Christmas Music

I know I said I was done with my Christmas series but I just had to share this with you as it was so lovely. My father in-law is in a nursing home and last night, he was part of the choir’s Christmas concert. It seems these days, we hear a lot about bad nursing homes and seniors’ abuse but I am happy to be able to report differently about Dad Dumais’ residence. They’re not perfect but as close as you can probably get with something where humans are in charge as we are all prone to making mistakes; the nature of the beast that we are.

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Hillsdale choir ready to entertain!

The joy of this particular home is all the activities that are available to those living there. My father in-law loves music so being in the choir is a very natural fit for him. He doesn’t need much persuasion to break out into song. He’s always ready to entertain and last night was no exception. The choir was nicely adorned in red capes and festive antlers and Santa hats. They were led by an amazing volunteer who sings and entertains with obvious joy. The seniors love her and one can easily tell, she loves them too. We enjoyed a lively hour of Christmas tunes followed by refreshments.

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Dad Dumais is in the back row with the blue ball cap and antlers! So cute!

The nursing home feels like a home not a care facility or hospital. Everyone is welcome to participate in weekly events like pubs, tours or adventures outside the home. There are fish tanks everywhere to admire, cozy sitting areas for quiet visits with loved ones, a gift shop and cafe, a library and large auditorium for big events like last night’s concert. It is a place that you can trust your treasured loved ones are being well cared for.

We had most of the family gathered for last night’s musical program. It was fun to share this time with Dad Dumais and see him so obviously enjoying himself. Though he may not always remember who we are, we confidently say he is “happily confused.” He is comfortable and enjoying life even at the age of 92 and I think that is a beautiful blessing!

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All smiles like usual!

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Enjoying refreshments and opening some Christmas cards.

Surely if this delightful man can enjoy life at his age, we can all take a lesson from him. The important thing in life is to find things you enjoy doing and do them often. Spend more time with people you care about and less time worrying about accumulating more stuff. Be aware of your blessings and be grateful for what you have instead of always wanting more. Live simply. Be Pretty, Plus and Proud of who you are and all you have done to be the amazing person that you are. Remember that actions speak louder than how you look. Be kind, loving, gentle and generous. In doing so you will experience the joy of what life is really all about!

Holiday Traditions – Wrapping It Up

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Christmas for me, is more about the feelings that are stirred up than about the tangible things like food, exchanging gifts or decorations. While all those things certainly add to the ambiance that is Christmas, it is the time spent with those I love and the memories that are made that make this time of year so special. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well cooked turkey and a brightly wrapped surprise from Santa just as much as the next gal but I love sharing stories of Christmas’ past, laughing and singing holiday songs even more. Those moments are the things I’ll treasure long after the holiday is over and I’m into my senior years.

I know this time of year can be difficult for many who are perhaps alone or missing loved ones who are no longer around. The hustle and bustle and demands of getting everything perfect can cause many people anxiety and worry over how it can all get done.

Like I’ve said many times before, I am no professional when it comes to matters of the mind, so the best advice I can give is, try to relax. If hosting a big gathering seems too overwhelming than don’t do it. Offer to help someone else host by bringing a few of your favourite foods for a potluck kind of dinner. Or just invite a few people at a time spread out over the holidays and just offer snacks, appetizers and drinks. People don’t care about fancy meals and perfect decorations or even fancy gifts. The ones who love you and understand you best only want to be in your company.

If the idea of not having the budget for gift giving has you feeling stressed, share your feelings with family and friends. Agree on a set price for gifts, make your own treasures or simply agree not to exchange gifts, deciding that spending time together is more important than the presents.

If you are feeling alone during the holiday season, then perhaps find a charitable organization that could use an extra pair of hands. Helping others will keep your mind off of your own troubles, you’ll feel good about helping someone else in need and you may even meet some nice new friends.

Finally, if you are missing someone who has passed, try to keep in mind the good memories that special someone has left behind. Being someone of faith, I like to imagine my Mom and Dad celebrating Christmas with the person who is the true reason for the season, Jesus.

