you know, deck them halls and all that stuff

No, no. I mean ‘Jingle Bells.’ You know, deck them halls and all that stuff?
No, no. You don’t get it at all. I mean ‘Jingle Bells.’ You know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls.

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all the little hep-cats jump for joy

A little Brian Setzer to start our morning.
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
Please listen responsibly.

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all my baby Jesuses

There are twelve nativities in this house right now.
Yeah, y’all read that right…twelve.
No shame in my baby Jesus loving game.

There are three in the dining room.
This one came in the boxes of things that were my mother’s. This isn’t the nativity I remember growing up…but I love that it’s lighted.
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I found this one in Mexico in 2002. I was obsessed with finding the perfect dark skinned people nativity after coming across one that was damaged. For many years this was my most precious nativity.
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I loved the shape of this one I found on clearance after Christmas at Target the first year I lived here in this house. I don’t normally like the ones that are just the Holy Family and the wise men, but something about these spoke to me. I like that Mary is holding the baby. What I don’t like is that they have sparkles on them that get absolutely everywhere!
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In our front room, there are two.
I found this one a couple weeks ago with Thing 2. The same day we found those adorable little Dr Seuss looking trees. I like that Mary is holding the baby while riding the donkey…they had to get back home somehow, right?
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This beautiful set belonged to YBW’s mom, it was made for her by very dear friends. Last year, little D decide my ponies needed to go see the baby Jesus too. He and his folks came for dinner and we were just hanging out and little D was pretty quiet. So I asked him what he was doing, he came running into the room and grabbed my hand and said, “I show you!”
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There are four in the living room at the back of the house.
On the mantle above the fireplace, there is my precious Willow Tree nativity. A gift from YBW two Christmases ago. I love that Mary is holding the baby.
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On the unit that holds all the media equipment there are three small nativities.
This one was made in Ecuador. I found it in this precious little fair trade shop in Old Town called Scatter Seeds.
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Snow in Jerusalem? I think not. But I love this nativity snow globe. I’m not sure where it came from, I think it was already in YBW’s collection when I got here. Joseph looks like he’s one of the Bee Gees…but that’s OK.
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I found little one made of drift wood at the beach I think…or maybe at World Market? I don’t know…I just know it spoke to the beachcomber and nativity lover in me.
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Downstairs, there are three.

I remember this Mary and the baby from when I was a little girl. She’s made of some sort of stiffened fabric painted gold. She’s not weighted, so getting her to stand up properly takes a bit of finagling. She’s all that’s left of a set…I remember one of the wise men was the last to bite the dust. It’s very precious to me to have this one. Just the baby and his mother. And it belonged to my mother.
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I bought this one at Target to take to the classroom. Only I never did. And that’s OK too.
Made of wood and painted in bright colors, I find it very sweet. I especially love that there are two angels in this set.
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And lastly, this creche was a gift from my mom the first Christmas I was married. (about 175 years ago) I had an accident with it one day, years ago. As I removed the creche from the box, the small box of people and animals fell to the brick hearth and shattered Mary into a zillion pieces. I sat and cried. She had the most serene face.
Desperate, I bought a replacement set, they’re not as lovely as the original, but the baby needed a momma.
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When I began writing this post, I reported the number of nativities to YBW. Together, we wondered when there might ever be too many nativities in our house. He decided that the number wouldn’t matter. That we’d have too many when we ran out of places to put them and began putting them in the bathrooms. That’s when we’d have too many.
This amused me. It’s so very YBW…but actually, I think he’s right!

Soon I’ll head to the Cathedral to see the creche exhibit and be surrounded by even more baby Jesuses!
Oh, Christmas! It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year!

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Santa bring my baby back to me.

I don’t think about it any more than I have to.
I’ve only written about it once.
I heard a song today that made it all come crashing back.

I realize I have only flashes. Only moments. I have no full memories of that time.
I remember Thing 1 begging for help.
I remember being in the ER at Richland.
I remember going to Palmetto Baptist and being separated from her.
I remember saying goodbye and leaving her there. I held her close and told her how brave she was.
I remember falling to my knees in tears on Taylor Street before I could even make it to my car.
I remember explaining to Thing 2 where her sister was.
I remember leaving work early every day to be home in time for Thing 2 to get off the bus so she wouldn’t come home to an empty house.
I remember how painful it was to visit the hospital or talk with Thing 1 on the phone.
I remember singing ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ with Thing 2. So hopeful she’d be well enough to come home to us for Christmas.
I remember ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me’ having an entirely new meaning that Christmas.

