimes. I eat beside Slushy. Once again, we are inseparable. And we will probably be inseparable to the end of the road for one of us, whomever that might be.

The Unconditional Love of Dogs

Man’s best friend.

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate romance. But what of the other types of love, including the love for our pets?

I have two dogs. One is a mix of different breeds, probably Italian Greyhound and Jack Russell. That’s what my vet said. To me, he’s just a little white dog I got at the pound.

I tore my ACL in my knee and was limping around. In a few weeks, I planned to have surgery to repair it. It was a Saturday afternoon when the kids and I drove out to the Humane Society.

I did not pick the little white dog at first. In fact, no one seemed interested in him.

He sat in a steel cage alone in the small dog room. He looked miserable. He didn’t seem excited by my arrival like some other more bouncy dogs. He didn’t bark nor make a noise. He lay with his back facing me. I bypassed him and went to a cuddly little black furball dog and a few other cute and energetic ones.

We played with the others and were set on the black furball pup. Then one of the volunteers brought the little white dog out of his cage to clean the cage.

That’s when I realized exactly why everyone bypassed him…..he limped around on three legs. There was something wrong with him. I looked down at my own busted knee.

“What happened to his leg?” I asked the volunteer curiously.

“He needs a minor surgery on the ligament. Sometimes some breeds of dogs like Chihuahuas and such can be born with a leg problem.” She said sympathetically.

His leg was messed up. So was mine. We seemed fated to be together I suppose. We took the quiet, little white dog home that day. We named him Gizmo.

He had surgery for about $170 at the vet clinic. My knee surgery cost much more in the thousands. I shoulda had the vet fix my knee.

We walked together a lot in the weeks that followed. I hobbled along behind him grimacing in pain every now and then while he still hopped around on three legs. My knee got stronger every day with his help. Eventually he figured out too that he could step down on that fourth leg and it would work. I remember watching him that moment. He gingerly placed the leg down as if afraid of the pain but soon found there to be none. Now he bounces around the house. He runs and plays and wrestles with our other dog.

Nothing makes me smile bigger after a long day of work than to be greeted by the dogs at the door. I do believe all dogs go to heaven. They seem to bring out our better nature. Over the years, these dogs have greeted many visitors to our home with equal measure of love. Young and old. Pretty or not so much. Thin and thick. It doesn’t matter to them. And I think that’s what I like about dogs best. How unconditional their love and support can be. They treat every person like a good friend.

Yes, cats are softer and fluffier and easier to take care of. But a dog will lay beside you when you’re feeling blue. So this Valentine’s Day, remember not just the romantic love but also the love of companionship, an unconditional love mastered by dogs.

Castle Frankenstein

In 2002, I was working with the Department of Defense Finance & Accounting Service. About once a month, I would travel from Grafenwoehr, Germany to DFAS headquarters at Kaiserslautern to hand-deliver financial records for the US Army Transportation Management Center for Europe.

On one trip, I finished early and took the autobahn back home. I saw a sign around the Mannheim and Darmstadt area for Burg Frankenstein. This immediately piqued my interest. I had time to spare so I took a short excursion to the castle said to inspire Mary Shelley to write her gothic novel, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818. Today, we know this story through Halloween and classic hit movies as the story of a monster come to life by a mad scientist through the channeling of a lightning bolt.

But did you know that there really was a mad scientist?

Castle Frankenstein is all mostly in ruins now. In 2002, it was still quite large and stunning, however. I remember the stones being almost red. I remember walking through the ruins alone and up the stone steps to the towers. The place is supposed to be haunted.

The castle was built around 1250. It was sold in 1662 and used as a hospital for a while before falling into ruins. By the time Mary Shelley may have seen it in 1814 when she visited the Rhine region and a small town called Gernsheim, 10 miles away, the castle would have been in pretty bad shape. No one knows for sure if Mary Shelley went there but it is believed her stepmother, who was a translator for Brothers Grimm stories, had first heard the story of the mad scientist and passed the story on to Shelley.

Who is this mad scientist?

His name was Johann Konrad Dippel. He lived at the castle or near the castle sometime around 1673. He invented what he called an “elixer of life” that was said to cure many diseases. Johann was a professional alchemist, a medieval term for a chemist. According to rumor, Johann also did anatomy and some even speculated that he exhumed bodies for his research.