If you’re still feeling out of sorts, even with these suggestions in mind, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help from a professional, who is trained in dealing with these issues. Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness but one of strength and courage.

I truly hope that Christmas or any other holiday you may be celebrating at this time of year is one that is filled with love, laughter and good cheer. Be Pretty, Plus and Proud no matter what you are doing over the next few weeks and know that someone (me) is thinking of you fondly!

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Holiday Traditions – Part 3

Holidays are almost always about food and Christmas is no exception. My Dad was a pastry chef so when we were little, we attended the hotel staff and family Christmas party. We excitedly looked forward to getting a sneak peek into the kitchen where my Dad spent his days bent over the counter creating all his yummy sweet treats. We were awed by the large mixers and huge walk in freezers. While Dad didn’t do a lot of baking at home, he usually made a few delicacies for the holidays; gingerbread cookies, shortbreads and peppermint patties (made out of mashed potatoes!).

Of course the star attraction of Christmas dinner is the turkey. The smell of it cooking in the oven never fails to make my mouth water and my tummy growl in anticipation. Other favourites are the mashed potatoes, whipped to perfection, squash, turnip, corn and carrots. Sadly, Dad is no longer with us to provide the dessert, but my sister in-law always does lots of baking at Christmas and comes laden with homemade chocolates and many varieties of classic Christmas cookie favourites.

Many of you may fear the holidays as the time when your diet is shredded and the number on the scale makes you want to run and hide. However, I urge you to look forward to the food that you probably only sample a few times a year. Life isn’t about depriving yourself of such delicious holiday traditions. Life should be about savouring all the special delicacies that the season has to offer. It’s about learning to balance the treats and healthier choices and in doing so you will avoid the inevitable binge, crash, burn and overwhelming feelings of failure and disappointment in yourself.

At Christmas it’s okay to nibble on the candy cane and the carrot stick. Be Pretty, Plus and Proud of your decision to ditch the diet, eat intuitively and enjoy the special tastes of the holiday season.

Holiday Traditions – Part 2

I realized last night, after posting yesterday’s blog installment, that I was wrong to say that Christmas was first and foremost all about the tree. Christmas back then and still today, is first and foremost, about the birth of Jesus Christ. Going to Christmas mass at our church was the biggest part of the holiday season and one I still look forward to attending. I love the old Christmas hymns, the playing out of that first Christmas in the manger, the garlands, trees and wreaths that adorn the altar and rafters of the church, the cheerful greetings of friends, family and strangers and the feelings of love and community that envelop me as I sit in my pew surrounded by all that is beautiful about Christmas.

I have said more than once that I am a woman of faith. I believe that my love of God has pulled me through many difficult times and so at Christmas, I try to be especially grateful for this blessed time and the sacrifice God made to allow his son to be born to bare our sins and eventually by giving up his life, Jesus saved us from our wrongdoings. by opening the gates of heaven. I know many don’t believe as I do and that is for each individual to decide for themselves. I don’t judge or push my beliefs on others.

Simply saying, Christmas for me is about Christ and I will keep that thought close to my heart as I prepare for the holidays. What is Christmas about for you? What are your most treasured traditions of the season? I hope you are able to Be Pretty, Plus and Proud throughout the busy days ahead and are able to enjoy this special time of year!

Holiday Traditions – Part 1

For many of us, December is a very special time of year. No matter which holiday you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or anything else, it’s a time of year to savour time-honoured traditions that have been passed on from one generation to the next.