The pain of that time was excruciating. The healing process even more so.
I don’t intentionally ignore the fact of it. I just don’t choose to get up to my ass in it. Sometimes it sneaks up on me and I don’t have a choice but to feel it. Today was one of those days.
Leaving my suicidal first born in the mental health hospital was one of the absolute worst experiences for my family.
All I wanted for Christmas was my child to come home. And she did. And it was awful.
We lived through it.
We came out the other side irrevocably changed.

When I heard the My Chemical Romance version of All I Want for Christmas is You this afternoon, I was up to my ass in what it felt like that Christmas six years ago.

As I write this, I am filled with love. The love of a mother who nearly lost not just one, but both of her babies. That love is precious. That love is sacred. Those girls are my heart. And that means I have all I want for Christmas.

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love and sadness deep in my bones

When there occurs a misunderstanding big enough to end a friendship, your initial reaction could quite possibly be to blame the other party. As far as I can tell, this is perfectly normal human behavior. You’re hurt. You’re sad. You’re confused. But then you’re angry.
For me, anger jumps in to protect sadness. I suspect that’s a fairly common phenomenon.
Blaming begins because anger is irrational. Anger is trying to make sadness feel better, so it lashes out. Well, let me assure you, that lashing out benefits no one.
Anger can turn a situation that’s tricky, but possibly repairable, into a situation that there is no coming back from.

In my experience, no matter how close a friendship, there is a line of truth you simply cannot cross. And that’s when you know that particular truth will create a shift in the other person.
Of course, we all long to believe if our friendships are close enough…that if you’re so close you’re “friends as family” there is nothing that cannot pass between you.
I’m here to tell you, watch what you say. Because you can wound deeply without knowledge. You can wound deeply without intent.

I recently experienced this scenario. And truthfully, it’s just a big bag of suck.
In a half-assed attempt to explain one of my long and delicate thought processes, I wounded a friend.
Without intent, my words were hurtful.
I believe I wounded his pride.
Pride is a double edged sword, too much or not enough can sometimes kill you…or others…

Each of us became frustrated. Then reactive.
There was no being mindful in this conversation.
I know the words “behaving like a petulant child” were involved…
When the conversation ended abruptly, we retreated to our corners to lick our wounds.
I honestly don’t remember who reached out first to begin the rebuild.
But after that, in true Robynbird fashion, I wrote a long and emotional email in which I completely over-explained my point of view.
To say it went over like a lead Zeppelin is…well…the truth. I have a tendency to overthink and overtalk my thoughts and feelings…normally my friend can sort through my words to extract the important information. But not this time.
Apparently, I triggered a hot button in him and anger came back via email. Blaming and (possibly deliberately) hurtful words on the screen caused two simultaneous reactions in me.
My hackles went up and I felt compelled to argue point for point. (and) I knew in my gut it was time to break the cycle.

This may seem terribly dramatic, to talk about a friendship this way. But here’s the thing, it was a terribly dramatic friendship. When I say “terribly dramatic”, I mean it this way.
We became friends with a quickness out of the clear blue. Differences in gender, culture, generation, time, and distance held no meaning. We were as close as siblings. (Not the ones you grow up with, but the ones you get to choose in your adult life.) We talked each other through some seriously tricky situations, and loved without question. If you’re fortunate enough to have this kind of loving friendship with a person of the opposite gender, you’re blessed beyond belief. That other point of view is invaluable.

I sat with my dueling reactions for a while before I moved forward.
When I chose to act, I was mindful. I used “I statements”. I expressed my love and gratitude for everything our friendship gave me. I wished him well.
I send only love and light to him. I’m hopeful he’s doing the same for me.

Can our friendship be healed from the hurt caused by this misunderstanding and our ridiculous reactions?
I honestly don’t know.
I do know this:
I have sadness deep in my bones.
But I also have love.

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it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas up in here!
And I couldn’t be happier!

This is the tree in our living room at the back of the house, where we spend the most time each day.
I’ll put YBW’s and my pressies under this tree for us to open Christmas morning.
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Pencil tree in the basement. I’ll be enjoying this as I wrap pressies and watch Christmas movies!
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The big tree in the front room will go up when the boys come home this weekend. Their pressies will go under this tree to be opened Christmas Eve before they leave for their mother’s house.

Thing 2 and I found these trees when we were out one afternoon and I absolutely could not resist them! The kind of remind me of Dr Seuss trees. I just hope the Grinch doesn’t show up and stuff them up the chimney!
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I absolutely adore Christmas kissing balls!
Traditional kissing ball painted with mistletoe.
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YBW found this ball of cotton when we were in Savannah, and we knew it would be a new kissing ball. It took me a bit to find the perfect ribbon to make the bow, but it turned out perfectly. When anyone walks into our house, it’ll be there waiting…and let me assure you, I’ll be right there under it, waiting for my kisses.
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All the baby Jesuses are out…but you’ll have to wait to see them.
Oh how I love Christmas! I can’t wait to start wrapping pressies!

