Tuesday, December 23, 2014


While every Christmas is a joy to me, over the years, a few of them have held moments so special, that each season I dust off my memories to replay them in my heart.  They conjure up feelings of love, warmth and family, and with them, the knowledge that on that particular Christmas, the real spirit of the season was not lost in all the wrappings and trimmings. It is what we chase after each year in our efforts to replicate the magic, but it is like trying to catch the wind; it happens when it will, graces your life for a few glorious moments, and then vanishes as quickly as it came. The only constant in each of the moments, is that family always played a part in them, and, that no matter how they unfolded, the passing of the years does nothing to diminish the happiness that revisiting them brings me.
The oldest one is of a Christmas when I was about ten years old, when my mother had given my brothers some sort of gyroscopes as gifts.  While I can't remember their exact words upon receiving them, I CAN remember the laughter that followed. While it may not have been the response she had anticipated, their reactions were priceless, and, best of all, she had also purchased a tape recorder for the family that year, and, unbeknownst to us, placed it under the couch to record the evening's gift-giving.  We replayed the moment over and over, and although sadly, the tape was lost over the years, the memory of the laughter never has been.
Another one is of Christmas shopping with my brother Martin, when I was about 20.  I can't even remember who or what we were shopping for, but I vividly recall that it involved going to MANY stores and passing the MANY Salvation Army bell-ringers that stood outside of them. Whatever gift we were in search of kept eluding us that year and I remember practically running after my brother to keep up with his quick pace. The only time I could pause to catch my breath was as my brother would stop to place a donation in each kettle and then wait for me to do the same.  By the time we passed the fourth bell-ringer though, I felt I had met my donation-giving quota, so I started to walk by without making one.  My brother, however, did not follow.  
"You didn't put any money in the pot." He said to me. 
"I know," I answered.  "I already made a donation at the last three."
His brow furrowed for a second, as he reached into his pocket and made one for me, and then, when out of earshot of the bell-ringer, he stated simply, but firmly, "Never pass a bell-ringer without making a donation."
While my brother might not even remember that moment, I have never forgotten it; nor have I ever passed a bell-ringer again without making a donation. That moment lived on as I would retell it to my daughters as they grew up, and proved particularly costly to Holly and Gina.  They both worked at Kmart while in high school and they had to pass a bell-ringer every day that they went to work. I remember they asked if being employed at a store exempted them from giving and I answered simply with a furrowed brow.
Other moments come to mind, as well.  Like the year that I went shopping with my sister Janet, for example, and helped her as she purchased over 100 packages of socks to be passed out at the dinner for the homeless that she facilitated each year.  A man inquired as to why we were pushing carts that were literally, overflowing with socks, and then, upon hearing the story, made a sizable, impromptu donation because he wanted to be a part of it. The spirit of Christmas came that year, not from what one took out of a shopping cart, but rather, by what one put into it. 
This year, I am happy to say, I had such a moment already.  Again, it came unexpectedly, but instantly, I recognized its beauty. Our daughter Gina is giving us a family portrait this year for Christmas, and this past Saturday, we gathered together to have our photos taken.  My husband had undergone surgery on his hand just two days before and I was worried a little, as to how cooperative he would be about dressing up for an outdoor photo shoot when it was 30 degrees outside.  Early in the day I spoke to him about how much effort Gina had put into the project.  She had gone to great lengths to create the perfect setting by securing permission for a special location at Stony Creek to be opened for us, as well as loading up the van with a wicker couch and chair to be used as props. 
"Gina went to a lot of trouble to do this, Dave, so make sure to be appreciative, okay?"  I said to him.
"Why do we have to have such weird children, Amy?" He answered.
"That is exactly the type of thing I am talking about, Dave." I said with a laugh. 
"I mean creative."  He said.  "Why do we have to have such "creative" children?"
I am happy to say that Dave's behavior exceeded my expectations, and despite the cold weather, an aching hand and the hectic pace needed to unload a van filled with furniture onto a tree-lined dirt road at Stony Creek, he was wonderful.  I have yet to see all the photos, from which we will choose the two favorites for our canvas, but the girls sent me one, and in it I saw that we had captured another one of those magical Christmas memories.  Each time I look at it I can hear the sound of my daughters' laughter, as well as Dave's commentary, muttered through gritted teeth he thought mimicked a smile, as he inquired as to how much longer he would need to be outside without a coat on.  Each viewing makes me smile anew. It is the Spirit of Christmas; blowing through a tree-lined, dirt road and resting upon each of our shoulders for one precious moment... caught on film.  (Special thanks to Aaron Smith for capturing it.)  Blessings, Amycita xoxoxo

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Talking Turkey With The Littles

Next week, tiny Pilgrims and Native Americans, authentically attired, will gather together with the class next door, to share in the annual "Thanksgiving Feast." They will be partaking of the traditional, preschool version of the meal; turkey lunch meat and gravy, along with mashed potatoes and real butter. The butter, of course, will taste especially good.  The littles will have made it themselves, by vigorously shaking tiny jars of heavy whipping cream and salt, while complaining with equal vigor, about how tired this activity is making their arms. These are the kinds of moments that I give thanks for each Thanksgiving Day...the moments filled with learning and laughter that I am blessed to enjoy on a regular basis.
While I would love to have everyone share this experience with us, we simply don't have the patience to churn that much butter. To make it up to you though, what follows is the next best thing...a glimpse at what my day is like, by looking at the world through the eyes of a four year old.  
The following are the answers I recorded when I asked them... "How to make a Thanksgiving turkey."  Enjoy!!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Remembering Those With An Empty Seat At The Table

