Paying Our Christmas Respects at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery

Sunday, December 27, 2020

 When everything in life seems to have become most of life in 2020, there remains one thing that seems perfectly normal.  That thing was the view at the Gerald B.H. Solomon National Cemetery.  That view today, during our annual Christmas visit, was just as familiar and unchanged as it's always been.  Neither Covid nor political unrest could ruin the tranquility that is always present in this military resting place.

Covid has stolen so much from us this year, not the least of which was our traditions, our hugs with friends and family, our joy and in some cases, our loved ones.  It's easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves and get distracted by our grief and frustration and by the absences of loved ones during the holidays.  Let's face it, 2020 has been a long and challenging road and no matter how much we force ourselves to focus on the positives, we sometimes drift off our path right into the ditch of despair.  Self pity is never useful and I find it important when I veer in that direction to focus on something beyond my own emotions when I can.  I always find solace and gratitude when I visit the National Cemetery.  It brings me back to reality and grounds me again, and gets me out of my self pity mood.  This visit was no exception.

Every year Wreaths Across America remembers and honors veterans by laying wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery and 2,100 other locations in the U.S., at sea and abroad.  This year the organization raised funds ($15.00 per wreath) in order to provide 13,100 wreaths in the Saratoga National Cemetery alone!  Even in these difficult and dire times, they reached their goal!  As if that weren't impressive enough, volunteers showed up to lay a wreath on every grave - despite 30" of fresh fallen snow.  Covid-19 complicated the process requiring the volunteers to work in shifts over an 8 hour day.  If that isn't impressive enough, the sight of so many wreaths on the graves of so many men and women who served our country is as humbling a sight as you can get.    Thanks to the miraculous work of Mother Nature, all 30" of snow has already melted since the wreaths were laid on December 19th leaving each wreath laying neatly against each stone.

That last one, George Durocher, is my great uncle along with the love of his life, my great aunt Harriet, 64 years of marriage and together for all eternity.  
I'm not typically a big cemetery person, but there's something humbling and centering that happens when I visit Saratoga National and see the rows of granite lined up, like soldiers tall and proud.  It reminds me that no matter the sacrifices I've had to make this past year, those sacrifices are nothing compared to the sacrifices all of these brave men and women made for our country - for you and for me.   We have given up some family gatherings and have missed our loved ones at our dining table, but my uncle left his new bride for three years to fight in WWII.  That's much more than I've ever given up for anything or anyone.  Sometimes life feels unfair and sometimes it legitimately is unfair, but sometimes we all need a reality check.   If you've never visited the Gerald B. Solomon National Cemetery, now would be a good time to do so.  Chances are, you know somebody here.  It's a sight you'll never forget and a feeling you'll want to experience again and again.  

Wishing You A Merry Christmas From Our Holiday Home to Yours

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


December is quickly approaching it's end, as is 2020, and some would say, not a moment too soon.  It's been a quiet month, here on the blog, as I've not penned one single post the entire month.  I have no explanation for my absence except that I've had nothing to share.....and yet we all have so much on our minds and hearts as we approach what is normally the most joyous time of year.

Who knew when Covid changed the world back in March that life would still be turned upside down in December?  I surely didn't suspect that 9 months after its unwelcome arrival we'd still be living life in such an unusual and solitary fashion.   And now, as we prepare for the Christmas holiday, a season of togetherness and sharing, everything feels a little less festive and a lot more lonely.  When Thanksgiving approached, I found myself in a bit of a slump, unsure if I could muster up the spirit to decorate this year.  Luckily for me, Laura (my youngest daughter) showed up ready to work, and she and the granddaughters began the annual process of lugging down the decorations from the attic and putting them in their places.  Before I knew it, with all of us working together, the house began to look cheerful and 'Christmas normal', and my dreary slump slowly began fading away.  Each year the anticipation of decorating seems a little more daunting but with my helpers it's always a little easier and their reaction to Grandma's treasures makes it all worthwhile.  

As always Christmas is present in every nook and cranny, although I admit that some things are on a hiatus this season....not that the average visitor would be able to tell. I'm more of an inside decorator - decorating for my own enjoyment, more than the neighbors.  And that is especially true this year since we won't get to host our normal holiday visitors.  If you've seen my previous holiday home tour blogs, you know that I'm big on tradition and have a 42 yr collection of sentimental ornaments and tchotchkes.  The collection continues to grow because each season I can't resist adding a few items to the mix.  I hope this virtual visit helps brighten your holiday mood, if even for a few minutes, like it's brightened mine.  Let's begin in the living room.......where the live accessories are ever changing.   See if you can spot them....

And a peek into the dining room...........

And the family room............

And some details ...........

This year I decided to pass some new crafting skills down to my granddaughters and taught them both how to embroider.  Here is the result of their one lesson, I'm pretty impressed and can't wait to see what they'll do next!  Braelyn (6) stitched the one on the left and Elena (10) stitched the one on the right.

Teaching them, I was reminded of the calming effects of stitching and decided to do a few myself.....

John and I don't exchange gifts after 42 years because we have everything we need already, but this year he surprised me with a new Shelly Broughton piece of art and I couldn't be more thrilled to add this one to my collection.  Shelly is the artist who painted my mantle gnomes, my fox and a few others.  Isn't this a beauty?

So as Christmas Day fast approaches, despite the challenges 2020 has presented, I'm reminded daily of the many blessings in my life, large and small.  While the day won't look like Christmases past and will not be spent as one family group, I am thankful to have all of my family close by and be able to spend a part of the day with each small family unit separately.  I realize many of you may not be that lucky.  I will miss being at Christmas Eve service to hear the music and raise a candle during Silent Night, but am thankful to be able to be able to watch safely online.  I'm grateful for good health, a family who is supportive and caring, a community that works hard to keep it's residents safe and a husband who stands beside me in all of my adventures and dreams, no matter how big or small.  And at the end of the day, it's not about the decorations or the presents, it's about a little child born in a manger under a starlit sky.  There was no room at the inn that night and conditions may not have been as he deserved but that didn't lessen the importance of His birth.  Covid has stolen so much from so many this members, businesses, jobs, finances and more.  On this Christmas Day, I hope you are able to take a moment to set aside the heartaches and hardships and remember the blessings of this season and why we celebrate.  I hope that you will feel the love of your family, whether they are in person or on a computer screen in a zoom gathering and that you have the most joyous Christmas.  I know that although mine will feel different, these three elves will fill my holiday with more joy than my heart can hold!  Wishing each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas!

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