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think of a special wish

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My last night in Charleston, we opened the wish paper Jessica bought for me.
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How cute is this!?! It even came with it’s own little pencil for us to write our wishes.
“Think of a special wish.”

We went through the package and instructions a couple times to make sure we knew what we were doing.
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So pretty much you write a wish on the red tissue paper then wad it up into a ball before smoothing it out into a little funnel.
We’ve got this!

Jessica wrote her wish.
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And I wrote my wish.
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“Think of special wish.”
It came to me like lightning, the wish I would make. A wish for someone I love with a ferocity like no other.
After we wrote our wishes we made teeny wads out of the red tissue paper. And then, we took them onto the porch and turned them into these chimney stacks.
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The tissue paper flew and our wishes were released into the world and the ashes came resting back down near where they started.
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Thanksgiving in Charleston

Yesterday was spent downtown.
We met my Charleston family (sans nephew) for lunch at one of our favorite places, Jestine’s Kitchen. Mac and cheese, green beans, and unbelievably yummy fried chicken, (which I ate in my systematically OCD way of picking off and eating the fried bits, picking the meat off of and discarding the bone and then eating all the meat).

We wandered and shopped King Street. Jessica had a list we needed to check off, I was just along for the walk.
Turns out that I did a little shopping too. What’s curious about this shopping is that I only purchased things for myself. That’s unusual for me, normally I purchase for everyone else first.
It was fun though, because I bought sort of silly and frivolous things.

As we walked past Copper Penny, I saw a scarf on a mannequin in the window that made us stop and go in. It was the only one in the shop and the girl climbed into the window to get it for me.
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I may have a slight scarf ‘problem’…if I don’t reign it in, it could blossom into a full fledged addiction. (Surely, there are worst things I could be addicted to…so scarves might just be OK.)

Candlefish was so cool! They even have candle making classes! I diffused oils, so I never really burn scented candles, but they had some really lovely ones. Of course I bought these adorable bobby pins at the candle shop. And that makes a kind of sense that really doesn’t. Who really cares? I absolutely adore these little moon and star hair pins!
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In a curious little boutique called lou lou, I bought this precious little headband.
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We stopped for a post-shopping cocktail at the Thoroughbred Club in Charleston Place.
I had a delicious concoction called the Courtesan Cocktail.
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After a visit to my Charleston family for more cocktails and time near the fire pit, Jessica and I went over the Tattooed Moose for a late dinner. Their french fries are cooked in duck fat. I mean, my God those fries!!
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This beer though!

After all that we came home and watched Chadwick Boseman as James Brown.
If you haven’t seen it, you simply must!

Today, we’ve eaten breakfast, watched the parade, and gone through a box of old photos. Now we’re watching Hairspray while I write…

We’re going to Sweeny’s for dinner this evening.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

My favorite James Brown song.
Please listen responisbly.

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how I’ll roe in Charleston

I’m leaving straight after school today to drive to Charleston.
Thanksgiving with my friend and mentor, Jessica. And I’ll even get to see my Charleston family too! Looking forward to snuggles with my niece!

I’m going to “roe” my way through this trip. For those of you that don’t know what that means, allow me to tell you. If you wear lula clothes, it means you’re “roe-ing”. There is even a hashtag for it: #howiroe
The beauty of lularoe is that you can roll them up and pack them in your bag and when you get to your destination, boom! Unroll and hang.
No wrinkles!
It was made for me. I don’t super love to iron. That’s YBW’s gig and since he’s not traveling with me this trip, I’ve got to take full advantage of my mad rolling and packing skills.

I’ve laid out LuLaRoe items mixed and matched with my regular clothes.
I’ve taken photos to share with you. Now, if I wasn’t trying to get packed to get out of town, I would have taken the photos on my mannequin…but I’m trying to get everything done and get out of here to get to school on time then hit the road.
So you’ll just have to have these photos of them waiting to be rolled up and packed.