This week I, along with so many of my friends, found myself bearing witness to the breathtaking, fragility of life.  We watched together with aching hearts, as a woman we dearly love, very suddenly, found herself needing to say her final goodbyes to her beautiful and beloved, 25 year old daughter.  It is difficult to even contemplate such a loss, or to make sense of any meaning in her death, but, if there is one, I imagine it has to do with appreciating all of life's ordinary moments; those which we have, so generously, been given but that we, so often, fail to take notice of.  
For many of us, our most precious gift in life has been the lives of our children. The privilege of a lifetime of ordinary moments spent with them, and the comforting knowledge that we will go to our graves knowing that many more ordinary moments await them, after we are gone.  For a painful few that is not the case, and I will make special note of that this Thanksgiving, as I give thanks for each chair filled at my dinner table, while remembering with much love, those whose table, this year, will hold an empty seat for the first time. 
Much love to you and yours, Angel...and may you find comfort in the knowledge that Christina will remain in our hearts always. 

Blessings, Amycita 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Amycita...Here withYour Weekend Forecast

Tomorrow mostly Saturday...with increasing darkness later in the day. Temperatures will remain chilly, so a jacket will serve you well in the morning...but in the evening, a bartender will serve you better.
Sunday after midnight...with hangovers expected in the morning.  The afternoon will be mostly football, with a chance of renewed drinking, possibly heavy at times, depending on the game's outcome.
For the latest on how much alcohol consumption to expect, click on your Facebook homepage.  We will be following your friends' statuses closely to look for any decreases in coherency of content, in addition to increases in spelling errors, as the day progresses. As always, you can count on us to keep you informed about the need for designated drivers as soon as any warnings or watches have been issued.

This has been Amycita...with your weekend forecast! 
**I am hoping that the Detroit Lions will redeem themselves this weekend,  resulting in the need for only mild to moderate inebriation in the Detroit area.   If you support the Green Bay Packers though, it would probably be best to watch your team's loss from the comfort of your own home. Travel advisories have been issued in light of the extremely heavy drinking expected in your area. ;)

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Wiley's first photo.
I was recently reminded by Olivia, that it has been exactly one year since she and Mike adopted that bundle of silver mischief named Wiley.  As with all of the best things in life, it is hard to imagine our lives without him in it...and not just because of the disposable income that was lost because of him.  (It is a pretty impressive amount though, if one calculates how much money it cost to feed a pup who originally, weighed in at 13 lbs. and who now, tips the scales at 80.)  It isn't even because of all the extra-time we would have had, had we not been carrying ladders through 3 feet of snow in the middle of winter, in order to climb over the neighbor's wrought iron fence to free him after he catapulted over a mountain of snow, and got trapped beside her in-ground pool.  No, it is because of all the joy and laughter that he has brought into our lives, as well as his ability to give unconditional love and comfort; the gift that God so cleverly endowed all dogs with, in order to make up for all the trouble that they get into. 
I can still remember, quite vividly, the first time that I met Wiley, when Olivia and I made the trek to St. John, Michigan, in order to bring him home.  Mike and Olivia had planned on picking him up together, but since Mike had to work unexpectedly, I happily agreed to go in his stead.  Although they had already chosen Wiley beforehand, Wiley was unaware of this, and did his best to enlighten us as to the wisdom of selecting him.  To facilitate this, when I sat down on a step to pet him, he grabbed my purse and made off with it in the direction of our car.  He seemed pleased with himself, that he had chosen humans he could so easily educate, and sat patiently, with tail all a’ waggle, as we opened the back of van to place him in the kennel we had brought along for the ride home.  There was a moment of quiet as Olivia and I made our way to the front of the van and got in, but that abruptly came to an end as I began backing out of the driveway.  What we heard next was a veritable cacophony of sounds, previously unknown to all of mankind, that Wiley emitted in protest at having to sit in a kennel in the back, rather than on Olivia's lap as he had anticipated.  I had only made it to the end of the driveway when I was ready to pull over and bring him up front, but Mike had stressed to Olivia, the importance of never allowing a puppy's misbehavior to dictate whether he stayed in a kennel or not.  For this reason, I drove at least five or six feet down the road before I insisted that Olivia call Mike to tell him that Wiley was an unusually savvy dictator who would now be riding up front with us. 
Mike responded with a rousing tutorial on the virtues of consistency in training, designed to bolster our flagging resolve to keep Wiley in his kennel.  I am sure it would have been successful too, had it not been all of  the wailing, crying, howling, whimpering and  barking, that was emanating from the back of the van, which prevented us from actually hearing any of it.  

Wiley's most recent photo.
It took approximately five minutes before Wiley was able to train us to let him sit in the front of the car on Olivia's lap, which, I think, demonstrated a remarkable amount of discipline and resolve on both Wiley's part and ours.  Obviously, we were meant to be together.  ~Blessings, Amycita~