There are other fascinating and mysterious stories associated with the grounds around the castle. Supposedly, there is a fountain of youth nearby that turns old women into young girls on Walpurgis Nacht. There is also a story of a knight fighting a deadly dragon.

The most interesting story I found is located on Mt. Ibes. This is the location of a collection of magnetic stones. Compasses do not work on Mt. Ibes. It is a place supposedly where ancient rites, rituals, traditions take place according to the old ways of the Franks, the previous Germanic tribes that lived in this area. Frankenstein literally means “stone of the Franks” which could be related to this magnetic stone circle phenomenon. Mt. Ibes is supposed to be a sacred and respected place.

Sadly, I did not take pictures of the trip. This was 2002 prior to the arrival of the smartphone. and it was just a side excursion from the autobahn. It was one of those “spur of the moment” decisions that I will never regret. Some day it would be great to see the Castle Dracula too.

There is another place close nearby there along the border with France. The paranormal story from this place was called The Bleeding Nun and it is featured in another gothic classic written by Matthew Gregory Lewis called The Monk. The bleeding nun is an apparition that appears at Castle Lindenberg and warns you of giving in to lustful desires as it must have led to her demise. The Monk was published in 1796.

The only other story I really love from the Rhineland region is probably The Lorelei. She is a beautiful apparition that sits on the rocks just above a dangerous turn of the Rhine River. She was jilted by a faithless lover and committed suicide by casting herself into the waters of the Rhine at that spot and drowned. Now, she seeks revenge on sailors or other male travelers on the Rhine river. She sings a wondrous tune just like a siren. She is said to be exquisitely beautiful and also…..deadly. Men who see her, generally swim towards her….only to drown in the treacherous rapids below her. She became the inspiration for a portion of the small adventure book I wrote, Searching for Fire.

Here is a nice link to a BBC article with pictures of Castle Frankenstein. Thanks for reading this and have a gute nacht, freunde.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20161018-germanys-most-monstrous-castle

The Reaper

A few years ago, my daughter and I developed this outline for a Grim Reaper story. It is an apprentice story with a love interest and involves an interesting figure from the Bible. I never got much further with this piece. Here’s what we developed thus far. Maybe some day we will get back to collaborating together on something like this.

Outline for story:

A young boy’s parents die in a car crash.  They are coming home from vacation when the car is hit by a semi-truck and forced off a bridge and falls below into the forest.   The boy is the only survivor of the accident but barely.  He is really close to death.  He witnesses a dark entity near his parents. It is the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper takes the souls of his parents.  He thinks it is a hallucination and he is trying to focus but is in and out of consciousness.

The dark entity comes closer to him. The image is burned in the back of his mind and he wonders if he really did stare death in the face that night.  Death chooses not to take the boy because he sees something special in him. The entity leaves.  

Later on, the boy goes to a foster home.  He grows up in Detroit. He later joins a gang in a bad neighborhood he lives in but he only joined the gang to survive on the streets.  One night, one of the gang members goes too far and wants to steal from a shop.  A cop comes to the store from out of nowhere.  The gang member wants to shoot the cop but the boy says no and he jumps in front of the cop saving the cop’s life.  He starts to bleed out on the streets.  The other gang members run away.  The cop is with him talking to him but the voice fades as he begins to feel the presence of some thing he felt so long ago……alone in the forest. 

He closes his eyes.  He is in his subconscious, in a Midwest field.  Death is sitting there and offers him a spot.  Death says, “Sit down, we have much to talk about.”  The boy asks, “Am I dead?”  The reaper replies, “Close, but not entirely.”  Death gives him a choice to go and rest in peace with the other retired souls or to become the next Grim Reaper, his apprentice.  In return, the Grim Reaper will retire. 

The Grim Reaper plans to go where no man can find him until he finally passes on into nothingness.  The Grim Reaper explains his origin. 