This is a Carly dress with a sweater I already had. Thing 2 and I put this outfit together when she was here last week.
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This is leggings with a tee and sweater I already owned. I’ve worn these leggings with a soft gray sweater too.
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This is a Julia dress with scarf I already had. This dress was one I waffled back and forth about keeping when the last box of lula merch arrived. But when paired with this scarf (and a sweater already in my wardrobe) I knew I had to keep it.
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The gray item is an Azure skirt. A knee length a-line skirt that twirls when you spin. (Yeah, I twirl! No shame in my game.) I’ve paired it with a mustard sweater, white shirt and a scarf I bought several autumns ago at…Anthropologie, if memory serves.
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These cat leggings make me so freaking happy I can hardly express it! I’ll wear them with a black Irma top and a long taupe-y sweater. That silver thing was the bowl of a serving spoon before it became a pendant. Got it when we were in Savannah last month. I’m wearing it on a ribbon that matches the kitty collars.
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Everything I’ve packed can be worn with one pair of brown boots…except those kitty leggings…gotta pack black boots for those. Or maybe a pair of low-top Chuck Taylors…I haven’t decided yet.

I’ve packed jeans and tops and sweaters too. Jeans are cute with Randys (the lula “baseball tee”) and Julia dresses as tunics. I didn’t plan that with enough notice to shoot a photo of it for you.
Anyway, here’s my packed bag.
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Peace out, y’all!

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my mom

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day Mommie died. I’ve been thinking of her so much lately. I miss her in ways that sneak up on me and hit me upside the head like a baseball bat. I’m momentarily stunned and then I feel sad. Or I laugh uncontrollably. Or I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Or I get so angry I grunt and stamp my foot. I firmly believe that all daughters feel these things about their mothers.

I’ve written about my mom before, But I’m not going to talk about our unpacked baggage, or our love of robin birds, or the gift of silly memories. I’m just going to share my mom.

I love this photo!
This is my mom when she was sassy AF. I think she’s so beautiful. This photo was taken in the mid 1960’s. I think my mom stopped being sassy when her mother died. She looks different in any photo taken after 1969, like something’s just a bit off…or something. Now, this is just my theory…but I do know that death of her mother changed her greatly.
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This was taken at our house on Barton Street in Arlington. I suspect my dad took it. It was before I was living in that house, but I don’t know how long after they were married this was taken. Some time in 1970.
I think she’s beautiful in this photo too, but she looks different.
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This photo was taken in April of 1971. The month before I was born. I think she looks tired. But I’ve been that far along in a pregnancy twice in my life and I remember feeling tired.
I’m so glad that the middle part went away for a long time…does it really look good on anyone?
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So, my parents were pretty freaking strange. And quite possibly they shouldn’t have been allowed to bring me home from the hospital. I’m the weird little alien looking baby. My mother is holding me inside my father’s boot (he was a motorcycle cop) as he takes the photograph.
Obviously, I wasn’t a very cute baby…though in my defense, I’m kind of crammed into a big leather boot. That makes for some uncomfortable faces. Summertime 1971.
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I went through years and years of photographs trying to find some of me with my mom. There are tons of photos of me with my dad (before he left) and even more of me with Grandaddy. But few with my mom. She was always behind the camera.
Being behind the lens is something that must run in our blood. I’m a photographer. Thing 2 is a photographer. Thing 1 is kind of a photographer too. Luckily, there are other people with cameras who’ve taken photos of me with my girls, even though I’m almost always behind the lens of my camera.

This is Grandaddy and Mommie and me. I’m not sure why Mommie and I are dressed up and Grandaddy is wearing a sweatshirt. Maybe we girls were going somewhere just the two of us? I don’t know.
I was probably in sixth grade so that would make it 1982…maybe?
(note my awful middle part)
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I did find this one of us working a WETA telethon. (taken before we were actually on the air) I had this mad skill of sticking out my tongue just as the shutter clicked. And our hair is really terrible. This was the next year or so. My mom hated my long hair and cut it all off one afternoon under the guise of giving me a “trim”. Circa 1983?
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This one was taken in November of 2000 by Thing 1. We went to see “Grandmommy” for Thanksgiving. This photo was taken sixteen years ago this same month. I love this photo because we look happy to be together. I recently removed it from the album and put it in a frame.
Positive reinforcement of love.
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Five years ago this day, my mother’s life ended. She died the Monday before Thanksgiving. The girls and I drove down to see her body (before it was cremated) on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
The little bit of my mother’s ashes that belong to me are in a tiny enamel heart shaped container.
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Sometimes I take it out of the blue velvet box and hold it in my hand. Sometimes I hold that heart to my own heart and imagine that we can feel each other’s love.

A small stuffed robin bird sits atop the blue velvet box. The blue velvet is on a small cedar box filled with memories. The small cedar box is on my bookshelf below my collection of journals. This is the side of the shelves that face my work tables and comfy reading chair. So I can see it whenever I want.
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In some ways, five years is the blink of an eye. In others, it’s a long, dark eternity.
I’ll always have a complicated relationship with my mother. It wasn’t sorted before she died, but that’s because of who she was. And I guess that’s OK too.
I know she loved me. I know I loved her.

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Stacey Loring

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