For me, growing up as a child in Nova Scotia, Canada, Christmas was all about the tree first and foremost. My Dad was from a small Acadian village, Chezzetcook, so we would trek to the country and venture into the real woods to find the perfect tree.  No need for tree farms back then although today I suppose it would be considered trespassing and stealing for what we did to get our “Chezzetcook” tree. As we meandered deep into the forest, our Dad would show us how he, as a child, would pick gum off the trees and chew it, no Wrigley’s chewing gum back then. I think we may have tried it once and unanimously agreed to never try it again, yuck!  He would also point out the tracks in the snow, teasing us by saying they were left by bears. Of course, this would put quite a scare into us. We eventually figured it out that the tracks were left by harmless bunnies, being far too small to be left by bears. Ahh, the innocence of youth. We would eventually agree on a tree and Dad would cut it down. We’d haul it back to the old station wagon and tie it to the roof, bringing it home hoping it would pass our mother’s inspection. Sometimes it would be deemed ok, other times, we were told it was too skinny or bare. Despite any disagreement over whether it was the perfect tree or not, we would lavish it with all the old glass ornaments, garland, lights and tinsel. In the end it was always the most beautiful tree we had ever seen.

While we don’t go out into the woods anymore, picking out a tree with my husband and daughter, is still a special tradition. We always bring our good friend, Mike with us as he’s tall and we know if he can touch the top of a tree, then it will be the perfect height for our living room. Sometimes we cut it down at the tree farm, but most often we choose one that has already been freshly cut. We put it into the back of our truck and once home, the usual struggle to get it straight in the stand begins. Mike and my husband don the lights and beaded garlands, then my daughter and I take over with the ornaments. In the end, it’s always beautiful. It’s a joy to look at all the old ornaments and reminisce about when certain decorations were purchased or made.

What traditions do you have for this time of year? I would love to hear about them. Over the course of the coming week, I will share other special things I do with my loved ones while celebrating the days leading up to and including the day of Christmas.

Emotions may run afoot over the holidays so remember to stay Pretty, Plus and Proud and calm despite the hurrying and scurrying!

 

“Just Do It” Like Nike Says!

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Images in today’s blog are courtesy of Instagram posts from Posh Nail Bar and Spa, who by the way do the best nail job of anyone, anywhere! Check them out if you’re in the Oshawa area. Book your appointment today 905-240-7771, located at 1341 King St. East. 

I love this quote! Do what makes you feel beautiful and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Colour your hair or don’t. Cut it short or let it grow long. Wear makeup or go natural. Wear colourful clothing or go all black. Wear heels or flats. Use designer handbags or thrifted finds. Dance alone in your living room, grooving to your favourite tunes, enjoying the movement of your luscious curves. Wear flannel pyjamas or lingerie whether you sleep alone or with a partner. Treat yourself because you deserve it. Get your nails done and add some sparkle.

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Get a facial, a massage or a pedicure. Do things for yourself that give you confidence, that make you feel strong and beautiful. Do things that will help you conquer the world because you have it in you to accomplish. As the Nike commercials tell us, “Just do it.” Do whatever it takes to Be Pretty, Plus and Proud because that is who you are!

Who Do You Surround Yourself With?

I am shamefully aware that I have failed people in my life, both family and friends. Did I do it intentionally? No, as my intentions are always pure and kindhearted, but yes, I have failed. Alas, I am only human and while I do my best to be there for my loved ones when they need me, there are times that I may have been preoccupied with my own life and therefore didn’t give them the support they expected or needed.

I think what we can all take away from today’s blog post is this:

  • Treat others how you wish to be treated. If you want loving, supportive relationships, then be a loving supportive person in return.
  • No matter how busy you are, find the time to be with the people you care about. Surround yourself with people who do the same for you.
  • Be conscious of the people who “suck” the life out of you. While you don’t wish to be cruel or disrespectful, some people are better takers than givers. If you’re not careful they will drain you until you are emotionally dry. Limit your time with such people if you don’t wish to completely cut them loose. Be okay with that decision because you sometimes have to take care of you.
  • Apologize when you know you’ve failed and could have done better but also remember that you are human and have limits and are capable of making mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up too badly.
  • Be Pretty, Plus and Proud of who you are. You make mistakes but we all do. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. The people who count, who really care will understand and forgive your mistakes. That is because they know how amazing you are and know you’re worth keeping around. If they don’t know that, then you don’t need them either.