He is, in fact, Abel.  He is the first man murdered and betrayed by his brother, Cain. He was the very first person to die here and his spirit wandered in loneliness and despair until he found a place of respite for souls.  He chose then to become a spirit guide to aide other souls that have passed on. He helps them to find this afterlife. He wears the dark cloak to disguise his true identity. He has allowed the horror stories of his alter-identity to perpetuate over the years in order to protect himself and the afterlife souls. He is actually a force for good in the world.

The Grim Reaper is, in fact, essential to our planet.  There must be natural order in the world and he helps to preserve it against the evil deeds of Cain’s descendants.  He needs a young apprentice to carry on his work though as he has grown weary. 

If men could live forever, the world would be chaos……there would be overpopulation and the world would be run by old and hardened souls.  It would be a place of darkness and greed.   The world needs the younger people in order to keep the world full of light and hopeful, pure, and innocent.   

The boy apprentices and Abel disappears into retirement.  But there are men, these descendants of Cain, who want to live forever and they are plotting to destroy the Grim Reaper’s apprentice.  A secret organization plans to eradicate the cycle of life and achieve immortality.  They seek to capture death.  

The secret organization wants to rule the world.  They take the unwanteds in society – the homeless and the downtrodden and orphans – they harvest their souls in order to stay younger in this life.  The Reapers, both the boy and Abel, have seen what they do but are helpless to stop it.

The secret organization goes after the apprentice.  The apprentice meets a young girl from a house fire.  Rather than reap her soul, he rescues her. Eventually, they fall in love.  

They search for the retired Abel.  They find him but the secret organization has been tracking them.  Abel is captured and defeated.  He begins to fade into the shadows and tells the young apprentice that it is his turn now and the world needs him.    

The young boy and girl escape the secret organization but he is still not ready.  He must learn more and acquire more skill and discipline.  He must find a way to stop the descendants of Cain and in the mean time, he will continue his reaping and training.  The girl has chosen to join him on his mission.  In the final scene, the young reaper and girl head off together. 

If You Love Poetry…

If you love poetry…

I’ve found a great place to submit your work! It is a little newspaper called The Webb City Sentinel located in southwest Missouri in the Joplin area. The submission process is simple and free. If your work is approved by the poetry editor, it will be shown on the online portion of The Webb City Sentinel. Here is the announcement on their site. I love this. I love what they wrote:

“I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.”

Billy Collins, 2001-2003 United States Poet Laureate   

We want your poetry. We want poetry from your children and your grandparents.We want poetry from seasoned poetry veterans and those just putting ink to paper (or, finger to keyboard).

We want to feature them here in Webb City’s “newspaper.”  Then, we want you to print them out and slap them on your refrigerator, carry them in your pocket, give them to someone special.  We want your poetry on the school bus to Mark Twain and Eugene Field, while you’re waiting in line at Crazy Llama and the Sub Shop, and while you’re walking around King Jack and the Frisco Greenway Trail. 

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got.

Here is the link to the submission board:

I was super fortunate to be listed on their site recently. Here is the poem I submitted:

Little Pawn

by Janea Speer

My whole life, I admired the King and Queen.
Serene, graceful, and applauded.
Powerful and strong….aggressive.

Yet hiding behind the defenses of the lesser pieces.
As I became older, I pondered the knight or the bishop,
how they could think outside the box and level the playing field.

But, in my older years, I admire the pawn.
The one to first enter the fray with honest courage.
Who risks much although so little…..
One by one, swiped from the board unceremoniously and yet…
Relentless, undeterred, defiant against odds so stacked heavily against.

Yes, some days even the little pawn sees glory
when faced with such intimidating adversaries.

With this blog, I also wanted to do a shout-out to the poetry editor there. I met him in Fall 2019 at the Joplin Writers’ Fair at the Joplin Public Library. There were many great local authors there showing their books. He was at a table across from mine and was nice and friendly. We talked about publishing books and Ray Bradbury and joining writing clubs. It was fantastic to meet someone with an avid interest in reading and writing and helping other authors. He recently published a new work to help authors too.

His name is F.C. Schultz and here are a few links to some of his books. Type in his name on Amazon and you will find, on his author page, a large group of books he has written or co-written.

My daughter read the book titled The Rose Weapon and she did think it was quite good. It is a Viking story about fire-breathing dragons. There is a sequel to this book as well called When Embers End.

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.